Microsoft

Microsoft

Overview
Microsoft Corporation ( and ) is an American public
Public company
This is not the same as a Government-owned corporation.A public company or publicly traded company is a limited liability company that offers its securities for sale to the general public, typically through a stock exchange, or through market makers operating in over the counter markets...

 multinational corporation
Multinational corporation
A multi national corporation or enterprise , is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation...

 headquartered in Redmond, Washington
Redmond, Washington
Redmond is a city in King County, Washington, United States, located east of Seattle. The population was 54,144 at the 2010 census,up from 45,256 in 2000....

, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing
Computing
Computing is usually defined as the activity of using and improving computer hardware and software. It is the computer-specific part of information technology...

 through its various product divisions. Established on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell BASIC
BASIC
BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use - the name is an acronym from Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code....

 interpreters for the Altair 8800
Altair 8800
The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers hoped to sell only a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were...

, Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer
Home computer
Home computers were a class of microcomputers entering the market in 1977, and becoming increasingly common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user...

 operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

 market with MS-DOS
MS-DOS
MS-DOS is an operating system for x86-based personal computers. It was the most commonly used member of the DOS family of operating systems, and was the main operating system for IBM PC compatible personal computers during the 1980s to the mid 1990s, until it was gradually superseded by operating...

 in the mid-1980s, followed by the Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 line of operating systems.

Microsoft would also come to dominate the office suite
Office suite
In computing, an office suite, sometimes called an office software suite or productivity suite is a collection of programs intended to be used by knowledge workers...

 market with Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is a non-free commercial office suite of inter-related desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, introduced by Microsoft in August 1, 1989. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of...

.
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Timeline

1975   Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico

1981   Microsoft is restructured to become an incorporated business in its home state of Washington.

1985   Microsoft Windows 1.0 is released.

1990   Microsoft releases the Windows 3.0 operating system.

1995   Computer software developer Microsoft releases its Windows 95 operating system.

1999   The "Melissa worm" infects Microsoft word processing and e-mail systems around the world.

2000   United States v. Microsoft: Microsoft is ruled to have violated United States antitrust laws by keeping "an oppressive thumb" on its competitors.

 
Encyclopedia
Microsoft Corporation ( and ) is an American public
Public company
This is not the same as a Government-owned corporation.A public company or publicly traded company is a limited liability company that offers its securities for sale to the general public, typically through a stock exchange, or through market makers operating in over the counter markets...

 multinational corporation
Multinational corporation
A multi national corporation or enterprise , is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation...

 headquartered in Redmond, Washington
Redmond, Washington
Redmond is a city in King County, Washington, United States, located east of Seattle. The population was 54,144 at the 2010 census,up from 45,256 in 2000....

, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing
Computing
Computing is usually defined as the activity of using and improving computer hardware and software. It is the computer-specific part of information technology...

 through its various product divisions. Established on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell BASIC
BASIC
BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use - the name is an acronym from Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code....

 interpreters for the Altair 8800
Altair 8800
The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers hoped to sell only a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were...

, Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer
Home computer
Home computers were a class of microcomputers entering the market in 1977, and becoming increasingly common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user...

 operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

 market with MS-DOS
MS-DOS
MS-DOS is an operating system for x86-based personal computers. It was the most commonly used member of the DOS family of operating systems, and was the main operating system for IBM PC compatible personal computers during the 1980s to the mid 1990s, until it was gradually superseded by operating...

 in the mid-1980s, followed by the Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 line of operating systems.

Microsoft would also come to dominate the office suite
Office suite
In computing, an office suite, sometimes called an office software suite or productivity suite is a collection of programs intended to be used by knowledge workers...

 market with Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is a non-free commercial office suite of inter-related desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, introduced by Microsoft in August 1, 1989. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of...

. The company has diversified in recent years into the video game industry with the Xbox
Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

 and its successor, the Xbox 360
Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

 as well as into the consumer electronics
Consumer electronics
Consumer electronics are electronic equipment intended for everyday use, most often in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver...

 and digital services market with Zune
Zune
Zune is a digital media brand owned by Microsoft which includes a line of portable media players, a digital media player software for Windows machines, a music subscription service known as a 'Zune Music Pass', music and video streaming for the Xbox 360 via the Zune Software, music, TV and movie...

, MSN
MSN
MSN is a collection of Internet sites and services provided by Microsoft. The Microsoft Network debuted as an online service and Internet service provider on August 24, 1995, to coincide with the release of the Windows 95 operating system.The range of services offered by MSN has changed since its...

 and the Windows Phone
Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, and is the successor to its Windows Mobile platform, although incompatible with it. Unlike its predecessor, it is primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market...

 OS. The ensuing rise of stock in the company's 1986 initial public offering
Initial public offering
An initial public offering or stock market launch, is the first sale of stock by a private company to the public. It can be used by either small or large companies to raise expansion capital and become publicly traded enterprises...

 (IPO) made an estimated three billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees (Forbes 400 list revealed that in March 2011 both Jon Shipley and Nathan Myhrvold lost their billionaire status). In May 2011, Microsoft Corporation acquired Skype Communications for $8.5 billion.

Primarily in the 1990s, critics contend Microsoft used monopolistic
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 business practices and anti-competitive strategies including refusal to deal
Refusal to deal
Refusal to deal is one of several anti-competitive practices forbidden in countries which have restricted market economies. For example:-History:...

 and tying, put unreasonable restrictions in the use of its software, and used misrepresentative marketing tactics; both the U.S. Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 and European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 found the company in violation of antitrust
Antitrust
The United States antitrust law is a body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behavior and unfair business practices. Antitrust laws are intended to encourage competition in the marketplace. These competition laws make illegal certain practices deemed to hurt businesses or consumers or both,...

 laws. Known for its interviewing process with obscure questions, various studies and ratings were generally favorable to Microsoft's diversity within the company as well as its overall environmental impact with the exception of the electronics portion of the business.

History


Early History


Paul Allen
Paul Allen
Paul Gardner Allen is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates...

 and Bill Gates
Bill Gates
William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and author. Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen...

, childhood friends with a passion in computer programming
Computer programming
Computer programming is the process of designing, writing, testing, debugging, and maintaining the source code of computer programs. This source code is written in one or more programming languages. The purpose of programming is to create a program that performs specific operations or exhibits a...

, were seeking to make a successful business utilizing their shared skills. The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics
Popular Electronics
Popular Electronics was an American magazine started by Ziff-Davis Publishing in October 1954 for electronics hobbyists and experimenters. It soon became the "World's Largest-Selling Electronics Magazine". The circulation was 240,151 in April 1957 and 400,000 by 1963. Ziff-Davis published Popular...

 featured Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems
Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems
Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems was an American electronics company founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico that began manufacturing electronic calculators in 1971 and personal computers in 1975. Ed Roberts and Forrest Mims founded MITS in December 1969 to produce miniaturized telemetry...

's (MITS) Altair 8800
Altair 8800
The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers hoped to sell only a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were...

 microcomputer
Microcomputer
A microcomputer is a computer with a microprocessor as its central processing unit. They are physically small compared to mainframe and minicomputers...

