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If you can't beat em, buy em

http://news.com.com/2100-1030_3-5176017.html?tag=nefd_top

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  MS would end the browser wars effectively.  But not that eliminating AOL is all that bad...

Walt
Friday, March 19, 2004

AOL has no future; why would Microsoft want to buy it?

Almost Anonymous
Friday, March 19, 2004

Because they'd be able to acquire a colossal on-line customer base for a relatively low price?

JP
Friday, March 19, 2004

The colassal online customer base is only important if it will (eventually) increase profits. The reason TW is looking to dump AOL is because it is not carrying its weight (and is a management nightmare, apparently). And let's not even talk about the BS that they'll have to go through with the FCC. It would probably be better to just let AOL implode.


Friday, March 19, 2004

1. Buy AOL
2. Force customers to switch to MSN software
3. AIM users moved to MSN Messenger
4. MS starts charging for IM
5. Profit! Profit! Profit! [and Netscape ceases to exist]

GiorgioG
Friday, March 19, 2004

Just out of curiosity, have *any* of the "give it away free, then take it away and start charging for it" theories about MS strategic moves ever borne fruit?

Philo

Philo
Friday, March 19, 2004

Philo,

Given that Microsoft was rolling in the dough previously, there was no real impetus to do so. Now that they're seeing revenue flatten or decline, the screws begin to turn. As a first step the entrenched IE will require you to pay for Longhorn if you plan on upgrading (in effect they got people hooked, and then made it cost).

.
Friday, March 19, 2004

No.

Norrick
Friday, March 19, 2004

., the "oh, they're giving it away now, but just you wait - they'll charge for it sooner or later" theories predate MS's billions in the bank. But I don't recall it actually ever happening. That's not to say it didn't happen - obviously I'm dangerously myopic on the issue. That's why I asked the question. :)

And "if you want to run the new software, you'll need the new OS" isn't unique to MS - in fact, MS has a long history of being castigated for worrying too much about backwards compatibility.

And if you need Longhorn to run IE7, then why would you distribute IE7 independently?

Philo

Philo
Friday, March 19, 2004

AOL is hiring bigtime in Bangalore, India.

I have some cousings working there and they are hiring by the hundreds and hundreds. Yes folks. They are getting bigger in size.

Karthik
Friday, March 19, 2004

Philo,

What possible feature of an HTML renderer could require hooks into the OS?

Maybe I'm unimaginitive, but I can't think of any feature us users actually want that would require OS improvements.

DirectX, hardware-powered rendering???
MS VRML???

It's quite obvious that MS feels that the browser war is no longer worth fighting (because they've already won) and now they are risking (albeit a small risk) their browser dominance to push their OS upgrades on their customers.

If IE7 is released with XP Reloaded or a service pack, I'll cut them a little slack.  If I, as a web developer, have to wait until Longhorn (2006 or 7) has 60% marketshare before I can safely use well-supported CSS2 features that all other browsers have had no problem with since last year, I'm gonna be pissed.  As it is, I already target Mozilla and leave IE as a 1.5th class citizen in my work.

Richard P
Friday, March 19, 2004

Richard, you sound like a person who develops web pages for public consumption, in which case I feel your pain.

However, I think the thing that really drives IE usage is it's requirement for the thousands of software packages that utilize IE as an application component. 

Developers being mostly lazy are like "we'll just use IE because it's 95% positive to be already installed, plus it's got plenty more hooks for the developer (like DirectX, et al) ...".  Also, if you *have been* coding IE/COM, there is no big push as a developer to move away from it.  Mozilla is just starting to get some COM abilities.

As far as MS giving away software...they used to *kind of* give away Windows and Office, but then stopped it with XP and Activation.  I'd wonder if they had it planned all along, but then I'd be paranoid. 

Wayne
Friday, March 19, 2004

MSHTML as an embedded application HTML renderer, I have no problems with.  They can have that space.  I don't care if they update it -- ever.  Either it served the purposes of the app builder at the time the app was designed or it wouldn't have been used.

I just hate the MS is holding back the entire evolution of the web because they no longer feel any pressure to innovate at a customer-driven pace.

Richard P
Friday, March 19, 2004

Richard - for the web as a content delivery mechanism, where do you see the need for it to evolve to? What do web pages need that IE can't do?

I'm not being facetious - I'm honestly curious as to what your vision for the web is.

Philo

Philo
Friday, March 19, 2004

Well, CSS2 would be nice for starters...

