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Locked In
The 90s want their Browser Wars back.

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

9 August 2017

Those who know me know I’m a technology enthusiast. I love gadgets and apps, tools and games, and automating and programming to save time. What I hate is lock-in, a business concept that I thought we’d seen the last of after the United States vs. Microsoft Corp almost got that company smashed into pieces.

And for several years after the ruling, we enjoyed pretty good times. Mozilla (later Firefox) and Chrome were able to emerge as competitors in the browser market. Linux started gaining even more steam. MacOS returned as a major player. Open technologies ruled the Internet and common standards helped it evolve.

Oh, sure, we had some examples of lock-in … like DRM from the music and movie industries (the latter of which continues to plague us). But for the most part, tech experienced a kind of grace period. But that’s changing.

Everything Old Is New Again

It seems more and more I’m experiencing lock-in. Try migrating a WordPress site to Joomla or Drupal, and it’s a nighmare. Even changing themes from Divi to Beaver or even TwentySeventeen has become a nightmare. There is no HTML6 or CSS4 forthcoming as browsers like Chrome are loading up proprietary tags and methods in an effort to lock in developers and users alike. And search engines are dictating how sites should be built and how they should operate. I need to use specific tools for tasks that used to be open (this browser for X, that service for Y, and so on) and accessible.

Browser Wars Best Viewed In Badges

Final Thoughts

The standards that shaped the tech landscape as we know it today are breaking down, and I’m forced to wonder if history is about to repeat. Is Chrome going to become the new Internet Explorer? Will Webkit and Firefox end up like Netscape? Will cloud services built on open standards start publishing system requirements, and will “Best Viewed In” browser badges become the norm?

I don’t know. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

About the Author

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos is a Partner with O’Brien Communications Group (www.obriencg.com), a business-to-business brand-management and marketing communication firm with responsibilities ranging from brand creation and creative concepting, to graphic design, web development, and more. He’s also an experienced teacher/trainer, presenter, a newbie dad, and is active in a number of communities and forums — online and in the real world — dedicated to helping others achieve their goals.

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