While the Internet was expanding by leaps and bounds, Microsoft waited on the sidelines. In TIME's "100 Most Important People of the Century" profile of Gates, Yale computer-science professor David Gelernter wrote that while the rest of the technology world was getting excited about e-mail and Web-browsing, "Gates hung back. It wasn't until 1996 that Microsoft finally, according to Gates himself, 'embraced the Internet wholeheartedly.' "
In August of that year, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3.0., instilling fear in its competitors. Despite the dotcom crash of 2000, the company's head count climbed to more than 39,000.