Category Archives: Netscape

No choice of browser in South Korea

UPDATE: Marcis has kindly provided a Belorussian translation of this post – НЯМА магчымасці выбіраць браўзар У ПАЎНОЧНАЙ КАРЭІ

As has been in the news this week and mentioned on many Mozilla blogs, the European Commission is working with Microsoft and other browser manufacturers, including Mozilla of course, to launch the web browser ballot in the EC.

To those critics of the browser ballot who would rather the free market be left completely to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, I would present to you the example of South Korea. In short, South Korea is a sad example of a Microsoft monoculture where the course of history and the lack of anti-monopoly oversight have created a nation where every computer user is a Windows user and banking or ecommerce or any secure transaction on the Internet with South Korean entities must be done with Internet Explorer on a Windows OS.

The situation in South Korea has gotten markedly worse since the government, bowing to pressure from the citizens who wanted to use the smart phones that were sold elsewhere in the world, relaxed a rule that previously required a Korea-specific middleware called WIPI, that was never going to be implemented by smart phone makers outside of Korea. Now that the WIPI requirement was gone, manufacturers like RIM and Apple can now sell Blackberries in Korea and iPhones in Korea.

But as I suspected last fall when the iPhone’s official sales in Korea was announced, the browsers in these new smart phones (be it the browser in the iPhone, the Blackberry, or the Android devices that are on sale in Korea) can’t interoperate with the Active-X based security requirements that Korean banks and ecommerce stores require. So it’s not surprising to me at all that the news from Korea since the launch of these smart phones has been universally negative regarding the requirement to use Active-X for secure web transactions in Korea.

Here’s a selection of quotes from 3 recent articles in the Korea Times:

Korea Paying Price for Microsoft Monoculture (09-23-2009)

But the land of ubiquitous broadband, feature-happy “smart” phones and ultra-cool computing devices doubles as a crusty regime where Linux, Firefox, Chrome and Opera users can’t bank or purchase products online, and where Mac users buy Windows CDs to prevent their devices being reduced to fashion items.The bizarre coexistence of advanced hardware and an outdated user environment is a result of the country’s overreliance on the technology of Microsoft, the U.S. software giant that owns the Korean computing experience like a fat kid does a cookie jar.

It is estimated that around 99 percent of Korean computers run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and a similar rate of Internet users rely on the company’s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser to connect to cyberspace.

Mobile Banking Monoculture? 01-10-2010

At the center of the controversy is the [Korean] Financial Supervisory Service’s (FSS) guidelines on the safety of financial services provided on smartphones, which were finalized and announced last week.The new rules can be summarized simply ― all financial transactions on these advanced handsets will be subject to the same security requirements that control online transactions on personal computers.

The problem with this, according to critics, is that the existing legal framework was precisely what allowed Microsoft to establish a virtual monopoly in computer operating systems and Web browsers here, which is now blamed for having computer users stuck with outdated technologies and exposed to larger security risks.

Rigid Regulations Retard Mobile Wallet Era 02-10-2010

In essence, the current law states that all encrypted online communications on computers require the use of electronic signatures based on public-key certificates. And since the fall of Netscape in the early 2000s, Microsoft’s Active-X controls on its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browsers remain as the only plug-in tool to download public-key certificates to computers.

So we can see in Korea today that the lack of choice of web browser (not to mention the lack of choice of computer operating system), indeed the lack of interoperability of Korea’s secure transaction protocol on the web, means that the smart phones of today, that don’t support ActiveX, are useless in Korea for secure transactions. That means if you are an iPhone/Blackberry/Android user in Korea, you cannot bank online with a Korean bank, you cannot trade stocks on the Korean markets, you cannot shop online with a Korean Internet site. You can’t do many of the key things that these smart phones were designed to do.

So when people ask you, “why is the choice of a web browser important?” tell them that in South Korea, people don’t get a choice of what operating system to use or what web browser to use.  After you explain to them that a place without choice is South Korea, ask them again if they’d like to not have a choice and why the choice of a web browser is important.

