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Google releases Native Client Framework

by on15 August 2011

Chrome 14 gets OS neutral binary
Google's beta Chrome 14 includes its Native Client (NaCl) framework under the bonnet. In the past you had to switch on the feature but it looks like it will finally be enabled by default in the next major version of the Web browser.

NaCl has been around since 2008. It allows developers to compile C or C++ code into an OS-neutral binary that is executed by a browser-integrated runtime. It is similar to Redmond's ActiveX but has more sophisticated sandboxing techniques to avoid Redmond's security holes. NaCl also provides a messaging mechanism so that functions in compiled NaCl binaries can be called from JavaScript.

What makes the change interesting is that it is possible for Web applications to use high-performance native code instead of JavaScript. It means that there will be more sophisticated games and software to operate within the Web browser. This will be a big hand to Google's Chrome OS platform, which relies solely on browser-based software.

It has been a rough ride for NaCl has it had some major technical problems, particularly to its sandboxing mechanism. That problem has since been fixed and it now has 64-bit support and experimental ARM compatibility. Google has opened the source code and is encouraging other browser vendors to support the technology, but none have expressed much interest.
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