The Rise of Microsoft


Microsoft may not have the sexy, hipster cache of newer technology companies like Google or Facebook, but it does occupy a unique and valuable place in computer history. The company has revolutionized the way people work and play by building vital computing technology that is fundamental to our daily lives. Under the watchful leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has emerged from one of its most challenging periods to become the 21st-century technology company it promised itself would be.

The company was founded in 1975 by Harvard University classmates Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The two were inspired by the primitive Altair 8800, an early personal computer. They developed a software compiler for BASIC and created the interpreter that allowed users to input instructions into the computer using text. The pair sold their interpreter to MITS for $100.

In the 1990s, Microsoft’s rapid rise in a competitive industry spawned jealousy and resentment among rivals. They accused the company of stifling technical innovation and unfairly discouraging customers from purchasing competing programs. The company responded that its rise was the result of its product’s quality and the fact that it was more affordable than its competitors’.

Microsoft began selling its own products in the 1980s, including the first PC operating system, Windows, and the Internet Explorer web browser. The company also developed video games and sold hardware for the original Macintosh computer. The company is headquartered in Redmond, Washington and has offices in more than 60 countries.

As of March 2016, the company has about 131,000 employees worldwide. Microsoft is the world’s largest vendor of computer software, the second-largest seller of video games and a major provider of cloud services. Its other major offerings include the Office suite of productivity software, search and online tools, and computer and gaming hardware.

In 2013, the company’s stock price hit a low of about $36 per share. The company then started a turnaround under the leadership of Satya Nadella, who replaced Steve Ballmer in 2014. The company rebranded itself with simpler, more minimalist graphics and streamlined its product portfolio to better align with changing shifts in consumer demand for tech.

Nadella also sought to change the public perception of the company by cultivating relationships with many of its former competitors. For instance, he worked closely with Apple to integrate Azure and iOS in 2014, and forged strategic integrations with Salesforce and Dropbox in 2015. He even became a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation in 2016, a move that demonstrated his commitment to broadening the company’s reach.

Microsoft is controlled by institutional shareholders, who hold 70% of its shares. The top three include Vanguard Group Inc. with 8.4% of the total shares, BlackRock Inc. with 6.8%, and State Street Corp with 4.8%. The rest of the company’s shares are held by private investors and employees. The company also holds research labs in Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bengaluru, India. The company’s most significant competitors are Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

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