Streaming Applications

May 19, 2022

Netflix and the ability to stream on-demand, non-interactive media was a significant innovation in the last two decades. Streaming interactive applications over the internet is an exciting and logical next step. Here are three different products that implement interactive streaming applications.

Streaming web browser (Mighty). The browser is the new operating system. More complex applications are run inside the browser (e.g., Figma, Google Earth) that can sometimes be resource-heavy. Mighty aims to solve this by streaming an instance of Google Chrome running on a beefy cloud machine straight to your desktop.

Streaming desktop environment. (Windows 365 Cloud PC). Although the browser is the new operating system, the operating system is the, well, original operating system. Windows 365 Cloud PC takes the same technology and streams the entire operating system to your machine. This helps organizations secure end-user devices easier and makes it simple for end-users to work remotely and access their files, applications, and desktop from anywhere.

Streaming games (Google Stadia). Instead of buying a gaming console with dedicated hardware, imagine playing a video game on any device with a device connected to the internet. Then, pick up where you left off or quickly switch games without downloading new content or updates.

Of course, some major trends are working against a streaming future. For example, hardware advancements like the M1 chips make devices more powerful. In addition, streaming requires fast network speeds, so those users might not benefit as much compared to the alternative (simply downloading the media or application). SaaS moves much of the burden of applications to the cloud. Edge and CDNs have made asset delivery quicker than ever.

I'm not sure what the correct layer is to stream. Is it the operating system? The browser? Specific classes of applications?

Some other ideas of things you could stream:

  • IDEs
  • iPhone/Android apps
  • Website