Re: The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

Murray Altheim (murray@spyglass.com)
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 16:59:07 -0500


Message-Id: <v02140b1eae8da6d44aa7@[208.203.149.85]>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 16:59:07 -0500
To: "Jason O'Brien" <jaobrien@fttnet.com>
From: murray@spyglass.com (Murray Altheim)
Subject: RE: The Final Word on Browsers and the Future
Cc: www-html@w3.org

>See my response below Murray's:
>
>>Murray Altheim, Program Manager
>>    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts writes:
>>>>
>> Go ahead. But don't expect people to use your choice of browser. Not
>> because they won't upgrade, but because they have made an informed >
>decision
>> NOT TO, or because they CANNOT, for whatever reason (device >
>limitations,
>> physical limitations, lack of control over device environment, the
>browser
>> isn't available for their platform, etc.). What is hot, fast, and
>efficient
>> today will be obsolete in _three_ months. You're behind the times.
>-------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>They make an informed decision not to upgrade -- why would anyone do
>this?   I understand device limitations, but why would a person serious
>about accessing the Internet access it with Netscape 1.0 when 3.0 Gold is
>available?

You just said it. Device limitations. Some people (and most schools) can't
afford to put 16MB or more in every computer. Older browsers typically have
a smaller memory footprint, don't require so much hard drive space, and are
sometimes faster as well. I didn't go out and buy the biggest, fastest car
either. Is that so hard to understand? Not everyone believes that a 32MB
160MHz Pentium is a necessity. They have other things to do with their
money (like raise kids).

>Why access it through Mosaic, when Microsoft Internet
>Explorer is better?

Better through your eyes. And I assume you're on a supported platform with
enough RAM. Not everyone is. Also, notice that MS/NS don't really keep
their non-Win95/WinNT browsers quite so up-to-date?

>I'm not rating these through a corporate eye -- I'm
>simply looking at the product itself and what they offer -- once again,
>your arguments which make so little sense can be equated with someone
>saying well, I can't afford to go to DisneyWorld, so I'll watch this
>video of DisneyWorld and get the same experience -- you won't get the
>same experience -

And the point I'm making is no, not everyone can afford to go to
Disneyland, not everyone wants to go to Disneyland, and some people
(particularly non-US) wouldn't understand much of Disneyland nor its
appeal. Some people have no use for Disneyland; they're trying to get
information on the latest in biotechnology or a stock ticker. No, you won't
get the same experience as a trip to Disneyland. But you'd at least get
some experience, rather than none at all, which is what literally (2min
ago) happened when I hit www.golive.com with a non-frames browser. They
wouldn't even let me in the door until I upgraded to Netscape. Duh. Lost
one sale right there, eh?

[...]
remember, the whole problem here is design standards
> -- this is where this issue is coming from, not some innate desire I have
>to publicize even more this browser war --
>
>Understand, I am so sick and tired that still at this point we have no
>standards -- so what's the solution?   You say your pages reach 98% of
>the browsing market -- with only text and tables -- is this really the
>future of the Internet, a place where audio, video, and more textual and
>presentational advances are possible?

Text, tables, foreground and background graphics. That's what print media
has right now to work with, and they've done wonders. Good design works
within the limitations of the media. I've seen some really beautifully
designed sites that didn't need all the extra nonsense.

>[...] I am not attempting to have an arrogant attitude -- it's simple fact
>--
>if you sign up on the Internet and start using Netscape 1.0 or Mosaic,
>you have to know right off you'll be missing a lot of what the web has to
>offer -- no Java, frames, etc -- it's not our responsibility to make sure
>we are catering to that audience [...]

That's the fault of the content providers, witness my problem hitting the
golive site. Glitz is great until you lose customers. It's not the
customer's responsibility to buy the faster computer. You seem to make that
statement.

>[...]
>do musicians release their new albums
>on vinyl anymore?   No, only on CD and tape (and tape will soon leave as
>well I think) -- everybody moved on to CD's because of the better
>technology -- the industry moved with it -- it's not the musician's
>responsibility if someone out there has decided to only still play vinyl
>records and not get a CD player or 8-tracks -- so your argument basically
>says that if we web designers were musicians, we should release our new
>music on every format possible, no matter how old

It's a good point, but it's somewhat a different argument. The base media
being 8 track vs. CD is different than _choosing_ to use frames ONLY,
knowing that (via browserwatch) at least 25% of your audience can't see the
page. Content negotiated content can be expensive to create and maintain,
just as a record company pressing CDs, tapes and vinyl (yes, there are
still releases of vinyl) must incur the extra costs. If you aren't going to
negotiate based on client, then at least make sure you hit your audience.
Right now, living on the bleeding edge is going to cost you a substantial
percentage of your audience, and that will _increase_ as we move into the
device market.

>-- I can see it now --
>when Netscape and MSIE have versions 12 and 15 out, someone is still
>going to try to tell me that we should be designing for those people with
>version 1.0 out there -- bottom line : it's our responsibility to point
>people in the right direction, and if people decide not to move forward
>with advancement, it's their choice, and their loss --

Yes it is their loss. But in reality it's the content providers' loss as
well, as they're trying to sell product. Again, the audience may not have
the option to use the tools you point them to. I made the point (which you
haven't addressed) that the entire web is moving away from large scale
applications called browsers. As this happens, another large-scale ramping
up is occurring: the device market. As this occurs, small UAs incapable of
displaying large color GIFs are going to become increasingly popular, maybe
more popular than desktops.

We've been playing with degeneration issues here a bit. Almost *none* of
the pages designed for MS/NS 3.0/4.0 with frames, JavaScript, etc. will
currently display on a small device. And there are tens of thousands of
computers in schoolrooms in the US that simply cannot upgrade to the new
browsers due to hardware constraints. I could go on, but it's Friday and
I'm outahere.

Have a good weekend.

Murray

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    Murray Altheim, Program Manager
    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
    email: <mailto:murray@spyglass.com>
    http:  <http://www.cambridge.spyglass.com/murray/murray.html>
           "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."