Microsoft Corporation (/ˈmaɪkrəˌsɒft/, abbreviated as MS)
is an American multinational technology company with headquarters in
Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and
sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and
services. Its best known software products are the
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
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 was founded by
Paul Allen and
Bill Gates 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
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
$26.2 billion in December 2016, followed by
Skype Technologies for
$8.5 billion in May 2011.
As of 2015[update],
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 and servers,
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
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.
1.1 1972–1985: The founding of Microsoft
1.2 1985–1994: Windows and Office
1.3 1995–2007: Foray into the Web, Windows 95, Windows XP, and Xbox
Microsoft Azure, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and
1.5 2011–2014: Windows 8/8.1,
Xbox One, Outlook.com, and Surface
1.6 2014–present: Windows 10,
Windows 10 Mobile,
Microsoft Edge and
1.6.1 Corporate affairs
3 Corporate affairs
3.1 Board of Directors
United States government
4 Corporate identity
4.1 Corporate culture
4.4 Flagship stores
6 External links
Main articles: History of Microsoft,
History of Microsoft
History of Microsoft Windows, and
Timeline of Microsoft
1972–1985: The founding of Microsoft
Paul Allen and
Bill Gates pose for the camera on October 19, 1981, in
a sea of PCs after signing a pivotal contract with IBM.:228
Paul Allen and
Bill Gates sought to make a
successful business utilizing their shared skills in computer
programming. In 1972 they founded their first company, named
Traf-O-Data, which sold a rudimentary computer to track and analyze
automobile traffic data. While Gates enrolled at Harvard, Allen
pursued a degree in computer science at Washington State University,
though he later dropped out of school to work at Honeywell. The
January 1975 issue of
Popular Electronics featured Micro
Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems's (MITS) Altair 8800
microcomputer, which inspired Allen to suggest that they could
BASIC interpreter for the device. After a call from Gates
claiming to have a working interpreter, MITS requested a
demonstration. Since they didn't yet have one, Allen worked on a
simulator for the Altair while Gates developed the interpreter.
Although they developed the interpreter on a simulator and not the
actual device, it worked flawlessly when they (in March 1975)
demonstrated the interpreter to MITS in Albuquerque, New Mexico. MITS
agreed to distribute it, marketing it as Altair BASIC.:108,
112–114 Gates and Allen officially established
Microsoft on April 4,
1975, with Gates as the CEO. The original name of "Micro-Soft" was
suggested by Allen. In August 1977 the company formed an
agreement with ASCII Magazine in Japan, resulting in its first
international office, "ASCII Microsoft".
Microsoft moved to a new
Bellevue, Washington in January 1979.
Microsoft entered the operating system (OS) business in 1980 with its
own version of Unix, called Xenix. However, it was
solidified the company's dominance. After negotiations with Digital
IBM awarded a contract to
Microsoft in November 1980
to provide a version of the
CP/M OS, which was set to be used in the
IBM Personal Computer
IBM Personal Computer (
IBM PC). For this deal, Microsoft
CP/M clone called
Seattle Computer Products,
which it branded as MS-DOS, though
IBM rebranded it to PC DOS.
Following the release of the
IBM PC in August 1981,
ownership of MS-DOS. Since
IBM had copyrighted the
IBM PC BIOS, other
companies had to reverse engineer it in order for non-
IBM hardware to
IBM PC compatibles, but no such restriction applied to the
operating systems. Due to various factors, such as MS-DOS's available
Microsoft eventually became the leading PC
operating systems vendor.:210 The company expanded into new
markets with the release of the
Microsoft Mouse in 1983, as well as
with a publishing division named
Microsoft Press.:232 Paul Allen
Microsoft in 1983 after developing Hodgkin's
disease. Allen claimed that Gates wanted to dilute his share in
the company when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease because he
didn’t think he was working hard enough. After leaving
Microsoft, Allen lost billions of dollars on ill-conceived or mistimed
technology investments. He later invested in low-tech sectors, sports
teams, and commercial real estate.
