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Microsoft's current logo since 2012
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Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is a company that makes computer software and video games for users around the world. Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded the company in 1975. Microsoft makes Windows, Microsoft Office (including Microsoft Word), Edge, MSN and Xbox, among others. Most Microsoft programs cannot be downloaded for free - people have to buy them in a shop or online. Some products (like the Windows operating system) are often already installed when people buy a new computer.
- Microsoft Windows is an operating system, which means that it is the basic software that makes people's computers work and lets other programs work. The majority of desktop and laptop computers run Windows, and so do some tablet computers and a few smartphones. The latest version of Windows is Windows 10. The latest server version is Windows Server 2019.
- Microsoft Office is an office suite. It lets people write documents on their computer with Microsoft Word, make charts and graphs with Microsoft Excel, make presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint, and send email with Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Sharepoint is a server tool included in Microsoft Office (2007, 2013). Microsoft Expression series was a web development tool.
- Internet Explorer is a piece of software that lets people look at things online (known as browsing) and download things from the Internet. In 2015, it was replaced by Microsoft Edge.
- Microsoft also makes other programs for the Internet. Many of them are called Windows Live services, with the name Windows Live put in front of the old name of the service, like Windows Live Hotmail. After 2012, the Windows Live name was less used.
- Microsoft Bing is an internet search engine for finding things online. Bing Maps shows maps.
- MS-DOS is the first existing operating system developed by Microsoft, used for primitive computers and terminals.
- Minecraft and many other programs have been bought by Microsoft and developed further.
Although Microsoft is best known for its software products, the company also runs a number of web services. They include:
- Outlook.com is a webmail service. When Microsoft created this service in 1996, it was called Hotmail. It is used to send and receive email, manage a calendar of events and tasks, and a list of contacts (such as phone numbers and email addresses).
- OneDrive is a file hosting service. It was started in 2007 and was called "SkyDrive" at the time. Users can upload files to a web server and get them on a variety of devices, including PCs and mobile devices.
- Skype is a VoIP and social media service. It was not created by Microsoft, but by a company called Skype SARL, which was later bought out by Microsoft. The Skype program or mobile app lets people make phone calls through the Internet to other Skype users for free and, for a fee, landline phones.
- LinkedIn is a social networking service for people with professional jobs. Like Skype, it was not created by Microsoft but by another company which Microsoft later bought. The site lets people post information about their jobs and skills to help employers look for new people to hire.
- MSN is a web portal where people can read news and get information about different topics. It was created in 1995 and at one point its services were made under the brand name of "Windows Live". MSN used to have an instant messaging service, MSN Messenger, but that has since become part of Skype.
- Bing is a search engine similar to Google. It used to be under the MSN brand and was later known as Live Search, but became its own service in 2009. Bing is known for the different images that appear on the background of its home page.
The company also makes and promotes a video game console, Xbox. It lets people play video games on their televisions. The games were first stored on CDs, but many recent games are downloaded from the Internet. There have been three generations of Xbox. The first generation came out in 2001 and was just called Xbox, while the second, the Xbox 360, was released in 2005. The third and newest model is the Xbox One in May 2013. Beginning with the Xbox 360, Microsoft introduced Xbox Live, which lets people play games online against other people anywhere in the world. The Xbox has become very popular and more than 100 million units have been sold worldwide. Because of this, Microsoft is considered one of the three big companies that make video game consoles, along with Nintendo and Sony.
Most recently, Microsoft has also started to make its own PCs, called the Surface. The first model was announced in 2012 and the Surface line now includes tablets that use either ARM or Intel processors, two models of laptops called the Surface Book and Surface Laptop, an all-in-one PC called the Surface Studio, and an interactive whiteboard, the Surface Hub.
In 2014, Microsoft bought the mobile phone division of Nokia, a Finnish company, which then became Microsoft Mobile. The sale included the Lumia family of smartphones, which use Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform. From 2014 to 2016, Microsoft Mobile also made feature phones with the Nokia brand. Then the feature phone business was sold to HMD global, which continues to produce both feature phones and Android smartphones under license from Nokia.