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Chapter 16. Working with Hyperlinks and ... > In the Real World—To Internet or Not

In the Real World—To Internet or Not

The Center for Disease Control hasn't ranked Internet Fever as a public health menace, but there's no question that it's highly contagious. Microsoft napped during Internet Fever's incubation phase. The Internet's "open standards" approach to worldwide networking and information sharing didn't mesh with Microsoft's proprietary lock on the PC operating system market. The most conspicuous example of Microsoft's then-shortsighted view of the Internet was the Microsoft Network (MSN) online service. Microsoft envisioned MSN as a must-have for Windows 95 users and an AOL-killer. MSN had its own non-standard communication protocols, proprietary content development tools (called Blackbird), and, of course, the look and feel of Windows. The most charitable description of MSN to appear in the trade press at the time was "underwhelming."

Microsoft Gets a Clue and the Virus

On December 7, 1995, Bill Gates infected the entire Microsoft organization with his new rallying cry: "Embrace and extend the Internet." From that point forward, Microsoft contracted full-blown Internet Fever. To spread the Internet Fever virus in Redmond, Gates initiated a major reorganization that gave Internet-related development programs top priority at Microsoft. The result of diverting a large part of Microsoft's considerable technical and economic resources to the Internet was a flood of new products, technology incentives, and press releases. Just keeping up with Microsoft's product announcements bordered on a full-time occupation.


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