Kill it before it multiplies! That's what Linden Lab should do. But they can't. They have championed it too hard. So they will allow it to whither away as Terri Sheivo was, except as quietly as possible.

"Download Viewer 2.1 Alpha Now! Sound Like Donald Duck!" (Or whatever).

That has been the Message Of The Day for some time now as you go through the logon process into the Second Life grid. This MOTD is worrisome to me. Not so much all by itself, considering the ramifications of pushing Alpha-phase (ALPHA!) software to a mass population who can barely understand the operation of release version software. But rather in the "between the lines" message I suspect is being sent along. If you aren't seeing that message, allow me to highlight it for you...

We all know of the big nuclear news of last week and my condolences to all those laid-off. As that news trickled-out and became a bit more accurate and solidified over time, one small piece caught me off-guard, as it no-doubt did for a lot of people: T-Linden (Tom Hale) is among the casualties.

Linden Lab needs the grid to grow or it cannot remain profitable. In a nutshell, Second Life saw it's heyday at the time when the motto was "Your world, your imagination" and Linden Lab was all but completely hands-off. There were no rules whatsoever and truly anything - any. thing. - was possible and allowed.

Of course we all must be careful what we wish for. Many wished for Linden Lab to get involved in handling this problem or moderating that problem and enforcing this new policy and banishing that activity and so on. It was a slippery slope back then and the snowball is rolling downhill at an exponential rate of speed by now.

As I read on another blog: Linden Lab has essentially sold and regulated itself into a stalemate. Too many "regulations" and policies, selectively enforced (more because most are unenforceable en-masse) and growing too fast in the sale of more estates than there is mainland, blah, blah, blah.

Linden Lab needs new users - especially as population decreases drastically through attrition: oldbies moving on out of spite, disillusionment or just plain boredom. The problem is the new visitors coming in to take their very first peek at Second Life aren't coming back or staying. One attempt at improving any possible solution to this problem had been to simplify the first hour experience. Linden Lab's best answer was a new "simpler" viewer.

I used it. Exclusively for a few months. It has some seriously welcomed features. However, the interface, though not bad, was a jarring, shocking slap-in-the face experience at first. The problem is how we all have learned the "traditional" interface over several years. Thus the differences are like throwing boiling water onto a frozen windshield. For a brand-new user unfamiliar with the traditional interface, it was definitely a very good design. However Linden Lab tried to pass it off as the new deal for everyone.

Tom Hale, (T Linden) was the lead developer on the Viewer 2 project to my understanding. In the aftermath, among the many things spoken on, Mark Kingdon (M Linden,) CEO if Linden Lab has mentioned a serious effort to bring a means of getting into the Second Life grid via mobile applications such as the iPhone and iPad and also via a web browser (likely through a plug-in).

So this week I have finally bailed on Viewer 2. Not because it's a bad viewer. But rather because I can see the "writing on the wall". V2 is all but completely dead. After several months of use, I liked it. But it is now time to go back to the old style because the new style will be abandoned by Linden Lab and I don't want to be stuck in a dead-end interface paradigm. My new viewer of choice is Imprudence Viewer, as it contains most (if not all) of the features of Emerald without the frivolous stuff. I like it a lot.

Why did I "go back" and "abandon" V2? Because I have a sneaky suspicion that is exactly what Linden Lab is doing: abandoning Viewer 2. Refocussing development effort on the customer-facing technologies into iPad-style Apps and Web Browser abilities. Why else would the lead developer of V2 be asked to leave the company? Because he isn't needed anymore.

Why else would Linden Lab, or anyone for that matter, release an Alpha version of any kind of software and actually ask their entire customer base to try it out? Allow me to repeat the operative red-flag: Alpha version. Because that's basically where everything is left-off at... no more active "deep" development.

Mark my words: Viewer 2 is now officially dead. No longer will it be developed as a going concern. Sure, Linden Lab may continue a little: fix what bugs they can, try to make it relatively stable. Then, at the right time, they will announce that development of V2 is being "redirected" toward newer viewer technologies (such as the aforementioned iPad App).

If I am mistaken: then I challenge any Linden to reply to THIS blog post and say "No, not true, development of Viewer 2 will continue full-steam ahead until properly completed". However, that won't happen. Take heed now: Viewer 2 is definitely dead. Linden Lab just can't bury it right now because of all the championing they have been involved with and trying so fecking hard to get every resident migrated to it. They would look like complete idiotic fools to shit-can it right now in any public way. They simply can't. So they will continue to champion V2 as long as they are able.

But you, dear reader and Second Life user are smarter than that. We know that if a rose smells like a pile of bullshit, it's probably really just bullshit. It's so obvious what's going on. I mean c'mon, they have to throw cheap candy into the mix. Hey, Linden Lab, the voice-print thing so I can sound like a hot chick even though I'm a fat, old pervert was promised to SL users several years ago when voice was first introduced to the grid.

A little too little, too late I think. Convincing existing residents" to actually use V2 now? Good luck with that.

Long-live Second Life Viewer Version 2.