Friday, October 31, 2014

Netscape, Vmware, Microsoft and The Propellerheads ft. Shirley Bassey

Anytime I think about history repeating, I think about The Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey. So, here's your random song for the day.

But setting aside the word association...

Sometime right around 1980, a Fine, upstanding British chap by the name of Tim Berners-Lee proposed a project to create a Hypertext system to facilitate the sharing and updating of information among researchers.

In 1989-1990, Tim connected his hypertext idea to TCP (port 80)  and DNS, and the World Wide Web was born.

A few years after that the public began to connect to what had been a military and education network. Near the end of 1994 Netscape- the first commercial, Internet Hypertext Browser (Or Web Browser), was available for sale. Websites began popping up all over the place. Initially there were informative and educational websites, later commercial sites appeared, and the world wide web exploded. Think were looking good for Netscape.

In 1995 Bill Gates weighed in on the internet, calling it "...a passing fad that will go the way of the BBS".  Around this same time Netscape stated one of its goals was to "level the playing field" among operating systems (in other words, people would do most everything in their web browser, which would run on any operating system, breaking the dependency on Microsoft Windows operating system.

That got Microsoft's attention.

Microsoft scrambled to put together their own web browser, "Internet Explorer", which they originally included as part of "Windows 95 Plus!". It was awful, it was buggy, it was unreliable....

It was free.

(There are also allegations that Microsoft approached Netscape with an Offer to divide the market, which Netscape refused. Microsoft of course denies these allegations)

By 1997 Netscape was in trouble. People were getting a "Free" web browser with their "Free" operating system that came with their computer (let me just point out that nothing is free. You paid for Internet explorer. The cost was just hidden in the operating system cost, which was hidden in the computer purchase cost). Why shell out and additional $30-60 for Netscape? Internet Explorer (IE) was still fairly awful, but the reduction of funds was starting to have an effect onthe quality of Netscape's product, which was increasingly buggy.

What's more, Microsoft had introduced "Active Server Pages", a proprietary extension to HTML, which only worked in IE, and on Microsoft operating systems. It ultimately fizzled and is now largely a relic of the past, but it did help shore up the Microsoft monopoly at the time.

A handful of years later and not many remember Netscape. The code still exists, spun of as the Mozilla Project - a nonprofit (? They get over $300 million a year from Google to make the default search page. Seems a fine line to me. of course That is 85% of their revenue, and google has Chrome, so Google could conceivably pull the plug at ay time, and then what happens?).

Now this all seems very unjust and anti-competition, and you'd think the world governments would have done something about it. They did. there were antitrust lawsuits and the like. But they happened to late, took to long to resolve. Netscape was long dead before anything came of it. So all that really came of it was a few lawyers and politicians made some money and garnered some press. Too little too late.

Flash forward to today. VMware has been the star of the next big thing. Virtualization and cloud computing. They have a workstation product, which users can run on home PC's which allows them to have multiple operating systems available from one computer. And they have the Suite of Server products, which allows computer hardware to be treated as a utility.

Now they are putting visualization on phones. as well, On a single physical phone, you can have your personal phone, and your company phone, each separate and protected from each other. The company get's better security, for their data, and you get to to keep control of your phone, and your data. cool stuff.

Microsoft - who for the past few years seems to have been playing nice- got into virtualization rather late in the game. they have been scrambling to catch up. They still have a long way to go.


They recently, quietly announced their next workstation operating system release will include their virtualization platform. For "free" (It was already included in premium versions, Since Vista I believe). Their server virtualization system is also freely included with server operating system.

Sounds suspiciously like history repeating. Will VMware be the next Netscape?

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