. Allen noticed that they could program a BASIC
BASIC
BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use - the name is an acronym from Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code....

 interpreter
Interpreter (computing)
In computer science, an interpreter normally means a computer program that executes, i.e. performs, instructions written in a programming language...

 for the device; after a call from Gates claiming to have a working interpreter, MITS requested a demonstration. Since they didn't actually have one, Allen worked on a simulator
Simulation
Simulation is the imitation of some real thing available, state of affairs, or process. The act of simulating something generally entails representing certain key characteristics or behaviours of a selected physical or abstract system....

 for the Altair while Gates developed the interpreter. Although they developed the interpreter on a simulator and not the actual device, the interpreter worked flawlessly when they demonstrated the interpreter to MITS in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March 1975; MITS agreed to distribute it, marketing it as Altair BASIC
Altair BASIC
Altair BASIC was an interpreter for the BASIC programming language that ran on the MITS Altair 8800 and subsequent S-100 bus computers. It was Microsoft's first product , distributed by MITS under a contract...

. They officially established Microsoft on April 4, 1975, with Gates as the CEO
Chief executive officer
A chief executive officer , managing director , Executive Director for non-profit organizations, or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer or administrator in charge of total management of an organization...

. Allen came up with the original name of "Micro-Soft," as recounted in a 1995 Fortune magazine article. In August 1977 the company formed an agreement with ASCII Magazine in Japan, resulting in its first international office, "ASCII Microsoft
ASCII (company)
was a publishing company based in Tokyo, Japan. It became a subsidiary of Kadokawa Group Holdings in 2004, and merged with another Kadokawa subsidiary MediaWorks on April 1, 2008, and became ASCII Media Works. The company published Monthly ASCII as the main publication...

". The company moved to a new home in Bellevue, Washington
Bellevue, Washington
Bellevue is a city in the Eastside region of King County, Washington, United States, across Lake Washington from Seattle. Long known as a suburb or satellite city of Seattle, it is now categorized as an edge city or a boomburb. The population was 122,363 at the 2010 census.Downtown Bellevue is...

 in January 1979.
Microsoft Inc. logo history
Logo Years

Microsoft "blibbet" logo, filed August 26, 1982 at the USPTO
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

 and used until 1987.
Microsoft "Pac-Man
Pac-Man
is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is considered one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games,...

" logo, designed by Scott Baker and used since 1987, with the 1994–2002 slogan "Where do you want to go today?
Where do you want to go today?
“Where do you want to go today?” was the title of Microsoft’s first global image advertising campaign. The broadcast, print and outdoor advertising campaign was launched in November 1994 through the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, the firm best known for its work on behalf of Nike, Inc....

"
.
Microsoft logo as of 2006–2011, with the slogan "Your potential. Our passion."
Logo by Microsoft with the slogan"Be What's Next." 2011–present.


Microsoft entered the OS business in 1980 with its own version of Unix
Unix
Unix is a multitasking, multi-user computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs, including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna...

, called Xenix
Xenix
Xenix is a version of the Unix operating system, licensed to Microsoft from AT&T in the late 1970s. The Santa Cruz Operation later acquired exclusive rights to the software, and eventually superseded it with SCO UNIX ....

. However, it was DOS
DOS
DOS, short for "Disk Operating System", is an acronym for several closely related operating systems that dominated the IBM PC compatible market between 1981 and 1995, or until about 2000 if one includes the partially DOS-based Microsoft Windows versions 95, 98, and Millennium Edition.Related...

 (Disk Operating System) that solidified the company's dominance. After negotiations with Digital Research
Digital Research
Digital Research, Inc. was the company created by Dr. Gary Kildall to market and develop his CP/M operating system and related products. It was the first large software company in the microcomputer world...

 failed, IBM awarded a contract to Microsoft in November 1980 to provide a version of the CP/M
CP/M
CP/M was a mass-market operating system created for Intel 8080/85 based microcomputers by Gary Kildall of Digital Research, Inc...

 OS, which was set to be used in the upcoming IBM Personal Computer (IBM PC). For this deal, Microsoft purchased a CP/M clone called 86-DOS from Seattle Computer Products
Seattle Computer Products
Seattle Computer Products was a Seattle, Washington microcomputer hardware company which was one of the first manufacturers of computer systems based on the 16-bit Intel 8086 processor...

, branding it as MS-DOS, which IBM rebranded to PC-DOS
PC-DOS
IBM PC DOS is a DOS system for the IBM Personal Computer and compatibles, manufactured and sold by IBM from the 1980s to the 2000s....

. Following the release of the IBM PC in August 1981, Microsoft retained ownership of MS-DOS. Since IBM copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

ed the IBM PC BIOS
BIOS
In IBM PC compatible computers, the basic input/output system , also known as the System BIOS or ROM BIOS , is a de facto standard defining a firmware interface....

, other companies had to reverse engineer
Reverse engineering
Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation...

 it in order for non-IBM hardware to run as IBM PC compatible
IBM PC compatible
IBM PC compatible computers are those generally similar to the original IBM PC, XT, and AT. Such computers used to be referred to as PC clones, or IBM clones since they almost exactly duplicated all the significant features of the PC architecture, facilitated by various manufacturers' ability to...

s, but no such restriction applied to the operating systems. Due to various factors, such as MS-DOS's available software selection , Microsoft eventually became the leading PC OS vendor. The company expanded into new markets with the release of the Microsoft Mouse in 1983, as well as a publishing division named Microsoft Press
Microsoft Press
Microsoft Press is the publishing arm of Microsoft, usually releasing books dealing with various current Microsoft technologies. Microsoft Press' first introduced books were The Apple Macintosh Book by Cary Lu and Exploring the IBM PC by Peter Norton in 1984 at the West Coast Computer Faire...

. Paul Allen resigned from Microsoft in February after developing Hodgkin's disease
Hodgkin's lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma, previously known as Hodgkin's disease, is a type of lymphoma, which is a cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes...

.

1984–1994: Windows and Office


While jointly developing a new OS with IBM in 1984, OS/2
OS/2
OS/2 is a computer operating system, initially created by Microsoft and IBM, then later developed by IBM exclusively. The name stands for "Operating System/2," because it was introduced as part of the same generation change release as IBM's "Personal System/2 " line of second-generation personal...

, Microsoft released Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

, a graphical extension for MS-DOS, on November 20. Microsoft moved its headquarters to Redmond on February 26, 1986, and on March 13 the company went public
Public company
This is not the same as a Government-owned corporation.A public company or publicly traded company is a limited liability company that offers its securities for sale to the general public, typically through a stock exchange, or through market makers operating in over the counter markets...

; the ensuing rise in the stock would make an estimated four billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees. Due to the partnership with IBM, in 1990 the Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

 set its eye on Microsoft for possible collusion
Collusion
Collusion is an agreement between two or more persons, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair advantage...

