"Our ultimate goal is to make it so that Web applications are not discernable from any other applications running on your desktop," Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering for Mozilla, explained to me during a recent interview. "The cool thing is that we're implementing a set of standards that are already out there," he added, and his enthusiasm seems reasonable. With these browser capabilities based on open standards, any developer willing to take on the challenge can put together apps and have them run in Firefox 3.0 (or a specialized derivative), not just online but offline as well—a key to acceptance of Web-based applications.
I asked Schroeper if Web apps can attain the richness and depth of features we get with Microsoft Office 2007, and he said they probably wouldn't, at first. But he added, "In many ways, it is a question of revisiting all those things we've built into desktop applications over the years and asking ourselves whether we really need all those features."