The Economist: Tomorrow's Internet [to be based on open standards]Nov 17, 1999, 02:55 (9 Talkback[s])
"For a decade or more Microsoft?s monopoly of PC operating systems gave it a stranglehold on computing. The technologies now shaping the Internet mean that a single software company is unlikely again to attain such dominance ...the Internet promises to create a world in which no firm ever again has the power of a Microsoft or an IBM."
"These technologies are quite unlike the PC operating system. That is the intellectual property of Microsoft, but the Internet employs standards and protocols that are 'open', meaning they can be freely used by anyone. They have mostly been hammered out in public forums, and they are beyond the control of any single firm. The operating system is the control centre of the PC, but the Internet is managed at many levels, some within devices, some on the network, others at the abstract level of a 'language'.
All this adds hugely to the complexity of the system, but it is the complexity that distinguishes a market economy from a centrally planned one. The PC has to evolve to the drumbeat of Microsoft?s programmers in Redmond, Washington. The Internet, by contrast, derives its adaptability precisely from its amorphous nature. If a firm creates and exploits a monopoly over one bit of technology, somebody, somewhere will think of a road around it."
"With a lab-full of new technologies and protocols, the Internet is likely to overcome its current drawbacks and continue its march into every corner of modern life. ...since no single organisation controls the Internet, every new protocol will have to prove its worth if it is to be widely adopted. Such an apparently haphazard way of doing things might seem like the Internet?s fatal weakness. In fact, it is its greatest strength."