Microsoft's HailStorm

2001-03-28

The following sentence in Microsoft's HailStorm white paper really grabbed my attention:

HailStorm will help move the Internet to end-user subscriptions, where users pay for value received.

So much to loathe in 15 short words ... the blindness of assuming that the Internet needs to be moved ... the self-importance of expecting that Microsoft is the one to move the Internet (instead of, perhaps, the other way around?) ... the arrogance of trying to squeeze all of the Internet into one model ... the stinginess of not realizing that some people simply enjoy creating content and don't ask for money in return ... the small-mindedness of thinking that we are all just passive recipients of value from the Internet and not active co-creators....

More than 5 years after his famous Internet speech to the assembled minions, Bill Gates still doesn't get it. I'm not saying that Microsoft and the Internet are mutually exclusive, or that Microsoft is not a presence on the net, or that the Internet is somehow anti-Microsoft. The Internet is not pro- or anti- anything. The Internet simply is. It is way too large to fit tidily into someone's five-year plan in Redmond, Washington (or Reston, Virginia, for that matter). The Internet is people selling things and people giving things away, people chatting and people publishing, companies large and small doing what companies have done for centuries (the good and the bad intermixed), hackers and charities and porn stars and scammers and grandparents and support groups and finding endless information and connecting with friends old and new -- the Internet is the glory and grime of human existence in infinite variety. Is there one model for all that? Do some big company's end-user subscriptions even begin to capture the value received from and created on the net? I think not, Mr. Gates. I think not, Mr. Case.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal