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Browser Wars Mark II 418

Nigel McFarlane writes "I have no life (humour) other than to write articles about Web technology and open technologies, and the way they mediate, enable and transform our public places and our participation opportunities. Mostly I write about Mozilla and Linux, but my latest effort is an attempted wake-up call over Web standards and the future of the Web." Self-deprecation aside, it's a decent article that summarizes the stakes well.
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Browser Wars Mark II

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:07AM (#9295700)
    K-Meleon [] for Windows. It is Gecko without the Mozilla GUI bloat. Kind of like Safari is to the Mac.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:08AM (#9295702)
    Just as good software should be modularized and decentralized, a web browser should be just that: a secure configurable and stable html viewer. What's wrong with external video and audio players? Even flash sites could be viewed that way.

    They are mostly games and fancy bloated intros mostly anyway.
    • by ironfrost ( 674081 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:21AM (#9295779) Homepage Journal
      [Flash sites] are mostly games and fancy bloated intros mostly anyway.

      So what? The fact is, people use them, and it's a lot more convenient for them to load up in your browser window than to have to load a new program just to browse a site that someone has written in Flash. The most important thing about a browser to most people isn't stability or even features - it's convenience. If you had to load up a seperate program to see a movie trailer or listen to a song sample, it would annoy people to the extent that most of them wouldn't want to use your browser.
      • Maybe if it wasn't so convenient, then so-called "web designers" wouldn't use them.

        I like to use Links (textbased browser), and when you've got flash menus, you've just cut me off.
        • by nwbvt ( 768631 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:48AM (#9296615)
          I don't know why it is you choose to use text based browsers, maybe you have a legitimate need for them or maybe you just like being a nerd. But if it is the later, this is a much more serious issue for many people who have no choice but to use browsers that cannot support stuff like Flash.

          Many people out there who are hard of hearing or seeing use accessibility tools to use their computer. With something like standards complaint HTML, this works just fine. A blind guy can have his computer read the content off a web page. But with something like Flash, such programs just don't work. You haven't cut him off from using your site with his favorite browser, you have cut him off from using your site period.

          Do the world a favor and whenever you see a site that relies on flash without an alternative, send an email to the owner of the site informing him that his web designer is an incompetent moron (though you might want word it a bit nicer than that).

          • Actually, it's the web *developer* that's an incompetent moron. Designers are typically people who come up with the overall layout, and developers implement it.

            Of course, it takes specialization in about a dozen different areas to make a *good* website. Most people don't have these skills.

      • When you speak of "most people", include in that the tens, if not hundreds of thousands who know nothing about computers, and so rely on the advice of a savvy techster they know or who is in the familly. Then think about the fact that those people (*wave*) are telling their parents/relatives/friends that they should avoid any browser that even looks at flash, popups, cookies, &etc. without asking first.

        It's not about convinience. If it were, we'd all be using Macs. It's about dozens of things including
    • by mumblestheclown ( 569987 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:49AM (#9295920)
      Just as good software should be modularized and decentralized, a web browser should be just that: a secure configurable and stable html viewer.

      There should be a new logical fallacy called "fallacy of false convenience" or something like that. this is where some poster attempts to throw some bullshit by you by starting with reasonable premises and then hoping tht you won't notice the sleight of hand.

      Let's look: "good software should be modularized and decentralized." This is a reasonable propositon. but looks at where he goes from there: "a web browser shoud be just that .. a secure configurable and stable HTML viewer."

      Im sorry, you conclusions do NOT follow from your premises. You have instead chosen an arbitrary standard that you happen to agree with and more or less declare this to be 'obvious' when it in fact is not.

      Why should a web browser be a secure configurable (stable i'll take for granted) viewer when it is clear to anybody that today's web is much more than that? why do you NOT have a problem with your web browser being able to view a myriad of image formats but not a myriad of video formats? is there some fundamental difference? NO! or are you suggesting that maybe image viewing should be shucked out an external program? No? Then why is your line in the sand so 'obvious?' (remember, there are lynx users out there who WOULD say that the image viewing should be shucked out to an external viewer and who used to campaign against any web page containing any non-essential information in graphical format; clearly technology has passed those people by).

      For that matter, why shouldn't you have a different program to display each letter of the alphabet, or each color? That's modularized and decentralized, no? While that is of course a silly example, it just goes to show that _your_ definition of "what some AC thinks a web browser should be" is not necessarily what follows from your premises just because "games and fancy bloated intros" don't suit you.

      Only on slashdot would your sort of wishful thinking be marked 'insightful.'