; it marked the beginning of over a decade of legal clashes with the U.S. Government. Microsoft announced the release of its version of OS/2 to original equipment manufacturer
Original Equipment Manufacturer
An original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, manufactures products or components that are purchased by a company and retailed under that purchasing company's brand name. OEM refers to the company that originally manufactured the product. When referring to automotive parts, OEM designates a...

s (OEMs) on April 2, 1987; meanwhile, the company was at work on a 32-bit
32-bit
The range of integer values that can be stored in 32 bits is 0 through 4,294,967,295. Hence, a processor with 32-bit memory addresses can directly access 4 GB of byte-addressable memory....

 OS, Microsoft Windows NT, using ideas from OS/2; it shipped on July 21, 1993 with a new modular
Modular programming
Modular programming is a software design technique that increases the extent to which software is composed of separate, interchangeable components called modules by breaking down program functions into modules, each of which accomplishes one function and contains everything necessary to accomplish...

 kernel
Kernel (computing)
In computing, the kernel is the main component of most computer operating systems; it is a bridge between applications and the actual data processing done at the hardware level. The kernel's responsibilities include managing the system's resources...

 and the Win32
Windows API
The Windows API, informally WinAPI, is Microsoft's core set of application programming interfaces available in the Microsoft Windows operating systems. It was formerly called the Win32 API; however, the name "Windows API" more accurately reflects its roots in 16-bit Windows and its support on...

 application programming interface
Application programming interface
An application programming interface is a source code based specification intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other...

 (API), making porting
Porting
In computer science, porting is the process of adapting software so that an executable program can be created for a computing environment that is different from the one for which it was originally designed...

 from 16-bit
16-bit
-16-bit architecture:The HP BPC, introduced in 1975, was the world's first 16-bit microprocessor. Prominent 16-bit processors include the PDP-11, Intel 8086, Intel 80286 and the WDC 65C816. The Intel 8088 was program-compatible with the Intel 8086, and was 16-bit in that its registers were 16...

 (MS-DOS-based) Windows easier. Once Microsoft informed IBM of NT, the OS/2 partnership deteriorated.

Microsoft introduced its office suite, Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is a non-free commercial office suite of inter-related desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, introduced by Microsoft in August 1, 1989. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of...

, in 1990. The software bundled separate office productivity applications, such as Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS , the Apple Macintosh , the AT&T Unix PC , Atari ST , SCO UNIX,...

 and Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is a proprietary commercial spreadsheet application written and distributed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications...

. On May 22 Microsoft launched Windows 3.0
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.0, a graphical environment, is the third major release of Microsoft Windows, and was released on 22 May 1990. It became the first widely successful version of Windows and a rival to Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga on the GUI front...

 with a streamlined user interface
User interface
The user interface, in the industrial design field of human–machine interaction, is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the...

 graphics and improved protected mode
Protected mode
In computing, protected mode, also called protected virtual address mode, is an operational mode of x86-compatible central processing units...

 capability for the Intel 386
Intel 80386
The Intel 80386, also known as the i386, or just 386, was a 32-bit microprocessor introduced by Intel in 1985. The first versions had 275,000 transistors and were used as the central processing unit of many workstations and high-end personal computers of the time...

 processor. Both Office and Windows became dominant in their respective areas. Novell
Novell
Novell, Inc. is a multinational software and services company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group. It specializes in network operating systems, such as Novell NetWare; systems management solutions, such as Novell ZENworks; and collaboration solutions, such as Novell Groupwise...

, a Word competitor from 1984–1986, filed a lawsuit years later claiming that Microsoft left part of its APIs undocumented in order to gain a competitive advantage.

On July 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division filed a Competitive Impact Statement that said, in part:
"Beginning in 1988, and continuing until July 15, 1994, Microsoft induced many OEMs to execute anticompetitive "per processor" licenses. Under a per processor license, an OEM pays Microsoft a royalty for each computer it sells containing a particular microprocessor, whether the OEM sells the computer with a Microsoft operating system or a non-Microsoft operating system. In effect, the royalty payment to Microsoft when no Microsoft product is being used acts as a penalty, or tax, on the OEM's use of a competing PC operating system. Since 1988, Microsoft's use of per processor licenses has increased."

1995–2005: Internet and the 32-bit era


Following Bill Gates's internal "Internet Tidal Wave memo" on May 26, 1995 Microsoft began to redefine its offerings and expand its product line into computer network
Computer network
A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of hardware components and computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information....

ing and the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

. The company released Windows 95
Windows 95
Windows 95 is a consumer-oriented graphical user interface-based operating system. It was released on August 24, 1995 by Microsoft, and was a significant progression from the company's previous Windows products...

 on August 24, 1995, featuring pre-emptive multitasking, a completely new user interface with a novel start button
Start menu
The Start Menu and Start Button are user interface elements used in the later versions of the Microsoft Windows operating systems and in some X window managers...

, and 32-bit compatibility; similar to NT, it provided the Win32 API. Windows 95 came bundled with the online service MSN
MSN
MSN is a collection of Internet sites and services provided by Microsoft. The Microsoft Network debuted as an online service and Internet service provider on August 24, 1995, to coincide with the release of the Windows 95 operating system.The range of services offered by MSN has changed since its...

, and for OEMs Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer
Windows Internet Explorer is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year...

, a web browser
Web browser
A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier and may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content...

. Internet Explorer was not bundled with the retail Windows 95 boxes because the boxes were printed before the team finished the web browser, and instead was included in the Windows 95 Plus! pack. Branching out into new markets in 1996, Microsoft and NBC Universal
NBC Universal
NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news, and information products and services to a global customer base...

 created a new 24/7
24/7
24/7 is an abbreviation which stands for "24 hours a day, 7 days a week", usually referring to a business or service available at all times without interruption...

 cable news station, MSNBC
MSNBC
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

. Microsoft created Windows CE 1.0, a new OS designed for devices with low memory and other constraints, such as personal digital assistant
Personal digital assistant
A personal digital assistant , also known as a palmtop computer, or personal data assistant, is a mobile device that functions as a personal information manager. Current PDAs often have the ability to connect to the Internet...

s. In October 1997, the Justice Department filed a motion in the Federal District Court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

, stating that Microsoft violated an agreement signed in 1994 and asked the court to stop the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.

Bill Gates handed over the CEO position on January 13, 2000 to Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer
Steven Anthony "Steve" Ballmer is an American business magnate. He is the chief executive officer of Microsoft, having held that post since January 2000. , his personal wealth is estimated at US$13.9 billion, ranking number 19 on the Forbes 400.-Early life:Ballmer was born in Detroit, Michigan to...

, an old college friend of Gates and employee of the company since 1980, creating a new position for himself as Chief Software Architect
Software architect
Software architect is a general term with many accepted definitions, which refers to a broad range of roles. Generally accepted terminology and certifications began appearing in connection with this role near the beginning of the 21st century.-History:...

