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America Online

AOL To Finally Switch To Mozilla? 412

pitabutter writes "Sounds like AOL is joining the list of companies making the internal switch to Linux, taking their default browser choice along with them. Oddly, second article in a short time linking AOL and Red Hat. " As with all things with AOL/Mozilla, I'll actually believe it when the darn thing ships - but the internal switch to Linux is something that I've also heard from people.
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AOL To Finally Switch To Mozilla?

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  • by codexus ( 538087 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @08:56AM (#3142043)
    that I'll be using the same browser that AOLers use. I'll be too ashamed and switch to Konqueror :)
  • I don't suppose AOL will make a big deal of it when they do actually change over, eh?

    I have to admit that i'm pretty keyed up on the IBM/Linux publicity. It would be pretty cool if AOL with throw a Linux shout-out in a couple of their infernal TV ads.
    • Re:publicity? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by skt ( 248449 )
      I am sure that when they do switch their internal browser, they might mention 'new and improved AOL 8!!', but that's about it. The end users (especially AOL users), don't care what rendering engine they are using to view web pages. And they certainly don't care that AOL is making an internal switch to linux. AOL marketing is smart, that's why they are "#1" :P
      • Re:publicity? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by opkool ( 231966 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @10:08AM (#3142272) Homepage

        From now on, for a website to be defined as "AOL friendly", they will need to be "mozilla friendly". If they are not (now they only need to be "designed for IExplorer"), AOL viewers will complaint about those "pesky webpages makers that cannot get a webpage done right" and will not use them (hint: think web-commerce, web-services....)

        Because AOL users represent the biggest piece of the internet consumers pie (at least, in the USA), all those websites will need to adapt and become "AOL (mozilla) compliant" ( = W3C compliant?? ) or (economically) die.

        Now, with many websites turning into paysites, if AOL people cannot see your website in a proper and appealing way (font types, font syzes, table rendering, html extensions.... all those things that makes a website "designed for IExplorer" .... and mostly unfriendly to mozilla/W3C) they will start to see that their projected visitors/revenue fall down because of lack of standards adherement.

        So, I say that this is good for us, W3C-compliant browsers (mozilla, Konqueror...)
        • Re:publicity? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @11:02AM (#3142482) Homepage Journal
          Now, with many websites turning into paysites, if AOL people cannot see your website in a proper and appealing way (font types, font syzes, table rendering, html extensions.... all those things that makes a website "designed for IExplorer" .... and mostly unfriendly to mozilla/W3C) they will start to see that their projected visitors/revenue fall down because of lack of standards adherement.
          And that's a beautiful thing.

          I'm a die-hard Linux advocate, but as soon as AOL 8.0 is released, I'm going to begin strongly recommending AOL to Mac and Windows people who need a dial-up ISP. AOL is pushing a standards-compliant browser, and that's good for the whole of the Internet. AOL also continues to push RealPlayer, which isn't all that great, but it's better than the alternative (Windoze Media everywhere) and will at least keep the market divvied up until an open standard for digital media can be adopted as well.

          As the webmaster of xiph.org so elegantly wrote [xiph.org], "The Internet exists today and continues to move forward despite, not because of, corporate self-interest; critical mass passed the point of no return long before Microsoft and Netscape tried to salt the earth of their rivals. " Open standards are very important, and it's good to see that someone as big as AOL is going to cause the Internet to be a bit more standards-based. Obviously they're doing it to suit their own ends, of course, but they're doing it.
        • You have some excellent points here.

          Basically, many webmasters are ignorant, or even arrogant enough to ignore standards compliance. Those who fail to see that standards compliance is the way forward, will have painted themselves into a corner. The cost of completely re-doing a site which has been carefully written specifically for IE and all its non-standard extensions and quirks, could potentially lead to more dot.com deaths. This is a good thing! People who don't care enough to inform themselves don't deserve to do business. Am I being harsh? Perhaps, but being an avid user of alternative browsers, I am tired of fighting with arrogant web designers who don't understand what they are doing.

          Finally, we will see who has the foresight or the insight to survive this.

          Grim predictions aside (I may have been a bit negative above), this naturally benefits users of alternative browsers. Mozilla [mozilla.org] and Opera [opera.com] will both be able to display more pages than before, and their user base will probably grow rapidly because of this. After all, the feature sets of these browsers are far superior to IE from a user's point of view (disclaimer: This is a personal opinion based on my personal preference. Ok? Please, no browser wars).

          Note that I am not even bashing IE here. The good news is that this can be cheaper for online companies in the long run, since it will pay off to write standards compliant code, rather than writing specifically for only certain browsers. MSIE 6 has decent standards compliance. The problem is the proprietary extensions used so extensively instead of the W3C counterparts.

          This becomes even more important now that handheld devices are becoming more and more popular. We will see a significant increase in the number of devices used by consumers, and these devices will be using alternative browsers as well.

          It basically boils down to this: The browser market is diversifying, and if AOL decides to go with Gecko, this will speed up this process. It will not be a nice transition. Many may find that they have major problems due to "IE-centric" code on their sites.

          AOL may not be doing this because they desperately want to get rid of IE or because they want to support alternative browsers (who knows, there may be many reasons, perhaps these play in as well). Nevertheless, for once, it would seem that the consumer - the user - benefits from such a drastic move.

          If AOL are indeed planning to move from MSIE to Gecko, that is...

        • From now on, for a website to be defined as "AOL friendly", they will need to be "mozilla friendly". If they are not (now they only need to be "designed for IExplorer"), AOL viewers will complaint about those "pesky webpages makers that cannot get a webpage done right" and will not use them (hint: think web-commerce, web-services....)

          FWIW, the last time I reworked a website, there was no difference between IE and Mozilla that needed to be handled. Nutscrape 4 had major problems with CSS, but the beta Mozilla that was available at the time rendered the site nearly identically to IE.

          (If an AOLer [yankovic.org] whines about my site, I'd be inclined to tell him to bugger off and get a real Internet connection. Then again, I'm not running a site that tries to make money.)

        • Re:publicity? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GreyPoopon ( 411036 )
          Because AOL users represent the biggest piece of the internet consumers pie (at least, in the USA), all those websites will need to adapt and become "AOL (mozilla) compliant" ( = W3C compliant?? ) or (economically) die.

          This is interesting. I just hit the "Submit" button on an opinion that takes it from the other point of view. I indicated that AOL may face a risk of departing customers if too many web pages don't work. This all brings up an interesting question: Is AOL's large install base enough to whip the noncompliant web sites into shape? Do you think they'd start working on this problem in advance of a Mozilla-based delivery? What's the right approach to make sure the web sites change rather than the AOL customer base?

