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Spoon.net runs any software without installing it (incl. IE6/7) (spoon.net)
144 points by swombat on Sept 24, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

"The Spoon kernel is a lightweight implementation of core operating system APIs, including the filesystem, registry, process, and threading subsystems, completely implemented within the user-mode space, allowing Spoon apps to be executed without any device driver installation or administrative privileges."

Two thoughts:

1. Wow, I cannot imagine how much work it would be to fake all the necessary Windows APIs for this to work.

2. IT managers everywhere should be afraid. Very afraid.

It look Wine almost 15 years to get to the 1.0 release.

Although to be fair to Wine they have had to build the entire stack - as far as I can see this only runs on Windows. Presumably emulating the Windows APIs on Windows is a lot easier than emulating them on a completely different underlying platform.

Still - it's pretty cool.

It's easier, and a pass-through model is not entirely new.

DEC's fx!32 emulator was running Windows x86 code on Windows Alpha way back in 1996. And yes, fx!32 passed calls through to native Windows code, too.

I remember having a PC emulator on a OSF/1 Alpha about 94 or so (SoftWindows?) - was perfectly usable.

Why should IT Managers fear this? From looking at their site it is very similar in concept to Citrix, which is already widely used. The browser plug-in is still needed so that provides some measure of control.

If people are able to install the browser plug-in then they could probably install the applications directly.

One of my clients is government-funded and can get into trouble if they have licensing issues with their software. Their employees, meanwhile, have a tendency to not fully review the EULAs for software they download. For that and other reasons, we're about to revoke admin privileges on their workstations.

This would pretty much circumvent that.

So, yeah. I can see how IT managers might not be looking forward to this. (But, that's their job.)

Can they install the plugin without admin rights?

allowing Spoon apps to be executed without any device driver installation or administrative privileges

Isn't this what Google was looking to do with their Chrome Frame for IE? Sounds like an acquisition may be in order.

I think you're thinking of NaCL (http://code.google.com/p/nativeclient/)

In contrast, Google Frame is designed to make the deployment hassle for new browsers simpler (user still clicks on "The Internet").

Yep. Spoon wont last in the wild for long, if it actually delivers.

It's been around since 2007 (or earlier). They just renamed/bundled it.

See my longer comment further down this page for details.

"Virtual OS in the browser" sounds like the best business and consumer product. the stuff practically sells itself. If they haven't done much since 2007, I am left to wonder how well do they actually work.

No, Chrome Frame for IE is a way to swap out the rendering engine used by IE. It replaces the IE layout engine with Chrome's WebKit-based layout engine.

I hadn't even considered the possibility that they implemented that part themselves. I just assumed they were using something like Crossover as part of their product. Now that is impressive.

It's frustrating to be told your browser is unsupported, and not be given a list of the browsers that are.


It's a poor error message. What they really mean is your platform isn't supported. Windows browsers all seem to work.

Too bad it works neither on Linux nor OSX. Would be nice to see the info about unsupported browsers earlier.

I would love to try it!

I tried to run it in WINE, but it did not work. It would be great if somebody implemented the required features for it to run.

Thanks, I'm using linux.

Tried the newest versions of chrome and firefox. Both failed. I left the site. I assume this only works on IE (which I dont have on my mac).

Worked perfectly on Chrome for me.

PS> I am on Windows XP.

Isn't this the same group that years ago had downloadable virtualized copies of all the major browsers?

Ah, yup, it used to be http://www.xenocode.com/browsers/


They had firefox virtualized in 2007 http://web.archive.org/web/20070810063157/http://www.xenocod...

I'm curious if they are technically allowed to distribute IE though.

I still have the old versions saved that did not need any of their "library" installed which leads me to believe that this new approach is just a control mechanism to make you visit their site.

It's a shame their IE9 doesn't work on XP though, that would be a real coup.

I remember using the xenocode sandbox... It was incredibly useful for web development.

