As Web and desktop applications merge, Yahoo doesn’t want to be left out of the Webtop party. That’s especially true as Adobe Air and Google Gears apps begin to gain some traction (for instance, see the MySpace-Gears announcement from earlier today). It turns out that for the past year Yahoo has been working on BrowserPlus, a browser plugin that lets developers add desktop-like features to the browser, including the ability to drag-and-drop items from the desktop onto the browser, manipulate Web images (crop, rotate, etc.), and receive desktop notifications. It works with Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer, on both Windows and Mac OS X. (More details here).
While all of this is exciting, the timing of the announcement seems odd.
Not only is BrowserPlus not available for people to download (even in a private beta), . [Update: BrowserPlus is available for download for Windows and Intel Macs. I was looking at the site with an older Mac, and the download option was hidden from view—not even a notice saying "BrowserPlus is not available for your machine." Apologies for the confusion]. And developers are only getting a sneak peak. For instance, here are a list of APIs that it supports. But if they really want to play around with BrowserPlus before its official release, they need to send an e-mail to browserplus-feedback[at]yahoo-inc[dot]com.
Why is Yahoo making developers jump through hoops to play with BrowserPlus if it wants their feedback? The answer:
One of the restrictions of this release is that BrowserPlus can only run on sites operated by Yahoo! or its partners.
It’s just not ready yet.