The Rise of Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company that develops, sells, and supports a wide range of software products and hardware devices. The company’s best-known software titles include the Windows operating systems and the Office productivity suite, but it also produces a number of popular mobile applications, gaming consoles, and cloud computing services. Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft is one of the Big Five information technology companies in the United States. Microsoft’s first major product was an operating system for IBM PC compatible computers, released in 1981. The original version, DOS, replaced an earlier character-based OS and was based on BASIC, a widely used mainframe computer programming language developed by the pair. Over time, Microsoft refined and improved DOS, added features to its word processing and spreadsheet programs, and eventually expanded the software to encompass other computer types and formats. In the process, it became the dominant market leader in both operating systems and productivity software, beating out longtime rivals like Lotus and WordPerfect. But the company’s track record wasn’t perfect. It took a while for the company to make the leap from MS-DOS to Windows, and some versions of Windows weren’t well received. The company also missed the boat on smartphones, losing out to Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iOS, with its own smartphone offerings coming late to the market. While Microsoft hasn’t been as successful in some areas as it was in others, the company’s focus on innovation has pushed it into new markets and kept it as a dominant global player. For example, the company’s generative AI efforts, led by CEO Satya Nadella, have gained momentum and are generating more attention than ever. Even with people switching to Macs powered by energy-sipping Arm chips and students and business professionals choosing Chromebooks, Windows still commands 83% of the market for computer operating systems. That’s important for Microsoft, because it brings in more money than any of its other businesses and helps drive growth for the entire company. In addition to the traditional PC market, Microsoft is now a major player in mobile devices with its Windows Phone OS and Xbox gaming consoles. It is also a major competitor in the cloud hosting market with its Azure platform and in enterprise software development tools with Visual Studio. And it’s making major inroads into the world of artificial intelligence, with projects like Bing search and HoloLens virtual reality headset leading the way.