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The Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company with the main headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Its best known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge Web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touchscreen personal computers. As of 2016, it is 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 Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, 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. The company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made a number of corporate acquisitions, their largest being the acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in December 2016, followed by their acquisition of Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in May 2011.

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).

Steve Ballmer replaced Gates as CEO in 2000, and later envisioned a "devices and services" strategy. This began with the acquisition of Danger Inc. in 2008, entering the personal computer production market for the first time in June 2012 with the launch of the Microsoft Surface line of tablet computers; and later forming Microsoft Mobile through the acquisition of Nokia's devices and services division. Since Satya Nadella took over as CEO in 2014, 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.

In 2018, Microsoft surpassed Apple Inc. as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world after being dethroned by the tech giant in 2010 and in April 2019, Microsoft became the third U.S. public company to be valued at over $1 trillion after Apple and Amazon respectively, reached the trillion-dollar market cap in 2018.

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History

2014 – Present

On February 4, 2014, Steve Ballmer stepped down as CEO of Microsoft and was succeeded by Satya Nadella, who previously led Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise division. On the same day, John W. Thompson took on the role of chairman, in place of Bill Gates, who continued to participate as a technology advisor. Thompson became the second chairman in Microsoft's history. On April 25, 2014, Microsoft acquired Nokia Devices and Services for $7.2 billion. This new subsidiary was renamed Microsoft Mobile Oy. On September 15, 2014, Microsoft acquired the video game development company Mojang, best known for Minecraft, for $2.5 billion. On June 8, 2017, Microsoft acquired Hexadite, an Israeli security firm, for $100 million. On January 21, 2015, Microsoft announced the release of their first Interactive whiteboard, Microsoft Surface Hub. On July 29, 2015, Windows 10 was released, with its server sibling, Windows Server 2016, released in September 2016.

On March 1, 2016, Microsoft announced the merger of its PC and Xbox divisions, with Phil Spencer announcing that Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps would be the focus for Microsoft's gaming in the future. On January 24, 2017, Microsoft showcased Intune for Education at the BETT 2017 education technology conference in London.

In January 2018, Microsoft patched Windows 10 to account for CPU problems related to Intel's Meltdown security breach. The patched led issues with the Microsoft Azure virtual machines reliant on Intel's CPU architecture. On January 12, Microsoft released PowerShell Core 6.0 for the macOS and Linux operating systems. In February 2018, Microsoft killed notification support for their Windows Phone devices which effectively ended firmware updates for the discontinued devices. In March 2018, Microsoft recalled Windows 10 S to change it to a mode for the Windows operating system rather than a separate and unique operating system.

In August 2018, Toyota Tsusho began a partnership with Microsoft to create fish farming tools using the Microsoft Azure application suite for Internet of things (IoT) technologies related to water management. Developed in part by researchers from Kindai University, the water pump mechanisms use artificial intelligence to count the number of fish on a conveyor belt, analyze the number of fish, and deduce the effectiveness of water flow from the data the fish provide. The specific computer programs used in the process fall under the Azure Machine Learning and the Azure IoT Hub platforms. In September 2018, Microsoft discontinued Skype Classic. On October 10, 2018, Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network community despite holding more than 60,000 patents.

February 20, 2019 Microsoft Corp said it will offer its cyber security service AccountGuard to 12 new markets in Europe including Germany, France and Spain, to close security gaps and protect customers in political space from hacking. In February 2019, hundreds of Microsoft employees protested the company's war profiteering from a $480 million contract to develop virtual reality headsets for the United States Army.

2011-2014: Windows 8/8.1, Xbox One, Outlook.com, and Surface Devices

Following the release of Windows Phone, Microsoft undertook a gradual rebranding of its product range throughout 2011 and 2012, with the corporation's logos, products, services and websites adopting the principles and concepts of the Metro design language. Microsoft unveiled Windows 8, an operating system designed to power both personal computers and tablet computers, in Taipei in June 2011. A developer preview was released on September 13, which was subsequently replaced by a consumer preview on February 29, 2012, and released to the public in May. The Surface was unveiled on June 18, becoming the first computer in the company's history to have its hardware made by Microsoft. On June 25, Microsoft paid US$1.2 billion to buy the social network Yammer. On July 31, they launched the Outlook.com webmail service to compete with Gmail. On September 4, 2012, Microsoft released Windows Server 2012.

