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FrontPage history

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Microsoft FrontPage

My review of the book

Recommended Links Best Microsoft FrontPage Books

Amazon Reviews Of Ferguson's book

Free HTML Editors HTTP Protocol Browsers Web servers Humor Etc

Introduction

FrontPage was initially created by the Cambridge, Massachusetts company Vermeer Technologies Inc, evidence of which can be easily spotted in filenames and directories prefixed _vti_ in web sites created using FrontPage.  That name Vermeer was selected as the name of Charles H. Ferguson, one of the founder of the firm, favorite Dutch painter. the company was founded in 1994 and sold in 1996 for $133 millions, so it was an early example of dot com boom.  Gold rush in Internet software so to speak.

The initial release was in autumn 1995. Official date was Sept 18, 1995 (see Vermeer Technologies Gives Birth to FrontPage by Jay Milne, Network Computing, Nov.1, 1995, p.44). Package contained visual, MS-Word style HTML editor (FrontPage), personal web server and FrontPage Server Extension. The idea was to model creation of Web page on MS Word  document creation so that user can work without knowing HTML or with little knowledge of HTML.

Creation of the site was based on supplied templates, which are conceptually similar to stylesheets in MS Word but more closed and less transparent.  Several of them were supplied with the product. Frontpage server extensions allowed creation of menus, as well as a uniform look of the pages and were supported on Apache, CERN and NCSA servers.  They need server-side component for implementation, which later got the name Frontpage extensions.

Frontpage Explorer, a separate component in the initial release gave the user a graphical representation of the WEB site. Basic Web server supplied with Frontpage was based on public domain NCSA httpd 1.3.

FrontPage pioneered collaborative editing: the pages can be updated by several authors over ftp of HTTP. It provided several reports about recently changed pages with the name of the author of such a change. So while it did not support versioning it has some elements of content management system.

Vermeer development period

During Vermeer development period major architectural decisions was made, but the product was very raw, and has little in common with powerful HTML editor we see in Frontpage 2003. There was no support of code view, no support for regular expressions, no macros, much less polished interface, etc.

But still major architectural ideas were all present such as distributed flat files based database of webpages (_VRI subfoder in each web site directory), Frontpage extensions, templates, etc.

Vermeer was acquired by Microsoft in January 1996 specifically so that Microsoft could add FrontPage to its Office product line-up. The idea was to gain an advantage in the browser wars as FrontPage was designed to create pages for their own browser, Internet Explorer.  Reportedly they bought it for a nice sum of $133 million. Here is an early history from  Microsoft Bob blog:

The Early FrontPage History

I have a long history with Microsoft FrontPage, but not many people know where it originally came from. FrontPage started its life as a product from a little startup company from Massachusettes that was named Vermeer Technologies, Inc. To tell the story in detail, I've included Randy Forgaard's foreword from the book Introducing Microsoft FrontPage, by Microsoft Press.

One Thursday afternoon in early April 1994, my wife took an urgent phone call from a man on a carphone. He had gotten my name from my MIT masters thesis adviser, and was calling to offer me a job.

Thinking he was one of those pesky headhunters, my wife declined to give him my work phone number, but said he could phone back that evening. He was worried about the time delay, but nonetheless phoned back at 7:00pm and we chatted. The man was Charles H. Ferguson, a renowned computer industry consultant on technology policy and corporate strategy. We met and talked several times over that weekend. His professional references spoke glowingly of him, including a contact in the White House whose only negative remark was that Charles wasn't invited as often to testify in front of Congressional subcommittees anymore because of his impatience with the slow pace of lawmaking. Four days later I quit my job and became co-founder of a software company that within a few months was named Vermeer Technologies, Inc. - after Charles' favorite Dutch painter. As it turns out, Charles' general sense of urgency was extraordinarily justified.

In the beginning, Charles was the idea person, and I was the one charged with filling out the details and helping to refine the goals to tasks that were achievable by a small group of extremely talented engineers in a reasonable timeframe. His central thesis was at once unusually insightful and incredibly ambitious. He had noticed that many companies had spent millions building their own private computer online services - Apple's eWorld, Dow Jones News Retrieval, Bloomberg's Financial Network, etc. Not only were these efforts expensive, but they were incompatible with one another, requiring different client software to interact with each one. They were based on outmoded mainframe-based technology, requiring a computing priesthood to build and maintain them. They were centralized, making it very difficult to access distributed data. Their cost structure was sufficiently high that free services - such as providing online marketing and customer support information - were not economically viable. And finally, such centralized systems were not suitable for private, distributed, internal information dissemination within an organization.

Thus, our goal was to build a standardized, shrink-wrapped infrastructure for online services, architected for interoperability, providing standardized client software and a visual development environment that would allow non-programmers to create and maintain a new online service. The idea was that you could walk into a software store, buy our standard online service server software, buy several copies of our authoring software, and resell the standard online client software to your customers. You could easily create and maintain your online service. Your customers could use the client software to dial-in to your service, and then use that same client software to dial-in to other online services created with our software. The standardized server software would be architected so that online services could communicate with each other easily. Everything was interoperable, the API's and protocols would be documented as open standards, everyone would benefit from the increased convenience and functionality of standardized components, and the whole affair would be dramatically less expensive because the development cost was spread across all customers.

This idea changed dramatically about one month after the company was formed. In May 1994, we got wind that the Internet was starting to be adopted by businesses, and that there was a new infrastructure called the World Wide Web that provided a type of online service functionality on top of the Internet protocols. Mosaic, from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, had been released 5 months earlier, and provided the first graphical user interface for the Web. Netscape Communications Corp. (then called Mosaic Communications) had just been formed in April (the same time as Vermeer), and would release their famous commercial web browser toward the end of the year.

It occurred to us that the Web provided much of what we were trying to achieve: standardized protocols (HTTP) and API's (CGI), server software that supported those protocols (various web server incarnations from various organizations), client software that supported those protocols (various web browsers), and even a communications infrastructure (the Internet) that was more robust and convenient than we were planning (dial-up to each online service). The big missing piece: a powerful, visual authoring tool for creating, maintaining, and administering whole web sites, including the individual pages that comprise such sites. This became the focus of Vermeer.

We were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to hire the most talented collective group of individuals I have ever met, despite the fact that we yet had no funding (except for direct expenses, covered by Charles), and asked everyone to take no salary for many months. Andy Schulert and Peter Amstein, both seasoned professionals, were our first two engineering hires and became our two technical team leaders. We were joined by many other engineers, plus excellent marketing, sales, administrative, and executive personnel. Every one of them a consummate professional, every one driven and focused to the task at hand. It was - and is - a remarkable experience for us all.

While Vermeer was driving to ship its first product, the Web became an unprecedented success. Whereas there were only an estimated 10,000 web sites in existence when Vermeer was formed, there were approximately 500,000 such sites one year later, both external sites on the Internet, and intranet sites within organizations. By just about any measure - communications traffic, new web sites going up, downloads of web browsers and servers, new Internet subscriptions - the web was growing at 20% per month, the fastest growing phenomenon in economic history. It became imperative that any forward-thinking organization have a high-quality public web site, and internal IS organizations where behooved to seriously explore the use of Web technologies for intranet information transfer and applications.

Vermeer shipped version 1.0 of its product in October 1995, just one week behind schedule. The name of the product, FrontPage, was suggested by Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus and On Technology. On the one hand, FrontPage was a great success, winning many industry awards, and praises from customers. On the other hand, during the brief life of Vermeer, web authoring had advanced from a curious backwater to a major focus of some of the largest players in the software industry. Tiny Vermeer, with fewer than 40 employees, suddenly found itself in the hotseat.

At around this time, Chris Peters, a Vice President and 15-year veteran of Microsoft, called us up. They really liked the product. They felt we had just the right idea, to focus on building a whole web, in addition to creating individual pages. They liked the fact that FrontPage looked just like a Microsoft Office application. They were impressed that we seemed to be 9-12 months ahead of the industry. They wanted to know if we were interested in some sort of relationship, anywhere from co-marketing, to technology licensing, to the "full meal deal" as he called it - being acquired.

We took a hard look at Microsoft, and were extremely impressed. Microsoft had recently transformed itself into a highly Internet-focused company. They were extraordinarily good at shipping products. And we realized that our efforts would be multiplied a thousand-fold by joining Microsoft. So we did.

Almost all of the Vermeer folk joined Microsoft, with virtually the entire engineering team moving to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. We have just shipped Microsoft FrontPage 1.1. It has been a heady experience, and with the backing of Microsoft's extensive resources, we hope to be even more effective and customer-driven with future versions of FrontPage. Vermeer was formed just two years ago, and the adventure has just begun.

Our mission with FrontPage has remained the same, and if anything has become even more so as part of Microsoft: web authoring for everyone. Microsoft has Internet Studio and other products for advanced web development, but if you are a non-technical professional charged with creating or updating Internet or intranet web content, FrontPage was designed for you. We hope you will find it productive, instructive, and enjoyable.

Randy Forgaard
Senior Program Manager, Web Authoring Product Unit
Microsoft Corporation
May 1996

Charles Ferguson, the founder of startup Vermeer wrote and interesting book about his experience with founding the company getting traction and selling it to Microsoft. See Amazon.com High Stakes, No Prisoners A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars (9781587990656) Charles H. Ferguson Books

He managed to sell his startup company that never had substantial community of customers, but just “almost produced” an GUI-based WYSIWYG HTML editor (nothing more, nothing less) for $150 millions, if I remember correctly.  That was actually the beginning of the crazy "Dot.com" boom. See also Selling Bazaar to Cathedral: Linux Gold Rush. Here is one telling quote:

Since early 1996, shameless opportunists have sprung up across the country and across the Internet, ready to take advantage of the America newfound spirit of  "webalization". While making money by fooling others is reprehensible, we can assume that many of these snake-oil salesmen like Bob Young and Larry Augustin were just gifted Ponzi scheme manipulators that just waited for the opportunity to strike gold from the fools and  for whom this Internet boom was the last and only opportunity to become rich. They were not real sharks.  The real sharks here were the investment banks and venture funds.  And this period was the first when regulations adopted during Great Deal were substantially weaken and agencies that were formally responsible for control on financial oligarchy behavior were weakened and emasculated. Fed was in the hands of shameless opportunist Greenspan who under the pretext of free market and deregulation was selling the country to financial oligarchy. For the latter dot-com boom was a perfect opportunity to redistribute country wealth in their own favor.  Greed is good was the slogan of the day.

This wealth redistribution mechanism worked via numerous venture and hedge funds that were created to attract money and extract rent for the casino owners which were investment banks. With skillful propaganda, money were just flowing like water into all sorts of "Internet funds" as well as the small and mostly unprofitable Internet start-ups. In 2011 in her article in NYT Evelyn Rusli and Verne Kopytoff gave the following assessment of this giant Ponzi scheme (Is It a New Tech Bubble Let's See if It Pops). Note the Goldman Sacks, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley were active players in creating and milking this Ponzi: 

In 1998, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, the bank's private equity arm, began a new, $2.8 billion fund largely geared toward Internet stocks. Before that fund, the group had made fewer than three dozen investments in the technology and communications sectors from 1992 to mid-1998, according to Goldman Sachs documents about the fund.

But between 1999 and 2000, the new fund made 56 technology-related investments, of about $27 million on average. In aggregate, the fund made $1.7 billion in technology investments -- and lost about 40 percent of that after the bubble burst. (The group, which manages the money of pensions, sovereign wealth funds and other prominent clients, declined the opportunity to invest in Facebook early this year.)

Philip A. Cooper, who in 1999 was head of a separate Goldman Sachs group that managed fund of funds and other investments, recalled that investors were clamoring, "We want more tech, we want more." Bowing to pressure, he created a $900 million technology-centric fund in 1999, and within eight weeks he had nearly $2 billion in orders. Despite the frenzy, he kept the cap at $900 million.

"There was a lot of demand, but we couldn't see any way we could prudently put that much capital to work," said Mr. Cooper, who has since left Goldman.

Other Wall Street firms, including JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, also made a number of small to midsize investments during the period. In 1999, for instance, Morgan Stanley joined Goldman Sachs and others in a $280 million investment in CarsDirect.com, which scrapped its initial plans to go public when the market deteriorated.

"We thought we were going to double our money in just a couple of weeks," said Howard Lindzon, a hedge fund manager of Lindzon Capital Partners and former CarsDirect.com investor. "No one did any due diligence." Mr. Lindzon lost more than $200,000 on his investment.

Also in 1999, Chase Capital Partners (which would later become part of JPMorgan Chase) invested in Kozmo.com -- an online delivery service that raised hundreds of millions in venture funding. JPMorgan Chase, which just recently raised $1.2 billion for a new technology fund, at the time called Kozmo.com "an essential resource to consumers." At its height, the company's sprawling network of orange bike messengers employed more than a thousand people. Less than two years later, it ceased operations.

An online grocer, Webvan, was one of the most highly anticipated I.P.O.'s of the dot-com era. The business had raised nearly $1 billion in start-up capital from institutions like Softbank of Japan, Sequoia Capital and Goldman Sachs. Goldman, its lead underwriter, invested about $100 million.

On its first day, investors cheered as Webvan's market value soared, rising 65 percent to about $8 billion at the close. Less than two years later, Webvan was bankrupt.

About the same time, Internet-centric mutual funds burst onto the scene. From just a handful in early 1999, there were more than 40 by the following year. One fund, the Merrill Lynch Internet Strategies fund, made its debut in late March 2000 -- near the market's peak -- with $1.1 billion in assets. About one year later, the fund, with returns down about 70 percent, was closed and folded into another fund.

