_vti…Very Terrible Idea?

By Deane Barker on September 8, 2004

Vermeer Technologies Gives Birth To FrontPage: Joe’s mention of “FrontPage crap” in his Cygwin post got me remembering the joy of having “_vti” directories scattered across my hard drive when working with the unabashed sucking that was early versions of FrontPage. (I was issued FrontPage 1.1 on five floppies by Microsoft back when I was a beta-tester for MSN.)

Did you ever wonder where the “vti” prefix came from? Why those letters? Turns out they stood for “Vermeer Technologies Incorporated” which was the company that built FrontPage originally. They were the ones who came up with the idea of “WebBots” and “Server Extensions.”

Microsoft bought Vermeer and its “Critically Acclaimed Visual Client-Server Web Publishing Tool” in January 1996 for $130-some-odd million. Here’s the press release. As near as I can tell, Vermeer dropped off the face of the Earth after being acquired — they were simply absorbed into the Borg cube.

And here’s a review of FrontPage from November 1995, just before they were acquired.

Vermeer’s FrontPage Editor is an excellent WYSIWYG HTML editor with a built-in to-do list that keeps track of necessary changes to your Web pages. The only thing lacking is support for tables, which is planned for the next version […]

No table support? We’ve come so far.

If this story interests you, the guy who founded Vermeer wrote a book about it: High Stakes, No Prisoners.

Charles Ferguson’s hilarious, hard-boiled journey into the heart of high-tech darkness has become the signal book of the start-up generation. Ferguson took a good idea, started a company, and sold it to Microsoft for $133 million — all in less than two years. High Stakes, No Prisoners is both a blistering inside account of how he did it and a brilliant tour of the brutally competitive and utterly unique world of Silicon Valley.

You have to love the title of the first reader review: “If he’s so smart, why isn’t he richer?” I can’t find any reference to what Ferguson is doing today.

What Links Here


  1. From a couple pages in on the Amazon link…

    ” He (Ferguson) is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently divides his time between economic policy research and high-technology investing. He can be reached by e-mail at charles@highstakesnoprisoners.com. “

  2. That URL doesn’t resolve. I did find this, however:


    How is it that this guy invented FrontPage? There’s an email, and I would ask him to come and comment here, but I just got through trashing his labor of love, so perhaps I should let sleeping dogs lie.

    After all, he’s got 133 million reasons why FrontPage rules.

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