Mozilla developer launches browser-based desktop interface

By on June 8, 2011, 10:00 AM

Developers are apparently getting on board with the idea that in the future all our computing will be done through the browser window.  Now, as computers based on Google's Chrome OS inch closer to a commercial release, a member of the Mozilla community has taken the wraps off a browser-based desktop interface of its own called Webian Shell.

It's not a full web-oriented operating system like Google's but rather a single, minimalist graphical shell on top of your existing operating system, whether it's Linux, Mac or Windows. According to the description featured on Mozilla Labs, the idea of the Webian Shell project is to re-think your computer's interface as something much simpler, which treats Web applications as first class citizens and does away with all the unnecessary clutter.

Webian Shell 0.1 is based on Mozilla's Chromeless project, which serves as a "blank canvas" for developers create their own browser interfaces, and uses several web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The project is still in a very early stage and thus its primitive appearance, which boils down to a full screen web browser with an address bar at the top, tabs for websites and web applications, a clock and a rather empty looking home screen.

That said, developer Ben Francis hopes that with help from the open source community Webian Shell can iterate quickly to "encompass lots of exciting ideas about what living on the web could really be like." Enhancements planned for future versions include a few that are clearly influenced by the rise of smartphone and tablet devices, such as multiple home screens, split screens and an on-screen keyboard, which would enable compatibility with touch interfaces.

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