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Microsoft and the Web
As part of my job, I recently attended a Microsoft conference focused on financial services industry. While I have feelings about billg's vertical market strategy (or the lack thereof), the interesting stuff from an online perspective was their presentation re. MSN.
Microsoft clearly seems taken by surprise by the explosion of the Internet as a method for both consumer and corporate communication. I think they were counting on leveraging the omnipotence of MSN for entertainment and banking conglomerates to communicate with their customers and potential customers. But I don't think they realized that those folks (as well as everyone else, including small business) would go straight to the Internet.
Now they're competing head to head with Netscape, and potentially Oracle. Microsoft will push the integration of code development tools like Visual Basic with the content development tool "Blackbird," using DDE and OLE to distribute data and applets over MSN and potentially the 'net. These products are going to have a tough time against the slew of other net.centric development tools, like Netscape Navigator Gold, LiveWire and Java.
Microsoft is reacting with some half-baked strategy of having MSN be the "TV Guide" of the Internet, and "the best way" to get out on the Internet. So.... how exactly are they going to compete with companies like Yahoo and Lycos, whose core businesses are just that?
The capping slide of the Microsoft presentation was just a simple sentence: "18 months ago, Netscape wasn't a word. Now it's a company with a $2.5 billion market cap." Well, get used to it, Bill.
Other pieces about microsoft: