Microsoft over 10 Years on The World Wide Web
Microsoft has changed a lot as a company between its founding in 1975 and today. One way we can see this change is through the lens of their website, which has changed radically, even between the years of 1998 and 2009. With more modern website features, increased computing power, and company evolution, their website has evolved into what it became in 2009, and into what it is today.
In 1998, Microsoft’s website was relatively bland. It doesn’t really stand out as a website in comparison to its more modern 2009 cousin. If there’s one thing their old website did right, however, was they did provide Microsoft-related news effectively. Almost the entire website is dedicated to news about Microsoft, from product launches to the antitrust lawsuit Microsoft was entrenched in at the time.
Their 1998 website stands in stark contrast to their site of 2009, however. WIth the faster internet speeds that arose over the decade since 1998, Microsoft’s website now stands out a lot more, with the signature “aero” feel that Windows 7 eventually became known for. The most notable change however, is the now-present search bar. With search becoming a much more important feature across sites between the 90s and the early 2000s, it only makes sense Microsoft would now have a search bar on their site, especially given another major difference on their site. That being, the large focus on getting consumers to purchase.
Microsoft’s 2009 site is full of advertisements to users, with Microsoft Dynamics being front and center on the site, with large advertisements for Visual Studio and Office hanging off to the side. Put simply, this shows Microsoft having kept up with the times, making sure to sell their products online as e-commerce began to take foot on the internet. Additionally, with rising internet speeds came much more ease in downloadability, hence why Microsoft is able to additionally advertise so many freely-available products, including an entire operating system (Windows 7’s Release Candidate, a download that would have taken literal days over an ideal dial-up connection)!
That leads directly into the similarities between the two sites. Both are pushing Internet Explorer, arguably Microsoft’s flagship free product of the time (and the one that got them into the aforementioned antitrust case in the first place). Additionally, whether it’s due to a lack of available web technologies or due to how the Internet Archive handles archiving, neither site adapts to the display size of the user, instead choosing to take a specific resolution, and assume every user is using said resolution.
Overall, Microsoft’s site evolved a lot between the decade of 1998 and 2009. Leaning towards e-commerce, and giving itself much more of an identity, the pre-2010 site feels much more geared towards the average consumer, while the pre-2000 site focuses on delivering consumers news primarily. It still seems like it’s kept to its roots in Microsoft though, spreading news about product launches, and pushing products such as Internet Explorer even while it was fading into irrelevance as Firefox and Chrome rose to power.