"We all piled into things that were considered hot and sexy," said Paul Meeks, who was the fund's portfolio manager. Mr. Meeks started six tech funds for Merrill Lynch from 1998 to 2000.

Microsoft period of development

Development continued without Charles Ferguson, the co-founder of Vermeer (Microsoft refused to hire him but otherwise preserved the whole development team).  Randy Forgaart also left soon, so the major role was played by Andy Schulert.

FrontPage's initial release under the Microsoft name came in 1996 with the release of Windows NT 4.0 Server and its constituent web server Internet Information Services 2.0. Bundled on CD with the NT 4.0 Server release, FrontPage 1.1 would run under NT 4.0 (Server or Workstation) or Windows 95. It was released as freeware.

The first version of Frontpage I used was Microsoft FrontPage Express 2.0 that was shipped with Internet Explorer 4.0

The first really successful commercial version, I think, was Frontpage 1998 which was followed by two blockbusters: Frontpage 2000 and Frontpage 2003.

The main development of FrontPage happened during the short seven year period: from 1996 to 2003 During this period Microsoft significantly enhanced the product and it is fair to say that Frontpage 2003 is a completely Microsoft product belonging to the Office line, as little of the initial design was unchanged.

Randy Forgaard (the second co-founder of Vermeer) and, especially, Andrew Schulert (on the photo above with Bill Gates) were the technical minds behind FrontPage. Randy Forgaad left Microsoft pretty soon and for the next four years (till 2000) Andrew Schulert, who became general manager of the FrontPage product unit, drove FrontPage development until 2000, making singificant improvement of the product.

Andrew Schulert  was definitely a talented architect and he managed  significantly improve functionality with each release. The last release of "classic" Frontpage was FrontPage 2003, the best version of Frontpage in existence, more polished but not that different from Frontpage 2002.

In 2000 Microsoft brass replaced Andrew Schulert and the focus shifted toward improving FrontPage competitiveness with  Codeweaver editor. They hired several members of Codeweaver team and for some reason dropped Frontpage name  in 2006 (see below). 

New team essentially spoiled the product as, unfortunately,  had been no match in architectural talent to Andrew Schulert. It consisted, so to speak, of "level two" people, who did not possess any significant architectural vision and that lack of vision clearly influenced the product subsequent releases and led to a complete abandoning of the product in 2013.

Andrew Schulert was definitely a talented architect and he managed  from 1996 to 2000 significantly improve functionality with each release. Then due to inertia the product continued to be improved till 2003. The last release  of "classic" Frontpage was FrontPage 2003, the best version of Frontpage in existence.

As a WYSIWYG editor, FrontPage is designed to hide the details of pages' HTML code from the user, making it possible for novices to easily create web pages and sites. But Microsoft managed under the disguise of the WYSIWYG HTML editor for entry level user create powerful, flexible professional product that allow full control of HTML and editing of the code as well.

Frontpage extensions

FrontPage used to require a set of server-side plugins originally known as IIS Extensions. The extension set was significantly enhanced for Microsoft inclusion of FrontPage into the Microsoft Office line-up with Office 97 and subsequently renamed FrontPage Server Extensions (FPSE). They were avbailble for Apache too. Frontpage extensions needed to be installed on the target web server for its content and publishing features to work. But you can also create sites with Frontpage that does not use Frontpage extensions.

There is nothing in Frontpage which bind you to this technology. It can well be used as "pure" HTML editor and I used it in this capacity for the last 15 years.  Microsoft offered both Windows and Unix-based versions of FPSE. It contained built-in FTP client to load changed pages to the site ("publish" in Frontpage lingo), but custom script were much better for this purpose. Rsync also can be used.  Newer versions of FrontPage also support the standard WebDAV protocol for remote web publishing and authoring.

Versions for Windows

History of FrontPage - FP Release Dates and Vermeer FrontPage History Timelines

Versions for other platforms

A version for Mac OS was released in 1998; however, it had fewer features than the Windows product and Microsoft has never updated it.[4]

Frontpage 2003 - a masterpiece of Microsoft software development

Some of the features in the last version of FrontPage include:

 

Abandonment of Frontpage by Microsoft

In 2006, Microsoft announced that FrontPage would eventually be superseded by two products:

FP2003 remains a very good HTML editor. And in many respects it is qualitatively better then competition like Macromedia Dreamweaver (development of which by-and-large parallel development of Frontpage; version 1.0 was released in December 1997).

but key deficiencies that I have found in Frontpage2003 are still present in Microsoft Expression Web.

One problem with FrontPage was fixed in Expression Web -- the inability to apply styles from the attached stylesheets.

Expression Web was abandoned in December 2012 and now available as a free download ( see Microsoft Expression Web now FREE):

December 20, 2012 | Microsoft

The proliferation of rich interactive web applications across the cloud and mobile devices continues to create new opportunities for creative design and development. As these technologies evolve, Microsoft is committed to providing best-in-class tools for building modern applications. In support of these industry trends Microsoft is consolidating our lead design and development offerings — Expression and Visual Studio — to offer all of our customers a unified solution that brings together the best of Web and modern development patterns.

Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2007

Microsoft relleased a free version of some derivative of FrontPage 2003 called Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2007.  This is the best free HTML editor available for Windows. Actually for any OS in existence. It's somewhat buggy, even with SP3 applied, but still it is the best free HTML editor by a wide margin. No other free editor even comes close. See Free HTML Editors. Here is some info from Wikipedia:

Microsoft SharePoint Designer (formerly known as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer) is a specialized HTML editor and web design freeware for creating or modifying Microsoft SharePoint sites and web pages. It is a part of Microsoft SharePoint family of products.[2] It was formerly a part of Microsoft Office 2007 families of products, but was not included in any of the Microsoft Office suites.

SharePoint Designer and its sister product, Microsoft Expression Web are successors of Microsoft FrontPage. While Expression Web serves as the full-featured successor to FrontPage, SharePoint Designer features focuses on designing and customizing Microsoft SharePoint websites. For instance, it only includes SharePoint-specific site templates. It retains more FrontPage features than Expression Web, such as web components, database, marquee, hit counter, navigation bars, map insert, etc. Although SharePoint Designer 2007 (this first version of this product) could be used as a generic HTML editor, SharePoint Designer 2010 (the subsequent version) may no longer operate in absence of Microsoft SharePoint Server or Microsoft SharePoint Foundation.[3]

All-in-all SharePoint Designer 2007 is a weaker version of incredible Microsoft HTML editor FrontPage 2003. I used it for a week and found mass of errors even with SharePoint Designer Service Pack 3 applied.  The whole product smells with outsourcing :-(. Some annoying for me bugs/features (I am a longtime FrontPage 2003 user, your mileage might vary):

  1. Replacements in code view produces some strange side effects sometimes doubling the first letter of the sentence in which replacement was performed. I am not kidding.
  2. Replacements of html tags are performed incorrectly. For example when I tried to replace <strong> with <i> in the code view, the resulting code in several places contained closing bracket that was converted to /strong> which invalidates the HTML.
  3. Interpretation of  I and B buttons via styles with insertion of inline CSS stylesheet is questionable. The same is true about conversion of changing color for a fragment into span with style. It should be an option. 
  4. Attempt to shift code right does not insert <blockquote> tag like in "old" FrontPage, but generates a style definition for inline CSS stylesheet and adds a style to the paragraph.  It's plausible, but very questionable solution. If they want to be that clever they should give the Web page designer a choice as it deviates from "old FrontPage" behavior.   <blockquote> tag is not a deprecated tag so it's legitimate for indented parts (which are typically quotes). IMHO the blockquote tag has not changed from HTML 4 to HTML 5 and can now be used with cite tag, like in <blockquote cite="http://www.hermanmelville.com">
  5. There is no application of custom CSS stylesheet to code view.
  6. SharePoint Designer 2007 changes modification dates of many files that were not edited making tracing your changes based on modification date of the files virtually impossible. That's a really stupid bug .  

Supplement: My review of Charles Ferguson book

I was a heavy user of FrontPage almost from its first release by Microsoft and heard about the book several times, but read the book only now.

This is a good book, but it essentially consists of two books in one: one is about business culture of Internet start-ups and venture capital in early 1990th and the second is about technology as it was understood by the author in late 90th. It also colored by really unpleasant, arrogant and confrontational personality of the author.

Only the first on those two books has lasting value. I have found insights about Internet startups environment fascinating although behavior of the author at times was really questionable despite his attempt to present himself in a favorable light. The author adopts Machiavellian approach ("no prisoners") and is ready play dirty (he described patent trolling that his startup was engaged is in gory details). He also tried to create a lock-in for the product with so called FrontPage extensions.

His descriptions of other players such as Netscape and Microsoft are quite paranoid but he conveys the cut-throat atmosphere of Internet startups in mid 1990th quite accurately. The description of his conflict with the hired by VC CEO John Mandle is quite typical and quite educating story. Another interesting story is how he talked with a programmer who decided to go to Netscape although he was just in late interviewing/pre-hiring stage with Vermeer (p 92-93). Here is a very telling quote:

>>>>>>

I told him we'd utterly destroy him if he breathed a word about us. I warned him that if he even told Netscape of our existence that he'd be violating our nondisclosure agreement. Furthermore, I said, if Netscape announce similar products, we'll go after you and them for a few billion dollars. Their position will be that they didn't know that you were betraying us, and they'll probably let you twist in the wind. Your depositions and court appearances will take years and your legal bills will bankrupt you, We'll have private detectives going over every phone call you've ever made, every e-mail you've ever send, every dream you've ever had, every lie you've ever told. Netscape will fire you and you'll never work in this industry gain. If you need a demonstration that I can be a complete bastard let me know and I would be happy to provide it. Do you get it. He did; I scared the hell out of him, which was just fine.

<<<<<<

Super-sized egos and arrogance are helpful in get financing and starting the business but are bad in running the company, especially with hired CEO. That's actually classic Greek tragedy theme: qualities which initially helped the hero to get to the top eventually lead to his demise. The author self-characterization "I was extremely tense, angry, and frequently unpleasant, but I'm not stupid" (p. 261) say it all. The guy really has had huge personality problems. Was he a sociopath or borderline personality in unclear. The other reviews address this point more in-depth (see Jane Smith's review from December 2004)

The period covered in the book is just approximately a year or year and a half: $4 million of financing was secured in February 1995 and company was sold to Microsoft for 130 millions in January 1996. To produce a solid HTML editor in 20 months is not something incredible, but as staff was distracted by countless presentations as well as political maneuvering and infighting, it's still impressive. The author did manage to assemble a good technical team with two lead technical guys:  Randy Forgaard (co-founder of  Verme and the key and  Andrew Schulert were essentially the designers of the product. Role of Ferguson is unclear from the book and there may be none. 

Despite many true and insightful observations, the author technology views as well as bits of Internet history scatted in the book and related deliberations very frequently generated in me some kind of protest: either because they look to me questionable from historical point of view or from technological point of view or both. The author never have been a programmer. He does has BS in mathematics but that's about it. So all his apt observations about "Nontechnical professional CEO problem" (p.285) are applicable. Sometimes he is completely off the mark like his lament that Netscape did not port its webserver to Netware as well as his remark "None of its Webservers ever run on Windows 3.1". The first would be waste of money and time, the second would be waste of time and money :-). All-in-all I do not trust his analysis of Netscape demise in Chapter 9 although he makes many good, valid points. And I would like to remind readers that Netscape was sold to AOL for 4 billion dollars not for $150 millions. So in comparison with Netscape Vermeer was tiny, obscure, peripheral Internet startup and the fact that Microsoft spend 150 millions on it is really surprising. It was just one day moth. All the major history of FrontPage was written after Vermeer acquisition by Microsoft and truth be told Microsoft did a very good job of developing the product.

All-in-all this is a book written by a very sharp businessman who managed to assemble a good team and launch a startup that produced pretty good Windows-based HTML editor. Getting from Microsoft 130 millions for HTML editor that was just one year in development and which Microsoft can replicate in probably less then a year at half-cost, the product which at the time of acquisition sold less then 300 copies, was an impressive business achievement.

It is important to understand that there was nothing revolutionary or visionary in the decision to create GUI-based HTML editor for Windows in 1994. Technologically it was all dull work with no new or existing components despite author claims. It was essentially a purely commercial project and I understand reluctance of venture capital guys to finance it. I would not if I were in their place. It was pretty risky business plan even in the crazy atmosphere of the growing dot-com boom. So that fact that the author executed business portion of the strategy pretty successfully and managed to milk acquisition for so much money is really amazing. As far as I remember the first version sold by Microsoft it was a good, solid editor but was far from "breakthrough" and has "provincial" Windows-centric architecture (no support of regular expressions, no macro language or some external API for editor). It was acceptable but it was clearly inferior in quality to Offic products in both interface and in the absence of the macro language. Actually Microsoft greatly improved it in subsequent versions up to FrontPage 2003, but the fact that it was initially developed outside of Office team remained a handicap. For example spell checker in FrontPage 2003 was still inferior in comparison to MS Word.

And of course FrontPage was never in the same league of complexity and sophistication as MS Word. In this sense I have a feeling that Microsoft decided to buy Vermeer instead of producing equal of better HTML editor in a year or so only because it needed HTML editor quickly and did not want to wait six month or so.  May be that was one of the first signs of Microsoft decline ;-).

I also disagree with the author assessment of the speed in Internet penetration. Many ISPs provided shell accounts in early 1994 which could be used to browse Web. Generally in 1994 it was clear for many people that Internet and World Wide Web will have tremendous importance.

