A word with you, please, Microsoft

If Microsoft's 1976 was all about "hobbyists" and "Altair," then its buzzwords for 2006 were things such as "connected entertainment," "interoperability," "Zune," and "Windows Vista." Not to mention "Google," "Linux," "intellectual property," "revenue" and "challenges." And don't forget those "priorities" -- as in the ones Bill Gates chose to reorder last year as part of […]

If Microsoft's 1976 was all about "hobbyists" and "Altair," then its buzzwords for 2006 were things such as "connected entertainment," "interoperability," "Zune," and "Windows Vista." Not to mention "Google," "Linux," "intellectual property," "revenue" and "challenges."

And don't forget those "priorities" -- as in the ones Bill Gates chose to reorder last year as part of his transition to philanthropy.

Those are some of the trends visible on an interactive timeline that displays the most commonly used words from key Microsoft-related speeches, interviews, memos and other documents during the past three decades.

The timeline, at seattlepi.com/microwords, was created by the Seattle P-I using the open-source Tagline Generator, a program by blogger Chirag Mehta. It presents words in a form known as a tag cloud -- in varying sizes, depending on how often they're used; and in different shades, based on when a particular word was first used.

The result is a scrolling snapshot of the competitors, products, technologies and issues at the center of Microsoft's consciousness across the years.

For example, the timeline shows that an early focus on "CD-ROM" and "floppy" gives way to "Internet" in the mid-1990s, marking the beginning of Microsoft's belated scramble to adapt its products for the online world.

References to "Excel" and "Macintosh" in the 1980s reflect Microsoft's development of productivity software for the Apple computers. "DOS" yields to "Windows" around the same time, as Microsoft launches its own graphical operating system.

Later come the words "flaws," "viruses" and "fixes," reflecting the surge in online threats exploiting vulnerabilities in the company's software.

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