For me, it was nice to see that Windows 8 WinRT host Web technologies in a native application framework. In some ways, Microsoft is basically embedding a Web Application Framework in the OS without embedding a browser in the OS.
I've always been conflicted about Web Browsers. They are a great universal platform for delivering a variety of interactivity across devices. But, they present at least two major problems for me:
One can rethink desktop application experiences to include the notion of back/foward/refresh, so this isn't the end of the world. In some ways, it's just about how you think about the parts that make up the overall interactivity and how those parts work with the prevailing interactive model.
It's really the second one that bothers me. Windows and every other OS gives people the ability to launch, manage, and navigate among interactive experiences via windows. The browser also provides a way to launch and navigate among interactive experiences via tabs. And since so many applications are moving toward Web technologies, we now have one framework for some applications and another sub-framework for others. I, personally, have longed for a universal application platform that just sits in the OS. I launch Gmail the same way I launch Photoshop. I navigate between Web and local application experiences fluidly. I manage all my interactive experiences in a similar console, even if I'm dealing with them in different ways... you know... removing a Bookmark/Favorite is different than uninstalling a native application. Or is it? Maybe to the end user, Remove is just Remove... and what happens to remove that is handled by the OS. Hmmm.
Anyway, let me complete a thought on navigating/managing applications. The Windows Taskbar is really just a "tabbed" navigation control. Move that bad boy to the top of the screen and make the items look more tabby, and bam!... tabbed experience. Point is, we don't need a browser to elegantly launch and navigate among all of our running applications (Web or otherwise).
Actually, as the word "launch" came off my keyboard, I realized that the browser does two things that Windows and native OS application frameworks do not:
I like it. Needs more thought though.
Okay... let's see if I can make that massive digression tie back in... Windows 8 hosting Web Applications and native applications in a common experience is good. Windows 8 changing application launching to application "addressing" and providing a unified way to invoke both Web applications and native applications would be luscious.