Keep the Internet Whole: The Easiest Way Ever to Make Microsoft and Netscape Do the Right Thing (fwd

Rohit Khare ()
Fri, 18 Apr 1997 12:57:37 -0400 (EDT)

RK: Looks like he moderated his position a wee bit in favor of W3C and
IETF in this post. Not clear what the next step is. We *could* even
endorse his petition :-)


Jesse Berst, Editorial Director<BR><I>ZDNet AnchorDesk</I>
Friday, April 18, 1997

Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted. If you believe
in the vision of a single, global Internet, this is one
of those times. Fortunately, it's easier than ever. In
fact, it will take you only 30 seconds to make a difference.

The Internet is at risk of being splintered by the battle
between Microsoft and Netscape. In an effort to get both
companies to do the right thing, AnchorDesk is introducing
its first Make-A-Difference (MAD) petition. If you agree
with the position outlined below, please take a moment
to electronically sign and (optionally) leave your comments.
We will keep the petition live until May 9th, after which
we will deliver it in person to Microsoft and Netscape.

What's Going Wrong. In their rush to out-innovate each
other, Netscape and Microsoft regularly propose extensions
to HTML and other Web standards. Nothing wrong with that...
except that they sometimes try to circumvent the standards
process. Each one tries to make its approach the de facto
standard before the committees have time to decide independently.
They do this several ways:
by submitting a proposal and announcing it immediately,
before anyone can react (giving the impression the idea
is on the way to ratification when it has merely been
by excluding the rival company from early discussions,
so it can't participate in shaping the idea
by begging, buying or bullying other companies into prematurely
announcing support (giving the false impression the proposal
is already a de facto standard)
by building the new technology into its browsers before
it has been approved by a standards committee

Why You Should Get MAD. The actions described above force
you to choose sides. And to pay the price if you guess
wrong. What's more, they risk splitting the Internet
into two incompatible camps, a Netscape flavor and a Microsoft
flavor. (See the stories linked in the sidebar for more
details on the technical issues.) Thats why you should
take 30 seconds now to take a stand by signing the petition.

In my visits to Microsoft and Netscape, I've come to believe
both companies genuinely want to adhere to public standards.
Yet both companies are also fiercely competitive. In their
zeal, they sometimes step over the line.

Innovation and competition are essential to Internet progress.
But so is a single, global standard. I call on Microsoft
and Netscape to compete by building better implementations
of open standards. Not by kidnapping the standards and
holding them hostage.

The Good News. Despite the current crisis, there is some
good news. Both Microsoft and Netscape are fully involved
with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the
Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). Both companies meet regularly
with the standards groups and with each other to hash
out conflicts and reach compromises. In addition, the
standards committees have been streamlining the process
so proposals can be ratified more quickly.

I believe there may be ways to (1) accelerate the work
of the standards bodies and (2) create a logo program
so consumers can be sure they are buying a compatible
product. I'm researching these possibilities now and I'll
be back soon to report what I find.

In the meantime, we must prevent these two companies from
polarizing the Internet. Microsoft and Netscape must redouble
their efforts to work together, so Web publishers and
Web users will have a single standard to work with, regardless
of which browser they use.

How to Get MAD Our position is spelled out on the MAD
petition. To read and sign, just click on the Make-A-Difference
link and fill in your name. To help even more, you can
place a link to the petition on your own site, by following
the Add Mad Page instructions. And, if you'd like to talk
over this issue with other AnchorDesk readers, you can
join the Make-A-Difference Forum, where a discussion
is under way.

Since we first disclosed this crisis last week, thousands
of people have written in to express their concern. I
hope you'll choose to add your voice now. In this particular
case, the best way to get even is to get MAD.

ZDNet AnchorDesk
Netscape Push Announcement Puts Internet in Danger
ZDNet AnchorDesk
Microsoft, Netscape Feud Puts HTML's Future at Risk


Microsoft Corp.
Netscape Communications Corp.

Computer Issues and Futures