Start pages vs. portals — It’s like deja vu 08:08 on Monday

In The Year 1996
In The Year 1996, originally uploaded by InsideThePerimeter.

In August I made fun of start pages like Google, Netvibes, YourMinis, etc that they’re the same as portals of 1996.. remember those?

JP Rangaswami says his 4 pillars model of enterprise software will look like NetVibes and Thomas Otter thinks that is portals all over again.

Enough incentive for me to finish off a more serious thought on what really is different from 1996. The two and half main differences, from my point of view, are:

  • The content does not have to be provided by the portal. Back then if you wanted to have news, you had to choose from the options presented by Yahoo (or whatever portal you were using). Now you can pick any feed, and plug it on the page.
  • You can have meaningful interactions within the portal page. In 1996 the boxes had links to information. Now the boxes can be functional elements of, in case of enterprise software, the “business dashboard”. You can actually quickly skim through RSS headlines or your email inbox within Google Start Page. The page is more than a launchpad.
  • It is now easier to make frequent changes to the palette of widgets on a start page, making it feasible to keep the page adapted to changing work. As Thomas Otter says, there still needs to be predefined start pages for certain jobs, but I don’t see why those would have to be fixed, instead of being helpful templates the user can change and build on if need be.

One Response to “Start pages vs. portals — It’s like deja vu”


  1. Coleman Says:

    http://www.protopage.com/ is what we use with customizable ease for its widgets (286 in its showcase), and (750 listed search engines), it looks like our very own Website which took all of 30 mins to setup, the future is right here under our noses, soon all users will have one! Just look around and see for yourself just how many AJAX start pages followed in its wake! You did not mention Protopage, but they were the earliest entrant!