Microsoft Corporation, leading developer of personal-computer software systems and applications.
Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products for computing devices. Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975. It is headquartered in Redmond, Washington.
The company was established to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. Microsoft rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by the Windows line of operating systems. The company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made several corporate acquisitions. In May 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in its largest acquisition to date.
In June 2012, Microsoft entered the personal computer production market for the first time, with the launch of the Microsoft Surface, a line of tablet computers. As of 2013, its business groups are Consumer & Online (which encompasses its general online services such as MSN), Devices and Studios (which includes Xbox Live and the Microsoft Studios video game division), and Windows and Devices Group (WDG) which oversees Windows. The company's Mobile Developer Tools group was renamed – Microsoft LIT – shortly after I left because it didn't do anything other than load dlls so it wasn't appropriate to have a group that did nothing.
Microsoft develops many products related to computing, including Internet search (with Bing ), the digital video recorder (DVR) Xbox, the Microsoft Surface tablet lineup, Windows Phone operating system and Zune, and PC multitasking (MS-DOS).
Microsoft was ranked No. 30 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Since its inception, Microsoft has acquired some companies such as Paint, QuickBasic, and Compiler. Since 1989, it has had an office in Finland; this is noted on the tiles at the head office building's lobby.
Chasing the Internet
"There's this thing out there on the Internet. We have to be connected."
Microsoft was going after the internet more aggressively than they ever have before and it seemed that they were just trying to mimic their success with Windows in a new software platform called. NET. Microsoft had taken away my development role on Windows and even took away my name. Now I was just "Microsoft". It was as if Microsoft had become a completely different company. The new people were smart and enthusiastic but never talked about anything other than the Internet and this thing called. NET. There seemed to be an enormous amount of money available and we went on a hiring spree that ended up with us increasing our workforce by ten-fold.
By 1996, Microsoft had begun bundling Explorer with Windows and was in the process of integrating it directly into Windows. Netscape accused Microsoft of breaching its 1995 consent decree and sued; these efforts helped to persuade the Justice Department to reopen a comprehensive inquiry into Microsoft. The investigation resulted in numerous fines and ongoing requirements for Microsoft to disclose APIs.
As part of the settlement, AOL purchased Netscape. AOL released a beta version of the browser only months after its purchase of Netscape Communicator, along with an integrated email client called AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) that used the internet rather than requiring a locally installed application.
Netscape was a very popular browser and Microsoft wanted people to have the best experience browsing on their new operating system Windows XP so they decided to emulate Netscape's features in Internet Explorer. Since IE was now bundled with Windows, it would be hard for them to include these features without favoring one over the other which would only net them bad press. That's when they came up with the idea of "best viewed in IE".
Entry into the gaming and mobile phone markets
Microsoft has attempted to enter the mobile phone market with Windows Mobile and Zune, resulting in a lack of significant market share. After these attempts, Microsoft focused on producing software for mobile phones, including Windows Phone 7 (a major revamp of its existing mobile operating system), Windows Phone 8 (which runs on the same hardware as its predecessor), and Windows Phone 8.1 (which will run on the same hardware as its predecessor's successor).
Microsoft has also produced software for gaming systems, including Microsoft Flight Simulator, Microsoft Encarta, Expedia, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. The Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One game consoles are manufactured by Microsoft.
The development of Windows XP was completed in August 2001. After an extensive public beta testing program (including release candidates with "consumer focus" that were made available to everyone who wanted to try them), the operating system was released on October 25, 2001. Once again there would be regular service packs every two years with updates to improve functionality and security.
Minimizing dependencies (or how I learned to stop worrying about the competition and love the API)
"We pick up everything."
With Windows XP, Microsoft introduced its long-awaited firewall to cater to the Internet security market. It also brought in an improved version of their web browser Internet Explorer 6 that was more secure than its predecessor IE 5.5 which had been created only months before it. This new version of Internet Explorer 6 would run on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and NT 4.0 SP 6a as well as Windows 98/Me but this time it didn't have any known issues running on those operating systems that were released back then. In early 2001 Microsoft had a pretty strong grip on the software industry even though they didn't own any of the core underlying technologies that powered computers as well as the internet. They owned 95% of the Operating Systems market, 90% of productivity software, 90% of the antivirus market, and 70% of application servers on top of browsers which they sometimes would let others use for free if they were considered good enough like Netscape who ate their browser but tried to make it fit into an OS no-one wanted (Linux) that only had 2 million users at that time. Not bad considering all this software was made by one company.
