Microsoft – The World’s Largest Software Vendor
Microsoft is the world’s largest vendor of computer software, with market-dominant shares in IBM PC compatible operating systems, office software suites and video games. It is also a provider of cloud computing services, search and other online services, and manufactures computer hardware such as keyboards and mice. The company was founded in 1975 by Harvard University classmates Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Its headquarters are in Redmond, Washington.
In addition to the Windows operating system and its related software products, the company provides services such as Bing Internet search, the MSN online portal, and the Encarta electronic encyclopedia. It also produces a line of computer accessories, publishes books through its Microsoft Press division and creates video games through its Xbox Game Studios unit. It also owns a significant share of the digital media market through its ownership of the Windows Live and MSN service, as well as the Skype communications platform and the Yammer enterprise social network.
The most visible and important product of microsoft is the Windows series of home computer operating systems. The original version, Windows 95, was released during the dot com boom and helped connect millions of people to the Internet for the first time. Its iconic user interface of a desktop with icons, a task bar and a start button was influential in the design of subsequent versions.
Other notable microsoft products include the Office productivity software suite, the Internet Explorer web browser and the Visual Studio IDE development tool. It also produces a variety of cloud-based business services, including SharePoint and Azure, as well as hardware such as the Surface tablet. Its business intelligence and analytics tools, such as Power BI and SQL Server Reporting Services, are used by many businesses to monitor and make data-driven decisions.
Despite its tremendous success in the desktop software market, microsoft has faced numerous lawsuits accusing it of antitrust and monopoly activities. In the early 2000s, for example, the Norwegian company Opera and Mozilla, the creator of Firefox, sued Microsoft over the way that it integrated its Internet Explorer web browser into its Windows operating system. This practice violated competition laws by preventing users from choosing the browser of their choice, forcing them to use Microsoft’s default browser.
Throughout the years, microsoft has evolved its approach to employee evaluations. In recent times, it has moved away from semi-annual performance reviews and ratings to a continuous feedback model that includes a performance journal where employees can catalog work-related accomplishments and goals. This allows them to focus on opportunities for growth without worrying about hitting an arbitrary rating number. In addition, managers can use these journals to collect employee feedback on an ongoing basis. It’s a more holistic and transparent approach that has been embraced by employees.