Microsoft Wiki

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is an American multinational computer technology corporation that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products for computing devices.

Headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA, its best-known software products are the Microsoft Windows operating system, the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface line of touchscreen personal computers.

As of the third quarter of 2009, Microsoft was ranked as the third largest company in the world, following PetroChina and ExxonMobil. It is also one of the largest technological corporations in the world. It is considered one of the Big Five companies in the U.S. information technology industry, along with Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Apple, and Meta (Facebook).

Microsoft possesses footholds in other markets than just IT software, with assets such as the MSNBC cable television network and the MSN Internet portal. The company also markets both computer hardware products such as the Microsoft mouse and the Microsoft Natural keyboard, as well as home entertainment products such as the Xbox, Xbox 360, Zune and MSN TV.

The company's initial public offering (IPO) was in 1986; the ensuing rise of the company's stock price has made four billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees.


Paper tape of BASIC for the Altair 8800

The company was founded as "Micro-Soft" on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800.[2] Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by the Windows line of operating systems. Many of its products have achieved near-ubiquity in the personal computer market. One commentator notes that Microsoft's original mission was "a computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software."


History of Microsoft -- 1975

Throughout its history the company has been the target of criticism, including monopolistic business practices and anti-competitive strategies including refusal to deal and tying. The U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission, among others, have ruled against Microsoft for antitrust violations. (see also United States v. Microsoft, European Union Microsoft antitrust case)


Product divisions

The management and finances of Microsoft's products are currently arranged into five business divisions:

  • Windows & Windows Live Division - The Microsoft Windows product family, the Windows Live online services, and managing relationships with OEMs
  • Server and Tools: Server software products, services and solutions, including: Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, Silverlight, System Center products, Forefront security products, Biz Talk, and Microsoft Consulting Services.
  • Online Services Division: Consists of an online advertising platform with offerings for publishers and advertisers, and online information offerings such as Bing and the MSN portals and channels.
  • Microsoft Business Division: Includes the Microsoft Office suites, desktop programs, servers, and services and solutions; Microsoft Dynamics; and Unified Communications business solutions.
  • Entertainment and Devices Division: Xbox, Xbox Live, Zune, Mediaroom, mobile and embedded device platforms, Surface computing platform, and Windows Automotive.

Board of directors

John W. Thompson and Satya Nadella of the Microsoft 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).

Current members of the board of directors are:[3]

  • Satya Nadella - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
  • John W. Thompson - Lead independent director, Microsoft; Chairman, Illumina
  • Reid Hoffman - Parter, Greylock Partners
  • Hugh Johnston - Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, PepsiCo
  • Teri List - Former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Gap Inc.
  • Sandra E. Peterson - Operating Partner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
  • Penny Pritzker - Founder and Chairman, PSP Partners
  • Charles W. Scharf - CEO and President, Wells Fargo & Company
  • John W. Stanton - Chairman, Trilogy Partnerships
  • Emma Walmsley - CEO, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Padmasree Warrior - Founder, CEO and President, Fable Group Inc.

The board members are elected every year at the annual shareholders' meeting, and those who do not get a majority of votes must submit a resignation to the board, which will subsequently choose whether or not to accept the resignation.

There are four 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 Governance and Nominating Committee, which handles various corporate matters including nomination of the board; and the Regulatory and Public Policy, which oversees the company practices to comply with laws and regulations.[4]

Satya Nadella (center) with Microsoft's former CEOs Bill Gates (left) and Steve Ballmer (right).

Chief executives

  1. Bill Gates (1975-2000)
  2. Steve Ballmer (2000-2014)
  3. Satya Nadella (since 2014)

Other corporate structures

There are several other aspects to the corporate structure of Microsoft. For worldwide matters there is the Executive Team, made up of sixteen company officers across the globe, which is charged with various duties including making sure employees understand Microsoft's culture of business. The sixteen officers of the Executive Team include the Chairman and Chief Software Architect, the CEO, the General Counsel and Secretary, the CFO, senior and group vice presidents from the business units, the CEO of the Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions; and the heads of Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services; Human Resources; and Corporate Marketing. In addition to the Executive Team there is also the Corporate Staff Council, which handles all major staff functions of the company, including approving corporate policies. The Corporate Staff Council is made up of employees from the Law and Corporate Affairs, Finance, Human Resources, Corporate Marketing, and Advanced Strategy and Policy groups at Microsoft. Other Executive Officers include the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the various product divisions, leaders of the marketing section, and the CTO, among others.


Criticism of Microsoft has followed various aspects of its products and business practices. Issues with ease of use, robustness, and security of the company's software are common targets for critics. In the 2000s, a number of malware mishaps have targeted security flaws in Microsoft Windows and other programs. Microsoft is also accused of locking vendors and consumers into their products, and of not following and complying with existing standards in its software. Total cost of ownership comparisons of Linux to Windows are a continuous point of debate.

The company has been the subject of numerous lawsuits by several governments and other companies for unlawful monopolistic practices. In 2004, the European Union found Microsoft guilty in the European Union Microsoft competition case. Additionally, EULAs for Microsoft programs are often criticized as being too restrictive.


  1. Bill Gates: A Timeline, BBC News Online. 2006-07-15.
  2. Bill Gates & Paul Allen Talk: Check out the ultimate buddy act in business history by Brent Schlender and Henry Goldblatt, CNN Money. 1995-10-02.
  3. Leadership, Microsoft. Accessed 2021-06-17.
  4. Board Committees, Microsoft. Accessed 2021-03-12.

See also

External links

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Bill GatesPaul Allen
Board of directors
Dina Dublon · Bill Gates · Raymond Gilmartin · Reed Hastings · Maria Klawe · David Marquardt · Satya Nadella · Charles Noski · Helmut Panke
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Satya Nadella (CEO) · Scott Guthrie · Amy Hood (CFO) · Harry Shum · Phil Spencer
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