Some thoughts on the originality of Microsoft product
The programming language BASIC was put in the public
domain ten years before Bill Gates and Paul Allen thought about
selling a BASIC interpreter for the Altair home computer.
The success of Microsoft is based on its interpreter business of
the 70's, because it put Gates in touch with IBM.
Dan Bricklin asked Microsoft to sell his revolutionary
spreadsheet software called Visicalc, the killer app
that made Apple II the best selling home computer of its
time. Microsoft denied any deal, copied the software and entered the
application software business with Multiplan. Multiplan later
Bill Gates sold to IBM an operating system that he didn't
have. And there wasn't enough time for development. So he went
shopping and got QDOS. A good deal? Well, rumor has it that
MS-DOS did not only copy ideas, but also code from
The killer feature for MS-DOS 5.0 was the ability to enable
compression for whole disk partitions. This feature came
bundled with a couple of problems which were responsible for a
lot of bad karma in form of data lossage at that time. The
compression algorithm led to two MS-DOS updates: Microsoft
did not only steal it from Stac Electronics' compression
product Stacker, but they also got caught. Stac Electronics
received US$120,000,000 in damages.
Microsoft did neither invent the WIMP GUI (graphical user
interface using windows, icons, menus|mouse and pointer), nor did
Microsoft make GUIs popular. The WIMP principles were developed
at Xerox PARC, the Palo Alto Research Center, and both Steve
Jobs and Bill Gates took a demo and copied everything they were shown. Apple was in production with Lisa,
which had a GUI, when Microsoft still tried to add stuff as hard
disk and folder support to MS-DOS.
But even if you limit your world to Intel CPUs, Microsoft
didn't have the GUI pole position. Dan Bricklin got his second
lesson, this time in FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). The
PC-based GUI VisiOn was ready-to-market but lost every
chance when Microsoft announced Windows as a direct reaction
Nevermind that it took Microsoft another two years to put
Windows on the market, and another four years to render it
usable. The Microsoft operating system base, solely built on
MS-DOS, gave them an advantage big enough to beat every
The father of Windows NT was the lead developer for VMS and
OpenVMS - what made the difference between Win3.1 and
WinNT were VMS concepts.
The Internet was thought up in the 60's. It was built in the
70's from Arpanet. It grew worldwide in the 80's - and
everyone who touched it back then, felt the magic and
anticipated that a new communication media was becoming.
Windows 95 was the first Windows version that supported
a dial-up connection to the Internet without the need for
Only after nobody could deny the success of the World Wide Web
(and Netscape) anymore, Microsoft decided that they've always wanted to
integrate Windows and the Internet, and they got a licence of
the Spyglass browser, which they called Internet Explorer.
Wordstar -> Word Perfect -> Microsoft Word
subLogic Flight Simulator -> Microsoft Flight Simulator