The biggest software making company in the world, Microsoft has always been a part of our lives. At least for millennials. The biggest software company in the world was set up way back in the 1980s. A small idea of developing a software company of a Harvard University drop out is now a reality for billions around the world. Today, the company has completed it’s 39 years of journey. So we have come up to you with a historical timeline of How Microsoft became the software giant as we know it today.

  • In the year, 1975, a 19-year-old  young boy Bill Gates dropped out his studies at Harvard University and went on to find Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen on 4th April 1974. They made their first product – a BASIC programming code interpreter for the Altair 8800 microcomputer.
  • On 26th November 1976, Allen came up with the companies former incarnation ‘Micro-Soft’ which is a combination of Microcomputer & Software.
  • In 1979, their sales reached $1 million at the end of 1978, the company was moved to Bellevue, Washington, from its former home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • In June 1980, Gates recruited Steve Ballmer, his former Harvard classmate and appointed him as the company’s first business manager.
  • In June 1981, the business was restructured to be incorporated as a company and Bill Gates became the CEO of the company.
Microsoft co-founders Paul Allen (L) & Bill Gates (R)
  • In August 1981, Microsoft released its new operating software Microsoft Disk Operating System which is renowned by the name MS-DOS. It began running on IBM’s personal computers. This was a significant moment for Microsoft’s future domination in the field of personal computing systems.
  • In 1983, Microsoft announced its new software “Windows,” which aimed at enhancing the MS-DOS interface with visual features.
  • After spending two straight years in the development process, “Windows 1.0” made its debut in the market & company began to ship it in the year 1985. Unlike the company’s former OS, MS-DOS, which was challenging to operate for users, the system would easily run on clicks of a device called ‘mouse’. It worked through tasks on screens a.k.a “windows.” Hence the name “Windows OS’
  • In 1986, Company decided to move its corporate head office to Redmond, Washington. Also, It started IPO’s at $21 per share and was able to raise about $60 million.
  • The company released its 3rd mainstream software in the year 1987 ‘Windows-2.0’,  Eventually, computers started becoming more popular in the offices. This made Microsoft the largest PC software company in the world in 1988.
  • In 1990, the company launched it’s another OS Windows 3.0
  • In 1995, looking at the growing popularity of computer and software Microsoft launched the most revolutionary OS, Windows 95. The software sold 1 million copies in just 4 days. In the era when the internet was a mystery to everyone, the managed to reach 1 million users. Sales of personal computers reached a never before seen heights when people brought the computer into homes, schools and business, This era is famously known as “Windows era”.
  • To make the world access internet on their computers, Microsoft introduced its Web browser “Internet Explorer” by the end of the year 1995.
  • In the year 1998, another revolutionary OS of the company, Windows 98 was released. It was the 1st ever version of Windows which was focused on consumer needs. 
  • Later in the same year, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust charge against Microsoft on the grounds that it is bundling its programs into its operating systems. The petitioners accused the company of trying to use its dominance in the software market to create monopoly & push competitors out of business.
  • The company got its second CEO in 2000 – Ballmer, another college mate of Bill Gates from Harvard, succeeded Gates in January. 
  • In 2001, the company was able to make a settlement with the US Justice Department regarding the 1998 case. That year in November, Microsoft entered the gaming market by the release of its Xbox gaming console in North America. The game needs no introduction today.
  • The company moved a step ahead in its gaming business and launched the next-generation Xbox 360. It’s sales began in November 2005.
  • In 2006, Microsoft launched it’s music player device ‘Zune Portable Music Player’. This was the first device to compete for the Apple Incorporation’s iPod which already dominated the portable music player market. However, the music player was not a success and the company ultimately had to discontinue it by the end of 2012.
  • Further, in January 2007 Microsoft released it’s least popular OS ‘Windows Vista’. It was also not a successful product.
  • Microsoft withdrew its former search engine ‘MSN Search’ from the market. It was done to deal with the competition of Google’s dominance in the field of Web search and advertising. In May 2009, Ballmer unveiled Microsoft’s new search engine, named “Bing.” However, until today, it has not been able to match the competition of Google.
  • Windows launched its phone-based OS to incorporate in mobile o\phones. This was a step to enter the mobile phone market by the side of Apple’s iOS-based iPhones & Google’s Android-based phones. However, Microsoft based phones are still on the 3rd ranking in the world after Apple & Android.
  • In 2012, Microsoft launched its  Surface tablets and a Windows 8 OS that assists touch commands. The tablets, however, have not been able to compete with Apple’s iPad, Amazon Inc’s Kindle and Samsung tablet devices. 
  • On August 23rd 2013, Ballmer announced that he will step down of his position of CEO within 12 coming months. This was surprising news for the whole industry.
  • Satya Nadella becomes 3rd CEO of Microsoft on 4th February 2014 as a result of a unanimous selection of Company’s Board. He is a 46-year-old, Indian-born executive who was the main person behind the creation of Microsoft’s Internet-based or “cloud” computing services. 
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Satya Nadella addresses the media during an event in New Delhi September 30, 2014
  • In July 2015, Microsoft released it’s another one of the most successful and advanced OS Windows 10

So many ups and downs in the history of the company. Must share this information with your tech freak friends.