I hope to have better news from South Korea soon.  Please watch my blog for updates on this issue and other issues facing Mozilla and the open web in Asia.

In the meantime, please be sure to visit Open To where Mozilla’s Chair, Mitchell Baker and Mozilla’s CEO, John Lilly, explain why we at Mozilla believe that the choice of browser is a critical right for all Internet users worldwide.

Here’s a list of things that the Mozilla community is doing and which we encourage everybody to do:

• Comment on the open letter at;
• Follow @opentochoice on Twitter;
• Write a post on your blog;
• Use your favorite social network to spread the word;
• Write to bloggers that you know, to local media
• Start a thread in technology and OSS related forums and mailing lists about the browser choice screen;
• Offer to localize the open letter (send an email to contact -at-
• Are you participating in local events where you can talk about choice? Do a talk, organize a booth, distribute flyers in the welcome pack, put a banner on the event page;
• Become a browser choice screen watcher: did you see the browser choice screen pop-up on your screen? send us an email, post it on your blog, Tweet about it. Give details (country, time of day, choice of browser).

Korea Paying Price for Microsoft Monoculture

Last week the Korea Times had a long piece on the unique issues around browser security and encryption technologies in Korea, Korea Paying Price for Microsoft Monoculture, which did not reference my original article, the cost of monoculture, but is updating the issues I raised in early 2007.

A few choice quotes:

But the land of ubiquitous broadband, feature-happy “smart” phones and ultra-cool computing devices doubles as a crusty regime where Linux, Firefox, Chrome and Opera users can’t bank or purchase products online, and where Mac users buy Windows CDs to prevent their devices being reduced to fashion items.

The bizarre coexistence of advanced hardware and an outdated user environment is a result of the country’s overreliance on the technology of Microsoft, the U.S. software giant that owns the Korean computing experience like a fat kid does a cookie jar.

Critics say the country would end up paying dearly for allowing a Microsoft monoculture to take hold, with consumers deprived of the freedom to choose newer and better products and the Web industry seeing its innovation compromised.

(Anyone want to send me a Steve Ballmer with cookie jar photoshop masterpiece? 🙂 )

The article goes on to cover a lot of the issues affecting web users in Korea and how many valiant efforts have gone into trying to affect change, most significantly the 3 lawsuits that Dr. Keechang Kim has brought against various Korean policy-making bodies, without success.

The newest effort of the open web community in Korea is, an effort to push/educate banking institutions in Korea to change their practices as many believe it is these consumer-facing services which are key to making real change happen for an open web in Korea.

Mozilla is committed to supporting the Koreans who are pushing for a competitive truly open web in Korea. If there is something that we should be doing in Korea to further support open web efforts, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment with your thoughts.

I, for one, look forward to a day when anyone in Korea can use any modern browser on any major consumer computer operating system to bank, purchase goods/services online, trade stocks, etc. without the need for a browser plugin.

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.

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.

Mozilla CTOが語る「Netscape」から「Firefox」への軌跡

This post is for any of the Japanese readers I have.

ZDNet Japanさんが弊社の Brendan Eich との対談ビデオを日本語字幕で出しましたので JavaScript に興味を持つ方、ぜひご覧下さい。

ITの歴史にイノベーションを巻き起こした技術者に話を聞くシリーズインタビュー「Super Techies」。このビデオでは、現在MozillaのCTOであり、JavaScriptを開発したことでも知られるBrendan Eich氏が、シリコンバレーでのプログラマーとしてのキャリアや、Firefoxの展望について語る。

Mozilla CTOが語る「Netscape」から「Firefox」への軌跡

Firefox featured on CBC news Toronto

Although not Asian, Chris Ilias saw a nice overview of Mozilla’s efforts by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, featuring Mozilla’s Toronto office as well as the Seneca College students who are working on Mozilla.