Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Security IT

Why South Korea Is Shackled To Windows 252

Posted by kdawson
from the monoculture dept.
baron writes with a blog post explaining in detail why 99.9% of S. Korea uses Windows. This amazing tale began in 1998 when Korea decided it couldn't wait for SSL to be standardized (which it was in 1999) and commissioned an ActiveX control for secure Web transactions. At first there was a secure Netscape plugin too, but we know how that story ended. Quoting: "This nation is a place where Apple Macintosh users cannot bank online, make any purchases online, or interact with any of the nation's e-government sites online. In fact, Linux users, Mozilla Firefox users, and Opera users are also banned from any of these types of transactions..." Now that Microsoft has made ActiveX more secure in Vista, every Web site in S. Korea is scrambling to get things working again and the government is advising citizens not to install Vista. At the end of all this work, they will still be a monoculture in thrall to Microsoft, with millions of users sitting behind some of the fattest pipes in the world.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why South Korea Is Shackled To Windows

Comments Filter:
  • by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:46PM (#17770462) Journal
    But I thought Starcraft worked on Mac too...

    Laugh. Its funny.
    • by markov_chain (202465) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:54PM (#17770632) Homepage
      Laugh. Its funny.

      kekekeke
  • by what about (730877) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:48PM (#17770494) Homepage

    and how difficult to get it back

    This is not just for Computing but the concept is more important than ever now, in Computing

    • TCO Study? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:03PM (#17770790) Homepage
      Anyone? I'd love to see a widescale analysis of how much vendor lockin actually costs. When it's this bad I imagine it's disastrous
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        When I read this part: :"At the end of all this work, they will still be a monoculture in thrall to Microsoft, with millions of users sitting behind some of the fattest pipes in the world. "

        I thought about that Twilight Zone episode [wikipedia.org] where Burgess Merideth was finally alone in the world to read all his books.....and then broke his glasses.

        In S. Korea....all that bandwidth, and nothing useful to use it with....

        :-(

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nizo (81281) *
          In S. Korea....all that bandwidth, and nothing useful to use it with....


          I am guessing there are people who control hordes of zombie machines that would disagree.

    • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@MONETgmail.com minus painter> on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:49PM (#17771544)

      and how difficult to get it back
      What's stopping someone (in the government) from writing a new SEED-compatible applet that works on Firefox and/or Opera and on other operating systems? After all, there USED to be a plugin for Netscape.
    • by JaxWeb (715417)
      It isn't really a lack of freedom, is it?
  • I know that there is a joke in here somewhere..
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:51PM (#17770562) Homepage
    ... the NSA loves you when you do!
  • by hey (83763) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:51PM (#17770576) Journal
    Kinda makes you think that Massachusetts with their push for open formats, etc might
    be on to something. (If you we're already thinking that.)
  • Like Geek heven.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WarlockD (623872)
    Just Satan calls the shots.

    Kind of bashing Windows I guess, but it makes me wonder if it's even possible to convert to more open standards at a reasonable price? Even with the "more secure" ActiveX controls, its still easier to modify those existing controls in VS than it is to rebuild the site under OSS.

    Sigh. Owning a Monopoly must be nice.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:15PM (#17770980) Homepage

      The first thing I wondered when I read this was, "Did they learn their lesson?" They standardized their entire country on a closed system, and when the vendor of that closed system initiates an arbitrary change, they're pretty much screwed and forced to rebuild things. In my mind, the smart thing would be to bite the bullet, drop Active X, and switch to Firefox and have a true multi-platform solution. Hell, if they can't do everything they require in an extension, they can go as far as making their own fork, and they'll retain that option in the future.

      Really, this should be a lesson for everyone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Owning a Monopoly must be nice.

      Owning the two dark blue properties just before GO is even nicer.

  • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:52PM (#17770608)
    when the government jumps the gun and does what it thinks is best for everyone.
    • That's a half-truth. Industry can do the same thing (*cough* CORBA *cough*). The more important lesson here is: don't design for a particular base or technology. E.g., an encryption standard based on a single vendor's proprietary chip that no one else can make.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``when the government jumps the gun and does what it thinks is best for everyone.''

