American public multinational corporation headquartered in
Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses,
and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly
related to computing through its various product divisions.
Established on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters
for the Altair 8800, Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer
operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by
the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems. Microsoft would
also come to dominate the office suite market with Microsoft Office.
The company has diversified in recent years into the video game
industry with the Xbox and its successor, the Xbox 360 as well as
into the consumer electronics and digital services market with Zune,
MSN and the Windows Phone OS. The ensuing rise of stock in the
company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO) made an estimated four
billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees. In
May 2011, Microsoft Corporation acquired Skype Communications
for $8.5 billion dollars.
Primarily in the 1990s, critics contend Microsoft used monopolistic
business practices and anti-competitive strategies including refusal
to deal and tying, put unreasonable restrictions in the use of its
software, and used misrepresentative marketing tactics; both the
U.S. Department of Justice and European Commission found the
company in violation of antitrust laws. Known for its interviewing
process with obscure questions, various studies and ratings were
generally favorable to Microsoft's diversity within the company as
well as its overall environmental impact with the exception of the
electronics portion of the business.