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10/19/2010
04:25 PM
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Mozilla Proposes Open Web App System

With the release of technical documentation, Mozilla wants to promote the development of infrastructure for Web app distribution.

Just days before Google plans to launch its Chrome Web Store to distribute Web applications, Mozilla has decided that it wants to see more Web app stores.

The open-source software organization, which just announced a new CEO, said on Tuesday that it wants to create a way to simplify the discovery, acquisition, installation, and use of Web apps while simultaneously helping developers monetize said apps.

Mozilla is not the first organization to come to the realization that software distribution needs to be rebooted. There are currently dozens of stores hoping to replicate the success of the iTunes App Store, mainly for mobile apps.

In a post on the Mozilla blog, VP of products Jay Sullivan announced the availability of technical documentation for a proposed open Web App ecosystem, which is intended to work with any modern desktop or mobile Web browser.

Such browsers include Firefox 3.6 and later, Firefox for mobile, Internet Explorer 8, Chrome 6, Safari 5, Opera 10 and WebKit mobile.

Web apps are applications that run in the user's Web browser; they may or may not require network access or local storage. The installation process is akin to making a Web bookmark, though the experience has been reimagined in a way that makes it feel more like installing a desktop application.

Mozilla isn't planning to open a Web app store of its own or to provide payment infrastructure. Rather, it wants to create the code necessary to support free and paid Web app installation by individuals and distribution by developers.

Mozilla motivation for doing this is because the vertically integrated experience pioneered by Apple in its iTunes ecosystem presents "problems such as an opaque approval processes, lack of choice for developers, platform lock-in, [and] high(er) development cost when going cross-platform," the company explains on its Web site.

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