In July 2012, Microsoft sold its 50% stake in MSNBC, which it had run as a joint venture with NBC since 1996. On October 1, Microsoft announced its intention to launch a news operation, part of a new-look MSN, with Windows 8 later in the month. On October 26, 2012, Microsoft launched Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface. Three days later, Windows Phone 8 was launched. To cope with the potential for an increase in demand for products and services, Microsoft opened a number of "holiday stores" across the U.S. to complement the increasing number of "bricks-and-mortar" Microsoft Stores that opened in 2012. On March 29, 2013, Microsoft launched a Patent Tracker.

The Kinect, a motion-sensing input device made by Microsoft and designed as a video game controller, first introduced in November 2010, was upgraded for the 2013 release of the Xbox One video game console. Kinect's capabilities were revealed in May 2013: an ultra-wide 1080p camera, function in the dark due to an infrared sensor, higher-end processing power and new software, the ability to distinguish between fine movements (such as a thumb movements), and determining a user's heart rate by looking at their face.

In line with the maturing PC business, in July 2013, Microsoft announced that it would reorganize the business into four new business divisions, namely Operating System, Apps, Cloud, and Devices. All previous divisions will be dissolved into new divisions without any workforce cuts. On September 3, 2013, Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia's mobile unit for $7 billion, following Amy Hood taking the role of CFO.

2007 - 2011

Released in January 2007, the next version of Windows, Vista, focused on features, security and a redesigned user interface dubbed Aero. Microsoft Office 2007, released at the same time, featured a "Ribbon" user interface which was a significant departure from its predecessors. Relatively strong sales of both products helped to produce a record profit in 2007. The European Union imposed another fine of €899 million ($1.4 billion) for Microsoft's lack of compliance with the March 2004 judgment on February 27, 2008, saying that the company charged rivals unreasonable prices for key information about its work-group and back-office servers. Microsoft stated that it was in compliance and that "these fines are about the past issues that have been resolved". 2007 also saw the creation of a multi-core unit at Microsoft, following the steps of server companies such as Sun and IBM.

Gates retired from his role as Chief Software Architect on June 27, 2008, a decision announced in June 2006, while retaining other positions related to the company in addition to being an advisor for the company on key projects. Azure Services Platform, the company's entry into the cloud computing market for Windows, launched on October 27, 2008. On February 12, 2009, Microsoft announced its intent to open a chain of Microsoft-branded retail stores, and on October 22, 2009, the first retail Microsoft Store opened in Scottsdale, Arizona; the same day Windows 7 was officially released to the public. Windows 7's focus was on refining Vista with ease-of-use features and performance enhancements, rather than an extensive reworking of Windows.

As the smartphone industry boomed in 2007, Microsoft had struggled to keep up with its rivals Apple and Google in providing a modern smartphone operating system. As a result, in 2010 Microsoft revamped their aging flagship mobile operating system, Windows Mobile, replacing it with the new Windows Phone OS. Microsoft implemented a new strategy for the software industry that had them working more closely with smartphone manufacturers, such as Nokia, and providing a consistent user experience across all smartphones using the Windows Phone OS. It used a new user interface design language, code-named "Metro", which prominently used simple shapes, typography and iconography, utilizing the concept of minimalism. Microsoft is a founding member of the Open Networking Foundation started on March 23, 2011. Fellow founders were Google, HP Networking, Yahoo!, Verizon Communications, Deutsche Telekom and 17 other companies. This nonprofit organization is focused on providing support for a new cloud computing initiative called Software-Defined Networking. The initiative is meant to speed innovation through simple software changes in telecommunications networks, wireless networks, data centers and other networking areas.

Corporate Affairs

Board of Directors

The company is run by a board of directors made up of mostly company outsiders, as is customary for publicly traded companies. Members of the board of directors as of January 2018 are Bill Gates, Satya Nadella, Reid Hoffman, Lee Johnson, Teri L. List-Stoll, Charles Noski, Helmut Panke, Sandi Peterson, Penny Pritzker, Charles W. Scharf, Arne Sorenson, John W. Stanton, John W. Thompson and Padmasree Warrior. Board members are elected every year at the annual shareholders' meeting using a majority vote system. 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.