  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @08:59AM (#3142051) Homepage Journal
    As far as an AOL client for Linux, one Linux-using AOL employee says, "How many Linux people do you know personally who would sign up for AOL if we had a Linux client? I don't know a single one, myself. I have an account with another ISP I use at home with my Linux box, and probably wouldn't use AOL from home even if I could."

    'Linux people'? It's no surprise that Linux won't make it onto the average desktop with that sort of attitude.

    Their reckoning is that.. all Linux users are nerds so they don't need to use such a crappy ISP. That might be true now but if AOL doesn't offer a Linux client then they're implying that they think Linux will continue to remain a nerd interest.

    With support like that from the biggest companies in the world, who needs enemies?
    • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:05AM (#3142076)
      'Linux people'? It's no surprise that Linux won't make it onto the average desktop with that sort of attitude.

      Actually (hides face in shame) I would have loved an AOL Linux client a while ago. My family used AOL at the time because a) it was cheap and b) it worked freecall with the UK cable network. An AOL client would have been great - unfortunately there wasn't one of course so we had to leave AOL and switch to NTL World [nthellworld.com] which are pretty bad, worse even than AOL!

      So while they may have a point now, the makeup of 'Linux people' is changing, and is moving further away from the geek demographic all the time. thanks -mike

    • by Surak ( 18578 ) <surak@NosPAm.mailblocks.com> on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:35AM (#3142170) Homepage Journal
      With support like that from the biggest companies in the world, who needs enemies?

      I'll make a prediction right now...Do I have to say it? Oh, I guess I do...

      AOL/TW will buy Red Hat. They're looking to break free of Microsoft, especially since Microsoft basically screwed them over with XP. They will finally make good on a Mozilla/AOL client, they will release versions for Linux and Windows and continue with the strategy that Linux is the cheapest way to get AOL into every household in America.

      People buying computers just to get on the Internet (there's still a lot of those) will buy Linux machines (without really knowing why) that have AOL installed on them. Microsoft will slowly lose their grip on the consumer desktop market...

      They'll continue to own the commercial market until the same twits who insist on the use of Windows in the commercial market because it "looks just like what i've got at home" will have Linux at home, and then they'll want that because it "looks just like what I've got at home."

      Boom, Microsoft's stranglehold on the desktop fails, Linux takes over and utopia finally sets in.

      Whatcha think? Too far fetched? :-P

      • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:50AM (#3142206) Homepage
        I dunno abour your predictions, but AOL switching to a Gecko rendering base will do wonders for web standards compliance.

        And an AOL-linux client will be a big seller too, but at the OEM level. Grandma will buy a box set up to connect, with a user interface she would never know is linux if you asked her. It will have an AOL interface - and a linux engine.
      • If that was the plan, why not buy Apple and license Mac OS X?

        There are already more Mac OS X installations than all flavors of Linux.

        • If that was the plan, why not buy Apple and license Mac OS X?

          Maybe because they have the wisdom to stay out of the hardware business?

          Plus, AOL would need to put their OS on piece-of-crap machines. Apple engineers would puke if they had to work with anything less than 1337 hardware. (Disclaimer: I like crappy hardware.)

      • by liquidsin ( 398151 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @11:21AM (#3142578) Homepage
        I'd like to take that one step further though. I'd like to see AOL/TW buy RedHat and develop it into AOL-OS (or some such named product). All the power of linux, all the ease-of-use of AOL - which is to say, damn simple. Eventually, phase out the Windows version entirely. You want AOL? Gotta use AOL-OS. But that's a good thing, since it's cheaper than Windows and, with all that AOL/TW cash behind a linux distro, way more stable. Now THAT'd be cool...I'd almost use AOL for that ;)
        • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @12:28PM (#3142961)
          I would imagine that this is a lot closer than anyone would care to think:

          I imagine a 15" flat panel display with a keyboard and a mouse. The display base houses 56K and G.lite modems, 10/100 ethernet and mainboard. The whole thing runs on a low-end x86 platform off of a ATA flash disk. It runs a customized Linux kernel with the AOL software as the only environment. As a bonus a printer can be connected and they include some truly basic AOL apps, a word processor and a checkbook program.

          The likely hurdle is the cost of 15" LCDs and the tanked out economy, although the latter should be helping the former. I imagine an Asian manufacturer could build them for about $350 each and AOL could probably sell them at cost w/3 mos. free AOL.

          It's basically WebTV with a good display, and I know tons of people that would buy it because all they want is web+email, they don't care about all the other crap. It fits on that little "desk" by the phone in the kitchen, requires no configuration and cuts AOLs tech support costs significantly.

          It hasn't worked before because the people doing it were trying to provide a generic solution. Coupled with AOL it *has* to work, and AOL will need to do it anyway since MS will be bundling XBoxen in the future as web terminals connecting to MSN.
      • Why Red Hat? Corel would probably be a lot cheaper, and would get them an office suite for the new platform besides. It may need a bit of patching right now, and updating for new libraries, but it's pretty close.

        OTOH, they might, e.g., buy Lindows, and help everyone feel at home.

        Or buy Stormix (if they can find who owns the rights). That one would be real cheap, and is known to work well.

        I don't see them forking out the cash to purchase Red Hat. All they'd be buying is the name, and in the market that they would be targeting, Red Hat is a completely unknown name.

        Or they could just do what Mandrake did. Fork off of a Red Hat distribution, and start developing it.

        Or they could stay out of the systems market entirely, and just decide that it would be nice to work closely with some particular systems distributor.

        But even with AOL/TW support MS won't loose it's monopoly until there is decent competition in the office suite business. That's why Sun has been pushing Open Office. Build 641 seems to work pretty well on Win95, but on Linux it crashes without useful diagnostics on even a one page document (with, be it admitted, a bit of fancy formatting).
    • Worse, they're implying that AOL is for non-geeks only.

      I browsed Google for solutions for folk who want to use AOL. While I did find a listing for AOL Tunneling Client for UNIX [linux.org] on linux.org, the web page that it links to seems to have disappeared. Perhaps the WINE project [winehq.org] offers another ray of hope.

      It seems like the best solution would be for AOL to switch from its proprietary internal protocols to TCP/IP and family. With packet filtering, they should be able to maintain just as much control over the user environment as they do now, while making it easier to support "non-standard" clients.

