[NYT] Internet Browser Idea Arose Long Before Netscape.

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Fri, 7 Aug 1998 06:27:24 -0700

Roy wrote:
> One of the more damning criticisms of Microsoft is their tradition
> of hiring preferentially from the newly graduated and inexperienced
> ranks, such that the new hire does not come in with a preconceived
> notion of workplace culture and practices. Easier to meld, more likely
> to work beyond reasonable health, and more likely to believe the
> Microsoft culture is the one true way to build software.

There's another way to build software and another type of workplace
culture that succeeds in practice for shipping software at a certain
deadline with less resources than needed that millions of people are
willing to buy?

Or am I wrong in suggesting that no other software that people are
willing to pay for, ships in the "millions of units" scale?

Maybe Netscape browsers once were, but Netscape doesn't charge for them
anymore. Wow, Netscape. This week is the 3-year anniversary of their
IPO. I wonder if jwz is rich yet.

Yesterday the New York Times ran an article on the filing that the
Internet was already on Microsoft's map the very week Netscape was born...


Mr. Allard's 16-page memo, "Windows: The Next Killer Application on the
Internet," sounds like it'd be a fascinating read now, four and a half
years later. Unfortunately, the only other reference to it Altavista
can find is in a Wired article last November...


...so I'll just stick to the New York Times article for now. By the
way, they moved my "have dinner at BillG's house" date to August 18, so
it turns out that I didn't miss out on that by going to WISEN in mid
July after all.

