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Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44.28 billion and 71,553 employees in 102 countries as of July 2006. The company is the world's largest software company by sales, profit or market capitalization. It develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products for computing devices. Headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA, its best selling products are the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, each of which has achieved near-ubiquity in the desktop computer market. Microsoft possesses footholds in other markets, such as server software with Windows Server System, developer tools with Visual Studio, the MSN Internet portal, and the Microsoft Encarta multimedia encyclopedia. The company also markets home entertainment products such as the Xbox, Xbox 360 and MSN TV.
Microsoft's name, originally bi-capitalized as MicroSoft or with hyphenation as Micro-Soft, is a portmanteau of "microcomputer software" and is often abbreviated as MS. The company was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 4, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. After the market saw a flood of IBM PC clones in the mid-1980s, Microsoft used its new position, which it gained in part due to a contract from IBM, to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS, which stood for Microsoft Disk Operating System. The company later released an initial public offering (IPO) in the stock market, which netted several of its employees millions of dollars due to the ensuing rise of the stock price. The price of the stock continued its rise steadily into the early 2000s. In Microsoft Windows, originally an add-on for MS-DOS, the company was selling what would become the most widely used operating system in the world; Microsoft continued to push into multiple markets, such as computer hardware and television. In addition, Microsoft has historically given customer support over Usenet newsgroups and the World Wide Web, and awards Microsoft MVP status to volunteers who are deemed helpful in assisting the company's customers.
With what is generally described as a developer-centric business culture, Microsoft has become widely known for some of its internal codes of conduct for its employees. One example is the principle "eat your own dog food", which describes the practice of using pre-release products inside the company to test them in an environment geared towards the real world. Microsoft has been convicted of monopolistic business practices the U.S. Justice Department, among others, has sued Microsoft for antitrust violations and software bundling. The slogan "embrace, extend, and extinguish" is often used to describe Microsoft's strategy for entering product categories involving widely-used standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and then using those differences to disadvantage its competitors. In addition, Microsoft has been criticized for the insecurity of its software. However, Microsoft has won several awards, such as the "1993 Most Innovative Company Operating in the U.S." by Fortune magazine, as well as maintaining a place on the Fortune 500 list of companies as of 2006.
To be more precise in tracking performance of each unit and delegating responsibility, Microsoft reorganized into seven core business groups each an independent financial entity in April 2002. Later, on September 20, 2005, Microsoft announced a rationalization of its original seven business groups into the three core divisions that exist today: the Windows Client, MSN and Server and Tool groups were merged into the Microsoft Platform Products & Services Division; the Information Worker and Microsoft Business Solutions groups were merged into the Microsoft Business Division; and the Mobile and Embedded Devices and Home and Entertainment groups were merged into the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division.
Microsoft has often been described as having a developer-centric business culture. A great deal of time and money is spent each year on recruiting young university-trained software developers and on keeping them in the company. For example, while many software companies often place an entry-level software developer in a cubicle desk within a large office space filled with other cubicles, Microsoft assigns a private or semiprivate closed office to every developer or pair of developers. In addition, key decision makers at every level are either developers or former developers. In a sense, the software developers at Microsoft are considered the "stars" of the company in the same way that the sales staff at IBM are considered the "stars" of their company.
Within Microsoft the expression "eating our own dog food" is used to describe the policy of using the latest Microsoft products inside the company in an effort to test them in "real-world" situations. Only prerelease and beta versions of products are considered dog food. This is usually shortened to just "dog food" and is used as noun, verb, and adjective. The company is also known for their hiring process, dubbed the "Microsoft interview", which is notorious for off-the-wall questions such as "Why is a manhole cover round?" and is a process often mimicked in other organizations, although these types of questions are rarer now than they were in the past. For fun, Microsoft also hosts the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt, an annual puzzle hunt (a live puzzle game where teams compete to solve a series of puzzles) held at the Redmond campus. It is a spin-off of the MIT Mystery Hunt.
