High-profile fisticuffs between the captains of the supply industry, such as Microsoft's Bill Gates, Sun's Scott McNealy and Oracle's Larry Ellison, is all very entertaining. But it is very worrying for their core customers, the large multinationals that have to integrate their products.
Take, for example, Microsoft's new C# strategy, which one senior user last week described to me as a "bombshell for corporate strategic planning".
Corporate users planning their e-business strategies are now very concerned that Microsoft will fail to support Java, or at least make it difficult to use Java on any Microsoft platform.
The success of IP as a standard is to computing what standard octane petrol is to dependent industries, such as car manufacturing. A dominant petrol company arbitrarily raising its octane level would trigger enormous repercussions.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s IT users were begging for petrol-style standards, but were always short-changed. IP has given us all a strong appetite for true standards and the business potential they leverage.
Large companies are currently knitting their system infrastructures together, building common services and directories to provide a springboard for customisation and personalisation.
In this period of massive integration, it's high time for those ageing '90s heroes to hang their gloves up.
This was first published in August 2000