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Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet

The 1994 Microsoft plan to destroy the Internet.

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This document really exists. It's still online at the Microsoft website. One naturally wonders why. As it's rather incriminating and reads like a plan for Germany to conquer Europe.

Originally titled 'Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet', the document that's today titled 'Opportunities for Microsoft on the Internet' has a very interesting section just over halfway down. Up to this point author 'J Allard' - who submitted the document on 25 January 1994 to Microsoft colleagues Paul Maritz, Jim Allchin, Brad Silverberg, Tom Evslin, Dave Thompson, John Ludwig, Tod Nielsen, Bob Muglia, Ty Carlson, Aaron Contorer, Steven Sinofsky, and Dave Cutler - explains to his friends what the Internet is all about, how it works, and ends with the echoing conclusion:

Today it is probably fair to consider Internet connectivity a competitive advantage in the software industry. Tomorrow it will be a measurable disadvantage if we're not wired.

It's also instructive to remember that the next version of Windows with code name 'Chicago' was fully underway and due out in the summer. [It didn't make this deadline for obvious reasons.]

And here we had Bill Gates state in his book 'The Road Ahead' a year later that he humbly hoped his company Microsoft would be able to make the transition to the connected world. When the plan seems to have been to devour the entire connected world and make it the Fourth Reich of Redmond instead.

  • They were going to replace the DNS with their own proprietary technology.
  • They were going to replace electronic mail with their own proprietary technology.
  • They were going to replace the world wide web with their own proprietary technology.

And they were going to destroy what was left of the Internet as people knew it.

And you were worried about Java? The interesting stuff begins under the header:

A Phased Approach

Here comes the Microsoft plan for world domination.

In order to build the necessary respect and win the mindshare of the Internet community, I recommend a recipe not unlike the one we've used with our TCP/IP efforts: embrace, extend, then innovate.

  1. Phase 1 (Embrace): all participants need to establish a solid understanding of the infostructure and the community - determine the needs and the trends of the user base. Only then can we effectively enable Microsoft system products to be great Internet systems.
  2. Phase 2 (Extend): establish relationships with the appropriate organisations and corporations with goals similar to ours. Offer well-integrated tools and services compatible with established and popular standards that have been developed in the Internet community.
  3. Phase 3 (Innovate): move into a leadership role with new Internet standards as appropriate, enable standard off-the-shelf titles with Internet awareness.

Change the rules: Windowss become the next-generation Internet tool of the future.

It's All Unix

Clearly the big problem (the big enemy) as seen from the Microsoft POV was the fact the Internet's almost all Unix.

The operating system that has received the credit for driving the Internet infostructure is unquestionably Unix.

The word on the Internet is that if you want to bring a server online, buy a Unix. If you want to get a cool Internet client, use Unix or better yet - buy a Macintosh.

The 'Internet==Unix' attitude is still dominant in this community, the quality of the Windows-based tools is very poor.

Of the 500 highly technical engineering professionals that attended the last IETF meeting, I encountered exactly 2 Sun SparcBooks running SunOS, one Intel/Windows system, and over 40 Macintoshes (oh yes, my laptop was the only one running NT).

The work done by our team position both Daytona [Windows NT 3.5] and Chicago [Windows 94 95] very well to shatter these Unix-biased perceptions.


Allard also admits Microsoft products aren't really up to Unix quality standards.

The 'Internet information server' is an [sic] specific market where Windows NT falls shy to Unix today. The 'Internet explorer system' is a specific area where Windows falls shy to Macintosh today.

The Plan

Allard's plan is partly about product quality but Microsoft have never been primarily about product quality.

Be aware that the Internet presents a strange culture with a deep-rooted history that we cannot safely ignore and still achieve these goals.

Phase 1: Base Internet Capabilities (Embrace)

You have to pretend to join the others before you start trying to trip them up.

