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Standards: Open or Propriatary?
I'm so confused I don't know who wrote:
>> That vision is now threatened. I am faced with the very real
>> possibility that in a year or two's time, if I want to host an easily
>> accesible FAQ on a web site somewhere, that I must shell out
>> thousands for MS software and extra hardware.
That, I would guess, is also where free market forces will
once again backfire against MS. Does anyone remember when
MS first responded to the Internet with their own MSN? All
the uproar over the "Sign up with MSN" icon that came with
Win95 right on the desktop? Don't you know now that now MSN
is a pretty dismal failure, along with MS "Bob" and many
other MS products that just didn't fly?
To create Internet content, like 'channel definition format'
(and I don't see why Netscape couldn't come up with a
browser that did that as well, altho it would put then on
the innovation defense rather than offense) that's only
viewable w/ a MS product runs a very real danger of becomming
another MSN - IF the people vote w/ their pocketbooks and
browsers, not govt. mandated regulations, not MS or Netscape.
If people stick w/ Netscape like I do, and independant sites
like pathfinder.com or quote.com try out CDF only to find
out their hits are way down, you can bet they'll drop it like
a hot potatoe (did I spell that right, Dan?)!
There actually used to be laws before the 'eleminate govt'
crusade mandating a distinction between broadcast/receiving
equipment manufacturers and content. What we're facing now
is a possibility that, say, the Sony corp. will own TV
stations that broadcast a signal the can only be received
on Sony TV's, or a Panasonic owned and operated FM station
w/ enhanced audio or some 'improvement' over current FM
that can only be received on proprietary Panasonic Radios.
That's a very common technique companies use to 'privitize'
open standards, they comply w/ open standards, but
'improve' upon it w/ 'standards plus' or additions so that
it'll only work w/ their own products and lock out
competing products. MS products may comply w/ SQL, *BUT*,
a programmer is enticed to use proprietary 'enhancements'
to SQL that are only supported by MS products. They are
doing the same thing w/ Java. They support java, but they've
'improved' it in such a way that it can be made to only
work w/ MS products.
This is a very different tech evolution than, say the days
when TV went color. The developers of color TV were (don't
know if voluntarily or forced) very careful to create a
color TV signal that was compatible w/ older B&W sets, so
that someone w/o a color set could still receive a program,
but someone w/ a color set enjoys an enhanced picture, and
it was probably a compromise. Had the developers then been
able to completely start from scratch they probably could
have created a much better color picture but lose
compatibility (and thus a large market share) w/ older B&W
In a rapidly growing, evolving field like computer software,
for the govt. to coerce adherence to a fixed albeit open set
of standards is tantamount to 'halting progress' (maybe
that's what people want). Some ingenious person may come
up with a better way to do things, but would be prohibited from
marketing his or her innovation becaused it doesn't comply
with the fixed standard. However, in a country with a rich
tradition of encouraging progress in the arts and sciences,
a lot of so called 'innovation' is not much 'better', just
different - I don't want to do it 'your' way, I want to
do it 'my' way! - and whether one is 'better' or not is
So, in Sum, the question is, should adherance to standards
be voluntary or coerced? I could probably set up a market
where people trade flax measured in 'bills' and use
cigarette butts for currency, but if I'm going to do business
with the US govt. I'd have to weigh it in pounds and price
it in US dollars. And should those standards be set by
a central comittee, or by market forces?
I guess consumers like open standards and freedom of choice
between vendors - vendors like innovations, patents, royalty
payments and loyal consumers.