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The UA is the new OS: redefining UA?

From: Markku Hakkinen <markku.hakkinen@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2011 12:57:35 -0400
Message-ID: <BANLkTinx1p2Cuf3mB0CWZLY4gC9Av+bwQQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: UAWG list <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Is the UA becoming the new OS?  Some developments to consider:

"Windows 8 apps use the power of HTML5, tapping into the native
capabilities of Windows using standard JavaScript and HTML to deliver
new kinds of experiences." [1]

"Webian Shell is a full screen web browser for devices that don't need
a desktop... The idea of the Webian Shell project is to re-think your
computer's interface as something much simpler which treats web
applications as first class citizens and does away with all the
un-necessary clutter." [2]

"At the core of each Chromebook is the Chrome web browser. The web has
millions of applications and billions of users." [3]

Are there implications in this trend for UAAG?

According to Google the ChromeOS accessibility support is via
ChromeVox [4], a self-voicing browser extension for Chrome.

Is it time to revisit the definition of UA? I believe we need to be
more explicit about how the user agent is evolving beyond just a
traditional Web browser.

To make a start, I have taken the introductory text from the current
draft [5] and revised it:

"A user agent is any software that retrieves and presents Web content
for end users or is implemented using Web technologies. User agents
include Web browsers, media players, and plug-ins that help in
retrieving, rendering and interacting with Web content.  The family of
user agents also includes operating system shells, consumer
electronics with Web-widgets, and stand-alone applications or embedded
applications whose user interface is implemented as a combination of
Web technologies."

The definition of user agent [6] is also a candidate for revision:

"A user agent is any software that retrieves, renders and facilitates
end user interaction with Web content, or whose user interface is
implemented using Web technologies."

I throw this out for comment. Is this a needed revision?  Are there
other suggestions?


[1] http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2011/jun11/06-01corporatenews.aspx

[2] http://webian.org/shell/

[3] http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-kind-of-computer-chromebook.html

[4] http://www.google.com/support/chromeos/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=177893

[5] http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/2011/ED-UAAG20-20110525/#introduction

[6] http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/2011/ED-UAAG20-20110525/#def-user-agent
Received on Monday, 6 June 2011 17:00:48 UTC

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