> Microsoft Says Internet Browser Idea Arose Long Before Netscape
> by Steve Lohr, The New York Times, 08/06/98
> On April 6, 1994, William H. Gates summoned 20 employees of the
> Microsoft Corporation to a daylong retreat. The gathering included
> senior executives and a small group of younger workers who had become
> convinced that the Internet would revolutionize the computer software
> business.
> Mr. Gates left no doubt that he agreed with the young evangelists,
> even though the Internet was not yet a household term or an industry.
> One person who attended the meeting recalled the Microsoft chairman
> saying, ''We're going to make a big bet on the Internet.''
> In its sweeping antitrust suit against Microsoft, the Justice Department
> contends that the company's aggressive tactics in opening its deep
> pockets and wielding its market muscle in the Internet software business
> were intended to protect and expand its monopoly -- by crushing a new
> challenger, the Netscape Communications Corporation. But in a detailed
> reply to the Government's suit, which must be filed in Federal court no
> later than Monday, Microsoft will argue that the 1994 retreat, as well
> as other Microsoft discussions and documents dating to late 1993, show
> that the company's Internet plans were under way before Netscape rose to
> challenge Microsoft. The retreat occurred just two days after the
> founding of Netscape. Microsoft allows that its tactics did eventually
> hurt Netscape, but it says that was a byproduct of its main intent,
> which was to improve its products and benefit consumers.
> Few concrete plans were set that day in April 1994 at the Shumway
> Mansion, a three-story private residence near Seattle, in Kirkland,
> Wash., that had been converted into a conference center. But several
> participants say there was agreement on one strategy: that the Windows
> operating system, Microsoft's mainstay product, should have built-in
> access to the Internet. The concept, which was then still vague, was
> referred to variously as an Internet viewer, interface or browser.
> ''People walked away from that April 6 meeting knowing in broad terms
> what they had to do,'' recalled J. Allard, who is now general manager of
> Microsoft's Internet and data-access unit but then was the program
> manager for Internet activities.
> The next day, on April 7, 1994, Mr. Gates told a group of corporate
> executives in Chicago that Microsoft planned to build Internet access
> into the next generation of Windows.
> It was at the Kirkland gathering, Microsoft says, that it became a
> matter of corporate policy to put Internet browsing technology into
> Windows.
> ''The Justice Department can't be right,'' a senior member of
> Microsoft's legal team said this week. ''Netscape wasn't even on
> anybody's radar screen back then.''
> The Government's case, to be sure, does not rest solely on Microsoft's
> intentions toward Netscape. The Justice Department says that Microsoft
> engaged in a series of illegal practices, including contracts with
> personal computer makers and others that were meant to thwart
> competition, and it accuses the company of eventually trying to persuade
> Netscape to divide up the market for Internet browsers -- all of which
> Microsoft denies.
> A senior Justice Department official said this week that evidence in the
> Government's case showed a pattern of anti-competitive behavior by a
> company that was ''simply hellbent on driving a competitor out of the
> market.'' Microsoft's defense, he says, is a ''grand exercise in
> revisionist history.''
> The Government's accusation that Microsoft's Internet software plans
> were designed not to improve its products or to benefit consumers but to
> destroy Netscape provides the context for the case, a context that seeks
> to explain Microsoft's actions.
> ''Intent is relevant because it provides a road map for the court to
> follow,'' said Stephen M. Axinn, a leading antitrust litigator in New
> York.
> In court, Microsoft will argue that the Justice Department's road map is
> distorted. And interviews with current and former Microsoft executives
> and business partners, plus internal documents from 1993 and 1994,
> suggest that the company will at least be able to cast doubt on the
> Government's evidence of intent.
> On Dec. 7, 1993, for example, nearly two years before Microsoft
> introduced its Windows 95 operating system, Steven A. Ballmer, the
> company's second in command, sent an E-mail message to his lieutenants
> after he had visited Harvard College and observed the students' use of
> the Internet. At the time, Windows 95 was code-named ''Chicago.''
> Microsoft, Mr. Ballmer wrote, could ''really help popularize Chicago if
> we could say that Chicago is the greatest front end to the Internet.''
> The next day, Brad A. Silverberg, head of the Windows 95 product group,
> replied to Mr. Ballmer: ''I see a big opportunity here. Windows as the
> gateway to the information highway.''
> But the most informed thinking about the Internet was being done farther
> down in the Microsoft ranks. On Jan. 25, 1994, Mr. Allard, who was then
> 25, wrote a 16-page memorandum titled ''Windows: The Next Killer
> Application on the Internet.'' In the memo, Mr. Allard wrote, ''The
> Internet provides an incredible opportunity for Microsoft to effectively
> explore large-scale networks from many levels: customer needs, technical
> challenges, quality-of-service issues, electronic commerce and
> information-browsing technologies.''
> Mr. Allard's memo, which was widely circulated within Microsoft, also
> said the company should make putting Internet software into Windows 95 a
> priority. ''When the next generation of Windows includes support for
> standard Internet protocols,'' he wrote, ''the Internet becomes a
> natural extension of the Windows end-user experience, and the favored
> way to explore.''
> Mr. Allard emphasized that he was not talking only about putting
> internal Internet software in its operating system. Rather, he wrote,
> ''Windows becomes the global infostructure explorer.''
> A day later, on Jan. 26, 1994, David Pollon, a young product manager,
