What Is Microsoft?


Microsoft (or MS) is one of the most recognizable technology companies in the world. The company produces a wide range of software, hardware and cloud platforms that have impacted the way people work, play and communicate over the course of four decades. Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the brainchild of childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The duo adapted BASIC, a mainframe computer programming language, to run on an early personal computer called the Altair. They named the new software project Microsoft after their childhood nicknames, a play on words from the phrase “microcomputer and software.”

Although a majority of Microsoft’s revenue comes from its Windows operating system, the company is also a major player in the IBM PC compatible operating system market, office software suites, mobile devices, gaming consoles, and digital services. In recent years, it has also ventured into augmented reality with its HoloLens headset and the smartphone market with its Windows Phone platform.

In addition to its Windows and Office software, Microsoft’s business products include the SQL Server database management system, Azure cloud computing platform, System Center and Visual Studio development tools. Its Dynamics line of intelligent business applications help enterprises manage and automate their processes, while its Office 365 suite of apps offers a variety of productivity tools that are familiar to many users.

The company is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. It maintains operations throughout the world through a network of subsidiaries and affiliates. Its largest divisions are the Office product line, which includes programs for word processing, spreadsheet and presentation creation, as well as its email and personal information manager, Outlook. Other large units include the Xbox gaming consoles, Kinect motion sensing and Surface touchscreen-based hardware.

In recent years, Microsoft has come under criticism for being uncool, a label it earned by fumbling in its attempts to create a popular search engine and losing out in the smartphone market with its ill-fated Windows Phone platform. Its employees are often described as working in a “Velvet Sweatshop,” an allegation that references the way the company overworks its employees, leading to a burnout and potentially long-term health issues.

In an attempt to turn things around, the company has focused on creating a more diverse workforce and promoting inclusivity. It has also pledged to become carbon negative by 2030, removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. Despite these changes, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft can shed its reputation as an uncool tech giant and regain the public’s trust. Regardless, the company’s products remain in widespread use and have had significant cultural impacts. Its software, including the Microsoft Office suite of programs, continues to dominate the industry. The company’s hardware, including its Surface tablets and gaming consoles, has also enjoyed a measure of success. Its cloud services and artificial intelligence offerings are also well-established in the marketplace.

You Might Also Like