. Various companies including Microsoft formed the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance
Trusted Computing Group
The Trusted Computing Group , successor to the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance , is an initiative started by AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft to implement Trusted Computing...

 in October 1999 to, among other things, increase security and protect intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 through identifying changes in hardware and software. Critics decry the alliance as a way to enforce indiscriminate restrictions over how consumers use software, and over how computers behave, a form of digital rights management
Digital rights management
Digital rights management is a class of access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale. DRM is any technology that inhibits uses of digital content that...

; for example the scenario where a computer is not only secured for its owner, but also secured against its owner as well. On April 3, 2000, a judgment was handed down in the case of United States v. Microsoft
United States v. Microsoft
United States v. Microsoft was a set of civil actions filed against Microsoft Corporation pursuant to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 Section 1 and 2 on May 8, 1998 by the United States Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states. Joel I. Klein was the lead prosecutor...

, calling the company an "abusive monopoly"; it settled with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2004. On October 25, 2001 Microsoft released Windows XP
Windows XP
Windows XP is an operating system produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops and media centers. First released to computer manufacturers on August 24, 2001, it is the second most popular version of Windows, based on installed user base...

, unifying the mainstream and NT lines under the NT codebase. The company released the Xbox
Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

 later that year, entering the game console market dominated by Sony
Sony
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

 and Nintendo
Nintendo
is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

. In March 2004 the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 brought antitrust legal action against the company
European Union Microsoft antitrust case
The European Union Microsoft competition case is a case brought by the European Commission of the European Union against Microsoft for abuse of its dominant position in the market...

, citing it abused its dominance with the Windows OS, resulting in a judgment of €497million ($613million) and to produce new versions of Windows XP without Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player is a media player and media library application developed by Microsoft that is used for playing audio, video and viewing images on personal computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, as well as on Pocket PC and Windows Mobile-based devices...

, Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional N.

2006–present: Windows Vista and cloud computing


Released in January 2007, the next version of Windows, Windows Vista
Windows Vista
Windows Vista is an operating system released in several variations developed by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs, and media center PCs...

, focused on features, security, and a redesigned user interface dubbed Aero
Windows Aero
Windows Aero is the graphical user interface and the default theme in most editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7, operating systems released by Microsoft. It is also available in Windows Server 2008, but is not enabled by default. Its name is a backronym for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and...

. Microsoft Office 2007
Microsoft Office 2007
Microsoft Office 2007 is a Windows version of the Microsoft Office System, Microsoft's productivity suite. Formerly known as Office 12 in the initial stages of its beta cycle, it was released to volume license customers on November 30, 2006 and made available to retail customers on January 30, 2007...

, released at the same time, featured a "Ribbon
Ribbon (computing)
In GUI-based application software, a ribbon is an interface where a set of toolbars are placed on tabs in a tab bar. Recent releases of some Microsoft applications have embraced this form with a modular ribbon as their main interface. The Ribbon is a contextual interface that offers functionality...

" user interface which was a significant departure from its predecessors. Relatively strong sales of both titles helped to produce a record profit in 2007. The European Union imposed another fine of €899million ($1.4billion) for Microsoft's lack of compliance with the March 2004 judgment on February 27, 2008, saying that the company charged rivals unreasonable prices for key information about its workgroup
Microsoft SQL Server
Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database server, developed by Microsoft: It is a software product whose primary function is to store and retrieve data as requested by other software applications, be it those on the same computer or those running on another computer across a network...

 and backoffice
Microsoft BackOffice Server
Microsoft BackOffice Server was a computer software package featuring Windows NT Server and other Microsoft server products that ran on NT server. It was marketed during the 1990s and early 2000s for use in branch operations and for small businesses to run their back office operations.The small...

 servers. Microsoft stated that it was in compliance and that "these fines are about the past issues that have been resolved".

Bill Gates retired from his role as Chief Software Architect on June 27, 2008 while retaining other positions related to the company in addition to being an advisor for the company on key projects. Azure Services Platform
Azure Services Platform
The Windows Azure Platform is a Microsoft cloud platform used to build, host and scale web applications through Microsoft data centers. Windows Azure Platform is thus classified as platform as a service and forms part of Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, along with their software as a service...

, the company's entry into the cloud computing
Cloud computing
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network ....

 market for Windows, launched on October 27, 2008. On February 12, 2009, Microsoft announced its intent to open a chain of Microsoft-branded retail stores, and on October 22, 2009 the first retail Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store
The Microsoft Store consists of fourteen retail stores and an online shopping site, and is owned and operated by Microsoft, dealing in computers, computer software and consumer electronics...

 opened in Scottsdale
Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale is a city in the eastern part of Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, adjacent to Phoenix. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010 the population of the city was 217,385...

, Arizona; the same day the first store opened Windows 7 was officially released to the public. Windows 7's focus was on refining Vista with ease of use features and performance enhancements, rather than a large reworking of Windows.

As the smartphone industry boomed beginning in 2007, Microsoft struggled to keep up with its rivals Apple and Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 in providing a modern smartphone operating system. As a result, in 2010, Microsoft revamped their aging flagship mobile operating system, Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft that was used in smartphones and Pocket PCs, but by 2011 was rarely supplied on new phones. The last version is "Windows Mobile 6.5.5"; it is superseded by Windows Phone, which does not run Windows Mobile software.Windows Mobile is...

, replacing it with the new Windows Phone
Windows Phone
Windows Phone is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, and is the successor to its Windows Mobile platform, although incompatible with it. Unlike its predecessor, it is primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market...

 OS; along with a new strategy in the smartphone industry that has Microsoft working more closely with smartphone manufactures, such as Nokia
Nokia
Nokia Corporation is a Finnish multinational communications corporation that is headquartered in Keilaniemi, Espoo, a city neighbouring Finland's capital Helsinki...

, and to provide a consistent user experience across all smartphones using Microsoft's Windows Phone OS.

Microsoft is a founding member of the Open Networking Foundation
Open Networking Foundation
The Open Networking Foundation is a nonprofit, mutually beneficial trade organization, founded by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo! to improve networking through software-defined networking.The standards-setting group was formed out of recognition that cloud...

 started on March 23, 2011. Other founding companies include Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

, HP Networking
HP Networking
HP Networking is the networking division of Hewlett-Packard, within the HP Enterprise Business segment. HP's networking division was previously known as HP ProCurve...

, Yahoo, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom AG is a telecommunications company headquartered in Bonn, Germany. It is the largest telecommunications company in Europe....

 and 17 other companies. The nonprofit organization is focused on providing support for a new cloud computing
Cloud computing
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network ....

 initiative called Software-Defined Networking. The initiative is meant to speed innovation through simple software changes in telecommunications networks, wireless networks, data centers and other networking areas.

Product divisions


For the 2010 fiscal year, Microsoft had five product divisions: Windows & Windows Live Division, Server and Tools, Online Services Division, Microsoft Business Division, and Entertainment and Devices Division.