      And while they're at it, I'd like them to switch to IPv6. Plus I want world peace and a pony.

      Seriously, there are a thousand good reasons to switch to TCP/IP. What advantages do they gain by sticking with what they have?
    • Until a distribution such as Red Hat / Mandrake becomes a mass-market, consumer friendly operating system there is little chance of having AOL. Can you imagine the support calls AOL would be getting if they shipped on Linux now? Hell, how many people alone would call up complaining that they put the AOL CD into the drive but no CD appeared on their desktop?

    • 'Linux people'?

      Well, hey, I'm a Linux people and I dont' have AOL as my ISP. But am I concerned? No.

      AOL doesn't need the niche nerd market. It's not where profits are. Nerds basically do their own tech support and only call with such technical complaints that would require staffing your support center with ubernerds paid 6 figures. No, that is not a market that AOL wants. It's proof they have half a brain.

      What is more encouraging however is that they're beta deploying Linux to find out how it would play in Peoria, what does it need? It still needs things and that's fine. But it shows that Linux is being evaluated for a business purpose other than because some nerds think it's cool, some zealots think it's the moral thing to do, etc.

      I think this is a great move. Shoot, if AOL poured a few million into WINE, they really could distribute AOL 9.0 that upgrades not just the client application, but the underlying OS at the same time. Imagine 40 million bulk mail upgrades like that!

    • Does it even occur to them to think "why do these people hate AOL, and what can we do to attract them?"

  • Well AOL could actually contribute to the Red Hat community that is still using 56k dial-up.

    AOL could ship their CDs with the Red Hat distro on them so people will actually put them in their computers before toasting [ardant.net] them. :)
    • Maybe not. By the sound of the article, the people at AOL don't want to have to do tech support for a Linux client. Without a Linux client, anyone using the Internet is someone who is using another ISP.

      Also, the boxed Red Hat 7.2 distro contains no fewer than 7 CDs (2 install disks, 2 source disks, Star Office, some Loki demos, and a documentation CD). Even if they limited it to just the first two, it still means tripling the already vast amount of plastic being distributed, and I don't think they'll go for that.

      Finally, given the expertise differential between "installing the AOL Client" and "reformatting or repartitioning the HDD and installing Red Hat Linux," it's a bad idea. I think there are too many people out there who would wreak havoc on their current system if some Red Hat CDs dropped into their laps. It wouldn't be good for thousands of people to think of Linux as "that software that ate my computer."
    • it would have to be a really old, or special compressed distro as redhat takes 2 full cd's now.

      unless thay start sending DVD's.. but then everyone would have to have DVD drives and they are less common in pc's than burners. (burners outsell dvd read only drives 10 to 1 while regular CD drives outsell DVD drives 20 to 1.. stats collected by a friend of mine at a computer superstore)

      If someone could get me a RH7.2 cd that default installed KDE that was on one CD I would kiss them! as I desperately need a distor that is super easy and fit's on one CD to give away.
    • The only way AOL could provide a cost-effective Linux client, given its "total support for free" policy, would be to market a real, full-featured personal computer (as opposed to an "Internet appliance") that runs Linux and is preconfigured for AOL. The target market for this computer would not be sophisticated Linux users, but current AOL subscribers who want to replace their current boxes, and it would need to be a very low-cost item to succeed in that market

      The best way to acommplish this would be to have their own branded verion of Linux.


      Then they won't have to worry about all of the other distros. And it can have a stripped down feature set so that they do not have to support every widget on planet earth.

      Extra bonus brownie points for tweaking the Nose of Microsoft.

  • by The Original Yama ( 454111 ) <lists.sridhar@dhanapalan . c om> on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:02AM (#3142061) Homepage
    AOL bought Netscape in 1998. They didn't do a damn thing with it, instead letting it die slowly. While it's great to see them now using their own technology, it should've happened much sooner. Mozilla is a great browser suite and development platform, and I truly hope that this will give it the boost it needs to come back in the Browser Wars. After all, a third of all Internet users in the US use AOL.
    • by karmawarrior ( 311177 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:10AM (#3142096) Journal
      Read the DoJ vs MS Findings of Fact, as there's a thorough explanation as to why AOL switched from Netscape, their intended browser, to MSIE, and why they were locked into the choice for some years.

      While the locking out expired some months ago, I'm betting AOL didn't switch to their own technology for two reasons: Mozilla wasn't completely ready at that point, and they were still hoping to get something from Microsoft for staying with MSIE. Microsoft, in turn, has been doing all they can to push MSN including making it the default initial page for anyone installing IE or buying Windows for the first time, so I'm guessing this is why AOL are being more serious now about the Gecko switch.

      Anyone reading the write up above incidentally should note that "AOL switching to Linux" is another of these "replacing proprietry Unix systems with Linux" switches, not a desktop OS switch. It's all in the article.

    • While it's great to see [AOL(tw)] now using their own technology, it should've happened much sooner.

      Until recently, AOL was under contract with Microsoft to use the MSHTML rendering engine in exchange for an America Online icon on the desktop.

    • Are you nuts? They didn't do a damned thing with it????

      What do you think Mozilla is? If you had to put a pricetag on how much it must have cost AOL, I bet it is WAY beyond the $100 million mark.

  • ...Really, considering the AOL vs. Microsoft action.

    'Yes, we're suing them regarding - and shipping - Internet Explorer'

  • According to the article, there are no plans for a Linux AOL client. The article points out that there is not a big demand for it, and an AOL employee who runs Linux at home said he would not even use it if it was avilable, and that 'techie' linux users would not want it either. The article also notes that AOL gives free support for all of their clients, and to do that for a Linux based client would be a support nightmare, unless there was a future AOL Linux brand, which had a pre-configured AOL client on it.
    Somehow seeing AOL on Linux just rubs me the wrong way. But I am glad to see it on their server side, and that Mozilla will be used rather than IE.
    • WRONG. if you want a Linux AOL client you can get one from any Gateway/AOL connected internetpad. It runs Midori linux and (GASP) a nice AOL client ready for linux.

      it exists, it's ready, they see no market for it. No the support for a linux client wouldnt be a nightmare... they would use the same responses they use for all other platforms. "reinstall it"
  • A step... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Heem ( 448667 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:02AM (#3142064) Homepage Journal
    It's definately a step in the right direction. Remember all those suckers that use AOL may not mean anything to us, but that number of people not using MSIE is sure to change the way the web looks to those of us who also hate MSIE. Web pages that work in the browser that we use by default.. Won't be long before other ISP's that ship their 'own' browser switch over to a Gecko based browser - And without any real stats, i'd guess that 80% of internet users think that they have to use the browser that comes on their ISP's CD or else it won't work. So how long till MSIE uses Gecko, and claims it as their own? MSIE 8.0?

