Microsoft Corporation is a multinational technology company whose popular IT and software products, such as Windows and Excel, have become household names. It is considered one of the big five tech giants in the US, alongside Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook-owner Meta.
Founded by childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico in April 1975, the company began life selling BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800 microcomputer designed by MITS.
In 1980, IBM asked the company to produce the operating system for the first IBM personal computer.
This was the birth of its first major product, the MS-DOS operating system – a system that was licensed by most PC brands at the time and generated vast revenues for the young company.
In 1979, it moved from Albuquerque to Bellevue, Washington, 1,400 miles away. Then, in 1986, the company relocated its headquarters from Bellevue to nearby Redmond, Washington, where it continues to operate today.
What does the company offer?
Microsoft Corporation is the designer and producer of the Windows operating system, the Microsoft Office software suite, the Xbox games console, the Bing search engine, and the cloud services platform, Microsoft Azure.
In 1988, Office was unveiled at COMDEX in Las Vegas. The software suite featured Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. By 2012, over a billion people worldwide were using the software, according to Softpedia.
Windows OS Systems
Five years on from the launch of the Windows 3.0 operating system, in 1995 the company released the hugely popular Windows 95. This was the first commercial operating system aimed at regular people, offering a simplified and graphically improved system that allowed users to “plug-and-play” features without needing any deep technical knowledge.
The launch of Windows 95 was helped by a $300m marketing campaign, including a “how-to” instructional video featuring actors Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry.
Windows XP, with its familiar rolling hills desktop background, was released in 2001 and went on to sell more than 500m copies. More recently, Windows 11 was introduced in 2021, six years after the launch of its predecessor Windows 10.
In 2001, the company entered the world of computer game consoles, releasing the Xbox in direct competition to Sony’s Playstation 2 and Nintendo’s GameCube. The unit featured powerful processors, a built-in hard disk, and an Ethernet port for direct connection to the internet.
Following the success of the original Xbox, additional consoles were created, including the Xbox 360, Xbox One X, and the Xbox Series X.
One of the company’s most ambitious projects was the launch of its search engine Bing, released in 2009 to compete with Google. In the year of its release, it struck a deal with Yahoo! to use the Bing search engine to power Yahoo Search.
Bing is the third biggest search engine in the world by search volume, although it accounts for only 5% of searches, well behind both Google and Baidu.
Microsoft is one of the world’s largest companies by revenue – in 2021, it ranked 33rd in the Fortune 500 list of the world’s top revenue-generating enterprises.
In 2021, the company reported annual revenue of $168bn, an increase of 17.5% from 2020s $143bn . The number of employees has increased rapidly over the years to cater to the increase in demand for its products and services. In 2005, it employed 61,000 people. By 2021, the figure had increased nearly 200% to 181,000 employees.
In 2022, it was valued at $2.22tn, which makes it one of only five trillion-dollar companies in the world, alongside Apple, Saudi Aramco, Amazon, and Google-owner Alphabet.
In 2020, as governments around the world issued stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of Covid-19, Microsoft’s business communication platform, Teams, saw its user base grow 894% to 115m, up from 20m in 2019.
Microsoft stock overview
The company’s stock is listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol MSFT, and on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) under the symbol 0QYP. The company is also a constituent of the S&P 500.
After its IPO in 1986, MSFT stock struggled to make an impression, retaining a valuation of around $2 per share until 1995. The launch of Windows 95 kickstarted the stock’s first real rally, as MSFT shares climbed to a new high of $58.38 in Dec 1999.
In April 2000, the MSFT share price fell 15%, mainly due to sluggish sales and poor market sentiment, prompting the company to announce a complete reorganisation it dubbed “One Microsoft”.
At the end of 2021, the Microsoft share price stood at just over $336.
Will Microsoft stock ever split again?
The company has completed numerous stock splits over the years. The first stock split occurred in September 1987, with a 2-for-1 split taking Microsoft’s stock price from $114.50 to $53.50 per share.
As the company expanded, the share price continued to grow, rising back above $100 on several occasions. In an attempt to keep individual share prices affordable, a further eight stock splits occurred between 1990 and 2003.
Since 2003, there have been no further stock splits, and there have been no announced plans to carry out a stock split in the future.