      Why? Did the government _force_ them to use this tech?
  • Apparently (Score:2, Funny)

    by killa62 (828317)
    Apparently, the dupe detection software was written in south korea and uses activex to authenticate

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/24/210234 [slashdot.org]

    too bad kdawson just upgraded to vista
  • Diversity (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:53PM (#17770618)
    Kids, diversity is bad, MMMM KAY?
    • by glomph (2644)
      Da more dey are stuck using the Minesweeper/Solitaire platform, da virse it gets.
  • We all know how good, greasy fat pipes are a botnet-master dream. Maybe that's why I see so much SPAM from S.Korean IPs.

    Also, a major flaw in MS-Win could render this country's Internet infrastructure and systems useless.

    They really should reconsider this decision. Strategically it isn't a good one. And I don't mean creating another monopoly with Linux or whatever, just give the users a choice, so that their OS environment gets more colored.
  • by shirizaki (994008) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:00PM (#17770744)
    Just break the glass and escape through the window.
  • by Corsican Upstart (879857) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:00PM (#17770754)
    Alternatively, from the better-than-what-they're-using-in-north-korea department
  • wait? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:01PM (#17770756) Homepage Journal

    This amazing tale began in 1998 when Korea decided it couldn't wait for SSL to be standardized (which it was in 1999) and commissioned an ActiveX control for secure Web transactions.
    Has anyone ever investigate which backroom dealings resulted in this decision? Decisions like this, with a multi-billion profit guarantee to a specific vendor, aren't made for technical merit. If you really believe that neither MS nor someone else with stakes in it (maybe some reseller?) was involved, I have a few bridges for sale...
    • Re:wait? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasma ... g minus caffeine> on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:10PM (#17770916) Journal

      Has anyone ever investigate which backroom dealings resulted in this decision? Decisions like this, with a multi-billion profit guarantee to a specific vendor, aren't made for technical merit. If you really believe that neither MS nor someone else with stakes in it (maybe some reseller?) was involved, I have a few bridges for sale...

      Well said.

      This tale still might have a silver lining, though. A single security vulnerability, properly exploited, could turn the entire economy of South Korea into a cautionary tale. For a decade afterward, at board meetings where purchasing or standardization decisions are being debated, people will randomly interject "But we could end up like South Korea!".

      This is slashdot. Do we believe what we say about the perils of vendor lockin and closed-source? If so, then we should also believe that South Korea's predicament will eventually become a clear and obvious error.

      • Screw nukes (Score:3, Funny)

        by plopez (54068)
        If I were N. Korea this is what I would be developing.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        This is slashdot. Do we believe what we say about the perils of vendor lockin and closed-source? If so, then we should also believe that South Korea's predicament will eventually become a clear and obvious error.

        Uh, it's already a clear and obvious error that has cost them all interoperability, compromised security, and cost them piles of money. I think they're already a cautionary tale. The hard part is getting PHBs to believe that it could happen to them.

      • Re:wait? (Score:5, Informative)

        by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday January 26, 2007 @02:24PM (#17772184) Homepage Journal
        That would be great but I don't think it will happen. When Slammer hit S. Korea [techspot.com] in 1/2005 they were one of the few global financial systems that were affected. They made a big stink about blaming MS and then went on, business as usual, without rethinking their reliance on a single vendor who is notorious for breaking standards.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by cnelzie (451984)
        It already is a clear and obvious error.

            It's just that it wasn't so publicly shouted out as to the reason why. I cannot tell you how many attempts to break into my network come from IP Addresses in South Korea or how much spam my servers scrub away that originates in South Korea.
    • Have another look at TFA. The government commissioned both an ActiveX control and a Netscape plugin, since those were the two major browsers at the time. Of course, the NS plugin became abandonware. So they did try to be impartial, just not open. Thus illustrating the importance of 'open.' As someone mentioned above, I have newfound respect for what Massachusetts is doing.
  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:05PM (#17770824)

    Yeah, I'm not getting how this is anybody's fault except S. Korea's. SEED is an open specification. There is no reason the Korean community can't develop a plug-in for other systems. All that is required is for the S. Korean CA to allow it. Again, that's S. Korea's fault.



