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Microsoft History: Windows, Office, IE and Xbox 360

VO: Dan
Formed in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Paul Allen and Bill Gates, Microsoft is one of the biggest and most successful computer tech companies of all-time. The business worked with several other companies early on to develop programming languages and software systems. Microsoft is well-known for being behind MS-DOS, Windows, and Office. These days, Microsoft has branched out by becoming involved with the studio DreamWorks, developing gaming console Xbox 360 and acquiring Skype for web communication. In this video, we take a look at the origins and history of Microsoft.

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Computer tech company Microsoft was formed in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was when Paul Allen and Bill Gates developed language software for the Altair microcomputer and sold it to the electronics company MITS. The software was then distributed under the name Altair BASIC, and it became the PC’s first computer language program.

Building the Company

With Gates as CEO, the company name Microsoft was chosen and registered in 1976 as an amalgamation of the words “microcomputer” and “software.” Microsoft continued developing other programming languages and by the end of 1978, the company’s year-end sales figures surpassed one million dollars. At this point, Microsoft only had thirteen employees.


The company relocated to Bellevue, Washington in 1979, and released the operating system Xenix for 16-bit microprocessors the following year. Next, Microsoft developed MS-DOS. The Disk Operating System was packaged and released with IBM’s first personal computer in 1981, but found success after many PC manufacturers began to license it.

Home Computer Software

After a cancer diagnosis in 1982, Allen became less involved with the company. However, during the ‘80s, Microsoft became a leader in home computer software, and expanded into other areas such as computer book publishing with Microsoft Press.

Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows

In 1984, Microsoft designed software for the new Apple Macintosh computer, and created a hardware development division. The next year, Microsoft Windows was made publicly available. That graphical operating environment allowed users to interact with various application programs.

Microsoft Works

Microsoft went public in 1986 and its surging stock prices made many millionaires. Next, the company introduced products for the office, including Microsoft Works. This program was designed for the Apple Macintosh, and merged applications like a word processor and a spreadsheet.

Microsoft Office

Notable products released by Microsoft during the remainder of the 1980s included its first CD-ROM application, the Microsoft Bookshelf and the new Microsoft Mouse. The company ushered in a new decade by releasing Microsoft Office. This productivity software bundled applications like Word, Excel and Powerpoint for Windows, and became one of Microsoft’s best-selling products. Once later versions of Windows were rolled out, it became the market’s dominant graphical user interface and helped position Microsoft as one of the world’s most powerful and lucrative companies.

Windows 95

Microsoft then got involved with multimedia applications like its digital encyclopedia Microsoft Encarta. However, not all of the company’s products were successful (Editor’s Note: Microsoft Bob). In 1995, Microsoft released a new version of the Windows OS. Windows 95 featured a new user interface as well as MS-DOS integration with Windows, and it sold millions of copies within days. The online service and internet service provider MSN was also released during this time.


Though Microsoft was now at the top of the game in productivity software, it missed out on the Web. This forced the company to launch its own web browser: Internet Explorer. Microsoft eventually bundled IE with later versions of Windows and it became a major player in the market. It was during the mid-‘90s that Microsoft also became involved with DreamWorks to produce multimedia projects.

Lawsuits and Xbox 360

As the company became increasingly successful and omnipresent, the U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft for attempting to preserve monopolistic status in the marketplace. But, this didn’t slow the corporation down: in 2001, Microsoft released the popular OS Windows XP and the electronic game console Xbox. The more powerful Xbox 360 came next, and it ultimately became one of the most popular consoles on the market.

Rivals and Vista

During the latter half of the decade, Microsoft fell behind rivals like Apple and Google in segments such as the portable music player and mobile phones. Microsoft also released Windows Vista, and this OS was highly criticized for several of its features. During this period, Gates gave up his managing and executive duties with the company.

Windows 7 and Skype

In 2009, Microsoft released Windows 7, which improved upon Vista’s features. Two years later, it made its largest acquisition to that point: the company purchased the voice and video chat application Skype for over eight billion dollars.

Technology Leader

Through an aggressive product roadmap and acquisitive nature, the Microsoft Corporation became and remained one of the leading technology firms in history.

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