Mozilla Prism: Don’t really get it

So like the beta-whore I am, I downloaded the demo of Mozilla’s new web-desktop hybrid thing — which used to be called Webrunner and is now called Prism — and I installed it and created a desktop icon for Google Mail without too much trouble. But I have to confess that I still don’t really get it. I mean, it’s cool and everything, but well… I don’t get it.

So I can click on a desktop icon and open a Gmail window, which is great — but it’s really just a browser window with all of the browser bits (like the address bar and the back and forward buttons) taken off, as Phil Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped points out. It can be added to the Start menu on Windows, but you know… ho-hum. I seem to remember that Internet Exploder’s “Active Desktop” setting could do something similar, but no one really cared and so no one used it.

I realize that this is still an early demo, and there are no doubt all sorts of great things ahead for Prism, some of which Phil mentions in his post, and others of which are described by Ryan Stewart at ZDNet and the Wired blog. And there’s no question that the blend of desktop app and Web app is something that holds a lot of promise. So maybe I should give Prism more time to become amazing. As it stands, I’m underwhelmed.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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