Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale has just issued a statement acknowledging that the company removed Emerald from its list of authorized third party viewers after it was used by the lead developer in a denial-of-service attack, and is discussing its fate with the anonymous development team behind it, almost all of whom are only known by their Second Life names. The company may still disable Emerald logins, but reportedly, has not decided on that yet. These moves bring Linden Lab in substantial conflict with the activity of its own users, because Emerald is currently used by an extremely large number of active Second Life users.
How large? Last July I reported that nearly 1 in 3 daily Second Life users are accessing Second Life not through the official viewer software, but via Emerald. Since then, however, reliable sources have informed me that Emerald activity is even larger than that number suggests. That, in fact, Emerald now accounts for nearly 50% of total Second Life user hours. (I checked this figure with Linden Lab, which declined comment.) What's more, that third party viewers attract more combined user hours than any of the official Linden-made viewers, with Emerald far and away the leader. That's part of the broader context for this policy move, which also adds more context to the layoffs and corporate tumult that recently beset Linden Lab: Not only did the company's Viewer 2 not gain many more new users (despite the enormous resources spent on it), but it's been eclipsed by a third party viewer created by a development team of unknown provenance and a history of dubious activity. And this story has only gotten started.