Windows & Windows Live Division, Server and Tools, Online Services Division


The company's Client division produces the flagship Windows OS line such as Windows 7; it also produces the Windows Live
Windows Live
Windows Live is the collective brand name for a set of services and software products from Microsoft, part of their software plus services platform. A majority of these services are Web applications, accessible from a browser, but there are also client-side binary applications that require...

 family of products and services. Server and Tools produces the server versions of Windows, such as Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is a server operating system produced by Microsoft. It was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009 and launched on October 22, 2009. According to the Windows Server Team blog, the retail availability was September 14, 2009. It is built on Windows NT 6.1, the same core...

 as well as a set of development tools called Microsoft Visual Studio
Microsoft Visual Studio
Microsoft Visual Studio is an integrated development environment from Microsoft. It is used to develop console and graphical user interface applications along with Windows Forms applications, web sites, web applications, and web services in both native code together with managed code for all...

, Microsoft Silverlight
Microsoft Silverlight
Microsoft Silverlight is an application framework for writing and running rich Internet applications, with features and purposes similar to those of Adobe Flash. The run-time environment for Silverlight is available as a plug-in for web browsers running under Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X...

, a web application framework, and System Center Configuration Manager, a collection of tools providing remote-control abilities, patch management, software distribution and a hardware/software inventory. Other server products include: Microsoft SQL Server
Microsoft SQL Server
Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database server, developed by Microsoft: It is a software product whose primary function is to store and retrieve data as requested by other software applications, be it those on the same computer or those running on another computer across a network...

, a relational database
Relational database
A relational database is a database that conforms to relational model theory. The software used in a relational database is called a relational database management system . Colloquial use of the term "relational database" may refer to the RDBMS software, or the relational database itself...

 management system, Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft Exchange Server is the server side of a client–server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Servers line of server products and is used by enterprises using Microsoft infrastructure products...

, for certain business-oriented e-mail
E-mail
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

 and scheduling features, Small Business Server, for messaging and other small business-oriented features; and Microsoft BizTalk Server
Microsoft BizTalk Server
Microsoft BizTalk Server, often referred to as simply "BizTalk", is an Enterprise Service Bus. Through the use of "adapters" which are tailored to communicate with different software systems used in an enterprise, it enables companies to automate business processes...

, for business process management
Business process management
Business process management is a holistic management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. BPM attempts to...

.

Microsoft provides IT consulting
Information technology consulting
Information technology consulting is a field that focuses on advising businesses on how best to use information technology to meet their business objectives...

 ("Microsoft Consulting Services") and produces a set of certification programs handled by the Server and Tools division designed to recognize individuals who have a minimal set of proficiencies in a specific role; this includes developers ("Microsoft Certified Solution Developer"
Microsoft Certified Professional
Microsoft Certified Professional is a program of Professional certifications awarded by Microsoft. Individual certifications are awarded upon passing of one or more exams. The MCP program itself is designed for both IT Professionals and developers. Beneath the MCP program is a variety of more...

), system/network analysts ("Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer"), trainers ("Microsoft Certified Trainers
Microsoft Certified Professional
Microsoft Certified Professional is a program of Professional certifications awarded by Microsoft. Individual certifications are awarded upon passing of one or more exams. The MCP program itself is designed for both IT Professionals and developers. Beneath the MCP program is a variety of more...

") and administrators ("Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator"
MCSA
MCSA may refer to:*Mountain Club of South Africa*Moscow, Camden and San Augustine Railroad*Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator...

 and "Microsoft Certified Database Administrator"). Microsoft Press
Microsoft Press
Microsoft Press is the publishing arm of Microsoft, usually releasing books dealing with various current Microsoft technologies. Microsoft Press' first introduced books were The Apple Macintosh Book by Cary Lu and Exploring the IBM PC by Peter Norton in 1984 at the West Coast Computer Faire...

, which publishes books, is also managed by the division. The Online Services Business division handles the online service MSN
MSN
MSN is a collection of Internet sites and services provided by Microsoft. The Microsoft Network debuted as an online service and Internet service provider on August 24, 1995, to coincide with the release of the Windows 95 operating system.The range of services offered by MSN has changed since its...

 and the search engine Bing
Bing
Bing is a web search engine from Microsoft.Bing may also refer to:* An onomatopœia of a bell sound* Bing cherry, a variety of cherry* Bing , Chinese flatbread* Bing , a German company that manufactured toys and kitchen utensils...

. As of December 2009, the company also possesses an 18% ownership of the cable news channel MSNBC
MSNBC
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

 without any editorial control; however, the division develops the channel's website, msnbc.com
Msnbc.com
msnbc.com is a news website owned and operated as a joint venture by NBCUniversal and Microsoft.In addition to original content from its news staff, msnbc.com is the news website for the NBC News family, with content from the cable television news channel MSNBC, NBC shows such as Today, NBC Nightly...

, in a joint venture
Joint venture
A joint venture is a business agreement in which parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity. They exercise control over the enterprise and consequently share revenues, expenses and assets...

 with the channel's co-owner, NBC Universal
NBC Universal
NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news, and information products and services to a global customer base...

.

Business Division


The Microsoft Business Division produces Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is a non-free commercial office suite of inter-related desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, introduced by Microsoft in August 1, 1989. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of...

 including Microsoft Office 2010, the company's line of office software. The software product includes Word (a word processor), Access
Microsoft Access
Microsoft Office Access, previously known as Microsoft Access, is a relational database management system from Microsoft that combines the relational Microsoft Jet Database Engine with a graphical user interface and software-development tools. It is a member of the Microsoft Office suite of...

 (a relational database
Relational database
A relational database is a database that conforms to relational model theory. The software used in a relational database is called a relational database management system . Colloquial use of the term "relational database" may refer to the RDBMS software, or the relational database itself...

 program), Excel
Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is a proprietary commercial spreadsheet application written and distributed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications...

 (a spreadsheet
Spreadsheet
A spreadsheet is a computer application that simulates a paper accounting worksheet. It displays multiple cells usually in a two-dimensional matrix or grid consisting of rows and columns. Each cell contains alphanumeric text, numeric values or formulas...

 program), Outlook (Groupware
Collaborative software
Collaborative software is computer software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve goals...

, frequently used with Exchange Server
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft Exchange Server is the server side of a client–server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Servers line of server products and is used by enterprises using Microsoft infrastructure products...

), PowerPoint
Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft PowerPoint, usually just called PowerPoint, is a non-free commercial presentation program developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Office suite, and runs on Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS X operating system...

 (presentation software), and Publisher
Microsoft Publisher
Microsoft Publisher is a desktop publishing application from Microsoft. It is an entry-level application, differing from Microsoft Word in that the emphasis is placed on page layout and design rather than text composition and proofing...

 (desktop publishing software). A number of other products were added later with the release of Office 2003 including Visio
Microsoft Visio
Microsoft Visio , formerly known as Microsoft Office Visio, is a commercial diagramming program for Microsoft Windows that uses vector graphics to create diagrams.- Features :...

, Project
Microsoft Project
Microsoft Project is a project management software program, developed and sold by Microsoft, which is designed to assist a project manager in developing a plan, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing the budget, and analyzing workloads.The application creates critical path...

, MapPoint
Microsoft MapPoint
Microsoft MapPoint is both a technology and a specific software program created by Microsoft that allows users to view, edit and integrate maps. The software and technology are designed to facilitate the geographical visualization and analysis of either included data or custom data...

