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Microsoft stands accused of usurping an emerging web application, and information professionals are advised to sit up and take notice. Not so much of the non-story itself, but the underlying trends which spell fundamental change to their industry.

To put things in perspective, heres a tech flashback: At the height of the dot-com bubble, when billions of venture capital dollars were being blown on one 15-minute cyberfad after the next – and Netscape and Microsoft were at each others throats in the vicious Browser Wars – the industry media caught wind of a new buzzword: Push.

Push technology was going to redefine the web. Why should we spend hours just surfing (I mean, how much fun does that sound?) when we could spell out our requirements and allow content providers to push what we were looking for to our desktop?

For a while there, push looked like the answer to all our web needs and in 1997, push player PointCast appeared to be actually worth the $450 million bid made by News Corp. Two years later, PointCast went for just $7 million after running into the kind of revenue problems that would burst the global dot-com bubble.

Push...

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