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Microsoft Corporation
Type Public (NASDAQ: MSFT)
Founded Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA (April 4, 1975)[1]
Headquarters Redmond, Washington, USA
Key people Bill Gates, Co-founder and Executive Chairman
Paul Allen, Co-founder
Steve Ballmer, CEO
Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect
Industry Computer software
Research and development
Computer hardware
Video games
Products Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Servers
Developer Tools
Business Solutions
Games and Xbox
Windows Live
Windows Mobile
Revenue US$44.2 billion (2006)[2]
Operating income US$16.4 billion (2006)[2]
(36.3% operating margin)[3]
Net income US$12.6 billion (2006)[2]
(31.6% net margin)[3]
Employees 71,172 (2006)[4]
Slogan Your potential. Our passion.

Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44.28 billion and 76,000 employees in 102 countries. It develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products for computing devices.[5][4][2] Headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA, its best selling products are the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software.

These products have all achieved near-ubiquity in the desktop computer market. One commentator notes that Microsoft's original mission was "a computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software"—it is a goal near fulfillment.[6] Microsoft possesses footholds in other markets, with assets such as the MSNBC cable television network, the MSN Internet portal, and the Microsoft Encarta multimedia encyclopedia. The company also markets both computer hardware products such as the Microsoft mouse as well as home entertainment products such as the Xbox, Xbox 360, Zune and MSN TV.[5]

Originally founded 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. The company released an initial public offering (IPO) in the stock market, which netted several of its employees millions of dollars due to the ensuing rise of the stock price.[7][8] Throughout its history the company has been the target of criticism, including monopolistic business practices—the U.S. Justice Department, among others, has sued Microsoft for antitrust violations and software bundling.[9] Known for what is generally described as a developer-centric business culture, Microsoft has historically given customer support over Usenet newsgroups and the World Wide Web, and awards Microsoft MVP status to volunteers who are deemed helpful in assisting the company's customers.[10][8]



Main article: History of Microsoft
See also: History of Microsoft Windows

1975–1985: Founding

Microsoft staff photo from Dec 7, 1978. From left to right:Top: Steve Wood, Bob Wallace, Jim Lane.Middle: Bob O'Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin.Bottom: Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, Paul Allen.
Microsoft staff photo from Dec 7, 1978. From left to right:
Top: Steve Wood, Bob Wallace, Jim Lane.
Middle: Bob O'Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin.
Bottom: Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, Paul Allen.

Following the launch of the Altair 8800, Bill Gates called the creators of the new microcomputer, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, offering to demonstrate an implementation of the BASIC programming language for the system. After the demonstration, MITS agreed to distribute Altair BASIC.[11] Gates left Harvard University, moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where MITS was located, and founded Microsoft there. The company's first international office was founded on November 1, 1978, in Japan, entitled "ASCII Microsoft" (now called "Microsoft Japan").[11] On January 1, 1979, the company moved from Albuquerque to a new home in Bellevue, Washington.[11] Steve Ballmer joined the company on June 11, 1980, and would later succeed Bill Gates as CEO.[11]

DOS (Disk Operating System) was the operating system that brought the company its real success. On August 12, 1981, after negotiations with Digital Research failed, IBM awarded a contract to Microsoft to provide a version of the CP/M operating system, which was set to be used in the upcoming IBM Personal Computer (PC). For this deal, Microsoft purchased a CP/M clone called QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products, which IBM renamed to PC-DOS. Later, the market saw a flood of IBM PC clones after Columbia Data Products successfully cloned the IBM BIOS, and through aggressive marketing of their own QDOS derivative, MS-DOS, to manufacturers of IBM-PC clones Microsoft rose from a small player to one of the major software vendors in the home computer industry.[12] The company expanded into new markets with the release of the Microsoft Mouse in 1983, as a well as a publishing division named Microsoft Press.[11]

1985–1995: OS/2 and Windows

On November 20, 1985, Microsoft released its first retail version of Microsoft Windows, originally a graphical extension for its MS-DOS operating system.[11] In August, Microsoft and IBM partnered in the development of a different operating system called OS/2.[13] Around one month later, on March 13, the company went public with an IPO, priced at US$28.00 by the end of the trading day. In 1987, Microsoft eventually released their first version of OS/2 to OEMs.[14]

