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MS claims plans for browser integration predate Gates' birth

Well not exactly, but you no doubt get our drift...

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Incoming. Microsoft today released another vast deposition, from senior VP Jim Allchin, and this time it comes with video clips too. The basic thesis is that Allchin is a computer guy who don't know no lawyer book-learning, but he knows what's what. We'll deal with his text in full RSN, but for today we'll confine ourselves to his views on that old integration issue. As the release says, "In the most comprehensive review to date of Microsoft's internal development of Internet technologies, Dr. [he's Dr. throughout. Figure the significance of the de-Jimming of Allchin yourself] Allchin provides detailed factual testimony concerning the lengthy history of networking, including Internet, development at Microsoft. "Microsoft's decision to integrate strong Internet support, including Web browsing functionality, into its operating system software actually pre-dates any awareness within Microsoft of Netscape as a competitor. Indeed, when Netscape was little more than a gleam in the eyes of its founders, Microsoft had already decided that future versions of its operating system software should include Web browsing capabilities and that those capabilities should be unified with other information viewing resources." Somewhat dangerously, the release (get real, people, any report you read within the next few hours won't be based on the full document) cites internal Microsoft documentation as proving that these plans were in place (we'll get back to this), and comes up with a handy timeline explaining how it all happened. Allchin's stuff is in normal, The Register's comments in italics: 1990 - Bill Gates outlines Microsoft's vision of "Information at Your Fingertips"-the ability to access information anywhere. But how? Is "Dr." Jim trying to tell us Bill invented the Internet in 1990? Well, no actually. As Allchin's biog in the very same Microsoft release says: "For example, in 1991 the Microsoft campus was going to be networked with OSI ISO TP4 (an alternative to TCP/IP). Dr. Allchin convinced the MIS group to instead use TCP/IP - the basis for the Internet." So Bill was pointed in the wrong direction in 1990. Dec. 7, 1993 - Microsoft President Steve Ballmer suggested in an e-mail that Microsoft "could really help popularize [C]hicago," which was the code name for Windows 95, if we could position the operating system as the "greatest front-end to the Internet." A suggestion in an email, as Allchin trenchantly tells us. Had Ballmer's suggestion been acted on, Allchin would no doubt have some rather firmer documentation. 1993 - Microsoft ships TCP/IP, FTP and Telnet client support Revolutionary stuff, eh? Well no, a bit late really, and not exactly that much different from what a lot of other outfits were doing. Jan. 17, 1994 - David Cole, then general manager of Windows 95, stated that Windows 95 should appeal to customers because "it's the best system for connecting to other devices; like the Internet, Compuserve, Online America…" Note the source and the "should." Ballmer had an idea a whole month ago, but we still don't have any executive-level approval, just suggestions. April 6, 1994 - At a day-long technical "offsite," the operating systems group determined that "World Wide Web" support should be added to Windows 95. Documentation Jim, we need documentation. We know there were junior staff at MS evangelising this in 1994, but we've seen no proof that their pitches were accepted - the reverse, actually. April 1994 - Microsoft's 3-year plan for operating systems includes a slide called "Integrated Net Browsing in Explorer." This is our favourite. One slide seems to be the best we can do, and its title suggests we're talking about integrating browsing in Explorer, rather than the OS. The obvious implication here is that we're planning to integrate other things as well, right? April 1994 - Netscape incorporated. As he hasn't proved anything yet, this hinders Jim, rather than helping. Aug. 1994 - Windows NT 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 both include TCP/IP, the de facto standard for Internet communications Yo! We shipped a network protocol! Oct. 1994 - Netscape releases beta test version of its first Web browser. Development work on Internet Explorer is underway at Microsoft. Dec. 1994 - Netscape released its first commercial Web browser Netscape goes to a product, whilst Microsoft is beginning development of something that won't see the light of day. Microsoft actually bought in browser technology as the basis of the IE that shipped the following year. May 26, 1995 - Bill Gates' "Internet Tidal Wave" memo stated that "over time the shell and the browser will converge and support hierarchical/list/query viewing as well as document with links viewing." At this point (and for all we know, today) Bill thinks MS protocols should be rolled out across the Web. The Tidal Wave paper (it's bigger than a memo, Jim) shows how unaware Bill actually was of realities. (How Gates discovered the Web) Aug. 24, 1995 - Windows 95 launched with Internet Explorer We have a copy of the first Windows 95 CD. It does not include, or indeed mention, Internet Explorer. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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