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Is there a practical reason that a reference to the opener window is given to the opened window? That seems like something we could do without.

Example: Google Slides where one tab has the presentation and another tab has the speaker notes. You want those to be in sync.

But presumably this example is not cross-domain. This behaviour should not be allowed by default for cross-domain links!

There are plenty of other ways to do this e.g. web sockets or localStorage.

Now, yes, but a lot of precedent was set before then. Even now both of the technologies you mentioned would add significant complexity – needing to start running an otherwise unnecessary WebSocket server, having to debug and workaround client bugs or network issues like large organizations blocking WebSockets.

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