Design Rules Volume 2: Chapter 17—The Wintel Standards-based Platform

28 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2019 Last revised: 15 Mar 2022

Date Written: August 7, 2021

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to use the theory of bottlenecks laid out in the previous chapter to better understand the dynamics of an open standards-based platform. I describe how the Wintel platform evolved from 1990 through 2000 under joint sponsorship of Intel and Microsoft. I first describe a series of technical bottlenecks that arose in the early 1990s concerning the “bus architecture” of IBM-compatible PCs. Intel’s management of buses demonstrates how, under conditions of distributed modular complementarity (DMC), a platform sponsor can reconfigure the modular structure of a technical system and property rights within the system to increase system-wide throughput, while protecting its own strategic bottleneck from disintermediation.

I go on to describe how Microsoft used platform envelopment to establish a second strategic bottleneck in productivity software and later to respond to the threat of disintermediation from platform-independent Internet browsers. I end the chapter by discussing the conditions under which shared platform sponsorship can be a long-term dynamic equilbrium.

Keywords: Technology, Organizations, Modularity

JEL Classification: L1,L2,O3

Suggested Citation

Baldwin, Carliss Y., Design Rules Volume 2: Chapter 17—The Wintel Standards-based Platform (August 7, 2021). Design Rules Volume 2: How Technology Shapes Organization, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3482515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3482515

Carliss Y. Baldwin (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

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