> distributed an 11-page memo titled ''Microsoft and the Internet:
> Strategic Direction.'' In it, he said that a key goal for the company
> was to ''be an innovator in providing the easiest-to-use Internet
> interfaces.'' The interface he described was a primitive concept of a
> browser, which he argued Microsoft should make part of its Windows
> operating system. ''PC users,'' he wrote, ''will adopt Windows as their
> easy-to-use interface to the Internet.''
> Netscape had not yet been founded and thus was not mentioned in either
> of these E-mail memos. But other rivals were mentioned, including Sun
> Microsystems and other companies whose hub computers, or servers, ran on
> the rival Unix operating system -- the technology on which Internet
> pioneers had built its infrastructure and the favored platform for
> developing Internet software.
> Today, many of Microsoft's rivals fear that it is using its market power
> to take over the lucrative market for software that runs on Internet
> servers, the powerful computers that individual users tap into from
> their desktops to send and receive E-mail, view World Wide Web pages,
> transfer files and download audio or video programming. Microsoft's
> industrial-strength operating system for this market is Windows NT.
> Microsoft's practices to increase the use of Windows NT are not part of
> the Government's antitrust case, but the Justice Department is
> investigating them.
> Yet back in January 1994, based on Mr. Pollon's memo, the Windows NT
> strategy for the Internet was already taking shape. Among the goals he
> recommended was ''supplanting Unix with Windows NT as the dominant
> back-end platform for Internet services.''
> In the antitrust case, Microsoft is expected to argue that it certainly
> did use every means -- every legal means, the company says -- at its
> disposal to try to defeat Netscape, the early leader and its main rival
> in the browser market.
> But Microsoft will also argue that its powerful push into the Internet
> software market -- especially incorporating the Internet Explorer
> browser in the operating system -- also made it easier and less costly
> for many millions of customers who use Windows-based personal computers
> to participate in the global computer network. And the nation's
> antitrust laws, Microsoft's lawyers say, are intended mainly to protect
> consumers from practices like price gouging rather than to protect
> competitors.
> The senior Justice Department official says, however, that Microsoft's
> version of events ignores some significant details. For example, he
> notes that Microsoft did not license the core browser technology around
> which it built Internet Explorer until December 1994, eight months after
> Netscape was founded.
> To hasten its entry into the browser market, Microsoft licensed its
> early browsing software from Spyglass Inc. of Naperville, Ill. The first
> meeting between the two companies was in April 1994, recalled Douglas P.
> Colbeth, the president of Spyglass. In subsequent meetings later that
> year, Mr. Colbeth said it was becoming clear that Microsoft felt a sense
> of urgency about Internet software.
> Netscape achieved celebrity more than a year later, in August 1995, when
> it went public and many of its employees became instant millionaires
> thanks to Wall Street's discovery of the Internet. But within the
> software industry, Netscape had already become known as a hot start-up
> in 1994.
> ''All the attention Netscape was getting clearly prodded Microsoft and
> accelerated its timing for some steps, like its announcement in 1995
> that it would give away its browser,'' Mr. Colbeth said. ''But from our
> earliest discussions with Microsoft, the message was loud and clear that
> the browsing functionality was going to be put into the Windows
> operating system.''
> He added: ''Whenever you license technology to Microsoft, you have to
> understand that they may well do it themselves and drop it into the
> operating system. That's Microsoft's business model, expanding
> Windows.''
> Regardless of the legal outcome, the way Microsoft awakened to the
> opportunity and threat of the Internet is a textbook case of the way the
> company works. A small group of Internet enthusiasts, mainly in their
> 20's, got the attention of Microsoft's top management, including Mr.
> Gates.
> It helped that one of those young enthusiasts was Steven Sinofsky, who
> at the time was a technical assistant to Mr. Gates, a job that Mr.
> Sinofsky described as ''largely just being an extra set of eyes and ears
> to learn about the newest, latest technology and bring it back to
> Bill.''
> Mr. Sinofsky had read Mr. Allard's January 1994 memo, ''Windows: The
> Next Killer Application on the Internet.'' And the two soon got
> together. ''It was clear he had already figured this thing out,'' Mr.
> Sinofsky recalled.
> Mr. Sinofsky and Mr. Allard arranged the one-day brainstorming retreat
> in April 1994, including handing out a three-inch-thick pile of advance
> reading for every participant, a hefty selection of Internet-related
> writings. Much of the discussion focused on how Microsoft might make
> money off the Internet and what might be the big money-making product,
> or ''killer app,'' in the industry's shorthand.
> Mr. Allard's formulation, then and now, was simple -- both a
> distillation of Microsoft's overarching strategy and a business practice
> that sends shivers of fear through its rivals.
> ''There is no killer app,'' Mr. Allard said this week. ''It's just
> Windows.''


I believe man will not merely endure; he will prevail. He is immortal,
not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but
because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and
endurance. The poet's, the writer's duty is to write about these
things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by
reminding him of the courage and honour and hope and pride and
compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.
The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of
the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
-- William Faulkner, from his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for
literature, 1949