    • I'll never understand the hatred of Flash that pervades geek culture. Yes, there are many flash pages that are overwrought, and could have the same effect produced with good javascript/images, but we've been down this road before. When GIFs and JPGs were introduced to be viewable inline in HTML, I can guarantee that there was this similar reaction. It was the same when DHTML and Javascript first became popular, people derided it for ruining the presentation of content, but now they are integral to many p
      • by .com b4 .storm ( 581701 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @01:50PM (#9297290)

        Well, let's see... Here are some of the most obvious problems with sites that use all or mostly Flash-based content:

        • How do you "bookmark" a section of a Flash movie? If I find something interesting in a Flash-based web site, and I want to come back to it later, I have to remember all the cutesy menus I had to go through just to get back there.
        • Most Flash pages do not allow copying of text. So, not only can I not easily bookmark the information I want, I can't copy it either unless I whip out a text editor and re-type everything myself.
        • Accessibility! Perhaps Macromedia or someone else has a solution for this, but I've yet to hear of such a thing. How accessible are Flash sites to, say, blind people? If your computer can't access the information as text, how can it read it to you or present it in Braille?
        • Time for a geeky one: it's a closed standard. Unlike HTML, and JPEG, and PNG, and XML, and CSS, etc. Flash is not really an open standard. You have to use Macromedia's tools if you want to do anything serious with the format. If Macromedia goes out of business tomorrow, and you can't get Flash for Windows Longhorn or Mac OS X Tiger, oh well you're screwed. And what happens if they decide they want royalties for every .swf you put on your web site?

        I'll admit, the last point is a bit over the top, but it is one of the complaints commonly found on Slashdot. The first three points comprise my main beef with Flash. Flash is a good technology, but it is not a replacement for open, standardized, and accessible formats like HTML, XML, and CSS.

        • I never said it was a replacement. It's a compliment to existing tech.

          Accessibility for the blind is available in Flash, most people don't bother though (just like most people don't bother with IMG alt tags and HREF title tags).
          A well designed Flash site can give you the option to bookmark, to copy text, and to have access for the blind. It's no fault of Macromedia's if people aren't using their tool "responsibly".

          The open standard part, I tend to agree with. However, Macromedia has always seemed to
    • I'm not sure why the parent post rates a +5 Insightful.... Maybe it's because the subject line has a magic name within it, giving rise to the thought "somebody's agreeing with Linus so this must be an insightful comment, since Linus is our god." Come on people - Linus is just a guy, and he puts his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us.

      All of the web browsers I have used only render HTML and plain graphics formats. Yes, Flash displays, and so does embedded video and music, but that is actually done by external video and audio players like Quicktime, Real, or Windows Media. It's certainly not the browser itself - it's just a container for this stuff.

      What do you think plug-ins are all about?

      As for the secure bit, well, most browsers could do a much better job of sandboxing plugins.
  • by sethadam1 ( 530629 ) * <adam.firsttube@com> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:08AM (#9295704) Homepage
    This is getting to be annoying, reading all of these browser wars articles. This one happens to be good, and just makes me think - how can we, the developers of the web, stp this from happening?

    Simply by NOT USING new MS technology if it alienates anyone on any platform.

    It's up to us.
    • by gyratedotorg ( 545872 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:58AM (#9295975) Homepage

      "It's up to us."

      not if you have a manager to answer to!
    • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @10:05AM (#9296008) Homepage Journal
      ``how can we, the developers of the web, stp this from happening?''

      The answer is: develop our own technologies, and ship them before Microsoft ships theirs. Make a lot of noise to get people to notice. By the time Microsoft gets its technology out, me must have established a solid userbase. Then, we just hope we can stay ahead.
      • The answer is: develop our own technologies, and ship them before Microsoft ships theirs. Make a lot of noise to get people to notice. By the time Microsoft gets its technology out, me must have established a solid userbase. Then, we just hope we can stay ahead.

        Wasn't that the Netscape business model?

    • Start Selling (Score:5, Interesting)

      by soloport ( 312487 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:08AM (#9296371) Homepage
      A successful business is kept alive and grows, not through forces of conviction, but through the forces of convection.

      1) Put up a site where people can "order" Mozilla, Firefox, Thunderbird, et al
      2) Charge a reasonable fee (e.g. $5-15 USD, not $50-150 USD and not $0)
      3) Take the proceeds and pay for as many ads as you can afford, all clicks pointing back to the web site
      4) ...
      5) Do not profit -- put all proceeds towards more ads

      With a machine like this, you will blow away all competition.
      • Re:Start Selling (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ciroknight ( 601098 )
        Well, I wouldn't say profit, but banking some of the money (say 10-20%) as a fall-back would be a really good idea. Use it to fight legal cases, use a certain percentage of the interest from it to buy more ads, and let it grow.

        *wild tangent, but related*, maybe we could use some of that money to start centralizing Linux and its related software. Pull all of the smaller open source companies into one conglomerant, run everything *sourceforge, bugzilla databases, mailing lists, yawn, etc* off of one ser
    • This one happens to be good, and just makes me think - how can we, the developers of the web, stp this from happening?

