Linked by Kroc Camen on Wed 6th Oct 2010 16:37 UTC
Editorial In response to Jean-Louis Glassee's article "The OS Doesn't Matter..." I wrote quite simply: the future of the browser wars is he who integrates with the OS best. This phrase came from my article lambasting Microsoft's use of HTML for their IE9 jump lists, which caused quite a stir. In the wave of ever increasing web browser capability, the operating system is going to matter to web users more than it ever has before.
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... there are several factual errors - more like unintended revisionism at work - in the article that are distracting.

The first thing that bugged me was the statement that ASP should be credited for the coming of the more "sophisticated" web pages when that is plain not true! As already addressed by Lennie, if anything that honor should go to Perl that, despite not being created specifically for it, served us very well during the early years of the web as the engine behind (in?) famous CGI-enabled websites.

Even though Perl is definitely not a beginner's language (no arguments there!), the web is still littered to this day with Perl scripts repositories with clear and concise directions about how to deploy pretty much anything ranging from visit counters to chat scripts to CMSes and everything in between and only as of the huge explosion of PHP circa PHP3 that trend slowed down a little. Been there at the time, done all of that. I had already passed through one or two ISPs at the late 90's so I am pretty sure that ASP had nothing to do with that.

Most hosting companies had either cheap boxes running Linux/FreeBSD or, in case of big ones like the late RapidSite (nowadays part of Verio) huge datacenters with Sun machines or, ironically, SGI machines (running IRIX nonetheless) to provide shared hosting services.

Heck, MS' own FrontPage had server extensions that were basically a bunch of Perl (and shell scripts IIRC) until the very day that it was retired!

In fact, ASP was't even a blip on the radar until ASP3 came out. And even then, ASP was running neck to neck with PHP from a features point of view but its market share/installed base/whateveryouwannacallit was nowhere near the latter's and for a while it seemed that its only distinctive advantage was the fact that it was heavily tied into MS tools and middleware. At that point the article starts to make sense as MS did invest heavily into providing easy to use tools to deploy websites quickly using its development tools (which happens to be MS forté, IMNSHO) which somehow boosted its presence on the data center, at least as far as web hosting is concerned.

(And yes, Kroc: I'll concede that ease of use was probably a major concern for the hordes of Visual Basic and VBA developers out there back then but that still sounds like a stretch to me... ;) )

The other thing is that traditional business had absolutely nothing to do with many enhancements of the web during the late nineties. Most people agree that the porn industry (yes, I said PORN!) pushed most of the things that we take for granted today (e-commerce, filesize compression techniques for web server software, demand for faster bandwidth, etc.) and that the traditional brick and mortar businesses only took a chance on the web after witnessing the profits that those pioneers companies reaped during that time.

Once the porn industry laid down the ground rules about how to do business on the web was that most companies jumped in and it became what we know today.

But I have no peeves with the rest of the article. MS should be commended for the groundwork that led to the powerful AJAX websites that we have today even though I am pretty sure that they regret that they couldn't figure a way to tie that to Windows and create a better mouse trap. ;)

EDIT: Uhhh... Sorry for the huge post... :S

Edited 2010-10-06 23:50 UTC

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