Category Archives: Microsoft

Future Web Forum 2009 – Sept. 4 – Seoul

Channy Yun of the Mozilla Korea community tells me that the Future Web Forum 2009 event is this Friday, September 4th, in Seoul. Channy will be speaking about Firefox 3.5 and Firefox.next while Joone Hur will be speaking about the current state of Fennec (see event program).

Last year Mitchell Baker and I spoke at this event which was scheduled alongside the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Internet.  Vint Cerf and Mitchell both keynoted the event last year.

If you are in Seoul this Friday, don’t miss this event as it is one of the few events which showcases browsers other than IE in Korea.

Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?

Ancient proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Surprising news from South Korea – Google and Yahoo working together.

The Korea Times: Google, Yahoo United in Map Services.

This would be unheard of anywhere else in the world where Google and Yahoo are the fiercest of competitors. However in Korea, where Naver is the market leader (75% market share), and Daum second, Google and Yahoo are not relevant for most Korean web users (with perhaps the exception of Flickr, which is available in Hangul, and YouTube. UPDATE: not even YouTube is popular in Korea.)

The two global giants have been stressing the need for creating an “open environment” in Web services, obviously to compete with Naver’s massive walled garden, and Google Korea managing director Lee Won-jin said his company’s partnership with Yahoo is an extension of those movements.

“Korean Web portals have a reputation for their closed services, and this has been hurting innovation in the Korean Internet industry,” Lee said.

“The sharing of content between us and Yahoo could mark an important first step toward an open Web environment in the Korean Internet sector and inspire innovation,” he said.

Personally, I think the fact that there is only 1 web browser used in Korea is a larger issue than anything related to specific content.  How do you launch next-generation web-based applications if the only browser you can code for is IE6/7?  For example, maybe you have a new mapping application that has embedded videos (where have I heard this before?) but tests show that the service is significantly slower in Internet Explorer, even the shiny newest version. As a web/web apps developer you know there are browsers that are significantly faster or more standards-compliant or have add-ons functionality but your users in Korea can’t use anything but IE, because nothing in Korea works besides IE for any website that requires a secure connection.

So Korea, which was the earliest nation to launch real broadband, is now stuck in a sea of Microsoft-only operating systems and software.  What kind of Internet is it when you can have 1 Gbps broadband in Korea with no choice of operating system or web browser?

If Korean Internet businesses were truly interested in an “open environment” in Korea, they would work together to change the monoculture of the web browser in KoreaMicrosoft Windows and Internet Explorer That Koreans are forced to use a particular computer operating system and web browser for the Internet is the true “walled garden” of Korea.

interview with Brendan Eich

I really enjoyed this recent interview with Brendan Eich that Ben Galbraith & Dion Almaer of Ajaxian did back in 2007. It was slightly technical in parts but mostly talking about Mozilla and JavaScript history as well as Brendan’s own chosen path.

If the future interviews in this new Tech Luminaries series are as good, it wll be a great podcast.

98.7% Internet Explorer in South Korea

Danny Kim at TechnoKimchi has new browser share numbers in South Korea. It’s pretty ugly.

IE: 98.66% Korean Browser Market Share

98.66% IE in Korea

If that is not a defacto monopoly (especially when you consider the market share that other browsers have elsewhere in the world), then I don’t know what is.

Background information on why S. Korea is an all-Microsoft, all-Internet Explorer nation is available on older posts on my blog including, the cost of monoculture, update on the cost of monoculture in Korea.

I hope to be able to write another update for 2008 before the end of this year. Whether I can be more positive than I have been in the past is yet to be determined.

Linux Foundation interviews Mitchell Baker

Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, interviews Chief Lizard Wrangler, Mitchell Baker, of Mozilla.

You can find the audio of the interview here:
Open Voices Interview with Mitchell Baker, Mozilla

And a transcript of the interview here:
Mitchell Baker Transcript : Open Voices: The Linux Foundation Podcast

Lots of historical information in this interview. Highly recommended.

Jim Zemlin: I’m just curious as to, was Microsoft something that really drove what you were doing? {audio dropout} there a feeling in the people who {audio dropout} worked at the Mozilla Foundation at the time and worked on the project of, you know, “We can’t abide by a de facto monopoly web browser, that in order for the internet to be free, we’ve got to be successful,”? Was that mentality present at the time?

Mitchell Baker: Oh, sure. There are some things about Netscape mentality, but when you get past that, when you get the Mozilla Project, and for example why I was there and stuck with it and why a number of people did, one reason is absolutely that. That the browser turned out to be key in how, you know, human beings access the Internet. And if there’s only one way to do it, and there’s only one way to get to the information on the Internet, and that pathway is controlled by a single business entity and a single business plan, and, you know, one that’s giant and has shown itself to be very aggressive at using its assets to promote itself, then you’re in for a disaster. And I think we can see that. Because in, like, 2000, 2001, 2002 when we didn’t have a good product out on the market yet and there was essentially no browser competition, if you look back to it, you can remember that it was full of pop-up ads and spyware and, you know, whole computers slowing down because of all the stuff that was coming in through the one available browser. So we still believe and feel vindicated that you’ve got to have more than one option in these settings.

The later in the interview:

Jim Zemlin: What is it about a project like this—or Linux or Apache—that is so exciting to people; that motivates people to go to such extreme lengths of sacrificing personal time and, you know, extending huge amounts of emotional, physical energy towards something like that at these type of projects? What is it, in your mind, that drives people to participate?

Mitchell Baker: It’s a set of things. Some people have all of them; some people only have one or two of them. In some cases, it’s the sense that what you’re doing actually matters. And that one can see that the openness of the Internet that we want to live in can be affected, can be made more likely by the work that we do. So that’s one thing.

