Mainframe2 Runs Google Earth in Your Browser

When Adobe introduced its Creative Cloud subscription service, it encountered opposition from people who weren't comfortable with the idea of requiring an internet connection to be able to run apps like Photoshop. They wanted to be able to continue to download, install and run their apps locally, as before. The irony is that of course Creative Cloud users do exactly that — the "cloud" element shows up in other contexts. While many breathed a sigh of relief when they finally figured this out, there would nevertheless be advantages to having Photoshop and other bulky, resource-intensive apps delivered as a stream. Perhaps the most compelling of these would be the possibility to run such programs on mobile devices that otherwise wouldn't be up to the task.

Which is why Mainframe2's recent demos have been so impressive. In a nutshell, the firm has put together a cloud computing platform that lets users run desktop applications in their browsers, without any plugins or other fiddly bits. Chrome, Safari, Opera and Firefox can all be used to run major applications, with support for all HTML5-compliant browsers on all OSs promised at launch. Recent open demos have included Blender, Autodesk Inventor and notably Photoshop. Running that in Chrome, I have to admit, made my head spin. You would have thought that Adobe would have commented on such a feat, since it really put the "cloud" in Creative Cloud, but as far as I know it remained mute.

The current open demo allows users to run Google Earth, without first having to download and install it. This is a savvy choice to demo, since users of Google's web-centric Chromebook can't run it — until now. Take that, Google! Self-driving cars, virtual reality headsets, smart devices and heaven knows what is all fine and dandy. But then something like Mainframe2 shows up and reminds you just what the internet is really capable of and where our focus should be.

To run Google Earth, just head to the Mainframe2 site and choose the closest server location, although the demo is proving so popular that you may have to wait to get access, which unfortunately is limited to a short session. Just keep in mind that what you're seeing is a large app being streamed live. Looks like the future to me.