Martha
Friday, March 19, 2004

because...?

I'm not disagreeing - I'm just saying that adopting a standard for the sake of having a standard isn't really sustainable.

So what does CSS2 offer over IE's current implementation?

Philo

Philo
Friday, March 19, 2004

"So what does CSS2 offer over IE's current implementation?"

Quite a lot. Check out w3c for the official list: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS2/changes.html

But that doesn't really show you what's possible. Our interface guru can take some simple html (created by non-interface coders) and with a css2 stylesheet, turn it into a multi-level cascading menu. Apply a different stylesheet and it's a simpler site map that uses a bulleted list. Etc, etc.

But it doesn't work in IE. It's a shame because it would really make our code so much simpler to produce.

Another item that seems really useful is to have frame-like elements without using frames. Static elements on the page that do not scroll, but are in on the same page. Very useful for things like navigation.

You're only limited by your imagination (and IE).

Don't get me wrong - I understand how difficult it must be for them to change IE. It's engine is embedded into so many applications that the testing would take a very long time.

RB
Saturday, March 20, 2004

I imagine if they can figure out how to hemorage money with X-Box and I would imagine MSN, what's to prevent them from hemmoraging money with AOL.

X-Box will be profitable, probably from licensing, video games, and X-Box Live or whatever it's called.

If you want to see creative ways to make money, look again at the Windows licensing scheme they came up with a couple of years ago, which is what's giving them that huge bank account you're talking about.

You're also forgetting that if you're on AOL you almost don't need the web. How many times have you seen in commercials "AOL Keyword xyz, or www.xyz.com."

Here's a thought. X-Box 2 with AOL. $300 down and $60 a month for life gets you broadband, content, TiVo like services, and unlimited online gaming. Then strike a few deals with Sony, Time Warner & other companies to offer exclusive content on AOL - movie trailers, DRM filled audio downloads. Oh, and no pirating - can't install Kazaa on an X-Box. One conversation with Steve Jobs and now you can plug in your iPod and connect to iTunes as well. Strike a deal with Barnes & Noble and a few other online retailer and Amazon disappears.

I have two words for you people.

MEDIA CENTER

Microsoft & Sony want to be the media center for your living room. That's where all the money is. If they could take 1% of the revenue from every media transaction that occured on the internet...

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, March 21, 2004

I always found the whole debate about IE or WM to be part of the OS was based on silliness. It >doesn’t matter< whether “technically” some dll’s can be ripped out/replaced or whatever. What matters is whether a platform is offered on which to build other stuff.
If MSHTML is part of the OS, application programmers can assume it will be there and use it. These can be developers building other parts in the OS distribution, or third party developers from other companies. Same goes for media services.
In 2004, is it reasonable to assume HTML, HTTP and multimedia stacks to be part of a platform? Yes, it is. This is no different from the assumption that there will be some kind of WIMP stack for user interaction, or API’s for mass storage, or API’s for sound production, TCP/IP networking etc. Also, the fact that once upon a time there where OS distributions that lacked these, or the fact that some specialized distributions exist that or packaged without is absolutely irrelevant.
A different case altogether is whether some GUI apps that build on these, in casu IE and Media Player, should be included. This is an entirely different question, and it is often not differentiated from the previous question in these debates. Also to this second question the answer to me seems reasonably yes. End users expect to be able to do basic web browsing and multimedia consumption out of the box. Besides, crucial online compliments to the OS, such as Windows Update and user training video materials rightfully rely on them.
But should these end user apps necessarily be >exclusively< IE and WMP? Here I am leaning towards no. While I understand MS is disadvantaged (with the exclusion of XBOX) with respect to those rivals that control the entire stack (Apple, Sun, Sony, Nokia, Palm …), I think the implicit premise of an open stack is that it enables a broad ecosystem, and that the end vendors should have more configuration control.

So my position in both the Web tech and multimedia is: Platform abilities: Certainly. User apps: Yes, Exclusive distribution: No.

Understandably the direct competitors to MS would like a >no< vote on all three issues. All they want is harm or disadvantage the product as much as they can since they are in direct competition with it, or have it ship without an essential component that they themselves want to provide. Even for the “user apps” portion, where I go for a yes vote mainly because this is common industry practice and fully within end-user expectation of the product category, I can understand a reasonable case in light of unfair leverage etc. But when it comes to the absurd insistence of “fully” removing all ability, there I say, that is very much beyond the “level playing field” they so saintly seem to want to promote.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, March 22, 2004

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