The sign at a main entrance to the Microsoft corporate campus. The Redmond Microsoft campus today includes more than 8 million square feet (approx. 750,000 m²) and over 30,000 employees.
The sign at a main entrance to the Microsoft corporate campus. The Redmond Microsoft campus today includes more than 8 million square feet (approx. 750,000 m²) and over 30,000 employees.[15]

In 1989, Microsoft introduced its most successful office product, Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office was a bundle of separate office productivity applications, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and so forth.[11] On May 22, 1990 Microsoft launched Windows 3.0.[16] The new version of Microsoft's operating system boasted such new features as streamlined user interface graphics and improved protected mode capability for the Intel 386 processor; it sold over 100,000 copies in two weeks.[17] Windows at the time generated more revenue for Microsoft than OS/2, and the company decided to move more resources from OS/2 to Windows.[18] In the ensuing years, the popularity of OS/2 declined, and Windows quickly became the favored PC platform.

During the transition from MS-DOS to Windows, the success of Microsoft's product Microsoft Office allowed the company to gain ground on application-software competitors, such as WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3.[19][20] According to The Register, Novell, an owner of WordPerfect for a time, alleged that Microsoft used its inside knowledge of the DOS and Windows kernels and of undocumented Application Programming Interface features to make Office perform better than its competitors.[21] Eventually, Microsoft Office became the dominant business suite, with a market share far exceeding that of its competitors.[22]

In 1993 Microsoft released Windows NT 3.1, a server-based operating system with a similar user interface to consumer versions of the operating system, but with an entirely different kernel.[19] In 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, a new version of the company's flagship operating system which featured a completely new user interface, including a novel start button; more than a million copies of Microsoft Windows 95 were sold in the first four days after its release.[19] The company later released its web browser, Internet Explorer, with the Windows 95 Plus! Pack in August 1995 and subsequent Windows versions.[23]

1995–2005: Internet and legal issues

In the mid-90s, Microsoft began to expand its product line into computer networking and the World Wide Web. On August 24, 1995, it launched a major online service, MSN (Microsoft Network), as a direct competitor to AOL. MSN became an umbrella service for Microsoft's online services.[11][19][24] The company continued to branch out into new markets in 1996, starting with a joint venture with NBC to create a new 24/7 cable news station, MSNBC.[19][25] Microsoft entered the personal digital assistant (PDA) market in November with Windows CE 1.0, a new built-from-scratch version of their flagship operating system, specifically designed to run on low-memory, low-performance machines, such as handhelds and other small computers.[26] Later in 1997, Internet Explorer 4.0 was released for both Mac OS and Windows, marking the beginning of the takeover of the browser market from rival Netscape. In October, the Justice Department filed a motion in the Federal District Court in which they stated that Microsoft had violated an agreement signed in 1994, and asked the court to stop the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.[11]

Windows XP introduced a new interface, along with many other new features. This screenshot shows Windows XP Professional.
Windows XP introduced a new interface, along with many other new features. This screenshot shows Windows XP Professional.

The year 1998 was significant in Microsoft's history, with Bill Gates appointing Steve Ballmer as president of Microsoft but remaining as Chair and CEO himself.[11] The company released Windows 98, an update to Windows 95 that incorporated a number of Internet-focused features and support for new types of devices.[11] On April 3, 2000, a judgment was handed down in the case of United States v. Microsoft,[9] calling the company an "abusive monopoly"[27] and forcing the company to split into two separate units. Part of this ruling was later overturned by a federal appeals court, and eventually settled with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001.

In 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP, the first version that encompassed the features of both its business and home product lines. XP introduced a new graphical user interface, the first such change since Windows 95.[11][28] Later, Microsoft would enter the multi-billion-dollar game console market dominated by Sony and Nintendo, with the release of the Xbox.[11] Microsoft encountered more turmoil in March 2004 when antitrust legal action would be brought against it by the European Union for allegedly abusing its market dominance (see European Union Microsoft antitrust case), eventually resulting in a judgement to produce a new version of its Windows XP platform—called Windows XP Home Edition N—that did not include its Windows Media Player.[29][30]

2005–2007: Vista and other transitions

Windows Vista had majors changes, mostly notable within its interface.
Windows Vista had majors changes, mostly notable within its interface.

