Windows 11 reopens browser wars by including Teams

You can spot a veteran of the Browser Wars a mile off. These fearsome conflicts, fought across the desktops of the world not 20 years ago, left deep scars.

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By Gen XP, it was all over and the internet desktop was under total Empire control. Then came the Rebel Alliance of Chrome and Firefox, and in a few short years we were liberated.

Like every peacetime generation, those since have forgotten the conflict. They assume that freedom is here by right. The desktop is an antique battleground, as obsolete as warships in the Baltic. We are mobile, we are cloud, all places where access lock-in is baked out.

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the new superweapon you’ll get for free is Microsoft Teams, which is now super-snugly installed on the Windows 11 desktop and just a click away from easy-peasy sign-on to the Empire. Everything else that MS really wants you to use – OneDrive, Office 365, those blasted widgets – you can do away with. Teams? Ah, not so much. Teams is there, ostensibly, to talk to other people, and if they’re on Teams you have to use it too. Documents, spreadsheets, files of all sorts – a OneDrive, Office 365 user can swap stuff with your Google Drive and apps.

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What makes the conferencing space as tempting a resource as Mesopotamian oil fields to the Great Powers? It’s the same as the Browser Wars – those who control the conversation between humans and the digital control the world. Every file you share, every connection made, every link swapped, is treasure to be collected. It’s all funnelled together automatically. Watch as in-Teams access channels spring up across businesses for helplines, content accumulators, special offer conduits, payment systems.

The long trail of interactions between conferencing system users, each other, and their resources, produces a rich seam of ready-to-mine behaviour that, because it is so task-focused, is massively monetisable.

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This is a terrible prospect, not just for Slack but for everyone. IE6’s reign was marked by stagnation; all companies see spending development resources for a monopoly service as waste. It had its slave army toiling in the factory, they should be grateful for what they get. And if you think Teams is less fun than tickling the tonsils of a decomposing turbot, wait until Microsoft has settled in to enjoy its new monopoly.

What saved the world were internet open standards – Microsoft couldn’t manage that lock-in, hard as it tried. This time, the standards don’t exist or where they do, they’re not used by the big players, who control the whole chain end-to-end. Third-party endpoints are not allowed. So it doesn’t matter if you’re on a non-MS desktop or a mobile device, you’ll have to use the Microsoft app.

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Source: Windows 11 comes bearing THAAS, Trojan Horse as a service • The Register

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