, InfoPath
Microsoft InfoPath
Microsoft Office InfoPath is a software application for designing, distributing, filling and submitting electronic forms containing structured data...

 and OneNote
Microsoft Office OneNote
Microsoft OneNote is a computer program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It can gather users' notes , drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries and share them with other users of Microsoft OneNote over the Internet...

. The division also develops enterprise resource planning
Enterprise resource planning
Enterprise resource planning systems integrate internal and external management information across an entire organization, embracing finance/accounting, manufacturing, sales and service, customer relationship management, etc. ERP systems automate this activity with an integrated software application...

 (ERP) software for companies under the Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management software applications developed by Microsoft. Microsoft Dynamics applications are delivered through a network of reselling partners who provide specialized services...

 brand. These include: Microsoft Dynamics AX
Microsoft Dynamics AX
is one of Microsoft’s enterprise resource planning software products. It is part of the Microsoft Dynamics family.-History:Microsoft Dynamics AX was originally developed as a collaboration between IBM and Damgaard as IBM Axapta. IBM returned all rights in the product to Damgaard shortly after the...

, Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Microsoft Dynamics NAV is an enterprise resource planning software product from Microsoft.The product is part of the Microsoft Dynamics family, and intended to assist with finance, manufacturing, customer relationship management, supply chains, analytics and electronic commerce for small and...

, Microsoft Dynamics GP
Microsoft Dynamics GP
Microsoft Dynamics GP is a mid-market business accounting software or ERP Software package marketed in North and South America, UK and Ireland, the Middle East, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. It is used in many additional countries with partner supported localisations. It uses either...

, and Microsoft Dynamics SL
Microsoft Dynamics SL
Microsoft Dynamics SL is one of Microsoft’s enterprise resource planning software products for project-driven small- and medium-sized enterprises. It is part of the Microsoft Dynamics product family....

. They are targeted at varying company types and countries, and limited to organizations with under 7,500 employees. Also included under the Dynamics brand is the customer relationship management
Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management is a widely implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing,...

 software Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a multi-lingual Customer Relationship Management software package developed by Microsoft. Out of the box, the product focuses mainly on Sales, Marketing, and Service sectors, but Microsoft has been marketing Dynamics CRM as an XRM platform and has been encouraging...

, part of the Azure Services Platform
Azure Services Platform
The Windows Azure Platform is a Microsoft cloud platform used to build, host and scale web applications through Microsoft data centers. Windows Azure Platform is thus classified as platform as a service and forms part of Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, along with their software as a service...

.

Entertainment and Devices Division


The Entertainment and Devices Division produces the Windows CE
Windows CE
Microsoft Windows CE is an operating system developed by Microsoft for embedded systems. Windows CE is a distinct operating system and kernel, rather than a trimmed-down version of desktop Windows...

 OS for embedded system
Embedded system
An embedded system is a computer system designed for specific control functions within a larger system. often with real-time computing constraints. It is embedded as part of a complete device often including hardware and mechanical parts. By contrast, a general-purpose computer, such as a personal...

s and Windows Phone
Windows Phone
Windows Phone is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, and is the successor to its Windows Mobile platform, although incompatible with it. Unlike its predecessor, it is primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market...

 for smartphone
Smartphone
A smartphone is a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. The first smartphones were devices that mainly combined the functions of a personal digital assistant and a mobile phone or camera...

s. Microsoft initially entered the mobile market through Windows CE for handheld device
Handheld device
A mobile device is a small, hand-held computing device, typically having a display screen with touch input and/or a miniature keyboard and less than . Early pocket sized ones were joined in the late 2000s by larger but otherwise similar tablet computers...

s, eventually developing into the Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft that was used in smartphones and Pocket PCs, but by 2011 was rarely supplied on new phones. The last version is "Windows Mobile 6.5.5"; it is superseded by Windows Phone, which does not run Windows Mobile software.Windows Mobile is...

 OS and now, Windows Phone. Windows CE is designed for devices where the OS may not directly be visible to the end user, in particular, appliances and cars. The division also produces computer games
Computer Games
"Computer Games" is a single by New Zealand group, Mi-Sex released in 1979 in Australia and New Zealand and in 1981 throughout Europe. It was the single that launched the band, and was hugely popular, particularly in Australia and New Zealand...

 that run on Windows PCs and other systems including titles such as Age of Empires, Halo
Halo (video game series)
Halo is a multi-million dollar science fiction video game franchise created by Bungie and now managed by 343 Industries and owned by Microsoft Studios. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and a theocratic alliance of aliens known as the Covenant...

 and the Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator is a series of flight simulator programs for the Microsoft Windows operating system, although it was marketed as a video game. It is one of the longest-running, best-known and most comprehensive home flight simulator series...

 series, and houses the Macintosh Business Unit
Macintosh Business Unit
Macintosh Business Unit is an operating unit of Microsoft that, as of 2009, is the largest software developer outside of Apple Inc. for the Mac OS operating system...

 which produces Mac OS
Mac OS
Mac OS is a series of graphical user interface-based operating systems developed by Apple Inc. for their Macintosh line of computer systems. The Macintosh user experience is credited with popularizing the graphical user interface...

 software including Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division designs, markets, and manufactures consumer electronics
Consumer electronics
Consumer electronics are electronic equipment intended for everyday use, most often in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver...

 including the Xbox 360
Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

 game console, the handheld Zune
Zune
Zune is a digital media brand owned by Microsoft which includes a line of portable media players, a digital media player software for Windows machines, a music subscription service known as a 'Zune Music Pass', music and video streaming for the Xbox 360 via the Zune Software, music, TV and movie...

 media player, and the television-based Internet appliance
Internet appliance
An Internet appliance is a consumer device whose main function is easy access to Internet services such as WWW or e-mail. The term was popularized in the 1990s, when it somewhat overlapped in meaning with an information appliance, Internet computer, network computer, or even thin client, but now it...

 MSN TV
MSN TV
MSN TV is the name of both a thin client which uses a television for display , and the online service that supports it....

. Microsoft also markets personal computer hardware including mice, keyboards
Computer keyboard
In computing, a keyboard is a typewriter-style keyboard, which uses an arrangement of buttons or keys, to act as mechanical levers or electronic switches...

, and various game controller
Game controller
A game controller is a device used with games or entertainment systems used to control a playable character or object, or otherwise provide input in a computer game. A controller is typically connected to a game console or computer by means of a wire, cord or nowadays, by means of wireless connection...

s such as joystick
Joystick
A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

s and gamepad
Gamepad
A gamepad , is a type of game controller held in two hands, where the digits are used to provide input. Gamepads generally feature a set of action buttons handled with the right thumb and a direction controller handled with the left...

s.

Culture


Technical reference for developers and articles for various Microsoft magazines such as Microsoft Systems Journal (or MSJ) are available through the Microsoft Developer Network
Microsoft Developer Network
The Microsoft Developer Network is the portion of Microsoft responsible for managing the firm's relationship with developers and testers: hardware developers interested in the operating system , developers standing on the various OS platforms, developers using the API and scripting languages of...