In 2006 Bill Gates announced a two year transition period from his role as Chief Software Architect, which would be taken by Ray Ozzie, and planned to remain the company's chairman, head of the Board of Directors and act as an adviser on key projects.[31] Windows Vista is Microsoft's latest operating system, released in January 2007. Microsoft Office 2007 was released at the same time; its "Ribbon" user interface is a significant departure from its predecessors.

Product divisions

To be more precise in tracking performance of each unit and delegating responsibility, Microsoft reorganized into seven core business groups—each an independent financial entity—in April 2002. Later, on September 20, 2005, Microsoft announced a rationalization of its original seven business groups into the three core divisions that exist today: the Windows Client, MSN and Server and Tool groups were merged into the Microsoft Platform Products & Services Division; the Information Worker and Microsoft Business Solutions groups were merged into the Microsoft Business Division; and the Mobile and Embedded Devices and Home and Entertainment groups were merged into the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division.[32][33]

Platform Products and Services

The current logo of Microsoft Windows, one of the company's best-known products.
The current logo of Microsoft Windows, one of the company's best-known products.

This division produces Microsoft's flagship product, the Windows operating system. It has been produced in many versions, including Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows 2000 server, Windows Me, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Almost all IBM compatible personal computers designed for the consumer come with Windows preinstalled. The current desktop version of Windows is Windows Vista. The online service MSN, the cable television station MSNBC, and the Microsoft online magazine Slate are all part of this division. Slate was later acquired by The Washington Post on December 21, 2004. At the end of 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail, the most popular webmail service, which it rebranded as "MSN Hotmail". Later in 1999 Microsoft introduced MSN Messenger, an instant messaging client, to compete with the popular AOL Instant Messenger. Along with Windows Vista, MSN is to become Windows Live Messenger.[5]

Microsoft Visual Studio is the company's set of programming tools and compilers. The software product is GUI-oriented and links easily with the Windows APIs, but must be specially configured if used with non-Microsoft libraries. The current version is Visual Studio 2005. The previous version, Visual Studio.Net 2003, was named after the .NET initiative, a Microsoft marketing initiative covering a number of technologies. Microsoft's definition of .NET continues to evolve. As of 2004, .NET aims to ease the development of Microsoft Windows-based applications that use the Internet, by deploying a new Microsoft communications system, Indigo (now renamed Windows Communication Foundation). This is intended to address some issues previously introduced by Microsoft's DLL design, which made it difficult, even impossible in some situations, to manage, install multiple versions of complex software packages on the same system (see DLL-hell), and provide a more consistent development platform for all Windows applications (see Common Language Infrastructure). In addition, the Company established a set of certification programs to recognize individuals who have expertise in its software and solutions. Similar to offerings from Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Novell, IBM, and Oracle Corporation, these tests are designed to identify a minimal set of proficiencies in a specific role; this includes developers ("Microsoft Certified Solution Developer"), system/network analysts ("Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer"), trainers ("Microsoft Certified Trainers") and administrators ("Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator" and "Microsoft Certified Database Administrator").[5]

Microsoft offers a suite of server software, entitled Windows Server System. Windows Server 2003, an operating system for network servers, is the core of the Windows Server System line. Another server product, Systems Management Server, is a collection of tools providing remote-control abilities, patch management, software distribution, and a hardware/software inventory. Other server products include:

As of November 2006 Microsoft has extended itself to Linux and open source companies to allow Windows server to work harmoniously with servers running Linux.


Front entrance to building 17 on the main campus of the Company's Redmond campus.
Front entrance to building 17 on the main campus of the Company's Redmond campus.

The Microsoft Business Division produces Microsoft Office, which is the company's line of office software. The software product includes Word (a word processor), Access (a personal relational database application), Excel (a spreadsheet program), Outlook (Windows-only groupware, frequently used with Exchange Server), PowerPoint (presentation software), Microsoft FrontPage (a WYSIWYG HTML editor), and Publisher (desktop publishing software). A number of other products were added later with the release of Office 2003 including Visio, Project, MapPoint, InfoPath and OneNote.[5]

The division focuses on developing financial and business management software for companies. These products include products formerly produced by the Business Solutions Group, which was created in April 2001 with the acquisition of Great Plains. Subsequently, Navision was acquired to provide a similar entry into the European market, resulting in the planned release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV in 2006. The group markets Axapta and Solomon, catering to similar markets, which is scheduled to be combined with the Navision and Great Plains lines into a common platform called Microsoft Dynamics.[5]

Entertainment and Devices

The Xbox 360, Microsoft's second system in the gaming console market.
The Xbox 360, Microsoft's second system in the gaming console market.