Among negatives of the book is black and write mentality, superficial understanding of dot-com boom and the technology development it entailed (visible in  the constant bashing of Netscape and incompetent bashing of Microsoft; you need to read Hard Drive to understand Microsoft better) as well as personality problems with nasty bashing of several personalities involved and first of all hired Vermeer's CEO throughout the book. Double standard mentality typical for sociopathic personalities is also visible in some episodes for example in getting a cash severance payment for himself.

I think the author was tremendously lucky to be at the right place at the right time, and his venture was not that different from many other "one day", "make money fast" ventures of dot-com era. It was not the most useless either.

Supplement 2: Amazon Reviews Of Ferguson's book

 Customer Reviews High Stakes, No Prisoners A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars

Amazon.com

Michael Alatortsev: book starts really well, then quickly gets annoying

The part about raising capital is excellent (actually, I remembered reading a very similar article in Fast Company a year or two ago). What I didn't like was the constant bashing of Netscape, and Vermeer's CEO throughout the book. There's also a certain double standard mentality: the author accuses the CEO of trying to negotiate an unfairly good personal deal, yet later in the book demands a cash severance payment for himself; talks about how immoral the CEO was for suggesting sending engineers to competitors to interview hoping to learn about their technologies, yet later in the book admits that obtaining Microsoft's beta code through 'a friend' was Ok under the circumstances.

In a nutshell, this book about being in the right place at the right time.

Jane Smith: This guy has *issues*, December 13, 2004

Yes, Charles is brilliant, arrogant and is lightening-fast in seeing the failings of others and himself and is willing to take ownership of them (rectifying the situation and doing something about it is another story completely...).

However, he also has a massive inferiority-complex when up against anyone with more brains more money, more privilege or more power than himself hence his complete disdain for anything Microsoft-related (never mind that it was the hand that fed him and he continues to bite it). He also fails to see that you can attract a lot more bees with honey instead of vinegar. It's not a coincidence that everyone from Vermeer, except Charles eventually landed a job at Microsoft, I suspect Gates was smart enough to see just how insanely jealous Charles must be of him.

As for his acidic portrayal of many of the players in the book, I'm fairly sure Charles really reserves his most toxic rage and disdain for those persons who display

  1. Either negative qualities he has and sees a lot of himself in and wished he did not have (i.e career opportunism, uppity-ness) or
  2. Positive qualities he wished he had but is too nasty to ever take time out to acquire and attract (i.e Gates with his greater reserves of intelligence, power and wealth).

Gates also has a quality and understanding that Charles doesn't: that life isn't just about accumulating stuff, but about the quality and integrity of the relationships around you. Gates is no innocent either but at least I've never heard any stories about him running around on his wife and kids and the people he surrounds himself with have been with him for years.

Charles, on the other hand goes through people like toilet paper, he even admits that he's so impossible that people either dislike him right away or shortly thereafter - as exemplified in this book.

I've actually dated him and yes, his character does come out in his writing very strongly. So yes, he is a real jerk, and can be an even larger jerk especially when you've outsmarted him in any slight way.

That being said, he also has a very warm, human, giving and honest side which for some unknown reason he hoards jealously (and glimpses of it come out here and there in the book), which is why in the book he skewers just about everyone and their dog. It's really too bad - with a talent and intelligence like that, he could have gotten a lot more for Vermeer, a lot more for himself and he'd be a happier human being instead of a 50-ish, balding, lonely, bitter software millionaire in a Mazda Miata.

Putnam:

OK, If I could I'd give it 4.5 stars or so -- there are flaws. But basically, the book has a lot of great info, especially for geeks who work in the software business. There are very few books on the business side of things.

The author is incredibly blunt. Perhaps a bit nasty. But it is clear that he had to do it so that he didn't get fleeced. Also, it is great to see someone with a backbone.

The step-by-step evolution of stuff is great. You really get a feel for what happened, when it happened.

I'd say it is required reading for geeks.

Keith Dawson: A must-read for anyone with an Internet business plan, December 7, 1999

Read the jacket copy of most any tell-all business book and you'll see the publisher claim that the author pulls no punches. Charles Ferguson is the real deal. You've probably never read a book that so plainly lays out the author's opinions, feelings, failures, and triumphs while recounting a company's history.

Ferguson founded Vermeer Technologies, which developed the FrontPage Web authoring / editing environment in 1994 and 1995 and was acquired by Microsoft early in 1996. Microsoft FrontPage is now used by 3 million people around the world.

The eight chapters in which Ferguson describes the 22 months of Vermeer's independent existence are riveting reading for anyone who lived through the birth of the commercial Internet. Ferguson gives his startlingly frank opinions on everyone involved: Vermeer's venture capitalists, the near-disaster of a CEO they hired, the Netscape and Microsoft players with whom Ferguson negotiated for Vermeer's purchase. He's a hard grader and as tough on himself as on others. I think that none of the things he says quite rises to the level of the libelous; but some of them will make you wonder.

Everyone with an Internet business plan should read this first-time entrepreneur's look back, especially for its eye-opening account of his dealings with venture capitalists. Read it before you get your money. The book will probably depress you; but Ferguson's hard-won lessons might just possibly save your bacon.

I found the early part of the book somewhat confusing because Ferguson talks about the business and venture-capital climate in Silicon Valley. Vermeer was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts and its first investors were easterners. I assume the publisher chose to downplay this geographical undesirability in order to bask in the magic glow of the words ''Silicon Valley.'' And of course by the time Vermeer went seeking a second round of VC funding, many of the players involved were in the west. (I'll also give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the publisher's choice to replace an ''a'' on the cover with an ''@'' -- lest the reader fail to apprehend that this is an Internet book.)

Ferguson, in concert with his early employees, saw very clearly the way the Internet and the competitive environment would grow. Of course he could be padding with hindsight the nature of his early strategic insight; but he ended up convincing me otherwise. For this reason I plowed through the book's final three chapters, in which he imparts his views the self-immolation of Netscape, the Microsoft problem, and the (in his opinion) vastly more worrisome problem of the incumbent telecomm companies. In my mind he had earned the right to have his opinions attended to.

I asked a former colleague who was close to the events at Vermeer to comment on the accuracy of the historical picture Ferguson paints. The reply:

''He accurately conveys what it was like to go through the Vermeer experience. I don't agree with everything he says, but I know he believes everything he says, and says everything he believes. He doesn't pull any punches.''

Andrew Leonard: Sometimes interesting narrative, but flawed analysis, September 23, 2001 By (Seattle, WA) -

Charles Ferguson is smart. Charles Ferguson knows he's smart. But Charles Ferguson thinks he's smarter and more important than he really is, and this makes this otherwise interesting book sometimes painful to read.

The chapters covering the formation through eventual acquisition of Vermeer Technologies are an interesting education in the ways of VCs and hi-tech startups in the mid 90's.

However, the last three chapters of the book are pretty worthless. These contain Ferguson's analysis of the industry and predictions for the future, and suffer because of Ferguson's worldview that he and Vermeer were far more important to the industry than they actually were. Ferguson lacks an understanding of large IT operations, and it's unfortunately evident in these chapters.

Ferguson's pronounced hostility towards certain actors in his book - including former subordinates - also makes for uncomfortable reading. Some things should simply be kept private.

Buy the book if you want to learn about VCs and hi-tech startups early in the Internet era, and don't mind wading through Ferguson's ego eruptions. Otherwise, skip it.

C. Johanson: An Authentic Silicon Valley Story, July 24, 2001

Mr. Ferguson's book is the only narration I have so far encountered (including Mr. Michael Lewis' THE NEW NEW THING, Mr. Po Bronson's THE NUDIST ON THE LATE SHIFT, and Mr. Randall E. Stross' EBOYS) that may actually represent what goes on in the entrepreneur world, and it does so in a straightforward tone with a whole lot of humor- and some cynicism- thrown in, making the book an enjoyable read. What's amazing about this book is its age: although the book is from 1999, much of what Mr. Ferguson concludes about where the industry is headed has come true or is slowly being recognized by the mainstream line of thought (this is quite an accomplishment in case you do not understand the rarity of such occurrences). Mr. Ferguson actually understands the technology and business underlining his startup as well, and he isn't afraid to admit when his comprehension falls short. Ask any engineer- this personality attribute in leaders of the entrepreneur world is becoming increasingly uncommon, unfortunately.

If you're looking for a book that is written by someone who has been there and has also stood the test of time in terms of holding its conclusions intact, this is it for the late 90s era. If you're looking for a book by an outsider who doesn't seem to understand what's really going on and that romanticizes Silicon Valley or Route 128, look for something else. I especially recommend this book to anyone who is frustrated with the herd mentality in the tech world and would like to read something that has a refreshing independence to its views.

(Actually, on second thought, if you're looking for a book that humorously shoots itself in the foot with its free-wheeling conjectures and hasty exclamations prior to the stock market correction, check out those books I listed above).

Philip Greenspun: insightful analysis of Microsoft v. Netscape plus bonuses, March 29, 2001

I met Charles once or twice in and around MIT (he was a grad student in political science; I was/am in the engineering school). So I can vouch for the other reviewers' comments that Charles isn't Mr. Smooth. Nor do I give the book 4 stars because he seems likely to displace Seamus Heaney as a poet. But you'll never see a clearer explanation of how hired-gun CEOs can run a company into the ground. The bigger and most interesting example of this phenomenon covered in the book is Netscape. In ancient times it was believed that you had to train people for 5 or 10 years before they could assume significant management responsibility within a company. Jack Welch started at GE in 1961. He became CEO 20 years later. Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980. He became CEO 20 years later. Venture capitalists are big believers in the idea that any random company can be lead by any random people with impressive resumes. But it doesn't seem to work in the software products business and Charles Ferguson explains why not. So it is true that the book could have been better written and better edited. But the ideas are worth the wade.

James Altucher: a good book for people who hate VCs, February 10, 2001

I've started companies and I've also been a VC and neither experience is very pleasant. The only pleasant parts are getting the initial idea, seeing it work, and then selling the company. There's a saying "hide the equity - the VCs are coming!" Ferguson (and also Jim Clark at SGI) had to deal with that. The VCs come in, take all the equity, make bad management decisions (because they are financial guys and have 10 other companies to worry about) and then either take all the spoils or spoil all the take. The fascinating thing about Ferguson's story is that the story of his business is not really about products or marketshare or management, its about VCs and Microsoft. That's the new business in today's world. The only downside of this book is why be so bitter about the company that made you into a hundred millionaire?

Michael Alatortsev : book starts really well, then quickly gets annoying, January 31, 2001

The part about raising capital is excellent (actually, I remembered reading a very similar article in Fast Company a year or two ago). What I didn't like was the constant bashing of Netscape, and Vermeer's CEO throughout the book. There's also a certain double standard mentality: the author accuses the CEO of trying to negotiate an unfairly good personal deal, yet later in the book demands a cash severance payment for himself; talks about how immoral the CEO was for suggesting sending engineers to competitors to interview hoping to learn about their technologies, yet later in the book admits that obtaining Microsoft's beta code through 'a friend' was Ok under the circumstances.

In a nutshell, this book about being in the right place at the right time.

T. Masterson : witness to the start of the Internet revolution

High Stakes is an intensely personal book from a witness to the start of the Internet revolution. Charles Ferguson had an essential widget for creating interactive web pages, and he had it before anyone else. He tells about the pain of suffering of growing a company ahead of its time and then getting caught up in the whirlwind that followed... While the General Motors of the world took decades to become ossified, the author found a sclerosis of thinking in Silicon Valley as soon companies had any taste of success. This is not a how-to book. This is a "how it felt book". I like it and I recommend it to anyone starting a company or anyone curious about technology and society.

S. Clark: He's proud to be arrogant, December 21, 2000 By  - See all my reviews

If you can't see anything wrong with the title line of this review, than maybe you will enjoy this book. There are a few nuggets in this book, but they are very few and very far between. This guy is a total blowhard and is completely in love with the sound of his own voice. He is a total master of the obvious, he states obvious things at great length over and over again with minor variations. It's hard to believe that he was involved in any meaningful way with any hi-tech success. I think it's more likely that he lucked into a situation that he fought hard to stay a part of, but he was never really a key player. He is totally shameless in packaging and marketing this contentless rambling. And more fool me, I bought the hard bound version.

A waste of both time and money.

Supplement 3: MSM Reviews of the book

[Oct 04, 2010] Review of Charles Ferguson, High Stakes, No Prisoners

J. Bradford DeLong and A. Michael Froomkin

October 1999

DeLong is a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Froomkin is a professor of law at the University of Miami Law School, and a non-executive director of the Internet startup company Out2.com.

A link to Charles Ferguson (1999), High Stakes, No Prisoners (New York: Times Books: 0812931432) at amazon.com.

This is an early draft of a book review that will be forthcoming in the Harvard Business Review.


Charles Ferguson has written a very honest book. That honesty is one chief reason to read it: he dishes the dirt on Netscape, Microsoft, his lawyers, his venture capitalists, and not least himself. But his very honesty gives the reader some critical distance--and gave us the tools to question how long the core conclusions of the book will continue to apply.

In 1993 Charles Ferguson--MIT-trained engineer, consultant, and high-tech industry analyst--had a brilliant idea: the world needed a visual development software tool to create online information systems. The tool had to be visually-oriented to be useful to the non-programmers who knew the information. Yet the tool had to be sophisticated to allow organizations to structure their data in useful ways. Ferguson sunk his then-life savings into his idea. He created his software corporation, Vermeer. With his partner, Randy Forgaard, he assembled a very good programming staff. He raised venture capital. He pursued the enterprise with monomania mixed with paranoia. And by the end of 1995 there was code that was more sophisticated than the code of potential competing programs like NaviPress, Netscape Composer, or PageMill, and that actually ran.

