RE: [Jeff Covey @ Freshmeat] We Are Losing the Browser War

From: Josh Cohen (
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 00:03:55 PST

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Stephen D. Williams []
>Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 12:25
>To: Josh Cohen
>Cc:; Karl Anderson;;
>Subject: Re: [Jeff Covey @ Freshmeat] We Are Losing the Browser War
>Josh Cohen wrote:
>> >I'm still hopeful that AOL will some day throw the switch and all of
>> >their users will be using Netscape instead of IE. For the
>> >longest time,
>> >AOL users were a significant portion of IE usage, without
>> >which Netscape
>> >would have been ahead far longer.
>> Quite true. The AOL deal was a turning point for IE.
>> It instantly gave IE a huge number of users.
>> The clincher for AOL choosing IE was componentization...
>> NSCP didnt get it and Mozilla doesn't really
>> seem to either.
>While componetization of IE was a factor as opposed to Netscape's
>lackluster interest in duplicating it at the time, the real reason the
>deal was done was to get space on the Win95/98 desktop in installation
>CD's. I happened to be present when a client developer first demoed IE
>running in the AOL client and I also knew of a bunch of other promises
>by MS that didn't seem to ever amount to much. AOL was scared that MSN
>was going to wipe it out because it would ship with every copy of
>Windows, ready to go. (They have become terribly bold in forcing users
>to both MSN and MSN Messenger in Win98SE as per an earlier
>conversation.) The notable quote from a MS underling at the time was:
>"Bill will do anything for 5 million users.".
We can argue till the end of time what the "real" reason was..
Overall, AOL wanted desktop visibility before the IE discussions,
the IE discussions were a bargaining chip. So yes, AOL
had a serious business desire to be on the windows desktop,
and "Steve was willing to do anything to get it".

The componentization was what clinched it, because it
shut up all the techies that swore that NSCP was a better
choice. With componentization, IE was much better.

So great, AOL is just as greedy as MSFT.. boo hoo

>My personal opinion is that if the Justice department wasn't
>still after
>MS, AOL would have already switched to Netscape. To do it now would
>reduce standing which was already injured by the Netscape/Sun/AOL
>musical chairs.
So, um, they are depriving their customers of the superior
netscape experience to keep up the charade that microsoft
has a monopoly ?

>> > How ironic, and incredibly
>> >strategic,
>> >that AOL now owns Netscape.
>> >
>> Ironic yes, but still pathetic. Even though they own netscape
>> it will cost more to switch from IE. Netscape (and Mozilla)
>> still does not have a componentized architecture, which allows
>I believe you are wrong about that. The specific intent for Gecko was
>that it was componentized. I've heard nothing to dispute
>this, although
>I haven't seen it used this way.
You are right, it was the GOAL. However, componentized means more
than just having code in different libraries. It's really about
COM, CORBA, bonobo, or your favorite component system.

>> AOL to run a web browser, in their own app frame with all their
>> own branding, without changing IE at all.
>This would be trivial at this point. In fact, I'm pretty sure
>you could
>do it by just rewriting the XML that configures
>Netscape6/Mozilla's GUI.
>> Maybe an interesting challenge would be to try and build
>> a set of components based on the mozilla code that
>> implement the same COM interfaces as the IE components.
>What COM interfaces are really used beyond telling it what pages to go
>to, etc.? Netscape has always supported a way to do that,
>even on Unix.

Its a lot more than just having a separate browser window
that navigates to an URL. THink about how the AOL UI
buttons control back/forward, favorites, stop,etc..
Basically, (Im not a COM expert), AOL creates
a window which hosts the IE component, which exports a
bunch of interaces/methods/etc. That lets the "chrome"
be AOLs not MSFT.

IE also allows AOL to create its own URL schemes that can be
used anywhere in the windows system. These are things
like buddy functions, keywords, and some other stuff.

>> If that is done, you could simply replace them on a given
>> customers machine (and you can even make it so only
>> the AOL application would use them, so as not to fuck up
>> the system because you probably cant implement EVERYTHING)
>> and then, have the zero-work task for AOL of switching...
>> While Im at it... Why is it that everyone wants this switch
>> to happen ? Aside from the fact that "IE doesnt run on Linux"
>> what is the fucking problem? Every review on the planet
>M O N O P O L Y
>Illegal, anti-competitive, annoying business practices
Um, thats not the definition of a monopoly and
a monopoly isnt illegal (or necessarily bad) in itself.

When one of the two major browser makers stops
making a good or competitive browser, the likely
case is that the market will consolidate around
the superior product.
If millions of people can sit for hours and
download MP3s they can sit and download NSCP
if it was actually better.
It isnt.

