Startup Time Machine // The Launch – Part III

Looking for Part I or Part II?

Everything is ready, without much resources available I’ve decided to launch the website. I connected up my desktop to my internet cable connection at home and pushed the button to go live without really knowing what to expect. The site was available at

But the site was a huge success for much of my surprise! After the first week I couldn’t use my internet connection at home, I really needed to find an alternative.
Dedicated servers were too expensive for my budget so I went for the cheapest possible option for Java Web Applications, a Virtual Private Servers.
Virtualization was still in its infancy but some solutions were already available and much cheaper than dedicated servers so I thought that it could be a nice temporary solution until I find a better way to host the application.

At least now I could use my internet connection at home again and get some work done. It was all going fine until I’ve received a letter in my mailbox after a couple of weeks.
It was from a lawyer firm representing Microsoft and the letter said that I was breaking the law. MSN is a registered trademark and I couldn’t use it in my domain. What a huge blow! I didn’t really know what to do, for a couple of days, I was really paranoid always looking over my shoulders looking for men in black with dark sunglasses following me.
Until that day I had never really thought about the legal aspects of what I was doing. Reverse engineering the MSN Protocol didn’t seem harmful to me, in the end, I was just providing alternative access to their network. But after receiving that letter I started questioning if what I was doing was right or not. But people were using the site like crazy, there was really an audience for this application, I didn’t know where they came from but that wasn’t the point.
In the end, all turned out OK. All I needed was to find another domain and they were happy with it, I think that back then Microsoft didn’t really understand what the application was all about, all they wanted was that I would not use a domain with “MSN” in it!

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