      By breaking IE. As content providers and web"masters" we have control of the web. My website intentionally renders very poorly in IE. I use PNGs with alpha transparency. I delay serving pages on the server side to people using IE. IE is a second rate browser, and as a result my website gives it second hand treatment.

      If Apache shipped with a module that fed pages to IE slower than W3C
      • by E_elven ( 600520 )
        You don't want to intentionally break IE.

        What every single web developer should do is code *exactly* to XHTML/CSS (and preferably Accessibility) standards. The code should show up fine. The second part is detecting browsers that aren't standards-compliant (all IE, NS6 and so on) and display this text:
        This website is built according to Web Standards.
        [Link to XHTML, CSS, 505 and AAA]

        Unfortunately, your browser does not fully support these standards. You're free to continue browsing, but be aware that you
  • by Kyro ( 302315 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:08AM (#9295705)
    Quote from article: "Beyond the Foundation are many other Mozilla-enabled browsers such as Konqueror and K-Meleon"

    I was under the impression that Konqueror used KHTML and not gecko...
  • by Trigun ( 685027 ) <{evil} {at} {}> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:08AM (#9295706)
    Microsoft is attempting to reinvent the Internet with it's .NET initiative. This initiative will include MS Specific code for web services, which will undoubtedly break interoperability between platforms, and between browsers.

    Microsoft wants you to use the MS Internet(trademark pending), and will make certain that HTML and XML become irrelevant. Windows.Forms is the future, unfortunately, and because they control the specs, they will win the next round of browser wars.
    • Microsoft does not *have* to win this war. They have ideas, developers and a huge marketing department to tout the advantages of their products long before they hit the market. And that is exactly where their weakness lies.

      It will be more than a year and a half ere Longhorn comes out. Until then, we are unlikely to see any groud-breaking new technologies from Microsoft. Let's jump in that hole! We know what needs to happen:

      1. The web provides a lacking user experience, because web forms are hardly interac
  • Konqueror/Mozilla (Score:5, Informative)

    by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:10AM (#9295717)
    Konqueror is Mozilla-enabled only in the sense that Konqueror implements the Netscape plugin architecture, as does Mozilla. Konqueror does not use the Mozilla rendering engine (Gecko), but rather uses its own engine (khtml).
  • by millette ( 56354 ) <robin AT millette DOT info> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:10AM (#9295721) Homepage Journal
    Gee, why are the pages so small? The printer version [] is much easier to read. Anyway, for the latest word on mozilla's support of css3, don't miss Anne Van Kesteren's report [] available since Wednesday May 19th, 2004.
  • by Haxial ( 654858 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:11AM (#9295727) Homepage
    The author claims that VHS succeeding over Betamax is inexplicable. This is an Urban Legend. Here is a well researched article about it: []

    In summary, the main reason why VHS succeeded was that it was superior because it had longer recording times. Betamax was crippled because the original tapes could not hold a whole movie.

    • Here are a couple of websites I found about the Betamax vs VHS Urban Legend:

      "Speaking of quality, you will often hear Betamax fans claiming that Beta was technically better than VHS. However, on closer inspection this turns out to be something of a myth; an advantage Beta might have had was quickly matched by VHS, and anyway was only apparent using sophisticated test equipment. In fact, independant tests of picture quality at the time actually put VHS ahead, the scores over four tests being VHS: 2, Beta:

    • OT: Dvorak (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bishop ( 4500 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @10:24AM (#9296125)
      I hate the statement: "Dvorak superiority is a myth." The ergonomics of the Dvorak keyboard are far superior to Qwerty. Economists are in no position to debate that superiority.

      In terms of the cost of switching to Dvorak then Qwerty probably has the advantage. Replaceing all those keyboards and retraining typeists would be a huge expence for little economic gain. I am suspecious of any study that shows a huge productivity gain from switching to Dvorak. Dvorak users may type faster, but most keyboard users I know are not limited by their typeing speed.

      Certain economists like those who wrote the Qwerty article above hate the Dvorak keyboard. Dvorak shows that the market does not always choose the most advanced (high tech) products. There are some theories of a free market economy that rely on the market always chooseing the best. Unfortunately the Dvorak keyboard delivers quite a blow to these theories. If these economists were scientists they would rework their theories.

      The Dvorak and Qwerty keyboards can be added to a list of technologies that show that a partial solution that is out first will have an advantage over a perfect solution. It is an example of The Rise of "Worse is Better" []. Backwards compatibility is part of the same picture.
      • Bishop wrote:

        The ergonomics of the Dvorak keyboard are far superior to Qwerty.

