Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to

    Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to | Ars Technica

    With Microsoft's decision to end development of its own Web rendering engine and switch to Chromium, control over the Web has functionally been ceded to Google. That's a worrying turn of events, given the company's past behavior.

    Chrome itself has about 72 percent of the desktop-browser market share. Edge has about 4 percent. Opera, based on Chromium, has another 2 percent. The abandoned, no-longer-updated Internet Explorer has 5 percent, and Safari—only available on macOS—about 5 percent. When Microsoft's transition is complete, we're looking at a world where Chrome and Chrome-derivatives take about 80 percent of the market, with only Firefox, at 9 percent, actively maintained and available cross-platform.

    The mobile story has stronger representation from Safari, thanks to the iPhone, but overall tells a similar story. Chrome has 53 percent directly, plus another 6 percent from Samsung Internet, another 5 percent from Opera, and another 2 percent from Android browser. Safari has about 22 percent, with the Chinese UC Browser sitting at about 9 percent. That's two-thirds of the mobile market going to Chrome and Chrome derivatives.
    Frightening indeed. O.o
    Rusakov's Signature
    "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil
  • #2

    Huh, well then.
    WolfyWetFurr's Signature

    Comment

    • #3

      As a web developer, this is great news. Edge didn't work well, at all. I had to jump through many hoops to get things to render right on it, despite the fact they claim to be the most standards compliant, they weren't.

      People like to complain about this and say it's scary and we're going to a monoculture, but you know what else is a monoculture? The electrical system. It's the backbone of everything we do, and fundementallythere's only one way of delivering power. Yet, electricity enables so much to be built on top of it.

      That's what this is. Chromium is the basis of a standard. I'm not going to worry about that, because once you get a real standard established, you can innovate on top of it. That's what Microsoft is going to do now, and they're going to contribute back to Chromium.

      Daryn's Signature



      “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

      Comment

      • #4

        Okay. I'm a little confused.

        Isn't Google the company we've handed the web over to already? And like, years ago?

        One could argue, too, maybe that Google took it over. But if they did - how did they do it?

        We invited them to.

        Google was the first Internet-based company to provide a competent search engine. And they did it for free. And they still do it for free. In fact, they do a lot of things for free. They have for years and they still do.

        But did we step into the mouth of a dragon by letting them take over, though?

        Far from. Google may no longer be the awesomely magnanimous company it once was, but they still provide almost everything they do for free.

        As to why it may no longer as magnanimous, don't look for evil in Google specifically. Instead, look to human nature. When people become comfortable in a thing, they become lax in a thing. And if people accept that laxness, then those who have laxed feel empowered to see how far they can stretch the good will of the people who look to them. It has happened again and again all down through human history. It happens so much, that there's even a name for it.

        Hubris.

        "They're an evil company now!"

        No. They're just people. People who have fallen into a trap that is as old as mankind. It has caused companies to fold again and again. It has caused whole empires to topple. Both in the business world and in the historical world. It is absolutely unavoidable. It is absolutely unstoppable.

        We are living in an era now, where companies are big enough to where we really notice it happening. Companies that encompass the globe are going to effect the entire globe, when they fall to hubris. But every day, every single day, company after company falls to it. But we barely even notice it because it is so small.

        It's kind of fascinating to me, really. Apple is damaging itself with hubris. Facebook has seriously damaged its reputation with it. Microsoft has, twice, since it began, it only recently beginning to pick itself up from its latest fall to it. But it will again. A new CEO might be brought in, clean things up, but if you watch and wait, the company will start bending under the weight of hubris again. All companies do. It is absolutely unavoidable.

        I'm keeping my eye on Google. How far will they fall before they manage to wake up and stop the topple? Because they will start to fall. They won't be able to help it. The company is run by people. People are flawed, greedy little creatures. It is just the way we are.
        Rick Canaan's Signature
        A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

        Comment

        • #5

          Originally posted by Daryn View Post
          *snip*
          The big questions are "why is [x] standard supported by Google?" and "for what ends?" Edge might be terrible, but if it took over the web instead of Chrome/Chromium it would become a "standard" too. The Chromium standard is brought about unilaterally because Chrome is the biggest player in the web browser world and Google can use it to push sites it owns in a direction that tilt the table in its favor.

          One such case pointed out in the article proper:

          As another example, YouTube uses a feature called HTML imports to load scripts. HTML imports haven't been widely adopted, either by developers or browsers alike, and ECMAScript modules are expected to serve the same role. But they're available in Chrome and used by YouTube. For Firefox and Edge, YouTube sends a JavaScript implementation of HTML imports which carries significant performance overheads. The result? YouTube pages that load in a second in Chrome take many seconds to load in other browsers.

