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Microsoft (Sometimes stylized 'Micro$oft') is a software company founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen and headquartered in Redmond, Washington. Its main product has been operating systems for personal computers based on Intel and later ARM microprocessors.[note 1] Microsoft also has an applications division with a focus on business software, including word processor, database, spreadsheet and email applications. It has the majority market share of the PC operating system market and its Xbox series of consoles has a fairly large share of the video game console market, except in Japan. Other ventures are in software development (Visual Studio and .NET), servers (Windows Server), cloud services (Windows Azure), telecommunications (Skype), phones (Windows Phone),[note 2] embedded hardware (POS Machines, handhelds), peripherals (Keyboards, Mice, Headsets, etc.) and basic scientific research (No reallyWikipedia). They have formerly owned half of MSNBC before their share was sold to NBC Universal.

There are some groups that argue that Microsoft has unfairly abused its market position.

Business practices[edit]

Microsoft's business strategy consists mostly of leveraging to try and minimize user defections to non-Microsoft software. For instance, Microsoft heavily relied upon the anti-competitive bullshitting tactic, "Embrace, extend and extinguish." It has also entered into restrictive contracts with computer manufacturers requiring their operating systems to be installed on any computer sold by the manufacturers, and allowing Microsoft to specify which OS. This led to Vista, known for being a technical and critical disaster, being installed on many new machines where the customer would have preferred Windows XP. The rapid release of the widely successful Windows 7 alleviated much of these concerns, while Windows 8 adopted a more rapid upgrade system, with the first incremental upgrade one year after release.

Microsoft offers very substantial discounts to corporate clients for OSs and applications. Many of these contracts prohibit non-Microsoft products from being used by the company, even where that product may provide a better result.[citation needed] There have been continuing conflicts between competitors and Microsoft about information on OS calls required by applications to run efficiently.[citation needed]

Microsoft has used its market position to simply take (See EEE above) or duplicate a product and include it with new operating systems;[citation needed] they have frequently lost court cases and been compelled to pay for those products.[citation needed] Internet Explorer was such a product, originating as a version of the first web browser, Mosaic; in Windows 98 Internet Explorer was engineered to be as deeply integrated into the operating system as possible, leading to Microsoft claiming that excising the TridentWikipedia engine off Windows would lead to instability. While Microsoft was indeed correct in some way as components such as HTML Help and those that depend on IE/Trident would no longer function correctly, third party tools such as 98Lite rendered Microsoft's claims moot point as it replaced the IE-dependent portions of the OS such as Windows Explorer with those from Windows 95.

Microsoft would later be forced to sell versions of Windows with Internet Explorer and/or Media Player removed in certain territories such as Europe and South Korea under the N and KN designations respectively. These editions come with a selection screen allowing users to choose their preferred browser in place of Internet Explorer.


Historically, Microsoft's main competition was Apple.[note 3] The difference in hardware and relatively low volumes meant that Apple hardware was not a viable market for a DOS or Windows version. Apple blinked and went with an Intel processor architecture in the mid-2000s, due in part to issues with the PowerPC architecture, particularly the G5 which ran hot. Many Apple machines during that period are able to dual boot Windows and the native Apple operating system. Apple initially had an advantage in the graphics market, but with the state of hardware and DirectX over OpenGL, it's typically a push, unless you bring costs into the equation. Apple again transitioned to their own in-house developed ARM processors based off the ones they used for iPhones and other iDevices, but while Microsoft has ported Windows to ARM,[note 4] Apple has so far not provided an official Boot Camp implementation for their ARM-based devices running their in-house designed silicon,[note 5] instead directing users who need to run a different OS to resort to virtualization software such as Parallels or QEMU. Apple also provided a set of tools for developers to aid in porting Windows games to macOS though a fork of WINEWikipedia called the Game Porting Toolkit.

In the operating system market only Apple's Mac OS X and the free Linux are putting up a fight — the former being a certified variant of Unix[note 6] and the latter an uncertified variant — and there are of course different versions of Unix and Unix-like operating systems and a few word processing/typesetting systems but these typically run on special hardware, for example the IBM RISC system running IBM's version of UNIX. While Microsoft Windows dominate the market of operating systems for personal computers, high-end machines — mainframes, servers, and supercomputers — typically run on Linux distribution.

