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Microsoftus leveragus logicielis

Family : Navigation software publisher, Web server publisher and seller, search agent developer, corporation ...
URL : http://www.microsoft.com, http://www.msn.com, http://www.hotmail.com, http://www.expedia.com, http://carpoint.com ...

The butterfly can negotiate 180° bends
In 1994, when the American public began connecting en masse to Internet and the rest of the world was just starting to get connected, MSN, long convinced by the development of computer networks (or information highways), was defending its own network at all costs. The new version of its system, Windows 95, originally proposed a connection kit to its own Microsoft Network (MSN). This advantage should have allowed it to catch up and overtake the competing networks, America on Line (AOL), Compuserve, Prodigy, Eworld (Apple) or the French Calvacom. That year, everyone thought that private networks would control the information society, Microsoft among them, who swore by the Microsoft Network, which was infinitely more organised and easy to access than Internet. But the users didn't agree, and pretty soon Microsoft had to rethink its strategy completely, if it wasn't to miss out on the Internet revolution. Bill Gates knew that his company could lose its position as market leader in a matter of a few years. He remembered that ten years earlier, IBM didn't see the change coming to micro-computers, and stuck with its big systems, a decision for which it is still paying the price today. But Microsoft organised itself for battle, and since its clients wanted Internet, Bill Gates gave the order in December 1995 : MSN was abandoned, and from now on all its products must include Internet : online updates, the creation of new Internet functions, managing bank accounts online for Money, the personal finance software, and the development of a browser software which would soon become as effective as its competitor, Netscape Navigator.

But Microsoft, which wanted to be omnipresent on the information superhighway, launched into a buying spree : WebTV, the Internet access system by television, Hotmail, the market leader of free e-mail, Firefly, for its search agents, and shares in the cable operators (who launched high-bandwidth Internet access in 1995) http://www.wbtv.com, http://www.hotmail.com, http://www.firefly.com. The content is also one of the basic elements of its Internet strategy. MSN Start is the portal site which links the other elements : Expedia, which specialises in selling tourist products, Carpoint, for car sales, Webbuilder (a community of computer developers). The regional guides prove Microsoft's concern for proximity.

Finally, Microsoft adopted a policy of technological globalization: the development of a browser software, exchange standards such as OFX for the financial world, Website servers (MS site server) for Intranet or electronic commerce, its own new technologies like Active X, which is totally incompatible with Netscape, inclusion of a browser with Windows 98, Teledesic (Internet access by low-orbit satellite network), Windows CE (a lightweight operating system for palmtop computers) http://www.teledesic.com

Just to be sure, Microsoft invested its warspoils widely and now controls a significant part of Internet's access, content, technology and physical infrastructure. It can therefore reach the world of electronic commerce at all levels : via its own online stores, through the technology which allows any business to create them, and by directly contacting all the subscribers who connect to Internet via their desktop computer, their portable, their television or their palmtop.

next: A 23-year-old butterfly


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