What did a corporate network look like in 1994? Here are some slides I made in the summer of 1994 for the interns. MS had 35,000 PCs sending 12.2 million email messages a month. Also, MS had 23 mini computers and a mainframe with 3.2 terabytes of disk space. 1/ End user stats such as 35,000 PCsOperations includes 22,000 batch jobsThe network itself has 35,000 nodes and 80km of fiber.The network topology is a hub and spoke from redmond.
2/ Why is this so interesting? Because companies around the world were building out networks like this right when the Internet arrived. The Internet upended how to think about connectivity. A BigCo connected to the internet versus making its own Intranet.
3/ Many of us were incredibly excited by the opportunity the Internet brought us. Sitting in a hallway outside a the TCP/IP Dev Manager's office was Microsoft's FTP server. No demand gen. Spontaneous usage! FTP Server usage 65000 users every week downloading 280000 f
4/ Even the most basic stuff we don't even think about today was a "product" to get made. Microsoft released the first commercial DHCP Server in mid 1994 even before the OS was done. The ink was not even dry on the RFCs. (This is NAT, by the way). DHCP under development.
5/ The Internet was happening ~18 months before Windows 95 ("Chicago") shipped. In "Hardcore Software" (subscribe 👉hardcoresoftware.substack.com), story is right at moment when MS faced the disruptive nature of the Internet. Here's Moasic running on early build w/ START. //END
PS/ The photo in the first tweet of the "Operations Center" is the *entire* operations center for the global network. It was located in the same building as the shared locker room for the corporate campus. We used to give tours! Cool space age operations center.
PPS/ I probably should have included the title slide for full effect. I converted them to Office 97 from the native 16 bit to use on a more modern connected PC. That’s Clippy running natively.

The title of this talk is 💯 and exactly perfect for hardcoresoftware.substack.com.

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More from @stevesi

22 May
What is it like to experience disruption? Is it a bolt of lightning or does it happen in slow motion? Is it obvious and if it is, who thinks that?

In "Hardcore Software" I'm telling the story of how Microsoft was confronted by the internet in 1994. 1/ …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/026-blue-sue…
2/ The phrase "disruption" wasn't even around in 1994. In fact the original paper was months away before the language it created came to define the internet. (not yet "Innovator's Dilemma") HBR: Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave
3/ When we first saw breadth of internet technologies all at once, it was still easy to dismiss for the reasons one can imagine. They didn't work as well, they were free, and so on.

I had to become an "evangelist" for the internet. I learned very valuable lessons very quickly.
Read 15 tweets
19 May
Transforming from app/service to platform often (not always) involves adding extensibility (API) for other companies or customers to use. Using extensibility aside from solving a missing capability, is sticky and good for biz. Some patterns, traps, pitfalls & lessons 1/
2/ Most SaaS can be thought of as "mostly about data", "mostly about experience", or "mostly about an API", especially early. Over time most apps will naturally expand to be more of what it isn't, normal. To speed expansion and feature coverage, extensibility to the rescue.
3/ An app that is mostly about storing data will often expand to both ingest more data but to also display/report/synthesize data. Early on exposing an API that allows more data to be ingested or allows other tools to serve as front ends is natural.
Read 23 tweets
12 May
New "Hardcore Software" post - "Trapped" …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/025-trapped?…

Microsoft has a master plan, riding a wave of unprecedented success. We're going to build the roads for the information superhighway.

Then I got trapped in the snow at Cornell. 1/

Maybe subscribe. It's fun!
2/ We had big plans for how to link up computers and share information. We called that strategy "Information At Your Fingertips" or IAYF.

We were going to build that strategy in the next release of Windows codename Chicago and Windows NT.

We had a fancy vision brochure. Scan from brochure highlighting multimedia capabilities.
3/ Then I got trapped by a snowstorm at my alma mater, Cornell.

I did what every alum 5 years out does and retraced my years, visiting the computer center I used to work.

The mainframe was replaced with Macs. All connected by a bunch of free GNU software (aka open source). A big mainframe computer.students using Macs in hte libraryUser interface screens for getting online.
Read 7 tweets
9 May
Why were word processors $500+ in 1980s (~$1300 2021)? Aside from "seemed right" the packaging and contents were expensive. Here's a leading WP MultiMate. It came with several books, reference cards, keyboard templates, backup disks... The box is a fancy cloth storage box. 1/ Photo of box with 3 books, two reference cards and stickers
2/ Companies were not just teaching their product but had to explain how a PC worked. The "Beginner's Guide" literally explained how a PC worked? Why, because often people were buying a PC to run one software product. How do floppies work? start of beginners manual explaining inserting a floppy.
3/ Products were enormously complex to use. It often took weeks to become kind of proficient. Mostly because usage meant learning essentially arbitrary keyboard "chords". MultiMate was famous for *stickers* you'd put on your keys (talk about commitment). (tough to find these!) Keyboard reference and stickers.
Read 6 tweets
9 May
"Working Backwards" is a very good book for product leaders to read. It builds on 6 core Amazon principles AND tells the story of 4 key amazon projects. Written by @cbryar (12+) and @BillCarr89 (15+ yrs) of Amazon. 1/ smile.amazon.com/Working-Backwa…
2/ My normal caveat is that I tend to like books that tell the story and tools a company used but don't try too hard to tell you that you should do what they did or "use these tools". I'm hardcore about this because I think context, domain, and people make all the difference.
3/ I've seen far too often business leaders adopt the low-friction/readily adoptable part of such expressed lessons, and then get frustrated things don't work. I've even seen this happen when one part of Microsoft tried to lift parts of what another team did.
Read 25 tweets
17 Apr
"BillG the Manager" in _Hardcore Software_ (read and subscribe via this link) …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/019-billg-th…
2/ From the earliest days the company was uniquely focused on a breadth product line, and only on software. Those were both unique compared to single-product companies or to the vertically integrated likes of IBM captured by this classic video (c. 1981).
3/ As technical assistant I was there to help with product reviews and serve as a form of connective tissue or glue between product groups executing on Bill's vision. In 1993 Microsoft just launched the 'year of Office' and had started the pivot from apps to the suite. Advertisement for Office in 1993
Read 5 tweets

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