Written by Krishnapriya Pradeep with Aiswarya Rajan.
Table of Contents
Microsoft is an American Mega Corporate Company, which develops licenses and sells computer software, electronics and computers. Microsoft was established by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, at Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States.
Inspiration behind their idea
Paul Allen, one of the co-founders of Microsoft, coined the term Microsoft by simply combining the terms Microcomputer and software. The dominant influence behind the birth of such an Empire, that we see in this contemporary world was a 1975’s Microcomputer named Altair 8800.
The Altair 8800 invented in 1975, by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) was the first-ever Microcomputer. When this microcomputer was invented, Paul and Bill saw a great potential to develop a ‘BASIC’ (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) for the system. This paved a way for the never-ending regal journey of the Multinational Kingdom Microsoft.
Early life of Paul Allen and Bill Gates
The prodigies behind the Multinational company Microsoft are Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Paul Allen was born to Kenneth Sam Allen and Edna Faye on January 21, 1953, in Seattle, Washington. He did his schoolings at Lake Side School where he met Bill Gates, with whom he had shared his interest in computer programming and systems. According to Allen, he and Bill Gates would go to dumpsters in search of computer program codes and Allen was the one who convinced Bill Gates to drop out from Harvard University to make their dream a reality which is Microsoft.
Bill Gates was born to William H Gates Senior, who is a leading Lawyer and Mary Maxwell Gates, a School Teacher on October 28, 1955, at Seattle, Washington. Even though his parents wanted him to pursue a career in law, but due to his immense love for computer programs he chose the path of computer technologies. Bill Gates attended a private school named Lake Side Prep School where he innovated his first software program. Gates had a budding interest in programming the G.E. System in BASIC, for which he had ditched his math classes to follow his interest. He proved that he is a prodigy by writing his first computer program on this machine which allowed users to play games using the computers.
Microsoft – How it started?
The Multi Corporate Company Microsoft’s mission is to empower everyone and all organisations to achieve a strive for everything. The influence which we see in Microsoft today was due to the collaborations and hand-in-hand support of the other Major Multinational Companies like MITS and IBM.
Microsoft’s first products were different variants of Microsoft BASIC which was the main programming language in the late 1970s and the beginning of 1980s, home computers such as Apple11 (Apple Soft BASIC) and Commodore 64. The first hardware products of the Microsoft were the Z’80 SoftCard which enables the Apple11 to run the CP/M operating system. The SoftCard was first revealed publicly at the West Coast Computer Faire in March 1980. It was an instant success; five thousand cards were purchased in the initial three months and it costed 349 dollars each and it was Microsoft’s number one revenue in the 1980s.
IBM approached Microsoft regarding its upcoming IBM Personal Computer (IBM PC) in July 1980. After numerous negotiations with Digital Research failed, IBM gave a contract to Microsoft to produce a version of the CP/M operating system which will be used in the IBM PC. For this purpose, Microsoft bought a CP/M called 86-DOS for less than a hundred thousand dollars which was later renamed to IBM PC DOS. Due to potential copyright problems with CP/M, IBM marketed CP/M PC DOS for just 240 dollars, and which became well known because of its affordable price range. The IBM PC DOS is now known as MS-DOS, this made an asset of 55 million for Microsoft.
After the collaboration with numerous companies, Microsoft created a home computer system MSX which had its own version of the DOS operating system, so it was named or called as MSX-DOS. This became popular in European and South American countries and some part of Asia. The Microsoft made a new release in 1983, a “Microsoft Mouse” later they continued to expand their product line in other markets. The new releases included Microsoft Press; a book published in the division on July 11, 1983.
Developing of Microsoft Word
The first-ever operating system publicly released by the company was a variant of Unix, it was acquired from AT&T through a license. Microsoft has changed the name of Unix to Xenix. The Unix would become home to the first version of Microsoft’s word processor, Microsoft Word. Initially titled “Multi-Tool Word”, Microsoft Word has instantly become famous across the world. Word was released in 1983, free copies of the application were issued on the magazine P. C World, making it the first-ever program to be distributed on-disk with a magazine.
Microsoft Windows 1.0
Ireland became headquarters to Microsoft’s international production facilities in 1985 and on that same year Microsoft released its first version of Microsoft Windows (Windows 1.0) which was an extension for its MS-DOS operating system.
