Push content was an idea developed circa 1997. It envolves writing programs that send information on a regular basis to the client without the client asking for it. Generally used to deliver news, and other constantly changing information. Thought to be wonderful because "Clients do not have to waste cycles and network traffic to poll servers." Supposed to be the Next Big Thing at the time, it was integrated into both IE and Netscape 4 as the next platform of that endless steel-cage death match.

The main reasons push failed:

  1. It required more Cpu cycles than was required to crack DES.
  2. 95% of the content provided could be found by turning on the telly.
  3. Download times for the 'instant information' were obscene. Sort of went against the whole gist of the thing.

Push does live on, but in a different form. HTML has become more dynamic with its various extentions, Perl and PHP have become widely used, and information has become easy to come across without loading some behemoth of a program.
Ah, yes, Push Content! How I loathed thee! It all started with PointCast, a small screensaver program that downloaded stock quotes, news and other fun fun stuff to your desktop, so long as you were connected to the Internet. PointCast was inexplicably popular, and many downloaded it for reasons I can't quite comprehend. The idea was it would be a computery CNN, but the main problem, which nobody twigged, was that if you wanted to look at CNN it was far easier, quicker and more productive to watch CNN on TV, where you would also have a choice of other news networks, rather than the ones that Pointcast shoved down your throat. Then, with Windows 98, Microsoft decided that Push Content would be the latest big thing and something to bet the farm on.

So we got the Active Desktop and the Channel Bar.

Guess what the Channel Bar was meant to mimick? That's right, TV. Over here in the UK it included links to LineOne (an ISP/portal service provided by BT and Rupert Murdoch, now owned by Tiscali) and loads of other stuff besides: some PC makers added their own links to the channel bar as well, creating the fun field of desktop advertising. The Active Desktop took that one step further, allowing your desktop to play host to web pages. Both these ideas attracted derision: Active Desktop because it further integrated evil browser, spawn of Satan into Windows, which few wanted but everyone got, and Channel Bar because nobody used it and it was relatively useless. With the next Internet Explorer update, IE5, the Channel Bar was removed, but the Active Desktop lived on. The only benefit that ever came of this was support for JPEG images as the Windows background: prior to the AD, only BMPs were allowed.

Sources: fond memories of undying hatred for the Active Desktop, the Channel Bar and everything they spawned

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