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The result, of course, was "After the Software Wars. And in a nod to open source ideals, you've even got a choice in how you go about doing so. You can grab the PDF version of his book from Lulu.

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Or visit Amazon. I'll be interviewing Curtis over time and will present this interview in serial form. Here's Part One. Can you describe yourself and what led you to write the book in the first place? What are you doing now, post-Microsoft? I joined Microsoft in because I thought it was the best place to learn about computers, which I have loved since I was in the 4th grade. Microsoft was the first company to really understand the power of the PC, and had people working on all aspects of software. I worked there from to as a programmer on FoxPro, text engines, on mobile software in a Swedish subsidiary, and the Spot watch.

I left because I felt that the amount of learning I was doing had dropped off a lot. I looked around and saw a lot of old codebases and unprofitable ventures, and I wanted to learn about the world of software outside of Microsoft. Terms like ERP were completely foreign to me and my knowledge of computing felt too specialized in some ways.

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I was scared at the time because I had read countless books about Microsoft technologies, from "Undocumented Windows" to "Inside SQL Server," and I didn't want this little experiment to mess up my computer. But it amazed me. Not that it was perfect It still is far from perfect, and I wrote an entire chapter on the challenges of Linux, applying what I learned about software at Microsoft, and what I learned from a thorough analysis of free software. In fact, I am one of the few people out there who knows a lot of details about both worlds.

When I go to conferences, for example, being a former Microsoft employee makes me a novelty. So while Linux was and is still imperfect, you don't just on accident build an airplane that actually flies. The fact that the install program finished without errors, resized my NTFS partition [non-destructively]! Wikipedia has also come along in the last several years and serves as another good example [of open source at work].

So I decided to write a book. A book that describes why Linux is superior, what challenges remain, and why free software and better collaboration will lead to a 21st century [technology] renaissance. O'Reilly Publishing and others turned my book down because they believe everything about Linux has already been written, but I didn't see a book like this. People have told me that this book has changed their opinion of free software.

I just finished the book a couple of months ago so I'm still tweaking it and making small changes. It is available on Amazon now as well. I'm trying to figure out what is next.

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I am working with a couple of programmers and we are looking for an Angel investor for an exciting opportunity, but I don't know if any visit itprotoday. I agree with you that while there are numerous Linux books out there, none are anything like yours. And of course, your book is interesting immediately because of your background and because it confronts what I see as widespread assumptions about where the software industry is heading.

How do you feel that topics like cloud computing impact this discussion? Does cloud computing render the desktop OS less important and thus help push free software solutions to the client in lieu of expensive and "heavy" proprietary solutions like Windows? And it showed.

The Culture War Comes to Linux

By the time Netscape Navigator version 2 was released, the company had actually managed to accrue some revenue. Jim Clark, however, was not one to rest on his laurels. It was a bit of an unprecedented move. But Netscape did have a few things going for them. For one, they had a kind of cult like following. The press lauded their efforts, and their users evangelized their software. And at the center of it all was Marc Andreessen, who had been propelled to virtual rock star status. So Netscape went public. It exceeded all expectations, and stocks soared throughout the first day.

The Culture War Comes to Linux - VICE

According to Microsoft, their intention was to get a lay of the land as they planned the future of Microsoft and the web. You see, Microsoft had largely ignored the web and the Internet at large for some time. Bill Gates failed to recognize the importance of this new network early on, so the company fell back on their core competency: personal computing. And some employees began experimenting with setting up web servers and a central information hub, which would later transform into the Microsoft Network. Then, Marc Andreessen began talking up Netscape not just as a browser, but as a new, cross-platform operating system.

Gates did a quick about face in May of His paranoia for competition was also clear.

In a long, but productive exchange, the two companies shared ideas and visions for the future. Join up or move out of the way. Microsoft offered Netscape a meager sum for their browsers code base. When the team refused, employees from Microsoft threatened to eliminate them from the market by any means necessary. Bill Gates had notoriously stomped out adversaries in the past without a second thought. And already, Netscape had begun to consult an anti-trust lawyer to prepare against a possible assault.

From that day forward, the two companies rarely spoke. What followed was an escalation of conflict that affected web users, web designers, and even the World Wide Web itself. It was called Internet Explorer. The browser team at Microsoft was still very small, so the code itself was somewhat ironically licensed from Spyglass Mosaic, a fork of the code Andreessen himself had worked on. IE was, at first, far from impressive.

Then came December 7, Those out there with some knowledge of World War II might recognize that date.

Naturally, the press had a field day. During the press conference, Gates announced that Microsoft would be even more committed to the web in the coming months. As for the competition? He wanted to dominate it. For the next few years, Netscape and Microsoft waged war these were the Browser Wars after all.

It was not uncommon to see a new minor release of each browser every month. For most users, this battle raged way over their heads. All they saw where a whirlwind of new features. There came esoteric plugin support, proprietary presentational HTML elements and all sorts of unique hacks. Even when one browser or the other supported web standards, they did so only at a surface level. Now imagine, for a moment, that you were a web designer at this time.

But then Netscape says you can add a scrolling banner to the top of your site! So you add it. Of course, it was ultimately the users that suffered. By version 3, Netscape had introduced a good amount of features still in use today. After that, Netscape began to focus on accompanying features. Communicator included tools for email, IRC and news. For many, this meant the convenience of having everything in one place. For others, this made the browser bloated and unwieldy. Microsoft took a slightly different route. Instead of adding extensions to their browser, they leveraged their position in the personal computing marketplace.

They gave away the browser for free to PC manufacturers and Internet Service Providers to bundle into their hardware. They lowered the price of their browser for Microsoft Windows users.