For many of us, the Internet itself. I sometimes say I have the Internet bug, or I was bitten by the Internet bug. I say that because I had malaria once. {Laughs} You know, it’s in the blood, right. There’s nothing you can do about it. And while you’ve got it and while it’s there, you know, you have to live with it because it’s just unavoidable. And I also feel that way about what I call the Internet bug. Alright, it is just such a powerful tool and so exciting, and there’s so much positive that can happen from it and anything that powerful can have that sort of a dark and unpleasant side. And you roll all those things with the feeling that, “Wow, you know, all of this is possible and we can make it better.” I think I’m not the only one who’s got that bug.

A third reason is technology. We’ve always been blessed that we have great technology and very smart people working on it. And that tends to attract other really smart people. And I think you’ll find, at many open source projects—you’ve named the big ones of course—but many of the smaller ones as well, it’s a love of the technology that’s also important.

And there is a sense, I would say, of community and bonding that is an extreme motivator. Sometimes people ask me why anyone would work on a software project if they weren’t getting paid for it. Well, think about how many people don’t like their job. Or feel like they’ve got expertise that doesn’t get used. Or their colleagues or their management or the people they’re responsible for get in the way. Or the company is going in a direction that doesn’t make sense and cuts off all the interesting projects. And your advancement isn’t based on reputation or skill, it’s based on, you know, who happens to like you. Well, we can mitigate or eliminate almost all of those things in an open source project. And so it turns out a lot of people do not want to be couch potatoes, right. And if you provide a setting in which something really interesting is happening, and it matters; you can see that other people use it and it’s got really smart people working on it, and they will accept you if you find interesting things to do, and some of them will even help you. And you can see the results of that, you know, you can generate a reputation and have people interested in you and have your work used by millions of people. That rolls up into a pretty motivating package.

The later in the interview Zemlin asks Mitchell about Mozilla and trademarks vs. how Linux handles trademarks.  That’s maybe the most interesting part of the interview, in my opinion. Finally, Zemlin asks Mitchell for advice re: trademarks and the Linux desktop.

links I thought were interesting today

Firefox available from Yahoo! Japan download center

As reported yesterday by Internet Watch (ja) and Broadband Watch (ja), Yahoo! Japan has renewed their software download center and is showcasing both a toolbar for Firefox (Yahoo!ツールバー Firefox版) as well as the Firefox for Yahoo! Japan (available for Mac or Win.) This is good news for all of the Yahoo! Japan users who also like to use Firefox.

New Baidu security service only for Windows

I was initially happy to hear that Baidu is now providing a browser-based security service  (百度安全中心) which includes a basic vulnerability and virus scanner for users in China but was disappointed to hear that the service is ActiveX based and therefore only available for Internet Explorer on Windows.  If you try to use the service without Internet Explorer, you get sent to an error page. Granted, the error page says that Baidu will be supporting Vista and Firefox “soon”, but if this service is via ActiveX controls, those will not work in Firefox (nor Opera, nor Safari, and therefore also not on the Macintosh nor on Linux.) Also Active-X has a history of security problems and as of 2008 US-CERT is recommending disabling ActiveX in IE, so in this case, the bar is set very high for Baidu to provide a truly secure solution via Active.

Baidu has such broad marketshare in China, there are opinions that the computer security industry (selling anti-virus software) would be significantly negatively impacted by this service if Baidu’s service is free. Clearly a free service that would be browser-based (vs. something that is either not free or requires a download) is the easiest option for users, but it’s not clear that such a solution would provide the best security.  If this service becomes popular and computer security vendors lose the retail market for security software, it’s not clear that users will be any safer and if the plugin was not designed properly, they may be much worse off.

There is the fact that Macintosh and Linux users are essentially unaffected by viruses and spyware that target the Windows platform, but providing a browser-agnostic solution should be the goal.

Mozilla in China profiled by Reuters

Reuters has a nice profile of our Mozilla China team led by Li Gong: Mozilla seeks growth and tie-ups in China market [reuters.com]

California-based Mozilla expects the going to be tough in a country where consumers are largely unaware of open-source and businesses typically base their services solely on [Internet] Explorer, Gong Li, chief executive of Mozilla Online, said on Monday.

Mozilla Online — known as “mou zhi,” or “seek wisdom” in Chinese — now has around 4.5 million regular users in China, said Gong, who previously worked at Sun Microsystems Inc and Microsoft’s MSN unit.

“It’s going to be a challenge raising our market share to our global average (of around 20 percent), since a lot of Chinese services are constructed on an Explorer platform,” he added.

“Five percent is not enough, but it’s our target for the second half of the year,” Gong added. Its current market share in China is about 2 percent.

I was lucky to meet Li just as he was making the decision to join Mozilla and lead our efforts in China last year.  China is a tough market for Mozilla in many ways because Windows+IE is so embedded into the culture of computing, but we are growing rapidly due to our new team in Beijing.

For more information on how Microsoft changed their strategy in order to succeed in China, I highly recommend David Kirkpatrick’s article in Fortune from July 2007: How Microsoft conquered China and also a decent review of that article on Techrepublic.

Matrix Partners new China fund

This news is a few weeks old but nonetheless important to note.

Matrix Partners Establishes USD275mn China Fund

Matrix Partners has a new China fund led by David Zhang, who left WI Harper to join Bo Shao at Matrix. This is news to me because Matrix has funded mobile browser OpenWave and the brand new SkyFire (who use Mozilla’s Gecko engine on the server) and Zhang funded Maxthon at WI Harper.