Microsoft is a multinational corporation based in Redmond, Washington. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1975, Microsoft is one of the largest providers of computer software and related services. Microsoft currently has approximately 90,000 emoployees
. The company’s co-founder and former CEO, Bill Gates, is the richest man in the United States
and the second richest man on the planet with an estimated net worth of 59 billion U.S. dollars.
Microsoft’s Windows operating systems have been dominating the home computer operating system market
for more than two decades. Furthermore, Microsoft Office is the most commonly-used suite of office/productivity software worldwide. In 2001, Microsoft successfully entered the market for video game consoles with the release of the first Xbox in North America. Its successor, the Xbox 360, has been sold more than 50 million times since its launch in 2005 and is currently the third most popular video game console worldwide
. While the Xbox can be considered a huge success, another venture into consumer electronics did not work out for Microsoft. In 2006, the company announced a portable media player called Zune that was intended to become a competitor to Apple's hugely successful iPod. The Zune never managed to build a substantial user base and after several iterations, Microsoft announced that all Zune hardware products would be discontinued in October 2011.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, Microsoft’s revenue
amounted to 69.94 billion U.S. dollars, up from 28.37 billion U.S. dollars in 2002. A segment breakdown of Microsoft’s 2011 revenue
reveals that Microsoft’s Business Division (including Microsoft Office, Exchange and other business solutions) generated 21.99 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, while the Windows Division generated 18.78 billion dollars. Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division generated 8.72 billion dollars, mainly attributable to products and services related to the Xbox 360. Overall, the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2011, was Microsoft’s most successful fiscal year to date with a net income of 23.15 billion U.S. dollars
In May 2011, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Skype for 8.5 billion U.S. dollars. The deal marks Microsoft’s biggest acquisition
to date and breaks with Microsoft’s practise of predominantly acquiring small companies.