Flash…Java…Silverlight…Google Gears…Yahoo BrowserPlus…it seems like the list of additional stuff you need besides your browser just to use the Web keeps on growing. For better or for worse, Google’s latest project announcement adds another contender.
Native Client is Google’s latest plan to change the Web, and this time it comes in the form of a browser plug-in. Admittedly, as a technology, there’s nothing incredibly interesting to the average web surfer, but, like many Google projects, the project’s promise is where this development becomes interesting. The best description I have found of Native Client is on the Google Code Blog post describing the project. The post defines Native Client as “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.” In other words, Google is trying to make a platform for Web developers that does what Java aimed to do back in its heyday. Like Java, Native Client will be completely cross platform and work in almost every browser, with the major difference being that Google’s plug-in will run at native processor speeds, giving programmers access to even unprecedented resources on your computer.