Earlier this week, Google renamed its Google Gears technology simply to Gears in an effort to better position its link between cloud computing solutions and the desktop as a general solution anyone (not just Google) can use. And of course there are competitors (like Microsoft, with Silverlight 2+) trying to bridge this gap as well. This week, Yahoo entered the fray as well with a preview of something called BrowserPlus:

BrowserPlus is a technology for web browsers that allows developers to create rich web applications with desktop capabilities.

Yahoo! BrowserPlus is software that extends the capabilities of your web browser to make richer web experiences possible. Different websites can use BrowserPlus to support things like drag and drop from the desktop, easier file uploads, more efficient and secure acquisition of feeds and information, and native desktop notifications. BrowserPlus is a technology designed to "extend the web," so that developers can build more exciting web applications and so end-users can get more done inside their web browser.

What can I do with BrowserPlus?

Today you can explore our demo applications which include an advanced in-page Flickr photo uploader, a browser based IRC (chat) Client, and a developer tool for exploring Web Services output. Developers can also explore our APIs and test code samples. Given that this is only a "sneak peek" of our capabilities and offerings, we encourage you to stop by again soon for more.

Why did Yahoo! build this?

Yahoo! is interested in open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers. An important part of that ecosystem includes the client-side tools those developers use to develop content. Until today, YUI has been primary offering to this audience. BrowserPlus is the next step in providing solutions to browser-based web development.

How can I use BrowserPlus on my site?

During the "sneak peek," BrowserPlus can only used on sites owned by Yahoo! or its partners. Our first full public release will make BrowserPlus available for use by 3rd party developers.

During this preview phase, you can only see BrowserPlus in action by navigating to one of the demo sites, including a cool Flickr uploader and photo editor.

This is all very interesting. And it makes sense that Yahoo would get into this game. But I'm nervous that a proliferation of browser plug-ins, all aimed at furthering the ambitions of various computing giants, will lead to the same incompatibilities on the Web (or "in the cloud," I guess) that we saw over the past three decades with desktop-based computing platforms. (Not to mention the annoyance of ever-updating browser plug-ins.) Obviously, this is something to watch regardless.