          These actions may not be deliberate on the part of Google—it's possible that the company simply doesn't care about other browsers, rather than actively trying to hinder them. But even an attitude of "Google first, who cares about the rest?" is not the kind of thing that we should want from a company trusted with so much control over the Web.
          Really, the monopsony of Chrome probably wouldn't be this big a deal if its parent company didn't control such a massive chunk of the web (either directly or via proxy) to begin with. But it does, and Chrome is an excellent tool to that end as a result.
          Rusakov's Signature
          "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil

          Comment

          • #6

            Originally posted by Rusakov View Post
            These actions may not be deliberate on the part of Google—it's possible that the company simply doesn't care about other browsers, rather than actively trying to hinder them. But even an attitude of "Google first, who cares about the rest?" is not the kind of thing that we should want from a company trusted with so much control over the Web.


            Really, the monopsony of Chrome probably wouldn't be this big a deal if its parent company didn't control such a massive chunk of the web (either directly or via proxy) to begin with. But it does, and Chrome is an excellent tool to that end as a result.
            I honestly don't see te performance penalty this article is talking about. I usefirefox with YouTube every day. Pages don't take seconds to load, they take a second at most.

            Really though, with Microsoft adopting Chromium things will get better. Also Brave, one of my favourite browsers just finished the switch to Chromium. They've done a lot of work on their end to make things better. I recommend trying that browser out.

            There are two things here to keep in mind. Google gives a lot of technology away, so it gets adopted. They want the web to be faster, so they take steps to make that happen. Apple stopped caring about open-source years ago. Amazon seems to only be interested in their bottom line. Oracle... Yeah.

            Their stuff is getting adopted as standards because they're one of the few companies actually trying to push things forward.

            That said, they have to be on their best behaviour. One major screwup and you can bet they'll be in the doghouse.

            This is also a good opportunity for Mozilla to step up their game. They've won me over already, so it will be nice to see what they can do going forwards.

            We do need to be careful, but at the same tmeyou can't demonize a company for what they may do.

            Good topic, Rus!
            Daryn's Signature



            “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

            Comment

            • #7

              Originally posted by Rick Canaan View Post
              It's kind of fascinating to me, really. Apple is damaging itself with hubris. Facebook has seriously damaged its reputation with it. Microsoft has, twice, since it began, it only recently beginning to pick itself up from its latest fall to it. But it will again. A new CEO might be brought in, clean things up, but if you watch and wait, the company will start bending under the weight of hubris again. All companies do. It is absolutely unavoidable.

              I'm keeping my eye on Google. How far will they fall before they manage to wake up and stop the topple? Because they will start to fall. They won't be able to help it. The company is run by people. People are flawed, greedy little creatures. It is just the way we are.
              It's hard to argue those points. Much like Soylent Green, Companies are made out of people. They're an amalgam of different views, ethics, and approaches to problems. We can't dismiss them as evil because, on the whole, they may not be. Except maybe for Facebook. The more we hear about them the more I dislike them.

              Another problem with big companies like this is that they tend to be steered by boards that put profit above all else. Wall Street is such that if you're not showing growth every three months, the stock market will punish you. Three months. They think in quarters and rarely ever look at the bigger picture. That also feeds into the behaviour you're talking about from Apple, Google, and Facebook. It's short-sighted and I'm starting to believe, a very dangerous thing.

              On the upside, we're now starting to see the employees of those companies speaking up and voicing their displeasure at what their employer is up to. Google was planning a censored version of itself to get into China. Now that Googlers found out about that, it may not and probably won't happen. Same goes for the AI programmers who found out their work was going towards programming Drones to recognize targets. Many raised a huge stink about it, and others just flat out walked out, quitting right there. It's caused these companies to now start looking at the question of "Should we do this?" rather than "Is this possible?"

              I hold out hope that companies will realize that they can make a lot of money and still put people, employees and society in general, first.

              It's kind of funny because Microsoft has been the one saying that for a few years now. Ever since their new CEO took over. They seem to be doing just fine. If you remember, many years ago, they literally were the evil empire. Now, things have changed there for the better.
              Daryn's Signature



              “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

              Comment

              • #8

                As an aside, Daryn reminded me of this bit.

                Guess The Web Browser Game (Pic)
                Rusakov's Signature
                "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil

                Comment

                • #9

                  I'm guessing the third one is Opera, then Safari, then Internet Explorer. The other two must be firefox and chrome.
                  Daryn's Signature



                  “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

                  Comment

                  • #10

                    Originally posted by Daryn View Post
                    I'm guessing the third one is Opera, then Safari, then Internet Explorer. The other two must be firefox and chrome.
                    Yep!

                    Your annecdote on trying to get SFF working on Internet Explorer reminded me of that.
                    Rusakov's Signature
                    "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil

                    Comment

                    • #11

                      Well, a Toilet is a very apt representation of IE.
                      Daryn's Signature



                      “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

                      Comment

                      • #12

                        I'm loving the fifth picture. It's a perfect metaphor for Internet Explorer.

                        Which begs the question: why can't Microsoft, a company whose primary focus is writing software, make a decent web browser? In fact, one so bad, that it ends up the 'toilet' image in contests such as this.

