The future is... Linux televisions

The future is... Linux televisions

Summary: Opera board member John Patrick explains why Microsoft's domination of the browser market won't last forever and how Linux will continue to evolve

TOPICS: Networking

John Patrick spent 35 years at IBM and was one of the original Internet and Linux enthusiasts. During that time, he was part of the team that started the company's leasing business, launched IBM's ThinkPad brand and was credited with introducing IBM to a new communications technology called the Internet. He was also a founding member of the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT in 1994 and a senior member of standards body the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

In late January, Patrick joined the board at Norwegian Web browser company Opera - which is planning an IPO in March. He spoke to ZDNet UK about Microsoft's domination of the browser market, the SCO law-suit and a future with Linux television sets.

Browsers went through many years of rapid development, but browsing technology hasn't really changed that much recently. How do you see the browser developing?

There has to be more choice. People see that there is only one browser and you have to take it on Microsoft's terms; period; end of story. I'm not sure that is what people really want and it is certainly not what I want as a user.

When I first got involved with the Web 10 years ago, there were a lot of browsers to choose from. Each had their own features and functions and there was very active competition among them. What happened next is extremely well documented.

The browser has been taken for granted for much too long but I am quite optimistic about the possibilities of browsers getting better and better. Of course I am not just talking about PCs, which is the really big deal -- there are many more Internet devices then there are PCs and all of them need a browser, so there is room for innovation -- and that is what Opera is trying to do.

How long can Microsoft dominate the browser market?

If you talk about the browser market, what are you talking about? If you are talking about PCs, then you look at it and ask why would anyone try to compete with a monopoly that has 95 percent or whatever percentage they have? But if you look at the market for Internet devices with browsers on them, then you include televisions, PDAs phones automobiles and virtually any kind of device that has a chip on it and a network connection -- and I think we can all see that just about every device will have Wi-Fi and a processor.

With those two ingredients everything becomes a computer on the Web and then Microsoft doesn't dominate on that market. The big shift is in devices -- we are talking about billions of them, which structures the market in quite a different way, and I don't see Microsoft dominating that larger market.

There is no reason that we have to have a concentration of power in this area because it is quite different to the PC. The PC evolved as it did for a number of reasons. You can look back at things that Microsoft, IBM and Apple did and construct how we got where we are today. But in the pervasive space it is quite different and we are at the very beginning.

Topic: Networking

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • This guy is smoking excellent weed!

    If he thinks for a minute that the public wants the free DUMB to have a confusing set of sub-standard software, from multiple vendors, with virtually no support, and no way to ensure that they will still be here in ten years, then YES! He must be stoned.

    Right now, Linux is ALL about FREE. IBM loves it because it is FREE. RED HAT loves it because it is FREE. China loves it because it is for FREE. And TIVO loves it because it is FREE.

    Anyone that wants a second rate operating system that is always playing catch-up deserves to have Linux.
  • Well, welcome to the real world! I know, having been used to the unhealth drug that is Microsoft Windows, it's not easy to return to a normal, healthy life. But with persistence and professional help, you might achieve it.

  • The guy who thinks Linux is all about the 'free' is a bit of a dumbass if you ask me.

    I'm not with this whole Microsoft bashing, the whole reason that they are no 1 for most things computing is that they produce the most user friendly software.

    Linux is getting better for user friendliness, but it'll take a long long long time to get people of Windows. I think Lindows is going the right way by allowing Windows software to run under Linux.
  • "They feel inhibited doing anything new because they are afraid Microsoft's lawyers will be calling them."

    Come on guy; give me and the rest of world a break from this nonsense. I enjoy software development because it provides an avenue for satisfying creativity ways of accomplishing tasks in a virtual environment. Your definition of FREEDOM is another way of expressing your socialistic views because you
  • I think you mistake the integrated solutions that Microsoft provides as being the only way to have easy to create, complete solutions. Open Standards and Open Source are all about allowing markets to form that will offer a variety of choices, all of them open-ended. If users demand complete solutions, a vendor will package a variety of Open Source (that could mean Linux) products together into a solution. That's what Novell does with their desktop. Expect more -- much more -- of that. Microsoft's solution isn't wrong, it just isn't the only way to do this.
  • I'm not ready to crucify microsoft for the world's sins... But if you dont see any resemblence to the Apple / Ibm-Clone race of yesteryear... Then you need lasik... Open source code (linux) WILL eventually prevail... And microsoft will have to hop on the bandwagon or suffer the shame of creating fashionable software... Much like the Imac's you see in Interior Designers office's...