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), Inc. (AMZN), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and Oracle Corp. (ORCL).

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Microsoft's Latest Developments

  • Microsoft is reportedly developing its own semiconductor chips for use in the servers that support its Azure cloud computing service, as well as to power its Surface line of personal computers (PCs). This news comes just over a month after Apple Inc. (AAPL) announced that new models of its MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini will be manufactured with its own internally developed M1 chip.
  • Microsoft acknowledged that it has found similar malicious code within its own internal systems to that which state-sponsored hackers from Russia allegedly have used to infect Orion software from SolarWinds Corporation (SWI). However, Microsoft asserts that it has contained and removed the problem, and that, contrary to speculation in initial press reports, its own products and customers have not been affected.
  • Microsoft has issued a joint statement of principles with rival video game giants Nintendo Company, Limited (NTDOY) and Sony Corporation (SNE). "Our Shared Commitment to Safer Gaming" is essentially a pledge to protect both younger and more vulnerable players from inappropriate content and abusive or exploitative behavior by other players.
  • Microsoft has announced that it will make a key change to the Microsoft Productivity Score feature that comes with its Microsoft 365 applications suite. Microsoft asserts that the Productivity Score is designed to be "a tool that helps organizations measure and manage the adoption of Microsoft 365." However, privacy advocates have been criticizing it as a "full-fledged workplace surveillance tool."
  • Microsoft faces the possibility of increased competition for its Teams product, an enterprise collaboration software platform, in the face of the announcement that, inc. (CRM) has agreed to purchase Slack Technologies, Inc. (WORK) for $27.7 billion.
  • During the week after Microsoft unveiled its new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on Nov. 10, 2020, a growing number of reports have indicated that demand appears to be outstripping supply by a wide margin, creating potentially lengthy delays in the fulfillment of orders that could last into the first half of 2021.
  • Microsoft presented what it calls "the next generation of gaming" in a worldwide livestream event on Nov. 10, 2020, which unveiled its new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
  • On October 27, 2020, Microsoft reported total revenue of $37.2 billion for the quarter ending on Sept. 30, a 12% increase. Its net income jumped 30% to $13.9 billion during the same time period. Microsoft's revenues from the Intelligent Cloud segment, which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) technology, also grew 20% to $13 billion. Notably, Windows original equipment manufacturer (OEM) revenue declined 5% in the same quarter. Strong growth in the cloud computing services in the quarter highlighted increased prominence of the tech giant's cloud services and its ambitious plans for the future. Commercial cloud revenue grew 31% to $15.2 billion compared to a year before.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Profitable Is Microsoft?

Microsoft Corp. is indeed profitable. In its most recent earnings release, the company posted year-over-year gains in revenue, net income, total assets, and other metrics for its fiscal year 2020 ending June 30, 2020. Net income grew 12.8% year over year to $44.3 billion while revenue rose 13.6% to $143.0 billion. Operating income for fiscal year 2020 rose 23.3% to $53.0 billion.

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 chairman 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.