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Predictions for the Internet in 1998

   Presented December 23, 1997

Java Logo

It Happened


I Was Wrong

Unless something is done in 1998 to improve Java performance on the Web, there will be mass developer defections. In fact, the Web's largest community page hosting service, Geocities, just scrapped their Java GeoGuide banner processor in favor of gifs. Speaking of Java performance, there is absolutely no comparison between the Netscape and Internet Explorer version 4 browsers Java Virtual Machines. In repeated benchmarks by this author, Java applets load in 1/4 the time with IE4 than with NS4.

Sun Microsystems will drop it's Java license purity suit against Microsoft Corporation. Let's face it, Netscape's implementation isn't pure either. If Microsoft gets annoyed enough, they will just pull Java from all their products and produce their own language in the Component Object Model. Do you honestly believe the browser Netscape is writing in Java(JavaGator?) will be productive? (see performance problems above). That leaves who to trumpet the Java cause, IBM? :~) And remember the developers mentioned above? They aren't too thrilled by all this either.

What really happened? - December 5, 1998 - On November 17th a federal court in California issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Sun Microsystems requiring Microsoft to remove their own extensions from Java. While this may seem a short-term victory for Sun, in my opinion it dooms client-side Java since Microsoft's Windows is the pre-eminent desktop operating system. Server-side Java appears safe for the time being.

Internet Explorer Logo


I Was Wrong

1998 may come and go without Department of Justice vs. Microsoft being decided, what with the painstakingly long appeals process, but ultimately the DOJ hasn't a leg to stand on. While many, including this author, may not always agree with Microsoft's sometimes heavy handed marketing practices, the fact remains that Internet Explorer is simply value add, it's free for Pete's sake.

What will happen is Microsoft's plans for Windows 98 will be severely curtailed, reducing 1998 sales, but that will be merely a temporary set back, Windows 98 isn't really a true version upgrade anyway. Microsoft is banking it's OS future on Windows NT 5.0, and has plenty of time to strategize it's Internet Explorer integration.

What really happened? - December 5, 1998 - As I suspected, there will not be a resolution to the anti-trust matter this year, nor is it likely to be resolved in 1999. Look for this chapter to be tied up in appeals for years. I really missed the boat on Windows 98 however. Following its launch on June 25th, sales have continued on a pace that has exceeded even Win95. NT5.0, now renamed Windows 2000 is in its 3rd beta release and Internet Explorer 5 is the embedded browser. The Office 2000 suite will also be highly Web-centric.

Apple Computer Logo


I Was Wrong

Apple Computer will not get into the black in 1998 unless they hire a CEO that understands there is nothing wrong with the MacOS or even NeXT for that matter. They're both fine operating systems. The problem lies in little or no application software available in computer stores. Apple needs to loosen the grips on their proprietary systems and open up the APIs. Getting in bed with Intel wouldn't hurt either, the PowerPC won't keep up eventually.

Bill Gates will give Apple more money. All Microsoft needs now is more problems from the Department of Justice because they have no competition in the OS arena.  It is in Microsoft's best interest to insure that Apple doesn't completely fold. Microsoft could even lighten up and develop more software to help alleviate the Mac application dilemma(see above).

What really happened? - December 5, 1998 - Apple Computer's rebound in 1998 has to be one of the year's most amazing stories. Still interim-CEO Steve Jobs by all accounts has been akin to a miracle worker. The launch of the highly successful iMac coupled with brisk sales of the lightning fast G3 has obviated the need for more bailouts from Microsoft or others. I am happy to have been wrong with this prediction.

     Presented December 30, 1997

Inferno Logo


You Decide

The Inferno network operating system from Bell Labs will become more mainstream in 1998. Designed for distributed services, Inferno will find itself in cable and direct satellite television, advanced telephones, hand-held devices, and network computers. A truly versatile system, and potential competitor to Java, Inferno is portable across many processors including Intel, Sparc, MIPS, HP and AMD. It runs as a stand-alone OS on small terminals or as a user application under Windows or UNIX. If you haven't heard of Inferno yet, you will by the end of 1998.

What really happened? - December 5, 1998 - Inferno has had plenty of press citations throughout the year, but the newcomer OS capturing the most headlines has to be Linux. I am still high on Inferno, perhaps 1999 will be more of a breakthrough year. I'll leave it to you to decide the result of my initial prediction.

Netscape Logo

It Happened


The Netscape Navigator Web browser will finally be free. Federal Judge Thomas Jackson has issued an order requiring Microsoft to cease forcing PC manufacturers to install their Internet Explorer browser if they want Windows 95. The time is ripe for Netscape to jump into that void and offer it's browser to the manufacturers at no charge. 1998 may be the make or break year for Netscape Communications. The companies' future will not be determined by it's browser sales and market share, but by it's Suite Spot and other enterprise server products. Having Navigator loaded on new PCs is a way to get a bigger foot in the door.

What really happened? - December 5, 1998 - Netscape lost the browser war and on November 23rd announced they were selling out to America Online. The original Netscape was a tremendously innovative company that brought the World Wide Web to the global community. But I lost faith in them when they couldn't compete on merit, and instead cried to the U.S. government to reign in Microsoft. While technology visionary Marc Andreesen is so far touting the marriage with AOL, look for that honeymoon to sour soon, and for him to be back in the news with another Internet startup. Oh, am I making predictions again?


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