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XP SP 2 & The Richness of Web Applications

Anyone who is involved in developing web applications should probably check out the following "FAQ" for security implications in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (

While there are some great, long awaited changed in there (mostly to solve pop up / program installation issues), it does reduce the "Richness" of the web platform (such as launching popups from external objects / reducing automated popups to one per page).

Web developers are enterprising people - it won't be long before someone works out how to get around some of these issues, or comes up with a new way to advertise on a page (such as by shifting the pages layout to allow for a dhtml popup that doesn't overlap existing content - and to make matters worse, your traditional ally, Alt+F4, won't be able to save you).

In fact, it won't necessarily be a developer "on the dark side" that will open new ways for delivering advertising. Quite often the people who come up with the workarounds come up with them for usability / functional reasons.

So what will we be left with a few months down the track? A less rich browser object model. Frustrated developers / customers with broken web sites. And the same amount of advertising, done in new devious ways.

This is the crux of the issue: Popup blockers / DHTML prevention etc, are solving the _symptoms_. What needs to be addressed is the underlying problem. The Internet has become analogous to freedom (both financially and intellectually); therefore, companies have resorted to their traditional allies in a low revenue media market - advertising.

But the market doesn't have to be that way. People pay for the New York Times, people pay for Cable, people pay to go see a movie. Why do they do this? Quality.

Maybe the answer lies in the opposite direction. Instead of limiting the development model, how about extending it? Help increase the richness of web applications, and in turn, help applications evolve into marketable products. Usability is a key driver for revenue on the web - consider using Amazon over telnet.

Usable and functional products don't need to rely on advertising. After all, you don't see popups in Word do you? (paperclips aside...)

Shaun McCarthy
Saturday, June 19, 2004

So finally Microsoft is thwarting running it's unsecure technologies.  Sounds good to me. 

Saturday, June 19, 2004

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