Microsoft Corp., one of the world's biggest tech companies, sells personal computing devices, cloud systems and services, software and other products. Microsoft is listed on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol, MSFT.

The company was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in a garage in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Five years later, Gates and Allen were hired to provide the operating system for IBM's first personal computer, followed in 1985 by Microsoft's launch of its now ubiquitous Windows software product. In 1986, the company raised $61 million in an initial public offering (IPO) that some analysts referred to as "the deal of the year." By the late 1980s, Microsoft became the world's largest personal-computer software company. The Redmond, Washington-based company's stock rose more than a hundred-fold in the ten years after the IPO, and today it's one of the world's largest companies by market value. 

With products geared toward both consumers and businesses, Microsoft competes in a broad range of industries against companies including Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and Oracle Corp. (ORCL).

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Microsoft's Latest Developments

  • On September 9, 2021, Microsoft said it will no longer set a date by which it would fully reopen its offices. Microsoft has previously been set to fully reopen offices as of Oct. 4, 2021.
  • On August 31, 2021, Microsoft announced that the newest version of its Windows operating system, Windows 11, will be released on Oct. 5, 2021.
  • On August 25, 2021 the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft had recruited Charlie Bell as a corporate vice president. Bell had worked for over 20 years as a senior vice president as Amazon Web Services with Andy Jassy, who is now Amazon's CEO.
  • On August 19, 2021, Microsoft announced the first significant price increase for Microsoft 365 since 2011. The monthly price increases, which go into effect on March 1, 2022 are as follows: Microsoft Business Basic will go from $5 to $6, Microsoft Business Premium will go from $20 to $22, Microsoft 365 E3 will go from $32 to $36, Office 365 E1 will go from $8 to $10, Office 365 E3 will go from $20 to $23, and Office 364 E5 will go from $35 to $38.
  • On August 10, 2021, reporting by Washington Technology and Nextgov showed that Microsoft challenged the decision by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to award a $10 billion contract to Amazon. The protest was originally filed with the Government Accountability Office (GOA) on July 21, 2021. The exact nature of the contract is not known.
  • On July 28, 2021 Microsoft released its Q4 FY 2021 earnings report. It exceeded analysts' expectations on revenue and earnings per share (EPS).
  • On July 15, 2021 Microsoft announced a third major security vulnerability relating to the Windows Print Spooler Program. The currently suggested workaround from Microsoft is "stopping and disabling the Print Spooler service.
  • On July 6, 2021, Microsoft released a patch to attempt to address a new security threat called "PrintNightmare." The exploit allows hackers to take control of computers through Windows Print Spooler, the software that controls the order in which documents are sent to the printer. The vulnerability was initially publicized when cybersecurity company Sangfor published a guide showing that an already patched vulnerability in the program was worse than previously thought. However, it turned out they'd actually published a guide showing a similar, but unpatched exploit. Furthermore, other researchers found that the patch did not fully fix the problem and rendered some computers unable to connect to printers. Despite the patch's protection being incomplete, users should still download it as it provides some protection against the security issue.
  • On June 29, 2021, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft and Google ended an agreement to negotiate disagreements between themselves via a number of dispute mechanisms before they brought disputes to regulators and courts. The agreement, originally struck in 2015, also agreed the two would not target the efforts of their respective lobbyists at each other. A major factor is Microsoft's allegation that Google's search-engine ad-management platform Search Ads 360, wasn't adding new features to place ads on Bing, Microsoft's search engine, as it was for Google, giving google an unfair competitive advantage.
  • On May 27, 2021, Microsoft announced that they "observed cyberattacks by the threat actor Nobelium targeting government agencies, think tanks, consultants, and non-governmental organizations. This wave of attacks targeted approximately 3,000 email accounts at more than 150 different organizations." Nobelium is the name Microsoft has given to the entity involved in the Solarwinds hack last year, who appears to originate in Russia. The hackers got into the Constant Contact account (an email marketing service), of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and used the account to send out phishing emails that appeared to come from USAID. Nobelium is believed to be associated with the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR.
  • On May 19, 2021, Microsoft announced that it would be retiring Internet Explorer on June 15, 2022, in favor of Microsoft Edge.
  • On May 10, 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that officials at the Defense Department are considering dropping the $10 billion contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) that was given to Microsoft in 2019. The contract is currently stuck in a protracted court case as Amazon, one of the original contenders for the contract, claims that Microsoft was awarded the deal unfairly based on political influence. The case doesn't seem like it will be going anywhere soon as a federal judge rejected the Pentagon's motion to dismiss the case in April 2021.
  • On April 27, 2021, Microsoft reported earnings for Q3 FY 21, the quarter ending on March 31, 2021. It reported revenue of $41.7 billion and adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.95. Both of these figures were higher than analysts' expected. Revenue from Microsoft's key Azure cloud computing platform grew by 50% year-over-year (YOY), more than the 46.3% analysts had predicted.
  • On April 12, 2021, Microsoft announced it was acquiring AI and voice recognition software firm Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion, including debt. Microsoft says it intends to use the acquisition to, among other things, help further its efforts to push Microsoft Cloud services for the healthcare industry, which is has been a major market for Nuance. The two companies intend to close the deal later this year.
  • On March 8, 2021, the European Commission approved Microsoft's $7.5 billion purchase of videogame company ZeniMax Media, clearing the largest antitrust hurdle to the acquisition. ZeniMax is the parent company of videogame publisher Bethesda Softworks.
  • On March 2, 2021, Microsoft announced that there was a state-sponsored cybersecurity threat they had dubbed "Hafnium," who was based out of China. Halfnium's attacks targeted a Microsoft product called Microsoft Exchange Servers, an email and calendar server product. Microsoft released a series of patches for Microsoft Exchange Servers. However, there has been a major issue with the patches, if you try to install the patch without running it as administrator, the patch won't fully update the correct files, but no error message indicating the patch isn't working will show up, making it seem as though it installed properly even though it didn't work. Bloomberg reported that there are "at least 60,000 known victims globally."

Frequently Asked Questions

How Profitable Is Microsoft?

Microsoft made over $16.5 billion in net income for the quarter that ended June 30, 2021, a 47% increase over the year before, according to its most recent quarterly report. The report, released on July 27, 2021, showed that Microsoft's revenue for the quarter was $46.2 billion, a 21.3% year-over-year (YOY) increase; its earnings per share (EPS) was $2.17, a 48.6% YOY increase. Revenue for its key Azure cloud computing service grew 51% YOY.

Who Owns the Most Microsoft Stock?

The biggest individual insider shareholder of Microsoft is Satya Nadella, who owns 1,337,768 shares of Microsoft stock at last count, representing 0.02% of total shares outstanding. Nadella has served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft since 2014, and first joined Microsoft in 1992.

The biggest institutional shareholder of Apple is Vanguard Group, which owns 640.2 million shares of Microsoft, representing 8.4% of total shares outstanding, according to the company's most recent 13F filing for the period ending March 31, 2020.

Who Invented Microsoft Windows?

Bill Gates, co-founder and former chair and CEO of Microsoft Corp., created Windows with his team at Microsoft in the 1980s. The original Windows 1 was released in November of 1985. It was the company’s first major attempt at a graphical user interface in 16-bit. The operating system ran on top of MS-DOS, which relied on command-line input.