The US-based company Microsoft has long been considered a champion of innovation since it was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates, who is departing the company on June 27 and leaving the reins to top executive Steve Ballmer.
Microsoft was created on April 4, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Its headquarters are located in Redmond, Washington in the northwestern United States. The company has locations in 104 countries and employs 80,000 people, 60 percent of whom work in the United States.
Microsoft has become one of the world’s top companies and the uncontested global leader in software due to its two star products: the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office.
The company’s task now is to tackle the online advertising market, where it faces steep competition from Internet giant Google which has mounted a massive challenge to Microsoft’s dominance by launching a series of free Internet software products last year
Microsoft’s Windows runs on more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, which means it is used on nearly a billion machines worldwide. Microsoft Office, which includes applications such as Word and Excel, also has captured around 90 percent of the office software market.
Microsoft has regularly faced antitrust accusations, and was forced to pay a record fine of 497 million Euros by the European Commission, which imposed the fine in March 2004 and saw it upheld in September 2007.
Products Microsoft has developed include portals and search engines on MSN Internet, in television with the MSNBC news channel and website, the online edition of the encyclopedia Encarta and in products such as the Microsoft mouse, the personal music player Zune and the Xbox game console, one of the highest selling in the world.
With shares being traded since March 13, 1986, Microsoft has the third highest stock market capitalisation in the United States with 270 billion dollars, far ahead of its rivals Google, IBM and Apple.
Microsoft posted 51.12 billion dollars in sales for the fiscal year 2006-2007 and net profits of 14.07 billion dollars and aims to sell 60 billion dollars worth of goods in the present cycle.