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Modern PCs can execute billions of instructions per second, but today's web applications can access only a small fraction of this computational power. If web developers could use all of this power, just imagine the rich, dynamic experiences they could create. At Google we're always trying to make the web a better platform. That's why we're working on Native Client, a technology that aims to give web developers access to the full power of the client's CPU while maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability and safety that people expect from web applications. Today, we're sharing our technology with the research and security communities in the hopes that they will help us make this technology more useful and more secure.
With the ability to seamlessly run native code on the user's machine, you could instead perform the actual image processing on the desktop CPU, resulting in a much more responsive application by minimizing data transfer and latency.
Native Client [code.google.com]
This seems to be Google's attempt to eclipse Mozilla in the extensions department, and then move on to other things as well.
Is this the beginning of the write it once, run it anywhere example that JAVA always claimed was its domain, but which it never really accomplished?
If so I wish them luck. It would be nice to have one AdBlock, for example, that runs in almost any browser. Or even in something like the somewhat new ad-supported Outlook replacements. I firmly believe we shouldn't block ads that help support products we use, but I know I'm somewhat alone in feeling that way.
I can also see this being used to help Google Apps accomplish for multiple browsers what I mentioned I hope would happen with Chrome alone: extensions to make Apps easier to use and more powerful.
I'm off to download this and start tinkering. I'm especially anxious to see what they've done to limit my ability to get at core computer functions like, oh let's say, formatting the HDD, or perhaps something higher level like peeking at address books or zombifying the computer for use in botnet attacks or spamming.
Seriously, I wonder how secure this will all be; the implications of a hole could be rather
Secure: not at all.
Implications of a hole: very real.
In the "For More fun" section of the WhatToTest page, they suggest coders attempt to defeat the security (which they admit is not complete), and break out of the "inner sandbox" and execute system calls...
Aren't we getting closer to an o/s here, too.
OS would imply you could boot the machine up with it. I don't see it having that functionality. It appears more like it makes the browser into a shell, but needs the OS for low level functions, (disk/device read/write, I/O, etc).
Providing a way for the browser to form a bridge between the OS and the net is an old idea. IBM developed something along those lines also, but I forget the name of it. (Dead and buried now, anyway.)
However, what level of security can be acheived, I don't know.
Anybody actually download and play around with this? (I'm a little afraid, I have to admit. I'll do it on my "anything goes" test machine.)