Anyone But Microsoft
Thursday, June 19, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Here are three responses to yesterday's piece, Killer Clouds.
The first is from Rob Glaser, firstname.lastname@example.org, the founder and CEO of Progressive Networks, the people who make RealAudio and RealPlayer. I first met Rob in 1985 or so, when I was making PC outliners and he was a marketing manager at Microsoft.
Using the same product and trademark for both a platform and a language is a kiss of death for JavaSoft. Instead of 100 Percent Pure theology, they should make a real OS, allow people to write apps for it in multiple languages, and even allow people to write native code.
However, even if this were fixed, there would still be the problem that JavaSoft is 100 Percent Owned by a hardware company, which is another kiss of death for a platform. Remember IBM and Apple.
Too bad Netscape either doesn't care about being in the platform business or mistakenly thinks that you can be in the corporate IS platform business and not in the end user bottom-up platform business.
Too bad Apple is where it is.
Too bad there is only one platform company left standing.
About Apple, two things are happening this month with the Mac platform, one which will increase momentum for it as a developer platform, and the other can't help but undermine Apple's current direction.
The first is shipment of Mac OS 8, which is getting rave reviews from people who are using it. The file system is faster, having been rewritten in native PowerPC code, and the Finder is multi-threaded. The user interface got an overhaul, better more modern use of color and user preferences. People say it's solid. [See Rich Siegel's response.]
The undermining influence is Connectix's Virtual PC, which is also getting rave reviews. For less than $200 you can run PC software on Macs. Connectix is known for solid implementations of low level system stuff; and they're a marketing machine. People say it's solid.
An interesting irony, Windows NT may usurp Rhapsody as the high-end operating system for the classic Mac OS API. It's shipping for Mac hardware over a year before Rhapsody and it already has many thousands of apps and it's fully compatible with Mac using Connectix's software.
Certainly some users are waiting for Rhapsody. For others (we'll see how many) Virtual PC allows them to start learning and running Windows apps now.
The next speaker is Craig Cline, email@example.com, editorial director of Seybold Seminars, the people that do big publishing conferences and expensive newsletters for the print and web communication industries.
Microsoft is just doing what they always do -- take a language, tweak the hell out of it so it builds excellent Windows apps (or the best that can be developed for Windows with that language), and then puts it out there and says "you choose, folks."
Given the number of Windows machines on corporate desktops this is bound to be a winning strategy, because the trend in companies is to consolidate onto one platform whenever possible, not shoot for diversity. Macs are only grudgingly supported, and then usually only for creative service and marketing types.
When I first heard that Sun had licensed Java to Microsoft, I told (Marimba CEO) Kim Polese that it wouldn't be long before Microsoft was doing Java better than Sun, and would ultimately seek to coopt it entirely by offering its tools up as alternatives to the ABM offerings.
This they have done almost to the letter, with J/Direct being the logical "check" move. Sun & Company will have to play their cards perfectly now to keep this from becoming "checkmate."
From Rick Segal, firstname.lastname@example.org, an exec at Microsoft:
"It wasn't clear in your J/Direct piece if you thought we were doing good or bad thing."
I don't see J/Direct as good or bad, just inevitable.
One correspondent said "I saw this DaveNet piece coming a mile away."
Right on. Me too. Check out Bill Gates on Java, 4/5/97, where he said "Most applications require operating system services whether it's a duplicate operating system on top of the main one or the primary OS on the machine."
It's clear that, as Bill Gates parses it, Java is a programming language for making Windows apps. Why should he view it any differently?
As Cline sees it, there's no way forward with the current JavaSoft strategy. I agree. To play their cards perfectly, they probably have to set Java completely free, otherwise checkmate is coming very soon.
Glaser sees Netscape heading for the hills, and I see it happening too. Center stage is being left to Microsoft, this is probably inevitable; now the question is who gets to thrive (or survive) in the wings?
Gates's full comments are at:
Why would Sun think that Microsoft wouldn't move to bind the Java language to the Windows APIs? I bet it has something to do with the license agreement. To understand what's really going on, we're going to have to see what Microsoft signed. Some people think the next step will be for Sun to file suit against Microsoft. At that time, for sure, we'll see what the agreement looks like.
If you're free and in San Francisco tonight, come to the Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd, 7PM, for the EFF benefit concert. Music by many friends! A very good cause -- your freedom.
At 6:30PM before the show join me, Marc Canter and friends eating dinner at Izumiya in the main "Kintetsu" lobby of Japan Town, about a block away from the Fillmore.
Marc says "Okonomayaki! Great Japanese pancakes, sort of egg foo yung-like, fried shrimp and oysters, spider rolls. Come check out great Japanese cuisine that's not just sushi (they have sushi too)."
We'll have fun! Everyone's invited. (Dutch treat!)
PS: ABM is an acronym for Anyone But Microsoft. Cline uses the term to describe all the companies trying to use Java to dethrone Microsoft.