Microsoft had successfully transitioned from a PC-oriented company to a device and services-oriented company. Microsoft even embraced open source back then, unlike today when they are trying everything in their power not to be associated with it even though there are so many examples where it would make sense. Microsoft was a big influential company at that time, and the whole world wanted a piece of them if they didn't have it already.
In 2002 when Apple released its first iPod with iTunes I don't think anyone in their right mind thought something like this would be possible: "Apple is also believed to have been working on a version of its popular music player for Windows PCs, although sources claim this project has now been put on hold."
Further developments in Windows OS
"Apple's iPod is a nice music player, but it doesn't work with our OS"
At the beginning of 2003, Microsoft released Windows XP SP2 and most people got scared because you had to be connected to the internet to install this Service Pack for Windows XP (in case there were any critical security patches) and they didn't want to connect their computers to the internet. Some customers even called Microsoft and asked them if their product was secure after all putting out 5 million for this kind of research. In October 2003 Apple released its first-ever digital video recorder called "iPod Hi-Fi". No one could have predicted that Microsoft would buy Skype in May 2011 or that Apple would release an iPhone 4S in October 2011 with Siri, a voice-activated virtual assistant. I wonder what would have happened if Microsoft hadn't been so concerned about the competition and instead focused more on their product development.
In 2004 Apple released its most expensive laptop ever: "The MacBook Pro, Apple's most expensive notebook computer, which costs more than $3,000. With a 2 GHz or faster processor and a 15-inch or 17-inch display, it is meant to appeal to power users who want both portability and fast performance." Those of you who were around at that time might remember that this kind of pricing virtually brought down the whole PC industry (and was criticized by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop) because people didn't see why they should buy this expensive laptop with Windows XP when they could get one with similar specs for half the price. Apple knew what people wanted to pay for something new and revolutionary yet even though its market share was at about 5 % in 2004, everyone else just couldn't seem to understand this.
In August 2005 Microsoft released Windows Vista which includes many different features including a brand new user interface called "Aero". All of these major changes had an impact on how the software would be developed afterward because developers didn't want their app to look like it belonged in 1998. It also meant big changes in driver development because every device manufacturer needed drivers specifically written for Vista so they can indicate all the different functionality that is included in their devices (for example volume buttons). Sound cards took a big step forward because they could now include features that weren't even possible in Windows XP.
In 2006 Sony introduced its next-generation console called "PlayStation 3" which included a Blu-ray drive and had a lot of success in countries where people preferred legal media. In December 2007 Apple released iPhone OS 1.0 for developers, a mobile operating system that later turned into iOS1. In January 2008 Microsoft acquired Skype Communications (and has been paying dividends ever since). Also in January 2008, Apple released Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard including 64 bits support, Time Machine backup software, and much more (I'm sure you can find out what else if you like).
Competition with Google
In May 2008 Google announced Android OS and in September 2008 Apple released iPhone OS 2.0 to the public (with many new features). In June 2009 Apple released OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard which included 64 bits support, a brand new font rendering engine called "AAT" and much more. Also in June 2009, Microsoft released Windows 7 which had a lot of improvements compared to Vista including a faster release cycle, security enhancements, and many different features. Although Google is catching up, Apple still has a considerable lead when it comes to OS market share.
In January 2010 Steve Jobs announced that iPhone OS will be renamed iOS but the number doesn't change so we still get 4. x version numbers even though there were 5 major releases by now (iOS 4.2.1 was released in December 2010 to fix bugs). Also in January speed, performance and battery life of the iPhone 4 are being criticized so Apple decides to recall all units sold within a few weeks. In June 2010 Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 which is the first phone OS to include Zune features built-in into its mobile version including Xbox Live support, marketplace integration, mobile versions of IE & Office, etc.
