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Microsoft Corporation and its interesting journey, as reported by its official website has made it a worldwide leader in providing both people and businesses with a range of software products, services and solutions for helping them realize their full potential. The software giant was co-founded by Bill Gates along with his friend Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company then shifted its base to Bellevue, Washington on Jan. 1, 1979. Now the corporation is in Redmond, Washington, and has been there since Feb. 26, 1986, as confirmed both by its corporate website and Tech Radar website.
The tech juggernaut, which was born with a mission to revolutionize the concept of computing by extending the reach of computers to each home, as reported by Information Week. Microsoft Corporation now employs 112,689 employees worldwide, across four business segments; Applications and Services Engineering, Cloud and Enterprise Engineering, Windows and Devices and Technology and Research.
Microsoft employs 94 percent of its total staff in the U.S., with 39 percent of it concentrated in the Puget Sound Region, in Washington, and 55 percent scattered across different parts of the country. Only a minuscule six percent work in other countries.
Microsoft, in this long and interesting journey spanning four decades, has tasted its share of both successes and failures, all of which have played a pivotal role in helping it earn the eminent place of an undisputed leader in the world of personal computing. This is clear from the fact that it earned a rank of 31, in 2015, among the Fortune 1000 list of all companies worldwide. This was a straight three-point increase from the rank of 34 it earned in 2014, as reported by Geo Lounge.
Some of these prominent milestones, as reported both by Microsoft and Tech Radar, are definitely worth mentioning and are given below:
- In May of 1975, Microsoft created BASIC – the first programming language for a personal computer and sold it in both 4KB and 8KB editions to New Mexico-based Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). This one deal set it off to a long and interesting journey for years to come.
2. The tech firm, still in its infancy stage, came up with its second computer language offering, Fortran 80, two years later in the summer of 1977. Even though it held a price tag of $500, the product was well received by the market.
3. The first turning point in the history of this interesting journey for Microsoft came in 1978, due to two important events. First, the company tasted success by joining the “million dollar club,” for the first time after clocking in total sales worth $1,355,000, raked in by its new products; COBOL 80 – a successor to Fortran 80, Edit-80 – the company’s first microcomputer editor with random line access to floppy disk files and the Macro-80 assembler for microcomputers. Second, it entered the international market by setting up its first office in Japan, named ASCII Microsoft. This business move was crucial, as it showcased to the world Microsoft’s global business focus or approach. Besides, it also set the stage for more international expansion plans for the company, continuing it on its journey of soon becoming a “born global”entity.
4. The period from 1979-86 saw a great deal of important developments in the life of Microsoft, both on the domestic and international front. On the international front, the rapidly increasing annual sales figures, which reached a $140 million mark in 1985, allowed the company to extend its reach to Belgium and the U.K. by setting up offices in 1979 and 1982, respectively, after Japan.
While on the domestic front, the firm also took some critical corporate restructuring steps. Microsoft named its first CEO, Steve Balmer on June 11, 1980. In 1981, it became a formally incorporated business entity under the name Microsoft Inc. In the same year, Gates became the company’s President and Chairman and Allen, Executive Vice President. However, the latter’s exit from the firm on Feb. 18, 1983, due to being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Therefore, Gates took over Allen’s role and appointed James A. Towne as Microsoft’s new President and COO.
Interestingly, the public got a glimpse of Word and Windows; Microsoft’s flagship programs, which are often synonymous with its history, in the same year. While Word was fully released on MS-DOS, the company’s first 16-bit operating system, which had already been in use since 1981. Windows made a début on November 10, as an extended version of MS-DOS but was not commercially released at that time.
By 1986, the company took on a new major decision regarding its ownership structure. In its first Initial Public Offering (IPO) that took place on March 13. Microsoft went public and NASDAQ listed its stock, which sold for $21 per share and earned a cool $61 million. An accomplishment that resulted in Gates being featured on the cover of “Fortune” magazine in July. After which Word, Excel, File, Chart and Works for Apple’s Macintosh Operating System (OS) were shipped later that year.