    • by bfree ( 113420 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:31AM (#3142158)
      How long until MS uses Gecko? I think that will be sometime after:
      1. They are split apart
      2. They adopt Free Software and Open Standards across the board
      3. 95%+ of websites will ONLY render with the mozilla engine
      4. RMS is appointed General/Technical/Absolute Manager
      5. MS buys AOL
      6. Hell freezes over
      Seriously it will take a massive shift in MS for this to happen and it would probably be one of the least significant things which would appear from such a transition (I imagine a GPL WordViewer would be about top of the list and the biggest thing we could see). MS detests free software (or open software or anything that might prevent their control) and would pay a massive price rather than lose control of the internet browsing experiences of the web. I would actually expect it to be far more likely that MS will become more aggressive in locking out other browsers than IE wherever possible (think IIS, Frontpage and all the MS controlled sites). Hell they conned Tony "The Stooge" Blair into handing over large wadges of cash for the new government public internet portal which is completly IE dependant! Ah well let the battle commense again.
    • Re:A step... (Score:2, Insightful)

      Well, yeah if you look deep enough, the web will be aware of the truth. But just glancing..."every" browser claims to be Mozilla, doesn't it?


      Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; AOL 7.0; Windows 98; DigEx


      Mozilla/5.0 Galeon/1.0.3 (X11; Linux i686; U;) Gecko/20020205
  • by Tha_Zanthrax ( 521419 ) <slashdot AT zanthrax DOT nl> on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:04AM (#3142069) Homepage Journal
    "Woohoo, one more big company using the penguin !!"

    I like Linux and I am not to keen on Micros~1 and I like to see more Linux-use like this, but as with most large companies which switch to Linux AOL already was using UNIX and is replacing that with Linux. It's another step in the right direction, to bad BillG isn't loosing any money/customers here.

    The AOL-client is switch to Mozilla, with which they are replacing MSIE :). For the average home-user this might go by unnoticed ot they will fear the change.
  • In the article there's constant bleating about how a Linux client wouldn't be 'economical' blah blah etc.. well, aren't they going to save a stack of money by using Linux on the back-end?

    It seems to me like they're taking all of the benefits of Linux and open-source and giving NOTHING back whatsoever.

    What a wonderful community spirit.

    (I know it's bad form to reply more than once to a topic, but hey..)
    • It seems to me like they're taking all of the benefits of Linux and open-source and giving NOTHING back whatsoever.

      Yes, note this quotation from the piece:

      "It's still easier to optimize eveything
      when we finally control both the server and the client, and can make them work as smoothly together as possible."

      Now, should this control be established, AOL may still give something back, but I think that one quotation cuts to the heart of the real matter: control.

    • by Guillermito ( 187510 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:14AM (#3142107) Homepage
      Didn't AOL buy Netscape? Hasn't Netscape
      contibuted most of Mozilla code?
      So I think AOL gave Mozilla back.
      • And AOL also funded Mozilla development coordination. Many of the top Mozilla developers and coordinators were paid to do this by Mozilla. When everyone was jumping up and down on Mozilla for taking too long for the re-write, AOL continued to support them.

        AOL isn't a dedicated member of the community, but they sure are a supporting member! They may be (are!) doing this for their own reasons, which we should attempt to understand, but for the last several years some reasonable fraction of their purposes have been in synchrony with our needs.

        It is, of course, also true that AOL is not a separate company. That's why some people write it AOL/TW, and the TW half is dominant at unpredictable times (of its choice). Even were AOL to be composed of comitted GPL supporters, the TW management could issue a directive, and that would determine the direction. So don't hang you hat or heart on them. But they supported Mozilla as open source before Konqueror was working at all, and before Gnome was usably stable. So don't sell them short, either.
    • It seems to me like they're taking all of the benefits of Linux and open-source and giving NOTHING back whatsoever.

      The real reason why AOL(tw) won't release an America Online for PC Linux: there'd be no way to stop a kid with a debugger (easier to obtain on Linux than on Windows XP) from breaking into the Time Warner content because the machine owner is root and the publishers can't do jack about it. (SSSCA aims to change that.)

    • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @10:03AM (#3142249)
      Of course AOL are giving something back. They're giving Red Hat a huge stack of money. Red Hat can do what they like with it.

      Besides which, is funding Mozilla for nearly 4 years to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars nothing either?

    • It seems to me like they're taking all of the benefits of Linux and open-source and giving NOTHING back whatsoever.

      And what would you call that whole 'Mozilla' thing?
  • by jackb_guppy ( 204733 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:06AM (#3142083)
    We have GNOME and KDE.

    Now we will have AOL!

    That right AOL.

    At one point Netscape was quoted to say, "They were the next desktop". Other than office tools (StarOffice?), AOL has most of the needs in place. They have user base. Now with AOL Anywhere, a little java... They are a virual desktop on all platforms.

    The OS today, is nothing more than the MACRO KERNEL of tomorrow.
  • I don't care if they're just doing this to save money, the end result could benefit all web users so its "a good thing" tm and the only people this will hurt are those companies making IE only sites

    This could mean that web developers might finally be allowed to write html conforming sites, rather than the current notion of supporting the current two generations of IE and thats it.

    Perhaps the bean counters will start to think of making websites more accessible when a large minority of users suddenly don't use IE.

    Like it or not AOL users make up a significant number of internet users (30% in the US for ex), and if AOL uses Mozilla for the client it can only increase web standards compliance... hopefully we'll start to see more sites that don't purely rely on Microsoft's interpretation of the html standards and actually try to reach the widest possible audience by making standards compliant web sites.

    From the article:-

    The only thing that might delay -- not stop, just delay -- AOL's change from Explorer to a Mozilla-based browser is allowing time for some of AOL's largest and most important "partner sites" to do away with any Explorer-specific features they have been using in place of W3C standards.

    A browser shift by AOL is going to leave an awful lot of companies that assume their Web sites only need to work with Explorer scrambling to rewrite their code so that they don't lose AOL's 30 million-plus subscribers, or about 30% of all U.S. Internet users.

    • ... hopefully we'll start to see more sites that don't purely rely on Microsoft's interpretation of the html standards and actually try to reach the widest possible audience by making standards compliant web sites.

