The primary reason for http has been and always will be simply a way to link web pages to other pages. Keeping the web browser design simple allows mostly everyone a better opportunity to learn how the tools work. When everything is obfuscated, you make everything about it look like magic and exclusive to the technocrats. With SMARTER CLIENT ideas like this proposed topic, firefox and all the web browsers are all risking slowly becoming like "MS-Internet Explorer" which is plastered with undocumented vulnerabilities/opportunities open to a select illuminated few.
Popularity for software depends on its merit. Since Linux has merits, it has become popular. The different packages in linux are different in popularity because there are "different strokes for different folks". Simple to use, but sophisticated software is popular like vi, emacs, gedit, postit-notes, calendar, evince, wget, firefox, thunderbird, mplayer, ffmpeg2theora, audacity, lame, apache, shorewall, gimp and openoffice. Vulnerably complex software is not popular like MPI, PVM, Plan9, SCALA, flash-plugins. I've experimented with flash/ming and discovered first hand the flash engine can crash not only the application, but also the OS. I understand the politics of flash being used is to somehow protect the media industry because it is proprietary technology geared to provide a pay per use intenet business model for the entertainment industry. It is important to be aware that flash technology is used on most movie DVD's sold today for the menu subsystems along with helping with the obfuscation to reduce the dvd-ripping piracy. I also understand that the movie industry does everything to undermine the trend to use open-source theora format video files and ogg format audio files. Thankfully theora/ogg are the defaults in all the current Linux distributions.
You have a take a leap of faith to use a lot of these more advanced pieces of software, but if you're in a position where you need to guarantee something works and you use internet explorer with java/flash and your so-called smarter client api plugins, GOOD LUCK with that and I'll be looking for news about your company's bankruptcy notice in the following months.
Think one tool, one job. Hammer the nail. Not everything is a nail. For example you search for stuff by starting your firefox, going to google and typing the key words. You expect a response with links to other pages. That's it. There's nothing in this recipe that demands a web server in your web browser. Not everything needs to be a hammer. Not everything needs to be in the cloud either.
The one tool is firefox being the client.
The other tool is google being the web page server.
An email agent sends/receives email to the email server. That's one tool for one job.
If you want a web page server, install apache. That's the one tool for the one job.
I'm a strong believer in a clear separation of concerns because my private family pictures, although I am very proud of them are none of anyone's concern and should not ever accidently find themselves on the net. If a web browser somehow becomes a web server with your ideas, my pictures might accidently fall into unintended audiences. It's not a big deal but the fact that this accident could happen because of a software vulnerability really would piss me off. I remember a peer to peer software being the first occurrence where people could browse anywhere on my harddrive without my knowing because by design the coder accidently designed it that way. It was cool, but potentially dangerous and amazingly invasive in terms of privacy.
The smarter client API risks being invasive in terms of privacy. It may not be intended in the design, but a vulnerability may make it so. Simply by providing this api makes it easier to invade the smarter client api user's privacy through a vulnerability discovered by some hacker. Web browsers are the most popular software for every device in our era. By installing this kind of api on everyone's machine, it would imply the risk of the most privacy invasive technology being enabled on every device on the planet. I don't like this scenario.
Now here's where it get scary. What if I told you we already do have a "SMARTER CLIENT API" installed in our browser?
It's the non-open-source Adobe FLASH plugin
or any non-open-source browser plugin.
We just have to have faith ADOBE and those other non-open-source guys play fair and won't use their browser plugins in the wrong way.
ADOBE is not evil right? Smarter client api is not evil right? If you believe that I have some prime swampland in Florida that I would love to sell ya. I wonder if SONY owns any shares in ADOBE. It would make sense considering SONY's history shipping their SONY CD-BURNER with spyware device-drivers.
When is everyone going to wake up and smell the coffee and use an external open-source player app instead of the Flash plugin?