Web Informant #2 10/1/95

Welcome to the second issue of our Web Informant newsletter. Thanks to all of you that we've gotten back in touch with, and all the comments on our site. We're learning, and hopefully improving! If you missed our first issue, it is available on our site under "awards."

First, some new -- and worthwhile -- sites

Two new web sites went up this week that are worthy of checking out: Network World's Fusion, which while leaving us cold after the on-line qual card required to gain access, nevertheless has lots of interesting links to networking resources and has a searchable archive for past articles in the magazine. Two small nits: none of the current issue is yet up on their site, and when we went to check out the rate card for their on-line ads, those links were broken. Still, it is an attractive site and worthy of another visit.

Second is PR Newswire's site, with an up-to-date archive of press releases from the zillions of companies that they track. Great idea, but again one small nit: please get a search engine going for this mass of information. Navigating it now is not easy.

Mergers and acquisitions dept.

The past few weeks' worth of corporate couplings and decouplings in our industry has been dizzying: Novell/HP/SCO, Grand Junction/Cisco, the triage on AT&T, and Collabra/Netscape are just some examples. We are not so sure that this is all a good thing. And we've had dreams where we wake up and the only two companies left will be Disney and Microsoft: now that is downright scary.

We are all for diversity in our industry, but these mergers in particular don't seem to benefit anyone, other than the acquired company's stockholders. Do we get better integration of technology between acquiree and acquired product lines? Better marketing reach? Happier customers? Angelo Santinelli of Shiva remarked that his customers (or at least the ones he spoke to recently) aren't happy about this trend: they don't see any benefit from a reduction in a number of vendors.

Many companies have begun to track these M&A-type announcements with web pages. September 20th was an exciting day for our industry: we had the Novell dumping Unix into the laps of HP and SCO, AT&T undergoing tri-tosis, and... our Web Informant's announcement. All, of course, weren't in the same league.

Take the Novell Unix announcement. On both Novell's website and SCO's site, you could quickly get the basic press release with one mouse click when we checked on 9/21. SCO's site also had more information and technical product details in addition to the press release. HP brings up the rear: on the day after the event, nowhere on their main home page could you find anything about the announcement. When we checked back a week later, there was a link to the press release.

How about the AT&T "breakup?" Well, all sorts of information can be found on the main AT&T home page, including a number for the press to phone in and hear a recorded tape of the press conference (complete with the pass code, but what would you expect from Ma Bell). However, at first scan the information isn't presented well, despite all sorts of pages devoted to different market segments (click here if you are press, here if you are customer, here if you are an emploee).

All told, we liked SCO's treatment better: higher quality of technical information, just enough HTML to make it interesting but not too flashy, and even a "product roadmap" (which we take with the usual grains of salt) -- you could say nicely reflecting SCO's corporate culture all in all. For these reasons, we give them our current Be.Here.Now award.

Our second award this week is in consideration of using the 'net for improving technical support access. Compaq has already figured this out. Compaq's bulletin board system, web/ftp site, and Compuserve forum have the same file structure: once you figure out that file SP1212.EXE contains all the downloads for their NetWare drivers for the Proliant models, you can easily download it wherever. Finding out that that is the particular file of interest is easy on their web site, with a great search engine right in the front door there. They get this week's Big Duck award.

Our other awards this week go to Poppe Tyson, for bad navigation aids; and Lotus, for a cluttered web page of press releases. Check them out here on our site.

David Strom david@strom.com +1 516 944 3407