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Microsoft: The Gatekeeper of the Internet 539

jeffy124 writes "C|net is embarking on a seven day comprehensive report on how Microsoft is moving themselves into position to be The Gatekeeper Of The Internet through Windows XP. The first installment explains the basics of how this is going to happen: Reminders that last for days encouraging users to sign up for Passport, and how Windows will evenutally resemble services like AOL."
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Microsoft: The Gatekeeper of the Internet

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  • by cbowland ( 205263 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:50AM (#2446297)
    I think that is very optimistic considering the public's history with MS. MS products have repeated proven themselves to be very vulnerable to security breaches and yet there is little consumer backlash. Having the dominant position in the marketplace makes it very difficult for the ordinary user to switch away from MS regardless of any security problems.
  • by Kletus Cassidy ( 230405 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:53AM (#2446316)
    Wouldn't it have made more sense for Slashdot to wait for the entire 7 day series to be written and link to it all than to link to the first two articles? What's going to happen now, is Slashdot going to provide a link to each installment daily or revisit the story in a week when all 7 articles have been printed?

    BEST QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE "If successful, Microsoft could challenge AOL Time Warner and other media giants for control of the Internet and entirely new industries"

    Basically, C|Net is admitting that AOL already practically owns the Internet and Micro$oft is trying to give them a run for their money. I usually don't support Micro$oft but I'd rather there was some competition to AOL's increasingly massive control of how, where and when most people access the 'net and what they see.
  • by under_score ( 65824 ) <> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:53AM (#2446320) Homepage
    Microsoft is in a funny position. Many of the things they do (not all) have a solid basis in user needs or wants. Honestly, I would be/is a lot simpler to have the internet and all its related services (web, mail, chat, identification etc.) integrated seamlessly into the OS so that any application can easily access those services. That's the tech side of Microsoft: they are doing some good. BUT As most people here would agree, their business practices range from sucking to disasterous. Basically, this dichotomy boils down to the issue of "does the end justify the means?" Most people do not think so, and our legal code is set up that way. In fact, if you really get down to it, most of our society is based on the idea that the means justify the end. (That is a whole other discussion...) Microsoft being a gatekeeper to the internet is both a business decision and a technical decision. For many people, it is a way to provide useful services for their operating system and applications. Therefore people will buy it, corporations will buy it (not all of course). But as time goes on, there will be more and more pressure on Microsoft from a legal perspective... because undoubtably, they will not clean up their act on the "means" side of things.
  • by tomknight ( 190939 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:54AM (#2446323) Homepage Journal
    I'm afraid I just don't agree with you. Peple are used to security breaches, they happen all the time. I'm not just talking about the Swiss-cheese IIS, but other companies who aren't able to run their own systems securely, from banks which make data avaiable to the wrong people, to online retailers which leave sensitive data on unsecure webservers.

    Okay, a breach would damage their rep a little, and some people would stop using the service, but I think the majorty would just accept the failure as a temporary glitch and continue to use their services.


  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:59AM (#2446350)
    "This whole thing is driven by the fact that Microsoft has hundreds of millions of Windows users out there, but Microsoft doesn't have a direct monthly billing
    relationship with those users," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.
    (My emphasis).

    That word, right there, scares the bejeebies out of me.

  • by tomknight ( 190939 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:02AM (#2446365) Homepage Journal
    I think that one thing that will convice many people to switch the MS systems is that they'll make as many services as possible run only on Windows.

    Okay, we have the beautiful open-source coders, all out there trying to catch up and offer the same (or equivalent) stuff for other platforms, but it'll be a hard struggle. Picture a nice file-sharing system that all Windows users use. Nice. Along comes Mr Open-Source, who says "Hey, I'd like to get in on this action", but find that he can't because to do so would require him to illegally decrypt something. I don't know what, but if I was MS, I'd find a way to make using their services from a non-Windows platform illegal - and I don't think it'd be very hard to do so...


  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:03AM (#2446366) Homepage
    Of course Bill & Co. are trying to take over the Internet - they get paid to make as much money as possible for thier shareholders, and the best way to do that for them at this point is to commandeer as much of the Internet as possible. I certainly don't like it either, but it's the reality of a company being too sucessful in a Capitalist economy. Bill Gates is not Satan, he's just a really successful player in the Business Game - he's a symptom, not a disease.

