In the News, 28 July 2005

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s a very important mantra to have in the software/hardware world. For example, OpenOffice.org has its own file format, but around 90% of the world uses the Microsoft Office format. Therefore, OO.o must incorporate support these formats. Similarly, a large portion of the Internet servers out there are running Linux and/or open source software. That’s the reason that Microsoft has decided to try and booot compatility with open source. How hard are they trying to make their software work with open source?

…Microsoft has established a testing lab containing 400 Linux and Unix servers in order to test compatibility with its own systems and management tools.

This is big news. It is also a validation of Linux as a competitor. Companies don’t try and become compatible with small programs because it’s a waste of their time. For Microsoft to care about compatibility with Linux and Unix servers shows that customers are beginning to demand this. The same way that early Internet customers demanded to be able to email people who weren’t using the same service provider, server customers find it ludicrous that their Microsoft servers wouldn’t interact properly with Linux servers.

This move by Microsoft can only help everyone. Microsoft will gain sales by being compatible with the large Linux/Unix server base. Linux will gain credibility and greater compatibility with MS servers without having to reverse engineer the protocols. Finally, users will benefit from competition which can only serve to lower the cost of the software.

If you’d like to hear someone arguing the exact opposite of what you expect, then Tim Butler’s got a great article for you. The important thing is to get past the first two paragraphs which refer to some other article(s) he’s written and look at this part:

After seeing his preview of “AdBlocK,” I did some more research to confirm that this was indeed included in the official code of Konqueror [a web browser for Linux – the KDE equivalent of IE], which, to the best I could discern, is, in fact, the case. This is singularly disturbing. While Firefox has become known for its AdBlock plug-in, this feature has remained outside of the core, official distribution. Considering the ethical ramifications of advertising blocking software, this is how it should be.

His main argument is that software which blocks ads on a page (not popup or popunder ads) is unethical because if the user doesn’t see the ads, they won’t click on them. If a website has ads, they are using the ads to difray the costs of having a website, therefore you are killing your favorite website by not seeing the ads.

While I understand the point he’s trying to make here, I find that he has one major flaw in his writing. Ever since the dot-com-bust (five years ago!) no advertiser pays a website owner just for displaying the ads. They USED to do that until they realized an important thing: people weren’t clicking on them. So they realized the “Newspaper and Magazine Strategy” wasn’t worth the money they were paying. Now all ads only pay them based on how many times someone clicks on the link and goes to the advertised web page. I can’t speak for all users, but I know that no one in my immediate family or my wife’s immediate family clicks on those. We know enough about Internet scams and “too good to be true” web advertising to care. I don’t even look at the ads any more – they are invisible to my eyes, which just focus on the text content. So whether I can see the ads or not is irrelevant because the website owner won’t get any money from me. I think, although I have no proof, that most people are like that. Therefore, Tim’s arguement is a moot point.

However, if I could go against some of the comments left on his website for just a moment. Everyone complained about ads making a website ugly. These must be some really anal people when it comes to how things are organized. I’ve never been to a website where the ads made it so ugly it illicited a reaction from me. Don’t be so darned sensitive to this stuff!
Talking ads are a different story though!

Author: Eric Mesa

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