Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company that develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. With headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. It is best known for software products such as the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge Web browsers.
Microsoft also has flagship hardware products such as the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface line of touchscreen personal computers. In 2016, it was the world’s largest software maker by revenue, and one of the world’s most valuable companies.
The word “Microsoft” is a portmanteau of “microcomputer” and “software”. Microsoft is ranked No. 30 in the 2018 Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Microsoft was founded by Gates and Allen to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made a number of corporate acquisitions—such as Skype Technologies in May 2011 and LinkedIn in December 2016.
As of 2015, Microsoft is market-dominant in the IBM PC compatible operating system market and the office software suite market, although it has lost the majority of the overall operating system market to Android. The company also produces a wide range of other consumer and enterprise software for desktops, laptops, tabs, gadgets, servers, etc. including Internet search (with Bing), the digital services market (through MSN), mixed reality (HoloLens), cloud computing (Azure) and software development (Visual Studio).
Under Steve Ballmer as CEO, Microsoft was more into the “devices and services” strategy of operation. Microsoft took off on this path by acquiring Danger Inc. in 2008, and entering the personal computer production market for the first time in June 2012 with the launch of the Microsoft Surface line of tablet computers. Later, it formed the Microsoft Mobile through the acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division.
However, since 2014, with Satya Nadella as CEO, the company has scaled back on hardware and has instead focused on cloud computing, a move that helped the company’s shares reach its highest value since December 1999.