Opening windows with the internet
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Opening windows with the internet

The internet's free technology raises questions about all the old ways of doing things. It makes communication easier than ever - both inside and outside a company - and it revolutionizes information storage and access. But who will be first against the wall when the changes begin to bite? Felix Salmon investigates how far the net will shake up banking

Joe Banker is feeling old - and he's only 24. He's just had a brand-new Sun workstation installed next to his Windows 95 pc and is unsure about what it all means. It's got one of those clever optical mouse things attached to it. It boasts three buttons. Bill from it was ever so enthusiastic about it in the pub last night. "Functionality," he explained, "is all about what your machine is capable of doing. The analysts now create beautiful reports in Word 7, embedding Excel 6 charts. The rocket scientists can run extremely powerful options-pricing algorithms in half the time it would have taken them last week. And if you press shift-control-a and the middle mouse button, an instruction is sent to the coffee machine to have a fresh cup ready for you in four minutes' time!"

Joe's stomach begins to tighten whenever anybody comes along to install a new piece of hardware or software. He knows there's a wonderful internal computer system which makes his life a lot easier, but he just can't understand all the different commands, applications and error messages which appear whenever he tries to use it. Most of the time, the only thing on the screen of his ludicrously over-specified workstation is the cnn home page on the World Wide Web.

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