n the past fifteen years Bill Gates has evolved from High-tech Poster Boyto Richest Man in the World; more recently, he has emerged as theEmbattled Corporate Leader in the signal industry of our time.
But only now, in this insider's account, do we get beyond those brilliantlycrafted images to unearth the real story of Gates's Microsoft, told not by thesuits, the flacks, or the lawyers, but by the people who actually design thesoftware and write the code.
From the epoch-making 1983 Las Vegas launch of Windows to theongoing Internet Explorer v. Netscape antitrust suit, this "developer's eyeview" sets the record straight on any number of hotly debated—and oftenhotly litigated—turning points in the short but colorful history of theInformation Age.
The federal courts have been trying for months to figure out just howinterrelated— or unrelated—Windows 95 and Internet Explorer truly are, thelarger issue being whether or not Microsoft violated antitrust laws. Gates hastold his version of events in court and before the U.S. Senate. But here,through exhaustive interviews with Microsoft developers—some tape-recorded just days before the Justice Department announced their inquiry—we get Windows developers talking with complete abandon, describing theactual play-by-play.
How did Microsoft miss the Internet boat in the first place, lettingNetscape capture the lead in Web browsers? How exactly did they—or didn'tthey?—rip off the Macintosh in the development of the Windows interface?What's the real story—the truth that eluded even GO Corporation CEO JerryKaplan in his own book—of how Microsoft came from behind in pencomputing to drive GO out of business? And how did Microsoft get all those"Windows" pillowcases all over Las Vegas in their first, half-million-dollarlaunch of the product that didn't exist?
Truth is decidedly stranger than a press release or a carefully wordedcourt document, and here we get the funny, offbeat story of life inside thebelly of the beast, following the circuitous path of one central figure, formerMicrosoft developer Marlin Eller. The picture that emerges of Gates andcompany is certainly not the apotheosis of innovation his admirers see, nor isit purely the "evil empire" seen by his competitors. In fact it has more the feelof a Dilbert cartoon, except for one crucial fact: Microsoft's hold on aninvaluable core asset that they can, and do, wield like a club against any andall competitors.