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   Microsoft-phobia and the non-future of XHTML x.x [LONG]

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[In a sense this post is to XML-Dev and XHTML-L members but it won't achieve anything if it isn't seriously considered by senior Microsoft people. ... Lots of reading to follow.]

Yes, I know there are lots of issues / nuances I haven't covered. I think the post is long enough already.

I think that many on this list accept that there is a problem with browsers.

One key aspect of the problem is the relationship between the income that browsers generate (~nil directly) and the costs of high quality development. If we want high quality browsers or rich-clients then someone has to invest substantial amounts of money.

Without income (directly or indirectly) we can't expect substantial investment.

So are there any realistic possibilities as to how this stalemate might be exited?

In my earlier post I commented on what I believe is the fundamental business model of open source software:

"At the risk of over-generalising the fundamental business model of open source software is Microsoft-paranoia and Microsoft-phobia by competitor companies. Of course there are enthusiasts who donate time but isn't at least part of the motivation for some of those developers the same Microsoft-phobia and Microsoft-paranoia? Try to imagine how limited open source software today might be without the kick start donations and ongoing funding from the corporate interests intent on spoiling Microsoft. If hatred and fear of Microsoft were not so widespread there might be virtually no open source software!

Now, the next few statements may get me burned at the stake or locked up in a lunatic asylum ... but no matter. :) Putting forward possibly daft ideas is part of what brainstorming is about.

The key to faster, better browser development *may* be to undermine/kill/stop open source browser development.

Yup you heard! :) ... More on detail later.

So how might that seemingly daft idea benefit both software companies and users?

That aspect is quite simple ... if software companies can charge for next-generation browsers / rich-clients / call them what you will then we as users can expect added value to be part of the pay off. Of course, we may have <shock_horror> to pay *money* </shock_horror> for these next generation browsers / rich-clients but if it helps us get useful (paying?) work done then the added value *may* outweigh the costs.

OK, so let's assume that readers buy the premise that it may, as a long shot, be possible to move on (forward?) to a rich-client model, how could that actually happen?

Remember the premise is that open-source browser development would need to be slowed or rendered less relevant. To achieve that the funding from anti-Microsoft companies would need to be lessened or withdrawn.

Something pretty substantive would need to come from Microsoft. And it would need to have some positive payoffs for Microsoft.

The suggested actions on Microsoft's part (not necessarily simultaneous) would include:
1. Announcement that the free browser to be given away with future versions of Windows will be Internet Explorer 6 (or whatever) and that no further free browsers will be developed.
2. An announcement / hint / whatever that Microsoft will "real soon now" be releasing a super duper you-pay-money-for rich client.

This would need to be done credibly and convince others that it was for real and for keeps!! How to achieve that is for Microsoft senior management to figure out.

If those announcements were made .... and believed outside Microsoft ... the bottom might fall out of open-source browser development.

Benefits for Microsoft:
1. Opens up a new market for income - rich clients will be paid for. Having 95% of a browser market where $0 is generated per item is poor business.
2. Competitors (AOL/Netscape?) might withdraw subsidies for Mozilla etc funding
3. It tests out whether Microsoft can undermine / slow open source development in a circumscribed field of development. (A strategically important issue for Microsoft)
4. Having x% of a paid-for rich-client market is better business than 95% of a $0 market.

Benefits for other companies:
1. Opera etc might be able to charge for their browser again
2. New companies would enter the rich-client field.
3. They can compete in a market where there is some income.

Benefits for users:
1. We would have a choice
2. New developments would be faster
3. There is an incentive for companies to invest to provide functionality that *we* want

Who loses?
I guess the main losers would be open source developers whose salary is paid for by anti-Microsoft companies.


OK .... thoughts? :)

Andrew Watt
"XHTML 2.0 - the W3C leading the Web to its full potential ... to implement yesterday's technology tomorrow"


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