        Says who? Mr Dvorak himself? You make this claim, but provide no evidence to back up your claim. Who should we believe, you who makes an unsubstantiated claim, or the article which quotes an IBM Research Laboratory study about the ergonomics?

        "Ergonomic studies also confirm that the advantages of Dvorak are either small or nonexistent. For example, A. Miller and J Thomas, two researchers at the IBM Research Laboratory,

  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Isbiten ( 597220 )
    Beyond the Foundation are many other Mozilla-enabled browsers such as Konqueror

    I stopped reading here. Well a bit down there's this

    Non-Mozilla browsers such as Safari and Opera

    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Informative)

      by r00zky ( 622648 )
      1.- Konqueror identifies itself as "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.2; Linux) (KHTML, like Gecko)"
      2.- The kdebindings3-mozilla package description that comes with my distribution states that "The Mozilla WEB browser can used inside of the Konqueror. Usually the KHTML class is used to browse the WEB."

      Haven't tried the 2nd since i like Konqueror/KHTML more than Mozilla...
    • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:47AM (#9295902)
      I have to agree, although I did read to end out of morbid fascination. Most of the article is just cheerleading for Mozilla, I dont mind that, even if he is way off on some points, but I think it should be pointed out that while Mozilla is good it has taken an inordinate amount of time to get here and has not been a smooth ride. Mozilla is not the cure for cancer. It just lets me read pages on the web or send email, nothing groundbreaking there. I wont even start on the Betamax thing for delusional examples.

      The author makes the usual MS are trying to take over the world but provides no proof or indication of how this will actually happen so I take it as (based on the article) a highly biased guess.

      Lastly by harping on about current standards the author clearly shows he does not have the faintest idea about where the web and desktop applications are going.

      He does inadvertently raise one interesting point though. A two tier web might not actually be a bad idea. A 'commercial' one tied into useful services with rich clients delivered by XUL/XAML and another 'information' (I think information is batter than his hippie description) type web where you can use the browser of your choice. But as for saying

      the new browser war is a fight for the survival of the web itself

      what a load of sensationalist bull.
  • simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:13AM (#9295737) Journal
    Maybe im missing something but it seems pretty simple that a good browser should:

    a) Support 3WC standards to the max
    b) Have a separate and intelligent module for rendering badly coded websites that dont follow specs
    c) Use the philosphy that the user gets the final say in what happens on their computer - if they dont want extra windows opening etc then thats their choice.

    oh and d) not be full of really stupid security holes.

    but of course the general public dont want that..
    • Re:simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @10:13AM (#9296046) Homepage Journal
      The article is not about what makes a good browser. The article is about the treat that Microsoft poses to the web as we know it.

      The reasoning is that Microsoft hates the web, because its openness makes it hard or impossible to extract money from it. Therefore, they will develop proprietary extensions to it which will provide more convenience and a better user experience. These extensions will only work with Microsoft software, but will be adopted by developers, safe in the knowledge that virtually everyone uses or can use that software anyway. The traditional, open web will die, because all the hot stuff is happening in the MS-controlled sector.
  • Do your bit... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kegster ( 685608 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:16AM (#9295754) Homepage
    Show a non-geek firefox (no, not the movie, they'll never forgive you)

    So far every person I have shown firefox to has installed it and started to use it, even my cousin's kids. The older one even thinks that Linux is cool, which came as a bit of a shock to me ;)
    • Re:Do your bit... (Score:3, Interesting)

      So far I've gotten my mom (!) and a coworker permanently switched to Mozilla-based stuff, but it ain't as easy as one might think.

      Each one teach one.
    • The older one even thinks that Linux is cool, which came as a bit of a shock to me ;)

      Unsurprising, linux has three things going for it:
      - an X in the name (you can't have a cool product without an X in the name, even microsoft realized that)
      - Tux, a penguin who sits on his ass all day long and smokes weed (where else does that dopey expression come from?). He's sort of the ideal of what kids hope to be, looking cool while sitting on their ass getting high as a kite.
      - Linus. Women think he's a sex god, men
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:23AM (#9295787) Homepage Journal
    Even Copernicus only got it marginally better than Ptolemy but it was better ENOUGH to serve for those who ehanced it, like Kepler. The point is no one really cares how great it is, it has to be only good enough to be absorbed.

    And on a practical level Mozilla is far slower on older machines which is a huge disadvantage.