Apparently they found a better business model with this, or so I assume.

I've been using spoon.net on and off for cross-browser testing for about 2 years. It's a decent product, but remarkably unstable. It's very common by the middle of the day that you I be able to launch an app from within Spoon, and if I look in the task manager, there is around 8 spoon.net processes locked up and using 100 odd megs of ram each. YMMV, but I've had this on many separate installs. To be honest, this situation has gotten bad enough that most of the time I just run separate machines with different IE versions and access them via RDP. When it works, however, it is very impressive.

"that you I be able to" = "that I won't be able to". I have no idea how that came out so wrong.

I am running IE6, 7 and 8 in parallel on the same windows install. Properly, without IETester and its glitches.

As a web developer, this is a pretty awesome find. Basically, it means that instead of needing to run 3 VirtualBoxes (4, soon), one for each version of IE, I can now run just one, thus saving me a gig of RAM and a lot of performance.

Just be careful. I've used to test against their IE6 and few things (CSS related) weren't working. Had to use MS own virtual IE6 for a more proper rendering.

Awesome service.

I don't remember having such issues with spoon, it is more common in IETester though. Do you have some examples?

Overlays/z-index. Might be able to dig it up.

There's also MultipleIEs (http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE) -- I have it installed on a VirtualBox to run IE6 beside IE8. I mostly use it to test jQuery/JavaScript code and it suffices.

Sorry, Spoon isn't available on your browser yet! Please try again from a different machine or browser.

What is supported?

Windows only. But it means you only need one windows machine as opposed to multiple VMs.

At least not Chrome, Firefox, Safari nor Opera (tested on Mac)

I want to know how much Spoon Studio costs so I click the buy button and it wants me to register and login? I clicked around a little more but I couldn't find the cost.

Unfortunately it doesn't work on my Mac either, on my Windows machine though it was really cool to see IE6 pop up!

I heard someone say $2,395 (http://twitter.com/fowlduck/status/25408002640) but I haven't verified that myself, so not sure...

The plugin is free, however.

Checked it myself now. it's $2395 / user.

At that price virtual machines sound like a steal. You could even buy a bunch of special purpose netbooks.

You don't have to pay to use this thing - only to develop for it.

I've been using it for a long time now (for IE6/7) and it is pretty good I must say, a great alternative to IETester.

How is this different than VMWare, Microsofts, and Citrix exisiting application virtualization products?

It runs in a browser (sort of) and apparently it doesn't require having a full OS running virtualized.

Maybe the browser is the difference, although I'm not sure how you run most apps in a browser.

VMWare, MS, and Citrix all have app virtualization technology which will virtualize a single application, not requiring the full OS to be virtualized.

it runs on the client?

Microsoft acquired Softricity a few years ago who had a product, SoftGrid, that did this. Kinda sad that it now only appears in a footnote on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/appv/default.mspx

The issue I have with these app virtualisation technologies is that they all seem to work on the same pricing model: expensive user licenses are required, which pretty much dictates how I -as the developer- should sell and price the applications I distribute.

It's cool technology that could be very useful in solving all sorts of deployment issues, but it's way too expensive. Having to track, pay and manage these royalties/user licenses offsets -at my lowly ISV level- any benefit these products may offer.

I have been using this for doing the browser compatibility testing. I use it on my windows machine. Its simple and works great..It worked better that IE tester. The only problem I noticed so far was, my anti virus( AVG) treats this as a virus and pops multiple messages.

If these guys have been around since 2007 they should really consider putting a bit more effort into marketing.

I use these frequently for browser testing. They are a godsend.

It would be interesting to run IIS Express on spoon.

does it work on mac?

Can I use Spoon on my Mac?

Not yet! But we hope to bring Spoon to other platforms soon -- stay tuned!

Note you can run Spoon on Mac using a Windows emulation product such as Parallels or VMware Fusion.


No. At least not on my builds of Chrome and FF.



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