1985–1994: Windows and Office
Windows 1.0 was released on November 20, 1985 as the first version of
Microsoft Windows line
Timeline of Windows
Despite having begun jointly developing a new operating system, OS/2,
IBM in August 1985,
Microsoft Windows, a
graphical extension for MS-DOS, on November 20.:242–243, 246
Microsoft moved its headquarters to Redmond on February 26, 1986, and
on March 13 went public, with the resulting rise in stock making
an estimated four billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft
Microsoft released its version of
OS/2 to original
equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on April 2, 1987. In 1990, due to
the partnership with IBM, the
Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission set its eye on
Microsoft for possible collusion, marking the beginning of over a
decade of legal clashes with the U.S. government. :243–244
Meanwhile, the company was at work on a
NT, which was heavily based on their copy of the
OS/2 code. It shipped
on July 21, 1993, with a new modular kernel and the Win32 application
programming interface (API), making porting from
Windows easier. Once
IBM of NT, the OS/2
Microsoft introduced its office suite,
Microsoft Office. The
suite bundled separate productivity applications, such as Microsoft
Microsoft Excel.:301 On May 22,
Windows 3.0, featuring streamlined user interface graphics and
improved protected mode capability for the
Intel 386 processor.
Both Office and Windows became dominant in their respective
On July 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice,
filed a Competitive Impact Statement that said, in part: "Beginning in
1988, and continuing until July 15, 1994,
Microsoft induced many OEMs
to execute anti-competitive "per processor" licenses. Under a per
processor license, an OEM pays
Microsoft a royalty for each computer
it sells containing a particular microprocessor, whether the OEM sells
the computer with a
Microsoft operating system or a non-Microsoft
operating system. In effect, the royalty payment to
Microsoft when no
Microsoft product is being used acts as a penalty, or tax, on the
OEM's use of a competing PC operating system. Since 1988, Microsoft's
use of per processor licenses has increased."
1995–2007: Foray into the Web, Windows 95, Windows XP, and Xbox
Microsoft released the first installment in the
Xbox series of
consoles in 2001. The Xbox, graphically powerful compared to its
rivals, featured a standard PC's 733 MHz
Intel Pentium III processor.
Following Bill Gates's internal "
Internet Tidal Wave memo" on May 26,
Microsoft began to redefine its offerings and expand its product
line into computer networking and the World Wide Web. The company
Windows 95 on August 24, 1995, featuring pre-emptive
multitasking, a completely new user interface with a novel start
32-bit compatibility; similar to NT, it provided the Win32
Windows 95 came bundled with the online service MSN
(which was at first intended to be a competitor to the Internet), and
Internet Explorer, a web browser.
Internet Explorer was not
bundled with the retail
Windows 95 boxes because the boxes were
printed before the team finished the web browser, and instead was
included in the
Windows 95 Plus! pack. Branching out into new
markets in 1996,
Microsoft and General Electric's
NBC unit created a
24/7 cable news channel, MSNBC.
Microsoft created Windows CE
1.0, a new OS designed for devices with low memory and other
constraints, such as personal digital assistants. In October 1997,
the Justice Department filed a motion in the Federal District Court,
Microsoft violated an agreement signed in 1994 and asked
the court to stop the bundling of
Internet Explorer with
Microsoft released Windows CE, a version of the operating
system meant for personal digital assistants and other tiny computers.
On January 13, 2000,
Bill Gates handed over the CEO position to Steve
Ballmer, an old college friend of Gates and employee of the company
since 1980, while creating a new position for himself as Chief
Software Architect.:111, 228 Various companies including
Microsoft formed the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance in October
1999 to (among other things) increase security and protect
intellectual property through identifying changes in hardware and
software. Critics decried the alliance as a way to enforce
indiscriminate restrictions over how consumers use software, and over
how computers behave, and as a form of digital rights management: for
example the scenario where a computer is not only secured for its
owner, but also secured against its owner as well. On April 3,
2000, a judgment was handed down in the case of
United States v.
Microsoft, calling the company an "abusive monopoly."
Microsoft later settled with the U.S. Department of Justice in
2004. On October 25, 2001,
Microsoft released Windows XP, unifying
the mainstream and NT lines of OS under the NT codebase. The
company released the
Xbox later that year, entering the game console
market dominated by
Sony and Nintendo. In March 2004 the European
Union brought antitrust legal action against the company, citing it
abused its dominance with the Windows OS, resulting in a judgment of
€497 million ($613 million) and requiring
produce new versions of
Windows XP without Windows Media Player:
Windows XP Home Edition N and
Windows XP Professional N. In
November 2005, the
Xbox 360 was released. There were two versions, a
no-frills version for $299.99 and a bells-and-whistles version for
Microsoft Azure, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Microsoft
Steve Ballmer at the MIX event in 2008. In an interview about his
management style in 2005, he mentioned that his first priority was to
get the people he delegates to in order. Ballmer also emphasized the
need to continue pursuing new technologies even if initial attempts
fail, citing the original attempts with Windows as an example.
