AOL Time Warner takes on Passport?

  07/29/2001 10:14:28 AM MDT Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

AOL and Sun may be positioning themselves to take on Microsoft's Passport.
  It's safe to compare AOL Time Warner's relationship with Microsoft as less than good. Just recently AOL/TW and Microsoft could not reach an agreement on placing an AOL Icon on the Windows XP Desktop. Bitter memories of AOL wanting to dismantle Microsoft weigh heavy on Microsoft and AOL executives minds.

  Microsoft whom is implementing many controversial features into Windows XP has been working towards a huge centralized Windows Sign On process. This Sign On Process, called Passport, Microsoft plans on being a centralized way of establishing "passport" information for Web Services, online purchasing, and more. Hotmail, and many other Microsoft Internet Services already implement Passport.

  After winning the right top place their Icon on the Windows Desktop after Microsoft said Computer makers could do so, AOL now may want more than just some fancy desktop space. Rumors are surfacing that AOL Time Warner may be teamed up with Sun Microsystems on recreating Microsoft's Passport system.

  Such a system, like Microsoft's Passport, would give AOL access to an Internet Service Sign on Process, not just for their services for customers, but for others - just like Microsoft.

  AOL, whom was part of the Microsoft AntiTrust lawsuit is now the owner of Netscape, which Microsoft beat into submission with Internet Explorer. AOL Time Warner doesn't just think they can compete directly against Microsoft, they are, and in many ways AOL is extremely similar to Microsoft.

  For instance, AOL purchased Netscape for $4.2 Billion, AOL purchased ICQ Instant Messaging which at the time had many more users than AOL's IM, AOL purchased WinAmp makers NullSoft giving them the once most popular MP3 player. In retrospect, Netscape now has less than 10% worldwide browser marketshare, 90+% going to Microsoft Internet Explorer. ICQ now has much less instant messaging marketshare than AIM, and Microsoft Network Messenger, Yahoo, and others filled in the spaces. Windows XP will also ship with "Windows Messenger" - and instant jump in Microsoft's Instant Messenging Userbase, easily giving them the added marketshare to become dominant. WinAmp from NullSoft is now behind Windows Media Player, RealAudio, and Napster for Music Players.

  Given AOL Time Warner's track record, although they can compete directly with Microsoft, they havn't done a great job of it in the past, and certainly aren't a Microsoft. Can AOL Time Warner and Sun build a Passport system like Microsoft's? Sure, but the real question is would they be successful doing so?

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