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Mozilla 'Prism' Brings Web Apps to Desktop

Gordon Kelly


Mozilla 'Prism' Brings Web Apps to Desktop

This isn't new, but it is certainly welcome...

Taking a leaf out of Google Chrome's ingenious 'application shortcuts' functionality Mozilla Labs has launched 'Prism' - a Firefox extension or standalone programme, which turns any website into a desktop app.

The concept is simple: any site you visit regularly - be it email, online documents, social networking sites or even just really helpful, knowledge enhancing services like TrustedReviews (!) can be moved to a stripped down dedicated browser window - see below - and a desktop shortcut created with its own unique icon.

Prism takes the functionality of Chrome a step further too with the ability to add badges or popup alerts to any icon to highlight new mail or site updates. On top of this Windows users can make applications minimise to the system tray while both Mac & Windows platforms allow the association of the applications with specific browser links.

Of course the other major benefit to all this is should Firefox crash (a not altogether unknown occurrence) then your dedicated app window will remain completely unaffected. The different approach taken by Google Chrome means this isn't an issue in the first place, but it's a highly valuable addition nonetheless.

So Chrome features strike again. Following the great success of its porn Private Browsing mode (now copied by Firefox 3.5 beta and IE 8) it seems dedicated application shortcuts will be the next me-too addition and in this increasingly Cloud-centric technology world that's a jolly good thing.

Prism v1.0 is available now as either a Firefox plug-in or a standalone programme. You'd be rather daft not to give it a try...




May 11, 2009, 5:50 pm


Windows did this since '98... Natively... Without any 3rd-party applications...

Just enable 'Active Desktop' in Desktop properties and set up the pages...

Uh oh..


May 11, 2009, 7:08 pm

@mjaffk - the two methods are hugely different. I think you need to read the article again.

Uh oh..


May 11, 2009, 9:49 pm

Quite similar to HTA applications that have been in IE for a good number of years.

Personally I'm quite content just using a browser as normal and opening a site in a bookmark. The idea of littering my desktop with 'application shortcuts' just seems messy to me. I tried it with Chrome for my Gmail, but it just seems unnecessary.


May 11, 2009, 10:16 pm

Would be nice to be able to also select & combine with specific add-ons say ad blocker or mouse gestures or dictionary


May 12, 2009, 3:05 am

I first encountered the "Private Browsing" feature in Safari, a long time before Chrome arrived on the scene. Although I do prefer the per window approach they've used in Chrome. Wish they'd hurry up and get the Mac OS X version out!


May 12, 2009, 4:58 pm

Have been using Fluid on OS X since long before Chrome came out, does exactly the same thing. Have had Google Reader running as it's own app; admittedly, it's a little buggy, but works fine for day to day use... May have to give this a try now though!

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