Ferguson and his startup jumpstarted an important part of how we interact with the Internet. Because of his idea, because he backed it to the hilt, and because others saw what he was doing and imitated him, we as a society got a nine-month head start on the development and diffusion of visual tools for Internet information systems design. This has enriched us all: we are in his debt. And he managed to carve off for himself a small slice of the user surplus that he and his organization created, and become rich.

At the end of 1995 Microsoft offered somewhat more than $100 million for Vermeer, for Vermeer's key technical personnel--and for Ferguson's silence for two years. Ferguson and the rest of Vermeer's board accepted. His software project was renamed "Microsoft Frontpage."

The two years of silence have elapsed. This book is Ferguson's story of the Internet startup that made him rich. Or, rather, the story of the Internet startup Vermeer is one of three major threads that make up this book. For there are really three essays of varying length woven together within one set of covers:

The first essay is the story of Vermeer and of its founding entrepreneur, Charles Ferguson.

The second essay is the story of the rise of the Internet and a briefing on the dilemmas of high-technology corporate strategy, written by engineer-consultant-business analyst, Charles Ferguson.

The third essay is an attack on the harmful effects of Microsoft, written by someone--Charles Ferguson--who feels guilt at having profited from and added to Microsoft's economic leverage.

Other topics ranging from the Microsoft anti-trust trial to privacy law to
productivity theory are raised, briefly discussed, then dropped. One of the more interesting asides is Ferguson's analysis of the sources of today's high technology: although the development came from the private sector, in his view the research came and had to come from the government. One of the more substantial tangents is a ten-page attack--the particulars of which seemed to go awry in places (or so says DeLong, whose office is on the same hall as two of Ferguson's targets)--on the Regional Bell Operating Companies and the economists who consult for them. This is a book rich in asides.

It is also a book that is less than completely successful. The essays braided together to make up the body of this book are not quite the best in their respective classes.

First, for entertaining and informative entrepreneur's eye view stories about business enterprise in the computer age, Andrew Grove's _Only the Paranoid Survive_ gives a more nuanced and deeper view of the industry. The pseudonymous "Robert X. Cringely"'s _Accidental Empires_ does a better job of placing the developments that made today's high-tech what it is in their full and proper perspective.

Second, if you want a briefing on the dilemmas of high-technology corporate strategy, Carl Shapiro's and Hal Varian's _Information Rules: Competitive Strategy in the Information Age_ provides a better analysis of what high-tech industries are like, and what are the features that make competition in these industries different and interesting. To a significant degree this is simply a problem of space: Ferguson is cramming three books into the space of one. To some degree this is a problem of narration: Ferguson sees the world in sharp black and sharp white only. There are no shades of grey, no tolerance of ambiguity, no recognition that things look different from different points of view. To his great credit Ferguson recognizes--as few analysts are ever adult enough to do--that he has been very certain yet wrong in the past. Yet this recognition of error in the past does not lead to a recognition of uncertainty and ambiguity in the present: people are geniuses or idiots, corporate strategies are brilliant or misguided, organizations are healthy or fatally diseased.

Third, the Microsoft essay is too short to be fully convincing. You can get Ferguson's point of view much more depth and thicker description by reading _Hard Drive_ or _Competing on Internet Time_. Moreover, Ferguson's Microsoft essay is somewhat limited by the fact that he adopts a point of view too close to that of Microsoft's competitors and not close enough to the broader view of consumer surplus and the public welfare. Ferguson feels sorry for Borland and Netscape because Microsoft gave them "cashectomies": giving away the equivalent of their flagship products for nearly free (in the case of Borland) and completely free (in the case of Netscape). But from a public interest standpoint it is hard (though possible) to complain vociferously about the result: the bird in the hand is that lots of users got lots of good software very cheap, while the value of those still in the bush is unclear. As we argue below, there is at least a case to be made that Microsoft may not retain long-run market power through its software giveaways.

So if the three main threads are not quite best-of-breed, why read this book?

People should read this book because Charles Ferguson is an entrepreneur *and* a business consultant *and* a policy analyst. He thus has a very interesting multiplicity of vision. Ferguson-the-entrepreneur launching the Internet startup Vermeer is watched in the back of his head by Ferguson-the-industry-analyst, who is thereby led to rethink his views on the relative comparative advantage of large U.S. companies vs. the Silicon Valley system. Ferguson-the-entrepreneur's ideas about what Vermeer should do are powerfully and explicitly influenced by Ferguson-the-industry-analyst's views on how to create an entrenched market position in the information age.

Usually industry analysts and consultants have little clue about how difficult it actually is to run a business. Usually entrepreneurs have a hard time expressing the vision of industry dynamics that they intuit. They cannot--even when successful--easily explain just what it was that led them to follow the strategies for creating market position that they adopt. Ferguson can, and does. Usually policy analysts have little grasp of how the private sector really works, and of what government interventions in the market will actually do. Ferguson-the-entrepreneur has a solid grasp of these issues.

The combination gives the book a combination of a wealth of perspective with a form of street credibility that few books about the Internet economy possess, and makes it worth reading. Thus, for example, when Ferguson tells us that government R&D people are "light years ahead" [59] of their counterparts in industry in both brainpower and vision, that conclusion cannot be dismissed as the rambling of some academic consultant who has never run a business or taken a product to market.

And there is all the dirt Ferguson dishes. It is very entertaining to watch it fly.

Vermeer

In early 1994 MIT-trained engineer, management consultant, and computer industry-watcher Charles Ferguson had the spectacularly good idea that extraordinary utility could be created by the combination of:

As Ferguson quickly discovered, the first two parts of this combination, the http protocol and the web browser, had already been created by Tim Berners-Lee of CERN, the inventor of the world-wide-web. The fact that they were open-source--that their specifications were published, that any programmer anywhere in the world was free to try to improve the running code, and that any programmer anywhere in the world was free to try to interface with or extend the system--was key to the explosion of the world-wide-web. By going the open-source route Berners-Lee traded away a small chance of becoming a billionaire and in return received a role as the human whose work has had the greatest consequences for the world of anyone in this decade. And the open-source success of the web made it impossible for any alternative, proprietary wide-area information architecture to succeed. As Microsoft CEO Bill Gates recognized early in 1995, the open-source nature of the web doomed Microsoft's launch of the proprietary Microsoft Network [MSN]: as he wrote, Microsoft had no answer to information distributors and users who asked "why they should use MSN instead of just setting up their own web server."

But Ferguson and his partner, Randy Forgaard, recognized that the third part was absent. The wildfire spread of the open-source web greatly enhanced the potential value of creating the third part--a powerful visual development tool for building and maintaining world wide web sites. By late 1995 it was clear that the Vermeer team had mostly succeeded. In large part because of Ferguson's monomania, they had a shipping product, a sophisticated visual web development tool, six to twelve months ahead in functionality of all of its major competitors. They had an excellent good programming staff with experience at this slice of business. But by this time Ferguson loathed his CEO and his VC backers.

Moreover, Vermeer did not have a functional marketing organization. Ferguson reports that during the three months between Vermeer's launch of its product, FrontPage, and its acquisition by Microsoft, it sold less than 300 copies--a rate of total sales of less than $600,000 a year for a company with a then-burn rate of perhaps $10 million a year. Thus by the end of 1995 the only live option was to sell out to a software company that did have functional sales and distribution organizations.

Of the companies that might have acquired Vermeer, AOL had already bought a company in Vermeer's line of business--Navisoft, with the NaviPress web development tool and with NaviServer (now called AOLserver, a now open-source product that many consider to be, along with open-source Apache, the best-of-breed in webserver programs). Adobe had bought PageMill. Netscape and Microsoft, however, were still thinking about acquiring web development tools.

Entrepreneur-Ferguson sold Vermeer to Microsoft for $130 million, in spite of qualms high-technology policy analyst Ferguson felt about the social utility of adding a leading position in another market segment to Microsoft's assets. What did Microsoft get for its $130 million? It got a nine-month head start in web development tools embodied in the code and in the technical team that it acquired.

The story of Vermeer is interesting and entertaining. However, the lessons learned will probably not be of much use to others in similar situations who are now trying to obtain venture funding and rapidly expand their organizations. The book contains a lot of true knowledge about how one bargains with venture capitalists for funding. But this is one case in which information is not (much) power: the VCs have the money, and you need it. Ferguson's lament that VCs do not compete against each other because they know they will deal with each other again may be tempered slightly by the growth in the number of funds seeking to bankroll startups, but the basic power imbalance remains so long as the number of would-be startups grows at least as quickly.

Software Markets

As Vermeer walked its path toward launching its product, Ferguson focused on two things. First, he focused on trying to get the programmers to design and create the best possible visual development tool for creating and maintaining websites. Second, he focused even more on trying to design a visual development tool that would make money for the company.

The second is an extremely difficult task because of the features of software markets.

The first is that in general in any software niche there can only be one highly profitable product: the one with the largest market share. Costs of manufacturing software are almost all up-front, one time, costs. The production economies of scale are massive because software is what economists call non-rival. One master copy on a disk can be duplicated essentially for free and run by any number of users. These supply-side economies of scale are matched by demand-side economies of scale as well. If your co-authors, your supervisors, or your subordinates use Microsoft Word, you have to use Microsoft Word as well unless you want to waste half your life dealing with file-format-translation glitches.

Given the relatively small size of the consolation prize, it is no wonder that the drive to become *the* standard becomes all-consuming. Software makers like Vermeer become obsessed with speed-to-market, secrecy (to prevent competitors from recognizing what their product will be), and initial market share. The need for dominant market share also encourages software bloat. As Ferguson perceived it, "You can't become the industry standard unless your product covers every major portion of the market."

Success in this strategy acts as a barrier to entry. Given the high fixed costs of making a compatible and multi-functioned product, competitors may often will be discouraged from even entering the market segment if there is an entrenched early mover with a large market share. Indeed, even a firm willing to commit substantial resources may find that a pre-existing proprietary standard cannot easily be dislodged. Microsoft, after all, found it expedient to acquire FrontPage rather than assign a team of programmers to reinvent it. An open source standard is even harder to dislodge or control: Bill Gates originally hoped that Microsoft could make its Word document format displace the HTML format as the standard for web-based publishing, but soon had to admit that HTML was not going to go away.

Thus Vermeer and its software designers had a big problem. They had to create a version 1.0 that was good enough to rapidly achieve a dominant market share. They also had to have plans for versions 2.0 and 3.0 that would make users wish to pay to upgrade. Without upgrades and revenue from upgrades you do not have a future revenue stream. And they had to--somehow--lock consumers into FrontPage, so that when they did wish upgrade they would find it very expensive to upgrade to anything other than the latest version of FrontPage. (Ferguson is acid about Netscape's failure to appreciate the need to lock-in--or even identify--its customers, and attributes much of their difficulties to this.)

Microsoft and Open Source

Perhaps Ferguson's most successful long-run contribution from the standpoint of Microsoft's bottom line was to manage to create a software architecture that did achieve a substantial amount of lock-in. The server-side extensions of Microsoft FrontPage do indeed make it very expensive for users who have utilized these advanced features to shift to any other program. Moreover, it appears to be difficult to install the server-side features on any machine that is not running Microsoft's Internet Information Server--there appears to be lock-in not only over time, but between different Microsoft programs as well.

But this lock-in makes users' lives more difficult: it is definitely *not* in users' interest for such lock-in to be successfully created. It is, Ferguson thinks, definitely not in users' or in America's interest for Microsoft to take its two current effective monopolies--in operating systems and office productivity suites--and add to them three more monopolies, in browser software, in web development tools, and in server software. Yet when Ferguson looks back on the impact of Vermeer, he sees it as having accomplished three things: (a) made him and his people rich, (b) jumpstarted the web development tools industry, and (c) given Microsoft a very good chance of extending its dominance into new markets. And this third worries policy-analyst Ferguson very much, for he thinks that the world is ill-served by a Microsoft dominant across many different software markets.

Ferguson sees Microsoft's business model as based on two principles: (i) establish and control its own industry standards, and (ii) commoditize every other related business. The first is accomplished through embrace-and-extend. Microsoft initially embraces a standard proposed by others. Then it cuts its price to or beyond the bone in order to gain a significant market position. Then it extends the standard in proprietary ways that its competitors cannot easily match. And it winds up with an effective monopoly. The second is accomplished by Microsoft--in cooperation with Intel, and usually some PC manufacturers--making sure that new hardware functions are standardized in an open, non-proprietary way. This produces a hardware industry with a high degree of interoperability that is ruthlessly competitive. And because competition means that users spend less on hardware, they have more to spend on Microsoft.

Hence his policy recommendation: dismember Microsoft in a way that prohibits it ever getting back together, or any piece of it ever recovering its present market position. If this is not accomplished, Ferguson fears, progress and innovation will slow as Microsoft ossifies, and we all will be the poorer for it.

Ferguson's fear of Microsoft is built on the insight that "the key prize in high technology is proprietary control of an industry standard" [24], an insight that he arrived at in 1992. It was this insight that led him to place so much stress on protecting intellectual property and creating lock-in while he was running Vermeer. It worked, and made him rich. Call this the "Microsoft Vision," for it was the proprietary-standard lock-in possibility created by Vermeer's server side extensions that made Vermeer worth so much to Microsoft. (Moreover, there was the possibility that perhaps the server side extensions could be made to work more easily and effectively with Microsoft's Internet Information Server and other Microsoft software than with competing products.) Thus Ferguson's current fear of Microsoft is the product of much the same mindset that made Microsoft think that Ferguson's company was a valuable acquisition, for Microsoft certainly believes in the Microsoft Vision.