Becoming the World’s largest producer of Software
In 1985, Microsoft and IBM collaborated for the formation of a different operating system called OS/2. It was marketed in connection with a brand-new Hardware designed exclusive to IBM, the PS/2 and later in 1986, Microsoft relocated their headquarters to Washington. By the end of that year, Microsoft became the world’s largest producer of software for Personal Computers (PC’s). Meanwhile, Microsoft began to introduce one of its most eminent products. An integrated office program called Microsoft Works, which have some combined features typically found in it like Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Database. It was first released as an application for the Apple Macintosh in 1986.
In 1989, Microsoft introduced its most successful office product called Microsoft Office. Unlike Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office had a bundle of separate office applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel etc. Though Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office were developed internally Microsoft also continued its re-branding of products from other companies such as Microsoft SQL server which was a system for companies that was based on technology license from Sybase.
At the beginning of 1990’s Microsoft mostly failed to participate in the rise of the internet, but they made some key technologies to enter the internet market by the mid-’90s and the prominent of this was ActiveX. It is an application build on Microsoft Component Object Model (com).
At the beginning of a new decade 1990, Microsoft launched Windows 3.0 which was a new version of Microsoft’s operating system that helped to boast new features such as streamlined graphic user interface GUI and improved protected mode ability for the Intel 386 processor which was sold over hundred thousand copies in just 2 weeks. Windows generated more revenue for Microsoft than any other system they created during that era. Some companies mainly developers who ignore Windows previously were taken by surprise and accused Microsoft of duplicity.
In 1991, Microsoft invented Microsoft Research which was an organisation for researching computer science-related subjects. On that same year, Microsoft came forward with the new invention called visual basic which was a popular development product for companies. The marvelous transition from MS-DOS to Windows and the success of Microsoft products such as Microsoft Office allowed them to gain a foundation on application software competitors such as WordPerfect and Lotus1-2-3. In 1992 Microsoft launched Windows 3.1 with a first promotional campaign on television, it was sold over 3 million copies in its first two months on the market. On that same year, Microsoft released its popular database software Microsoft Access. By the end of that year, Windows became the one and only widely used GUI operating system in the world. One of the popular magazines called Fortune named Microsoft as the 1993’s most innovative company operating in the United States.
On that same year, 1993, Microsoft launched Windows for workgroup 3.11 a new version of the consumer line of Windows to expand their businesses. Microsoft released Microsoft Encarta the first-ever Encyclopedia designed to run on a computer. Shortly Microsoft Home was introduced to the world surrounding Microsoft new multimedia applications for Windows 3.X, in 1994 Microsoft changed its slogan to “Where do you want to go today ?” was an attempt to appeal ordinary audiences in a hundred million dollars advertising campaign.
Microsoft Bob – Microsoft’s most unsuccessful product
Microsoft continued their journey by making planned decisions, directed at their customers. The company made an exclusive launch in 1995 which was named “Microsoft Bob”, a graphical user interface designed for novice computer users. Later in the year 1996, it was discontinued due to poor sales. Gates credited its failure due to hardware requirement that was too high for ordinary computer and is generally regarded as Microsoft’s most unsuccessful product.
The DreamWorks SKG and Microsoft collaborated and that led to the formation of a new company named DreamWorks Interactive. The newly found company DreamWorks Interactive’s intention was to produce interactive and multimedia entertainment properties. On the year 1995, Microsoft launched Windows95, an exclusive version of the company’s flagship operating system, which includes a novel start button, it was sold more than a million copies in the world in just four days.
On August 24, 1995, Windows 95 Plus was introduced and first-ever ‘internet explorer’ was included in that. To expand their power in the computer hardware market, Microsoft made a new release which is called “Microsoft Sidewinder 3D Pro Joystick”. Microsoft sprinted towards to expand their product line into computer networking and the World Wide Web (WWW).
They made a striking launch in online services which was MSN (Microsoft Network) as a direct competitor to AOL. MSN, a web portal, was introduced on the same day as that of Windows 95. The company continued to dive into new markets, by starting a joint venture with MBC to create a brand new 24×7 cable news television station named MSNBC. It was launched mainly to compete with other news outlets such as CNN. They have entered Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) market with Windows CE 1.0 a newly formed from scratch version of their operating system. It was designed to run on low memory and low-performance machines. Later we saw the release of Windows NT 4.0 which brought the Windows 95 GUI and Windows NT Kernel together.