Released in January 2007, the next version of Windows, Vista, focused
on features, security and a redesigned user interface dubbed
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 workgroup and backoffice 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 a large reworking
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
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, codenamed
"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,
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
2011–2014: Windows 8/8.1,
Xbox One, Outlook.com, and Surface devices
Start screen on Windows 8.1
Surface Pro 3, part of the Surface series of laplets by Microsoft
Xbox One console
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,
Microsoft released Windows Server 2012.
In July 2012,
Microsoft sold its 50% stake in MSNBC.com, 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,
Windows 8 and the
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,
a Patent Tracker.
The Kinect, a motion-sensing input device made by
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.
Microsoft filed a patent application in 2011 that suggests that the
corporation may use the
Kinect camera system to monitor the behavior
of television viewers as part of a plan to make the viewing experience
more interactive. On July 19, 2013,
Microsoft stocks suffered its
biggest one-day percentage sell-off since the year 2000, after its
fourth-quarter report raised concerns among the investors on the poor
showings of both
Windows 8 and the Surface tablet.
a loss of more than US$32 billion.
In line with the maturing PC business, in July 2013, Microsoft
announced that it would reorganize the business into four new business
divisions: Operating System, Apps, Cloud, and Devices. All previous
divisions will be diluted into new divisions without any workforce
cut. On September 3, 2013,
Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia's mobile
unit for $7 billion, following
Amy Hood taking the role of
2014–present: Windows 10,
Windows 10 Mobile,
Microsoft Edge and
John W. Thompson
John W. Thompson has been appointed the chairman of Microsoft, taking
over from Bill Gates.
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,
Nokia Devices and Services for
$7.2 billion. This new subsidiary was renamed
Oy. In May 2016, the company announced its laying off 1,850
workers, taking an impairment and restructuring charge of $950
million. During the previous summer of 2015 the company lost $7.6
billion related to its mobile-phone business, firing 7,800
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. As of 2017, the company is organised into
three operating business units, and four operating development or
On January 21, 2015,
Microsoft announced the release of their first
Microsoft Surface Hub. On July 29, 2015,
Windows 10 was released, with its server sibling, Windows Server
2016, released in September 2016.
In Q1 2015,
Microsoft was the third largest maker of mobile phones,
selling 33 million units (7.2% of all). While a large majority (at
least 75%) of them do not run any version of
Windows Phone – those
other phones are not categorized as smartphones by Gartner – in the
same time frame 8 million Windows smartphones (2.5% of all
smartphones) were made by all manufacturers (but mostly by
Microsoft). Microsoft's share of the U.S. smartphone market in
January 2016 was 2.7%.
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. Intune for Education is a new cloud-based application and
device management service for the education sector. Microsoft
planned to launch a preview of Intune for Education "in the coming
weeks", with general availability scheduled for spring 2017, priced at
$30 per device, or through volume licensing agreements.
In June 2016,
Microsoft announced a project named
Information Protection. It aims to help enterprises protect their data
as it moves between servers and devices. In November 2016,
Microsoft joined the
Linux Foundation as a Platinum member during
Microsoft’s Connect(); developer event in New York. The cost of
each Platinum membership is US$500,000 per year. Some analysts
deemed this unthinkable ten years prior, however, as in 2001 then-CEO
Steve Ballmer called
Microsoft engineering groups
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January
Criticism of Microsoft
Criticism of Microsoft and Embrace, extend, and extinguish
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 2016 are John W. Thompson, Bill
Gates, Teri L. List-Stoll, Mason Morfit, Satya Nadella, Charles Noski,
Helmut Panke, Sandi Peterson, Charles W. Scharf, John W. Stanton, 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.
Five year history graph of NASDAQ: MSFT stock on July 17,
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.:235–236 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
Standard and Poor's
Standard and Poor's and
Moody's have both given a AAA rating to
Microsoft, whose assets were valued at $41 billion as compared to
only $8.5 billion in unsecured debt. Consequently, in February
Microsoft released a corporate bond amounting to
$2.25 billion with relatively low borrowing rates compared to
government bonds. For the first time in 20 years Apple Inc.
