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MS and the quasi-partner ..

From: Nathan Mhyrvold
Sent: Tuesday, April 16,1995 4:57 PM
To: Bill Gates, Russ Seigelman; Craig Mundie (raigmu); Dan Rosen (drosen); Pat Ferrel (patfer); Paul MaAritz (paulma); Peter Neupert (petern)
Subject: Internet strategy

There has been a flurry of email about Netscape and our general Internet development strategy. This email is my contribution to this topic.

My assumptions going into this, as discussed in my previous Internet memo, are that:

- "Internet standards" in the sense of the current public domain committee driven standards are a red herring and are not a competitive threat. One reason is that most of the key people behind public domain projects are busy writing business plans so as they can cash in. This is true of the Netscape team, but also the many other rapidly commercializing services. The big issue to be concerned about is the same issue that we have faced in the past - propretary standards coming from competing software companies. Netscape is certainly on of the many companies who will try to promote their proprietary extensions (and entirely new protocols) on the world.


Given this, our natural strategy is to try achieve a number of goals.

- Superset Internet protocols and standards with our own value added extensions. As platform specific work on the internet, we want it to be done on our platform. As proprietary technology and protocols are used, we want them to be ours - in as many broad mainstream areas as is reasonably possible. We don't need to own every protocol in every area, but we want to be an important player. There certainly is a danger that Netscape, or another company, could establish enough APIs and proprietary protocol extensions that they would wind up owing the "Windows internet platform".

PaulMa is quite correct in comparing this situation to Novell, which successfully established a "sub-platform" (for a set of network services) within the context of our client operating system. This does not mean that Netscape needs to be a direct competitor - I am optimistic that we can have a positive relationship with them - but out of the many possible future directions for them and us, if we are not carefull they will evolve towards being a direct competitor in this manner.

- The natural way for us to do this supersetting is using our current technology agenda in PC computing. This means using monickers, OLE objects, Forms3 forms and every other Windows technology that is applicable as part of our extensions to the currrent Internet world. In addition we also have to look at developing some new things that have no equivalents in the PC world, such as security and billing, so it is not all about reworking existing stuff.


- We will move to using TCP/IP, and thus will benefit from the ever cheaper connectivity which is a central part of the Internet.

- We will allow access to any Internet service.

.. I have seen conflicting mail on this topic - some suggests that they are willing to do things like license us technology and have us license them some. Even if we ultimately are competitors. I see some value in us doing this and trying to cultivate them as quasi-partners ..


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