As of 2006, Microsoft employees, not including Bill Gates, have given over $2.5billion dollars to non-profit organizations worldwide, making Microsoft the worldwide top company in per-employee donations.
Technical reference for developers and articles for various Microsoft magazines such as Microsoft Systems Journal (or MSJ) are available through the Microsoft Developer Network, often called 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 recent years, Microsoft launched a community site for developers and users, entitled Channel 9, which provides many modern features such as a wiki and an Internet forum. Another community site that provides daily videocasts and other services, On10.net, launched on March 3, 2006.
Most free technical support available through Microsoft is provided through online Usenet newsgroups (in the early days it was also provided on CompuServe). There are several of these newsgroups for nearly every product Microsoft provides, and often they are monitored by Microsoft employees. People who are helpful on the newsgroups can be elected by other peers or Microsoft employees for Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status, which entitles people to a sort of special social status, in addition to possibilities for awards and other benefits.
The company is run by a Board of Directors consisting of ten people, made up of mostly company outsiders (as is customary for publicly traded companies). Current members of the board of directors of Microsoft are: Steve Ballmer, James Cash, Jr., Dina Dublon, Bill Gates, Raymond Gilmartin, Ann Korologos, David Marquardt, Charles Noski, Helmut Panke, and Jon Shirley. The ten 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 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.
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.
When the company debuted its IPO in March 13, 1986, the stock price was US$21. By the close of the first trading day, the stock had closed at US$28, equivalent to 9.7 cents when adjusted for the company's first nine splits. The initial close and ensuing rise in subsequent years made several Microsoft employees millionaires. The stock price peaked in 1999 at around US$119 (US$60.928 adjusting for splits). While the company has had nine stock splits, the first of which was in September 18, 1987, the company did not start offering a dividend until January 16, 2003. The dividend for the 2003 fiscal year was eight cents per share, followed by a dividend of sixteen cents per share the subsequent year. The company switched from yearly to quarterly dividends in 2005, for eight cents a share per quarter with a special one-time payout of three dollars per share for the second quarter of the fiscal year.
Around 2003 the stock price began a slow descent. Despite the company's ninth split on February 2, 2003 and subsequent increases in dividend payouts, the price of Microsoft's stock continues to stagnate as of June 2006.
In 2005, Microsoft received a 100% rating in the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign relating to its policies concerning LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) employees. Partly through the work of the Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) group, Microsoft added gender expression to its antidiscrimination policies in April 2005, and the Human Rights Campaign upgraded Microsoft's Corporate Equality Index from its 86% rating in 2004 to its current 100% rating, putting it among the most progressive companies in the world, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
In April 2005, Microsoft received wide criticism for withdrawing support from Washington state's H.B. 1515 bill that would have extended the state's current antidiscrimination laws to people with alternate sexual orientations, although some claim they never withdrew support and instead simply were neutral on the bill. However, under harsh criticism from both outside and inside the company's walls, Microsoft decided to support the bill again in May 2005.
Microsoft hires many foreign workers as well as domestic ones, and is an outspoken opponent of the cap on H1B visas, which allow companies in the United States to employ certain foreign workers. Bill Gates claims the cap on H1B visas make it difficult to hire employees for the company, stating "I'd certainly get rid of the H1B cap."
Working Mother magazine named Microsoft one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 and 2005.
In 2005, Microsoft submitted 2,145 H1B Visa petitions and was ranked No. 2 on the list of 2005 Top 500 H1B Visa Sponsors, according to myVisaJobs.Com H1B Visa Reports. The median annual salary of H1B Visa Holder is $80,226.
