Leslie Walker at ETech 2006

Another (Early) Wave

By Leslie Walker
Thursday, March 9, 2006; 1:09 AM

Today's the last day of the four-day Emerging Technology conference, and I'm flying home to D.C.

What I saw convinced me that another really big wave of innovation is rolling through the Web, though I also realize that it's still in the early stages.

The magnitude of the wave may not become apparent until we are all drowning in new online software that everyone is telling us we really must check out - even though we've barely learned how to use the last set.

The alpha geeks who attended ETech included many of the coders and engineers who shaped the Web software we use today. They see a transition underway to a second-generation of Web software, which is why they call this emerging batch of new sites "Web 2.0."

To see what they're talking about, check out online word processor Writely or the paid-advice-over-Internet-telephony service called Ether. Have a look at classifieds aggregator Edgeio, or PodBop, which lets people search for band podcasts by geography.

Hundreds of clever (and yes, goofy) sites are popping up every few months, many using more advanced Web software to implement old business ideas that died when the Internet bubble burst in 2001.

By whatever name this innovative era goes, my feeling is the Web is gearing up to take us on another wild ride. And since resistance is futile, I won't try to hang on tight.

Let it rip!

Windows Live Looks Promising

Thursday, March 9, 8:15 a.m. ET: Microsoft is burying some nifty new services under some really dorky brands. I am talking about "Windows Live."

On Wednesday, the company released revamped beta versions of its Windows Live and Web search services. Microsoft execs were showcasing both here at ETech this week. While Web search grabbed the most attention -- especially the new slider scroll bars that let people see more search results faster -- the revamped Live caught my eye.

Before noting what's useful about it, I have to say I hate the way Microsoft is slapping the Windows name on all its new Internet services, instead of using the MSN brand it spent a decade developing. Sorry, Bill Gates -- the Internet is not an extension of your operating system, no matter how many "Windows" you put on Web sites.

And there are plenty either announced or launched -- Windows Live Local, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Safety Center and Windows Live Favorites, to name just a few. Oh, and don't forget Windows Live Expo. "Expo" is for classified listings, get it?

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