What is Microsoft?
Microsoft is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Redmond, Washington. The company produces computer software, cloud computing services, video games, and hardware. Its best-known products are the Windows line of operating systems, the Office suite of productivity applications, and the Edge web browser. It also produces Xbox video gaming and entertainment consoles, and the Surface lineup of touchscreen personal computers. Microsoft is one of the Big Five American information technology companies, alongside Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.
The company was founded on April 4, 1975, by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, college classmates at Harvard University. They began by creating a compiler for the Altair 8800, an early microcomputer. This allowed the machine to run BASIC, an interpreter for a simple programming language. From there, they grew their company and developed additional computer programs and products.
By the end of the 1990s, Microsoft had a market-leading position in PC operating system software and in office productivity applications, such as word processors and spreadsheets. It also had footholds in other markets, including Internet search (with Bing), digital services with MSN, and mobile devices with the Windows Phone. It also had acquired several other companies and products, such as the MS-DOS operating system, FrontPage Web authoring software, Direct3D, Hotmail, and MSN TV.
Since the advent of the smartphone, Microsoft has shifted gears and begun to invest heavily in new technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. In addition, the company has taken steps to make its existing software more compatible with mobile devices. This has resulted in the creation of a more cohesive ecosystem for users of Microsoft-designed applications.
Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has attempted to become more nimble and innovative. To this end, the company has encouraged fast-paced hackathons, where engineers can work together to create prototypes of all kinds of projects. These events have been successful in fostering a more playful attitude among the company’s engineers and in encouraging the kind of cross-discipline collaboration that is essential to innovation.
The company has also written off its $7 billion investment in Nokia’s me-too smartphone business, freeing up resources to focus on new projects. In addition, it has stopped updating the once-central Windows operating system, making it less of a drag on the company’s other efforts. Moreover, the company has dropped its policy of stack ranking its employees to keep certain groups of people in their positions. This change has helped it act more like a startup and less like a lumbering protective giant. These changes have helped the company regain some of its lost vigor and have put it back in contention with younger, faster competitors. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that Microsoft will ever regain its former dominance in the marketplace. Its position is still strong, however, in the fields of cloud computing and AI. These two areas are quickly growing into the biggest growth opportunities in the tech industry. As such, Microsoft has an opportunity to continue gaining ground on its rivals and to be the world’s leading provider of these important technologies.