      I agree with the gist of what you're saying, but it's important that Netscape get its share of the blame for the lack of standards-based sites. Sure, part of the reason that you see so many "IE-based" sites out there is because Microsoft bundled the damn thing with Windows, but the Netscape 4.x series was pretty much an unmitigated disaster for standards compliance [writetheweb.com]. When there's only one widely used browser with decent standards compliance anyway, using the non-standard features of that browser doesn't seem like such a bad thing anymore.

      (Note - the linked article mentions the WaSP's annoyance with Netscape. I didn't really agree 100% with WaSP's opinion on the subject back then, but it's indicative of how bad the situation was.)

  • by great throwdini ( 118430 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:19AM (#3142124)
    1. We all seem to know that AOL on Wintel utilizes the Microsoft rendering engine. What does AOL for MacOS use?

    2. Has AOL ever used a rendering engine for either platform other than the one(s) used now?

    3. If AOL has switched in the past, what was the motivation then?

    (Finally, a reason to use my +1 bonus.)

    • We all seem to know that AOL on Wintel utilizes the Microsoft rendering engine. What does AOL for MacOS use?

      I'd presume the IE Mac rendering engine, but that's a guess.

      Has AOL ever used a rendering engine for either platform other than the one(s) used now?

      AOL's original browser was Mosaic-based, IIRC. It blew goats (I think it had table support, but not much else).

      If AOL has switched in the past, what was the motivation then?

      AOL switched to IE back when Netscape owned about 70% of the market. Microsoft got the IE rendering engine to #1, and AOL got desktop placement in Windows (remember the Online Services program group in Windows?)

    • AOL for Macs up to ver 4 used MSIE for Mac. I assmue the same for higher, but I do not know this for a fact. Befor IE bacame intergrated with AOL's client AOL did not ship with a Browser. Was very late in support of the web, there was a great deal of speculation that AOL felt threatened by the web because it was simular to what AOL thought was its greatest asset... A GUI. Slowly AOL begain pointing its users to netscape as it became apparent that this web thing wasn't going away. I think there was even a CD or two that provided netscape. (I beleave this was all happening around ver 2 and 3 of the AOL client). Finally AOL fully embraced the web though a Deal with MS. AOL agreed to promote IE by intergrating it with AOL's client and AOL got prime placement on windows descktop. so to recap... 1 MacOS AOL uses IE (or did) 2 AOL promoted Netscape, but never required it. 3 AOL switched to IE because of a marketing deal.
    • 1. We all seem to know that AOL on Wintel utilizes the Microsoft rendering engine. What does AOL for MacOS use?

      I can't give a completely technical answer to this one, but I do know that for both OS9 , your Mac's system folders end up containing a whole slew of MS specific code:

      % ls /System\ Folder/Extensions/MS\ Library\ Folder/
      total 2568
      -rw-r--r-- 1 chris unknown 112644 Mar 25 1998 MS C++ Library (PPC)
      -rw-r--r-- 1 chris unknown 189123 Mar 25 1998 MS Container Lib (PPC)
      -rw-r--r-- 1 chris unknown 611367 Mar 25 1998 MS Internet Library (PPC)
      -rw-r--r-- 1 chris unknown 119930 Mar 25 1998 MS Preferences Library PPC
      -rw-r--r-- 1 chris unknown 33232 Mar 25 1998 MS Variant Lib (PPC)

      I thought I came across similar stuff on the OSX directories, but a quick search isn't turning up anything obviously originating from MS. Presumably it's all just part of the Internet Explorer app, and not (obviously?) exported as a globally available library.

      Also note that the Mac versions of IE are for the most part a completely separate codebase from the Win32 versions, with different developers and everything. There is some cross-pollination between the two branches, but not to the point where you can consider them to be identical. The Mac version has some very nice features that still haven't made their way to the Windows branch, and it has other features (auto-virus mode comes to mind :) that still haven't been exported to Macland yet.

      2. Has AOL ever used a rendering engine for either platform other than the one(s) used now?
      Can't address the Mac on this one, but as another commenter noted, AOL first tried to ignore the web, then it tried to implement support for it in a very broken way. The browser for AOL 3 or so was really bad -- probably (in my opinion) to get AOL users to think that the web wasn't worth all the hype, and that they should stick to AOL (that and, to be fair, it was probably just difficult to get a solid browser put together quickly, which would explain why they went on to just embed IE and then later buy out Netscape).
      3. If AOL has switched in the past, what was the motivation then?

      As noted, their inittial attempts to get a browser within the AOL client were just really, really awful. Their web client crashed all the time, couldn't render things, felt slower than the rest of the AOL service, etc. (Note that, apparently at around this time, AOL switched to HTTP as their main internal network protocol, instead of whatever propietary protocol AOL was using before that. Thus going to the web from within AOL meant having to do some kind of protocol translation to make it work, so this made the service degrade even beyond the poor quality of the browser they were offering at the time. Citation for this is in "Philip & Alex's Guide to Web Publishing", where he talks about what a surprisingly good webserver AOLServer is, noting that it has been tuned to support the millions of concurrent AOL users...)

      Anyway, as noted by another commenter and in great detail in the MS antitrust Findings of Fact document, AOL entered a contract where they would use IE for five (?) years in return for a guaranteed place on the Windows desktop (and no longer having to devote resources to coming up with a viable browser of their own), and MS would get instant access to AOL's millions of users. AOL hedged their bets for the future by buying out Netscape, but they kept IE around even after the contract expired in the hope that MS would allow some sort of new agreement along the lines of the earlier one. As it has become clear that MS doesn't feel they need to co-exist with AOL anymore, AOL in turn seems to be considering playing their Netscape trump card now -- "if you don't need us then we don't need you either."

      Sooner or later I assume they will -- must -- switch to Netscape: otherwise they will have wasted their investment in that company and continued to support their biggest rival in the process. The more interesting question to me is whether they really are willing to switch to some kind of [Red Hat based?] AOLinux. Part of me really wants to see this happen -- it would be nice to see some significant competition to MS on the shelves at BestBuy and Circuit City (above & beyond Apple's 5%, where you can even find that in the first place). But at the same time, I'm not comfortable with the idea that everything on their machines -- from the kernel up to the user level AOL client -- would have been bolted together as a monolithic whole by one corporation. Even if the guts are open source, I'm sure that the high level stuff would certainly be proprietary. Macintosh can claim to be internally open too, but the more interesting high level stuff is still proprietary. On a hypothetical AOLinux, you're only likely to have as much access to the Linux stuff as their high level interface allows you to have, and seeing as this is AOL we're talking about, I can't see them giving you much access there. At least MacOSX gives you the Terminal to work with (and through that, all the BSD subsystem). What will AOLinux let you use? If this goes the way I'm fearing it could, it could be at least as bad as the current Windows situation, because it would mean that of the three systems you'd be able to buy at that Circuit City -- AOLinux, Mac, and Windows -- all three would be for the most part vertically integrated, with one vendor supplying the bulk of the user and system level software on each platform. This could serve to Balkanize each sub-market, and I'm not clear who if anyone would gain by such a situation, aside from *maybe* those three vendors.

