The browser *is* a plugin

I was reading Scott Barnes' interesting post on Ajax being a one trick pony (I'd rather call it a "one trick hack", but hey) and found myself stuck on the following line:

"More and more of what you traditionally do on the desktop will be done on the web, in your browser (not in a plugin)."

Here's a somewhat radical concept: Isn't the browser, today, nothing more than a plugin to the operating system?

Looking forward to the future of the web, we have to realize that the operating system is where web applications are going to be, not in the browser. "Installing" (perhaps purchasing) and using a web application will be no different than using a desktop application from the user's perspective. Today, the fact that web applications (RIAs, smart clients, [insert catchy marketing phrase here]) run in a browser is a limitation of the state of the art rather than an indication of it.

Perhaps it is a bit premature to announce the death of the browser but I predict that within the next ten years we will look back at the browser wars and try to remember what all the fuss was about. In the Internet-as-application-platform era, the Operating System *is* the browser.