Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is an American multinational technology company founded by William Henry "Bill" Gates III and Paul Allen on 4 April 1975, known for making products such as MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Windows Phone, the Xbox console series, Microsoft Surface devices and Microsoft Office.
History[edit | edit source]
Traf-O-Data[edit | edit source]
Before Microsoft was founded, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert originally founded Traf-O-Data in 1972, which specialized in computerized traffic counters. The goal was to read raw data from roadway traffic counters and send reports to traffic engineers. The company went defunct in 1975 after minimal success, and Microsoft Corporation was later founded that same year on 4 April.
Microsoft Corporation[edit | edit source]
Microsoft gained its first success in the late 1970s with the programming language BASIC, initially created for the Altair BASIC. After IBM was unsuccessful to license CP/M-86 at Digital Research, the company commissioned Microsoft to make a operating system for their IBM PC. As Microsoft however did not have a self-created OS, it licensed a version of 86-DOS, which IBM shipped as IBM PC-DOS for the IBM PC released in 1981. Microsoft later bought 86-DOS completely and distributed it as MS-DOS. Microsoft then joined the market of office software for DOS with Word and Multiplan in 1983. The latter became replaced later with Excel. These products however were more successful on the Apple Macintosh. Inspired from the VisiOn graphical environment, Microsoft began developing an own GUI for DOS in 1983, which became Windows, released in the USA in November 1985. In 1986, Microsoft shifted to Redmond in the state of Washington. The street where the headquarters are still based as of today, is later known as "One Microsoft Way". In 1987, Microsoft bought Forethought with its presentation software, which was sold as PowerPoint in 1989.
Microsoft was sued by Apple for violating copyrights to the "look & feel" of the Macintosh System Software, such as overlapping windows, in Windows 2.x, released in 1987. The judges however decided that the look and feel of the OS cannot be copyrighted.
As IBM complained about the limited features of DOS, both began to development of a succesor to DOS, which became OS/2, released in 1987. A graphical environment was borrowed from Windows 2.x for version 1.1 in 1988. At this time, Microsoft fully concentrates on the development of OS/2, since Windows was proven unsuccessful so far. The company even had plans to discontinue Windows after version 2, but it gave a last chance to the Windows developers with Windows 3.0, which was released in 1990, and became the first successful Windows release. As Microsoft noticed that OS/2 was proven unsuccessful so far, and then the success of Windows 3.0, the company decided to leave OS/2 development in 1991. But as Microsoft forked OS/2 for a planned version 3 of it, it decided to make it part of the Windows family. This was the born of Windows NT. The first version, 3.1, was released in 1993, and was aimed for professional users and server administrators.
Microsoft jumped into the market of multimedia with the release of a multimedia-extended version of Windows 3.00a in 1991. Previously, Microsoft already published games such as Microsoft Adventure, IBM Microsoft Decathlon and Flight Simulator for DOS and later Windows and other platforms. Those extensions were incorporated into Windows 3.1, released in 1992.
A huge success landed Microsoft with Windows 95, released on 24 August 1995. The company invested a lot of money into the advertisement of the OS, which marked the full transition to 32-bit. Its founder, Bill Gates, became the richiest man of the world for a long time. This year also marked the born of MSN.
In 1998, a few months before the release of Windows 98, Microsoft was sued by multiple companies, following an antitrust case of the US depatment of justice against Microsoft. This is due to Microsoft having a monopole state in computer operating systems and internet browsers, mostly due to bundling Windows with Internet Explorer since 1996. Microsoft also pushed OEMs to not bundle 3rd-party applications such as Netscape or Lotus 1-2-3. In 2000, the judges decided that Microsoft needs to split into two companies: one for developing the operating system and another for developing applictions such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. Microsoft however, went to revision, and in 2001, the plans to split the company were dropped, but Gates had to retire as CEO of Microsoft. Even after the antitrust case, Microsoft still received lawsuits from multiple companies and governments such as AOLTimeWarner, the former holders of Netscape.
In the same year, in early 2001, Microsoft released its first gaming console, the Xbox. While it is x86-based, its operating system is a modified version of Windows 2000 (NT 5.0). Later releases are the Xbox 360 (with NT 5.1 or 5.2) in 2005, the Xbox One (with NT 6.2 or 6.3) in 2014 and the Xbox Series X/S (with NT 10.0) in 2021.
Later, on 24 October, Windows XP has been released, the first NT-based version of Windows aimed for home users, and thus ending the MS-DOS era of Windows. Following the concern of the EU to release a version of Windows without the Windows Media Player in 2005, Microsoft's first attempt was the Windows XP Reduced Media Edition, which however was rejected from the EU due to its branding. Microsoft later agreed on Windows XP N. A year later, following the concern of South Korea to release a version of XP similar to XP N, but also without WIndows Messenger, Microsoft released the KN variant of Windows XP.
In 2005, Microsoft started MSN Search, which was renamed Windows Live Search in 2007 and finally received the name Bing in 2009. Bing has a market share of only 2-3% worldwide due to the monopoly of Google's more popular search service.
Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, Microsoft became part of multiple slugfests with Apple, which defamed mostly Windows on multiple WWDC's.