Microsoft has attempted to expand the Windows brand into many other markets, with products such as Windows CE for PDAs and its "Windows-powered" Smartphone products. Microsoft initially entered the mobile market through Windows CE for handheld devices, which today has developed into Windows Mobile 5. The focus of the operating system is on devices where the OS may not directly be visible to the end user, in particular, appliances and cars. The company produces MSN TV, formerly WebTV, a television-based Internet appliance. Microsoft used to sell a set-top Digital Video Recorder (DVR) called the UltimateTV, which allowed users to record up to 35 hours of television programming from a direct-to-home satellite television provider DirecTV. This was the main competition in the UK for British Sky Broadcasting's (BSkyB) SKY + service, owned by Rupert Murdoch. UltimateTV has since been discontinued, with DirecTV instead opting to market DVRs from TiVo Inc. before later switching to their own DVR brand.[5]

Microsoft sells computer games that run on Windows PCs, including titles such as Age of Empires, Halo and the Microsoft Flight Simulator series. It produces a line of reference works that include encyclopedias and atlases, under the name Encarta. Microsoft Zone hosts free premium and retail games where players can compete against each other and in tournaments. Microsoft entered the multi-billion-dollar game console market dominated by Sony and Nintendo in late 2001,[34] with the release of the Xbox. The company develops and publishes its own video games for this console, with the help of its Microsoft Game Studios subsidiary, in addition to third-party Xbox video game publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision, who pay a license fee to publish games for the system. The Xbox also has a successor in the Xbox 360, released on 2005-11-22 in North America and other countries.[35][36] With the Xbox 360, Microsoft hopes to compensate for the losses incurred with the original Xbox. However, Microsoft made some decisions considered controversial in the video gaming community, such as selling two different versions of the system, as well as providing backward compatibility with only particular Xbox titles.[37][38] In addition to the Xbox line of products, Microsoft also markets a number of other computing-related hardware products as well, including mice, keyboards, joysticks, and gamepads, along with other game controllers, the production of which is outsourced in most cases.[5]

Business culture

Photo of Microsoft's RedWest campus.
Photo of Microsoft's RedWest campus.

Microsoft has often been described as having a developer-centric business culture. A great deal of time and money is spent each year on recruiting young university-trained software developers and on keeping them in the company. For example, while many software companies often place an entry-level software developer in a cubicle desk within a large office space filled with other cubicles, Microsoft assigns a private or semiprivate closed office to every developer or pair of developers. In addition, key decision makers at every level are either developers or former developers. In a sense, the software developers at Microsoft are considered the "stars" of the company in the same way that the sales staff at IBM are considered the "stars" of their company.[10]

Within Microsoft the expression "eating our own dog food" is used to describe the policy of using the latest Microsoft products inside the company in an effort to test them in "real-world" situations. Only prerelease and beta versions of products are considered dog food.[39] This is usually shortened to just "dog food" and is used as noun, verb, and adjective. The company is also known for their hiring process, dubbed the "Microsoft interview", which is notorious for off-the-wall questions such as "Why is a manhole cover round?" and is a process often mimicked in other organizations, although these types of questions are rarer now than they were in the past.[40] For fun, Microsoft also hosts the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt, an annual puzzle hunt (a live puzzle game where teams compete to solve a series of puzzles) held at the Redmond campus.

As of 2006, Microsoft employees, not including Bill Gates, have given over $2.5bn dollars to non-profit organizations worldwide, making Microsoft the worldwide top company in per-employee donations.[41] In January 2007, the Harris Interactive/The Wall Street Journal Reputation Quotient survey recognized Microsoft as having the world's best corporate reputation. Aside from citing strong financial performance, vision & leadership, and workplace environment rankings, the survey noted that the company's reputation has been boosted by the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[42]

User culture

Technical reference for developers and articles for various Microsoft magazines such as Microsoft Systems Journal (or MSJ) are available through the Microsoft Developer Network, often called MSDN. MSDN also offers subscriptions for companies and individuals, and the more expensive subscriptions usually offer access to pre-release beta versions of Microsoft software.[43][44] In recent years, Microsoft launched a community site for developers and users, entitled Channel9, which provides many modern features such as a wiki and an Internet forum.[45] Another community site that provides daily videocasts and other services,, launched on March 3, 2006.[46]

