Microsoft has become a household name with products like Windows XP, Windows Vista and Microsoft Office, making its founder Bill Gates one of the world's richest men.
Microsoft Windows is by far the most popular operating system, with applications like Microsoft Office 2007, Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer now being used by most businesses and consumers.
The Microsoft Windows operating system itself dates back to 1985 when Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft released MS-Dos, followed by the Microsoft Office productivity suite.
But it was the combination of the graphical Windows 95 operating system on the desktop and Microsoft Windows NT on the server that made Microsoft near ubiquitous. Another factor behind Microsoft’s success was its partnership with Intel, the world’s number one processor manufacturer.
Microsoft maintains that product innovation is a core part of its strategy, and in 1998, the company released Windows 98, an update to Windows 95, incorporating a number of Internet-focused features and support for new types of computing devices .
But in 2000 and 2004, Microsoft fell foul of US and EU antitrust laws respectively, facing allegations it had abused its monopolistic position. Microsoft was fined and required to alter its Windows XP operating system.
However, with Windows Vista now out, Microsoft, currently lead by Microsoft veteran Steve Ballmer, hopes to revitalise the home and office PC markets once again. Microsoft also continues to woo business users by continuing to develop products like Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, SQL Server 2007 and the Microsoft Dynamics family of business applications.
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