Mozilla’s Prism to bring Web apps to desktop

Even the Mozilla Foundation, makers of the popular Firefox Web browser, thinks it’s time to break out of the browser.

On Thursday, developers from Mozilla announced a project called Prism that will, along with other “experiments,” make Web applications better resemble desktop programs.

The idea with Prism is that people can integrate their favorite Web applications with their desktop operating systems.

For example, a person could access Web-based programs Gmail or Facebook from the applications menu of Mac OS or Windows. Or they could create an icon for Facebook on their desktop that launches in its own window.

Prism is an open-source alternative to AIR, or Adobe Integrated Runtime, software for making desktop applications with Web technologies. AIR is set for a 1.0 release in the first half of next year; there are already a number of early applications that use AIR.

Mozilla Labs is trying to merge the worlds of Web applications with desktop operating systems because people are relying more on Web applications yet they are poorly integrated with desktop applications.

“While traditionally users have interacted mostly with desktop applications, more and more of them are using Web applications. But the latter often fit awkwardly into the document-centric interface of Web browsers,” according to the announcement on Mozilla Labs’ blog

Mozilla now has prototypes of Prism running on Windows with early versions on Mac and Linux under way.

Future versions include offline access to information with Firefox 3 and three-dimensional graphics

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