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This is one of computing’s current buzzwords. An intranet is a communications network built using the same system as the Internet and employing many of the same tools, particularly World Wide Web browsers. The difference is that the intranet is private and internal to a company. The word is new enough that its meaning has not yet quite settled down — some usages imply that an intranet can also be connected to the Internet, or make use of Internet circuits, others stress its total separation behind protective barriers (firewalls). Their advocates argue that the value of intranets lies in their comparative simplicity, replacing proprietary systems with a limited number of widely-used and supported techniques, and also point to their potential for boosting productivity by enhancing the ability of staff to work together. The word is formed from the prefix intra-, “on the inside, within”, plus net, a common abbreviated form of “network”.

Page created 27 Jul. 1996

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 27 July 1996.