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End of the Desktop? Google Backs WebGL

Stick a fork in the desktop, it’s done! Recently Google demoed a port of Quake II to WebGL and HTML5, showing that even first person shooters are suitable applications to run in the browser. While the tide isn’t going to turn all at once, it seems more likely than ever that a browser-based desktop is a viable option and ultimately the way many users will experience all applications.

When Google announced Chrome OS, I was skeptical that a Web-only interface would be suitable for the mainstream market. Sure, some folks could get by with a browser-based netbook, but what about real applications and games. As HTML5 continues to mature, and Google Chrome improves by leaps and bounds, it looks more and more like Web apps really will give the “fat” desktop a run for its money. Most convincing? Google’s announcement that it’s ported Quake to run in the browser sans plugin. At the same time, Google has given me good reason to remain skeptical with its change in direction with Google Gears.

Google is apparently picking up the Web Graphics Library (WebGL) ball and running with it. What’s WebGL? In a nutshell, WebGL is a port of OpenGL ES 2.0 for Web browsers to allow JavaScript apps to make use of 3D in the HTML5 canvas…

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