Yet perhaps this insight has outlived its usefulness. Perhaps what worked--gloriously, for Ferguson--in the 1990s will not work ten years from now. In reading _High Stakes, No Prisoners_ we were frequently struck by a strange silence. As we at least look at Microsoft today, other than the possibility of action by the Justice Department, its principal competitive threat and restraint--in the operating system business at least--is not Apple or Sun but is the open source Movement and its freeware operating system, Linux. That open source vision may or may not come to provide serious long-run competition for the Microsoft Vision. It may or may not provide long-run constraints on Microsoft's profitability and market power. But it seems fair to ask that any discussion of market structure and competition policy in the software industry address the issue of competition from Open Source software.

All this is not on Ferguson's radar screen at all.

The Open Source movement has interesting properties that suggest to us it is worth taking seriously. Essentially volunteer software development would seem particularly vulnerable to the tragedy of the commons, but open source has evolved a number of strategies that at least ameliorate and may even overcome this problem. One is the now-familiar ways in which open source authors gain status and participate in a sort of online gift-exchange. Perhaps less well understood, but ironically well-revealed by _High Stakes, No Prisoners_ itself, is the way in which participation in an Open Sourprce process may limit your upside but it also protects your flank. As Microsoft's failed attempt to replace html with Word's .doc standard demonstrates, once an open source standard takes root even a well-financed proponent of a propriety solution may be stymied.

Similarly, from the user perspective, open source provides at worst a mixed blessing. The absence of the prospect of an enormous payout may retard the development of new features, and also reduce the richness of the feature set. However, since most people apparently use a fairly small subset of the features provided by major packages open source may make proprietary designer add-ons both technically feasible and economically rational. Open source may also revise slower, arguably a blessing these days, but it tends to be very stable (e.g. Debian). Customer support may be no worse under open source, as provided by a combination of dedicated, even obsessed, volunteers (sometimes the designers themselves) and value-added aftermarket commercial opportunists.

Indeed, one of the great strengths of the open source movements, albeit one not always endorsed by its hard-core devotees, is the extent to which it creates opportunities for market-driven complementary products and services that are much more difficult to provide for proprietary solutions. Thus, for example, Red Hat can make a successful business providing easy to install Unix and technical support in a way that is all but inconceivable for a supplier of Windows 98 assistance.

Ultimately, Open Source stands a good chance to provide a counterpoint to the Microsoft Vision because it offers a different and apparently viable solution to the "problems" of high fixed costs, of non-transparency, and even "non-excludibility". The fixed cost problem is solved by spreading the cost to all the participants in Open Source development. Since no one can control the standard, and the point of the exercise is to allow competing products to bloom, there is no need for secrecy, and the paranoia level can go down. All providers in the software market are assured that their access to it will remain. The non-transparency problem is not eliminated, since predicting the future is as hard as ever, but users can be reassured that the openness of the source means that if they desperately need a feature they can pay someone to code it for them.

Open source even alleviates what economists call the non-excludiblity problem. In normal software markets the manufacturer has a very difficult time making sure that only those with valid licenses are running programs. Sophisticated copy protection systems go haywire enough and cause enough hassles for legitimate users that they have all but vanished in the course of the past two decades. And in the absence of such copy protection schemes manufacturers are reduced to relying on users' respect for manufacturers' intellectual property rights to produce a consistent revenue stream. In open source, the revenues cannot come from traditional intellectual property rights alone. One must provide some sort of other value, be it help desk, easy installation, or extra features in order to be paid. The danger that one may not be paid at all is the Achilles heel of the Open Source vision, and the reason why we are not prepared to say it will necessarily predominate.

Ferguson's blind spot about Open Source software is surprising since his entire business--his entire business model--depended on Open Source software several times over. As he notes, critical to the development of the Internet was the adoption of servers based on the UNIX operating system [53]. The world wide web as we know it exists because Tim Berners-Lee Open Sourced html and http. (It may be telling that Ferguson found Berners-Lee "unrealistic" when he first met him, and slams the W3C consortium that Berners-Lee joined as a "rather useless, nonprofit Web standards group.") Yet as Ferguson also recognizes--were there a Nobel Prize for computer science, he would award it to Berners-Lee--the market for his web design tool existed only because Mosaic and Netscape web browsers, and Httpd and Apache servers, were being given away for free.

Conclusion

There is a sense in which the characteristics that made Ferguson a successful entrepreneur both strengthen and weaken this book. They strengthen the book by providing street credibility and consistency checking. Ferguson-the-business-analyst gives Ferguson-the-entrepreneur a much more intelligible voice than enterpreneurs possess by providing both a framework to organize the narrative and clear well-written prose. They weaken the book because they lead Ferguson to be so d--- sure of everything, to see sharp lines between black and white. An intolerance for ambiguity, a refusal to recognize uncertainty both beforehand and in retrospect--these are characteristics that made Ferguson an excellent and decisive entrepreneur. But they also make readers of the book unsure as to just how strongly they should hold the conclusions Ferguson reaches, and unsure just how strong the evidence for those conclusions is. Does he really want us to believe that in 1995 Janet Reno had no one working for her who understood high-tech and Microsoft?

Ferguson reports that his track record as a consultant and policy analyst has been uneven. He thought at the time that IBM's hire of Lou Gerstner was a disaster, he greatly underestimated the value of the Silicon Valley system, and he overplayed the Japanese threat to America's comparative advantage in high-tech industries. Will his next book, in a decade or so, begin with an admission that he failed to recognize that Open Source had achieved a state of maturity that vastly undermined the value of "proprietary control of industry standards"?

We are not sure. But we find our confidence in his analytical judgment is somewhat reduced by the fact that he doesn't find Open Source worth thinking about. And we also find ourselves somewhat disappointed: for we are very curious to learn what he would have to say.

Go to related links...

Just read your draft review of my book. You're certainly right that I'm opinionated. I have, however, thought about open source software, and I believe that I discuss it in the book; I am pretty sure that I discuss Linux at least briefly.

For various reasons, I doubt that open source software will/would sufficiently discipline Microsoft in the absence of other antitrust remediation; the open source AOL/Netscape browser certainly hasn't. I'd be happy to talk with you about that, or anything else.

Many thanks, though, for taking the time to think about the book carefully. I would welcome a chance to chat; I live half time in Berkeley.

Contributed by Charles Ferguson (chf@cferguson.com) on May 3, 2000.


in case you missed this by Charles Ferguson

To view the entire article, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20897-2000Apr5.html  

Dismantle Microsoft, With Care

To the surprise of nobody--except, apparently, the stock market--Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has ruled that Microsoft violated the antitrust laws. The Justice Department and states must now recommend remedies; Jackson must decide; and then his decision, if sustained upon appeal, must be implemented. I'm not a lawyer; I pass on the strictly legal issues. But for the good of both consumers and industry, a major structural solution is called for. But if such major surgery is to be undertaken, it is important to do it correctly. Microsoft should be split into its technologically natural components--operating systems, applications and possibly a third company for Internet services. (For the record, most of my wealth consists of Microsoft stock.)

Contributed by glenn@econ.berkeley.edu (glenn@econ.berkeley.edu) on May 3, 2000

 


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[Jan 15, 2014] Customer Reviews Microsoft FrontPage 2003 - Old Version

They still sell it on Amazon. But the price now is around $200 ;-). Like reviewer below I also use it on Windows 7 64-bit and its running OK.
Amazon.com

Susan D Butzke (Nashville, TN United States) - See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Microsoft FrontPage 2003 - Old Version (Software)

Awesome service--flawless install instructions too! Works fine on Win 7/64-bit and now can edit an old web page that I thought would have to redo from scratch.

Glynn Brooks (Plano, TX USA) - See all my reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars Getting better, still not there yet, May 24, 2005

I've been tempted by each new version of FrontPage because it makes many tedious and complex Web site development tasks very easy to do. All that power to crank out high quality, high function Web sites has lured me to try again and again.

For example, FrontPage generates very attractive Web pages. It comes with a large set of esthetically pleasing style templates, artwork, and fonts. It also has an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor that allows you to precisely place text and graphic items on the Web page. If you change your mind, it is easy to switch templates and experiment. The FrontPage 2003 page editor is better than ever, and supports all kinds of drag-and-drop items that greatly simplify creating and using Web forms and updating databases.

But FrontPage is not focused on creating individual Web pages; its purpose is to help you build and run Web sites. For simple Web sites, that is good news. It means that someone without much training can quickly design, develop, and publish an attractive Web site. FrontPage 2003 provides many ready-made solutions; you just pick the one closest to your needs, customize it to look the way you want, and plant your flag on the Internet.

Although the template and wizard approach can get you up and running quickly, the FrontPage developers I've talked with say that the more complex a Web site is, the harder it is to use templates. Unfortunately, the templates are not customizable and do not scale well. My own experience is that templates make for a great demo, but are not usable for many Web applications.

So if you are going to have to get down and dirty to use FrontPage for non-trivial Web projects, just how good is FrontPage as a Web site programming tool? My conclusion: FrontPage does not want to be a tool; it wants to be the solution. That is the source of my continuing frustration with FrontPage, and it's why I've tried and quit using previous versions. To use FrontPage effectively, you must understand and agree to use the framework of the Web site it generates. If that framework is a good fit for the Web site you want to build, FrontPage is the right product for the job at hand. Just remember that FrontPage is not a tool, it is an architecture and a methodology.

In fairness, I must say that FrontPage 2003 is more flexible, adaptable, and powerful than any previous version. The Microsoft online support is better, and there are some very good free online tutorials. Provided that you have a high-speed Internet connection, you should be quite pleased with all the extra FrontPage documentation and goodies available from the support site.

I found one quirk in FrontPage 2003 that caught me by surprise. Microsoft classifies FrontPage as a member of the Office product family, so to download FrontPage security patches and program fixes, you have to go to the office.microsoft.com Web site and use the Office update wizard. The quirk is this: if there are any problems with the way Word or Excel are installed on your PC, it can block you from getting FrontPage patches.

On the PC where I was trying to get FrontPage updates, I had upgraded successively from Office 97 to Office 2000 to Office 2002. The Office update wizard kept prompting me to load the original CDs for the old versions. I found this very annoying, especially since I was not interested in getting updates for the other programs in the Office suite. In my opinion, there should be a way to get FrontPage updates without going through the Office update wizard.

Recommendation:

* If you are going to use FrontPage 2003, buy this book: Microsoft FrontPage 2003 Inside Out by Jim Buyens, ISBN 0735615101, 1264 pages with a supplemental CD. It has excellent chapters on how FrontPage really works, best development practices, lots of good tips and techniques, and it will help you avoid common problems.

Conclusions:

Gregory A. Beamer "Cowboy" (Nashville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

A good step up, November 17, 2003

I have worked with FrontPage since version 97, which was, overall, a real stinker. I have also worked with Dreamweaver since its earliest versions. In times past, FrontPage has largely been the site management and application development leader of the two, while Dreamweaver was much better at templating and all of the eye candy, like mouseover images, that we have become so fond of using in our sites.

Having said that, FrontPage 2003 is a great step in the right direction. Here are my feelings, broken down:

Site Management

Site Management has improved in FrontPage 2003, although the most bang for the buck will be Enterprise users who have decided to use SharePoint Portal Server in their organization. Much of the new data functionality relies on SharePoint. What this means is FrontPage 2003 gives a lot more power for those in the Microsoft world. Note that it is still backwards compatible with frontPage 2002 extensions, for those without SharePoint.

Behaviors

Much of the work in this area is like Dreamweaver and it is a mixed bag. On the positive side, behaviors are more flexible in FrontPage; on the negative, there are still many missing from FrontPage. The major behaviors are there, however, so I would give FrontPage a plus here.

Intellisense and coding

Microsoft has always lead the charge in this area and FrontPage is no exception. The Intellisense in FrontPage 2003 extends into ASP and ASP.NET code. For developers interested in altering the code created, everything is accessible. The death of FrontPage extensions are the reason, so those with backward compatible sites will have to deprecate some features if they use webbots. The small price is well worth the gain.

CSS

FrontPage has much greater support for CSS than previous versions, and is especially useful for those who like to work with graphical tools or those who like to work with code. The tag explorer, in Dreamweaver, wins for those who sit in the middle, however.

HTML Editing

The ability to go back and forth from code to design and retain positioning is a real godsend. This feature exists in Dreamweaver, as well, so it is not as stellar as some of the other tools. One of the nicest tools is the tag explorer, that allows you to see the nesting of your currently selected tag and easily navigate up and down the tree. In addition, there is a code editor that lets you isolate on a specific tag and use Intellisense to code its attributes. There is also a tool that allows you to quickly find a closing tag, which is a godsend for any developer working with nested HTML tables.

Themes and templates

Themes are much more easily edited in FrontPage 2003, which allows designers to alter templated sites to make nice looking custom built sites very quickly. FrontPage also has the ability to create "master page" style templates which are, possibly a surprise, fully compatible with Dreamweaver MX.

That pretty much covers the major features. Overall, I like the FrontPage methodology of using a side pane that focuses on the task at hand over Dreamweavers sliding tool palette, although I know people that are more fond of the Dreamweaver IDE.