Most free technical support available through Microsoft is provided through online Usenet newsgroups (in the early days it was also provided on CompuServe). There are several of these newsgroups for nearly every product Microsoft provides, and often they are monitored by Microsoft employees. People who are helpful on the newsgroups can be elected by other peers or Microsoft employees for Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status, which entitles people to a sort of special social status, in addition to possibilities for awards and other benefits.[8]

Corporate affairs

Corporate structure

The company is run by a Board of Directors consisting of ten people, made up of mostly company outsiders (as is customary for publicly traded companies). Current members of the board of directors are: Steve Ballmer, James Cash, Jr., Dina Dublon, Bill Gates, Raymond Gilmartin, Reed Hastings, David Marquardt, Charles Noski, Helmut Panke, and Jon Shirley.[47] The ten board members are elected every year at the annual shareholders' meeting, and those who do not get a majority of votes must submit a resignation to the board, which will subsequently choose whether or not to accept the resignation. There are five committees within the board which oversee more specific matters. These committees include the Audit Committee, which handles accounting issues with the company including auditing and reporting; the Compensation Committee, which approves compensation for the CEO and other employees of the company; the Finance Committee, which handles financial matters such as proposing mergers and acquisitions; the Governance and Nominating Committee, which handles various corporate matters including nomination of the board; and the Antitrust Compliance Committee, which attempts to prevent company practices from violating antitrust laws.[48][49]

There are several other aspects to the corporate structure of Microsoft. For worldwide matters there is the Executive Team, made up of sixteen company officers across the globe, which is charged with various duties including making sure employees understand Microsoft's culture of business. The sixteen officers of the Executive Team include the Chairman and Chief Software Architect, the CEO, the General Counsel and Secretary, the CFO, senior and group vice presidents from the business units, the CEO of the Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions; and the heads of Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services; Human Resources; and Corporate Marketing. In addition to the Executive Team there is also the Corporate Staff Council, which handles all major staff functions of the company, including approving corporate policies. The Corporate Staff Council is made up of employees from the Law and Corporate Affairs, Finance, Human Resources, Corporate Marketing, and Advanced Strategy and Policy groups at Microsoft. Other Executive Officers include the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the various product divisions, leaders of the marketing section, and the CTO, among others.[50][verification needed][5]


When the company debuted its IPO in March 13, 1986, the stock price was US$21.[51][52] By the close of the first trading day, the stock had closed at twenty-eight dollars, equivalent to 9.7 cents when adjusted for the company's first nine splits.[52] The initial close and ensuing rise in subsequent years made several Microsoft employees millions.[7] The stock price peaked in 1999 at around US$119 (US$60.928 adjusting for splits).[52] While the company has had nine stock splits, the first of which was in September 18, 1987, the company did not start offering a dividend until January 16, 2003.[52][53] The dividend for the 2003 fiscal year was eight cents per share, followed by a dividend of sixteen cents per share the subsequent year.[53] The company switched from yearly to quarterly dividends in 2005, for eight cents a share per quarter with a special one-time payout of three dollars per share for the second quarter of the fiscal year.[53]

Around 2003 the stock price began a slow descent. Despite the company's ninth split on February 2, 2003 and subsequent increases in dividend payouts, the price of Microsoft's stock continued to fall for the next several years.[53][54] However, starting around late 2006, Microsoft's stock began a slow but somewhat steady climb, helped in part by the release of two important projects, the Windows Vista operating system and the Office 2007 productivity suite.