Logos and slogans
In 1987, Microsoft adopted its current logo, the so-called "Pacman Logo" designed by Scott Baker. According to the March 1987 Computer Reseller News Magazine, "The new logo, in Helvetica italic typeface, has a slash between the o and s to emphasize the "soft" part of the name and convey motion and speed." Dave Norris, a Microsoft employee, 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 depicted here, with the "Your potential. Our passion." tagline below the main corporate name, is based on the slogan Microsoft had as of 2006. In 2002, the company started using the logo in the United States and eventually started a TV campaign with the slogan, changed from the previous tagline of "Where do you want to go today?." Like some of Microsoft's other actions, the slogan met its fair share of criticism. For example, in his ThirdWay Advertising Blog, David Vinjamuri states that while "This is gorgeous, touching advertising of the type that wins awards," he ends by noting that the slogan "Only reminds us what we don't like about the brand. Can it."
Microsoft.com is one of the most popular destinations on the internet. It receives more than 100 million hits per day from across the globe. According to Alexa.com, Microsoft.com is currently ranked 16th amongst all websites for Traffic Rank.
- in William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer, a microsoft is a small wedgelike piece of firmware that a human can access via insertion in an implant in their nervous system.
- Pirates of Silicon Valley A movie based on the rise of Apple and Microsoft.
- Actimates Set of toys developed by Microsoft.
- Pcsafety Part of Microsoft's technical support that deals with malware and virus issues.
- Trustworthy Computing Microsoft's initiative for increasing security and reliability on PCs.
- Scenario Voting Microsoft's new system of obtaining customer satisfaction on Windows Vista
- Ultra Mobile PC Joint specification by Microsoft and others for a small form factor tablet PC.
- Microsoft Studios A division responsible for the creation of video content for Microsoft and its partners.
- Microsoft European Science Award award sponsored by Microsoft Research and awarded by the Royal Society in London
- La morsure du dragon by JF Susbielle is a French novel in which China bans Microsoft
- MSN The Microsoft Network, a collection of Internet services provided by Microsoft.
- List of assets owned by Microsoft Corporation
- List of companies acquired by Microsoft Corporation
- List of Microsoft software applications
- List of Microsoft topics
References and footnotes
- ^ a b Bill Gates: A Timeline. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ a b c d Microsoft Fourth Quarter FY 2006 Earnings Release.
- ^ a b MICROSOFT CORP: Company Overview. Reuters. Retrieved on 2006-05-24.
- ^ a b Fast Facts about Microsoft. Retrieved on 27 July 2006.
- ^ a b c Microsoft 2005 Annual Report. Retrieved on 1 October 2005.
- ^ The History of Computing Project - January 3, 1975
- ^ Microsoft history at the History of Computing Project. Retrieved on August 11, 2005.
- ^ a b Corps Law Blog:The Greatest IPO Ever. Retrieved on 9 October 2005.
- ^ a b Julie Bick. "The Microsoft Millionaires Come of Age", The New York Times, 2005-05-29. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ "Windows," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006. Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ^ Microsoft Design. Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ^ Microsoft profits disappoint. BBC News (2002-04-18). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ^ Matthew Fordahl (2005-08-05). Beta version of Microsoft's Vista shows a lot of potential potential. Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ^ Microsoft history at the History of Computing Project (Part 2). Retrieved on August 11, 2005.
- ^ a b Multiple:
- Hiawatha Bray (2005-06-13). Somehow, Usenet lumbers on. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- "Microsoft MVP FAQ". Retrieved on 2006-07-01.
- ^ a b Multiple:
- Charles, John. "Indecent proposal? Doing Business With Microsoft". IEEE Software (January/February 1998): 113-117.
- Jennifer Edstrom; Marlin Eller (1998). Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from inside. N.Y. Holt. ISBN 0-8050-5754-4.
- Fred Moody (1995). I Sing the Body Electronic: A Year With Microsoft on the Multimedia Frontier. Viking. ISBN 0-670-84875-1.
- Michael A. Cusumano; Richard W. Selby (1995). Microsoft Secrets: How the World's Most Powerful Software Company Creates Technology, Shapes Markets and Manages People. Free Press. ISBN 0-684-85531-3.
- ^ a b Microsoft tests its own 'dog food'. Retrieved on 2005-10-09.
