The “Open Web” as Platform

April 19th, 2007

We often talk about the “platform” or “a platform” or the “Mozilla platform.” It turns out people use the concept of “platform” to mean different things. There’s the platform for creating web-enabled desktop applications known as XULRunner. (There’s an earlier version of the platform known as “Gecko.”) There’s Firefox as a platform, both for people creating additional features through add-ons, and for web developers. Each of these has value, yet all of them are but parts of a whole.

The basic platform is the Web itself. The most important thing Mozilla can do is to help create a Web that is open, inter-operable, portable, innovative, decentralized, participatory and competitive with closed systems that operate on the Web. I’ll call this the “Open Web.” Everything we do should be evaluated against this goal.

The ability to impact the Open Web should be a constant factor in determining our priorities. Firefox, XULRunner, Thunderbird, other projects — both as products and as platforms — are important as projects themselves. But their long term viability and strategic value lie in their ability to enhance and promote the Open Web.

The Web itself is the great prize, the fundamental platform that determines the degree to which the Mozilla vision can be realized.

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