Re: Push-Technology and Technology News

Thom Quinn (
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 08:54:46 -0600

This is a copyrighted article from

Jesse Berst, Editorial Director

ZDNet AnchorDesk
Friday, March 14, 1997

Order a headstone: The browser died on Wednesday.

It was the victim of two new standards proposed that day. Two new
that create new ways to receive channels of information over the
Internet. Standards that pave the way for push broadcast to dominate.
browsing to fade away. Of course, browsing will always be around as an
option. Just like you have the option to traipse out each morning to buy
a newspaper.

The old Internet was based on pull, which entailed searching for
useful. But with 2 million different URLs out there, it's too ridiculous
to have
to hunt for what you want. The new Internet is based on push, or direct
delivery. Pull is what we did because we weren't smart enough to figure
push yet. Just like in the early days of the telephone network. Back
human operators manually plugged cables into switchboards, until we were
smart enough to figure out automatic switching. (Of course, you can
still get
an operator. You just don't need to very often.)

Don't get me wrong. People won't be pushing anything your way without
your permission. You'll be subscribing to what you want, be it news,
weather, Web site updates, whatever you fancy.

In brief, here's what killed the browser. Microsoft proposed a way for
channel—any push broadcaster—to plug into Internet Explorer 4.0 (which
due out this summer). At the same time, PointCast proposed to open its
popular broadcast system to any Web site. You can get the details in the
stories linked at the side. By the way, Netscape is expected to follow
with a proposal of its own.

But the main thing you need to understand now are the implications:

Netscape will have to respond or its browser will fall out of favor in a
hurry. The impending conflict is likely to make it more and more
difficult for Navigator users to receive broadcasts from publishers
using Microsoft's approach (and vice versa).

Content will be king, dethroning technology. At last, we will be able
to make information-gathering decisions based on content (and
maybe some minor features)—rather than whose technology works
better. Which means the Internet will be a true new medium.

It's time to start thinking about how you're going to push your Web
site. If you choose to do it on your own, you need to investigate the
proposals from Microsoft and PointCast. And if you choose to
partner, you have to be very careful. Because most of the 30-some
odd push vendors will be out of business in a year or two.

When all is said and done, you can expect to see three major standards.
One from Microsoft. One from PointCast. And one from Netscape. Does this
remind you of anything? How about the three television networks that
in the 1950s? The Internet is right where TV was back then: on the verge
becoming the next major medium.

All we're waiting for now is the Internet equivalent of Milton Berle.
hosted the television show that galvanized America in 1957. Convinced
millions it was finally time to bring home a TV set. And firmly planted
headstone atop that medium's skeptics.