    The next disadvantage is that you have to DO SOMETHING, e.g install it - you geeks would be amazed what a huge problem that is for 99% of mankind.
  • I found it odd that the author listed Konqueror and K-Meleon as running off the Mozilla rendering engine

    Beyond the Foundation are many other Mozilla-enabled browsers such as Konqueror and K-Meleon

    then proceded to say that Safari is a non-Mozilla browser (Which it is, but it is based off the Konqueror rendering engine which he named as a Gecko browser)

    Non-Mozilla browsers such as Safari and Opera ensure that the web has not yet been reduced to a two-horse race between Microsoft and Mozilla
    • He also uses the tired old incorrect Betamax vs VHS argument. VHS won because you could record a two-hour movie on one tape, which you couldn't with beta, not because superior technologies lose or whatever it is he says.

      All in all, an article void of interesting content.
  • by Domini ( 103836 ) <> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:25AM (#9295805) Journal
    All we care about is which one works.

    For some reason I don't seem to be able to get away from IE. Whatever the reason there are still many (important) sites out there that still just don't work (properly) with non-IE browsers.

    In general though, I will use Opera on win32, Safari on OS X and Fire on Linux as my preferred browsers.

    That does not not mean that I don't ALWAYS try and use IE (on OS X and win32) when I find that the others still don't quite make the grade in site compatibility.

    Same as the silly Beta vs. VHS war. The one that wins is the one that has the most support, and is therefore the better (out of a consumer point of view) browser.

    And I think that's all that really needs saying.

    PS: In my opinion, the best browsers are:

    1) Safari (much faster than Opera on any platform)
    2) Opera
    3) Mozilla
    4) IE (If it had tabbed browsing, it would be better than Mozilla!)

    • I wonder what sites that you find that these Important sites that only function with IE. I use konqueror most of the time, and only occaisionally fall back to mozilla. Although I have a bunch of other browsers installed , IE , Opera and others for testing websites. To be quite frank a website cant be that "Important" if the web developers that programmed it couldnt be arsed to ensure that it worked in different browsers. What sites are you talking about? and perhaps you should email the techies and ask them
      • Don't you think I have tried?

        I still have some minor problems with my bank's internet, although all the serious ones were fixed now (since I kept complaining...) The thing is that my entire company is at that bank, and it would be too much of a pain to move banks.

        The second one is the booking system of basically the only booking company in my country ( )

        The third is one of the largest software and hardware shops in the country : (Incredible Connection) - But I don't like them
    • I kinda look at things the other way around, if a site doesn't work in what ever browser I'm currently using, then it just wasn't that important.

      IE is a crappy browser simple things like CSS and png isn't shown correctly, there are no tabs and I find it to be kind of slow (yes slow).

      By the way, what do you mean that Safari is faster than Opera on any platform? Safari only runs on MacOSX.
    • For some reason I don't seem to be able to get away from IE

      Yeah, there's a reason for that. It's because you haven't tried. I work for a pretty decent sized company as the IT Manager. I have installed Firefox on several of the more skilled users machines and every personal machine I've worked on. I know how it works. People don't want to change because they like IE.

      But it takes about one day's use to break the habit. Teach them about tabs, show them popup blocking without a third party application,
    • Whatever the reason there are still many (important) sites out there that still just don't work (properly) with non-IE browsers.

      If there's an alternative, I suggest switching to the alternative and then mailing the site informaing them of the reason you switched. If there isn't an alternative, go to and file an evangelism bug explaining what the site is that doesn't work and how it is broken.

      IE (If it had tabbed browsing, it would be better than Mozilla!)

      What features is it specif
  • Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drewhearle ( 753120 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:26AM (#9295809) Homepage Journal
    The browser wars of the 90's are over. Nobody is "selling" their browsers for their proprietary features. This is why you don't see many (well, not that many) IE-only pages any more - people want to be compliant.
    Microsoft's Internet Explorer is too old. Features that almost every other browser has, like tabbed browsing, skins, etc. are not included, and there are so many holes it's like Swiss cheese.
    Microsoft isn't pursuing it because there's no money in the browser market. As the article says, Apache is free, HTTP is free, most browsers are free, PHP, Perl, HTML, MySQL, and almost everything Internet-related is completly free (not always as in speech, but free nonetheless). Microsoft has no motivation to make an amazing browser, because it doesn't get them anything but a name (which they already have).
    Over the next few years, the only good browsers will be coming from groups like Mozilla who aren't in a money-making business at all and only want to have a great, stable, secure, fast, and standards-compliant browser. They don't want to necessarily dominate the browser market (though I'm sure they'd love that) - they just want to make a good product.
    That is why the browser wars are over. The good browsers will rise, the bad ones will fall - and the good browsers will only come from developers who are in it for "the cause" and not the money.
    • Re:Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cammoblammo ( 774120 ) <> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:42AM (#9295879)

      The good browsers will rise, the bad ones will fall

      Unfortunately, no. The browser that comes as default on 90+% of the world's desktops will stay where it is. MS will do the easy things like add tabbed browsing and maybe even tighten up security a bit. As the article implies, MS is after control of the content of the net. There was never a lot of money in the browser market per se. It's an issue of power. Unless the vast majority of people who simply use whatever's there find a reason to change (and they already have plenty) they're going to stay as they are.

