Microsoft is a smart bunny. It has successfully manipulated Netscape and its users into a corner with the threat of a good hiding unless they bend and agree to support ActiveX. Less than a fortnight after Microsoft submitted ActiveX to the Open Group to be ratified as a standard - it announces to the world that MSN will be using ActiveX extensively because it is a ... standard. Cocky or what?
This begs the question "What if ActiveX had been turned down as a standard and was classed as a proprietary tool?" Netscape would have been laughing all the way to the bank. But it hasn't and now the onus is on Netscape to quit sulking and get on with supporting the latest standard for viewing multimedia on the Net.
But Microsoft has been even more slippery in its battle to outdo Netscape and can now focus on grilling the company for failing to give its customers a choice. With more and more developers looking to use ActiveX - primarily because it's easier to write to - Netscape users, even the very loyal ones, will have to use IE3.0 to see all there is to see.
The heat is now on Netscape to get its bottom into gear if it wants to avoid the potential windfall of negative press it will receive every time an ActiveX Web is born.
Sun must be sweating too. Less than 18 months ago, it was the multimedia company on the Web with slick graphics and animated toons. Now its NC paradigm looks like it should be thinking about ActiveX and its Java development teams are going to have to work hard to convince designers that Java is still the future.
For once, it seems Microsoft has done all it can to give the world an insight into its plans, which Netscape has, thus far, failed to acknowledge.
It may be that we can all live happily in a world that supports both technologies.
For those who want to stay on the fence - look out. Times and Microsoft are achangin'.
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