Re: We need something more simple than webbrowsers
"The modern web browser is more like an OS than a text rendering application, and so much of the web now depends on that to work. Yes, I know its dumb, but no I don't see it changing."
It is very dumb indeed. Anyone thinking that a browser as an OS is going to be any more secure than a traditional OS is deluded. In fact it's almost certainly worse.
The traditional OSes have been put through the mill and a lot of problems have been fixed. Whereas a brand new execution ecosystem (which we call a web browser) has got all of it's day-one bugs still extant, and they keep adding more features (and more bugs) all the time.
"Probably the best we can hope for is sandboxing becoming robust enough to stop break-outs, and maybe aggressive enough to just kill browsers when something dodgy happens."
Sandboxing is in itself a useful way of guarding the OS underneath the browser, and I'd rather have it than not. I agree - I think it's is indeed the best we can hope for. Alas, if the browser is acting more like an OS within an OS, then the sandbox isn't adequate. What's to stop some nasty code running riot inside the browser stealing / deleting data stored within the browser? The browser would need adequate protections within itself, as well as the sandbox barrier outside.
There's already proof of concept in-browser viruses floating around (El Reg passum), but there's nothing you can do outside the browser to prevent them causing harm inside it. So what's it to be? A special Macafee webpage that's always running inside your browser checking up on other web pages to make sure they're not doing anything nefarious? Sounds less efficient than an ordinary OS + apps + AV to me.
So far as I can tell HTML5 is making a similar mistake to Android. HTML5 is designed to keep different web apps separate, and no web app can influence another. At least, that's the intention. It doesn't work out that way though because the HTML5 implementation is not perfect. It does make it very difficult to add a third party package (an AV product, a 'Macaffee' web page) to protect the whole browser and the apps and data it's storing. So we're totally dependent on the browser writers immediately fixing bugs, etc. Bit like AV in Android can detect nasties, but can't actually do anything about them because the OS won't let it.