Do you think browsers will ever be able to handle heavier programs and games?

With newer devices like the Chromebook and the PC sticks, I am left wondering if browsers may one day become more powerful and be able to handle actual programs and games heavier games. For example, Runescape plays fine in a browser, but it’s very light, as well. Now, I don’t believe browsers will ever be able to run high end games like World of Warcraft or Battlefield, but I’d like to dream that one day their capabilities will grow.

I know that now-a-days there are lots of online solutions for programs that you’d usually install directly on your computer (image editing, etc) but do you think browsers will ever be able to handle programs similar to Photoshop or After Effects, in weight?

Yes, I think so. But your Chromebook probably won’t ever run any “high end” games. Maybe the high end games of today in the future, it can already run high end games from the 90’s, but people will keep pushing the boundaries.

You can do a lot now using WebGL.

It’s not very good and I really haven’t seen it used for many things that weren’t trivial. But, it’s a step.

Is Runescape still a Java Applet? It used to be a Java Applet. That’s not exactly running in a browser so much as running a Java program that’s accessible through the browser. Minecraft was able to be played the same way, I’m not sure if it is still anymore either.

Unity3D and Flash run in similar ways.

Yes. (granted it’s Flash, but it’s well done)

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Absolutely possible! Think about how computers were 15 years ago, and take a look at this game:

And javascript is quite performant as well:

What is Flight Arcade created with? That’s pretty impressive!

And @mawburn, I am not too knowledgeable in all of this. I aspire to be, but not currently. I had no idea what Runescape ran on, only that it was accessible in the browser. I realize a Chromebook has low spec hardware, but I’d like to believe that (outside of a Chromebook) browsers will evolve to serve as general purpose. I’d love it if Chrome OS was available to any machine and people created modern software specifically for the browser.

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Java Applets, Flash, and Unity3D are 3rd party plugins. They are developed by individual companies. There aren’t really any governing bodies behind them, other than the businesses that control them.

Browsers run HTML/CSS and JavaScript natively. The W3C governs HTML/CSS and JavaScript is governed by ECMA. These are non-profit standards organizations that are made up of many different people and many different companies and seek to produce specifications that everyone who builds a browser should follow, called web standards. How the browsers implement each specification is left to the company who makes the browser. Each one renders HTML a little differently, CSS a little differently, and each one has it’s own JavaScript engine.

Standards are released at a much slower pace than 3rd party plugins. The trade off is that 3rd party plugins can be buggy, poorly supported, and stagnate. Or in the case of Microsoft Silverlight, the company stops supporting it and it vanishes. There have been many serious bugs and security threats in Java Applets and Flash that have caused browsers to remove these by default. It’s not a good idea to have the Java plugin installed at all and Flash should probably be disabled by default. I don’t think there have been any issues with Unity yet, but I don’t really see Unity that often.

AFAIK, it is. The ChromeOS is a very stripped down version of Linux that is made to run only Chrome, with the idea that all your software should be ran through web apps. Unfortunately, you can’t install just ChromeOS on your own hardware (yet), but you can install Chrome.

JavaScript and WebGL. Looks like they are using Babylon.js.

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