                        Does anyone have an answer?
                        Rick Canaan's Signature
                        A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

                        Comment

                        • #13

                          Originally posted by Rick Canaan View Post
                          I'm loving the fifth picture. It's a perfect metaphor for Internet Explorer.

                          Which begs the question: why can't Microsoft, a company whose primary focus is writing software, make a decent web browser? In fact, one so bad, that it ends up the 'toilet' image in contests such as this.

                          Does anyone have an answer?
                          You know how there was a 5 year development time between Windows XP and Windows Vista (vs. previous versions with faster releases)? Microsoft released IE versions in tandem with new Windows releases. In that period between XP and Vista Microsoft was working on Longhorn which suffered from feature creep and delays and eventually had to be cancelled.

                          This meant that they didn't release any new IE versions in that time, and we were stuck with Internet Explorer 6 for five years (August 2001 to October 2006). The problem is that while IE stagnated the rest of the web moved on.

                          By the time Microsoft was back on track they had a pile of ancient code for a program a shrinking number of people used for a utility that had changed a lot in the intervening years.
                          Rusakov's Signature
                          "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil

                          Comment

                          • #14

                            Originally posted by Rusakov View Post

                            You know how there was a 5 year development time between Windows XP and Windows Vista (vs. previous versions with faster releases)? Microsoft released IE versions in tandem with new Windows releases. In that period between XP and Vista Microsoft was working on Longhorn which suffered from feature creep and delays and eventually had to be cancelled.

                            This meant that they didn't release any new IE versions in that time, and we were stuck with Internet Explorer 6 for five years (August 2001 to October 2006). The problem is that while IE stagnated the rest of the web moved on.

                            By the time Microsoft was back on track they had a pile of ancient code for a program a shrinking number of people used for a utility that had changed a lot in the intervening years.
                            Not to mention the steady decay of institutional knowledge about the inner workings of IE both among Microsoft itself, and its users. In the era of third-party add-ons and extensions, not having an eco-system of developers making worthwhile extensions means that users will move on to browsers with more functionality. The lack of users means extension developers don't want to bother learning to make extensions for a platform, and thus a brutal death-spiral begins. How do you escape the death spiral? A. Heavily subsidize extension developers to make it worth their time even if the user base isn't there yet, which is opened ended and expensive, or B. Make the most popular features native to the browser itself, resulting in yet more development time and costs. As Rusakov pointed out, the internet moved on while Microsoft struggled. If there's anything remarkable about Microsoft and Internet Explorer, its how quickly they managed to bleed off a LOT of users. A lot of that can be credited to solid competing products from Mozilla, Google, and Apple but not all of it. Microsoft dropped the ball repeatedly with its delay of longhorn, its troubles with Vista, and its unwillingness to adapt to modern web standards.

                            By way of comparison, how long has Furaffinity been the de facto nexus of art galleries in the fandom? You can't tell me its because it is a superior product. I'm not very web design literate, but it still feels like 2007 whenever I visit the site. There are a ton of worthwhile competitors like the Furry Network, Ink Bunny, and Deviant Art. Yet, because large user bases have lots of inertia, there has yet to be the mass exodus to put it into a death spiral. I may have lost of the plot halfway through typing this, as it is rather late. I guess the tortured thesis for this post is that somehow FA Admins > Microsoft?
                            Dusty's Signature
                            IC Character Sheet

                            Comment

                            • #15

                              I agree with all of what was said above. I want to add something else, too.

                              IE has still not died. In fact, it's still in Windows 10. The reason for this is because Microsoft's biggest customers are large Enterprises. During the early '00s, these enterprises built a lot of custom software built upon IE. Much of this is still being used today. That said, it's not going to be too much longer before IE is finally no longer supported. So some progress will be made there.

                              The other problem Microsoft had was a culture problem. I say that in the past tense because that entire company culture has completely changed. Back then though, everything was very compartmentalized. Nobody worked together. You may have seen this floating around the internet, but it's still a good representation of what it was like back then.
                              Click image for larger version

Name:	microsoft-org-chart.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	35.6 KB
ID:	57919


                              You had little fiefdoms that were all keen on protecting what they had, even at the expense of other projects that might've been great and made money. It's a culture that started during the Gates era but got worse when Steve Ballmer took over. They had a term for killing a project like that before it could gain any traction. They called it "Knifing the Baby". Yeah. You're not going to see a lot of innovation coming from a company that was run that way.

                              Just adding a bit of context to show why Microsoft couldn't move with the times.
                              Daryn's Signature



                              “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

                              Comment

                              • #16

                                All in all, there's a reason why the acronym "IE" is pronounced "AIYEE!".

                                Edit: that being said I like the direction the new Microsoft is taking. Both in the new tech they've been working on and being less hostile to open source software (especially since I'm a Linux user).
                                Rusakov's Signature
                                "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X