First Look: Five Browsers in One

Netscape was a pretty slick browser; due to an antitrust settlement with Microsoft, it contained both the Netscape and Internet Explorer rendering engines. Now, how about a browser with three rendering engines?

Why would you want such a thing? If you're a regular old surfer, you don't. But if you're a Web developer looking at compatibility, you do!

Lunascape, available for the last year as an alpha, gets good marks from one reviewer who praises the ability to toggle between the engines. On the downside, it's too clunky and buggy to serve as a day-to-day browser.

Open Source the Enterprise Rule, Not Exception
Almost every shop I've ever talked to or toured is multi-vendor, heterogenous and a beast to maintain. One can go single-vendor and heterogenous, but the software isn't as good -- and it's still a beast to maintain.

That's why it's no surprise that the majority of enterprises have some form of open source. Actuate, which has a complement of open source tools, says that over half of U.S. companies use open source, with substantially more in Europe.

The 50 percent number seems low if you define open source use as any use. In fact, Gartner agrees and puts the number at more like 85 percent.

According to the Actuate survey, over 75 percent of companies develop software with open tools, while little more than half use open operating systems such as Linux. Hmm...I'll go with the trends, but the OS numbers sound a mite low.

Saving Microsoft? Humbug!
I used to hate Wired magazine for its design (lesson here is to never give your art director meth and an unlimited library of fonts). Eventually, the design settled down and it seemed to lose its "We're smarter than you" attitude. The mag is now pretty darn good.

But all is not perfect in Wired-land -- and perhaps it can take some of the money it saved on all those fonts to hire some better headline writers. My beef is with a recent cover story about Ray Ozzie: "Can This Man Save Microsoft?" Given that I follow Redmond's finances -- which seem to set a new record each and every quarter -- I was confused by the premise.

So I settled in to read just why Microsoft was in such dire straits. A couple thousand words into the story, I knew all about Ozzie's college education, white hair and shyness...but I had no clue if or why Microsoft was in trouble.

Microsoft has challenges, but it owns messaging, owns the desktop, owns more than half of the development market, and has a big chunk of the Web. It has also announced exactly how all of this can move to Web -- and has production and beta software to prove it. I wish I owned a company that was in as rough a shape as Microsoft!

Mailbag: Microsoft's New Clothes, More
Last week, Doug reported on Microsoft's entry into the fashion world with its new line of "Softwear" T-shirts. Cool or not? James offers his opinion:

Would I wear a shirt with Uncle Bill's mug or the word "DOS" on it? Nope. Wait, let me rephrase that: HELL NO! That ain't cool -- not even "sorta kool." If that's what Microsoft thinks is cool, it's no wonder that its lame-@ss commercials fell flat on their face. With all its money, you would think those guys out in Redmond (on the other side of the lake) could at least buy a clue.
-James

Scott gives his take on the open source business model and just how lucrative it is (or isn't):

I've heard more than enough about business models, open source earning potential and what CEOs say! The unrealistic citation of some U.K. company that tried to force users into a Linux PC scenario hardly typifies the open source mantra. The firm tried too hard to save a buck for an organization of its size.

Open source is not a lucrative proposition, and to that I would like to add a little information. I see three different open source business models at play in industry today: those that want to be acquired (e.g., Zimbra, MySQL and Zen), those that want to generate income via support contracts as a way to keep the company and still generate revenue (e.g., RedHat), and those that are willing to beat their own path to success -- look at Digium.

Digium started by buying the rights to a silly V.90 modem modification that allowed it to work as VoIP. ZapTel, if memory serves. It then developed hardware as a product. Asterisk was born from Digium in the early days with the promise that if you bought Digium hardware, Asterisk would be supported. Asterisk is now the de facto in open source VoIP. Great model right? Nope! After Asterisk had been in the wild for a period of time, various products emerged based on that piece of software. SwitchVox emerged as the most robust product; Digium acquired and now sells/supports this product. Hugely successful on the scope and range of Digium. I actually dislike the the SwitchVox product...but I love the model. Open source released into the wild and recaptured as a viable product. Hmm.
-Scott

And finally, John wants to make sure we've got our sources straight:

I just wanted to point out that WhiteHat Security did not issue the report you reference in your Redmond Report item, "U.S. Balance of Trade Great -- for Malware!" The WhiteHat report was in relation to Web site security flaws. The report you referenced is the one by Sophos regarding malware.
-John

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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