WebSite developer Robert Denny, whose
software products have been used by more
than 100,000 people worldwide, has made
11 predictions for 1997. Denny is
well-known as the developer of the
award-winning Web servers WebSite and
WebSite Professional. The predictions are:-
1. The intranet will not take off in 1997.
Its presence in corporate America will
continue to increase at a gradual rate over
the next 3-5 years.
2. There will be a big shakeout among
Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Those
that will survive will fall into two
categories: either they will be among the
largest, or they will have value-added
services that are reliable and cheap.
3. Microsoft will make inroads into the
browser market, but won't knock Netscape
out of the picture.
4. There will not be any serious collapse of
the Internet, but it may get more sluggish,
5. Getting on the Internet will remain
cheap, getting down to the bare-metal
pricing and it will be flat-rate. But...
6. Microsoft will reveal plans to buck the
Internet flat-rate trend with some form of
usage-based pricing for their products.
There will be lots of controversy
7. Java will fail to grow into a broadly
8. Cable modems will not become
popular, despite last year's hype. Their
numbers will remain small as a percentage
of total browsers.
9. ActiveX in Web pages will be a lot less
important than Microsoft would like.
10. For newcomers to the Net, live chat
will become much more popular.
11. The sleeper technology: in 1997,
someone will really figure out MBONE
(multicast backbone) and this terrific
technology will take off.
Denny noted, The future looks less clear
now than it has looked in the past 10
years. Many technologies have been
floated out there a lot of them are
half-finished but the technoids are jumping
on them. The big question is: will the de
facto standards that have made the Internet
what it is today, that have given it
strength, endurance, refinement and
stability will they be replaced and to
what degree by 'standards du jour' (when
a big company says there is a standard but
it is not in general use)? If that happens,
it's possible that those qualities will be
destroyed, and replaced by a
techno-political structure that inhibits
creativity at the infrastructure level.
Denny elaborated on some of his
predictions as follows.
1. Most companies that are big enough to have real intranets amortize computers
over 5 years; the average age of their
computers is 2-3 years. So companies are
not making large investments in the
intranet now. In the end they will, but it
will be over a multi-year time frame, 3-5
2. The ISP shakeout will not be one of
consolidation, as many will go out of
business. The key to capturing the
business is flat rate. Even America Online
has adopted flat rate pricing, which will
hurt the business of ISPs.
4. There won't be a dramatic collapse of
the Internet. It's too vibrant, too alive, and
there are too many people working on the
problem. So for the short-term, the
Internet's capabilities look strong. Within
the next few years, it may become more
difficult to add publicly visible nodes.
5. Pricing is low now, and there is every
reason to assume it will stay there (see #2
6. Microsoft has already started down the
road of user-based pricing in several ways.
For example, they are promoting pricing
for servers by saying, in essence, if you
want a Microsoft server that supports X
number of users, you have to buy the
higher priced platform that supports a
server for that number of users. And
their new Denali active server creates the
notion of Web 'sessions', which could
result in charges for simultaneous
'sessions', 'sessions' per unit time, or total
number of 'sessions': a postage meter
concept. But the Web is not user-based,
it's transaction-based, so it doesn't make
sense to try to charge for services per user.
If Microsoft actually does succeed in
getting people to accept user-based pricing
for Internet services, that could reduce
innovation by a huge amount.
7. Java's capabilities in the browser area
are stunted. This happened because it was
developed at Sun, and then Sun licensed
Microsoft to do the core reference
implementation for Win32. But Microsoft
wants people to use Visual Basic and
Component Object Model (COM)
implementation language, which is
proprietary. This will limit Java's growth.
One interesting question here is: where
will Microsoft make its money, following
their extensive investments in technologies
such as Java?
9. When someone really sits down to build
a Web page, they have to ask: will I
restrict this to Microsoft's proprietary
system? What about people with UNIX
machines, Macs, etc.? I don't think people
will be willing to risk having a site that
only Microsoft Internet Explorer users can
Denny sums up his thoughts on what he
considers to be the most pressing issue
facing the Internet today: It ain't a done
deal that Microsoft has cornered the
Internet, and there's a strong chance that
they won't. This means that proprietary
Microsoft-only technology won't get nearly
the deployment some people might expect,
with the exception of closed, intranet
situations where they're willing to go 'all
Microsoft'. Those who choose this route
may automatically cut themselves off from
the outside world, should they ever decide
to use their internal information structure
to communicate with users, vendors, etc.
That would be a reprise of what happened
with companies that chose all-IBM, and I
hope we've learned from that.
Important Dates for Refereed Paper
Papers due : 13 June 1997
Author notification: 10 July 1997
Camera-ready final papers due: 2 September 1997
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There will a one-day tutorial program, followed by three days of technical sessions. The technical sessions will offer refereed papers, invited talks, and Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) sessions.
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