RealNames shutdown threatens Asian naming market
By ComputerWire <mailto:email@example.com>
Posted: 14/05/2002 at 06:11 GMT
The closure of RealNames Corp yesterday threatens the ability of Chinese
and Japanese speakers to easily address web sites in their own
languages. Microsoft Corp's Asian units are said to be under pressure
from local naming authorities to urge their parent to reconsider its
position on RealNames' closure.
RealNames said yesterday it is going out of business because Microsoft
Corp will no longer give it the ability to offer its keyword addressing
system through the address bar of Internet Explorer (see separate
story). It is a little-known fact that RealNames' systems are also used
to resolve so-called internationalized domain names or IDNs.
IDNs are domain names registered in non-ASCII characters, including
Asian and some European characters. Because the domain name system is
ASCII-based, these names will not resolve into IP addresses when used in
a browser or other internet application.
But the software in RealNames' network of resolvers is based on Unicode,
which allows characters in all languages to be represented, and so the
company has been resolving IDNs for partner companies for about a year.
All .com, .org and .net IDNs use RealNames, as do Japanese .jp names and
the China-run CNS keyword system.
RealNames CEO Keith Teare said the end of the Microsoft contract and the
company is "detrimental to the whole ecosystem we've built up around the
world", including its dozens of international resellers. He said he was
aware of moves in China and Japan to approach Microsoft's local offices
to ask the company to reconsider scrapping the deal.
VeriSign spokesperson Cheryl Regan said: "With RealNames going out of
business there will be an impact" on IDN resolution. She said that
RealNames' network will continue to resolve IDNs through IE until June
29, and that VeriSign is seeking a "long term solution". There are
several hundred thousand IDNs registered in .com.
Under a deal signed with Japan Registry Service Co Ltd (JPRS) last year,
RealNames provides the resolution of all Japanese-character domain names
under the .jp country-code top-level domain. With RealNames out of
business, JPRS is going to have to find a new way to allow Japanese
users to access .jp names come July.
Furthermore, a keyword-based naming system employed by CNNIC, the
government-controlled domain registry of China, uses RealNames'
resolvers, and much of its technology. This will also no longer work
after the end of June. CNNIC and JPRS could not be reached for comment
by press time yesterday.
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