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LYNX-DEV LYNX: M$ News
LYNX-DEV LYNX: M$ News
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 15:20:06 -0800 (PST)
Microsoft throws in the towel
Microsoft throws in the towel - - - - - - - - - - - - Software giant
sets a new course.
SALON STAFF REPORT Microsoft has decided to capitulate to the U.S.
Justice Department and "unbundle" its Internet Explorer browser from
Windows 95, Windows 98 and all future version of the Windows
operating system, Bill Gates said today.
The surprise announcement stunned the technology press, gathered
earlier today in a crowded Redmond, Wash., auditorium festooned with
flying Windows banners on one side of the hall and Explorer logos
covering the other.
"They're right and we're wrong," Gates said. "A browser's just a
browser. It's not part of an operating system and it doesn't need to
be. I don't know why we ever thought otherwise."
In a brief question-and-answer session after the announcement,
Microsoft's chairman was asked to explain the sudden reversal of the
company's hard-fought stance in its battle with government antitrust
"That's the stupidest question I've ever heard!" Gates shouted at
the questioner. Then, after a pause in which his body seemed to
convulse, he apologized -- and proceeded to suggest that Microsoft
executives' sense of judgment may have been impaired by years of
overwork and sleep deprivation.
"I think we just burned out," he added.
Gates announced a number of other new Microsoft initiatives to
accompany the antitrust settlement.
On May 1, Microsoft -- taking a page from the playbook of its rival
Netscape -- will publicly release the source code to Windows 95,
Windows NT and a beta of Windows 98, as well as Microsoft Office 97,
Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh, Microsoft
Money and Microsoft Bob. From that date onward, software developers
will be free to adapt and modify the programs' code any way they
"We decided we're never going to fix all the bugs in all our
products no matter how many revs we do -- it's just never going to
happen, unless every developer in the world has a chance to
contribute. So it's time to open the kimono and let the party
begin," Gates declared.
At the same time, Microsoft announced, all of its 5,000 temp workers
will be offered full-time staff jobs with the company, including a
full benefits package and stock options. "We've been very
bottom-line oriented in the past, but the truth is, there's always
room in the Microsoft family for a few more heads," said Gates.
Meanwhile, Microsoft will also shut down its efforts to fight
software piracy and renounce all of its patents.
While Microsoft has made much in recent weeks of its plans to turn
its home page into a new all-purpose "portal" to the Web known as
Start.com, Gates today said that those plans have been ditched.
Instead, Microsoft will revamp the project as Stop.com -- a Web site
advocating coffee breaks, massages, sensory deprivation tanks and
other relaxation techniques. The company will no longer use the
Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" as its theme song; instead, it will
adopt the Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love."
"Our slogan used to be 'Windows Everywhere,' but now it might better
be described as 'Windows Nowhere.' We've learned that to strive to
be everywhere at once is, truly, to wind up no place at all," Gates
explained. "We were so busy asking, 'Where do you want to go today?'
that we never left any time to just be somewhere."
In other Microsoft announcements during the bombshell-filled day,
Steve Ballmer, the company's legendarily competitive executive vice
president, said he would leave Microsoft to join the New Life
Monastery in Taos, N.M., where he plans to take up baking and
Meanwhile, Gates said he would take a leave of absence from
Microsoft to finish his B.A. at Harvard and expand his recent diary
in Slate magazine to book length.
The company's chief financial officer, Greg Maffei, warned that
together, these moves would result in a catastrophic decline in
earnings for Microsoft in every foreseeable future quarter: "We're
going to take a big, big hit, no question about it."
However, Wall Street shrugged off the forecasts, and Microsoft stock
rose 8 and 7/8ths today to close at a new high of 104. SALON |
April 1, 1998
- LYNX-DEV LYNX: M$ News,
David Combs <=