Rolling back the years

Having recently been valued at over $1 trillion on the stock market, and with revenue rising by %14 to $30.6 billion in its fourth quarter due to growth in the Cloud and software investment, we take a look back at the history of Microsoft to celebrate the company’s highs and lows.

April 1975 – Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft

Childhood friends, computer fanatics Bill Gates and Paul Allen go into business together after Allen persuades Gates to join him on a technology venture.

Setting up Microsoft HQ in Albuquerque, New Mexico the company name derives from the combination of words microcomputer and software. Here the duo produce microprocessors and software for the early PC, Altair 8800.

August 1977 – First International office

Expanding to Japan, the first international office is called ASCII Microsoft.

August 1980 – Microsoft/IBM deal

In Microsoft’s first major deal, IBM ask for an operating system to be developed and produced for their first PC.

When the PC was released in August 1980 it dominated the market, and used the MS-DOS produced by Microsoft. This originated from the “QDOS” system they bought from Seattle Computer Products.

April 1982 – An international division is set up

Microsoft’s first official international division is set up in Europe, and aimed at finding local agents to handle overseas business deals within developing markets.

May 1983 – Microsoft Multi-Tol Word is released

The company’s precursor to Microsoft Word, after a slow start later iterations would come to dominate the market – with Word still being used to this day.

September 1985 – Microsoft release Excel

Looking to compete and challenge IBM’s success with Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft released Microsoft Excel – which became (and still is) the market leader in spreadsheet programs.

A month later Windows 1.0, a simple computer system with a basic graphical user interface (GUI), is also released.

February – March 1986 – Moving home

Moving from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Redmond, Washington in February 1986, Microsoft went public with an IPO and raised $61 million in the March of the same year.

It sold at $21 a share and was an instant market success.

March 1988 – Competition

Apple sue Microsoft over the GUI likeness to its Lisa interface system. The two go on to become bitter rivals for almost a decade.

November 1990 – Office

Microsoft’s C-Suite, headed by Gates, decide to bundle its top client software into one package for PCs. This was to be called Microsoft Office. Combining Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, later interfaces would join later – such as Publisher and Outlook.

This decision made Microsoft the go-to for user friendly business tools.

August 1995 – Windows 95

After a string of operating system upgrades and releases, Gates and Allen decide to release Windows 95. Selling seven million copies in its first five weeks, the operating system became the most popular on the market.

Released without a web browser, Windows 95 helped establish Microsoft as the empire it is today.

The same year Microsoft announce a partnership with NBC to create a cable news station on TV called MSNBC, which still ranks number 2 across all cable television in terms of viewership as of 2018.

August 1997 – Feud over

Apple announce it will partner with Microsoft to bring the Office feature to Macintosh. The $150 million investment saves Apple from the brink of bankruptcy.

Steve Jobs is quoted in TIME Magazine in a conversation with Bill Gates crediting him with ‘saving Apple’.

Windows 98 is then released on Mac and includes Windows Internet Explorer – a web navigator that held the most popular title until 2005 when Firefox surpassed it.

1998 – Expansion and trouble

Launching an Indian HQ – it’s second largest after the original US HQ, in the same year Microsoft is caught in a legal battle with the Department of

Justice for illegally reducing the competition in order to protect its market share.

It’s packaged web browser and Office features had to be separated into two packages – Microsoft Office systems and Internet Explorer.

January 2000 – Gates to Ballmer

A court ruling by Judge Jackson in 2000 would have forced Microsoft to separate into two companies. However, this was rejected by the Court of Appeals and Steve Ballmer, who was Gates’ school friend and right-hand-man, replaces him as CEO.

October – November 2001 – XP and XBOX

Microsoft launch and release two products that would go on to become market leaders in their industry – XP and XBOX.
Windows XP was reported in a Techland feature to have sold over 17 million copies in just two months, with XBOX enjoying similar success – reaching 24 million units sold by May 2006 (first six months of release).

The father to the next two models, 360 (2005) and One (2013) a combined total of 120 million units were sold. XBOX gaming consoles was now a new branch of the company.

January 2007 – Windows Vista

Launching on the 30th January, Microsoft announce that more than 20 million copies were sold in the month following the new OS release. This was double that of XP in its first month.

June 2008 – Gates Retires

Wanting to devote more time to his philanthropy, Bill Gates retires as the Chief Software Architect with Ray Ozzie taking over. Ozzie is credited with developing Windows Azure.

November 2010 – Microsoft goes mobile

The announcement of a Windows phone was highly anticipated, but with no app store comparable to Android or Apple, the phone flopped and was discontinued.

After failing to establish themselves in the market, Microsoft buy Nokia in September 2013 to increase its presence.

May 2011 – Skype joins Microsoft

In a deal valued at $8.5 billion, Microsoft adds video and voice calling to its empire when it acquires Skype. Coming days after Google and Facebook express interest, this is to be Microsoft’s biggest ever acquisition purchase – breaking the $6 billion benchmark set in 2007 for aQuantive.

February 2014 – New CEO

Steve Ballmer steps down and Satya Nadella, the current Microsoft CEO, takes over but faces backlash over a statement made at a Women in Computing event. A month later he announces the debut of ‘Cortana’, Microsoft’s personal computer assistant.

July 2015 – Last operating system

In a statement made with the release of Windows 10, Nadella announces this will be the last operating system Microsoft will make. With a universal application across all Microsoft family products, it’s an end of an era for the company.  

2016 – 2017 – Spending spree

Microsoft buy a series of companies in 2016, such as SwiftKey, Xamarin, LinkedIn and Cloudyn.

March 2018 – Lawsuits

A lawsuit reported by the Guardian claimed Microsoft had failed to redress 238 internal complaints of sexual harassment, discrimination and rape.

Apologising, the company pledges to spend $55 million a year on ‘innovative diversity and inclusion programmes… [that] are critically important to Microsoft’.

April 2019 – Stock market value reaches a Trillion

Continuing to improve its performance and compete on the highest level, Microsoft stock market values hits $1 trillion.

To find out more about how Microsoft Dynamics fits into this timeline and how we can help you, please get in touch.