This approach, using browser as a general GUI framework and shipping with an embedded server, has certainly been used before. I'm not sure whether there have been any established general framework, or whether this is really different from any web application.
in reply to A different approach to generating a GUI
There are certainly some limitations for this type of application, it needs to be web-like (e.g., pretty difficult to write a drawing app). The recent talk about AJAX (as exemplifed by gmail and google maps) certainly make this approach more like a desktop application.