Re: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire

Matthew James Marnell (marnellm@portia.portia.com)
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 11:48:50 -0400


Message-Id: <199610181548.LAA07449@portia.portia.com>
To: "Scott E. Preece" <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
cc: smishra@cc.gatech.edu, snowhare@netimages.com, jaobrien@fttnet.com,
Subject: Re: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire 
In-reply-to: Your message of "Fri, 18 Oct 1996 10:18:24 CDT."
             <199610181518.KAA03504@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com> 
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 11:48:50 -0400
From: Matthew James Marnell <marnellm@portia.portia.com>

:>It's a constant reminder that your choice has limited your access to
:>some provider's data.  At some point the weight of those reminders may
:>convince you to change or may convince you to beat your vendor browser
:>into supporting the same features as the heavies.

What BS is this?  Clearly, for pages that support CSS and are hence
MSIE 3.0 for W(95|NT) enhanced, for people that aren't using W(95|NT)
and have a recourse of Netscape or Other, beating on Netscape to
add CSS hasn't done s*** and Other generally tends to be a free
unsupported (for the most part) browser where the persons OS !=
W(95|NT).  So, what's the recourse then?  Scrap everything and switch
to W(95|NT)?  Beat on a bunch of students over at NCSA?  Whatever.

:>I don't think browsers are or should be mundane - I'm inclined to think
:>they should become our primary user interfaces, with a little more
:>evolution.

It'll go the other way, before it goes that way.  By the other way,
I mean that the OS will build the WWW into the OS (it's already
almost there for both the Mac and Windows).  It'll be all the way there
for NDs and PDAs based on Java.  But this doesn't get past the fact
that browsers would have to evolve an awful lot in order for it to
replace anything as the Primary UI.

:>The Web is a major step forward in platform-independent integration of
:>data and process.  It's not mature, yet, and some of its infrastructure
:>may change radically over the next few years to improve efficiency and
:>capability, but the directions are good.  Toward that end it's important
:>that users keep upgrading so that there's a sufficient base to drive
:>content providers and infrastructure developers to keep the maturation
:>process going.

No, according to the opinions that you've espoused in your mail message,
the WWW isn't a major step forward in platform independant integration,
but a step sideways if we're constantly downloading new and different
browsers every time we stumble on a page that our browser doesn't do.

Which still fools a lot of the people that are more than happy with
an earlier version of MSIE or Netscape, or a user of MSIE on the
Mac and Win3.1 which isn't current with the 95|NT versions.  When you
stumble accross a page that has "This page best viewed with [Netscape
Now]" and it looks like crap because you're still using 1.1 because
it does what you need and doesn't eat up 14MB of RAM, but the web page
doesn't say "This page best viewed with Netscape 4.0b2" you think that
the webmaster is an idiot, and rightly so, becuase you're using Netscape
and his pages still look like s***.

:>Something else I expect, by the way, is browsers that maintain their
:>currency automatically by fetching new components from their vendor's
:>server as needed; this requires a shift to a much more modular
:>architecture for browsers (to keep upgrade downloading cheap and fast),
:>but I think it's sure to turn up in a year or so.

It's sure to turn up in Java based browsers in the immediate future,
it's going to be much more of a hassle for platform specific browsers,
it's also likely to be a feature that pisses more people off than
expected, especailly with apps like netscape who are so resource hungry,
that Joe Average User with the base Win95 machine with 16MB of RAM
is going to have to kill some of his other apps in memory in order
for the Netscape Navigator to run after it's updated itself and added
another 4 MB to itself in the process.

:>The Web is much to young for anyone to be saying "I've found my browser,
:>I'm going to stick to it, and I don't want to know what I'm missing."

While I happen to agree that it's far too early in the game for this
to happen, it doesn't mean it isn't or won't continue.  People are more
likely to switch ISPs than browsers.

Matt