    The only fault of Microsoft's lies in an area that the author is grossly misinformed. He says "In IE 7 and in Vista, Microsoft has re-architected Active X controls in such a way to make them 'more safe' by requiring a user action for the control to run", and then links to a page about the Eolas patent resolution. Many places have had to recode websites and controls after this change. While it is Microsoft's fault for the implementation, the impact on S. Korea is entirely up to them.



    Sorry, you made your bed.

    • by michaelvkim (981938) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:35PM (#17771292)

      There is no reason the Korean community can't develop a plug-in for other systems.
      Contrary to what this article is trying to say, there simply is no reason to develop a plug-in for other systems.
      You need to understand the Korean mentality. It wouldn't have mattered if the government made Active-X the standard, or if they outlawed it completely. Hell, it wouldn't have mattered if the government didn't do anything. This would've happened regardless. The reason is that unlike in America where it's cool to be different and unique, the Korean mentality is to be as homogeneous as possible. Anybody "weird" is singled out and alienated. This mindset is embedded in their society, culture, personal and professional lives, and everything else they do.
      The mere fact MS bundles IE with XP pretty much ENSURED that IE would be used by the vast majority of users in Korea.
      Even if standards were opened to allow Firefox, Safari, or Opera access to everything online, I will bet that IE will still have 99.9% of the market. Simply because it's what everybody else is using.
      • by HalAtWork (926717)
        the Korean mentality is to be as homogeneous as possible. Anybody "weird" is singled out and alienated. This mindset is embedded in their society, culture, personal and professional lives, and everything else they do.

        How did that come to be? How is it possible to raise an entire country of emotional bullies [truthout.org] and not have it blow up on itself?

        "For his intimates and those closer to home, Bush appears to be what is called an emotional bully. An emotional bully gains control using sarcasm, teasing, mocking
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Couldn't something like this be built into open source browsers like Firefox, without using active X? The reason they used activeX is because that was the only way of changing the functionality of IE. But if the browser was open source, they could just add the functionality right into the browser. Then users of all operating systems could do all this e-commerce stuff.
  • The problem is that Vista doesn't play well with a software program called Active-X that is widely used in Korean Internet sites.

    No, the problem is that incompetently created websites use delicate nonportable nonstandard proprietary software that is only interoperative with one single obsolete platform.

    Don't blame Vista; blame people who aren't responsible, experienced, or forward-looking enough to see why complying with standards is so necessary.

    Now let's see how people will fix their glaring mistake

    • by oohshiny (998054)
      No, the problem is that incompetently created websites use delicate nonportable nonstandard proprietary software that is only interoperative with one single obsolete platform.

      It's only "obsolete" because it was poorly designed in the first place and the vendor had to drop support for it in Vista. Although you can blame the web sites for being stupid and not anticipating that they were going to get screwed by Microsoft, Microsoft is still the primary party at fault here.

      And if you think Vista's "advanced te
    • I hope you don't mind if I quote your whole post, but..

      No, the problem is that incompetently created websites use delicate nonportable nonstandard proprietary software that is only interoperative with one single obsolete platform.

      Don't blame Vista; blame people who aren't responsible, experienced, or forward-looking enough to see why complying with standards is so necessary.

      Now let's see how people will fix their glaring mistake. Will they "fix" it by repeating it (i.e. rewriting ActiveX controls to be c

  • by michaelvkim (981938) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:05PM (#17770832)
    Being Korean and known as somebody who's good with computers, a lot of my friends and family members ask me to look at their computer because "it's running too slow". At first I was more than happy to, but now I dread looking at a Korean computer because:

    1. it's running Windows with IE and at least 3 extraneous toolbars

    2. it hasn't been defragmented since the computer was first built

    3. EVERY website HAS to install software to make it run properly

    4. EVERY website the user has bookmarked has at least 5 megabytes of flash (and they're all advertisements)

    Everybody in Korea signs up for everything, not knowing how useless the service is, how dangerous it is on their computer, and how much traffic it eats up. Just go to www.daum.net [daum.net] or www.naver.co.kr [naver.co.kr], the two most popular media portals in Korea. What's worse is that Koreans prefer that kind of interface over Google [google.com].

