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Microsoft Has Come a Long Way, But We've All Come With Them

Not a few computer users see Microsoft as monopolistic giant out to stifle creativity and competition in the digital world in the name of profit. There is not denying the incredible success of the boys in Redmond;  since the company went public in March 1986 employee stock options have created at least 4 billionaires and 26,000 millionaires.

Whether you see Microsoft as computer pioneers or simply an example of corporate greed, it is educational to review Microsoft products to see just how far the personal computer has come.

Perhaps the most miraculous use of the personal computer is the world wide connectivity of the Internet.

In May 1995 Bill Gates sent the "Internet Tidal Wave" memo to Microsoft executives. The memo basically stated that Microsoft was in danger of "missing the boat" of the upcoming Internet boom. When Windows 95 was released in August of 1995 one of the features bundled into it was Internet Explorer 1.0 and access to MSN, the Microsoft Network.

MSN was a dial-up Internet Service Provider as well as a source of content. MSN.com was set up as a collection of "channels" after the TV model. The Channels included 'Channel 5', described as "media, 'zines, and attitude" directed at College age users. Also included was a news service that was the result of a partnership between Microsoft and NBC TV; msnbc.com. Features that would become extremely popular with MSN users were the Hotmail email service and Messenger, an instant messengering service.

The early MSN.com proved to be ahead of its time in 1996-97. The content and features were great, but many users were not able to access them. This was before high-speed Internet Connections were popular, and dial-up just couldn't keep up with the features of MSN.com. (MSN is still the second largest dial-up ISP in the US after AOL.)

Although the MSN.com began primarily as a user interface for the ISP, in 1998 it reinvented itself as a primary web portal. It is the default homepage for the Internet Explorer series of web browsers. Throught eh late 90s other services were added such as MSN Shopping and MSN Encarta, an on-line encyclopedia.

In 2005 several MSN services wee rebranded under the banner "Windows Live". These included Hotmail, WindowsLive Messenger, MSN Search, LiveSearch Maps, and others.

MSN.com is the 11th most visited site on the Internet.

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