14. Netscape 6. The turning point of the browser wars came in 1997, with the release of Internet Explorer 4. For the first time, IE was better than Netscape Communicator. Not only was it faster, but it had more features and better standards compliance.
Netscape should have struck back immediately, but instead it dragged its feet. As Microsoft pressed ahead with IE5, Netscape's open source Mozilla project foundered, producing nothing but buggy "preview releases." When Netscape 6 finally appeared, years later, it was a bloated, sluggish mess. The war was lost, and now even the Netscape brand is scheduled to pass into oblivion.
Ironically, the former Netscape Communicator suite lives on as an open source project, called SeaMonkey -- presumably because it sounded great at first, but the real thing is a disappointment.
13. Search portals. Where are they now? At the height of the dot-com boom, Web surfers had a plethora of search engines to choose from: AltaVista, Excite, InfoSeek, Lycos, and many more. Today, the major players of the past are mostly dead. A few have soldiered on, such as Ask.com, but only after repeated redesigns.
Chalk it up to old-fashioned hubris. Instead of concentrating on their search offerings, the first-generation search engines fell victim to the portal arms race. They built up dashboards full of sports scores, stock quotes, news headlines, horoscopes, the weather, email, instant messaging, games, and sponsored content -- until finding what you wanted was like playing Where's Waldo. Neither fish nor fowl, they became awkward combinations of search portals and general-interest portals. The world went to Yahoo for the latter. And when an upstart called Google appeared with a clean UI and high-quality search, users told the other engines to get lost.
12. IPv6. Few topics spark more debate than IT's equivalent of global warming. According to some experts, the question isn't whether we will run out of IPv4 network addresses, but how soon. And there's no Kyoto controversy here; federal policy already requires that government offices transition to IPv6 by 2008. So why is everyone still dragging their feet?
Quite simply, IPv6 is a fix for a problem nobody has yet. Stopgap solutions such as NAT, while infuriating to network engineers, have proven effective. And IPv6 offers no compelling features to offset the headache of implementing it. In other words, until someone offers the equivalent of carbon credits for networking, IPv6 is one truth that's just too inconvenient.
11. Microsoft Passport. We all have too many online accounts and too many passwords to go with them. If Microsoft wants to save us some hassle by remembering them all for us, why not, right?
But Web users didn't flock to Microsoft's single sign-on service when it went live, and neither did partners. The idea was good, but the implementation was lousy. First came public debate over privacy concerns. The discovery of security holes in the Passport software was just the final straw.