One of the biggest benefits I have seen of FrontPage 2003, in the FrontPage/Dreamweaver battle, is Dreamweaver's tendency to lock up the OS when working on files on a shoddy network connection. As this does not apply to as many users, it is not reason enough to shy away from Dreamweaver. As I use both, I do not want to shy away from either, but here is how I would stack it up.

FrontPage wins with its table designer, Intellisense, coding aids (esp. ASP.NET) and flexibility in behaviors. Dreamweaver still wins with the number of eye candy features, strength of its added CSS tools and its flexibility in coding models (nice for developers who work in more than one language - Java, ColdFusion, ASP and ASP.NET included).

[Oct 04, 2010] Our Keynote Speaker is Randy Forgaard Cofounder of the Company that Created FrontPage

November 5, 2009 | IEEE

Randy will share with us the heady story of how he and Charles H. Ferguson founded Vermeer Technologies, Inc. in mid 1994. The Internet was starting to be adopted by businesses, and a new infrastructure called the World Wide Web was being formed. The big missing piece was a powerful, visual authoring tool for creating, maintaining, and administering whole web sites, and their individual pages.

By just about any measure - communications traffic, new web sites going up, downloads of web browsers and servers, new Internet subscriptions - the web was growing at 20% per month, the fastest growing phenomenon in economic history.

Vermeer shipped version 1.0 of FrontPage in October 1995. It was a great success, winning many industry awards, and praises from customers.

Two weeks before product release, and just 18 months since founding, Vermeer was approached separately on the same day by Netscape and Microsoft, both of whom wished to acquire the company. It was an agonizing decision. The start-up veterans at Vermeer had longed to go it alone with an IPO, but the two largest software companies in the Internet were intent on entering the same product space by acquiring FrontPage or creating similar products themselves. Vermeer agreed to be purchased by Microsoft, and it was unquestionably the right call. The $130 million deal closed in January 1996, and the newly re-christened Microsoft FrontPage version 1.1 was released in April of that year.

This was the first big Internet acquisition, and the story made the cover of the Wall Street Journal and the other major newsweeklies, with about 50 million people seeing the story on network TV news. It was an exhilarating and intimidating high-speed roller coaster ride. The early history of the company was instructional and exciting.

Smoother Site Building with FrontPage 2003 By Edward Mendelson

Editor rating of the product was just 4 stars, which tells something about quality of PCmag reviews ;-)
PCMag

Microsoft FrontPage 2003 is the Web site creation and editing component of the Office 2003 system we review in this issue ("Microsoft Office 2003: A New Strategy,"). But unlike all previous versions, which were sold either separately or with the rest of the suite, the newest version can only be bought as a separate package.

FrontPage still integrates with the rest of Office and employs shared Office features like the Picture Manager and Clip Organize. But it's now intended for serious Web authors and businesses that want to build sites based on data sources in XML, OLEDB, or Web services formats. Many advanced features, like Web logs and data-driven news pages, require Microsoft's SharePoint services.

Sleek new features make the highly automated, business-oriented FrontPage 2003 worth the upgrade. A more efficient interface eliminates the vertical Views bar and replaces it with a tabbed interface on the editing screen, giving you quick access to site management and editing features.

A remote-site view has been added to the site management tabs, so you don't have to open a separate Publish dialog. Improved page-editing features include a split-window view that displays raw HTML code at the top and the WYSIWYG page at the bottom. New accessibility checking finds code that may cause problems for vision-impaired visitors, but on our tests, this generated some annoying false positives. And some long-term frustrations remain, such as keyboard shortcuts that are inconsistent with older Office applications.

A new Button Builder adds mouse-over actions to navigation bars. Complex page layouts are built with the new Layout Table feature, which positions text and graphics in a table-like framework visible in the editing screen but not in a browser. Sites being built by a collaborative group can use layout templates in which all but specified regions are uneditable, like locked cells in a spreadsheet. A Tracing Image feature lets you take a mockup image of your site and view it as a semi-transparent layer behind the editing screen, allowing you to position page elements manually to match their locations on the mockup. Sitewide visual themes are now based on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), not HTML, for more compact and easy-to-maintain code.

Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 may offer more powerful CSS features and easier access to controls over graphic-intensive sites, but FrontPage remains first choice for small-business and school-based site building.

Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 Review

CNET Reviews

The good: Microsoft FrontPage 2003 offers an easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface, tight integration with Office, a bountiful assortment of templates and fonts, and a helpful code editor.

The bad: Microsoft FrontPage 2003 lacks a manual, and some sites may not display properly in browsers other than Internet Explorer. ISPs must have FrontPage extensions to enable some features.

The bottom line: If you need a midlevel Web site design app, Microsoft FrontPage 2003 is a good choice, but professionals should use Macromedia Dreamweaver instead.

Microsoft FrontPage 2003 is a Web site design and management application that ships with some versions of the Microsoft Office 2003 suite and is also available as a stand-alone program. It's easy to work with FrontPage, thanks to its visual WYSIWYG editor, wizards, drag-and-drop editing, and generous assortment of templates, clip art, and fonts. As part of the Microsoft Office family, FrontPage 2003 has an interface that will look familiar to users of other Microsoft products. FrontPage's excellent hooks to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Photo Editor will allow you to painlessly integrate snippets from other programs. But bear in mind that some of the features, such as form processing, themes, hit counters, database features, bulletin boards, security, search forms, and subwebs, will work only if your host ISP offers FrontPage extensions. And if you want the latest in cutting-edge Web technology, Macromedia Dreamweaver MX is a better but pricier choice.

The working area of FrontPage 2003 is a central display braced by panels on either side. A folder list on the left lets you choose the pages you wish to edit. The multifunctional panel on the right presents themes, help, clip art, behaviors, table design, and other items that you can insert onto a page. The central area features a Split view that simultaneously displays windows for design and code. Changes made in one window are automatically reflected in the other, providing an excellent way to check the effects of design tweaks and coding. Tabs at the top of the display allow you to navigate through the entire site or individual pages. Crafting tabbed pages is easy with FrontPage. Two panels help with this task: the "Layout tables and cells" panel lets you insert and format new tables, while the Cell Formatting panel adjusts the appearance of individual cells.

Licenses of Microsoft FrontPage 2000 Top 1 Million Units in Four Months Industry Awards, Editorial Reviews and Office 2000 Integration Increase Momentum

Oct. 25, 1999

Standalone license sales of Microsoft® FrontPage® 2000, the most recent version of the world's best-selling Web site creation and management tool, have surpassed 1 million units since the product was introduced four months ago. The popularity of FrontPage 2000 brings the total number of users of FrontPage to more than 3 million, highlighting the growing demand for commercial and personal Web sites and reinforcing the widespread popularity of FrontPage among a broad set of customers, including Web professionals, small-business users and people creating personal Web sites.

In addition to its early success as a standalone product, FrontPage 2000 has been a key driver in the success of Office 2000 Premium, the newest member of the Microsoft Office suite family. Office 2000 Premium, which includes FrontPage 2000 and PhotoDraw TM 2000 business graphics software in addition to the applications found in Office 2000 Professional, has achieved nearly 25 percent of retail Office suite sales in its first four months.

Microsoft's channel partners are also highlighting the success of FrontPage 2000 and Office 2000 Premium. "FrontPage 2000 is by far our best-selling Web authoring tool because it helps our customers save time while having fun when creating Web pages and Web sites," said Erick Vincent, senior buyer for Best Buy Company Inc. "The inclusion of FrontPage 2000 in Office Premium has been a catalyst for Office 2000 sales among customers looking to communicate on the Web."

FrontPage 2000 Gaining Momentum in Organizations

One of the key factors driving the success of FrontPage 2000 is its increasing popularity in large organizations and small businesses. As businesses rush to use the Internet and intranets to sell products, improve customer satisfaction and share information more effectively, they are looking for versatile authoring tools

at allow Webusiness users alike to create internal and enal Web sites.

"We are very excited to see such widespread support for FrontPage 2000 in organizations," said Tom Bailey, lead product manager for FrontPage at Microsoft. "Reaching 3 million customers highlights the fact that FrontPage offers a versatile, easy-to-use tool for creating business and personal Web sites."

FrontPage 2000 Continues to Garner Support From Internet Service Providers

Another key to the success of FrontPage is its increasing popularity and support among Internet service providers (ISPs). FrontPage is supported by thousands of ISPs worldwide, including major industry players EarthLink Network Inc., Verio Inc., IMC Online, MindSpring Enterprises Inc., Interliant Inc., and Interland Inc., which cater to small businesses, and community hosting providers such as Tripod Inc., which host personal Web sites.

"We are seeing a great deal of excitement from small-business customers and Web professionals about the new capabilities in FrontPage 2000," said Leland Thoburn, vice president of business affairs, EarthLink. "Every month, more and more customers are asking for support for FrontPage 2000 because it makes it easy for small businesses to create and maintain a dynamic Web presence."

FrontPage 2000 Wins Top Praise From Industry Editors

Within four months of its release, FrontPage 2000 has won top awards from independent industry reviewers. Honors for FrontPage 2000 include the following:

PC Magazine Editors' Choice for authoring and site management

C/Net Editors' Choice

PC/Computing A-List

PC World: World Class Award for best Web authoring tool

WebDeveloper.com Product Award

ZDNet Computer Shopper Best Products of the Year

FrontPage 2000 also received the nod as best Web site creation tool from Federal Computer Week, Small Office Computing and Information Week.

Pricing and Availability

FrontPage 2000 and Office 2000 Premium are widely available in retail outlets as well as through direct market resellers and volume licensing programs. New users can acquire FrontPage 2000 for an estimated retail price of $149, and current users can upgrade to FrontPage 2000 for $59.95. Office 2000 Premium Edition is available for an upgrade price of $449 for current users and $799 for new users.

Computer users worldwide can obtain information about Microsoft FrontPage at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ and Microsoft Office Premium at http://www.microsoft.com/office/ . Information about other Microsoft products can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/ .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, FrontPage and PhotoDraw are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information pages.

Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 Review - Web graphics - CNET Reviews

The good: Microsoft FrontPage 2003 offers an easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface, tight integration with Office, a bountiful assortment of templates and fonts, and a helpful code editor.

The bad: Microsoft FrontPage 2003 lacks a manual, and some sites may not display properly in browsers other than Internet Explorer. ISPs must have FrontPage extensions to enable some features.

The bottom line: If you need a midlevel Web site design app, Microsoft FrontPage 2003 is a good choice, but professionals should use Macromedia Dreamweaver instead.

Microsoft FrontPage 2003 is a Web site design and management application that ships with some versions of the Microsoft Office 2003 suite and is also available as a stand-alone program. It's easy to work with FrontPage, thanks to its visual WYSIWYG editor, wizards, drag-and-drop editing, and generous assortment of templates, clip art, and fonts. As part of the Microsoft Office family, FrontPage 2003 has an interface that will look familiar to users of other Microsoft products. FrontPage's excellent hooks to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Photo Editor will allow you to painlessly integrate snippets from other programs. But bear in mind that some of the features, such as form processing, themes, hit counters, database features, bulletin boards, security, search forms, and subwebs, will work only if your host ISP offers FrontPage extensions. And if you want the latest in cutting-edge Web technology, Macromedia Dreamweaver MX is a better but pricier choice.

The working area of FrontPage 2003 is a central display braced by panels on either side. A folder list on the left lets you choose the pages you wish to edit. The multifunctional panel on the right presents themes, help, clip art, behaviors, table design, and other items that you can insert onto a page. The central area features a Split view that simultaneously displays windows for design and code. Changes made in one window are automatically reflected in the other, providing an excellent way to check the effects of design tweaks and coding. Tabs at the top of the display allow you to navigate through the entire site or individual pages. Crafting tabbed pages is easy with FrontPage. Two panels help with this task: the "Layout tables and cells" panel lets you insert and format new tables, while the Cell Formatting panel adjusts the appearance of individual cells.

Reaching Out to New Users and Making Web Professionals More Productive

Sept. 30, 1998 | Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. today unveiled the final feature set for Microsoft® FrontPage® 2000, the latest version of the world's best-selling Web site creation and management tool. FrontPage 2000 delivers on the original vision of enabling Web site creation and management for both novice users and Web professionals by offering unprecedented ease of use while continuing to lead the category in support for the latest Web technologies.

Now in its fifth iteration, the FrontPage 2000 Web site creation and management tool lets users create exactly the site they want through features such as customizable Themes and HTML preservation. Individual users as well as teams can quickly and flexibly manage Internet or intranet Web sites using new Site Reports, check in and check out, and flexible access control over any portion of a Web. These features along with a new integrated Editor and Explorer and a seamless integration with Microsoft Office make Web site creation and management accessible to a broader set of users than ever before.

"Since day one, our vision has been to deliver a tool that anyone can use, alone or as part of a team, to easily create and manage interactive Web sites," said Andy Schulert, general manager of the FrontPage product unit at Microsoft and a driving force behind FrontPage since its beginning in 1994. "FrontPage 2000 delivers on this vision with a unique combination of WYSIWYG and raw HTML editing, robust Web collaboration support and hundreds of feature improvements."

"With each successive release, the product gets easier to use, but this time FrontPage has really outdone itself," said Jason Peoples, vice president of sales at InterLand Inc. and a FrontPage user since version 1.0 shipped in 1995. "Now with just a few simple clicks, I can use features like database functionality or custom Themes that used to be available only to advanced users."

Lets Users Create Exactly the Site They Want

FrontPage 2000 gives users control of their Web sites like never before. Customers can position elements exactly where they want them on the page, direct FrontPage to target specific browsers, and use the latest in Web technologies, all without programming.

