Of course, there are still outstanding questions and issues to be ironed out. Just for starters, while it's true that the x86 instruction set is available on a wide range of computers -- including PCs and modern Macs alike -- this method leaves many handheld devices in the cold, including those based on Intel's ARM chips. Web access via such alternative devices is only expected to increase in coming years, which could make an idea like the Native Client impractical for many applications.
For the processor-intensive applications that Google envisions, however, Native Client could represent a huge leap forward. Perhaps the most pertinent question that remains, then, is whether the average computer user is ready to do the bulk of his or her computing within the browser, rather than using traditional desktop applications. Is Google's vision of browser-based computing really the future? And if so, how will the traditional software industry respond?