Extensive Gates/Ballmer snapshot in today's WSJ. Excerpt:
Some major decisions got stuck due to the impasse, Messrs. Gates and Ballmer said. In one case, two vice presidents clashed over the future of NetDocs, a promising effort to offer software programs such as word processing over the Internet. The issue: Because NetDocs risked cannibalizing sales of Microsoft's cash-cow Office programs, some executives wanted NetDocs killed.
Messrs. Gates and Ballmer were unable to settle on a plan. First, NetDocs ballooned to a 400-person staff, then it got folded into the Office group in early 2001, where it died.
Actually, I don't think it died; NetDocs morphed into XDocs, which morphed into InfoPath. Definitely a major shift in focus, but the NetDocs investment did not go to waste.
In any case, it's interesting to ponder the fact that Microsoft made a major contingency investment in a web-centric suite about a decade ago.