As the Church Lady used to say, How Conveeeeniiieent! How sporting of the
boys in blah-blah land to *bless* us with a 'free' VRML.
Note the other blunders later in the article
Netscape explains VRML moves
Netscape Communications Corp. said its acquisition of a VRML browser
company yesterday will serve rather than harm the VRML community, bringing the
3-D technology to millions of new users and freeing innovative small
companies to concentrate on creating value-added technologies rather than
building Web browsers they are forced to give away for free.
Netscape yesterday acquired Paper Software Inc. , and also announced support
for the Silicon Graphics -led "Moving Worlds" proposal for VRML 2.0.
"We've always been interested in VRML," said Alex Edelstein, senior product
manager, Netscape Navigator. "But we've been very focused on building HTML
technologies. The last couple of months we've stepped up our investigations
and seen there's a lot of pent-up demand and that VRML technology can be
effectively delivered over a modem connection. We think it makes a lot of
sense to build VRML capabilities right into our platform, right into the
Netscape has drawn some criticism on the VRML mailing list and in other
places for heavy-handed tactics, but in general its moves appear to have been
welcomed by the VRML community. Edelstein said Netscape is aware that its
actions affect other companies and individuals that have labored to build VRML
to where it is today.
"We didn't want to come in and stomp on a lot of little guys. That was one of
the reasons we stayed out of it for so long," Edelstein said. "But we talked
to a lot of people and the message that kept coming through was that no one is
making money on plain-Jane VRML 1.0 technology [including browser vendors]."
Netscape also took the advice of the VRML community--and especially close
partner Silicon Graphics--in choosing to back SGI's "Moving Worlds" proposal,
"[SGI] came to us and said, 'here's our story. All of these specs are being
proposed as VRML standards. We've been working on it for a year, had it out in
an open forum for comment and critique in polling booths, newsgroups and
mailing lists. Now we'd like to get as many people as we can to support it.'
So we looked around at the other specs and it became clear that there is
almost unanimous support for Moving Worlds right now. On VAG [the VRML
Architecture Group], everyone except for Microsoft supports it."
Edelstein said the VRML community's support for Moving Worlds rather than
Microsoft's ActiveVRML proposal was a function of Microsoft's outsider status.
"People in the VRML community tell us that they had ActiveVRML thrust upon
them and they were forced to deal with it," Edelstein said. "We're no friends
of Microsoft, but we didn't do anything to stir up these guys to tell us they
are not too impressed with ActiveVRML."
But not everyone in the VRML community is overjoyed with Netscape's moves.
Several posts to the VRML mailing list expressed concerns that the endorsement
by Netscape--and indeed 50 other companies--for Moving Worlds makes it the de
facto standard at a time when the VRML community is supposed to be openly
debating which of six VRML 2.0 proposals will become standard.
"[Netscape announced its intentions] with a breezy post and a bombshell. That
list of endorsements for Moving Worlds could have been handled in a way that
had a lot more finesse, and yes, that counts. This is an incredible, let me
repeat, incredible blunder," wrote VRML content provider Len Bullard.
The list, however, also featured a number of posts that point out that SGI
and its partners have worked hard to build consensus around Moving Worlds via
Microsoft said it will publish its own list of backers for its ActiveVRML
technology shortly. When it was announced in December, companies including
Caligari and Creative Labs expressed support for Active VRML.