In 2009, a few months before the release of Windows 7, Microsoft again had troule with the EU, this time with the Internet Explorer. So Microsoft made an E variant of Windows without the Internet Explorer. It is the first time since Windows 95 that the Internet Explorer was not included in an edition of Windows. However, Microsoft dropped these plans and instead created a website, jointly with the EU, called BrowserChoice.eu, where the user could select its favourite web browser. Microsoft also integrated an application as a frontend of the website in Windows XP and onwards. This website was only available for five years, as in 2014, the site was taken down and the app was removed from Windows.
Under the time of Nadella as CEO fell the release of Windows 10/Windows 11 and Windows as a service, the deprecation of Internet Explorer and the born of a new browser, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Teams. On 8 December 2016, Microsoft acquired the career network LinkedIn for 26,2 Million $, which is the second most expensive acquisition for the company. The most expensive acquisition happened in 2022 with the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. However, the acquisition is currently under review.
Today, Microsoft's known divisions are cloud (OneDrive and Azure), gaming (Xbox and Game Pass), Windows, Bing and Office.
Products[edit | edit source]
|Product||Release date||Description||Still developed? (Date of discontinuation, if no)|
|MS-DOS||1981||Text-based operating system||No (2000 (development)/2006 (support))|
|Microsoft Word||1983||Word processor||Yes|
|Microsoft Excel||1985||Spreadsheet processor||Yes|
|Windows||1985||Graphical user interface for MS-DOS||No, replaced by consumer-oriented editions of Windows NT (2000 (development)/2006(support))|
|Microsoft OS/2||1987||Graphical operating system||No (1991)|
|Microsoft PowerPoint||1987||Presentation software||Yes|
|Microsoft Mail||1988 (Mac), 1991 (PC)||Mail server/client||No, replaced by Exchange Server/Client (1995/1996)|
|Microsoft Office||1989||Productivity suite||Yes|
|Microsoft Project||1990||Planning software||Yes|
|Schedule+||1992||Calendar||No, replaced by Outlook, but still included as optional component until Outlook 2003 (?)|
|Video for Windows||1992||Multimedia framework for Windows 3.1x||No, replaced by DirectShow (as part of DirectX) (1996)|
|Windows NT||1993||Graphical operating system||Yes|
|Microsoft BOB||1995||Graphical shell for Windows||No (1995)|
|Microsoft Exchange Client||1995||Mail client||No, replaced by Outlook (1997)|
|Internet Explorer||1995||Web browser||No, but still supported. Succeded by Microsoft Edge. (2031)|
|DirectX||1995||Multimedia framework for Windows 9x and NT||Yes|
|Outlook Express (formerly Internet Mail and News)||1996||Mail client||No, replaced by Windows Mail (first era) (2014)|
|Microsoft Exchange Server||1996||Mail server||Yes|
|Windows Embedded Compact (formerly Windows CE)||1996||Graphical operating system for PDAs and other embedded devices||No (2023)|
|Microsoft Outlook||1997||Mail client/manager||Yes|
|Windows Live Messenger (previously known as "MSN Messenger" and "Windows Messenger")||1999||Internet messenger||No (2013 (officially)/2017 (shutdown))|
|Microsoft Vizact||1999||HTML document creator||No (2000)|
|Microsoft MapPoint||1999||Geographic software||No (2014)|
|Windows Phone/Mobile||2000||Graphical operating system - once based on Windows CE, later on Windows NT - for smartphones and mobile devices||No (Microsoft recommended to switch to iOS or Android) (2020)|
|Xbox||2001||Game division of Microsoft||Yes|
|.NET Framework||2002||App framework||No, but still supported. Succeded by the open-source .NET. (2020)|
|Microsoft OneNote||2003||Notes software||Yes|
|Microsoft InfoPath||2003||Survey sheet creator||No, but still supported. Succeded by Microsoft Forms with the release of Office 2016. (2023)|
|Skype||2003/2011 (acquisition)||Instant messaging and video calling software||Yes|
|Windows Marketplace||2004||Software distribution place||No, replaced with Microsoft Store (2009)|
|Zune||2004 (music store, formerly MSN Music)/2006 (media player)||Music division of Microsoft||No, replaced by Groove Music (2012)|
|Windows Presentation Foundation||2006||App subsystem based on .NET/.NET Framework||Yes|
|Windows Mail (first era)||2006||Mail client for Windows Vista||No, replaced by Windows Live Mail (2017)|
|Microsoft OneDrive||2007||Cloud storage service||Yes|
|Windows Live Mail||2009||Mail client||No, replaced by Windows Mail (second era) (2017)|
|Microsoft Azure||2010||Cloud computing platform||Yes|
|Microsoft 365||2011||Cloud- and subscription-based productivity service||Yes|
|Microsoft Store (formerly Windows Store)||2012||Platform for distributing apps for Windows and formerly Windows Phone/Mobile||Yes|
|Groove Music (formerly Xbox Music)||2012||Audio player and music distribution place||No, but still supported. About to be replaced with the Media Player app in Windows 11. (2022 [tentative])|
|Windows Mail (second era)||2012||Metro/UWP-based mail client and calendar||No, but still supported. About to be replaced by "One Outlook" (2022 [tentative])|
|Microsoft Edge||2015||Web browser||Yes (the EdgeHTML variant has been discontinued in 2020)|
|.NET (previously .NET Core)||2016||Open-source successor to the .NET Framework||Yes|
|Microsoft Teams||2017||Video conference and productivity software||Yes|