In 2005, Microsoft received a 100% rating in the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, a ranking of companies by how progressive the organization deems their policies concerning LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) employees. Partly through the work of the Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) group, Microsoft added gender expression to its antidiscrimination policies in April 2005, and the Human Rights Campaign upgraded Microsoft's Corporate Equality Index from its 86% rating in 2004 to its current 100% rating.[55][56]

In April 2005, Microsoft received wide criticism for withdrawing support from Washington state's H.B. 1515 bill that would have extended the state's current antidiscrimination laws to people with alternate sexual orientations,[57] although some claim they never withdrew support and instead simply were neutral on the bill. However, under harsh criticism from both outside and inside the company's walls, Microsoft decided to support the bill again in May 2005.[58][59]

Microsoft hires many foreign workers as well as domestic ones, and is an outspoken opponent of the cap on H1B visas, which allow companies in the United States to employ certain foreign workers. Bill Gates claims the cap on H1B visas make it difficult to hire employees for the company, stating "I'd certainly get rid of the H1B cap."[60]

Working Mother magazine named Microsoft one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 and 2005.[61]

Logos and slogans

In 1987, Microsoft adopted its current logo, the so-called "Pacman Logo" designed by Scott Baker. According to the March 1987 Computer Reseller News Magazine, "The new logo, in Helvetica italic typeface, has a slash between the o and to emphasize the "soft" part of the name and convey motion and speed." Dave Norris, a Microsoft employee, ran an internal joke campaign to save the old logo, which was green, in all uppercase, and featured a fanciful letter O, nicknamed the blibbet, but it was discarded.[62][verification needed]

Microsoft's logo depicted here, with the "Your potential. Our passion." tagline below the main corporate name, is based on the slogan Microsoft had as of 2006. In 2002, the company started using the logo in the United States and eventually started a TV campaign with the slogan, changed from the previous tagline of "Where do you want to go today?."[63][64][65]


See also: Criticism of Microsoft


Since the 1980s, Microsoft has been the focus of much controversy in the computer industry. Most criticism has been for its business tactics, which some perceive as unfair and anticompetitive. Often, these tactics have been described with the motto "embrace, extend and extinguish". Microsoft initially embraces a competing standard or product, then extends it to produce their own incompatible version of the software or standard, which in time extinguishes competition that does not or cannot use Microsoft's new version.[66] These and other tactics have led to various companies and governments filing lawsuits against Microsoft.[67][30][9] Microsoft has been called a "velvet sweatshop" in reference to allegations of the company working its employees to the point where it might be bad for their health. The first instance of "velvet sweatshop" in reference to Microsoft originated from a Seattle Times article in 1989, and later became used to describe the company by some of Microsoft's own employees.[68][69]

Free software proponents point to the company's joining of the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA) as a cause of concern. A group of companies that seek to implement an initiative called Trusted Computing (which is claimed to set out to increase security and privacy in a user's computer), the TCPA is decried by critics as a means to allow software developers to enforce any sort of restriction they wish over their software.

Large media corporations, together with computer companies such as Microsoft and Intel, are planning to make your computer obey them instead of you

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation[70]

Advocates of free software also take issue with Microsoft's promotion of Digital Rights Management (DRM), and the company's total cost of ownership (TCO) comparisons with its "Get the facts" campaign. Digital Rights Management is a technology that gives digital content and software providers the ability to put restrictions on how their products are used on their customers' machines; these restrictions are seen by the technology's detractors as an infringement on fair use and other rights.[71] DRM restricts even legal uses, for example, re-mixing or playing in a slideshow. Microsoft is not the only platform provider who supports DRM, however. For example, Apple Computer has been under fire from the French Government for "FairPlay," a DRM system used to control usage of content downloaded from its iTunes Music Store service.[72] The "Get the facts" campaign argues that Windows Server has a lower TCO than Linux and lists a variety of studies in order to prove its case.[73] Proponents of Linux unveiled their own study arguing that, contrary to one of Microsoft's claims, Linux has lower management costs than Windows Server.[74] Another study by the Yankee Group claims that Windows Server costs less than Linux for those with legacy systems and more for those without.[75]


A screenshot of the "Blue Screen of Death" in Windows XP. It is a screen encountered when Windows cannot (or is in danger of being unable to) recover from a system error.
A screenshot of the "Blue Screen of Death" in Windows XP. It is a screen encountered when Windows cannot (or is in danger of being unable to) recover from a system error.[76]