    Until we can convince the unwashed masses that the Internet can be a force for world change of the benevolent kind and is not just for businesses and pr0n, crap like this will continue. If it's not Gates, look out for Elliston and/or McNealy - any one of them would co-opt the Internet in a second, given the chance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:03AM (#2446368)
    But to compensate for poor security, they'll just keep lowering the price of the OS. Like the article said, it's the whole razor and blades theory. Within two years time so many people will have been forced over to MSN/Passport/.NET that Microsofts main revenue stream will be services, not the OS.

    Who cares if it's insecure when the package is offered to them for free download/upgrade (plus $XX per month)...

    MS will enter the free OS movement with consumer awareness. Consumers still aren't bombarded with the phrase "Microsoft virus/worm" often enough for them to differentiate systems or security.

  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:08AM (#2446397)
    xcuse me, but how does this apply to those of us who don't use windows? are we going to be pushed off of the 'net?

    To some extent we already have been. If I made my machine at home boot directly into the Linux partition, my wife would kill me. Not because she cares about operating systems, but because there are a good many mail order sites that do things that either don't work without Internet Explorer (I'm thinking of ActiveX scripting and such) or don't render properly under Mozilla, because the web designers didn't care.

    Sure, this is the fault of the companies that design sites like this. But when 95% of all online purchases are made from Windows machines, then from a business point of view it doesn't make sense to worry about the other 1%. How many Linux users are going to buy clothes from L.L. Bean or Chadwick's?
  • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:08AM (#2446401) Homepage
    I wouldn't mind Microsoft resembling AOL. It's their right to try and do so. But the big difference with AOL is that with AOL i at least have a choice in signing up.

    MS provides an operating system. Fine. MS provides technology for the internet. Reasonable... better than loose products like in the 3.x days. (trumpet winsock etc..). MS providing security. Bad. Given their trackrecord it would be an outright disaster. MS providing content (MSN). Evil. I want to be able to view any kind of content. Not MS controlled. Who is to say that when MS gets a big stranglehold on the Net they won't start censoring content provided by others. If MS doesn't want people to find out about bugs they just block the sites that provide such information.

    Basicly MS tries to not only control the Internet on a technologie side. They can (and most likeliy will) also try to control the content. Power corrupts.. whatever kind of power it is.

    And when i have almost no control on which provider or technology i want...

    Joe Sixpack will probably just click on the yes button, not knowing they give away their freedom and privacy.
  • by Ouroboro ( 10725 ) <aaron_hoyt AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:10AM (#2446407) Homepage Journal

    Basically, C|Net is admitting that AOL already practically owns the Internet and Micro$oft is trying to give them a run for their money. I usually don't support Micro$oft but I'd rather there was some competition to AOL's increasingly massive control of how, where and when most people access the 'net and what they see.

    Don't fool yourself. Microsoft's play for the internet will be much more painful than the Fisher Price like work that AOL does. The reason? Control. Once you are locked in with microsoft it is very hard to extricate yourself. Think of AOL as a pair of rosey colored glasses. Now add some duct tape to keep you from removing them, and now you have microsoft.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:18AM (#2446445)
    Isn't it clear? Microsoft knows they want a subscription buisiness model, but they don't know yet what customers will pay for. I've got news for Microsoft, consumers don't pay for anything very easily. Look at all the failed dot bombs: People like free stuff, when the model switches to a payment model, most customers drop it like a bad habit. I used to work in retail, trust me when I say most people are cheap. I admit, I am.

    Do you think for a minute Napster will survive as a subscription service? No way!

    How about software? Forget about it!

    Now factor in a recessonary world economy, and guess what.....HailStorm, XP, and all the software subscription based models are doomed to fail.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:18AM (#2446449)
    C|Net is admitting that AOL already practically owns the Internet

    Not from where I'm sitting. AOL may be popular in the USA, but in the rest of the world very few people use it to access the 'net. And the rest of the world is quite a big place, you know.

  • privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheMMaster ( 527904 ) <hp@ t m m . cx> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:21AM (#2446469)
    You know what really really makes me mad? The fact that the whole fucking world is talking crap about privacy, people dump shit on the government for taking their privacy, security cameras invade privacy and what else the "people" talk about. And under there noses is a company (let's call them Microsoft) that sells them an OS that they'll install, presents them with a nice dialog and asks if the user wants to create a passport.
    PEOPLE WILL create those things... and people WILL use them and in a short while there is a company that has your Creditcard number, expiration date, all your favorite files, knows your surfing habits, knows who your friends are, knows what you like to buy, can present you with "special offers"

    I've been preacing this ever since I heard about the passport thing, and passport is pretty old now.... PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO HEAR AND DON'T WANT TO KNOW as long as they can get their daily dose of minesweeper....
    And we, the geeks, have seen this coming for quite some time now, but (as always with microsoft) by the time the people know what hit them, it's too late to turn back, all e-commerse sites will be .NET and will require your passport to get to your safely stored creditcard informatation...

    The world makes me sick, and most of all these ignorant people that don't seem to care about this kind of privacy.
    But what can we do? Well since I hope there are some more talented writers than myself here, write a column for your (local) newspaper... convince people... THIS IS IMPORTANT

    and for all the techies: check out .GNU [] something simular to .NET but with privacy in mind...

    end rant
  • Re:Not MY internet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cant_get_a_good_nick ( 172131 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:23AM (#2446479)
    The Net existed before that. In ftp sites (anyone remember ftping to, simtel?, sumex-aim?) gopherspace, BBSs. The search services were not Altavista and Google, but Archie and Veronica. The web started as a way of linking physics papers. No images, no ActiveX controls to worry about. Plain text, with links.

    But the Net evolved. It evolved to the point to where it is now. Will you continue to have those options? I do't know. Try running a Veronica search now. That option is gone. What options will be gone tomorrow?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:24AM (#2446485)
    I'll just attack a few of the specified issues.

    1. will automatically send Web surfers to an MSN search engine if a Web address cannot be located, rather than resorting to the standard "page not found" message.

    Well, for starters, this applies to DNS not found or host refusing connection, not 404 errors. Internet Explorer 6.0 will go where you tell it to go, and although it defaults to MSN, you can select Yahoo, Lycos, Encarta, Goto, NorthernLight, Euroseek, AltaVista, NetGuide, LookSmart, Yack, Excite, AOL, Switchboard, InfoSpace, BigFoot, WorldPages, Expedia, MapQuest, Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.Com, Thesaurus.Com, or Corbis as search providers. You can configure Internet Explorer that if a host isn't found to search for it and provide the search page from your provider, automatically load the first page found from the search provider, or to just tell you that the host isn't found.

    2. [.NET] Strategy: Blueprint shrouded in mystery

    Microsoft has provided the specifications for .NET now for about a year, enough so that Ximian feels confident in porting it to Linux. WebServices are very strictly based on specifications at W3, including XML, SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI. Microsoft is also opening My .NET Services so that it can be hosted on any server running any server software. Microsoft is also opening Passport so that it can be authenticating through any server running any server software. These specifications are open and downloadable. Sun can't even claim that.
  • by orgnine ( 529145 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:37AM (#2446567)
    CNet has one great idea posting this series. Their job is keeping people informed, and even if they are lacking technical detail, these articles are worth a read.

    There are millions upon millions of uninformed internet users in the world. The reality is, if local ISP's keep getting bought out either by AOL or Microsoft, people will eventually run out of alternative solutions to net access.

    But the Internet is so vast. It would take Microsoft *quite* a while to accomplish their task. XP seems like it is just the first step... a new piece of software, new features, new activation features, etc etc. Everything is promising to be more secure, more friendly, easier to use, prettier to look at.

    Don't forget, people, under all that pretty GUI gobbley-gook, there is CODE. A lot of M$ code.

    And down the line, where is this code taking us? Is it taking us down the line of product and service excellence, and customer care? Or is it taking us down the line customer control? I think you can see the gist of XP.

  • by streetlawyer ( 169828 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:39AM (#2446578) Homepage
    or don't render properly under Mozilla, because the web designers didn't care.

    Or alternatively, because the Mozilla developers don't care.

