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Mozilla not a browser, but an "application virtual machine"

by Edd Dumbill -- 2000/04/12

Following recent criticism of Netscape 6 PR1's user interface, Mozilla enthusiasts have been responding, saying that it's not just about a browser, but an entire application platform.

In an essay on MozillaZine, Chris Nelson said that he believed there has been a "fundamental misunderstanding of what Mozilla is, where it's going, and indeed what direction the Web and its 'standards' are leading us."

He went on to assert that Mozilla is not a browser:

... one rather prominent developer remarked, "Mozilla is a platform from which a browser can be easily made, but it isn't a browser". I would add to that, "it's a platform from which many Internet-ready applications can be created and deployed in a cross-platform manner."

Cameron Barrett, designer of Alphanumerica's Sullivan skin for Mozilla, concurred, in a posting on Userland's discussion group:

This is correct. Mozilla is more like an application platform that runs on multiple operating systems.

My co-worker, David Boswell, coined the new phrase "Application Virtual Machine" to explain what Mozilla actually is. Much like the Java Virtual Machine, Mozilla uses a cross-platform set of code that behaves and operates identically across all OS platforms it has been ported to.

There appears to be quite a gulf, however, between those who "get" what Mozilla is for, and those who just want another web browser. If the proponents of Mozilla as an applications platform can deliver genuinely new and valuable applications using it, then it's more likely that public perception of the new browser will change.

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