Google Developers Say Native Client Bridges Gap Between Web, Desktop Applications

Google software engineers refuse to address the Web operating system question. They did discuss Native Client, a new open-source technology designed to complement JavaScript, Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe AIR and Flash. Native Client is geared to address the security issues inherent in leveraging native computer code in application development, helping Google bridge the performance gap between Web and desktop applications. What would make a Web operating system, anyway?

Net Applications made waves last week when it told reporters Google is masking origins of some of the traffic streaming out of its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
Google dumped fuel on the fire by unveiling Native Client, an open source runtime engine, browser plugin and compilation tool set to boost Web application performance on computing devices. Some observers think Native Client could be combined with Google's fresh from beta Chrome browser, Gears and to form some of Microsoft Windows-killing Web operating system.
eWEEK caught up with some of the men behind Native Client, which interestingly is a research project but not a famed 20 percent time project, to find out what Google's up to. Google's Linus Upson, director of engineering, Brad Chen, engineering manager for Native Client and Henry Bridge, product manager for Native Client, obliged eWEEK's questions.
Questions, which address what Native Client is and why it's such a hard nut to crack, were formed with help from Gartner's Ray Valdes. Answers include jokes about Google's product secrecy and jibes about how Microsoft has conflated the definition of what an operating system is.
Q: The Net Applications folks sparked a lot of interest with their notion of hidden traffic traits at Google, and suggesting that Google is using some other operating system we don't know about. Then, conveniently, you release Native Client, leading some people to connect the dots that if you take Native Client and combine it with Google Gears, Chrome and Android, you could create a Web operating system. So, let's start with the Native Client overview. What is it?
Upson: I'll let Brad and Henry talk about the Native Client details, but as far as these user agents with no identifier, I can honestly tell you I have no idea. I can also tell you that when we were developing Chrome, we didn't want some people to see some new user agent on our Web sites, and so since we used the same rendering engine as Safari, we just claimed to be Safari on Windows, and so we were very careful not to leak any user agent stuff. Several people have looked into it and no one's figured it out yet, but I can also tell you quite definitively it has nothing to do with Native Client.
Q: OK, so is there a Google operating system in the works then?
Upson: We don't comment on rumors like that, just like when people ask us about all kinds of crazy things.
Q: Similar to like how you denied the existence of Chrome before you announced Chrome?
Upson, joking: Just like with Chrome, just like with the space elevator and the zeppelins. I can't talk about them.