  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:42AM (#2446600) Homepage
    You're way wrong here. Subtract the US and AOL has but a pittance share. Even here in Canada AOL has hardly any market penetration, even though we are bombarded with free CD's and ad campaigns. Guess what? In my province 90% f internet users get their access from the local telco. Why? Cause its faster, same price, and consumers trust them.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:56AM (#2446687)
    I have a mental image of Microsoft as a huge giant, running ahead of the IT pack at top speed. It's moving faster than ever before and most people think it is still easily winning the race. "Look, it's going faster and faster!" But what they don't notice is that it is stumbling forward, waving it's arms trying to stay stable, and at any moment could fall flat on its face.

    I predict this will happen within about three years, perhaps even sooner. Remember when IBM stumbled, in about 1993? Well, when Microsoft does it, it's gonna be a whole lot worse. The reasons are simple. The majority of its profits come from basically two product lines - its operating systems and its office suite. Both of these are under threat from free products. Sure, they're not as good as Microsoft products, yet. But they're improving at an increadible rate - anyone who has assessed Linux for desktop use a couple of years ago, and has done the same recently, will agree with that. One day soon its going to be really hard for a CTO of a small or medium sized company to justify buying Microsoft rather than using a free, similar product.

    People say Microsoft's .NET strategy is complex. Technically it might be, but strategicly it's not. The strategy is simple - try to get as much customer 'lock-in' as possible as quickly as possible. To do this, they need to get everyone moving to XP as soon as they can - which I believe is one of the main reasons they've changed their licensing model. Companies that update their software only every three or four years - for instance, companies using Windows 2000 but probably won't do a complete update until 2003 or 2004 - are customers that Microsoft might loose unless they get them locked-in before then.

    One of the biggest mistakes that Microsoft has made recently is to make their software more expensive for exactly those businesses they need to get on board quickest - the companies that only upgrade every three to four years. It's exactly those customers that are most likely to move to Linux, and Microsoft has just given them much more motivation to do so. And when they start to move, the development momentum of Linux will increase even more, and larger enterprises won't be far behind. This process is I believe probably more noticable in 'the rest of the world' before it becomes very evident in the USA.

    Microsoft is in many ways a pre-Internet company. The internet has caused changes to the way software is developed and distributed. There is nothing Microsoft can do about this. It's demise is inevitable, the only question is when.
  • by datatrash ( 522537 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:57AM (#2446693)
    Granted it is a contentious thing for Microsoft to want to have a direct relationship with its Windowed users. Most sane folks would probably agree that letting MS in on your life would be to let a "bad" (or something along those lines) company have access to "who you are."

    However, just last Friday there was a book review [] on Gonzo marketing and heads were busting nuts all over themselves with the idea that marketers should be allowed to directly charm them with products that they know they would be interested in because they would have a relationship with them.

    So my question really (in general) is why it alright to foster relationships with marketers who are not part of Microsoft, but frightening to divulge info to Microsoft.

    Hell, I don't want anyone to know more about my personal habits than I know about myself, MS or doubleclick or anyone, but it doesn't seem to ad (oh that subtle humour) up that it would just be bad for MS to have a relationship.
  • by A Tin of Fish Steaks ( 416200 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:04AM (#2446721)

    I think that it should be of concern to us. It will affect our society whether or not it directly affects us as individual computer users. Microsoft is not content to be a software monopoly; they want to be a media/communications giant as well. In attempting to become "The Gatekeeper of the Internet", Microsoft will have enormous influence over what sites and services Windows users choose. It isn't comforting to think a single corporation will have so much control over the information that the average internet user has access to.

    Of course, AOL is trying to do the same thing. It's already hard for the novice AOL user to tell where AOL ends and the Internet begins.

    Given the corporate consolidation that has already occurred in the media business and AOL's huge market share in Internet access, maybe what Microsoft is doing isn't such a bad thing. We need more competition in this area, and Microsoft may be the only company in a position to do it. A world where AOL/Time-Warner has a disproportionate influence over what we see, read, and hear isn't any better than one in which Microsoft is in charge. I just hope Microsoft isn't overly successful. No one should have a near monopoly over access to information.

