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CNET News.com: Is Gates pulling the Net's strings?

Aug 06, 1999, 20:08 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jim Hu, Jeff Pelline, Mike Yamamoto)

"Many industry executives and analysts initially played down the messaging standoff between AOL and Microsoft as a relatively confined skirmish between two companies pushing their versions of similar products. But a closer look reveals some unsettling parallels between this conflict and the early days of the now-legendary rivalry between Microsoft and Netscape Communications over the Web browser.

'This is exactly the same thing that Microsoft did in '95-'96. They basically said that Netscape was the evil empire and that it didn't stick to standards,' said Ramanathan Guha, chief technology officer of start-up Epinions and former principal engineer with Netscape. 'Now that they seem to be ahead in the browser wars, they've put a different spin on things. Everybody but the leader likes open standards.' "

"Just as the PC fundamentally changed the way we work, Web-based technologies are defining the era of Internet computing and revolutionizing the way we live. Yesterday it was browsers, today instant messaging, and tomorrow digital wallets, interactive video, and an entirely new Web language called XML--all areas where Microsoft is heavily involved."

" 'For the first time, a complete product that is completely Microsoft-free is now within reach," said David Cassel, publisher of the AOL Watch newsletter and frequent critic of the online service. It is this kind of talk that worries Microsoft most: the specter of new products that ignite enthusiasm among the masses and threaten to grow well beyond their original designs, much like today's PalmPilot craze. AOL, with its purported 17 million members and 78 million registrations for instant messaging, could spark an Internet wildfire."

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