      Heck, how many people even realise that there are other Internet Explorers out there?

    • You completely missed the point, making it seem like it's all good, whereas the article warns of a great threat. Go back and read it again, or read this post [] of mine for a summary.
  • by chendo ( 678767 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:31AM (#9295829)
    Yeah, after the server starts to spew out smoke, you would want some mirrors, and I have no clue where the silence fits in here.
  • Hysteria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EchoMirage ( 29419 ) * on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:36AM (#9295848)
    Ugh...another buzzword and acronym-filled article. For instance:

    It's the presence of standardized data in web content--whether current standards such as XHTML or some yet-unknown future standards, perhaps based on XUL--guaranteeing that the web will remain a global commons, an information highway, and a free marketplace.

    XHTML is a reformulation of HTML in XML; XUL is an XML-based language that describes a computer application's graphical user interface. Not the same thing. But anyway, onto the larger pointof hysteria:

    Make no mistake: Microsoft really hates the web.

    Microsoft doesn't hate the Web. The Web has created a huge market for Microsoft in personal computers. Tons of PC sales are rooted in people wanting a computer to examine the "Internet" and "Web" things they've been hearing so much about. PC sales = Windows sales = Office sales. Microsoft doesn't hate the Web.

    When Microsoft tempts these organizations and communities to Longhorn, the web suffers the death of a thousand cuts. Over here will be the standards-based web, with a gradually shrinking set of web sites.

    This statement assumes the basic workflow:

    Step 1: Develop Longhorn with Web-tainting features
    Step 2: Release Longhorn
    Step 3: ??????
    Step 4: Profit! (and dominate Web)

    No. First, you have to ensure that people will upgrade. Longhorn will be coming off the longest active life cycle of a Windows product ever; Microsoft will have to demonstrate in spades that Longhorn is worth the upgrade price, elsewise it will take at least 3-4 years of OEMs shipping Longhorn on all new PCs before it starts to attain ubiquity. Given the current ~2006 release date for Longhorn, that's 2009-2010. A lot can happen technologically during that time. Second, this assumes that the Web won't adapt to Longhorn-specific features, which it almost certainly will (and has adapted to hostile technologies every time before, often by marginalizing them). Third, it assumes that the same disparity between IE and all other browsers will remain basically static. Macs continue to sell well. Mozilla/Firefox/Camino continue to grow in popularity. XML continues to grow in popularity (which IE has significant problems with). Etc. Oh, and likely Longhorn-specific Web stuff will require server-side support; not likely to be included in Apache, which is the majority web server by a significant margin.

    So I really don't buy the author's arguments here. I have no doubt MS will continue to taint the Web with MS-specific features, and I have no doubt that the Web will shrug it off. That's okay - Microsoft has other businesses. They're not now (and never have) put all their eggs in one basket.
    • Step 1: Develop Longhorn with Web-tainting features

      No, not Web-tainting, but Web-replacing features.

      The taint *giggle* has traditionally been their tactic. But if you substitute the verb 'replace' then re-examine your main paragraph, a lot of those assumptions can change.

      Of course, that's assuming they can pull it off. They failed with the whole Hailstorm thing, so there's still hope...
    • Re:Hysteria (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:16PM (#9296786)
      Microsoft doesn't hate the Web. The Web has created a huge market for Microsoft in personal computers. Tons of PC sales are rooted in people wanting a computer to examine the "Internet" and "Web" things they've been hearing so much about. PC sales = Windows sales = Office sales. Microsoft doesn't hate the Web.

      Actually, Microsoft may not hate the web, but they certainly view it as a threat to their business model. Microsoft's business model is based on owning the underlying platform. If the platform is commoditized, then they would have to compete on quality, something they've not historically been very good at.

      The web is heading in the direction of becoming a commodity platform for building, distributing and running all software. That is something microsoft wants to avoid at all costs, because without the control their proprietary edge gives them, they couldn't keep up their profit margins. Microsoft has tried to kill every attempt at providing that web-based standardised platform. They've tried and mostly succeeded at killing desktop java. They've tried and mostly succeeded at killing any progress on web standards to the point they're actually useful for building complex apps. They're trying to move to longhorn, a new wholly proprietary web architecture, which doesn't just add to the web, but replaces it.

      Microsoft's business model is based on monopoly pricing. If they couldn't price like a monopoly, their stock value would collapse. They MUST have control over the desktop market. It is imperative from a business point of view. That's why they're so ruthless in destroying anything that threatens to replace their platform. And that's why the author said microsoft hates the web. It's not that they hate it, it's that they fear it.
  • Did the article have to be 7 pages to say its 3 main points?
    1. "One of the purposes of Longhorn is to destroy the web as we know it."
    2. "...individual action is still important, so choose a standard compliant browser if you value the web..."
    3. "Standard data guarantees that you won't have to migrate to Longhorn in order to stay where you are."

