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The Gatekeeper: Microsoft's ultimate weapon

If Windows XP is successful, Microsoft could challenge AOL and other media giants for control of the Net and entirely new industries--similar to the way it has dominated the software market.


Windows XP may spark ultimate battle to own the Net

By Joe Wilcox, Mike Ricciuti, Lara Wright and Jim Hu
Staff Writers, CNET
October 25, 2001, 4:00 a.m. PT

Despite its relatively benign appearance, Windows XP carries monumental significance for the high-technology industry and the Internet.

Windows XP box The new operating system has some interesting features such as expanded instant messaging and online photo processing, but it is considered far from necessary for consumers and businesses. Its true impact will be felt as the first public step in a controversial strategy to transform Microsoft from a traditional software company into a global network of services ranging from communication to entertainment on a subscription basis.

If successful, Microsoft could challenge AOL Time Warner and other media giants for control of the Internet and entirely new industries--similar to the way it has dominated the software market, locking customers into Microsoft-sanctioned goods and services.

In this exclusive seven-part special report, CNET examines Microsoft's multifaceted XP strategy from legal, economic and practical perspectives.

Mission: Domination of the Internet
Microsoft's services strategy represents its most ambitious expansion ever, but the move faces major obstacles in antitrust, security and new competition.
Strategy: Blueprint shrouded in mystery
The master plan behind Windows XP is something called Microsoft.Net, a massively complicated strategy that is baffling to many.
Competition: Ultimate challenge to AOL
After years of skirmishes, Microsoft and AOL Time Warner may be headed for a final showdown, with the winner defining the Internet.
Network: Reinventing the wheel in real time
The resources needed to run .Net's services would be unprecedented--and even Microsoft's ability to raise them is a question mark.
Software: The end of forced upgrades?
The new operating system may halt a historical cycle of software and hardware upgrades, ending what some call "planned obsolescence."
Hardware: No free ride for PC makers
Companies are scrambling to find new ways to sell computers because Windows XP isn't expected to draw as many buyers as earlier versions.
Readers: It's not worth the trouble
If's readers are any indication, Windows XP may be a tough sell. The reasons: a new activation requirement and few compelling features.


PDF download
What does the launch of Windows XP mean for your business, and for the future of the Web? Download a PDF version of this exclusive special report.

> Download now

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Editors: Mike Ricciuti, Mike Yamamoto, Lara Wright, Jennifer Balderama, Julie Laing, David Becker
Design: Jeff Quan, Ellen Ng
Production: Ben Helm