Microsoft Corporation is a leading developer of software systems and applications for personal computers. The company also manufactures its own line of hybrid tablet computers, provides e-mail services, and sells electronic gaming systems and computer peripherals (input/output devices). It has distribution branches all over the globe. Microsoft has research laboratories in Cambridge, England (1997), Beijing, China (1998), Bengaluru, India (2005), Cambridge, Massachusetts (2008), New York, New York (2012), and Montreal, Canada(2015), in addition to its corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, United States (1997).
In 1975, two childhood friends from Seattle, Bill Gates and Paul G. Allen, converted BASIC, a common mainframe computer programming language, for use on the Altair, an early personal computer (PC). Gates and Allen created Microsoft not long after, naming it after the terms microcomputer and software. They refined BASIC and created other programming languages over the next few years.In 1980, IBM asked Microsoft to create the critical program, or operating system, for the IBM PC, which was the company’s first personal computer. Microsoft bought another company’s operating system, changed it, and renamed it MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System).In 1981, MS-DOS was released alongside the IBM PC. Following that, most personal computer manufacturers licensed MS-DOS as their operating system, generating massive revenues for Microsoft; by the early 1990s, it had sold over 100 million copies of the program, defeating rival operating systems like CP/M, which it displaced in the early 1980s, and later IBM OS/2. With Windows, a graphical user interface that saw its third version released in 1990, Microsoft solidified its place in operating systems.
By 1993, Windows 3.0 and subsequent versions were selling one million copies every month, and Microsoft’s operating system was installed on approximately 90% of the world’s computers. In 1995, the company launched Windows 95, which completely merged MS-DOS with Windows for the first time and effectively matched Apple Computer’s Mac OS in terms of ease of use. Microsoft has surpassed long-time rivals Lotus and WordPerfect as the market leader in productivity applications such as word processors and spreadsheet programs.
Microsoft’s electronic publishing division, which was established in 1985 and is best known for its online encyclopedia Encarta, has grown dramatically. It has joined the information services and entertainment sectors with a variety of goods and services, including the Microsoft Network and MSNBC, among others (a joint venture with the National Broadcasting Company, a major American television network, which began in 1995 and ended in 2012).
In 2001, Microsoft began preparing a massive overhaul of all of its operating systems. The Longhorn project was delayed several times, owing to attempts to resolve the public’s increasing concern about computer security and customers’ desire for PCs to be more integrated with a full range of entertainment equipment in the modern electronic home. The business restarted, and the renamed Vista operating system was released to other software developers in late 2006 and to the general public in 2007. Vista, like most modern operating systems, had some compatibility issues with older computer peripherals at first. The new operating system’s “bloated” configuration was more troublesome, requiring a very fast microprocessor and a lot of dedicated machine memory to run properly.Many businesses and individuals were deterred from upgrading from earlier, perfectly serviceable systems such as Windows XP because of its high resource requirements (derived from the term Windows Experience). Furthermore, customers were perplexed by the various Vista options—Home (Basic or Premium), Ultimate, Enterprise, and others—while business users (Microsoft’s core market) resisted the big UI update and refused to port their internal applications to the new system.