Feeds

RealNames shutdown outcry grows in Asia

'Cheated and shortchanged'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The closure of RealNames Corp a week ago has started to cause a backlash among members of the Asian internet community, who are forecasting a major disruption in how speakers of Asian languages access the internet,

Kevin Murphy writes

.

RealNames shut its doors last week, after Microsoft declined to renew an agreement that saw RealNames offer keyword-based web addressing via Internet Explorer's address bar. The lack of IE integration left RealNames with a less than attractive business model, and in Microsoft's debt to the tune of $25m.

Senior members of the Chinese, Korean and Japanese internet community have written to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and chairman Bill Gates, asking them to consider the company's position. One major Chinese web host said its customers feel "cheated and shortchanged" by the removal of RealNames features from IE.

Because the internet's domain name system cannot handle Asian characters, RealNames has been resolving Asian-language keywords and domain names, under deals with the likes of VeriSign Inc (for .com) and Japan Registry Services Co Ltd (for .jp). These deals allowed Asians to use their own languages and alphabets, rather than numbers or English, when surfing the web.

Hirofumi Hotta, director of JPRS, wrote to Gates and Ballmer last week, according to RealNames CEO Keith Teare. Hotta could not be contacted for comment at press time yesterday, but Teare's website republished an open email he sent to the Microsoft top two last week.

He wrote: "[The Japanese] are eager to use their own-language domain names. This is proven by seeing over 60,000 Japanese domain names have already been registered under .jp. Please appreciate this fact and make your products and services capable of resolving Internationalized Domain Names [IDNs] as well as ASCII domain names."

Qiheng Hu, president of the Internet Society of China, and former VP of the Chinese Academy of Sciences also wrote to Ballmer last week, Teare said in his personal web site. Qiheng is a member of the Internet Engineering Task Force group working on a technical standard for addressing non-ASCII IDNs in the DNS.

She wrote: "I believe that your decision to stop supporting [RealNames] is not a correct one even for Microsoft... why should you decide to stop this win-win collaboration? Microsoft is a highly respected corporation in the world as well as in China. I hope that you'll reconsider this issue and make your partner and your users happy."

Joseph Zhu, VP of business development at HiChina Web Solutions Ltd, which claims to be China's largest web hosting provider with over 300,000 names under management, wrote to Gates, asking for reconsideration. Again, he could not be reached for comment at press time, but Teare's site carried the text of his email.

"Our more than 10,000 Internet Keyword customers feel cheated and shortchanged," Zhu wrote. "I think this has already caused a lot of bad publicity for Microsoft. It confirms the widespread perception that Microsoft wants to monopolize the Internet and you do not care about the interests of the average consumers, although personally I like your company very much."

The RealNames/Microsoft contract comes to an end at the end of June. The company currently has a temporary staff of about 15 going about the process of selling off its assets, which include patents on keyword systems. VeriSign is believed to be in the running, but Microsoft has so far declined to comment on its plans.

A Microsoft spokesperson said: "Our decision regarding not renewing our contract with RealNames is final." They had no further comment.

But while pressure mounts on Microsoft in Asia to reconsider its decision, it looks as though the company may have been planning to implement a proprietary RealNames-style service all along. It emerged Friday that Microsoft had last August applied for a US patent on a keyword search system that looks a little like RealNames.

RealNames CEO Keith Teare goes further, saying his company implemented a system outlined in the Microsoft patent two to four years ago, which should be considered prior art. "I'm totally flabbergasted," Teare wrote. "We were explicitly told Microsoft WAS NOT planning on doing our service themselves. Oh boy are they in trouble if this is so."

A Microsoft spokesperson maintained that the company has no such plans: "Microsoft has literally thousands of patents, and we don't make a business out of each on. We don't plan to make a business out of keywords." Microsoft's position is that it rejected RealNames for customer satisfaction reasons.

© ComputerWire. All rights reserved.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.