Financial

When Microsoft went public and launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1986, the opening stock price was $21; after the trading day, the price closed at $27.75. As of July 2010, with the company's nine stock splits, any IPO shares would be multiplied by 288; if one were to buy the IPO today, given the splits and other factors, it would cost about 9 cents. The stock price peaked in 1999 at around $119 ($60.928, adjusting for splits). The company began to offer a dividend on January 16, 2003, starting at eight cents per share for the fiscal year followed by a dividend of sixteen cents per share the subsequent year, switching from yearly to quarterly dividends in 2005 with eight cents a share per quarter and a special one-time payout of three dollars per share for the second quarter of the fiscal year. Though the company had subsequent increases in dividend payouts, the price of Microsoft's stock remained steady for years.

United States Government

Microsoft provides information about reported bugs in their software to intelligence agencies of the United States government, prior to the public release of the fix. A Microsoft spokesperson has stated that the corporation runs several programs that facilitate the sharing of such information with the U.S. government. Following media reports about PRISM, NSA's massive electronic surveillance program, in May 2013, several technology companies were identified as participants, including Microsoft. According to leaks of said program, Microsoft joined the PRISM program in 2007. However, in June 2013, an official statement from Microsoft flatly denied their participation in the program: "We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data, we don't participate in it."

During the first six months in 2013, Microsoft had received requests that affected between 15,000 and 15,999 accounts. In December 2013, the company made statement to further emphasize the fact that they take their customers' privacy and data protection very seriously, even saying that "government snooping potentially now constitutes an "advanced persistent threat," alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks". The statement also marked the beginning of three-part program to enhance Microsoft's encryption and transparency efforts. On July 1, 2014, as part of this program they opened the first (of many) Microsoft Transparency Center, that provides "participating governments with the ability to review source code for our key products, assure themselves of their software integrity, and confirm there are no "back doors." Microsoft has also argued that the United States Congress should enact strong privacy regulations to protect consumer data.

In April 2016, the company sued the U.S. government, arguing that secrecy orders were preventing the company from disclosing warrants to customers in violation of the company's and customers' rights. Microsoft argued that it was unconstitutional for the government to indefinitely ban Microsoft from informing its users that the government was requesting their emails and other documents, and that the Fourth Amendment made it so people or businesses had the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property. On October 23, 2017, Microsoft said it would drop the lawsuit as a result of a policy change by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). The DoJ had "changed data request rules on alerting Internet users about agencies accessing their information."

Headquarters

The corporate headquarters, informally known as the Microsoft Redmond campus, is located at One Microsoft Way in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft initially moved onto the grounds of the campus on February 26, 1986, weeks before the company went public on March 13. The headquarters has since experienced multiple expansions since its establishment. It is estimated to encompass over 8 million ft2 (750,000 m2) of office space and 30,000–40,000 employees. Additional offices are located in Bellevue and Issaquah, Washington (90,000 employees worldwide). The company is planning to upgrade its Mountain View, California, campus on a grand scale. The company has occupied this campus since 1981. In 2016, the company bought the 32-acre campus, with plans to renovate and expand it by 25%. Microsoft operates an East Coast headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Flagship Stores

On October 26, 2015, the company opened its retail location on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The location features a five-story glass storefront and is 22,270 square feet. As per company executives, Microsoft had been on the lookout for a flagship location since 2009. The company's retail locations are part of a greater strategy to help build a connection with its consumers. The opening of the store coincided with the launch of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4. On November 12, 2015, Microsoft opened a second flagship store, located in Sydney's Pitt Street Mall.

Microsoft adopted the so-called "Pac-Man Logo", designed by Scott Baker, in 1987. Baker stated "The new logo, in Helvetica italic typeface, has a slash between the o and s to emphasize the "soft" part of the name and convey motion and speed." Dave Norris 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. Microsoft's logo with the tagline "Your potential. Our passion." — below the main corporate name — is based on a slogan Microsoft used in 2008. In 2002, the company started using the logo in the United States and eventually started a television campaign with the slogan, changed from the previous tagline of "Where do you want to go today?" During the private MGX (Microsoft Global Exchange) conference in 2010, Microsoft unveiled the company's next tagline, "Be What's Next." They also had a slogan/tagline "Making it all make sense."

On August 23, 2012, Microsoft unveiled a new corporate logo at the opening of its 23rd Microsoft store in Boston, indicating the company's shift of focus from the classic style to the tile-centric modern interface, which it uses/will use on the Windows Phone platform, Xbox 360, Windows 8 and the upcoming Office Suites. The new logo also includes four squares with the colors of the then-current Windows logo which have been used to represent Microsoft's four major products: Windows (blue), Office (red), Xbox (green) and Bing (yellow). The logo resembles the opening of one of the commercials for Windows 95.

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