  • by GlassUser ( 190787 ) <slashdot@glassus ... t minus math_god> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:10AM (#2446755) Homepage Journal
    Code to standard [], not to browser. If it doesn't display, it's the browser's fault.
  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:11AM (#2446761) Homepage

    Ok, I know how everyone here hates marketing, I don't like it either. But for most of the people in this world they only listen to marketing, not factual intelligent reports or people. These people need all their information given to them, they can't go out and search for reports. How many people do you think will read this Cnet article if it's not email/icqed to them by a friend?

    Most people have never heard about Linux until a few reports started popping up here and there on the news. I have had relatives email me news articles about Linux because they think it's some new and interesting thing. Usually I've already read about the topic months ago but they are just getting around to hearing about it because it was just shown to them by a local newspaper or on TV.

    We need to start giving people more information about Linux and Open Source projects and their goals. We need to inform people about how their information and freedom is going to be controlled if they don't stop it. If we just sit back and keep denying that we need to announce these things to the world and keep trying to feel safe in our little groups, then MS will keep shoveling out how great it and it's products are and people will keep handing their money and freedom over to them.

  • by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:14AM (#2446777) Journal

    (I'm considering it right now, given the know improvements in stability between XP and 98

    This is an interesting statment, it characterizes each new release of Windows. Before the release all the magazines and Beta Testers tell us over and over how the BSOD is gone and this is a more stable Windows. The it gets released and within weeks, we start finding out that nothing has really changed, Microsoft may have fixed some bugs, but usually introduced several more. Not to mention we loose compatibilty with at least some of our old software. WinME was the worst release to date and I don't hold much hope for XP.

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:15AM (#2446793)
    I've just re-read my post and think it would perhaps be better if all instances of "Linux" were replaced with "Open Source". It's really Open Source which is the long term threat to Microsoft, rather than Linux, although Linux might be what makes the giant fall.
  • by DrSpin ( 524593 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:18AM (#2446800)
    Its OK, MS can't do this- it would certianly be illegal as well as immoral. ... Outside of the USA, even clauses forbidding reverse engineering are illegal.

    Thats another reason why Linux got going in Finland, while BSD didn't in the USA.

    Anyway, Computer history teaches us that first time users can be sold any amount of overpriced sh*te. After they have been badly burned, they wise up. Mainframes did it - IBM nearly died as a result of a sales plan based on kicking the sh*te out of their customers. Minis did it - where is DEC now? DG? Prime?. The PC has brought 100 million suckers to the market. Next time they upgrade, they will do it to get a feature they can USE. Easier access to viruses probably is not it.

    Non technical users keep asking me "why do I get these messages about my programs committing immoral acts?" I tell them its because they were fool enough to buy programs from Microsoft. Maybe they should consider alternative suppliers.

    I still wonder how, with the infinite pool of developers that is open-source, how comes kde is not as slick as Win95? and gnome won't install on anything ever, and includes virtually every piece of open source ever written in its dependencies.
  • by mysticbob ( 21980 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:23AM (#2446826)
    But they're improving at an increadible rate - anyone who has assessed Linux for desktop use a couple of years ago, and has done the same recently, will agree with that. One day soon its going to be really hard for a CTO of a small or medium sized company to justify buying Microsoft rather than using a free, similar product. wrong - three reasons:
    1. microsoft is continuing to develop it's products - it's not standing still, so oss will always play catchup.
    2. free != free: there's still support. who do you call when you can't get staroffice to stop crashing? microsoft will always have much better (and more expenseive, but that's their game) support than some oss alternative. the support business model is causing small oss vendors to crater left and right.
    3. most importantly: microsoft office stuff will not be unthroned simply because too many people rely on it. people at my office have been dumbed down to the point where they send email with .doc attachments, but _everybody_ does it. given that, unless the open alternative is 100% compatible, no chance of them crushing microsoft office.
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:37AM (#2446900)
    Given that people are now getting conditioned to MS using these 'reminders' to get people to sign into things, not really being aware of what that entails, I'm just waiting for the XP specific virus that comes up with the 'confirmation' reminder, or similar, that asks the user to re-send their details and password as confirmation of the account.
    Bingo, how to compromise the financial security of about 50% of the net in one easy sweep.
    Of course, MS could head this off by educating users not to keep clicking buttons, but then, they'd start understanding just why they don't need all the Windows add on garbage, and stay with what they have...
    Instead, it's easier to let the users risk their money to let MS make a buck, than let MS lose potential revenue by educating people as to what is really going on...
  • by chrisserwin ( 448761 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:45AM (#2446945)
    I've said it before, I'll say it again:

    All Microsoft has to do is develop encrypted "secure" document formats to protect their "customers" from piracy, and it will be illegal for any 3rd party to write compatible software. At this point, you will not only be renting software from Microsoft, you will be paing *ransom* to access *your own work* created with said software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:46AM (#2446951)
    I help run a reasonably popular information / e-commerce site. Under no circumstances shall the site ever EVER depend on Microsoft software or services, from web server to authentication mechanism to browser.

