My Wabi-Sabi Team: Internet Explorer 4.0

In 1995, I joined the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft. It was a small, fledgling project manned by a handful of people. It didn't even earn a spot in Windows 95. Microsoft's first web browser was released to the world, exclusively, as an undercard feature on the $49 add-on to Windows known as the Plus Pack.[5] But with Netscape's rise and the industrywide hope that the rise of Netscape would signal the end of Microsoft, the team exploded in importance. The executives at Microsoft, ever paranoid and supremely skilled at chasing taillights, famously turned the company on a dime and made the Internet a central part of every strategy and tactic across the company. By version 4.0, the project team consisted of more than 100 people, enough to dominate two entire floors of Building 27 on the north side of Microsoft's campus.

In 1997, the Internet Explorer team began its fateful voyage into version 4.0. In the history of software, few projects faced as many evils as we would in a single year.[6] A litany of reorgs, executive battles, leaked design plans, impossible goals, DOJ antitrust lawsuits, and revolving-door middle management, all while bearing the weight of responsibility to save the company from the greatest threat, at least according to the rest of the industry, it had ever seen.[7] If you threw in a few plagues and natural disasters, we'd be able to check every item off the list of the major calamities no manager ever wants to face. ...

Get Beautiful Teams now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.