 (MSDN). MSDN also offers subscriptions for companies and individuals, and the more expensive subscriptions usually offer access to pre-release beta versions of Microsoft software. In April 2004 Microsoft launched a community site for developers and users, titled Channel9
Channel9
Channel 9 is a Microsoft community site used to promote conversations among Microsoft's customers targeted at Microsoft Windows users and developers...

, that provides a wiki
Wiki
A wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include...

 and an Internet forum
Internet forum
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived...

. Another community site that provides daily videocasts and other services, On10.net, launched on March 3, 2006. Free technical support is traditionally provided through online Usenet
Usenet
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980...

 newsgroups, and CompuServe
CompuServe
CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates...

 in the past, monitored by Microsoft employees; there can be several newsgroups for a single product. Helpful people can be elected by peers or Microsoft employees for Microsoft Most Valuable Professional
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional
The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional is the highest award given by Microsoft to those it considers "the best and brightest from technology communities around the world" who "actively share their ... technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft"...

 (MVP) status, which entitles them to a sort of special social status and possibilities for awards and other benefits.

Noted for its internal lexicon
Lexicon
In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

, the expression "eating our own dog food"
Eat one's own dog food
Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding, is when a company uses the products that it makes. In 1988, Microsoft manager Paul Maritz sent Brian Valentine, test manager for Microsoft LAN Manager, an email titled "Eating our own Dogfood", challenging him to increase internal usage of the...

 is used to describe the policy of using prerelease and beta versions of products inside Microsoft in an effort to test them in "real-world" situations. This is usually shortened to just "dog food" and is used as noun, verb, and adjective. Another bit of jargon
Jargon
Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

, FYIFV
FYIFV
FYIFV or FYIV is a piece of early Microsoft jargon that has become an urban legend: that employees whose stock options were fully vested would occasionally wear T-shirts or buttons with the initials "FYIFV" to indicate they were sufficiently financially independent to give their honest opinions...

 or FYIV ("F**k You, I'm [Fully] Vested"), is used by an employee to indicate they are financially independent
Financial independence
Financial independence is a term generally used to describe the state of having sufficient personal wealth to live indefinitely without having to work actively for basic necessities . In the case of many individuals whose financial circumstances fit this description, their assets generate income...

 and can avoid work anytime they wish. The company is also known for its hiring process, mimicked in other organizations and dubbed the "Microsoft interview
Microsoft interview
The Microsoft interview is a job interview technique used by Microsoft to assess possible future Microsoft employees. It is significant because Microsoft's model was pioneering, and later picked up and developed by other companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Google .-Innovation:The Microsoft...

", which is notorious for off-the-wall questions such as "Why is a manhole cover
Manhole cover
A manhole cover is a removable plate forming the lid over the opening of a manhole, to prevent anyone from falling in and to keep unauthorized persons out....

 round?".

Microsoft is an outspoken opponent of the cap on H1B visas, which allow companies in the U.S. to employ certain foreign workers. Bill Gates claims the cap on H1B visas makes it difficult to hire employees for the company, stating "I'd certainly get rid of the H1B cap" in 2005. Critics of H1B visas argue that relaxing the limits would result in increased unemployment for U.S. citizens due to H1B workers working for lower salaries. The Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest LGBT advocacy group and lobbying organization; according to the HRC, it has more than one million members and supporters...

 Corporate Equality Index, a report of how progressive the organization deems company policies towards LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) employees, rated Microsoft as 87% from 2002 to 2004 and as 100% from 2005 to 2010 after they allowed gender expression.

Corporate affairs


The company is run by a board of directors
Board of directors
A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

 made up of mostly company outsiders, as is customary for publicly traded companies. Members of the board of directors as of June 2010 are: Steve Ballmer, Dina Dublon
Dina Dublon
Dina Dublon is a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and current member of the boards of directors at Microsoft, Accenture, and PepsiCo. She also serves as a trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Global Fund for Women and...

, Bill Gates (chairman), Raymond Gilmartin
Raymond Gilmartin
Raymond V. Gilmartin is a professor at Harvard Business School and a member of the board of directors at Microsoft and at General Mills. He was the President and CEO of Merck & Co, Inc. from 1994 until 2005 and was director of the company during the Vioxx scandal.Gilmartin received his B.S...

, Reed Hastings
Reed Hastings
Wilmot Reed Hastings, Jr. is an entrepreneur and education philanthropist. He is the CEO of Netflix, and on the boards of Microsoft, Facebook, and numerous non-profit organizations.- Early life and education :...

, Maria Klawe
Maria Klawe
Maria M. Klawe is a computer scientist and the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College . Although born in Toronto in 1951, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009. She was previously Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University.-Biography:Klawe was born in...

, David Marquardt
David Marquardt
David F. Marquardt is a co-founder of venture capital firm August Capital. Marquardt has served on more than 25 boards of directors during his 20 year venture capital career including Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Seagate , Adaptec, and Grand Junction Networks .Prior to August Capital, Marquardt...

, Charles Noski
Charles Noski
Charles H. Noski is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Bank of America since May 2010.-Education:...

, and Helmut Panke
Helmut Panke
Helmut G.W. Panke served as chairman of the board at BMW AG from May 2002 through August 2006.-Education:...

. Board members are elected every year at the annual shareholders' meeting using a majority vote system. There are five committees within the board which oversee more specific matters. These committees include the Audit Committee, which handles accounting issues with the company including auditing and reporting; the Compensation Committee, which approves compensation for the CEO and other employees of the company; the Finance Committee, which handles financial matters such as proposing mergers and acquisitions; the Governance and Nominating Committee, which handles various corporate matters including nomination of the board; and the Antitrust Compliance Committee, which attempts to prevent company practices from violating antitrust
Antitrust
The United States antitrust law is a body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behavior and unfair business practices. Antitrust laws are intended to encourage competition in the marketplace. These competition laws make illegal certain practices deemed to hurt businesses or consumers or both,...

 laws.


When Microsoft went public and launched its initial public offering (IPO) in 1986, the opening stock
Stock
The capital stock of a business entity represents the original capital paid into or invested in the business by its founders. It serves as a security for the creditors of a business since it cannot be withdrawn to the detriment of the creditors...

 price was $21; after the trading day
Trading day
In business, the trading day is the time span that a particular stock exchange is open. For example, the New York Stock Exchange is, as of 2008, open from 9:30 AM Eastern Time to 4:00 PM Eastern Time. Trading days never take place on weekends. When a trading day ends, all share trading ends and...

