Flash forward to where we in this debate today. John Gruber points out in his post The Location Field Is the New Command Line, that web-based applications are leapfrogging hardware-specific applications, despite their inferiority.
What they’ve got going for them in the ease-of-use department is that they don’t need to be installed, and they free you from worrying about where and how your data is stored. Exhibit A: web-based email apps. In terms of features, especially comfort features such as a polished UI, drag-and-drop, and a rich set of keyboard shortcuts, web-based email clients just can’t compare to desktop email clients.
With web-based email, you can get your email from any browser on any computer on the Internet. “Installation” consists of typing a URL into the browser’s location field. The location field is the new command line.
from Daring Fireball
He concludes that Microsoft missed the boat by targeting Netscape. It’s not the company that was a threat, not even the browser, it was the applications that were enabled by the URL concept that is a threat to the Windows monopoly.