The virtual worlds standards story is now a mess of collossal proportions.
Every day another company announces a prototype technology, says it will release its technology to the openSphere and fails to say what about their technology has any particular IP relevance that would require its release before anyone else can implement it. Then they go on to attempt to get numbers of registrants and claim huge subscriber bases without showing in-world persistence. Other major vendors continue to release technology for free use but with terms that make the content created with them theirs to use to create spin-off companies without paying the artists.
This is a mess because there is now a One Billion Dollar Weasel about to go Pop when these worlds don't return profits. It is a sharecropper contract with artificial economies inside the farm and private watermelon patches to give them the illusion that next year will bring better times from over-seeded fruity concotions ignoring that every sharecropper has their own patch and not many travelers are buying. They are taking a sample and moving to the next shack.
Someone better come up with a plan to pay off the stockholders with something better than watermelon seeds.
With X3D/VRML, when we release a world, vendors compete to make it run on their browser. That gives a content author power to influence the direction of the market and the technology, and that gives the content value to the customer who knows that a) the content will stand up to the lifecycle for long enough to have value to the company that buys it and b) if one vendor goes under, another will available at a reasonable price to play that content and preserve the investment.
Doing business in artificial economies with proprietary browser/farm systems is like living in Sunnydale and not noticing it sits on a hellmouth.