Although they didn’t create the concept, Mozilla popularised tabbed browsing with the release of Firefox. Tabbed browsing is, of course, a very good thing; the old IE model of having a separate window for every instance of a site you open became unmanageable when computers got more powerful and websites no longer slowed down the whole machine. Now all of the major browsers feature the tabbed interface.
Which makes Mozilla’s latest invention, Prism, seem a bit of a weird step backwards;
Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop.
In other words, it puts web pages into a new window, but without the navigation buttons, menu options and address bar. Maybe I’m just a bit of an old traditionalist, but where’s the advantage in this? What reason would I have to run, say, my Gmail in a separate window rather than a tab? The main advantage seems to be that you can run applications from a shortcut in your desktop environment, but you can do that already by dragging and dropping a URL from Firefox.
I don’t know, perhaps it’s not aimed at me; perhaps there are some big enterprises that would find this useful, or people who only ever run a few websites (and really don’t like the address bar). Or, perhaps it’s unfair of me to judge this as it’s only a technology preview at the moment and there are a load of exciting features on their way.
But I’ve read the technical notes and the user experience puff piece, and I can’t get past the fact that it’s just a browser window with no buttons or menus. You know, I’m not saying it’s a bad project; I’m just struggling to see the point of it.
Perhaps there’s a killer app on the way which will make it all clearer.