5. The period from the late 1980s to early 2000, could be regarded as another landmark in the life of Microsoft, as these years saw the company take a deliberate leap into the consciousness of the worldwide community with regards to personal computing. May 22, 1990, saw the launch of the highly successful Windows 3.0, which included Office, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft sold 100,000 copies in just two weeks, for a total of $1.18 billion in revenue. Consequently, in 1993, “Fortune” magazine named Microsoft as the “Most Innovative Company Operating in the U.S.,” with the number of licensed Windows users reaching 25 million on April 14, 1993. Then, Excel 4.0 became the world’s top-selling spreadsheet program by August 24.
Windows 95, the company’s most advanced OS to date was released on Aug. 24, 1995, and sold over seven million copies in just five weeks, thanks to the start button strategically positioned on the taskbar to capture users’ attention. Windows 98 was the company’s next product release, June 25, 1998, it offered an increased support for USB connectors, networking improvements and enhanced web integration. As the world entered the new millennium in the year 2000, Microsoft under the leadership of its newly appointed president cum CEO, Steve Balmer, launched Windows 2000 on Feb 17, 2000, which apart from providing the same stability as Unix OS, replaced all the earlier Windows versions. Additionally, it brought along improved reliability, ease of use, support for the internet and mobile computing.
6. In the early 2000s, the company entered console gaming and the tablet/PC market. While Nov. 15, 2001, marked the software giant’s entry into the world of online console gaming with the launch of the XBox. However, Microsoft could not hover around the PlayStation 2’s sales of 136 million units. XBox sold three million units more than Nintendo’s 21 million units. Then the company continued to build on the gaming console, launching improved versions, such as the XBox 360 and XBox One in 2005 and 2013, respectively. It was the first company to make a not so memorable entry into the tablet/PC market, long before Apple’s iPad. On Nov. 7, 2002, it launched a range of pen-enabled tablets called, slates, running Windows XP and manufactured by Compaq.
7. The growing mobile computing and smartphone market gained traction toward the latter half of 2000, with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android emerging as the two most popular mobile OS. Microsoft entered this burgeoning market by launching its Windows Phone 7 on Nov. 10, 2010, powered by Windows 7.
The outcome was a rise in the company’s profits by 35 percent, even though the OS met with a lukewarm response. This prompted Microsoft to seek the help of Nokia, a Finnish company, which had long dominated the mobile phone market but was now losing ground to iOS and Android, with its Lumia range of smartphones failing to make an impact.
Microsoft used Nokia’s expertise in developing the next Start-Menu-Less Windows 8 OS, which was released on its Surface tablet and mobile devices in 2012. Furthermore, on September 3, 2013, it acquired the ailing company’s mobile devices and services for businesses, which cost around $5 billion in a bid to ramp up its mobile efforts. Microsoft experienced another major corporate restructuring development in the same year in August. Balmer decided to hand over the reigns as CEO to Satya Nadella but not before unveiling the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 tablets on Oct 22.
Satya, who took over the office on Feb. 4, 2014, in the last two years, has shifted the company’s focus from devices and services to platforms and productivity, which was clear from the release of Windows 10, Surface 3 tablet and Office 2016, under his leadership, whose success is yet to be tested.
By Bashar Saajid
Edited by Jeanette Smith & Cathy Milne
Microsoft: Facts about Microsoft
Tech Radar: Microsoft turns 40: here’s every milestone since 1975
Geo Lounge: 2015 List of Fortune 1000 Companies
AMD Law Group: What is the definition of a “Born Global” firm? International Business Law – Case Study # 2
Top and Featured Image Courtesy Fabien Lavocat’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inline Image Courtesy OnInnovation’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inline Image Courtesy Bullet Hughes Flickr Page – Creative Commons License