In early 1997, Microsoft was preparing to release Internet Explorer 4.0, through which it would fully integrate the web browser and its Internet capabilities into the Windows shell. But rather than waiting to deliver this functionality in Windows 98, the next version of DOS-based Windows, the IE team was giving it away for free to users of Windows 95. This would undermine the Windows 98 upgrade, some key Microsoft executives believed, not to mention the next version of NT, setting off a civil war inside the company that would derail strategies, careers, and Microsoft’s booming Internet product division.
The seeds of this discontent were sown a year earlier, when Microsoft hosted a Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in San Francisco. Microsoft had introduced the world to Win32, its 32-bit Windows APIs, and Windows NT at a PDC in 1993. So, it used its March 1996 PDC---known as the “Internet PDC”---to signal the seriousness of its shift to the Internet.