    Nor, mind, will it rely on software controlled by any large corporation; I also ensure that hardware purchases avoid Intel, for AMD may not know how to cool a CPU given a vat of liquid nitrogen, but at least they're Not As Evil.

    Statistics show that the majority of our visitors use AOL, yet we do little more than a passing test with the AOHell versions of browser software to ensure there are no nastinesses (caching issues come to mind, and were fixed). As long as AOL remains capable of downloading and rendering standards-compliant pages, so shall AOLers be welcome, even if they do whine like spoilt children.

    And what if/when AOL/a Microsoft bastard child begin to refuse to download non-MSified content? Well, if business requirements prevent me from locking them out completely with a huge warning message, they will instead receive content with a huge warning message, that details every last lock-in evil that has caused us to need to create a "special version" of the site. If businesses everywhere did this, and such messages included awareness of alternatives[tm], ah how much better things would be..

    I urge responsible sysadmins everywhere to ensure that their company is as unlikely as possible to invest in Evil** software or hardware. That's YOU, readers.

    ** There's always someone who replies "Hitler was evil, Stalin was evil, but Microsoft are not 'evil'." Get over it, OK. Less unecessary whine, more action.

  • by Foamy ( 29271 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:47AM (#2446952)
    My Mother is a perfect example. She got a Windows ME box (against my better advice), signed up for DSL from Qwest and bought a digital camera. She received the Qwest software for her DSL connection and installed it.

    AFAICT, Qwest installs NN4.7.x and uses the built in profile manager in Netscape to setup a profile which is password protected. It also installs an alias on the Desktop to Dial into the DSL account.

    So what's this have to do with the 'average user'? My Mom "logs in" by double clicking Netscape, enters her password and off she goes... to eBay :) She is 100% convinced that Netscape is her ISP!When I showed her that she could dial in using the dialer alias on her desktop and then use IE if she wanted, it would not sink in. She really likes IE better, but since she dials in with Netscape, she thinks that is what she has to use.

    Imagine her with XP and .Net. This little box keeps bugging her to input her personal information into her "Passport". She does it because she thinks she has to, or "the Net won't work well without it."

    One more person locked into MS and .NET

    Oh yeah. She thinks the only place she can put her digital photos is in "My Pictures". When I showed her that she could actually make folders in there to organize "Her" pictures, she was amazed. I figured that was a minor success and I didn't want to blow her away with the fact that she could actually put her pictures in the "My Music" folder if she so pleased!

  • Apparently (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <(ten.cdmm) (ta) (mij)> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @12:02PM (#2447038) Homepage
    I still give too much credit to your typical slashdot reader - maybe you enjoy flipping between your WebTV and your Saturday Night Live too much to contribute intelligently to this conversation.
    Go ahead, flame me - I've got Karma to burn, but all I really proposed that there is an internet that has always existed *in spite* of the commercial offerings of AOL/TW/DoJ/MS-Disney. Don't believe me? Go on IRC and talk to the developers of the latest and greatest Linux software - browse sites like this one.
    Listen - You have basically two options:
    1.) Contribute
    2.) Be ignored
    Take your pick...

  • by Nater ( 15229 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @12:13PM (#2447100) Homepage
    Until open source realizes this, they'll never make headway.

    Many have realized this, but it's a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't"

    If free software follows spec and not Microsoft, then IE takes the cake because it can handle more of the code that's actually found in the wild and users might not understand the details, but they will notice this fact.

    If free software follows Microsoft and not spec, then IE takes the cake because we've effectively handed the standards process to Microsoft and they'll do whatever they damn well please with it.