- ^ United States v. Microsoft. Retrieved on August 5, 2005. homepage at the United States Department of Justice
- ^ Will Rodger (1998-11-08). Intel exec: MS wanted to 'extend, embrace and extinguish' competition. ZDNet News. Retrieved on 2006-05-18.
- ^ Rob Pegoraro (2003-09-24). Microsoft Windows: Insecure by Design. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2006-05-19.
- ^ a b Awards received by Microsoft. Retrieved on 2006-07-01.
- ^ Microsoft product groups. Retrieved on August 5, 2005.
- ^ Announcement of group reorganization intro three core divisions. Retrieved on September 26, 2005.
- ^ Square Manhole Covers and Crazy Questions. Retrieved on 2006-07-01.
- ^ List of Microsoft Puzzle Hunts. Retrieved on 14 October 2005.
- ^ Microsoft Employee Giving. Retrieved on 22 September 2006.
- ^ MSDN Subscription FAQ. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ Microsoft Systems Journal Homepage. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ Microsoft's Channel 9 And Cultural Rules. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ On10.net homepage. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Microsoft Corporation Corporate Governance Guidelines. Retrieved on 9 October 2005.
- ^ Microsoft 2005 Proxy Statement. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ Microsoft 2004 Citizenship Report. Retrieved on 9 October 2005.
- ^ Microsoft stock FAQ. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ a b c d Microsoft stock price spreadsheet from Microsoft investor relations. Retrieved on 2006-07-04. (Microsoft Excel format)
- ^ a b c d Microsoft dividend FAQ. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
- ^ Yahoo MSFT stock chart. Retrieved on 9 October 2005.
- ^ MSN Money MSFT chart with dividend and split info. Retrieved on 9 October 2005.
- ^ Gates stepping down from full-time Microsoft role, page 2. Retrieved on 2006-07-04.
- ^ HRC Corporate Equality Index for 2005. Retrieved on October 13, 2005. (PDF format)
- ^ Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM). Retrieved on 2006-06-26.
- ^ HRC: Microsoft withdraws support for H.B. 1515. Retrieved on August 11, 2005.
- ^ HRC: Microsoft renews support for H.B. 1515. Retrieved on August 11, 2005.
- ^ "How Microsoft Changed Its Mind", BusinessWeek, 2005-05-12. Retrieved on 2006-07-01.
- ^ Larry Osterman. Remember the blibbet. Retrieved on 2006-07-04.
- ^ a b The Rise and Rise of the Redmond Empire. Wired (December 1998). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ^ a b c Randi Schmelzer. "McCann Thinks Local for Global Microsoft", Adweek, 2006-01-09. Retrieved on 2006-05-18.
- ^ Jeremy Reimer (2006-01-23). Microsoft set to launch new marketing campaign. arstechnica. Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ^ Microsoft "Your potential. Our passion". Retrieved on 2006-05-18.
- ^ Alexa - Related info for: Microsoft.com. Retrieved on 2006-10-09.
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- Reuters 'Microsoft Corporation Company Overview - Reuters'
- Google Special Search: Microsoft 'Search Microsoft-related pages'
- Techbooksforfree.com 'Collection of free downloadable books available from Microsoft'
- Microsoft Versus 'Dissecting Microsoft'
- Microsoft 'Official website'
- Microsoft 'Preview of the Updated Official website' (has been reported to redirect to the normal official website in some instances)
- Microsoft Update 'Official update site'
- Microsoft Security Bulletins 'Official security update site'
- Microsoft Worldwide Home 'International Portal'
- Yahoo! Finance 'Microsoft Corporation Company Profile - Yahoo'
- Conference call transcripts 'Microsoft's most recent conference call transcripts'
- CNN 'Microsoft CEO before the US Congress (includes audio)'
- Arcon5.com Microsoft News 'Arcon5: Microsoft News'
- Microsoft Monitor 'News, research and analysis from Jupiter Research'
- Unauthorized Microsoft Weblog 'Stay up to date on various news and developments around Microsoft'