  • Now AOL is not only a synonym for Internet, it's also a synonym for operating system!

    Wait a minute...

  • Given how agressively Microsoft has attacked its enemies I'd hate to be running Windows internally. How do I know there isn't a trapdoor allowing redmond to look at our internal data?

  • by mrsbrisby ( 60242 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:25AM (#3142144) Homepage
    it truly would be nice to have an AOL client for Linux. But they really only have two options:
    1. support ONLY UNMODIFIED RPM-ONLY REDHAT BOXES (or xxx other distribution)
    2. build an all-in-wonder static library that has the dialer, gecko, vpn client, and everything all built-in.

    no linux user really wants either option, but it does sound off a big reason why companies are reluctant to bring desktop-software to linux: there are too many variables.

    There is a good reason that "Reinstall Windows" is in the 90th percentile of all support responses. It's a simple answer, and by having nobody who can actually repair a broken windows machine, it's the best answer.

    But linux systems can be repaired so long as they still kick (and sometimes: even past that point). So there's two options for us:

    1. we can adopt some kind of sane configuration system. [i think freshmeat had an article about the unix configuration nightmare, so don't expect the answer to this to begin with the word "just"]

    2. we can all adopt a single limiting platform for desktop use, and do all our hacking in every other system.

    If people really believed point #2 was a possibility, I think we would have a lot more desktop presense already. But #1 has the most promise. If people weren't so angry as to say "configuration like XXX is too YYY" instead of saying "configuration like YYY is unreliable because ZZZ" we might actually key someplace.

    And everyone would have to adopt it. Gnome moves somewhat forward with gconf, but don't think it's the end-all. we'd have to have dialup and network configuration, and X configuration and everything in a similar engine. In this case, we can ditch gconf completely, or we can build wrappers to do just this.
    • There is a good reason that "Reinstall Windows" is in the 90th percentile of all support responses. It's a simple answer, and by having nobody who can actually repair a broken windows machine, it's the best answer.

      Something I've been pondering (a little) is that since Linux boxes are fixable (regardless of distro), why couldn't this fixing be automated? Have a program that diagnoses the problem by trying to dial out, run traceroute, start X, and / or whatever, then when an error is encountered "check" (for some definition of checking) relevant config files or whatnot for errors, maybe asking the user some questions in the process.

      Granted, this would be a task in full parity with making something like Linuxconf [solucorp.qc.ca] or XST [ximian.com], but if somebody did, imagine what it would do to the support costs!

    • Ahem... *I* fix Windows rather than reinstalling. In fact once I start actually using a particular Windows box for real work, I never reinstall Windows (and have had Windows setups in excess of 6 years old, in heavy use, without a single reinstall). Whatever goes wrong can nearly always be fixed. You just have to know what you're doing.

      Gee, sounds kinda like fixing a wonked Linux box, eh??

      • I believe he was talking about responses from the help desk to a phone call. A knowledgeable user will rarely call MS for help (though many seem to spend a lot of time searching through their site). So most of the calls that they get are from "novices" (with varying amounts of time experience). So they opt for a simple answer for three reasons:
        1) it saves them time, and
        2) it's something the local user can actually be expected to do.
        3) it lets the first level of the help desk be run by people who operate off of a checklist (i.e., by cheap people).

        There are actually decent reasons for these choices. I don't like them, and don't want them on my system, and consider that they aren't made to my advantage, but in this area the choices that MS made are probably about as good as feasible for the average user. And it allows less skilled people to use computers. Admittedly, it tends to prevent them from ever becoming anything but unskilled users, but that is often preferred by the end-user, his/her management, and definitely by MS.
        • Yeah, you're right when it comes to the helpdesk end of things, sad as it may be it's practical reality. But the fellow I replied to seemed to think that the ONLY solution to a Windows foulup is a reinstall, but that conversely it somehow makes more sense to merely FIX a mangled linux setup. Which struck me as a double standard (like I'm so surprised at encountering that here? :)

  • This is definitely good news, but not just because a decreased IE browser share will give incentive for both MS and the Mozilla development crews to improve their browsers. Perhaps, with more people using Mozilla, Netscape 4.x users will finally upgrade.

    I develop three different websites and I can't tell you all the headaches NS 4.x has given me. If you think IE is bad, try coding for NS 4.x. And it's not as if I can say "Very few people use that browser so I can ignore it." I get about 5-6% NS 4.x traffic, that makes it small enough to be annoying but big enough to make me have to address it. (By comparison NS 6.x comprises less than 2% of my traffic.)

    I have no problems with someone using a non-IE browser so long as it conforms to standards. And yes, as non-conforming as some think IE is, it is more compliant than NS 4.x.... Maybe not more than NS 6.x, but it seems like a lot of people aren't upgrading. Anything that gets people to ditch that awful browser (be it for IE, Mozilla, NS 6.x, or some other up-to-date browser), is a good thing for web developers everywhere.
  • new slogan (Score:3, Funny)

    by monkey_jam ( 557265 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @09:44AM (#3142192)
    Americans On Linux

    substitute Assholes for americans where you see fit..
  • In the followup comments on the site, an AC wrote

    That is why I am not sure I wanted to see this article just yet, even though I consider it interesting and very good news. Premature talk may scuttle these kinds of strategic decisions. Eg. You-Know-Who might step up his FUD or make AOL management an offer they cannot refuse: "If you use Mozilla, we cannot promise the AOL browser works on future Windows versions , but here's an IE licensing deal that solves such problems...".

    That's a pretty interesting point. I'm not business expert, but this sounds plausible. It would be a shame if talks fell through because of fallout from the rumor-mill.

    On the other hand, I'd say that this is no news to Redmond. The bad blood between them is probably deep enough that the AOL->Gecko outcome is inevitable. Not to mention the money sunk into Netscape over the last few years...

    Everybody here is talking about the boon to web compatibility if this happens. I sure hope it does!