    I'm not trying to bash Koreans, Windows, or Internet Explorer at all. It's just that when you put the three together, bad things are bound to happen.
    • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:08PM (#17770882)
      What in the heck are those websites you linked to? They're all Korean to me...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by michaelvkim (981938)
        They're the Yahoo of Korea. I didn't link them so you can understand Korean, but to see how bandwidth-intensive Korean websites are over American websites.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by init100 (915886)

          I didn't link them so you can understand Korean, but to see how bandwidth-intensive Korean websites are over American websites.

          They didn't seem bandwith-intensive to me, but of course Adblock+ and NoScript helps a lot. :P

    • by Anonymous Coward
      daum.net is 40KB of html (with all CSS and javascript inline) compressed. It uncompresses to over 150KB ppv, absolutely unbelievable. That web team are way beyond the reach of the almighty clue bat; they need shooting.
    • So the national motto is "Have bandwidth, will waste it"?
    • by phorm (591458)
      Just go to www.daum.net

      Hmm, 300-600kbps and still it takes awhile to load everything. 50%+ CPU load with all the various flash, and MY EYES, MY EYES, DEAR LORD the layout is TERRIBLE!
    • by kabocox (199019)

      1. it's running Windows with IE and at least 3 extraneous toolbars
      2. it hasn't been defragmented since the computer was first built
      3. EVERY website HAS to install software to make it run properly
      4. EVERY website the user has bookmarked has at least 5 megabytes of flash (and they're all advertisements)

      Everybody in Korea signs up for everything, not knowing how useless the service is, how dangerous it is on their computer, and how much traffic it eats up. Just go to www.daum.net or www.naver.co.kr, the two mo
    • by kisrael (134664)
      Taking away the language thing, and maybe a propensity for smaller graphics and less white space (actually it reminds me of some asian newpapers I've seen in the USA) is that really any worse than yahoo or MSN portal pages?
    • Stop trying to stereotype your own people. Just because you are part of said group of people doesn't give you the right to generalize. You can at last narrow it down to, "Korean web sites suck!", or "the people who I know that are Korean, are naive when it comes to computer software".
  • ActiveX (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZwJGR (1014973) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:08PM (#17770870)
    It shouldn't be a huge amount of work to get ActiveX controls working on Windows.
    A .ocx activex control is just a COM DLL really, and ought not to be too much trouble to port to Linux Firefox (in conjunction with WINE perhaps), or to Mac OS possibly in conjunction with the Win32 api compatability layer (Darwin?). A plugin wouldn't be too difficult to write, as ActiveX is better documented than many other areas of Windows. I'm sure that if enough South Korean programmers, and there are a lot, get annoyed, the problem will be sorted, particularly with the Vista issue.

    Personnely I doubt that Vista will break these Korean ActiveX modules indefinetely, as MS can release a patch after the OS is releashed and selling, at their leisure. MS would never create a situation where an entire country is put off their flagship product, especially a country with 99.9% MS Windows usage, as stated in the article.

    While I find the prevalent MS monoculture in South Korea in itself quite alarming and surprising, I don't think that the compatability issues with Vista are a cause for major concern. Nobody is foring anybody to upgrade to Vista after all.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)

      Nobody is foring anybody to upgrade to Vista after all.

      Unless you count the fact that in 6 months it's going to be very hard to find a computer which comes with Windows XP on it. And if you want to run new versions of other programs, it may be a requirement that you have XP. There's already a lot of programs that refuse to run on windows 2000, which is only a little older than XP. I don't think that it will be all that uncommon in 1 year to find a lot of programs that only run in Vista, especially with g

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shaper_pmp (825142)

      Personnely I doubt that Vista will break these Korean ActiveX modules indefinetely, as MS can release a patch after the OS is releashed and selling, at their leisure. MS would never create a situation where an entire country is put off their flagship product, especially a country with 99.9% MS Windows usage, as stated in the article.

      I think you'll find the problem is that it's the very fundamental design decisions in ActiveX that are the problem.

      ActiveX was originally designed with almost no thought to sec

  • by feranick (858651) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:13PM (#17770970)
    This is exactly why the generalized use of proprietary and not standard software is a bad idea. Being the most common platform, doesn't make it a standard either since the all country relies on something you have totally no control about.
  • At the end of all this work, they will still be a monoculture in thrall to Microsoft, with millions of users sitting behind some of the fattest pipes in the world.
    I think its funny the poster left the part about millions of users behind the fattest pipes around--that seems like the worst part of the story. A monstrous delivery system for Microsoft zero-day worms/exploits, etc... A virtual-WMD if you will.

    Just thinking about it makes me want to tell my firewall to shun all traffic from large swaths of the world...

    Another question: Couldn't this be forced through liability? I.e. These companies need to switch to using the now much-more secure SSL to handle transactions, or find themselves liable when their customers identities are stolen through their weak quasi-encryption scheme. That's why US companies did it--they didn't want to get sued because a weak protocol was cracked.
    • by TimmyDee (713324)
      You're telling me. I frequented a Korean run internet cafe when I was in Australia a number of years ago, and those computers were absolutely laden with spyware, etc. This being the early days of spyware, I wasn't too aware of the extent of the situation. I certainly didn't do any banking, but I did check my email. After that, the email account I had used was inundated with an insane amount of Korean spam.

      I guess there's a price to pay with being on the "cutting edge".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by smbarbour (893880)
      Windows to hosed in 3...

      *** STOP 0x0000007B (0xF201B84C,0xC0000034,0x00000000,0x00000000)
      INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE

      If this is the first time you've seen this Stop error screen, you are
      very fortunate. However, it is highly unlikely that this will be the
      last time you will see this.

      This particular error means that there was a problem reading the boot
      information from the hard disk drive. If you are hearing strange
      clicking noises coming from your computer, you should go out and buy
      a new hard drive as soon as pos
  • other parallels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nostriluu (138310) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:40PM (#17771378) Homepage

    The Government of Canada uses a public key infrastructure system, that only works in some browsers. Famously for the past census, only some people could access it.

    Some important sites, such as banks and airlines, don't support other browsers or require plugins as well. It is getting better with the important cross platform critical mass of Firefox, but far from perfect.

    Is it a public highway, or something designed only for Ford Explorers(tm)?
  • by sheldon (2322) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:40PM (#17771390)
    After this was posted two days ago as Koreans Advised to "Avoid Vista" for Now [slashdot.org], there was a lot of confusion created.

    It's good that you put up this article for us, helping to clarify that we're talking about South Korea and not North Korea.

    Thank you. My comrades in North Korea will be relieved to hear this.
    • by c6gunner (950153)
      North Korea uses windows too. Mainly unlicensed copies of Windows 98. Ofcourse, they don't really have to worry about ActiveX compatibility issues because nobody has internet access, and I can guarantee that not many have even heard of Vista, let alone have machines powerful enough to run it.
    • by Jartan (219704)
      Yea and the fact that it clarified the history behind why Korean uses activex so much wasn't useful at all.

      I'm all for less dupes but you people need to get a grip sometimes.
  • uh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by waspleg (316038)
    this is a country where one of the most popular sports is watching people play online games, a quick search for korean gamer scored 1.2 million hits with a number of articles talking about south korea as the gaming capital of the world.

    maybe this has something to do with a fervent windows dedication? linux games are still limted to cedega, and no one wants to pay for play, although some people don't care, like my friend who pays their dev fee on top of his WoW subscription; i guess it depends on your dispos
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:57PM (#17771696)
    as to the problem that would quickly happen to the rest of the world too if it weren't for OpenSource and GNU/Linux, and the EU fighting Microsoft.
  • This amazing tale began in 1998 when Korea decided it couldn't wait for SSL to be standardized (which it was in 1999) and commissioned an ActiveX control for secure Web transactions.

