Friday, July 28, 2006

Scobleizer - Why Ozzie doesn’t think the Web is the be all and end all

"Does Joe or Ryan know that Ray is an investor in Second Life?

If he did, that would have explained why Ray believes that the Web won’t deliver the most interesting experiences online. You go try to build Second Life in AJAX. I’ve seen it done and it’s not pretty."

And Scoble goes back to comment moderation I Guess. Oh Well:

Is it just me or does it seem like those who are most obsessed about being online ALL of the time are equally obsessive about having offline tools?

If you don't like Gmail, try AIM mail, which supports IMAP instead of POP. Of course then you have to deal with the fact that Outlook doesn't support IMAP (Outlook Express does though I think). At what point is this "failure to communicate" a Microsoft problem though? I think both protocols predate Outlook. Isn't the onus, now more than ever on Microsoft to support standards rather than expecting standards to support Microsoft?

AJAX is based largely on a technique introduced by Microsoft, which has since become a "standard" for most browsers. I suspect nobody, including Microsoft realized that with persistence you could drive railroad spikes with this fly-swatter of a tool. That has nothing to do with the viability of more server-centric capabilities however.

I wouldn't expect you to know this, but one of the fundamentals of client/server architecture (even accepted by Microsoft) is that both client and server components can exist on the same machine. Anyone running X-windows (Unix and Linux, and even OS X) on a PC (as opposed to running a GUI on one machine talking to a back-end on another) is in fact "talking to himself" over a null network connection. On modern Windows machines the registry on the local machine may be not much more than a mirror of the "Active Directory" housed on the enterprise network (a fact that can lead to some non-intuitive results). Similarly, much of what you see going on in Second Life is a prediction of what is happening on the server. You fly along and suddenly bump into a building that you can't see yet because your machine is still downloading the parts. Amazingly, this effect is described in Snowcrash, written so many years ago now. Next time you are FORCED to be offline, it would be a good use of your time to read it.

Many Unix home users set up one or more of their PCs to act as a mail server (in a back-end sense) and then use their favorite client program to access that server whether their Internet connection is up or not. Best of both worlds if you ask me. The question you should ask your pals at Microsoft is when are they going to fully support these standards that have been around longer than they have? Once Microsoft has caught up to the rest of the world on existing standards, maybe they could even contribute a few more. There is no reason a company so dedicated to the word "innovation" should be intimidated by such a notion.

The people at Linden Labs are innovating as fast as they can, and they are integrating existing standards into their product whenever they can, sometimes putting off whiz-bang features for a release cycle to do so. Maybe through Ray Ozzie Microsoft can learn from them. Second life runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux. When will we be able to say the same about Outlook?

PS: Wilcox gets it right:

"I'm sure there are plenty of Microsoft executives that would like to dismiss the Web, because of all the problems it has created for the desktop software model. But if the Web isn't so great, as Ozzie insinuated, why should Microsoft invest so much in Windows Live Services? No rocket science: The Web is a huge competitive to Microsoft, still. And all the talk about making people's lives better through software services may be nothing more than misnomer. The Web already is the "experience hub." Microsoft wants to shift people to another experience hub. Whether or not Microsoft succeeds is future history, because the Windows Live concept outlined today is still vision. Meanwhile, Web 2.0 services like Flickr or MySpace deliver great experiences to consumers today. Here and now."

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