I have been an emulator fan forever. As far back as the early 90s, I ran PC emulators on my Amiga so that I could run DOS applications on it. Conversely, I ran Amiga emulators (WinUAE) on the PC to run Amiga games. Emulators like FCEUX allow you to run Nintendo games on the PC. DOSBox is a PC emulator. It can run DOS games on platforms or environments that never ran DOS like cell phones and Macs.
And now, Chrome! But I am getting ahead of myself.
When I first read about Native Client, I was struck by the possibilities. The more I thought about Native Client, the more I started to talk to my coworkers about Native Client as "The Plugin to Rule Them All." The project is open source and I have been following the development of the project for years now. In the beginning, it was esoteric CPU architecture stuff, but it has recently started to become high level. As I write this in mid-2011 on the eve of Google IO 2011, I can definitely see that they are nearing release.
I have read a lot of stories in the media regarding Native Client. Some commentators seem to get it, but I am struck mostly by the lack of imagination. When I hear people talking about Chrome OS and complaining that they will be stuck in a browser I want to shout: Natvie Client! I am disappointed to see commentators compare it to (inevitably) ActiveX rather than a (naively) more appropriate comparison: an in-browser VMWare. I don't blame these people though. There have been very few examples of Native Client in action.
It seems, also that Google is extending this technology to the server as well. I strongly suspect that App Engine will offer a Native Client environment for server side CPU intensive programming before this is all over.
I have no idea whether Native Cient will catch on. It is possible that Google may cancel it like they did Wave. I do hope it does, though, because there is a place for accessing the full capabilities of the processor and other hardware on our powerful workstations. It will bring a whole new class of application online.
If it isn't clear to you by now, I think Native Client is going to be very important.
When you combine DOSBox and Native Client, you get...
The idea of having all of those classic games available from inside of the browser at any location is really compelling.
This is just the beginning of what I would like to accomplish and it is far from perfect.
If you have problems, I would like to know about them. See our support page for more information.
You can find the differences between DOSBox and NaClBox here.
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