Microsoft in Q1 2011 quarterly profits and revenues due to a
slowdown in PC sales and continuing huge losses in Microsoft's Online
Services Division (which contains its search engine Bing). Microsoft
profits were $5.2 billion, while
Apple Inc. profits were $6 billion,
on revenues of $14.5 billion and $24.7 billion respectively.
Microsoft's Online Services Division has been continuously loss-making
since 2006 and in Q1 2011 it lost $726 million. This follows a loss of
$2.5 billion for the year 2010.
On July 20, 2012,
Microsoft posted its first quarterly loss ever,
despite earning record revenues for the quarter and fiscal year, with
a net loss of $492 million due to a writedown related to the
advertising company aQuantive, which had been acquired for $6.2
billion back in 2007. As of January 2014, Microsoft's market
capitalization stood at $314B, making it the 8th largest company
in the world by market capitalization. On November 14, 2014,
Microsoft overtook Exxon Mobil to become the 2nd most valuable company
by market capitalization, behind only
Apple Inc. Its total market
value was over $410B — with the stock price hitting $50.04 a
share, the highest since early 2000. In 2015,
Microsoft Corp had earnings abroad of $76.4 billion which were
untaxed by the IRS. Under U.S. law corporations don't pay income tax
on overseas profits until the profits are brought into the United
Windows 8 Launch Event in Akihabara, Tokyo on October 25, 2012
Microsoft commissioned research firms to do independent
studies comparing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Windows Server
2003 to Linux; the firms concluded that companies found Windows easier
to administrate than Linux, thus those using Windows would
administrate faster resulting in lower costs for their company (i.e.
lower TCO). This spurred a wave of related studies; a study by
Yankee Group concluded that upgrading from one version of Windows
Server to another costs a fraction of the switching costs from Windows
Server to Linux, although companies surveyed noted the increased
security and reliability of
Linux servers and concern about being
locked into using
Microsoft products. Another study, released by
the Open Source Development Labs, claimed that the
were "simply outdated and one-sided" and their survey concluded that
the TCO of
Linux was lower due to
Linux administrators managing more
servers on average and other reasons.
As part of the "Get the Facts" campaign,
Microsoft highlighted the
.NET trading platform that it had developed in partnership with
Accenture for the
Stock Exchange, claiming that it provided
"five nines" reliability. After suffering extended downtime and
unreliability the LSE announced in 2009 that it was planning
to drop its
Microsoft solution and switch to a Linux-based one in
Microsoft hired a political pollster named Mark Penn, whom
the New York Times called "famous for bulldozing" his political
opponents as Executive Vice-President, Advertising and Strategy.
Penn created a series of negative ads targeting one of Microsoft's
chief competitors, Google. The ads, called "Scroogled", attempt to
make the case that
Google is "screwing" consumers with search results
rigged to favor Google's paid advertisers, that
Gmail violates the
privacy of its users to place ad results related to the content of
their emails and shopping results which favor
Google products. Tech
publications like TechCrunch have been highly critical of the ad
Google employees have embraced it.
Main article: Criticism of Microsoft
In July 2014,
Microsoft announced plans to lay off 18,000 employees.
Microsoft employed 127,104 people as of June 5, 2014, making this
about a 14 percent reduction of its workforce as the biggest Microsoft
lay off ever. This included 12,500 professional and factory personnel.
Microsoft has laid off 5,800 jobs in 2009 in line with US
financial crisis. In September 2014,
Microsoft laid off
2,100 people, including 747 people in the Seattle-Redmond area, where
the company is headquartered. The firings came as a second wave of the
layoffs that were previously announced. This brings the total number
to over 15,000 out of the 18,000 expected cuts. In October 2014,
Microsoft revealed that it was almost done with the elimination of
18,000 employees which was its largest ever layoff sweep. In July
Microsoft announced another 7,800 job cuts in the next several
months. In May 2016,
Microsoft announced another 1,850 job cuts
mostly in (Nokia) mobile phone division. As a result, the company will
record an impairment and restructuring charge of approximately $950
million, of which approximately $200 million will relate to severance
United States government
Main article: Criticism of Microsoft
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
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
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
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
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
Microsoft said it would drop the lawsuit as a result of a
policy change by the Department of Justice (DoJ). The DoJ had
“changed data request rules on alerting internet users about
agencies accessing their information.” The new policy mandated
defined periods of time for secrecy orders from the government.