We must deliver Internet-ready systems to customers in 1994... Although offering Internet-compatible systems with Chicago and Daytona put the initial stake in the ground, poor application support can tarnish our image in the near term. The current state of public domain Windows-based tools is very sad. We need to inspire the development of high-quality Win32 Internet applications and begin winning the mindshare of those which have formerly embraced Unix as the standard Internet platform.

The best way to establish respect in the Internet community is to become more active in it; we need to beef up our Internet support and participation through PSS... Weaving the Internet into our networking marketing messages will establish a more visible presence and get us up on the Internet 'wave'. The stability and use of the FTP server is testimony that Windows NT can handle mission-critical 24x7 service to huge numbers of concurrent users, and an excellent message to share. Our efforts in compatibility testing our products with 100 Internet providers ensures our commitment to Internet-based support and Internet-compatible products needs to be communicated and leveraged.

Phase 2: Integrated Internet Clients and Servers (Extend)

At this point Microsoft have supposedly caught up with Unix and the Internet. Now it's time to start sabotaging things.

Once we deliver core Internet connectivity technologies with the base system, it becomes easier to exploit the infostructure to win the mind- and marketshare of the Internet community. In this phase, we make Windows the choice system of the Internet by embracing the current technology and integrating these standard tools and services with our base products.

Although the strategy for this phase requires participation and input from many Microsoft teams there are some obvious opportunities for integration to exploit... When the next generation of Windows include support for standard Internet protocols, the Internet becomes a natural extension of the Windows end-user experience, and the favoured way to explore.

With the interest in information systems and global connectivity in the K-12 area, the Internet carrot can help us grow the Windows market where the Macintosh is the favoured choice today.

MSN is Marvelous

Now here comes MSN - at the time still using the code name Marvel. MSN was open to members of the MSDN for the summer of 1995 but quickly closed as Microsoft feared sanctions from the US Department of Justice.

Many of these efforts would appear to overlap with the goals of the Marvel project, I view the two efforts as complementary. It is very important for Marvel to determine a plan of action for Internet connectivity.

Although it is possible to build a parallel network with some simple gateways (such as CompuServe and America Online offer) the Internet is already a global village with an incredible user base. With 2 million hosts growing at 5+% per month, MarvelNet is going to have a hard time competing with the growth of the Internet. I believe the most practical approach is to embrace these users and to use the wire that they're already on to acquire their business.

Marvel should (at least) be the central provider of any Microsoft support content... We should provide customers with the choice to access this information by either dialing in to the private MarvelNet directly, or to come in via the Internet.

But so far they're almost babes in the wood. Here comes the punch line.

Phase 3: Windows as the Global Infostructure Explorer (Innovate)

Read these quotes carefully. They're the essence of the Microsoft method to destroy open standards, to undermine other competitive businesses, and to ultimately devour an entire market - such as the Internet itself.

As Windows penetrates the Internet, we advance beyond simple integration to a point when Windows becomes the next killer application for the Internet... The existing Domain Name System becomes quickly eclipsed by the Cairo directory service [sic]...

[Read the above again: they were going to corrupt and overrun the entire DNS.]

Specialised tools like gopher, FTP, and WWW become old hat on the Internet quickly...

[Look again: the web itself is going to become old hat very quickly (and overrun by Microsoft).]

The press and excitement shifts from specialised tools and Unix to Windows and its strong capabilities on the information highway.

[Did they really think this was possible? Evidently they did. And it's always the thought that counts.]

Users of the SMTP mail infrastructure take advantage of the advanced features of EMS while remaining backward compatible with their current Internet messaging solutions.

[So they were going to destroy email too. Aha.]

Distributed information on the Internet is indexed by Cario [sic] and browsed using the Explorer across thousands of information servers worldwide without the need of tools like WAIS and Mosaic [Netscape Navigator]. Windows becomes the global infostructure explorer.

[Good grief.]

No more specialised tools, no more need for Unix to carry the infostructure. Access to the Internet is a natural extension of the base Windows system as well as Microsoft applications.

There you have it.

See Also
Microsoft: Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet 25 January 1994
Rixstep FTP: Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet 25 January 1994

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