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Microsoft's Concept Videos From 2000 Were Spot-On. So Why Didn't Ballmer Build Any of It?

On June 22, 2000, a few months after Steve Ballmer took over as CEO of Microsoft, the company summoned several hundred reporters and analysts to a conference center at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Ballmer, under pressure from a U.S. antitrust case and super-hot dot-com rivals, was set to unveil his company's vision for the future of computing.

I sat in a packed room as Microsoft held a daylong series of sessions during which the company announced what it called the .NET strategy. To regain its place within the vanguard of personal computing, Ballmer's Microsoft promised to deliver an interconnected set of Web services that could serve up relevant information to users across multiple devices and let them share with family, friends and co-workers. In a statement then, Ballmer said Microsoft would create a "unified platform through which devices and services cooperate with each other."