Older versions of Microsoft products were often characterized as being unstable—versions of Windows based on MS-DOS, and later the Windows 95 kernel from the mid 1990s to early 2000s, were widely panned for their instability, displaying the "Blue Screen of Death", when Windows abruptly terminates an application—usually due to malfunctioning drivers or hardware. In Windows NT/2000/XP Professional, the blue screen is also known as the Windows Stop Message.[76][77] While less frequent, Windows 2000 and XP are still susceptible to Blue Screens of Death.[78] Blue Screens of Death in Windows NT/2000/XP and later Windows systems are the equivalent of kernel panics in Unix-like systems. Although many of these bugs are from Windows itself, Microsoft stated[citation needed] that computer users who are not familiar with the division of responsibilities among applications, the operating system, and third-party device drivers sometimes blame them for problems that are created by third-party software, particularly poorly written device drivers. As an effort to enforce the usage of signed drivers (which must pass a compatibility test), Microsoft announced that they will disallow unsigned drivers in the 64-bit editions of Windows Vista.[79][verification needed][80][verification needed][81]

Numerous Microsoft products, most notably Internet Explorer and earlier versions of Outlook, are seen as being insecure to malicious attacks such as computer viruses. Rob Pegoraro, writing for the Washington Post, says that due to Windows leaving five Internet ports open for various running services, malware has an easier time compromising the system.[82] In an article for SecurityFocus, Scott Granneman said that as of 2004-06-17 there were 153 accumulated security holes since 2001-04-18 and that Internet Explorer "is a buggy, insecure, dangerous piece of software."[83] Mike Nash, a Microsoft Corporate Vice President, responded to Internet Explorer security concerns in a 2005 interview by stating that the version of Internet Explorer shipped with Windows XP Service Pack 2 gives it security on the same level as its competition.[84] The current version, Internet Explorer 7, has a security overhaul with anti-phishing and malware prevention technology.[85] is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet, receiving more than 100 million hits per day. According to, is ranked 13th amongst all websites for Traffic Rank as on March 30, 2007.[86]

See also



  • Actimates − Set of toys developed by Microsoft.
  • Pcsafety − Part of Microsoft's technical support that deals with malware and virus issues.
  • Trustworthy Computing − Microsoft's initiative for increasing security and reliability on PCs.
  • Ultra Mobile PC − Joint specification by Microsoft and others for a small form factor tablet PC.
  • Microsoft Studios − A division responsible for the creation of video content for Microsoft and its partners.
  • Microsoft Research - A division responsible for the research of computer sciences.


Notes and references

  1. ^ Bill Gates: A Timeline. (2006-06-15). Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  2. ^ a b c d Microsoft (2006-07-20). Microsoft Reports Fourth Quarter Results and Announces Share Repurchase Program. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-03-30.
  3. ^ a b MICROSOFT CORP: Company Overview. Reuters. Retrieved on 2006-05-24.
  4. ^ a b Fast Facts about Microsoft. Microsoft (June 30, 2006). Retrieved on March 30, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Microsoft Corporation Annual Report 2005 (doc). Microsoft. Retrieved on 1 October 2005.
  6. ^ Bishop, Todd. "The rest of the motto", Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 23, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-01-22.
  7. ^ a b Julie Bick. "The Microsoft Millionaires Come of Age", The New York Times, 2005-05-29. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  8. ^ a b c Hiawatha Bray (2005-06-13). Somehow, Usenet lumbers on. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
    * Microsoft Frequently Asked Questions. Microsoft (Most Valued Professional). Retrieved on 2006-07-01.
  9. ^ a b c United States v. Microsoft. U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved on August 5, 2005. homepage at the United States Department of Justice
  10. ^ a b Charles, John. "Indecent proposal? Doing Business With Microsoft". IEEE Software (January/February 1998): 113-117. 
    * Jennifer Edstrom; Marlin Eller (1998). Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from inside. N.Y. Holt. ISBN 0-8050-5754-4. 
    * Fred Moody (1995). I Sing the Body Electronic: A Year With Microsoft on the Multimedia Frontier. Viking. ISBN 0-670-84875-1. 
    * Michael A. Cusumano; Richard W. Selby (1995). Microsoft Secrets: How the World's Most Powerful Software Company Creates Technology, Shapes Markets and Manages People. Free Press. ISBN 0-684-85531-3. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Information for Students: Key Events In Microsoft History (doc). Microsoft Visitor Center Student Information. Retrieved on 1 October 2005.
  12. ^ Booting Your PC: Getting Up Close & Personal With A Computer’s BIOS. Smart Computing (November 1999). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
    * What Is The BIOS?. Smart Computing (July 1994). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
    * Everything You Want or Need to Know About Your BIOS. Extreme Tech. Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
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