Makes Managing and Updating Sites Easy

FrontPage 2000 makes it easier than ever for individuals or teams to keep their Web site up-to-date and running smoothly. And because Web sites can grow to thousands of pages with multiple content contributors, FrontPage 2000 also delivers new collaboration features that build on the remote, multiuser authoring capabilities featured in version 1.0.

Site Reports. Fourteen new reports let users quickly diagnose and fix problems across their entire Web site.

Web collaboration. Support for check-in and check-out, flexible access control over any portion of a Web and new workflow reports allow users to reserve files to edit, roll back to one previous version and assign responsibility for a page to a team member as well as establish approval levels or stages in their own publishing process.

Automatic hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are automatically created and updated for documents belonging to a specific category using the new Category Component.

Visual Basic® for Applications 6.0. Third parties and corporate developers can easily extend the power of FrontPage with custom solutions and add-ons.

Works Great With Microsoft Office

FrontPage 2000 reaches out to new users and makes existing users more productive by delivering greater integration with Microsoft Office.

Works like Microsoft Office. Shared Office menus and toolbars make FrontPage easier than ever for Office users. In addition, familiar tools such as Themes, Format Painter, background spelling checker, Answer Wizard and HTML Help are also shared with Office.

Streamlined Web Publishing. Users of Microsoft Office 2000 applications can save their documents directly to a FrontPage-based Web.

Integrated Editor and Explorer. The FrontPage Web page creation and site management tools have been integrated into one easy to use application.

Disk-based Web sites. Users can now create Web sites in a folder on their hard drive without installing a personal Web server. This makes getting started with FrontPage as simple as getting started with Microsoft Office.

Availability and Pricing

FrontPage 2000, designed for worldwide use, provides a single worldwide executable, a global user interface and multilingual editing, roaming user support and availability in 15 languages: Brazilian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

Microsoft FrontPage 2000 will be available in early 1999 for the same approximate promotional price as the previous version: $149 for new users ($109 for Office users after a $40 mail-in rebate). Users of previous retail versions of FrontPage will be able to upgrade for approximately $59.95. A beta version is planned for availability with the Office 2000 beta release this fall with a standalone FrontPage beta release expected early next year. For more information, check out the FrontPage Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ . Also, Schulert talks about the making of FrontPage and what this latest version means for users on Microsoft's PressPass Web site located at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, FrontPage and Visual Basic are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information page.

Microsoft Unveils FrontPage 2000

Sept. 30, 1998

Microsoft Unveils FrontPage 2000; Manager Describes Principles Behind the Product

In a letter to customers, Andy Schulert, general manager of Microsoft's FrontPage Product Unit, describes the newest version of the world's best-selling Web site creation and management tool and the principles behind it.

As general manager of Microsoft's FrontPage Product Unit, Andy Schulert is responsible for design and development of Microsoft FrontPage, but his involvement with FrontPage goes much deeper than that. He has been there from the beginning.

Schulert joined Microsoft in January 1996 following the acquisition of Vermeer Technologies, Inc. Schulert was Vermeer's third employee, joining the company in July 1994, and he wrote the original architectural specification for FrontPage. He has been a key contributor to all five releases of FrontPage.

As Microsoft was preparing to unveil the final feature set and direction of Microsoft FrontPage 2000, the latest version of the world's best-selling Web site creation and management tool, PressPass asked Schulert to share his thoughts with our readers. This letter to customers is his response.

Dear FrontPage Customer,

As we prepare to release FrontPage 2000, the fifth version of our product since its introduction in 1995, I can't resist taking a moment to reflect on how far we've come in just the last three years. As one of the first employees on the FrontPage team, I've had the satisfaction of working on this product since the very beginning.

When we started, back in 1994, the general public had never heard of URLs, and the only people creating Web sites were technically savvy Webmasters who painstakingly hand-coded HTML. We knew there had to be a way to include mainstream computer users in the Web revolution. As we thought about our product, we came up with four key goals -- and they remain our guiding principles to this day.

1. First, we decided that Web site creation should be accessible to anyone, like desktop publishing. To help make that possible, we used the popular Microsoft Office applications as models for designing features that would be familiar to the broadest set of users.

2. We also saw that the Web's real power -- as indicated by the very word "web" -- is not in individual pages, but in collections of pages that form Web sites. So we invested in both a WYSIWYG page editor and a Web site management tool from the very beginning.

3. Next, we predicted that Web sites would be created and maintained by teams, rather than individuals, so we designed a client /server architecture to enable remote, multi-user authoring and management.

4. Finally, we wanted to provide our users the ability to add advanced Web technologies to their site without programming. So we incorporated features -- such as the ability to save form results -- that enabled interactivity right out of the box with just a few mouse clicks.

But even more important than these principles has been the role that you, our FrontPage customers, have played in guiding the evolution of this product. Over the years, our customers have contributed essential input to our development efforts, and industry editors have reviewed our work thoughtfully, helping us to see where we could do even better. In fact, FrontPage 2000 was developed with direct input from nearly one hundred customer site visits, a survey of more than 1,100 users, dozens of editorial product reviews, tens of thousands of newsgroup comments, and more than 4,000 wish line requests. On behalf of the entire FrontPage team, I'd like to thank you for your part in making FrontPage a better product.

Looking forward to the release of FrontPage 2000, we're really focusing on ease of use by integrating the FrontPage Editor and Explorer, and implementing shared Office menus and toolbars. We're also making site management easier with 14 new reports that will help users diagnose and fix problems to keep their sites running smoothly. Of course, we're continuing to incorporate the latest technologies, such as database integration and cross-browser Dynamic HTML. And one of my favorite new features isn't really a FrontPage feature at all: Office 2000 applications can now open from and save directly to FrontPage Web sites, greatly simplifying collaborative Web development.

We have put in a lot of hard work and long hours since the early days back in 1994, but the nearly two million FrontPage users make it all worthwhile. With FrontPage 2000, we continue to deliver on our original dream of Web site creation and management that is easy enough for the average Microsoft Office user, but powerful enough to satisfy the demanding Web professional. That has been our goal from the beginning, and I want to thank you for helping us reach it.

Best regards,

Andy Schulert
General Manager
Microsoft Web Authoring Unit

The Early FrontPage History

(Foreword from the book Introducing Microsoft FrontPage, by Microsoft Press.)

One Thursday afternoon in early April 1994, my wife took an urgent phone call from a man on a carphone. He had gotten my name from my MIT masters thesis adviser, and was calling to offer me a job. Thinking he was one of those pesky headhunters, my wife declined to give him my work phone number, but said he could phone back that evening. He was worried about the time delay, but nonetheless phoned back at 7:00pm and we chatted. The man was Charles H. Ferguson, a renowned computer industry consultant on technology policy and corporate strategy. We met and talked several times over that weekend. His professional references spoke glowingly of him, including a contact in the White House whose only negative remark was that Charles wasn't invited as often to testify in front of Congressional subcommittees anymore because of his impatience with the slow pace of lawmaking. Four days later I quit my job and became co-founder of a software company that within a few months was named Vermeer Technologies, Inc. - after Charles' favorite Dutch painter. As it turns out, Charles' general sense of urgency was extraordinarily justified.

In the beginning, Charles was the idea person, and I was the one charged with filling out the details and helping to refine the goals to tasks that were achievable by a small group of extremely talented engineers in a reasonable timeframe. His central thesis was at once unusually insightful and incredibly ambitious. He had noticed that many companies had spent millions building their own private computer online services - Apple's eWorld, Dow Jones News Retrieval, Bloomberg's Financial Network, etc. Not only were these efforts expensive, but they were incompatible with one another, requiring different client software to interact with each one. They were based on outmoded mainframe-based technology, requiring a computing priesthood to build and maintain them. They were centralized, making it very difficult to access distributed data. Their cost structure was sufficiently high that free services - such as providing online marketing and customer support information - were not economically viable. And finally, such centralized systems were not suitable for private, distributed, internal information dissemination within an organization.

Thus, our goal was to build a standardized, shrink-wrapped infrastructure for online services, architected for interoperability, providing standardized client software and a visual development environment that would allow non-programmers to create and maintain a new online service. The idea was that you could walk into a software store, buy our standard online service server software, buy several copies of our authoring software, and resell the standard online client software to your customers. You could easily create and maintain your online service. Your customers could use the client software to dial-in to your service, and then use that same client software to dial-in to other online services created with our software. The standardized server software would be architected so that online services could communicate with each other easily. Everything was interoperable, the API's and protocols would be documented as open standards, everyone would benefit from the increased convenience and functionality of standardized components, and the whole affair would be dramatically less expensive because the development cost was spread across all customers.

This idea changed dramatically about one month after the company was formed. In May 1994, we got wind that the Internet was starting to be adopted by businesses, and that there was a new infrastructure called the World Wide Web that provided a type of online service functionality on top of the Internet protocols. Mosaic, from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, had been released 5 months earlier, and provided the first graphical user interface for the Web. Netscape Communications Corp. (then called Mosaic Communications) had just been formed in April (the same time as Vermeer), and would release their famous commercial web browser toward the end of the year.

It occurred to us that the Web provided much of what we were trying to achieve: standardized protocols (HTTP) and API's (CGI), server software that supported those protocols (various web server incarnations from various organizations), client software that supported those protocols (various web browsers), and even a communications infrastructure (the Internet) that was more robust and convenient than we were planning (dial-up to each online service). The big missing piece: a powerful, visual authoring tool for creating, maintaining, and administering whole web sites, including the individual pages that comprise such sites. This became the focus of Vermeer.

We were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to hire the most talented collective group of individuals I have ever met, despite the fact that we yet had no funding (except for direct expenses, covered by Charles), and asked everyone to take no salary for many months. Andy Schulert and Peter Amstein, both seasoned professionals, were our first two engineering hires and became our two technical team leaders. We were joined by many other engineers, plus excellent marketing, sales, administrative, and executive personnel. Every one of them a consummate professional, every one driven and focused to the task at hand. It was - and is - a remarkable experience for us all.

While Vermeer was driving to ship its first product, the Web became an unprecedented success. Whereas there were only an estimated 10,000 web sites in existence when Vermeer was formed, there were approximately 500,000 such sites one year later, both external sites on the Internet, and intranet sites within organizations. By just about any measure - communications traffic, new web sites going up, downloads of web browsers and servers, new Internet subscriptions - the web was growing at 20% per month, the fastest growing phenomenon in economic history. It became imperative that any forward-thinking organization have a high-quality public web site, and internal IS organizations where behooved to seriously explore the use of Web technologies for intranet information transfer and applications.

Vermeer shipped version 1.0 of its product in October 1995, just one week behind schedule. The name of the product, FrontPage, was suggested by Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus and On Technology. On the one hand, FrontPage was a great success, winning many industry awards, and praises from customers. On the other hand, during the brief life of Vermeer, web authoring had advanced from a curious backwater to a major focus of some of the largest players in the software industry. Tiny Vermeer, with fewer than 40 employees, suddenly found itself in the hotseat.

At around this time, Chris Peters, a Vice President and 15-year veteran of Microsoft, called us up. They really liked the product. They felt we had just the right idea, to focus on building a whole web, in addition to creating individual pages. They liked the fact that FrontPage looked just like a Microsoft Office application. They were impressed that we seemed to be 9-12 months ahead of the industry. They wanted to know if we were interested in some sort of relationship, anywhere from co-marketing, to technology licensing, to the "full meal deal" as he called it - being acquired.

We took a hard look at Microsoft, and were extremely impressed. Microsoft had recently transformed itself into a highly Internet-focused company. They were extraordinarily good at shipping products. And we realized that our efforts would be multiplied a thousand-fold by joining Microsoft. So we did.

Almost all of the Vermeer folk joined Microsoft, with virtually the entire engineering team moving to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. We have just shipped Microsoft FrontPage 1.1. It has been a heady experience, and with the backing of Microsoft's extensive resources, we hope to be even more effective and customer-driven with future versions of FrontPage. Vermeer was formed just two years ago, and the adventure has just begun.

Our mission with FrontPage has remained the same, and if anything has become even more so as part of Microsoft: web authoring for everyone. Microsoft has Internet Studio and other products for advanced web development, but if you are a non-technical professional charged with creating or updating Internet or intranet web content, FrontPage was designed for you. We hope you will find it productive, instructive, and enjoyable.

Kerry Lehto and W. Brett Polonsky, the authors of this book, share that same mission, to make FrontPage and web authoring accessible to everybody. I spoke and consulted extensively with Kerry and W. Brett Polonsky during the writing of this book. We gave them access to some of the earliest builds of FrontPage v1.1, and it shows in the depth and insight of their coverage here. I found this book a very enjoyable and instructive read, and I believe you will to.

This book exemplifies the attitude of most web site creators: half the fun is getting there. Enjoy yourself, and may you have great effectiveness and success.

Randy Forgaard
Senior Program Manager, Web Authoring Product Unit
Microsoft Corporation
May 1996

Vermeer previously wary of Microsoft

January 16, 1996 | CNET News

Vermeer Technologies officials Randy Forgaard and Charles Ferguson were all smiles today at the announcement by Microsoft that the Redmond, Washington, company will acquire the maker of FrontPage.
But last October in an interview with Digital Media, Vermeer's chief technology officer, Randy Forgaard, commented on Microsoft's attempts to split the Web authoring market by creating and fomenting proprietary extensions to HTML. "To be specific about Microsoft, the Internet Explorer 2.0 beta that's come out has several HTML tags that are proprietary to their browser and are not supported by Netscape."

