Microsoft is the world’s largest software company specializing in the development, production, sales and licensing of software and support worldwide. The company was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975. Microsoft has made billions of dollars including buying Hotmail, Sunrise … and especially Nokia. Here are 10 interesting facts about MS.
#1 In 1969, two teenage boys named Bill Gates and Paul Allen met for the first time.
They were both interested in programming and the emerging industry of personal computers.
A few years later, in 1975, the two childhood friends established the company Micro-Soft, with a hyphen. The name is a portmanteau of the words microcomputer and software.
In 1980, the company entered the industry of operating systems with their own version of Unix called Xenix. But their first major breakthrough came with the release of MS-DOS in 1981.
After a few years of battling against IBM’s PC-DOS, Microsoft eventually came out as the leading provider. At this point, most operating systems looked like this.
- A black screen where you could execute commands and in return would receive some nice text. Absolutely fantastic for its time no doubt, but not very interesting to the average person.
So in 1985, Microsoft released a graphical extension to MS-DOS.
- Bill Gates almost named it “Interface Manager” but the head of marketing convinced him of naming it “Windows” instead.
- At first, Windows was not that popular and rival company Apple took the lead. But this would soon change. Windows 3.0 became the first widely successful version of Windows and a strong competitor to Apple’s Mac OS.
#2 In 1990, Microsoft introduced the now wildly successful Microsoft Office with software like Word and Excel.
Windows became a huge success for the company and introduced features like the start menu and Internet Explorer. From here on out, Windows would continue to completely dominate the market and as such Microsoft was often accused of monopolization.
At the start of the new millennium, Microsoft entered video game console market with the Xbox to compete against Sony and Nintendo. While the Xbox could not really keep up with the PlayStation 2, it was nonetheless a success selling millions of units.
In more recent years, the perception of Microsoft and especially Windows has been a bit unstable.
- For example, Windows Vista sold well but is considered by many to be one of the worst operating systems ever made by Microsoft. Windows 7 rekindled the brand but Windows 8 once again received heavy criticism for many of its significant changes. But despite a few minor setback here and there, Microsoft is still one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Since 2012, Microsoft has undergone a major rebranding to coincide with the release of Windows 8. One major change was made to the logo of the company. For the first time, a version of the famous Windows logo was included in the official Microsoft logo. But the four tiles are more than an icon for Windows.
Each tile is supposed to stand for; Windows (blue), Office (red), Xbox (green), and Bing (Yellow). And the logo isn’t exactly new either as it has been used before.
#3 When preparing to launch Windows XP back in 2001, Microsoft wanted a catchy slogan to go along with it.
They eventually settled for “Prepare to Fly” and began printing all promotional material and covers and so on. Then 9/11 happened and suddenly the slogan wasn’t as catchy anymore. Because of this, Microsoft had to spend over $200 million, just to change to slogan to “Yes You Can” instead.
#4 Around the mid to late 1990s, Internet Explorer quickly became the standard browser all across the globe since it came bundled with the operating system.
And by 2002, it reached its peak of a staggering % market share. Then something happened. New browsers like Opera and Firefox slowly began eating away at Microsoft’s browser monopoly. This got Microsoft a bit worried so to counteract this decline, they employed some pretty foul tactics.
- For example, in 2001 it was revealed that Microsoft had purposely made msn.com either inaccessible or incorrectly displayed on the Opera browser. This was so that Opera users would hopefully switch over to Internet Explorer instead. While Microsoft has never responded to the accusations, Opera Software retaliated by releasing a so-called “bork” edition of Opera 7. This special version would only display msn.com using the incomprehensible language made famous by the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show.
#5 Every website and service with users and profile pictures has one of these. A default avatar. It’s usually just a standard silhouette of a person or whatever YouTube is going for. Anyway, one version of Microsoft’s email client, namely Outlook 2010, uses this icon.
It’s interesting because this is actually a silhouette of Bill Gates from when he was arrested for speeding and driving without a license.
#6 When Microsoft introduced the first version of Windows Update shortly after the release of Windows 98, they named the software “Critical Update Notification Tool”.
However, they soon had to change this to “Critical Update Notification Utility” given the unfortunate acronym created by the former.
#7 The default wallpaper used for Windows XP is, or at least was, one of the most recognizable images in the world.
- The photograph, named Bliss, was taken by former National Geographic photographer Charles O’Rear and was captured here in Sonoma County in California in 1996. While many believed the image to be photoshopped, it is, in fact, the raw unaltered original. After he’d taken the photo, he put it up for sale on the stock image site Corbis. And Corbis is in fact owned by Bill Gates himself.
- So around 2000, Microsoft contacted O’Rear and wanted to buy all the rights to the image. And while the exact amount has never been disclosed, it has been said to be one of the largest payments ever made for a single photograph. If you were to visit the site today, however, you would most likely not recognize it as the green hill is now covered with grapevines.
#8 Before Microsoft launched their new search engine in 2009 they needed a short and memorable name.
Eventually, they decided to use BANG. But they had to rethink this decision rather quickly as it didn’t work as well when used as verb. As in “Let me just bang that real quick.” They changed Bang into Bing and while Google is of course at the top, Bing is still one of the largest search engines in the world.
#9 Large corporations like Microsoft are known to take copyright and trademark infringement very seriously. Sometimes, however, they seem to take it a bit too seriously.
Back in 2004, a teenager named Mike Rowe registered the domain MikeRoweSoft.com. So phonetically, when said out loud, it almost sounds like you’re saying Microsoft.
Only based on this, Microsoft decided to take legal action against Mike Rowe and the whole thing received worldwide media attention.
The website itself had nothing to do with Microsoft or any of their products as he used it to run his own part-time web design business.
But eventually, an agreement was reached, with Mike Rowe granting ownership of the domain to Microsoft in exchange for various Microsoft products, including an Xbox. Ah, 2004… When an Xbox could solve anything. Simpler times.
#10 Back when Windows made its debut, things were simple.
The first release named Windows 1.01 was indeed version 1.01. Makes sense. And it continued to make sense for quite a while. The name and actual version of the software matched each other. Then they started using names like Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista, and things got a bit more confusing. Windows Vista is actually version 6.0. Windows 7 is 6.1, Windows 8 is 6.2, and 8.1 is 6.3.
Now the logical thing would be to expect the next release to be named Windows 9 with a version number of 6.4. But instead, they announced this… Windows 10? Why skip the NINE? Microsoft’s official explanation is that this new release of Windows will, form here on out, be Windows.
In other words, each new update will just have a new version number and not a new name. Another possibility though is that the name Windows 9 could cause issues for some legacy applications.
Thousands of programs could be using code like this to check what version of Windows it’s running on. Basically, it’s checking if the name includes a 9 and if it does it means it’s either Windows 95 or 98. But if Windows 9 was introduced, it would completely disrupt this system and potentially cause some major issues.
Then again, Microsoft isn’t exactly the most consistent when it comes to naming stuff. This video was part of a collaboration with Alltime10s. They made a video about Google over on their channel and if you want to you can click the annotation to check it out.