of 10 percent per month. Within the next year, Internet connectivity will be bundled as a standard function with nearly all newly sold personal computers. The Internet architecture already provides excellent nonproprietary standards for basic connectivity, electronic mail, bulletin boards, and, perhaps most critically of all, the World Wide Web architecture for distributed information services. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the newly formed MIT-CERN World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) will continue to evolve these basic standards (e.g., by adding security) and we support these efforts completely.
At the same time, there is an explosion of commercial investment in development of Internet software such as Web servers, Web browsers, and Internet access products. In general, we support the development of the Internet software industry because there is a real need to bring state-of-the-art, commercial software technology to the Internet. In this way the Internet and the Web, originally developed by and for researchers, can and should be made fully accessible to the entire world of end-users. We feel that this is an extremely important goal, nearly as critical as developing the Internet itself: information infrastructure should be easily usable by everyone, on any computer, and should not be available only to programmers and researchers. We do not require that everyone learn typesetting and printing to write a book; we should not restrict electronic publishing to those who can write computer programs.
The independent software industry has already developed a large set of technologies that address these problems in other markets and that could be of huge benefit to an Internet-based information infrastructure. State-of-the-art commercial technologies applicable to the Internet include visual tools and WYSIWYG techniques that enable end-users to develop applications that previously required programming; client-server architectures; online help systems; platform-independent software engineering techniques; and systematic quality assurance and testing methodologies. Adobe, Quark, Powersoft, the Macintosh GUI, and even Microsoft have used these techniques to make software easier to use. If these techniques were applied to Internet software, the result could be a huge improvement in everyone's ability to use, communicate, publish, and find information. However, commercial efforts must respect the openness, interoperability, and architectural decentralization that have made the Internet successful in the first place.
With the possible exception of basic electronic mail, the World Wide Web (WWW) is the most vital and revolutionary component of Internet-based information infrastructure. The WWW architecture provides a remarkable opportunity to construct an open, distributed, interoperable, and universally accessible information services industry. The Web, started about 5 years ago, now contains tens of thousands of servers and is growing at a rate of 20 percent per month. It is now being used not only to publish information over the Internet but also to provide internal information services within organizations.
In combination with TCP/IP, the Internet, and SMTP-based e-mail integration services, the Web will enable the development of a new information services sector combining the universal access and directory services of the telephone system with the benefits of desktop publishing. If we develop this industry properly, and continue to honor the openness of the Web architecture, the result will be an explosion of information access and a huge new global industry.
The importance of the Web, of its open architecture, and of enabling everyone to use it can hardly be overstated. The World Wide Web offers, for the first time, the opportunity to liberate computer users, publishers, and information providers from the grip of the conventional online services industry. This $14 billion industry, which includes such firms as America Online and Bloomberg, is strikingly similar to the mainframe computer industry. It once represented progress but has long since become technologically obsolete. It maintains its profitability only by charging extremely high royalties and by holding proprietary control over closed systems. Some current online services vendors continue to retard progress to maintain their financial viability.
There is consequently a real risk that entrenched incumbents in the online services industry will try to suppress the Web or to turn it into simply another collection of proprietary, closed, noninteroperable architectures. There is a similar risk that other companies, such as vendors of commercial Web servers,