  • AOL for Linux??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fruey ( 563914 )
    Perhaps one of the world's many stalwart Linux entrepreneurs will eventually convince AOL management that an AOL-branded, consumer-priced Linux box is a good idea. Otherwise, AOL will probably stick to the current corporate operating system pattern: Linux in the server room, Windows or Mac on user desktops -- except that AOL-ized desktops will run the AOL browser and its Mozilla rendering engine instead of Microsoft Explorer.

    Who wants AOL for Linux? What is going on? A proprietary dial-up, authentication and content delivery system? Pulllease.

    If AOL offered a dial up account using PAP or CHAP and just TCP/IP access with a browser that went to their homepage and allowed you to see their premium content, this may be a good thing for any AOL content junkies

    But I can already use AOL Instant Messenger, and MSN, and Yahoo! through Linux, why would I need anything else?

    AOL are right not to create AOL for Linux. Linux users should be following Internet standards and not some proprietary bullshit.

    Windows users can have AOL for all I care. Give me a proper ISP any day of the week.

    • This brings up a good point. For AOL to support Linux, they would have to add another authentication mechanism to the kernel. This likely means a kernel module. Unfortunately, since they are a proprietary protocol, the module would have to be binary-only.

      Supporting binary modules alone between the various kernel modules is enough of a hassle to make them not want to support Linux.

      If AOL opened up their protocol then I, for one, would support a project to add support for the protocol to Linux. Whether it sucks or not, it's good for Linux.
  • by billtom ( 126004 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @10:39AM (#3142379)
    While lots of people talk about AOL shipping a Linux install on their ubiquitous CDs I don't really see that happening (because of the support nightmare of grandma calling up because she can't view the powerpoint presentations she had from her grandkids).

    But what I do think that makes sense is AOL buying a hardware vendor and bundling Linux, Mozilla, an AOL client, and staroffice into a microsoft free solution.

    Gateway would make a good choice becuase they're not doing so well (primarily because they're not Dell), but they've got good brand recognition. Then we'd start to see the "AOL Computer by Gateway" (with Linux probably not mentioned at all).

    AOL would make it clear that this wasn't a Windows computer and that Windows software wouldn't run on it, but AOL has enough money to keep at it until they've sold enough units for software vendors to start supporting it. The target audience would be new computer users and heavy AOL users who are buying a new computer.

    In my view the only way that Linux can succeed on the desktop is if the computer comes pre-installed with Linux. Installing a second OS is something that the average user is just never going to do. And AOL/TW has deep enough pockets to make a go of it.

    • While I'm in agreement that a Linux-based AOL-branded computer (not just a browser) could work, there is one real snag.

      1. AOL would make it clear that this wasn't a Windows computer and that Windows software wouldn't run on it, but AOL has enough money to keep at it until they've sold enough units for software vendors to start supporting it.

      This won't work. Example: My little sister runs Linux. I setup and configured it for her. She has StarOffice and all the other apps. I put games and game demos on the machine. I've offered to install any type of software she wants.

      Overall, she's happy and content with the machine, and has been using it for almost 3 years now.

      Her main complaint? She can't open Windows programs in email. She is really upset about this, and mentions it often.

      Yes, I've mentioned that this is a Bad Idea. I've mentioned this multiple times. She's still confused that she can't open Windows programs in her email.

      Well, I finally installed Wine for her, and gave her directions on how to use Wine to run those attachments. Yes, I gave her another warning. No, she does not listen.

      Now, say AOL sells this computer to 10% of thier customers, and only 10% of those want to run those Windows attachments...sure, the net would be a safer place...but calls to AOL would go up substantially.

      This is all guesswork on my part, though I'd like to know how well the AOL-branded browser computers went for AOL. So far, the whole internet appliance business seems to have slowed to a crawl.

  • "A browser shift by AOL is going to leave an awful lot of companies that assume their Web sites only need to work with Explorer scrambling to rewrite their code so that they don't lose AOL's 30 million-plus subscribers, or about 30% of all U.S. Internet users." I think this is the first real effect we'll notice from all this. Standards compliance means fewer times that I have to say, hmm, doesn't work in Konq...lets try Mozilla...no, hmm...let's try Opera...no, hmm... darn now I have to go get my Windows computer.
  • probably asking for it by saying this but, why doesn't AOL just release an AOL dist. of linux? If they had their out dist. they could support AOL on linux and would not have to worry about supporting umpteen thousand linux distros. They would support their own (it could just be a customized version of RH etc..) with the AOL access built in. No reason to sell stripped down "internet appliances" there are probably millions of old pc's that would work great with a stripped down version of linux installed. So when your parents/grandmother is looking to get on the net so they can use email just toss in an AOL-linux cd and install an old box that was replaced by a newer system and poof! grandma is on the net for short $$ and AOL gets another customer. Or they could partner with these companies you see selling $399 boxes at bestbuy etc. to preinstall their AOL client OS instead of Windows and cut back the cost of a new pc even further by not cutting MS a check for each box they sell. (they could almost give these boxes away if they got a 3 years of AOL usage contract signed) Sounds like a win-win to me.

    AOL already mails out millions of cd's to everyone and their brother so getting the dist. out would not be a problem. And if a user calls in with a problem on their pc you could have a very simple fix/restore procedure that would fix corrupted files etc right off the cd (or off a main AOL server since they would have the source). I dare say it just might be a support person's dream. Possibility of getting files destroyed could be minimized because the user would never use the box as root.(root would only be used during upgrading or support fixes, not normal use)

    This of course would not be a distro for most that read slashdot. but for someone that really does not care what is inside the "funny beige box" I think it would work out pretty good. And they could release the source to the client that gets embedded so if somebody really wanted to use AOL on their own Linux box they could hack away but get no support of course.

    probably never happen...
  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @11:07AM (#3142509)
    Personally, I think it'll be some time before AOL delivers a client program for their service that uses a web browser derived from Mozilla 1.0 code--at least for Windows users. The reason is that given that Internet Explorer has been tightly integrated into Windows since Windows 98, putting on another browser may end up causing customer confusion, to say the least.

    However, that could be different if the final settlement in the US v. Microsoft case requires a Plain Jane version of Windows XP. In that case an AOL client that uses Mozilla 1.0 code makes way more sense.