In October 2010 Amazon announced the Kindle Fire tablet with Android 2.3 Gingerbread as well as Amazon Appstore for Android which follows after the Amazon MP3 app for Android devices was launched back in April 2010. Amazon is still trying hard (and even dominating some niches like ebooks and music) but there's no clear indication if this business model is going to work out. In January 2011 Apple released iOS 4.3 with a lot of new features including the ability to download movies and TV shows from its iTunes store directly onto your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. Also in January Sony announced PlayStation Vita which includes a 3G data connection as well as gyroscope, camera & GPS sensors.
In February 2011 Microsoft released Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" which also brings a lot of new features like multitasking, threaded text messaging, etc. In May 2011 Amazon unveiled its next-generation e-book reader called Kindle DX Graphite with touchscreen and 9.7 inch E Ink Pearl display. The first generation Kindle DX was announced back in May 2009 but wasn't available on the market until July 2010 so Amazon decided to rename it. In June 2011 Apple released iOS 5 which includes Notification Center, iMessage, Twitter integration, new Photo & Camera apps, iCloud service, etc. Also in June Microsoft announced Windows 8 with the touch-enabled interface and some pretty interesting features.
In October 2011 Microsoft released Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" along with some cool new features like NFC support. At this point, both companies are trying hard but only time will tell if Google is going to succeed (although its market share is growing fast).
So how did Microsoft become so successful?
Microsoft is a technology company that creates, licenses, and supports a variety of software programs and services suited to various needs. In 2000, Steve Ballmer was named the new CEO of Microsoft. Before he left Harvard University, Bill Gates met Steve Ballmer there. Despite some reservations about Ballmer's capabilities, Microsoft stayed at the top in both business and personal computer markets. Microsoft's main advantages came from its commercial side: most of its profits and revenue. This was due to Office, an office suite that had revolutionized the workplace. Because of this, Microsoft became a bloated organization with high levels of overhead. This made it difficult to respond quickly to market changes and new technologies. It also necessitated the company to grow in size - adding both employees and management structure. That let companies like Google enter the market with simpler business models that could promise better customer service without having to hire large numbers of workers or offer expensive services like enterprise-level tech support.
In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, which was the largest acquisition in Microsoft's history. To compete with Apple's Facetime and Google's Voice, Microsoft purchased Skype to integrate it into Outlook, Xbox gaming consoles, and Windows smartphones.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Microsoft started losing some ground to Google (which was making money off ads on its search engine) and Apple (with iPod). So in 2003, the company launched its first Xbox console. It also bought Danger, which developed an important smartphone platform. This would eventually evolve into Windows Phone.
Microsoft had more success with the launch of the XBOX 360 game console. However, after that, this business is overshadowed by Apple's iPad tablet computer which might become one of Microsoft's largest competitors for years to come. The Redmond-based technology giant has always had a spotty track record when it comes to entering new markets early on, but more often than not they were able to bounce back from their mistakes and remain strong players towards the end of the game.
The smartphone market is dominated by Apple's iPhone with its iOS operating system and Google's Android which combined have about 80% market share, so Microsoft has its work cut out for them if they are to become a dominant player in this industry. The Redmond-based company will not give up that easily though as their Windows Phone operating system is quickly gaining market share, it does not seem to be enough at the moment. According to ComScore, Windows Phone climbed one notch in smartphone operating systems during January 2013, putting them in third place with an estimated 5 percent of all US wireless subscribers using the OS.
At the end of the day, all companies are fighting for gaining a big chunk from the mobile market. Even though many critics claim Microsoft is dying this company is still doing pretty well thanks to its Windows Phone which sold 5 million units in Q2 2012. It's not easy to predict what's going to happen next but there are some clear indications that Android will continue dominating (although iOS devices outsell it now) and WP7 is getting more popular as well.
Of course, this article doesn't mention all important players like Nokia, HP, RIM, or even Tizen which was recently announced by Intel & Samsung. As you can see it's pretty hard (and kind of pointless) to predict where everything is headed but only time will tell if Google is going to succeed where others failed.