MSN search, a search engine, was launched in 1998 and it used the search results of Inktomi. But in 1999, AltaVista’s results were used for a short period. In addition to a search engine, it also had an index and crawler. It used a third-party website called Picsearch for image search results.
Windows Live Search
The beta version of Windows Live Search was published on March 8, 2006, and it was officially launched on September 11, 2006. New features of this search engine include web, images, news, music desktop and many other categories.
Live search was launched on March 21, 2007. It was incorporated into the Live Search and Ad Platform and through this change Live Search was incorporated with Microsoft adCenter. In 2008, Microsoft terminated the services such as Live Search Books and Live search academia and merged all the contents of these services in the regular search results. Due to this incorporation, services like Live Search Books Publisher Program, Windows Live Expo, Live Search Macros and Live Product Upload were discontinued in a short period of time.
Microsoft concluded to make a few changes to its search engine, on June 3, 2009, Live Search was rebranded as Bing. It was developed using asp.net language and it supports 40 languages. It had a new
design and layout and its homepage wallpaper changed every day, which made it visually appealing than its predecessors. Bing’s layout designs went through constant changes in the subsequent years. In 2012, a sidebar was introduced, through which users could read the social media feeds and in 2013 a new column-style layout was added through its update. Bing’s market share increased tremendously over time, and it overtook the market share of Yahoo. Today, it is the third largest search engine after Google and Baidu.
Steve Ballmer appointed as the President of Microsoft
In the year 1998 Microsoft made some whirlwind of changes in the history of their existence with Bill Gates appointing Steve Ballmer as the President of Microsoft but Bill remained as Chair & CEO.
Windows Millennium Edition
At the beginning of 21′ st century Microsoft released an update in Windows 2000, which provided a high level of stability that is similar to its UNIX. They made a major update to the consumer line, Windows ME (Windows Millennium Edition). It had many new features such as enhanced multimedia abilities and Consumer-Oriented PC Maintenance Options. But it was regarded as the worst version of Windows due to stability problems. Microsoft made an initial release in 2001, Windows XP and Office XP, a version that aimed to the features of its business and home product lines. The XP introduced a new graphical user interface, the first prominent change since Windows 95. This was the first operating system to require Microsoft Product Activation, an anti-piracy mechanism that requires users to activate the software with Microsoft within 30 days.
In the 21′ st century Microsoft has attained some milestones in their journey towards becoming a multi-billion-dollar corporation, by setting foot in-game console market which was widely dominated by Sony and Nintendo with the release of Xbox. Microsoft released Xbox 360 in 2005 which turned out to be a major success comparing to their first console. It has sold 40 million units in 2010 and it has outsold Sony’s Play Station 3, which sold only 35 million units. Despite beating Sony with their latest Xbox Console, Microsoft was defeated by the ‘Wii’ which introduced just a control and opened a wide new market for video games. Microsoft used its famous controller free Kinect to increase the popularity of the Xbox. This became vastly successful as of 2011 Kinect became the fastest-selling consumer electronics product in the history of human existence.
A line of new products from Microsoft
Microsoft launched a .net initiative in 2002 along with an exclusive version of its development products which is Microsoft Visual Studio. The Windows server 2003 was launched featuring enhanced administration abilities and the company also released Windows XP designed for multimedia abilities. To compete with the Search Engine Google and also with other internet companies. Microsoft announced an exclusive version of their MSN search service and later in the year 2006 Microsoft Add Center was launched, it was a service pay per click advertisement to further develop their search marketing revenue. Alongside Windows Vista, Microsoft also released a brand-new version of its Office Suite called Microsoft Office 2007. Then Windows Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, the new chapters of the company’s server operating system were respectively released on February 27, 2008.
Business deal with Viacom
On the end of 2007, Microsoft signed a staggering 5 year 500 million contract with Viacom which included content sharing and advertisements, which allowed Microsoft to license many shows from Viacom on cable television and film studios for use on Xbox Live and MSN. Through this Microsoft was allowed to purchase a large amount of advertisement on Viacom owned broadcast online networks and collaborated on promotions for MTV and BET Award Shows, both owned by Viacom.
