Upward and onward: the world’s modern landscape has been largely shaped by continuously advancing technology. Inarguably one of the most important figures in tech is Microsoft, a company that reshaped the public’s understanding of computers.
Aiming to Empower
The Microsoft mission is to “empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.” Broken down, this essentially means that Microsoft hopes that their products can assist any individual reach their full potential through whatever means a software or personal electronic device can offer such assistance.
Most famous for their Windows operating system, Microsoft was an early visionary in the way that computers would eventually impact the lives of every individual on a daily basis, and hasn’t stopped expanding since it was founded. From computers of its own to gaming systems to smart phones, Microsoft has made it clear that there’s no frontier they are afraid to explore.
Opening Windows to The Future
In 1975, a Harvard-dropout named Bill Gates and his childhood friend, Paul Allen, founded Microsoft. The name was a mashup of the words microcomputer and software.
IBM was poised to release the first personal computer in 1980 when it enlisted the help of Microsoft to create an operating system for that computer. Microsoft supplied the MS-DOS (Microsoft Disc Operating System) to IBM, which released its computer in 1981. Over the next decade, Microsoft had sold nearly 100 million copies of the system by the early 90s, effectively cementing them as one of the earliest tech giants in the field of personal electronics.
Following this initial rise, Microsoft has remained a major and steady player in the industry, and not just in operating systems. The brand has steadily released new products, and improvements upon older products, for the last 30 years.
While the Windows operating system was and is an important figure in the landscape of computers, it is just one note in the symphony of Microsoft’s work. Now, Microsoft has a staggering lineup of products and software ranging from the Xbox to Windows 10 to the ever-popular Microsoft Word applications.
Though it maintains the functional building blocks that helped earn the company its early success, Microsoft sets the pace of the times by unveiling futuristic innovations like its hololens.
A New Frontier of Competition
Though Microsoft is one of the lone survivors from the early days of computer and Internet innovation, it does not reign supreme. Make no mistake about it, Microsoft is wildly successful, but it certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on its industry.
If you paid attention to the tech space in the late 90s through the 2000s, you know that Apple founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates had more than a healthy sense of competition between them. With both Jobs and Gates removed from the day-to-day operations of their companies, outright rivalry has cooled significantly. However, that’s not to say that competition over market share doesn’t still exist between these two brands.
From smartphones to software to tablets and more, Microsoft and Apple are in direct competition in plenty of arenas.
Another major competitor for Microsoft is Google, a search engine that broke onto the scene in 1998 and has since spread to Microsoft’s other turf as well: cloud computing, and office technology. Though Microsoft has held its ground and clung to a good portion of market share, Google continues to outpace them in terms of growth.
Spotting Trends and Dropping Names
In the early 2000s, Microsoft was recognized as having gained such stellar due to its ability to recognize budding technological trends, and not much has changed on that front. Microsoft may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think of flashy tech, but their demonstrated ability to jump on a trend before it’s even a trend keeps them visible in this flooded market.
Microsoft did try out some flashier tactics in late 2012 when it enlisted the help of a wide crop of celebrity endorsements to push for its Windows Phone 8. These celebrities included Jessica Alba, Gwen Stefani, Andy Samberg, Jay-Z, but the company has since departed from these sorts of marketing efforts.
Concerns Over a Monopoly
Perhaps the biggest hiccup in Microsoft history came in 1998, when the company was charged with violating antitrust laws by essentially bullying competitors out of business. Bill Gates was forced to testify for the Department of Justice, and Microsoft eventually lost their case.
The original ruling stated that Microsoft would be broken into two separate companies, but the appeals process prevented that initial judgement from ever coming to fruition, and Microsoft has gone on to enjoy a stable amount of success in the new millennium, if at a slightly impeded rate.
Now that the Internet has had time to mature, questions about how to enforce antitrust laws in such a non-physical space pervade the industry, a mere 20 years after Microsoft stood to face serious backlash for violating them.
Massive Market Value
Microsoft ranks right behind Apple in terms of market value, at $946.5 billion. By virtually every metric, Apple tops the list of most valuable global companies, but Microsoft always trails closely behind.
Forbes ranks Microsoft as the third most valuable brand in the world, right behind Apple and Google, and just ahead of Amazon and Facebook. Considering the fact that Microsoft has existed for a great deal longer than most of the other companies that top this chart, it should receive a great deal of validation for remaining relevant in a space that hinges to vitally on advancement.
Rather than clinging to outdated ideas, Microsoft has grown with the times, which is why it continues to see substantial value increase—20% growth in 2018, in fact.
Just as the history of personal computers and electronic devices has been so thoroughly influenced by Microsoft, it seems likely that the future of this industry will be similarly affected by this company.