By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

-Update and Real Time"> You and I have had many conversations about auto-update and what implications that might have for client-to-client technologies. What is the auto-update value proposition?
I think you and I are highly aligned on this, but the model of computing that says you go to visit a Web site to go get content is antiquated. We should expect to be in a world that is not only far more notification- and event-oriented, but increasingly oriented around session-based content types instead of simply static content types.
Thats clearly an area of interest to us because we see so much technology in the world that is either out of date or out of security or just simply could be of higher value to its clients and users if it could be kept synchronized. Were going back to pub-sub, and were moving away from a concept of Im going to go to a Web site and pick up content. The pull model of computing—the days are numbered. Were moving toward a model where we have the opportunity to keep the technologies that Sun delivers up-to-date and current, as well as keep users up to date and current with what is going on in the marketplace. In the Microsoft model, thereve been increasingly blurred boundaries between the OS, Office and the server middleware layer. If you dont use the browser as the focus of the desktop, and you move to a pub-sub router as the focus, doesnt that change the equation for how bits of information travel around the network? It certainly changes. I do not believe the browser is going to be the long-term focal point for network services. The network is going to be in the long run the focal point for network services. And moreover, authentication is going to be the focal point. Im not a big believer in the idea that youre going to authenticate devices—I think you are going to authenticate users. And those users are going to want to have access to the latest and greatest information at whatever device to which they have authenticated. That also suggests, though, that theres got to be a delineation between the kind of things you do with a PC and the kind of things you do with a mobile handset or an automobile seat back or a cable set top box. The diversity of clients out there is going to be such that a browser in some instances will be an ideal interaction environment—one where youre likely to be stable for long periods of time, tethered, terrestrial—and Im going to want to be reading a lot of content. The browser has proven itself to be a particularly poor interaction model on a mobile handset, an even poorer one on a set top box, and I can guarantee you it will be absolutely horrible on an automobile dashboard or seat back. That implies that were going to have to get cleverer about ways of delivering information to the diversity of devices attached to the network. Event notification and concepts like auto-update ... Auto-update is not simply about delivering the latest and greatest patch to an operating system—its just as much about delivering the latest and greatest Steve Gillmor column to a 10 million reader base. Or the software that delivers that column. Absolutely. We certainly look at the evolution of the Java virtual machine on more than 60 percent of the PCs in the marketplace as opening a market opportunity for us. How we elect to take advantage of that opportunity is a topic for further discussion, but certainly the mechanism behind auto-update is one means of delivering functionality, not simply patches and updates, but actual applications that enable subscribers to that auto-update function to get more information, more technology and more service from Sun and our partners. Next page: Customers, customers, customers.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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