The History of Microsoft
Microsoft is the world’s largest software maker, offering its products to consumers across the globe. The company produces software applications, cloud computing, and video games. Its primary research and development facility is located in Redmond, Washington. Other offices are in the UK, India, China, Bermuda, New York, and Montreal. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, Microsoft is best known for its operating system, Windows, and its office suite, Microsoft Office. But the company has expanded into the entertainment industry, selling video game systems and mobile phones.
In the 1990s, Microsoft was the dominant software developer for personal computers. The company was also one of the first to enter the information services industry, producing a variety of business software. However, it was slow to recognize the commercial potential of the Internet and network systems. This led to accusations of monopolistic practices.
In 2002, Microsoft released Xbox Live, a broadband gaming network. It also incorporated Skype into the product. Although the system was successful, it faced strong competition from Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation. While Microsoft retained its leading position in the business software market, it lost the majority of the operating system market to Android.
Microsoft shifted its focus to the consumer sector in the 1990s. It offered a range of products to the consumer market, from PCs and video game consoles to mobile phones and digital media. The company’s growth fueled resentment among its competitors. Many believed that the company’s growth was driven by monopolistic practices. Others pointed to the company’s overworked employees as a factor.
In the mid-2000s, the company made an even larger acquisition. It purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. When Steve Ballmer stepped down as CEO, Satya Nadella took over the role. His leadership helped keep Microsoft atop the personal computer market.
By the end of the decade, Microsoft had entered the mobile phone market with its Windows Phone. Although Windows Phone failed to gain traction, Nokia became the largest supporter of the Windows Phone operating system. Eventually, the system was discontinued.
Microsoft also developed a hybrid tablet computer, called the Surface, that combines laptop and tablet performance. In 2013, Microsoft released the Xbox One, a powerful gaming console that was one of the most popular in 2010. However, the console was a challenge to the popular Nintendo Wii. Despite the success of the Xbox, Microsoft had to cut prices to keep the device competitive.
Microsoft was the first software company to reach $1 Billion in sales. Although its profits increased during the Great Recession of 2007-09, the company continued to see consistent, long-term earnings. Among other issues, Microsoft has been accused of overworking its employees. Consequently, the company was ordered to pay a large fine from the European Union and the U.S. Department of Justice for violating antitrust laws.
Another controversial aspect of Microsoft’s operations is its use of proprietary capabilities to advantage itself in the marketplace. For instance, Microsoft’s Edge web browser replaces Internet Explorer, and the company also created a voice-activated assistant, Cortana, that can be used to respond to voice commands. These actions have been criticized as anticompetitive and unproductive.