Mighty, the Stadia of browsers, thinks you’ll subscribe to use Chrome without screaming fans

Chris Davies - Apr 28, 2021, 12:33pm CDT
Mighty, the Stadia of browsers, thinks you’ll subscribe to use Chrome without screaming fans

Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming may have shown that remotely running your console titles in the cloud has big performance advantages, but would you pay a monthly subscription to do the same with your browser? That’s what startup Mighty is hoping to convince people comes next, with the promise of turning the computer on your desk or lap into a viewer for Chrome engine Chromium running on a potent remote server.

Dumping on modern browsers isn’t exactly a new hobby. Whether it’s Chrome being a memory-hog, Safari crashing, or Edge glitching, we seem to spend more of our lives in the browser than in any other app, and then encounter the most problems and instabilities there too.

Mighty‘s fix is basically to treat your local machine as a viewer. As the company puts it, “imagine your browser is a Netflix video but running on cutting-edge server hardware somewhere else.” Rather than adding load to your own processor and RAM, it gets a dedicated 16GB of memory, dual Intel Xeon processors with up to 16 vCPUs, and NVIDIA GPUs.

Combined with a 1+ Gbps internet connection, Mighty’s Suhail Doshi says, the result is faster web apps, speedy page loads, and less of a hit on your local resources. If you’re using a laptop, that could mean longer battery life, not to mention the ability to hold off on upgrades for longer periods since the cloud is doing the heavy lifting.

On the one hand, you could argue this is a natural progression from services like Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming, giving people access to performance hardware and internet connections that price or simply availability may not normally grant them. At the same time, though, the idea of dedicating a potent cloud computer just to work around the limitations of local devices at running a browser does feel a little extreme.

It also opens the door to legitimate privacy and security concerns. For Mighty to work, everything you type – every username, password, address, credit card number, SSN, and more – has to be routed through its servers. Every website cookie is saved there too.

Mighty’s answer is that its servers and code were audited by a third-party firm in February 2021, and that its infrastructure will be audited each year. Sensitive data is encrypted, it adds, on an isolated virtual machine, and not backed up anywhere else. Automated tools, rather than humans, manage things like browser updates, and the company says it has policies that employees can’t view your history. Keystrokes, meanwhile, are encrypted for transmission, and not stored.

There’s not, however, HIPAA compliance, or SOC-2. Mighty says “we may look at getting compliance in late 2022.” Two-factor authentication is also “coming soon,” the startup says.

All the same, the best intentions (and plans) of a startup don’t mean that hacks and exploits are impossible. Indeed you could argue that Mighty is an even more tempting target for hackers, given the sort of information users will be entrusting it with. Any decision to use the service will implicitly come with the understanding that you’re trusting Mighty – and every Mighty employee – to do the right thing.

Mighty will initially be prioritizing users in California and New York City – so as to reduce latency between its servers and its customers – and is currently taking sign-ups on a request basis. As for pricing, that isn’t exactly clear, but it looks like $30 per month is typical. Just how many people are so annoyed at their browsing experience they’ll open their wallets that wide remains to be seen.

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