OLE/COM - Microsoft's Strategy For Once Again Dominating The Software Industry

Prasad Wagle (Prasad.Wagle@eng.sun.com)
Fri, 8 Dec 1995 17:06:36 +0800

According to Bob Metcalfe (Ethernet inventor and 3Com founder):
"Unless [Berners-Lee, Andressen, and the Unix world] can keep their Web
standards act together, they will lose the Web to the Windows Microsoft
Network in the same way they lost Unix to DOS...MSN is making its play
to replace Berners-Lee's Web standards with its own under Blackbird."

OLE/COM is Microsoft's standard for distributed objects and component
software. OLE is the compound document standard and COM is the
distributed object bus. If OLE/COM becomes a de facto standard, the
language used for the components will be of secondary importance. The
software industry will once again be at Microsoft's mercy.

The industry's answer to COM is CORBA. The industry desperately needs a
compound document standard as powerful as OLE. One option is OpenDoc.
The W3C is also working on a compound document standard based on HTML.

"The Essential Distributed Objects Survival Guide" by Orfali, Harkey,
and Edwards is an excellent introductory book on this topic. The
conclusion of the book is: "CORBA/OpenDoc is technically superior to
COM/OLE. However, if the industry does not build a component market
infrastructure, CORBA/OpenDoc will fail. Microsoft will impose on the
industry its ORB and component standards."

So I would urge ISVs to work with W3C and OMG on open standards for
distributed objects and component software. In my opinion, this is a
better long-term solution compared to the short-term solution of using
proprietary standards like OLE. I know the problems involved with
standards-development process. I am working on the SPEC industry
standard Web server benchmark. However, I still believe in the long
term value of open standards. I would like to hear your thoughts on
this issue.


PS. Information on the W3C site: