Internet Tidal Wave 2.0

Internet Tidal Wave 2.0.

Colleague Michael Gartenberg pipes in on Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie memos that leaked out yesterday. Both preceded Microsoft's “Live
launches, which set Microsoft on a course of delivering Internet
services. As Michael says, “We've seen it before,” and even Bill says
so by referring to his December 1995 “The Internet Tidal Wave” memo
that set Microsoft on a collision course with Netscape, Sun and the
World Wide Web.

I've said for a long, long time that Microsoft's competition with
Google isn't about search. The Bill and Ray memos confirm that
contention. For example, I blogged in October 2004: “Search is really
an extension of Microsoft’s original, informational problem
with the Web…The same competitive problem facing Windows 10 years
ago, when the Web started to generate interest and buzz, is the same
with search: Access to a vast, informational system without the need
for Windows. Now Google has brought search home, to Microsoft's front
door: The Windows desktop. That's turf Microsoft won't relinguish

Thirteen months earlier, I singled out the Internet threat as the real reason
for the browser wars more than any real competitive threat posed by
Netscape: “I believe that it was not competitive software Microsoft
feared, but the whole World Wide Web. This independent-of-Microsoft
phenomenon is what could replace Windows. I believe this fear, more
than anything else, explains Microsoft’s behavior during the browser
wars; from IE integration to including Web server and authoring tools
with Windows NT 4, this fear explains much…Even so, the Internet
remains a great threat to Microsoft.”

The success of companies like Google and usher in
what I have called version 2 of the Web threat. As I explained last
month, for Google, “Search is really a means to an end,
and that end is the access to information. Looked at from this
perspective, access to information, all of Google's recent
announcements make sense. And combined they foreshadow where the
company is going and why Microsoft really should worry about Google.”

Broadband has crossed an important adoption threshold in the United
States, and I see no coincidence that vendors like MTV are rushing to
launch the equivalent of TV channels
on the Web. The time is ripe for another sea change, but who will be at
the helm of the ship? Microsoft sure as hell doesn't want it to be

The undercurrent of all these vendors' strategies is the same:
Information and services delivered over the Web, and with no Windows
required. Sure people will use Windows, because of the operating
systems' widespread use. And, yes, services like MTV Overdrive use
Microsoft technology. But vendors wouldn't have to, nor would the
people accessing the content or services. Worse, for Microsoft, vendors
like Intuit and have exposed potential Web threats to
Office, too.

As Michael wrote this morning, “Gates more than anyone understands
the importance of being proactive and not reactive. He understands that
while these new service offerings aren't a direct threat today, they
well could be over time. The key is to leverage the strength of the
core Windows and Office platforms and use that as base to extend into
these new areas.”

No question “Live” is Microsoft's response to version 2 of the Web
threat. Microsoft prematurely took on the version 2 threat with its
turn-of-the-century HailStorm Web services initative. The company later
abandoned the initiative, but clearly not the vision, which is
coalescing around Windows Live and Office Live.

Dave Winer has posted both memos, from Bill and Ray.
I would encourage Microsoft competitors and partners to take a long,
really long, hard long at both memos, particularly Ray's, for it offers
valuable insight into the direction of Microsoft's services

Intentional leak of the memos wouldn't be far fetched. Microsoft is embarking on a major, new strategy with almost no products to show. Meanwhile, hype increases around Web 2.0
and vendors like Google, or Yahoo! offer sophisticated
Web-based products or services. The memos signal Microsoft's intention
to shift course and that the other boats had better get out of the way.
Similarly, the strategy leak is meant to tell passengers of competitor
boats that they might want to wait for Microsoft's ship to sail. If
intentional, the leak is a classic vaporware maneuver.  [Microsoft Monitor]

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