Google's Native Client: Faster RIA?

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Hot on the heels of the JavaFX release, Google has released a beta version (of course, what else?) of its own browser plug-in for--get this--running native x86 code inside your browser. It's called, appropriately enough, Native Client. If your security alarm bells are going off, take some comfort: the code is sandboxed in order to prevent untrusted code from freely accessing your computer. How effective the "static analysis" that the sandbox performs is an open question, but Google for its part seems to have thought through the problem: code is disassembled and run through a rigorous analysis to detect unwanted interactions, e.g. file I/O. Nevertheless, it is unlikely to ever be as secure as running code inside a VM.

While Java aficionados may scoff at the idea of running non-portable code inside the browser, one has to admit that x86 clients are nearly universal, at least on the desktop. In the mobile arena that's anything but the case so Native Client has a very specific target audience: desktops that need absolute performance. If this fits the requirements of your browser-based application, Native Client may just be the ticket.

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