The Commons, located on the campus of the company's headquarters in
Building 92, home of the
Microsoft Visitor Center
Technical reference for developers and articles for various Microsoft
magazines such as
Microsoft Systems Journal (MSJ) are available
Microsoft Developer Network (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. In April 2004
Microsoft launched a
community site for developers and users, titled Channel 9, that
provides a wiki and an
Internet forum. Another community site
that provides daily videocasts and other services, On10.net, launched
on March 3, 2006. Free technical support is traditionally
provided through online
Usenet newsgroups, and
CompuServe in the past,
Microsoft employees; there can be several newsgroups for
a single product. Helpful people can be elected by peers or Microsoft
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status, which
entitles them to a sort of special social status and possibilities for
awards and other benefits.
Noted for its internal lexicon, the expression "eating our own dog
food" is used to describe the policy of using pre-release and beta
versions of products inside
Microsoft in an effort to test them in
"real-world" situations. This is usually shortened to just "dog
food" and is used as noun, verb, and adjective. Another bit of jargon,
FYIFV or FYIV ("Fuck You, I'm [Fully] Vested"), is used by an employee
to indicate they are financially independent and can avoid work
anytime they wish. The company is also known for its hiring
process, mimicked in other organizations and dubbed the "Microsoft
interview", which is notorious for off-the-wall questions such as "Why
is a manhole cover round?".
Microsoft is an outspoken opponent of the cap on H1B visas, which
allow companies in the U.S. to employ certain foreign workers. Bill
Gates claims the cap on H1B visas makes it difficult to hire employees
for the company, stating "I'd certainly get rid of the H1B cap" in
2005. Critics of H1B visas argue that relaxing the limits would
result in increased unemployment for U.S. citizens due to H1B workers
working for lower salaries. The
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Campaign Corporate
Equality Index, a report of how progressive the organization deems
company policies towards
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual)
Microsoft as 87% from 2002 to 2004 and as 100% from
2005 to 2010 after they allowed gender expression.
Greenpeace released a report rating the top ten big brands in
cloud computing on their sources of electricity for their data
centers. At the time, data centers consumed up to 2% of all global
electricity and this amount was projected to increase.
Phil Radford of
Greenpeace said "we are concerned that this new explosion in
electricity use could lock us into old, polluting energy sources
instead of the clean energy available today," and called on
Microsoft and other leaders of the information-technology
industry must embrace clean energy to power their cloud-based data
centers." In 2013,
Microsoft agreed to buy power generated by a
Texas wind project to power one of its data centers.
ranked on the 17th place in Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics
(16th Edition) that ranks 18 electronics manufacturers according to
their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.
Microsoft's timeline for phasing out brominated flame retardant (BFRs)
and phthalates in all products is 2012 but its commitment to phasing
PVC is not clear. As of January 2011, it has no products that are
completely free from
PVC and BFRs.
Microsoft's main U.S. campus received a silver certification from the
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program in 2008,
and it installed over 2,000 solar panels on top of its buildings in
Silicon Valley campus, generating approximately 15 percent of the
total energy needed by the facilities in April 2005. Microsoft
makes use of alternative forms of transit. It created one of the
world's largest private bus systems, the "Connector", to transport
people from outside the company; for on-campus transportation, the
"Shuttle Connect" uses a large fleet of hybrid cars to save fuel. The
company also subsidises regional public transport, provided by Sound
Transit and King County Metro, as an incentive. In February
Microsoft took a stance against adding additional public
transport and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to the State Route
520 and its floating bridge connecting Redmond to Seattle; the company
did not want to delay the construction any further.
ranked number 1 in the list of the World's Best Multinational
Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute in 2011.
The corporate headquarters, informally known as the
campus, is located at
One Microsoft Way
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
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. The company is planning to buy the 32-acre
campus. The plans submitted involve expanding the campus by 25%.
It is expected that it will take three years to complete the
expansion. If approved, construction will start in early 2017.
Microsoft operates an East Coast headquarters in Charlotte, North
On October 26, 2015, the company opened its flagship 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
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
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
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.
Microsoft logo, in 1975
Microsoft logo, in 1980
Microsoft logo, in 1982
Microsoft "Pac-Man" logo, designed by Scott Baker and
used from 1987 to 2012
Microsoft logo, introduced on August 23,
The company was the official jersey sponsor of Finland's national
basketball team at the 2015 EuroBasket.
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