The software giant is "poised but not certain to become the dominant technology provider in the Internet" consumer space, the study says. Jupiter has used a model it calls the "Internet delivery chain" to analyze any company's chances for successful competition in markets that Microsoft is either already in or planning to enter. This model includes all Internet services from Web development tools to client-side software.
Bill Gates's team practically owns most key points along this chain--such as desktop and server operating systems and applications, the Jupiter study says--and is now attempting to leverage that success in the online publishing world.
The company is already a major player as a "new media" company, even though it was relatively late to the game. Microsoft, in a relatively short period of time, has launched such content-driven properties as Slate, its online magazine; Expedia, its online travel service; Music Central; MSNBC; Sidewalk, its suite of city-guides; and in the near future, a real estate site that is code-named Boardwalk.
Published reports have said Microsoft plans to launch the real estate information site in three cities by the end of 1997.
"Microsoft is leveraging a decade of high-tech competition and distribution experience to make up for a late start in the market," said Ross Rubin, Jupiter group director of consumer Internet technologies.