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Nov 24, 1999, 01:34 (15 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jon Udell)

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"Still, there's no getting around the fact that the impoverished HTML widget set is due for an overhaul. The browser needs pluggable microcomponents that can interact in richer and more flexible ways with remote macrocomponents. Web culture has, so far, proved surprisingly resistant to the two dominant solutions proposed thus far: Java, and ActiveX."

"This situation cannot, and will not, continue for much longer. But the non-Windows camps don't seem to have convincing solutions yet. Netscape's browser share is rapidly eroding. Mozilla is desperately late precisely because it has heroically tackled the microcomponent problem, while refusing to sacrifice OS-independence. At this point the future of Mozilla, and its XPCOM technology, is unclear. Linux, on another front, is pursuing a CORBA-oriented microcomponent strategy -- but the KDE and GNOME desktop environments mean different things by this. And whether Linux in any form will capture significant desktop share is, also, unclear. Finally, Java has its own version of microcomponents (beans) and macrocomponents (enterprise beans), the relevance of which -- on the desktop machines where the vast majority of computing actually occurs -- is again unclear."

"So what's in store? Are we headed for a one-browser world, in which the MSIE microcomponent architecture dominates the desktop just as Win32 and COM did? Will Mozilla reassert itself as a contervailing influence? Will client-side Java emerge from its long gestation and play a larger role on the desktop? I'd give a lot, right now, to know the answers to these crucial questions."

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