Yesterday, Steve Jobs did something he's not used to doing The chief
executive of __NeXT Computer Inc._ and co-founder of _Apple Computer_ and the
personal computing revolution spoke to some 4,000 Microsoft developers in San
Francisco. Jobs has been a frequent critic of both _Microsoft's_ methods and
its products. But as he continues to push NeXT's new Web building software,
WebOjbects, he finds himself strangely in agreement with the Redmond,
Washington behemoth's view of a dynamic World Wide Web.
In an exclusive interview with Interactive Age Digital 's Managing Editor
Gary Brickman, Jobs tackled Microsoft, _Netscape_ and the future of the Web.
Interactive Age Digital: Would you have predicted 5 years ago that you would
have been at a Microsoft developer's conference?
Steve Jobs: No, of course not, except in a coffin, possibly!
Interactive Age Digital: Why is Steve Jobs at a Microsoft conference?
Jobs: Because I actually think they have the right idea, which is that the
Web is going to evolve from static publishing into really serving customized
user requests. We call it dynamic services. And Microsoft is putting some of
the right building blocks in place to do that. Our WebObjects product sort of
takes up where they leave off and they work really well together. But we have
exactly the same vision. They see that -- that's why they invited us here. We
see that -- and that's why we came. So I think the Web's going to get far more
exciting than it has been with static publishing as it moves into this new
era of customized dynamic services.
Interactive Age Digital: In your statement on stage you said Microsoft is
treating you the way they treat other third party developers...
Jobs: No, what I said was Microsoft is treating us the way we expected
Netscape to treat us -- sort of really trying to work with us, being very
responsive. And Netscape is treating us the way the we thought Microsoft would
treat us -- which is sort of stonewalling us and being very unresponsive.
Interactive Age Digital: What's that about?
Jobs: I have no idea. I don't run either Microsoft or Netscape. To be honest,
I think the Internet and the Netscape phenomenon is going to be the best
thing that ever happened to Microsoft, it will wake them up to make realize
that they're not the complete island, that they have to build some bridges.
Interactive Age Digital: To paraphrase, you said in an interview with WIRED
magazine, (February, '96) Microsoft could be the worst thing that could happen
to the Web. Do you still believe that?
Jobs: I think vigilance will always be necessary when it comes to this topic.
But right now, they're trying to play in the open community of standards, so
Interactive Age Digital: There certainly was a lot said today by Microsoft
Jobs: Right. Open is their middle name, in terms of the Web.
Interactive Age Digital: Do you accept that?
Jobs: The Netscape stuff isn't open either, its just Netscape proprietary and
I think you're going to have Netscape proprietary and Microsoft proprietary
extensions to open standards, and I think as Web developers, we'll have to
work with both of them.
Interactive Age Digital: Does Java integrate with WebObjects?
Jobs: Oh yeah-- we're building the Java Script into WebObjects, we'll have it
out by Summer, and we're building compiled Java into WebObjects certainly by
Q4 and possibly Q3.
Interactive Age Digital: What do you see the Web landscape looking like in a
year from now with these two giants, Microsoft and Netscape, battling it out?
Jobs: Actually, the real giants are the consumers. In the end the Web is the
ultimate direct-to-customer distribution channel. Large enterprises care a
great deal about that, so do consumers. These large enterprises are going to
find ways to build these dynamic, very powerful Web sites, working with
Microsoft or Netscape or NeXT or whoever, but they're going to get them built
because this is their distribution channel.
-- _Gary Brickman_ in San Francisco