Saturday, January 01, 2000


Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions. Established on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800, Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems. Microsoft would also come to dominate the office suite market with Microsoft Office. The company has diversified in recent years into the video game industry with the Xbox and its successor, the Xbox 360 as well as into the consumer electronics market with Zune and the Windows Phone OS. The ensuing rise of stock in the company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO) made an estimated four billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees.

Primarily in the 1990s, critics contend Microsoft used monopolistic business practices and anti-competitive strategies including refusal to deal and tying, put unreasonable restrictions in the use of its software, and used misrepresentative marketing tactics; both the U.S. Department of Justice and European Commission found the company in violation of antitrust laws. Known for its interviewing process with obscure questions, various studies and ratings were generally favorable to Microsoft's diversity within the company as well as its overall environmental impact with the exception of the electronics portion of the business.


Paul Allen and Bill Gates, childhood friends with a passion in computer programming, were seeking to make a successful business utilizing their shared skills. The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics featured Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems's (MITS) Altair 8800 microcomputer. Allen noticed that they could program a BASIC interpreter for the device; after a call from Gates claiming to have a working interpreter, MITS requested a demonstration. Since they didn't actually have one, Allen worked on a simulator for the Altair while Gates developed the interpreter. Although they developed the interpreter on a simulator and not the actual device, the interpreter worked flawlessly when they demonstrated the interpreter to MITS in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March 1975; MITS agreed to distribute it, marketing it as Altair BASIC.[3] They officially established Microsoft on April 4, 1975, with Gates as the CEO. In August 1977 the company formed an agreement with ASCII Magazine in Japan, resulting in its first international office, "ASCII Microsoft". The company moved to a new home in Bellevue, Washington in January 1979.

Microsoft entered the OS business in 1980 with its own version of Unix, called Xenix. However, it was DOS (Disk Operating System) that solidified the company's dominance. After negotiations with Digital Research failed, IBM awarded a contract to Microsoft to provide a version of the CP/M OS, which was set to be used in the upcoming IBM Personal Computer (IBM PC). For this deal, Microsoft purchased a CP/M clone called 86-DOS from Seattle Computer Products, branding it as MS-DOS, which IBM rebranded to PC-DOS. Following the release of the IBM PC in August 1981, Microsoft retained ownership of MS-DOS. Since IBM copyrighted the IBM PC BIOS, other companies had to reverse engineer it in order for non-IBM hardware to run as IBM PC compatibles, but no such restriction applied to the operating systems. Due to various factors, such as MS-DOS's available software selection, Microsoft eventually became the leading PC OS vendor. The company expanded into new markets with the release of the Microsoft Mouse in 1983, as well as a publishing division named Microsoft Press. Paul Allen resigned from Microsoft in February after developing Hodgkin's disease.


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