What is Microsoft ?
Microsoft is a leading global vendor of computer software; hardware for computer, mobile and gaming systems; and cloud services. Microsoft's corporate headquarters is located in Redmond, Wash., and it has offices in more than 60 countries.
Microsoft's roots go back at least as far as 1975, when the first commercially available personal computer appeared on the cover of Popular Electronics magazine. The Altair 8800 was a rudimentary system, but it found a market for home-based computers and created a new demand for software to use with these systems.
Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen immediately saw the potential. Gates contacted the manufacturer Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) and offered to write a program for the new computer. Gates and Allen created an interpreter for BASIC -- then a mainframe programming language -- to use with the Altair.
MITS hired Gates and Allen in 1975. But by 1976, they had left to devote more time to their own fledgling company, Microsoft, which they incorporated in 1981. The company went public in March 1986.
Microsoft's major breakthrough occurred in 1981 when the company furnished an operating system for IBM's first major entry into personal computers. Called PC-DOS by IBM, Microsoft also marketed its own version, MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System). The early 1980s saw both IBM's and Microsoft's fortunes soar. Microsoft dominated the software market, just as IBM dominated the personal computer market. A PC -- other than one from Apple -- was commonly referred to as an "IBM-compatible" clone; these clones featured microchips from Intel.
In 1983, Microsoft introduced its first Windows operating system, Windows 1.0, which was not released until November 1985. Heavily influenced by Apple's existing graphical user interface, Windows 1.0 was more user-friendly than the command-line interface of DOS, with menus that the user could access with a keyboard or mouse.
Microsoft has released a long succession of operating systems for home users, including Windows 3.0 in May 1990, Windows 95 in August 1995 (later updated to Windows 98), Windows XP in October 2001, Windows Vista in January 2007, Windows 7 in October 2009, Windows 8 in October 2012 (later updated to Windows 8.1), and Windows 10 arrived in July 2015 as the latest OS iteration.