Industrial history has always been a pet project of mine, as have the history of innovation and competition in  emerging markets. Enterprise Wi-Fi is one of those.

Microsoft's initial deployment of WLAN services for the Richmond WA and other campuses initially relied on Cisco Access Points which were based on Cisco's 1999 acquisition of Aironet for $800 million. Then, as Microsoft expanded its goals, capacity and coverage Airespace won the competitive bidding cycle at Microsoft so Cisco acquired Airespace. I remember this deal at the time because I was impressed by the logic of Cisco's M&A strategy.

If a critical, leading-edge customer chooses another vendor's technology, buy them and make it your own. Sometimes buying the competitor is cheaper than competing for customers the old-fashioned way.

Now, for some reason, Microsoft then changed their mind and decided to go with Aruba Networks, but Cisco kept to their acquisition. in 2005 Microsoft chose Aruba Networks for their campus deployment and in the past week, Microsoft passed an impressive milestone – 11,000 APs under management worldwide , as part of a global secure WLAN. Congrats Microsoft. Congrats Aruba.

In early 2006, while a member of the Microsoft Mobile Partners Advisory Council, my firm (then it was called FirstHand Technologies) staged a demonstration of our product as part of a big Windows Mobile division afternoon of innovation. We had a pod station, but couldn't show off our dual-mode client application without Internet access. Despite all our best efforts and the engagement with Microsoft IT security – no chance of getting the demo the service we needed. Guest services were not available in that building at that time. Hopefully, this and other experiences have shown Microsoft executives and IT security people the advantages of enabling guest Wi-Fi services.

Microsoft's WLAN environment – dated May 2008

Background on Microsoft's WLAN implementation from (out of date – dated 2004)

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