>> pretty much agrees that IE5 ended the broswer wars,
>> due to MSFT's hard work (or for those that cant credit MSFT
>> with anything) NSCP's failure to do *any* work...
>> Besides, the AOL shell hides so much of the "browser application"
>> that it really doesnt matter anyway as far as the user it concerned.
>> There's just as much work getting that application shell that AOL
>> has ported to linux anyway. Maybe if AOL really gave a shit
>> about the linux users, they would port AOL to Linux.. Have they ?
>> I really dont know.
>Supposedly there is a version of the AOL client running on
>Linux. AOL's
>set top box runs Linux. Etc. The browser wrapper is the least
>complicated part of the AOL client to port.
Yeah well, lets say supposedly your right. It really doesn't
matter. The vertical embedded AOL box isnt supporting
the 'legions of Linux users', its just a convenient
way for AOL to deliver a turnkey product.

Its actually quite shameful if you are right. AOL has
a Linux version built, yet they wont even let a beta out
for linux users to try? And we all know that linux
users are far more likely to be technically savvy
and deal with beta issues. Yet still AOL is mum?
Maybe this doesnt actually exist yet .. Maybe
it does. Either way, it says nothing positive
about AOL's support for linux users or the community.

>> Even IE has done a better job, Windows, Mac, Solaris, HPUX.
>> While Linux may be a competitor in spirit, Solaris and HPUX
>> are far more realistic competitors *today* in that they
>> directly take away NT sales, especially in the server room.
>And Linux doesn't? You need to check around more. Linux eats NT's
>lunch for a lot of small shops out there and a number of large ones.
The little small shops and basement ISPs werent
gonne buy either solaris or NT anyway..

>> However, despite this, customers told MS they wanted
>> IE for the platforms they have in their shops, hence
>> the solaris and HPUX versions. Linux just doesn't exist
>> in the same numbers in big business at this point...

> I'll point out the obvious: Any comparison to
>licenses shipped
>or bought is extremely misleading. These overrepresent MS Windows by a
>fair margin (my guess is at least 25%) and don't take into account
>upgrades, replacements, etc. Linux sales numbers are a small fraction
>of what actually gets used, minus a similar replacement problem.
This argument about sales vs installs is getting old.
THe days of most Linux being installed from downloading
are clearly over. Most people I know (and I know lots
of linux users) buy a redhat CD.
Yes, they share it among their friends or burn it and share
it around, but this is not different than Windows...
Those same people have pirated copies of win2k on their
'other' machines just as well.

I would imagine that in a "real corporation" where Linux
is supposedly "taking NT sales", those installs are
bought copies, either via OEM, or redhat. Big companies
like support, its what redhat/oem provides and it is what
lets Linux make the inroads that it has.

I will agree that Linux server is growing. However,
win2k server share is growing as well.
Most importantly, though it is growing, NT loses more
sales to HPUX and solaris *TODAY* than to Linux.

>I disagree but I won't produce hard numbers at this point. Linux has
The march 24th edition of The Economist, in "Digital Baroque"
puts Linux desktop usage at a mere 1%.
Take a seat, blind faith.

>quite a number of notable endorsements (Mexico and China's 'official
>OS', quickly growing use in schools, etc.) but desktop usage is hard to
Oh yeah, puhleeez. Lets talk about China's motivations. Here's
a country that brazenly ignores software copyrights and patents.
Im sure they still pirate more MS software then they have Linux.

>The last percentage numbers I heard more than a year ago put
>Linux at 6%
>of the desktop market. Mac only had 5% or so.
care to cite a reference ?

>Although weighted strongly by buying power, I doubt if the HPUX and

>Solaris desktops are nearly as numerous as Linux now. If you subtract
>government, finance, and heavy engineering they would be dwarfed.
I was comparing server usage.

>See all the press releases about AOL+Linux, especially the recent
>description of the AOL Set Top box.
You dont get it. None of that contributes to linux's bottom line
or viability. What has Tivo done for the Linux community at large?
Did it ever occur that maybe people like tivo or even big aol
are using linux as its convenient for them? If people
are stupid enough to do AOLs work for free, it will not
reject it....

I can only imagine the outrage if Microsoft shipped a new
product runnin on linux. Aside from the jokes
about MS's own OS not being good enough, people
would be incensed that MSFT was allowed to get away
with "using" or taking advantage of the sweat of
the open source developers...

Such hypocrisy...

>Mozilla was big and complicated. That's what abated a lot of
>enthusiasm. With Netscape 6, it's back in the ball game as it mainly
>needs optimization now.
>Also, it's actually possible to run a number of those plugins in
>Intel/Linux with a little work. Linux can be made to load Win32 DLL's
>in some cases. Someone may decide to pull this off.
All these "mays" and "shoulds" thats not enough. You cant
build an almost browser and expect that the wind will just
carry it to success. This is why microsoft eats people's
lunch. They dont stop, they work hard and finish that
last 10% that makes stuff go.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:15:00 PDT