    The only real solution is to convince web developers to develop sites to spec, and yes, in many cases that is a very steep uphill battle.
  • by A coward on a mouse ( 238331 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @12:50PM (#2447287)
    You make the assumption that it costs the same to design for the 20th visitor as it does for each of the first nineteen. I can tell you, it probably costs more to design for the non-IE users than it does to design for all of the IE users put together. If the cost of reaching that last five percent of the market is so high that it eliminates any profits made by selling to them, it makes better sense just to leave them out.

    Meat-space businesses do the same thing all the time by not requiring all customer service people to speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Hindi, etc. Not offering customer service in foreign languages may cost them a few sales, but the cost of hiring multi-lingual service reps is so high that it makes better sense to just say "Non-english speakers not welcome here".
  • by streetlawyer ( 169828 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @12:55PM (#2447304) Homepage
    This is the attitude. You'd rather have a little badge from the W3C that proves it's "not your fault", than have your users able to view half the Web. You don't care.
  • by Kailden ( 129168 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @01:32PM (#2447504) Journal
    The way I figure, this isn't all that unusual unless you are a non-M$ user.

    For instance, take "Quicken" Ever notice how it encourages you to connect to the internet, get an id at, tells you all about Quicken loans, etc etc etc.

    Then AOL, they send a cd to your house every month, spread crap all over your desktop if you use thier messengers etc etc etc.

    Then the x10 camera popups. It goes on and on, and its a side effect of capitalism and marketing.

    Credit card companies send you envelops full of ads. You get spam directed toward your emails.

    And it works, because its annoying...its works, because people will sign up for passport, people will upgrade to XP.

    But luckily there's plenty of people who won't, for different reasons. That's what's so great FREE as in No $$ software, it takes the marketing no big need to advertise (although it isn't stomped out completely, since people always want recognition or a link to thier site, or continued recognition through all future developments (thank goodness all licensing isn't like that))

    I'm not saying its a great thing---but hey paying for cable and still getting commercials isn't FAIR either---try petitioning you local big business congressman on that :)
  • by reverius ( 471142 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @01:33PM (#2447507) Homepage Journal
    As an outside observer to this quickly-heating discussion, and a former web designer, i'll contribute my $0.02.

    Personally, I do care about my users.

    That's why I code to standards, and encourage them to get a better browser if the page doesn't render properly. ;)

    Wouldn't want people that I care about to be using a bad browser, now would I?
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:10PM (#2447735)
    if you use RoadRunner cable access

    i.e. if you live in the USA

    Ever hear of a little channel called CNN

    i.e. if you live in the USA (CNN isn't that popular outside of the USA except on the TVs in hotel bedrooms)

    Like I said, the world's a big place, and AOL is far from 'owning the Internet'. But perhaps it does in the USA.

  • by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:27PM (#2447825) Homepage
    MS products have repeated proven themselves to be very vulnerable to security breaches and yet there is little consumer backlash. Having the dominant position in the marketplace makes it very difficult for the ordinary user to switch away from MS regardless of any security problems.

    Add to that the fact that when most average users have problems with their computers, they blame the computer maker, not Microsoft. I don't know how many times I've had friends tell me that "This Compaq is a piece of crap, next time I'm buying Dell", or "The HD on this Dell just grinds, I should have baught that Sony Viao", etc, when most of the time it's not the hardware, it's the OS that's screwed things up for them.

    Obviously, like the above poster said, it's because most average users don't think of there being any other option for an OS, so they blame things where they do have an option: The maker of the hardware.
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:28PM (#2447830) Homepage

    I'm sure some others have thought of this, but I want to see if /.ers in general might agree with this theory.

    Before the open, take all comers internet rose from the DARPA labs to worldwide prominence, all previous efforts at such a wide-spanning network were controlled, pay at the gate affairs that had always planned to remain strictly private. We all remember the early days of AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, MSN, etc. The idea of a free, open network that anyone can get on & use at relatively low cost is anathema to companies like AOL is and MS wants to be, whose bread & butter consists of (or is seen to be consisting of in the future) running networks. As long as the internet remains an open system where anyone can get on & protocols are laid out for all to see, it's going to be a threat to their business. What's needed above all in their eyes is some sort of control of the exchange of information, of how business is conducted, and how money changes hands so they can create and maintain an ongoing revenue stream, making this free network profitable for them since their owned networks & software are fast meeting obsolesence. They wish to be the Visa / MC of the net, only more. They want to interject themselves as a middleman between consumer & retailer and between friends & strangers, between you and information itself, collecting micro or perhaps not so micro payments along the way. In this light, AOL & MS aren't evil as much as they're both cut-throat competitors fighting over which of them is going to eat our lunch.