A 10 Year Contract with Yahoo
In 2008 Microsoft made an attempt to purchase Yahoo in order to compete with the Search Engine Google. But the company rejected the offer and in response, Microsoft withdrew its offer. A year later, Microsoft and Yahoo made a ten-year business deal on July 29, 2009. According to the deal, Bing would replace Yahoo search engine and but it would maintain the Yahoo user interface. Yahoo also had the rights to sell its advertisements on Microsoft’s sites for the first five years of the deal and this transition took place in early 2012.
In 2009 Ballmer the President of Microsoft announced the first public Beta test of Windows 7. By the end of that year, Microsoft started taking pre-orders at an affordable price for Windows 7. It has several editions which acknowledged the rise of netbook computers. On April 2010 Microsoft released their Kin Phone Line. Later the phones were discontinued within two months because of poor sales.
Microsoft attained Skype Communications S.A.R.L on May 10, 2011, for $8.5 billion. The deal was completed on October 13, 2011. Skype is a software that allows its users to connect with people all around the world via video calls and voice calls. It was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis in 2003. Microsoft made use of Skype by incorporating it on Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems. After its acquisition, Microsoft terminated Windows Live Messenger to increase the popularity of Skype.
Acquisition of Nokia
Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia’s mobile unit for 7 billion dollars in 2013 and in that same year Amy Hood was appointed as the CFO of Microsoft. Microsoft launched an alliance in 2013 for affordable internet. On the beginning of the year, 2014 Sathya Nadella was appointed as CEO of Microsoft which was later headed by Steve Ballmer. On that same day, Bill Gates stepped down from his position which was later given to John W Thomson. Microsoft attained Nokia devices and services for 7.2 billion dollars and renamed the subsidiary to Microsoft Mobile oy.
Microsoft announced the release of their first-ever interactive White Board in 2015 on that same year Microsoft released the next version of the Windows operating system, Windows 10. Microsoft became the third largest maker of mobile phones by selling 33 million units. Microsoft announced a new project named Microsoft Azure information protection which aimed to help enterprises to protect their data as it moves between servers and devices. Toyota Tsusho began a partnership with Microsoft to create fish farming tools using the Microsoft Azure application Suite for IOT technologies related to water management.
Microsoft made its largest acquisition when it acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion on December 8, 2016. LinkedIn is a business and job-oriented website, which enables users to create profiles, interact with business professionals, recruit and employment search. It was founded by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant on December 28, 2002.
Microsoft is a socially responsible company, their aim is to empower everyone and every organisation thus bringing a great change socially and economically. According to their corporate social responsibility report of 2019, the company had donated about $1.5 billion through Microsoft Philanthropies and also with the help of employee giving program they have contributed $170 million.
They have over 110 non-profit organization partnerships in 45 countries providing skills and technology to youngsters. There was a 152% increase in women becoming corporate vice presidents. Along with that Bill Gates’ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, formed in 2000 in Seattle, Washington, is the largest private philanthropic foundation which works for the betterment of people providing healthcare and education all around the world.
Microsoft’s social responsibility is not only towards the people but also towards the protection of our planet. They have assured a 75 per cent reduction in operational emissions which is to be achieved by 2030 then they will attain the Paris climate agreement targets. They have also ensured to make use of renewable energy to power their data centres.
Microsoft corporation is an eminent software manufacturer in the modern world. We could analyse it with a history of its growth from the point of view that the company’s ruler Bill Gates has taken on the way to make it an Empire. The determination to open a new company, the opportunity to use the chance given by IBM and fighting a war with competitors and constant improvement. So many have reaped the benefits that Microsoft has provided as a strong leader, that is like Microsoft has paved the way for the emerging of multi-corporate and multinational giants like the Facebook, Amazon and so on. However, the biggest issue that the large businesses such as Microsoft brings to the world is the issues that all monopoly businesses will bring along. Though Microsoft holds a high position in the society and among their consumers, there are numerous unfortunate and illicit actions from them towards other minor companies and their employees. It is unknown to us at this point about what is going to happen to Microsoft Corporation in the future. Although we can assure that they will thrive in the future by satisfying the world and their customers with revolutionary inventions and innovations.