    Seriously, that was way too much reading, just to hear the anti-Microsoft banter at the end of the article. I wholly agree that Microsoft has done their fair share of "loo

  • by mumblestheclown ( 569987 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:40AM (#9295871)
    good god, submitter.. you have written a baldfaced piece of advocacy. your article is completely unbalanced and paints firebird in the best possible light while painting microsoft in the worst possible. this is not journalism; this belongs on some dork's rant blog; journalists don't write "mozilla is technically better than IE; this is a fact." without supporting information, much less basic criteria from which this conclusion was drawn. I'm sorry--you have seen the IE source code?

    I run firebird and IE, and while i use firebird in some cases and it *does* have a number of neat features and IE *does* have a number of annoyances; i could just as easily reverse the terms "firebird" and "IE" in the beginning half of this sentence and I'd be just as accurate.

    IE, by the way, is massively more sophisticated than firebird from a developer's perspective. I can embed IE inside of a windows program transparently. This provides a great many USEFUL features that mozilla can't even dream of as yet.

    but no, what are mere facts compared to your baldfaced assertions.

    • by Mr. McD ( 166893 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @10:04AM (#9296006) Homepage
      Uh, I can embed Mozilla in the same number of Windows Apps as I can with IE. Furtermore, I can embed Mozilla inside of a Linux or Mac OS X program. This provides a great many USEFUL features that IE can only dream of. Oh wiat, thats right, they canceled IE on Mac OS X, so they don't care! Add to that that FIREFOX provides a consistent feature set across multiple operatating systems. I guess I really can't see your point.
  • Fascinating article. Unfortunately it does not back up one of its main claims, that Longhorn will lock in webdevelopers. How exactly is that possible?

    Not a troll... just genuinely curious. Have I missed something really obvious?
  • by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:44AM (#9295892) Homepage Journal
    I've always thought that the big sign [] outside Microsoft's headquarters looks like a tombstone.

    Start digging.

  • A plain fact? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prodangle ( 552537 ) <> on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:46AM (#9295896) Homepage Journal
    The author says:
    The Mozilla browser is technically better than IE. That is plain fact.
    And that's where I stopped reading.

    Of course that is not a 'plain fact'. IE does a lot of things that Mozilla doesn't (form entry isn't broken, for example). On the other hand I'm sure everyone here can name plenty things Mozilla does that IE doesn't. Mozilla may be better in the opinion of the author, and it may be better at the things that matter more to the author, but to state it's superiority as fact is a perfect example of ignorance.

    The fact that the author can't spot the difference between KHTML and Gecko shows he is no position to be comparing browsers.
  • Who to blame? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2004 @09:48AM (#9295911)
    Face it...who do we really have to blame for Microsoft's domination here? Back when the Web really started to get on its feet, we geeks and technical users were the early adopters and were the ones who showed everyone else the Internet. And we dumped Netscape like a cheating girlfriend when Microsoft came out with something a little better. We are the ones who made Internet Explorer popular. If you still used Netscape, or "Nutscrape" as it was dubbed, you were laughed at. And now, the number of casual Internet users far outweighs the techies and geeks; it's going to be almost impossible to reverse this trend.
  • IE 7 or whatever (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tjmcgee ( 749076 )
    is not going to be released until 2006 []. In the meantime any professional web designer worth her salt is developing with standards. People like Zeldman [] are doing a great job of spreading the word to the design community. Web designers and developers are on the front lines of this war - not the consumer. It doesn't matter how many of your moms are using FireFox, if her bank site only works with IE then she she will only use IE. It is up to the designer/developer, if we want a standards based infrastructure th
  • Feedback (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Apostata ( 390629 )
    I honestly don't think people care about the browser war. People will generally use whatever is closest and works, and a smaller percentage will pay attention to performance/utility details and thus use the better product.

    I remember, back in the 90's, shaking my head even at the term 'browser war'. It seemed ludicrous, if only because the idea that there could ONLY BE ONE BROWSER FOR EVERYONE was childish. This isn't Dune spice, folks.

    The author certainly has a point, regarding the upcoming fig
  • by Mantrid ( 250133 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @10:19AM (#9296082) Journal
    The article states "Microsoft is effectively prevented from extracting any monetary value.", referring to the fact that PHP is free.

    I don't think that's quite true. I think there is still plenty of room for commercial PHP development apps - providing they are good ones. So if Microsoft developed a really great tool I might consider buying it - well that would depend on whether it was a truly exceptional tool or another abomination like Front Page.