    In my personal opinion, the most likely place that AOL may try to use Mozilla 1.0 code as part of the AOL client program is on the Macintosh, where Apple at least since the late 1990's has offered the choice of Netscape and Internet Explorer as your default web browser. I wouldn't be surprised that AOL cuts a deal with Apple that on new Macs if you install the AOL client the web browser based on Mozilla 1.0.x code becomes the default web browser for the whole system.
    • When you logon to AOL, you fire up AOL's software. That another browser might be on the system is not an issue for an AOL user; they'll never see the other browser, and I doubt that they will notice a new one is being used in AOL 8.0. Instead, they will notice that AOL itself has been upgraded...and probably nothing more specific.
  • On the server end, this is another example of one Unix cannibalizing another [slashdot.org].

    What I'd like to see is more information on converting from Windows to Unix-style systems. Except for Apple joining the Unix camp, the percentage of Windows and Unix systems seems to be fairly static.

  • now i may actually want to do something with those cd's that keep coming in my mailbox instead of using them as coasters.
  • AOL has had the opportunity to watch Microsoft screw anybody and everybody who got in their way.

    Microsoft is pushing MSN.
    Microsoft is pushing .NET.
    Microsoft is pushing Passport.
    Microsoft is pushing Windows Media Player.

    If you are AOL, and Microsoft makes your browser engine, you have got to be concernede that you will be on the wrong side of some little "oops" like the one that recently made Quicktime plugins go poof, or made DR DOS go poof, or what have you.

    AOL needs to break free of IE as a matter of self preservation.
    The world will then be a better place for all of us.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @12:22PM (#3142932) Homepage Journal
    Even after reading the article, I'm not sure whether or not this is real.

    Remember: AOL has done well with Windos, which is the OS of choice for most morons out there (and a couple non-morons) mostly because "it came with the 'puter".

    There are a variety of reasons why they should/could switch, but also many why they should not. Maybe, just maybe, this was an intentional leak to put some pressure on M$ and get another "put us on the desktop" deal?

    I would absolutely love to see the web move back to a "best viewed with any browser" attitude, and AOL switching to Mozilla/Gecko would ensure at least a parity.
    Just lets not break open the champagne just yet, hm?

  • Here's my $0.02... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teferi ( 16171 ) <teferi@wWELTYmute.net minus author> on Monday March 11, 2002 @12:48PM (#3143083) Homepage
    AOL is *not* going to release a nicely packaged Linux client.
    No. Period. It doesn't make business sense for them to encourage people to switch operating systems and deal with the flak that'll result.
    So, what I'm predicting is AOL looking into building its own custom distro - definitely the AOL client, which, I am told, already exists on a Gateway 'internet appliance' machine, probably a stripped-down-to-the-bones base system and KDE, and a hacked-up version of StarOffice or KOffice with perfect MSOffice compatibility.
    They'll offer this as a standalone OS solution to OEMs. *Not* retail; the people who go out and buy their own OSes aren't AOL's market. AOL's market are the people who buy a computer for light web surfing, IMing, and word processing - sure, they wouldn't mind if every geek in the world used their product on Linux, but we're not their primary market.
    They can tout their OS as being 'Linux-powered' in the same sense that Mac OS X is touted as 'UNIX-powered', hype the stability, etc, etc. They have the advantage that this is an almost entirely closed software platform, so they'll be able to achieve stability greater than that of AOL on Windows. They'll advertise innate security, and so on.

    And it will work, unless MS strongarms the hell out of all the OEMs; in light of the continuing antitrust trial, that would not be in their own interest.
    It's not a victory for Linux - though that's a practically meaningless phrase - it's not a victory for 'Open Source' or 'Free Software' - ditto. It *is* a *small* victory for open standards, which Gecko complies to quite well.
    Don't get any hopes up about AOL replacing its proprietary protocol suite, though, or about them releasing source. They know exactly what they want - a closed software platform that they're not dependent on archenemy MS for, and if they do what it seems they will, they'll get it.

    It occurred to me that such a closed platform would be an excellent way for AOL/TW to enforce DRM on their platforms. Without a way to install new apps besides 'AOL-certified' ones (you bet there won't be any other way - why the hell would they include a terminal app? Their market doesn't care about a CLI), it'll be easy for them to enforce copyright. Not spinning conspiracy theories, just found that interesting...
  • A machine that was Linux-based, AOL-optimized, and could run a subset of Windows apps would about do it. Considering the cost-of-acquisition of a new customer for AOL, it could sell these machines at a loss and still come out ahead as compared with spamming the world with coasters. If it can also run AOLindows-compliant games and apps (particularly some of the Adobe and Macromedia stuff, as well as Quicken and tax software) - without requiring those companies to do much more than be sure their stuff installs cleanly under Wine - then it's like: Do you want to pay $1000 for a new Windows machine; or would you rather pay $600 for the same hardware (that's -$200 AOL loss leader, -$200 Microsoft licenses) and still be able to run everything you, average home user, could need?

    And the next time Microsoft is selling a Windows upgrade, offer an AOLindows conversion kit for free, and offer some cool new AOL features that don't work under Win. ("We're sorry, but feature X can't be separated from the OS.")

    With the AOL user base, companies would pay to have their stuff certified AOLindows compliant. It's a sure win if it gets out of the starting gate.

  • This isn't just a good from the "let's get away from everything microsoft" viewpoint.

    Think of what this means for cross-platform AOL clients:
    Mac support: OS9, OSX.x
    Linux support (no client yet, but the switch to gecko should reduce the amount of work to be done in porting)

    Think about what it means for advancing the real W3C standards:
    A standards compliant rendering engine used by the largest single percentage of Internet users out there...?

    This is all good stuff.

    Well aside from AOL taking over my RoadRunner connection in the near future, and controlling everything on cable.

    Now, if we can all just agree to stop using any version of Netscape 4.x, I'll be a happy programmer.

  • The REAL good news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hieronymus Howard ( 215725 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @01:03PM (#3143177)
    This line in the article is probably going to benefit the 'ordinary' Linux user most:

    We hear that every hardware vendor who approaches AOL is now being asked, "How is your support for Linux?" before they are even allowed to make a sales presentation

    This could force hardware vendors to provide good Linux support. If so, then we should thank AOL for this, regardless of what we otherwise think of them.

  • In hindsight (BeOS?) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ghost. ( 85872 ) on Monday March 11, 2002 @02:17PM (#3143685)
    It's all hindsight now, but comments like:

    AOL/TW will buy Red Hat. They're looking to break free of Microsoft...

    Why Red Hat? Corel would probably be a lot cheaper...

    make me wonder if AOL perhaps missed an opportunity by not buying Be. Seems to me BeOS would have fit the bill for all this talk of an AOL web/email only consumer box, and could have been purchased for a song. Am I overlooking something here?


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