According to Forgaard, Netscape's strategy of offering Navigator free was a source of frustration for the software giant. "What's going on is that Microsoft, of course, isn't happy about Netscape kind of owning the whole show, and Microsoft wants to bifurcate the HTML standard so that people will start using Microsoft extensions and more people start using Microsoft's browser, which is already getting a large installed base. It's already the number two browser because of the Windows 95 Plus connection and so forth.

"And it really drives Microsoft crazy. Absolutely drives Microsoft crazy. The Netscape Now program where you can put this button on your home page, saying 'Download it now.' That really drives Microsoft up a tree," said Forgaard in the October 1995 interview with Digital Media's Neil McManus.


Read more: http://news.cnet.com/Vermeer-previously-wary-of-Microsoft/2100-1033_3-202325.html#ixzz11RlIenKo

Microsoft Announces FrontPage 98; Beta Version Now Available for Free Download From Web Now Webmasters and Novices Alike Can Easily Create and Manage The Most Original, Compelling Sites on the World Wide Web

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 11, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the immediate worldwide availability of the public beta of Microsoft® FrontPage® 98, the latest version of the world's best-selling Web site creation and management tool. FrontPage 98 continues to set the standard with new support for intelligent design assistance, expanded site management, and the latest Web technologies. A free copy of the FrontPage 98 beta is now available at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ (connect-time charges may apply). Users can also receive the beta on CD-ROM for a nominal shipping and handling charge.

"Our goal with FrontPage has always been to bring the power of Web publishing to the broadest possible set of users," said Chris Peters, vice president of the Web authoring unit at Microsoft. "With FrontPage 98 we will meet the needs of both beginners and advanced users by delivering a comprehensive Web creation and management tool that is easy to use, yet powerful and flexible enough to support the latest Web technologies."

The FrontPage 98 Web site creation and management tool delivers a greatly expanded set of features to help users build and maintain professional-quality Web sites easily. Users will find new WYSIWYG tables and frames support, and more than 50 professionally designed themes to help them quickly apply a consistent look across their sites. A redesigned FrontPage Explorer includes the new Navigation View, which helps users plan and organize the structure of their sites, and automatically generates Navigation Bars and hyperlinks. FrontPage 98 also supports the latest Web technologies such as Dynamic HTML, "push" or channel definition format (CDF), and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Users will also find performance improvements throughout FrontPage 98, including incremental content publishing to and just-in-time information retrieval from the Web.

Ron Bokleman has been a user of FrontPage since version 1.0 shipped in late December 1995. "With each successive release, the product gets easier to use, yet also more powerful," Bokleman said. "The new Navigation View really does reflect the way I think about site structure - it's already helped me plan and organize my Web sites more effectively. And the new table drawing tool has saved me lots of time laying out my pages."

Intelligent Design Assistance

New intelligent design-assistance features eliminate the need for programming knowledge or graphics design expertise. Now anyone can build a great-looking Web site. New features of FrontPage 98 include the following:

Expanded Site Management

FrontPage 98 offers a comprehensive set of site management tools to help users effectively manage the hyperlinks, content and structure of their Web sites. New tools in FrontPage 98 include these:

Flexible, Open Support for the Latest Web Technologies

FrontPage 98 is the first Web creation and management tool to offer broad support for the newest browser technologies introduced in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape Navigator 4.0.

Availability and Pricing

The beta version of FrontPage 98 is available without charge (connect-time charges may apply) from the Microsoft FrontPage Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ The beta software expires on Dec. 31, 1997.

As a special service, Microsoft is also offering the FrontPage 98 beta software on a
CD-ROM to interested users in North America. The CD-ROM is available for a shipping and handling fee of $9.38 (U.S.) for orders placed by phone, (800) 664-8437, or via fax, (800)
392-8250. Orders placed via the Web are $6.48 http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ The total cost of the CD-ROM may vary depending on delivery address and method of shipment. The program does not include technical support or refund and exchange options.

Computer users worldwide can obtain information about Microsoft FrontPage at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ and about other Microsoft products at the company's World Wide Web home page at http://www.microsoft.com/

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader is software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take full advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, FrontPage and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information page.

Microsoft Announces FrontPage 1.1 With New Pricing and Availability Of Free Beta on World Wide Web

Microsoft announced that Microsoft FrontPage 1.1, the new version of its critically acclaimed tool for easily creating and managing Web sites, is available in beta form for immediate download at no charge.

REDMOND, Wash., April 8, 1996 — — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Microsoft® FrontPage &#153;1.1, the new version of its critically acclaimed tool for easily creating and managing Web sites, is available in beta form for immediate download at no charge. Microsoft also announced that the estimated retail price for FrontPage has been lowered from $695 to a special introductory estimated retail price of $149, and that the Microsoft FrontPage server extensions, previously priced at $200 each, are now free from Microsoft. Microsoft Office for Windows® 95 customers will be eligible for a $40 rebate. The FrontPage 1.1 beta and server extensions are available from the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/. Widespread retail availability of FrontPage 1.1 is expected by the end of May 1996.

"With FrontPage, Web publishing is not just for webmasters any more," said Chris Peters, vice president of Microsoft's Web authoring product unit. "The combination of FrontPage's ease of use, rich features, aggressive pricing, and integration with Microsoft Office helps bring Web publishing to the broadest range of computer users."

Web Publishing Made Easy

FrontPage 1.1 includes a number of technical breakthroughs that provide users with a fast and easy way to develop and maintain professional Web sites without programming. Designed for both individual users and collaborative work environments, the FrontPage client-server architecture supports authoring and Web-site management from a user's desktop, across a corporate LAN, or over the Internet. FrontPage 1.1 is designed to look and work like Microsoft Office applications, allowing a vast number of users to leverage their existing knowledge. FrontPage 1.1 includes the following features:

New Easier installation. FrontPage 1.1 offers an improved setup allowing users to be up and running fast.

New WYSIWYG table support. FrontPage 1.1 makes it easy to create WYSIWYG tables, giving users direct control over all table features.

New HTML Frames Support. FrontPage 1.1 provides a Frames Wizard offering existing frame templates or the ability to create a custom frame grid.

New Auto Recalculate Links. FrontPage 1.1 lets users automatically update all occurrences of a hyperlink throughout the Web when a file is moved or renamed.

New WYSIWYG image alignment. FrontPage 1.1 image alignment is fully WYSIWYG, so users can see how the image will actually appear.

New Integration with Microsoft Office. Microsoft FrontPage 1.1 has a consistent interface and shares features with Microsoft Office such as multiple level undo and spell checking. Users also can open documents from and save documents to FrontPage webs from within Microsoft Word 95 and Microsoft Excel 95.

FrontPage Editor. A WYSIWYG editor that makes it easy to create and edit Web pages with no knowledge of HTML.

FrontPage Explorer. A visual Web site manager that allows users to graphically view and manage a complex Web site.

Personal Web Server. Server software that allows users to stage Web sites and host webs on their computer.

WebBot &#153; components. Drop-in Web server functionality such as full-text searching, threaded discussion groups, and surveys, without requiring complex CGI scripting or any setup.

Wizards and templates. Automated content creation tools that allow users to interactively build Web pages, providing them with preformatted templates to which content can simply be added.

Multiuser remote authoring. Ability to set permissions for multiple authors to enable collaborative Web creation and management.

Server extensions. Software (available for download from the Web at no charge) for popular Windows NT® operating system and UNIX® Web server platforms that allows proper hosting of FrontPage-created Webs. Server extensions for Microsoft Internet Information Server are scheduled to be available on April 22, 1996.

"Web Documents" Strategy

Allowing users to create and edit Web documents easily is a key aspect of Microsoft's desktop applications strategy. Microsoft believes the same broad category of users for whom word processing and spreadsheet documents are the most common daily business communication formats today will author webs for corporate intranets or the Internet in the near future. FrontPage extends the notion of document creation to include a variety of document types such as HTML pages and Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation graphics program files, all connected by hyperlinks.

Microsoft Office applications already offer a complete set of Internet Assistants that allow users to publish to the Web without complex HTML programming. The combination of Office applications and FrontPage provides a complete Web publishing solution for the broadest range of business users.

Microsoft FrontPage 1.1 has a consistent interface and shares features with Office such as multiple-level undo, spell checker, and the ability to change font sizes, styles and colors. FrontPage 1.1 also allows users to update Office documents in webs by automatically launching the appropriate Office application from inside FrontPage Explorer. In addition, from the Microsoft Web site, users can download a FrontPage Open and Save add-in, which enables them to open spreadsheets and documents from a FrontPage web, or save them from Microsoft Excel 95 and Microsoft Word 95 to a FrontPage web.

"Integration between FrontPage and Office is a smart strategy aimed squarely at intranets, where business users are expected to rapidly increase the sharing of information and collaboration online," said Stephen Auditore, president of Zona Research Inc. "This announcement clearly strengthens Microsoft's position as a key player in the Web and intranet content-creation market, and alters the competitive environment, emphasizing content creation as a horizontal activity on a par with word processing."

Special Introductory Price of $149 Through March 31, 1997

FrontPage 1.1 will be available through March 31, 1997, for a special introductory price of $149 (estimated retail price). In addition, existing customers of Microsoft Office 95 or any of its standalone applications are eligible for a $40 rebate. Customers who have purchased FrontPage 1.0 are eligible for a free upgrade to FrontPage 1.1 once the final retail product is available, expected to be before the end of May 1996.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, FrontPage, Windows, WebBot, Windows NT and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company Ltd.

Microsoft Acquires Vermeer Technologies Inc.

Jan. 16, 1996

Critically Acclaimed Visual Client-Server Web Publishing Tool to Complement Internet Offerings From Microsoft Desktop Applications Division

Microsoft Corp. today announced the acquisition of Vermeer Technologies Inc., a pioneer of visual, standards-based Web publishing tools based in Cambridge, Mass. Vermeer's flagship software application, FrontPage &#153; , is a critically acclaimed tool for easily creating and managing rich Web documents without programming. FrontPage will become a key component of Microsoft's strategy to provide a full range of tools that put the power of Web publishing, for both the Internet and intranets, in the hands of the broadest range of computer users.

"Millions of productivity-applications users want an easier way to participate in the excitement and enhanced productivity of the Web," said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft. "Vermeer's FrontPage fills the wide gap between simple HTML page editors and high-end, professional Web publishing systems available today."

"Access to Microsoft's resources and channel partnerships will allow us to realize our vision of 'Webtop publishing' on a broader scale," said John Mandile, Vermeer's president and chief executive officer. Vermeer coined the phrase "Webtop publishing" to define the process of creating Web sites using its innovative visual tools.

High-Quality Web Publishing

FrontPage provides users with the fastest and easiest way to develop and maintain high-quality Web sites without programming. Designed for both individual users and collaborative work environments, FrontPage's client-server architecture supports authoring, scripting and Web-site management from a user's desktop, across a corporate LAN, or over the Internet. The client portion of the software, which is currently available for Windows® operating system-based platforms and will be available for the Macintosh® later this year, includes the following features:

The server portion of the product, known as Server Extensions, is implemented using the open industry standard Common Gateway Interface (CGI) and can run on the Windows® 95 or Windows NT &#153;operating systems and popular versions of UNIX® . These extensions support Internet server products such as NetSite from Netscape Communications Corp. and Microsoft Internet Information Server, which is currently in beta and is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 1996. To allow users to get their Web sites up and running right out of the box, FrontPage includes an easy-to-set-up Personal Web Server.

"Web Documents" Strategy

Allowing users to create and edit Web documents easily is a key aspect of Microsoft's desktop applications strategy. Word processing and spreadsheet documents are the most common daily business communication formats among users today; Microsoft believes this same broad category of users will author web documents for corporate intranets or the Internet in the near future.

FrontPage is Microsoft's key offering in this burgeoning market. FrontPage extends the concept of document creation to include a variety of document types such as HTML or those created with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and the Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation graphics program, connected by hyperlinks on both corporate LANs or the Internet. FrontPage was designed for the end user and business professional, with a user interface consistent with Microsoft Office.

With this announcement, Microsoft now provides a complete range of tools for users creating Web documents:

Desktop Applications Division Creates New Product Unit

Over the next few months, the FrontPage development team will move to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., and become the core of the newly established Web authoring product unit within the desktop applications division. This new group will be managed by Chris Peters, currently vice president of the Office product unit overseeing the design and development of Microsoft Office. A 14-year veteran at Microsoft, Peters was formerly general manager of the Word business unit and led the development of Microsoft Excel for five years. "We are incredibly impressed with the talent at Vermeer," Peters said. "They're smart people with great development talent and a deep understanding of what it takes to create high-quality, easy-to-use Web software. We're also excited about how well FrontPage works with our Office applications today and about the possibilities for even more integration in the future." FrontPage will continue to be available as a standalone product directly from Vermeer during the transition period, and through Microsoft's channel partners in the future.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

FrontPage is a trademark, in the United States and/or other countries, of Vermeer Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

Macintosh is a registered trademark of Apple Computer Inc.

UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and/or other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company Ltd.

Note to editors: There will be a conference call at 11 a.m. PST today, hosted by Pete Higgins, group vice president of applications and content, and Chris Peters, vice president of the Office product unit, regarding this announcement. Callers within the United States may call
(800) 857-9820; international callers may call (402) 331-0407 to join the conference.

If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft and FrontPage, please visit the Microsoft home page at http://www.microsoft.com or e-mail frontpg@microsoft.com, or call Microsoft customer service at (800) 426-9400.

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