How In 1995 Microsoft Realized The Internet Matters
The aim of this page📝 is to share notes on The Internet History Podcast Ch 2 Part 2 — Bill Gates “Gets” The Internet that I would like to start with these ruminations of James Gosling (author of Java language) on Netscape provoking Microsoft into action:
the guys at Netscape basically committed suicide in incredibly public form…they really pissed off Microsoft; I mean they went out of their way to piss off Microsoft…there was a a sort of a fake ancient Chinese proverb that sort of had some circulation which was “when building a cage around a sleeping tiger don’t poke it in the eye”
— From the Oral History of James Gosling, pt.2
- 0h:5min 1994 Windows — the next killer application on the internet memo. James Allard believes already in 1994 that the internet is the next big thing. Steve Sinofsky, the tech assistant to CEO writes Cornell is wired. Gates is interested more and more. James Allard and Sinofsky are convincing BillG and others that MS should lead internet development
- 0h:14min 1994 BillG published Sea Change brings opportunity Memo; declares that MS Office, the new cash cow, is undergoing a technological shift as dramatic as a shift to GUI a few years later. Electronic communications with documents. Internet may also challenge existing businesses.
- 0h:16min Pressure to ship a browser makes Microsoft shop around for available solutions, similarly as they have done with the first DOS. Discussions with Bookling technologies that created Windows-based browser Internetworks. Licensing was around a few mil dollars. Shortly before it was done, AOL purchased the entire company for an unbelievable $30m. That woke up the Win 95 team.
- 0h:18min Netscape rebuffed Microsoft overtures to license them for Win 95 and Netscape has done it “somewhat rudely”. Netscape officially announced to Microsoft that they did not have any intention to do business with them. Microsoft people don’t understand why they would not want to do business
- 0h:20min Netscape launch finalizes BillG transformation into internet’s true believer — the danger is that browser replaces desktop OS — all the trash talk from Netscape helped MS get motivated.
- 0h:21min 1995 BillG publishes Internet Tidal Wave: one of the most famed documents of the internet era. No1 priority for Microsoft from this point is the internet. The internet is the single most innovation coming along since the IBM PC was introduced in 1981, and pointed at Netscape as the new competitor.
- 0h:24min Spyglass is licensed as a browser to be used in Windows 95 as IE 1.0
- 0h:26min Price competition — MS announces in August 95 that IE is 100% free with the intention to be the routine part of the OS, to sit prominently on every Windows machine.
- 0h:27min 1995 Windows 95 launch 2 weeks after Netscape IPO. Possibly the largest product launch in history. Stores open at midnight, Jennifer Anniston and Matthew Perry show off the features. Empire State Building is lit in Windows colors. Rolling Stones got 14mil to use Start Me Up in commercials. Plenty of people experienced the internet via Win95.
- 0h:31min BillG went from browsers being ‘bullshit’ in 94 to believing it is the most important software for MS's future at the end of 95. The awakening, as well as the shift, was sudden.
- 0h:33min IE became the default browser for major ISPs starting with AOL, IE starts iterating, also introducing innovations like CSS and performing better. Netscape stock prices are falling.