Friday, July 18, 2003

ongoing · The Door Is Ajar

ongoing · The Door Is Ajar "Item: I gave the opening keynote Tuesday at the Second Annual SVG Open conference. For those of you who haven’t got down with SVG, let me tell you it’s some drop-dead cool technology, and it neatly fills several huge holes in the on-screen ecosystem. It’s tearing up the markets where people live and work in graphic applications: math, cartography, and so on. But information workers won’t get a chance at it, because it ain’t in IE, and it ain’t going in any time soon (see above).
Item: We keep hearing that IE has 95% market share, 99%, is effectively universal, that we’re locked in Bill’s trunk. Except for, the proportion of IE users here at ongoing recently crossed the 60% line, heading down. I don’t want to brag, but I’m historically very mainstream: if you’d made a practice, over the last two or three decades, of betting on the technologies I was mixed up in, you would have made serious money (with the single exception of VRML, sigh)."

Tim Bray is an amazingly accomplished and insightful person, and his blog is thought-provoking. I think a couple other variables need to be factored into this analysis, however:
1. For the vast majority of people, IE is more than good-enough for their browsing needs.
2. Microsoft has many opportunities to advance the client experience with Longhorn. I've seen a lot of speculation about potential downsides or obviously dumb things MS could do (e.g., MSN favoritism etc.), but not a lot of thoughtful and objective analysis of what could happen if MS does a great job and doesn't impose too much of a "strategy tax" on MSN etc. etc.

In many respects the current browser and debates remind me of the MS-DOS-versus-CP/M debates during the days before GUIs mainstreamed. Apple and Microsoft (among others) are optimistically placing huge bets on next-gen stuff, but most of the reviewers and pundits are assessing tomorrow's potential by comparing it with yesterday's reality.
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