Microsoft also competes in other areas, like with Google (search, ads, mail, web browsing, phone/tablet software and cloud storage), Apple (phone/tablet software), Oracle (Java vs. .NET and cloud computing), FOSS (on virtually every front), Sony and Nintendo (video games). They have since given up on the mobile operating system space however, conceding to Android which has been the default operating system on some of their Surface-branded smart devices.

Key people[edit]

Bill Gates[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Bill Gates

While his business practices make him a complete oddball, since taking a more minor role at Microsoft he has begun the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dedicated to charity around the world.[1] As the world's largest private foundation it promotes agriculture, sanitation, vaccines and education to the world with crazy amounts of funding.

Due to Gates' concern about the risk of high population growth to social stability (particularly in Africa),[2] and Gates' belief that improved healthcare—including vaccinations—naturally reduces the amount of children a couple wish to have,[3] Gates naturally has been a subject of depopulation conspiracy theories, particularly among the anti-vaccination movement.[4]

Likewise, Gates' prominent role in world health charity, combined with his previous correct predictions about the dangers of a large-scale pandemic and his indirect criticism of Donald Trump's poor response to the pandemic, has (of course) led him to being the subject of many conspiracy theories related to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[5][6]

Steve Ballmer[edit]

The previous CEO of Microsoft oversaw what was considered a downturn of Microsoft's place in the market. By failing to adapt quickly enough in certain areas (Mobile Development, for example), Microsoft lost market share in pretty much every category. Thank God he's gone, and now spends his time running the mostly harmless Los Angeles Clippers.[note 7]

Satya Nadella[edit]

Before you ask "Who?" this guy was the head of server and tools division before being thrust into the CEO role. If there's one thing he's good at, it's making money. He's educated as a computer scientist and businessman, and has Hit Refresh[7] on the company in enough ways to have it trade for most valuable public company on the planet again.[8] Of notable things in his tenure is a focus on software and services over devices (introducing Windows 10, the end of the phone line, promoting Phil Spencer to take gaming as a serious prospect, the acquisition of GitHub in 2018 for some examples) and larger acceptance of open source items (.NET Core, Chromium Edge, Linux Subsystem, Visual Studio Code).

Nadella has raised some controversy with his sexist comment that women should not ask for a pay raise, but instead rely on karma giving them the pay they deserve.[9] He walked that back later.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Variants of Windows exist for Intel i860, DEC Alpha, Itanium, MIPS, and PowerPC, but these were later phased out as workstations using said architecture became obsolete in favor of equivalent x86 and ARM machines.
  2. They have since retired both Windows CE (and Windows Mobile in particular) and the NT-based Windows Phone operating systems due to its dismal market share. Perhaps in a stroke of irony, Microsoft released Surface-branded phablets running a near-stock Android distribution with only some mild changes on Microsoft's side.
  3. Microsoft does develop software for Apple's Mac OS and Microsoft Office for Mac is pretty popular.
  4. Especially for low-power internet appliances such as cellphones, tablets and laptops; Microsoft has had several attempts at breaking into the cellular space with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile (as well as the infamous KIN project based on Windows CE), but all of them were written off as utter failures, at one point taking Nokia's former cellphone division along with it.
  5. Though projects such as Asahi Linux do give ARM Mac users the means to boot Linux on their Macs regardless.
  6. Via the DarwinWikipedia (not to be confused with Charles) codebase, which is certified as UnixWikipedia by The Open GroupWikipedia, which holds the Unix UNIX® trademark.
  7. Cocaine is a hell of a drug.


  1. Internal Microsoft emails were divulged during antitrust hearings and revealed Gates to be involved with usability at the lowest level: Full text: An epic Bill Gates e-mail rant
  2. "Bill Gates has a warning about population growth", World Economic Forum, September 19, 2018.
  3. Herper, M. (November 2, 2011). "With Vaccines, Bill Gates Changes The World Again", Forbes.
  4. Kasprak, A. (March 10, 2017). "Did Bill Gates Admit Vaccinations Are Designed So Governments Can Depopulate the World?", Snopes.
  5. Greene, J. (May 2, 2020). "The billionaire who cried pandemic", The Washington Post.
  6. Wakabayashi, D. (April 17, 2020). "Bill Gates, at Odds With Trump on Virus, Becomes a Right-Wing Target", The New York Times.
  7. Its the name of his book on how he rebooted Microsoft