    There is room to make money based off of free languages - you just can't force people to pay money for your tools anymore!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Really, I think that many people avoids using replacements for IE just for the fact that one or
    more pages doesn't render (like my employeers intranet... sigh).

    For the mozilla project it would be a trivial technical solution to implement (on Windows
    ofcourse) but it would make the browser experience so much nicer. A page that doesn't render? Open in IE.

    Actually, when I think of it, its probably fully possible to embedd IE's renderwidget inside a
    Mozilla/Firefox window (advantage: all bookmarks are kept in th
  • Unfortunately I can't read it, because the stylesheet specifies a foreground colour for the body text but no background colour, so I get black on black.
  • awareness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gyratedotorg ( 545872 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:35AM (#9296530) Homepage
    what we need is an awareness campaign. remember those 'best viewed with' buttons from the mid nineties? we need to bring those back. even if its not true that your site works better with some particular browser, something like this would at least spread awareness of the alternatives out there.
  • by rspress ( 623984 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @02:05PM (#9297367) Homepage
    Microsoft has been retooling the web for sometime now. It has worked well for Microsoft because pretty much no one is paying attention to what they are doing. Since the web is one of the few things MS cannot buy outright they have had to use other methods to gain control of it and for the most part it has worked flawlessly. Since most users will use IE on the web adding features to its content creation tools that create sites that only work with IE under windows is something that will sneak under the radar of most users.

    Web standards are the last thing the MS wants. If every browser worked the same that would not give MS an advantage. If the web pages that your business relies on works only with IE and under Windows what will your business have to use to get its work done? This fact has not been lost on Microsoft and day after day many sites are becoming MS only sites where you need IE or IE and Windows to make use of the services the page offers.

    Microsoft only needs to add more MS only features to its content creation and delivery tools to shut out the competition. Next time you are on a Mac or surfing with Linux or using Mozilla under Windows and you cannot access a site do not blame the web designer for bad site design. More than likely MS will be involved with that site in one way or another. They have already done a proof of concept when they torpedoed Opera browsers on their own site before Opera exposed them.
  • micro-browsers (Score:3, Informative)

    by whitroth ( 9367 ) <`whitroth' `at' `'> on Monday May 31, 2004 @03:15PM (#9297716) Homepage
    "Browser wars"? So, when will we see the efforts to create micro-browsers, suitable for viewing slashdot or on the 1.5"x2" screen on my cell phone...and when will the manufacturers give us a magnifying glass, so we can read more than 12 letters at a time....

    mark "and the market-droids who decided I
    wanted a Web browser on my cell phone
    will make a great telescope - a lens
    in either ear, and hard vacuum in
    between, just like Bush & co...."
  • Correction (Score:3, Informative)

    by 42forty-two42 ( 532340 ) <<bdonlan> <at> <>> on Monday May 31, 2004 @05:41PM (#9298659) Homepage Journal
    Beyond the Foundation are many other Mozilla-enabled browsers such as Konqueror and K-Meleon.

    Konqueror [] is based on KHTML, not Mozilla.
  • Ain't Gonna Happen! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cgreuter ( 82182 ) on Monday May 31, 2004 @05:42PM (#9298665)

    The author is probably right about Microsoft hating the web, and he might even be right in his assertion that Longhorn is their attempt to replace it with their own thing, but he's wrong in assuming they even have a chance.

    There are two reasons.

    Firstly, the web is about small voices. It's not a medium for selling stuff or issuing press releases (although some people have made money doing that), it's about ordinary people saying stuff.

    Remember how the web used to be, before VCs with their carpet bags full of money turned great swaths of it into a cheap version of UHF TV? Doesn't the thought of all the weasels switching to MS-Internet and going away bring a smile to your face?

    Alas, it will not be, for the second reason the Longhorn Strategy will fail. Because breaking web compatibility means turning away customers and that's just not good for businesses.

    Notice that all the commercial websites still around will work, at least mostly, on all sorts of browsers? Coincidence? I think not! Amazon tests their sites using Netscape 1.x! (Or they used to for a long time anyway--I don't know what their baseline is now.) That way, they know that their site will work on practically every browser out there, right out of the box.

    Of course, some of the bigger e-business folks may start supporting Longhorn, but they'll stay compatible with the established standards because they don't want to lose their customers.

    At this point, everyone has W3C-compliant (more or less) browsers and servers. They can all talk to each other. As soon as someone switches, they can't talk to the rest anymore and their setup becomes useless. This is why, for example, nobody has been able to replace SMTP, despite the whole spam problem.

    I predict that we'll remain stuck with HTML, CSS and HTTP for a long time. The MS extensions will be a kewl technological blip that nobody will use but, if it's good, may well be lamented by future web developers as something that could have been.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle