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.