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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.

The new CEO of Microsoft became Steve Ballmer, which was criticized in 2001 for an interview, where he denoted Linux as cancer.

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, 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.

Ballmer retired as CEO in 2014, his successor became Satya Nadella. Also, Gates retired as Chairman in the same year. Today, the president of Microsoft is Brad Silverberg.

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
SharePoint 2001 Collaboration web-software 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

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Traf-O-Data[edit | edit source]

Microsoft[edit | edit source]