Who benefits from a rich Internet?

Now there is an interesting move taking place in the industry at the moment and it concerns browser-based computing. Earlier this week I was speaking to Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder of Rightnow Technologies, a provider of hosted CRM.

Rightnow has spent almost $25 million re-engineering the companies suite of browser-based applications to convert them onto Microsoft’s .net platform.

The question is, why?

Rightnow found a lot of issues with Ajax, which is used to provide the user-interface in browser-based applications. Greg said his call-centre customers could work much faster within the .net Windows user-interface than one that was browser-based. Rather like old-school client-server computing, .net allows developers to exploit the power on desktop PCs. However, these applications support a centralised software distribution model, like browser-based software. The industry describes this new approach to computing as “rich internet application” or smart client.

It is the approach the hardware makers, Microsoft and Adobe are really pushing. It locks users into proprietary Internet technologies and ensures the hardware companies can continue to push more computing power, higher definition graphics and sound and greater complexity onto the desktop.

Don’t be fooled into thinking RIAs represent a natural evolution of browser-based software. I think they will more than likely replace traditional software installation.