    According to Wikipedia, South Korea's economy began a miraculous recovery starting in 1998. They enjoyed 10% growth in 1999 and 9% in 2000. Growth continued, though at a slightly slower (but very respectable) 6% after that. And interestingly, the major driver of that growth is in the service industry - the very segment of the e

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shaper_pmp (825142)
      Indeed. And look where it got them - massive costs to update their entire online commerce infrastructure overnight, or be effectively locked out of the entire future of the single overwhelmingly dominant computing platform.

      And if they make the same mistake again and just retool for Vista/IE7 instead of migrating to open standards, another huge up-front cost when those proprietary formats and "standards" go the way proprietary formats always do.

      It's kind of like taking massive amounts of coke - sure, your m
  • After seeing both stories (Twice the time to think about it! Thanks, slashdot.) it's not obvious why this is the case. Firefox is big now, and has plenty of active development going on, both in the core and in the extensions. Why isn't anyone just writing a SEED extension to support this format?
    That'd remove the cross-platform problems. (You'd still have the cross-browser problems, but IE+Firefox is infinitely better than just IE, even if Opera/Safari/etc don't work)

    Patents, maybe? Or just lack of developer

  • I knew you could.

    Give Gates a chance and the US will be "shackled" as well.

    ActiveX controls - the SECOND biggest stupid POS Microsoft ever produced - after the Registry.

    Or maybe it's the DLL - I'm currently fighting a client's ancient Windows 95 machine (don't ask!) that is locked in DLL hell with the oleaut32.dll crap...

    Somebody put Microsoft out of business NOW! Please!
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Or maybe it's the DLL - I'm currently fighting a client's ancient Windows 95 machine (don't ask!) that is locked in DLL hell with the oleaut32.dll crap...

      Yeah! Shared libraries suck! Everything should be statically linked. That's also why I'm just performing an rm /usr/lib/*.so. It's bound to complete any seco%%%%%%%%%%NO CARRIER
  • Not only old people use Windows...
  • Next time when Microsoft buys itself another "independant" study comparing the Total Cost of Ownership of Windows with Linux, will they also include all these costs the Koreans are paying to keep up?
  • The blog entry explains why S. Korea is in such a bad position. What I would like to know is, other than holding off on Vista, what is being recommended as a proper long term solution? For example are they recommending companies to adapt to standard web standards?
  • by kbahey (102895) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:35PM (#17773746) Homepage
    South Korea is one country that shares a language with only one other country (North Korea).

    The matter is worse in other parts of the world where many more were affected.

    A while ago, I wrote about Microsoft and Arabization [baheyeldin.com] and the issue of browser independence [baheyeldin.com].

    Remember that there are about 300 million native Arabic speakers, and it is the 5th language or so worldwide, spread over 20+ countries. Not to mention the many others who read or speak Arabic as a second language.

    In the mid to late 1990s, Microsoft entrenched itself in the Arabic internet market. Most sites were just unusable form anything other than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

    Since MS IE does not adhere to standards, and it became the dominant browser by the early 2000s, this monopoly further entrenched Microsoft as the sole technology provider for web sites in the Middle East.

    Speaking to a developer at a fairly large company about it, he said : "forget Mac and Linux, we say the application requires Microsoft IE 5 [at the time]". I was flabbergasted by that attitude.

    Not only is he mandating a certain browser, but an entire operating system and hardware architecture! And that went unchallenged.

    Fortunately, things started to improve over the last year or two, with FireFox gaining ground, and there is no single government forcing a monoculture via banking security or something like that. Sites that used not to work (including Al Jazeera Arabic web site) are usable once more, perhaps with a few glitches here and there.

    Still, most people use Hotmail for their email, and MSN for chat (voice and text). It may take time, but I hope the spread of FireFox, Mac OS/X and to a lesser extent Linux will continue to keep web site developers cross platform, and never force the monoculture that was prevalent up until a few years ago.

There's got to be more to life than compile-and-go.

Working...