, the price closed at $27.75. As of July 2010, with the company's nine stock split
Stock split
A stock split or stock divide increases the number of shares in a public company. The price is adjusted such that the before and after market capitalization of the company remains the same and dilution does not occur. Options and warrants are included....

s, any IPO shares
Share (finance)
A joint stock company divides its capital into units of equal denomination. Each unit is called a share. These units are offered for sale to raise capital. This is termed as issuing shares. A person who buys share/shares of the company is called a shareholder, and by acquiring share or shares in...

 would be multiplied by 288; if one was to buy the IPO today given the splits and other factors, it would cost about 9cents. The stock price peaked in 1999 at around $119 ($60.928 adjusting for splits). The company began to offer a dividend
Dividend
Dividends are payments made by a corporation to its shareholder members. It is the portion of corporate profits paid out to stockholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, that money can be put to two uses: it can either be re-invested in the business , or it can be distributed to...

 on January 16, 2003, starting at eight cents per share for the fiscal year followed by a dividend of sixteen cents per share the subsequent year, switching from yearly to quarterly dividends in 2005 with eight cents a share per quarter and a special one-time payout
Special dividend
A special dividend is a payment made by a company to its shareholders that the company declares to be separate from the typical recurring dividend cycle, if any, for the company. Usually when a company raises its normal dividend, the investor expectation is that this marks a sustained increase...

 of three dollars per share for the second quarter of the fiscal year. Though the company had subsequent increases in dividend payouts, the price of Microsoft's stock remained steady for years.*
*

One of Microsoft's business tactics, described by an executive as "embrace, extend and extinguish
Embrace, extend and extinguish
"Embrace, extend and extinguish," also known as "Embrace, extend and exterminate," is a phrase that the U.S. Department of Justice found was used internally by Microsoft to describe its strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with...

," initially embraces a competing standard or product, then extends it to produce their own version which is then incompatible with the standard, which in time extinguishes competition that does not or cannot use Microsoft's new version. Various companies and governments sue Microsoft over this set of tactics, resulting in billions of dollars in rulings against the company.*
*
* Microsoft claims that the original strategy is not anti-competitive, but rather an exercise of its discretion to implement features it believes customers want.

Financial


Standard and Poor's and Moody's
Moody's
Moody's Corporation is the holding company for Moody's Analytics and Moody's Investors Service, a credit rating agency which performs international financial research and analysis on commercial and government entities. The company also ranks the credit-worthiness of borrowers using a standardized...

 have both given a AAA rating to Microsoft, whose assets were valued at $41 billion as compared to only $8.5 billion in unsecured debt. Consequently, in February 2011 Microsoft released a corporate bond amounting to $2.25 billion with relatively low borrowing rates compared to government bonds.

For the first time in 20 years Apple Inc. surpassed Microsoft in Q1 2011 quarterly profits and revenues due to a slowdown in PC sales and continuing huge losses in Microsoft's Online Services Division (which contains its search engine Bing). Microsoft profits were $5.2 billion, while Apple Inc. profits were $6 billion, on revenues of $14.5 billion and $24.7 billion respectively.

Microsoft's Online Services Division has been continuously loss-making since 2006 and in Q1 2011 it lost $726 million. This follows a loss of $2.5 billion for the year 2010.

Environment


Microsoft is ranked on the 17th place in Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

’s Guide to Greener Electronics that ranks 18 electronics manufacturers according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.
Microsoft’s timeline for phasing out BFRs and phthalates in all products is 2012 but its commitment to phasing out PVC is not clear. As yet (January 2011) it has no products that are completely free from PVC and BFRs.

Microsoft's main U.S. campus received a silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods....

 (LEED) program in 2008, and it installed over 2,000 solar panels on top of its buildings in its Silicon Valley campus, generating approximately 15 percent of the total energy needed by the facilities in April 2005.

Microsoft makes use of alternative forms of transit. It created one of the worlds largest private bus systems, the "Connector", to transport people from outside the company; for on-campus transportation, the "Shuttle Connect" uses a large fleet of hybrid cars to save fuel. The company also subsidises regional public transport
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 as an incentive. In February 2010 however, Microsoft took a stance against adding additional public transport and high-occupancy vehicle
High-occupancy vehicle lane
In transportation engineering and transportation planning, a high-occupancy vehicle lane is a lane reserved for vehicles with a driver and one or more passengers...

 (HOV) lanes to a bridge connecting Redmond to Seattle; the company did not want to delay the construction any further.

Microsoft was ranked number 1 in the list of the World's Best Multinational Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute in 2011.

Marketing


In 2004, Microsoft commissioned research firms to do independent studies comparing the total cost of ownership
Total cost of ownership
Total cost of ownership is a financial estimate whose purpose is to help consumers and enterprise managers determine direct and indirect costs of a product or system...

 (TCO) of Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003 is a server operating system produced by Microsoft, introduced on 24 April 2003. An updated version, Windows Server 2003 R2, was released to manufacturing on 6 December 2005...

 to Linux
Linux
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

; the firms concluded that companies found Windows easier to administrate than Linux, thus those using Windows would administrate faster resulting in lower costs for their company (i.e. lower TCO). This spurred a wave of related studies; a study by the Yankee Group
Yankee Group
Yankee Group, a Massachusetts company, sells advice and market-research information relating to information technology.-History:Founded in 1970, the Yankee Group emerged as the first independent technology research and consulting firm...

 concluded that upgrading from one version of Windows Server to another costs a fraction of the switching costs from Windows Server to Linux, although companies surveyed noted the increased security and reliability of Linux servers and concern about being locked into using Microsoft products. Another study, released by the OSDL, claimed that the Microsoft studies were "simply outdated and one-sided" and their survey concluded that the TCO of Linux was lower due to Linux administrators managing more servers on average and other reasons.

As part of the "Get the Facts" campaign Microsoft highlighted the .NET
.NET Framework
The .NET Framework is a software framework that runs primarily on Microsoft Windows. It includes a large library and supports several programming languages which allows language interoperability...

 trading platform that it had developed in partnership with Accenture for the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

, claiming that it provided "five nines
High availability
High availability is a system design approach and associated service implementation that ensures a prearranged level of operational performance will be met during a contractual measurement period....

" reliability. After suffering extended downtime and unreliability the LSE announced in 2009 that it was planning to drop its Microsoft solution and switch to a Linux based one in 2010.

Microsoft adopted the so-called "Pac-Man
Pac-Man
is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is considered one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games,...

Logo", designed by Scott Baker, in 1987. Baker stated "The new logo, in Helvetica italic typeface, has a slash between the o and to emphasize the "soft" part of the name and convey motion and speed." Dave Norris ran an internal joke campaign to save the old logo, which was green, in all uppercase, and featured a fanciful letter O, nicknamed the blibbet, but it was discarded. Microsoft's logo with the "Your potential. Our passion." tagline below the main corporate name, is based on a slogan Microsoft used in 2008. In 2002, the company started using the logo in the United States and eventually started a TV campaign with the slogan, changed from the previous tagline of "Where do you want to go today?
Where do you want to go today?
“Where do you want to go today?” was the title of Microsoft’s first global image advertising campaign. The broadcast, print and outdoor advertising campaign was launched in November 1994 through the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, the firm best known for its work on behalf of Nike, Inc....

".
During the private MGX (Microsoft Global Exchange) conference in 2010, Microsoft unveiled the company's next tagline, "Be What's Next.", as well as a new logo scheduled for use sometime in the future.

External links