    The problem is, of course, that it's OUR lunch! The internet isn't an MS or AOL invention, it's OUR invention as much, if not more, than it is theirs. Our government funded companies and academics to invent this beautiful thing, and they're looking hard for a way to use software to make it their own.

    How can we stop this? I'm not sure.

    Perhaps we should seek laws mandating all standards & protocols for internet communication be open, so that no company may control the exchange of information. I'm not sure. But no company should have even partial control of how anyone else uses the internet.

  • by tempest303 ( 259600 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <nostunksnej>> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @03:13PM (#2448127) Homepage
    eh!? I think the W3C badge is a clear sign that a developer DOES care. When browser developers don't code to the W3C standards, it's THEY that do not care. That's why standards are there - for everyone to use and reference. Anyone who breaks that standard is the one who "doesn't care".
  • by Erik Hensema ( 12898 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @04:03PM (#2448523) Homepage

    I usually express the quality of software in the urge to upgrade.

    I wanted to upgrade each and every Linux 2.4.x kernel. Hence, they are of low quality. When I was still running 2.2.x I couldn't care less. 2.2.x were fine kernels.

    Before Mozilla 0.9.2 came out, I checked about every other day wether the next milestone had come out yet. Mozilla sucked bad. Recently I upgraded to 0.9.5. Big deal. I did it because I do it all the time, but 0.9.4 was fine too.

    Somehow Windows users tend to wait anxiously for the next release of Windows. Each and every version again. 'Nuff said, I think.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @04:30PM (#2448739) Homepage Journal
    Um- 'Microsoft will march on a road of bones!' isn't exactly a new concept. You will indeed find many people to confirm this: most of whom work for Microsoft Marketing. By that logic, Microsoft Bob long ago became the dominant user interface of the 21st century (some would say it _has_ ;) )

    It's nice to insist that Microsoft will always win, but you also need a dose of reality. It isn't simply that Microsoft is fighting it out with fellow software developers like Sun, or that they are trying to force people into a highly proprietary version of e-business that IS NOT PROVEN TO WORK using software that has been an enormous reliability headache (Peter Principle for software?)... though this by itself would be a strong argument that they are going to fail.

    The trouble is, the degree of control and influence they are seeking puts them in a dominant position to actual governments. They want to be able to shut you off if you haven't paid your bills no matter _who_ you are- and there are people out there who do not define themselves as 'consumers' or take such threats lightly. For instance, the military- if not the US military, then that of other countries. Not to mention the EU taking a very dim view of XP and .NET in general- not to mention the fact that they are consistently losing in the US courts and betting everything on the somewhat strange notion that, if only they delay and commit greater and greater crimes as fast as they possibly can, by the time they are to be punished they will be more powerful than the government and will have to be let go.

    That's very childish: governments don't take challenges to their power lightly.

    So: I contradict you. .NET _cannot_ win, except in a vacuum with certain set rules (that MS has infinite money, that the ground rules everywhere in the world are totally unrestricted Chicago School free-market capitalism, that there can be no reaction to their aggression except economic reactions). And _none_ of those rules even apply! Microsoft burns through horrible sums of money and there's no telling how much they _really_ have- even they might not know. They're not honest people, why would you trust them to tell you the true state of their resources? They're faced with situations all over the world that defy Chicago School capitalism, even in the USA. And they have already been targeted with anthrax mailings- clearly not everyone in the world is prepared to just 'compete in the free market' with them, after all this talk of war on Microsoft it seems at least somebody out there is identifying them (and not unreasonably) with Western Capitalism, and launching terror attacks on them specifically.

    The problem here is hubris: it's better if .NET _does_ fail, and I mean better for Microsoft. It would do them enormous damage, but they'd be able to re-adjust, as IBM did when they were in Microsoft's position. Pursuing their expansion strategy to the uttermost limit only guarantees a harder fall.

Trap full -- please empty.