BrowserPlus rides on Yahoo Messenger coattails

Yahoo has begun spreading its browser-boosting plug-in by including it in the installation of the next Yahoo Messenger.

Yahoo has begun bringing its BrowserPlus technology to a broader audience, making installation of the browser-boosting plug-in a default part of installing the beta of the new Yahoo Messenger 10 that emerged this week.

BrowserPlus gives Web sites some better abilities taken for granted in applications that run natively on a computer, and because it's a framework, new abilities can be added later. Among the current features are the ability to drag files from the desktop to the browser, to read accelerometer data to judge a computer's orientation, to edit images, and to upload many files at once.

BrowserPlus is installed by default during the installation of the Yahoo Messenger 10 beta. Those who don't want it can deselect it through the custom installation path.

Yahoo announced BrowserPlus in May 2008 , then upgraded it and made it open-source software in November .

BrowserPlus is one of many extras that can be disabled in custom section of the Yahoo Messenger 10 beta installation.
BrowserPlus is one of many extras that can be disabled in the custom section of the Yahoo Messenger 10 beta installation. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Adobe Systems' Flash Player plug-in is widely installed, but plug-ins in general are hard to propagate enough that Web site programmers can safely assume they can be used. One way to tackle the issue is to piggyback on the distribution of other, popular software--a technique long employed to encourage adoption of browser toolbars.

Many companies are working hard on the "Open Web," in which advanced abilities are built directly into Web standards such as HTML 5. However, plug-ins such as Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, BrowserPlus, and Google's Gears can advance the state of the art faster.

Update 4:55 p.m. PDT: Yahoo said it does in fact plan to include BrowserPlus in the final version of Yahoo Messenger. Also, it shared this list of the browsers and operating systems the plug-in supports:

• Windows XP: supports Firefox 2 or newer, Safari, IE6 or newer, and Google Chrome

• Windows Vista: supports Firefox 3 or newer, Safari, IE6 or newer, and Google Chrome

• Windows 7: Same as Windows Vista, in experimental status

• Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5: Recent versions of Safari and Firefox 3 or newer

• Mac OS X 10.6: Firefox 3 or better (Safari support in the works)

Updated 1:58 p.m. PDT to correct the initial release date of BrowserPlus.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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