Google Analytics can track individual Internet users across millions and millions of web sites. Google has quietly rolled out a browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari that prevents information about an individual web site visit from being sent to Google. Presumably this was done in response to regulatory scrutiny somewhere in the world as Google does not lightly deprive itself of any information about your Internet activity.
A good start but we still need:
- The add-on to be distributed through the various browsers’ integrated add-on catalogs and not just buried on the Google site.
- Google needs to provide the add-on for other browsers as well. At minimum, they need to support all the browsers they put on stage for marketing purposes (e.g. Opera)
- Google should build it into Chrome and turn it on by default (note that Chrome still has a bunch of other privacy issues)
- We need a similar add-on for opting out of AdSense which has a comparable tracking ability.
Another indicator of Mozilla’s continued slide (previous complaints here and here): IBM announces they are standardizing on Firefox. The party is surely over. The only news here is why didn’t this happen years ago.
My prescription remains Microzilla.
Hey, I actually get this obscure xkcd reference:
We did three Entertainment Packs for Windows soon after Windows 3.0 came out (tagline: “Not the most fun you can have with Windows, the only fun”). Each had about eight games. Some like Minesweeper and FreeCell got bundled with subsequent versions of Windows, but I never would have guessed SkiFree would continue to have a cult following nearly two decades later. There are SkiFree updates, ports, exhaustive overviews, numerous videos, cheat codes, fan mail and even fan fiction. The Wikipedia entry has even dug into the philosophical underpinnings of the game (though inexplicably provides no scatological discussions of the sources of and scoring for yellow snow in the game).
The funniest part is (if I recall correctly), the origin of the Abominable Snowman was the game had a stack overflow bug and instead of fixing the bug (hey, we were on Internet time way way before it was popular, cranking these things out in a couple months), the Snowman was introduced as a way to sidestep the bug by devouring the player with a small loophole that if you outran him in a specific way (appreciate the annotated video and opportunity to buy the soundtrack…), you’d start again.
I assume it is just a matter of time before the Snowman gets a movie deal. Every other comic character with any nostalgic appeal already seems to have one.
It is time for Microsoft and Mozilla to make peace and together face their common enemy: Google.
For Mozilla, Google is both sole patron and now direct competitor, which is at best strategically awkward. Firefox market share has plateaued. They’re losing their status as the browser of choice amongst the cool kids to Chrome. It is no longer the svelte and solid product it once was as lobbying seems increasingly prized at Mozilla above software development. The idealistic fire burns low as the dog is not sure what to do after catching the car.
While Mozilla drifts, Microsoft, meanwhile, has a tremendous need to change the browser game. Internet Explorer is getting bigger faster than it is getting better. Attenuating market share loss does not constitute a winning strategy. Instead of inflicting yet another column on the compatibility test matrix with a new rendering engine, why not just embrace Firefox? At this point, Microsoft has acquiesced to the idea of cross-platform browser compatibility. The browser anyway is just a container for Silverlight which is the real presentation strategy. Mozilla can help propagate Silverlight as well as help with browser search defaults. Mozilla executives are publicly expressing a preference for Bing despite their Google-funded paychecks, so cultivating Firefox users and the open source community more broadly is not nearly as crazy as it might have sounded even six months ago.
Microsoft has already paid almost $2.5 billion for the privilege of being required to ship Firefox and other browsers with Windows in Europe (who knew there were 12 “popular” browsers?). And the company has gotten nothing out of strategic control of IE all the while butting heads with the EU. Now that the (Fire)fox’s nose is through the Windows’ window (to butcher a metaphor badly), the renowned software designers of Brussels and their various friends (aka “Other” in most market share reports) are now hard at work trying to expand that toehold (and the scariest part of this for Microsoft should be the regulations starting entangle Office as part of this).
In yet another eerie Richard Nixon parallel, Microsoft has a history of surprise rapprochements with once bitter foes (Apple, Novell, Sun, arguably China and they’ll probably end up bailing IBM out one of these days…). Why not add Mozilla to the list? It not only costs little to let the wookie win, but it helps on multiple fronts of the new competitive landscape. And maybe more importantly, is a powerful demonstration to the world just how much that landscape has shifted, all to Microsoft’s advantage amidst its metamorphosis from Evil Empire to benign-by-comparison former Evil Empire.
Just a thought.
Attention Mozilla: less lobbying, more bug fixing.
Is Safari worth trying on Windows?
Yesterday I was wondering how Microsoft will price Windows 7 for the netbook market and speculated that Microsoft could
always keep offering the immortal Windows XP if necessary.
And just like that, the edict came down from upon high. This suggests the OEMs aren’t falling for Windows 7 Starter Edition and Home Premium will be priced at too high a premium for netbooks.
Is it too early to start a pool on XP’s market share in 2021, when it will be twenty years old?
Flight Simulator is the biggest product casualty of the Microsoft layoffs? The layoffs are a sad day for all the people affected and a disappointing milestone for the company, but Flight Sim is an industry institution dating back three decades. It is painful to see as I was the Flight Simulator product manager early in my career.
I have no idea what the health of the Flight Sim business is of late(and haven’t for well over a decade), but it was a nice business back in the day and already an institution during my tenure. When I took over the job, it was already grizzled enough to come with a box of relics accumulated by preceding product managers, including a bunch of 8-inch disks with versions of the product that ran on who knows what kind of extinct systems.
The product had unbelievably fanatical customers and you’d get a significant amount of (postal) mail from people sharing their obsession with the product. Long before the days of powerful PCs and affordable aftermarket flight controllers, people were spending thousands of dollars to build out full cockpits around their PCs.
Beyond beating back the internal wet blankets at Microsoft who thought selling games “sent a bad message to our corporate customers”, it was a lot of fun. Bruce Artwick and the developers were in Champaign, Illinois (coordinates 0,0 in the original Flight Simulator world). It got a little self-referential to fly to Chicago, meet up with them and fly a small plane (alas, not a Cessna 182) out of runway 36 at Meigs Field down to Champaign.
We got to tune Flight Sim’s 747-400 flight characteristics from inside the cockpit of the 747-400 simulator at Boeing. The simulators ran 18+ hours a day training pilots, but when they’d have a free slot, invariably in the wee hours of the night, they’d let us come down to ensure the simulator handled like the real thing. That’s why it took seven seconds to start moving from the time you went full throttle, just like the real thing. The simulator had this irresistible board in the back where you throw all kinds of disasters at pilots — lightning strikes, head-on collisions, wind sheer engine failure, etc. — none of which helped the productivity of the developer in the pilot’s seat.
It was a great job and a great product. Sorry to see it disappear. Anyone know what happened? I suspect the diminished mindshare in recent years also reflects diminished revenues.