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Microsoft

Best known for its Windows operating system, Office applications, Xbox games consoles, servers and phones, Microsoft is one of the world’s biggest companies in terms of market capitalization.

The Microsoft company was founded by Bill Gates in the 1970s, and its operating system appeared on IBM’s debut personal computer in 1981. In terms of Microsoft share price history, the company went public in March 1986.

Gates stood down from his day-to-day role at Microsoft in 2008 so he could spend more time working for his charitable foundation. For a long time, he was the world’s richest man – but he has now been overtaken by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Microsoft company history: significant dates

August 1 1989

Microsoft Office launches for the very first time

August 24 1995

Windows 95 launches – the first operating system to feature the Start bar

June 25 1998

Its successor, Windows 98, goes on sale to the public

October 25 2001

Windows XP makes its debut – and becomes one its most popular operating systems of all time

November 15 2001

Microsoft goes head to head with Sony and Nintendo by launching the Xbox

January 30 2007

Windows Vista goes on sale, but it is widely considered a flop compared with XP

June 3 2009

Microsoft unveils Bing – a “decision engine” – but fails to catch up anywhere close to Google in terms of market share

October 13 2011

Microsoft acquires Skype, the free software for voice calls and voice chats

February 18 2013

Outlook.com goes live, replacing the Hotmail messaging platform

September 3 2013

Finnish mobile phone firm Nokia is acquired by Microsoft

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