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Microsoft Corporation

legal form Corporation
ISIN US5949181045
founding April 4, 1975
Seat Redmond , Washington , United States
United States 
management Satya Nadella
number of employees 182,000 (2021)
sales volume $ 168 billion (FY 2021)
industry Hardware and software development
cloud computing
As of October 13, 2020

Building #17 on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond , Washington

Microsoft Corporation [ ˈmaɪ.kɹoʊ.sɒft ] is an international hardware and software developer and technology company headquartered in Redmond , a city in the Seattle metropolitan area of Washington state . With around 182,000 employees and sales of 168 billion US dollars, the company is the world's largest software manufacturer and one of the largest companies in general . Satya Nadella has been Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since February 4, 2014 . Among other things, the company is known for its operating system Windows , the office software package Office and the Xbox game console .

Microsoft was founded on April 4, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque ( New Mexico ). The company moved to Bellevue, Washington on January 1, 1979. On February 26, 1986, the company moved to its present location, the company campus in Redmond, Washington. Steve Ballmer was Gates' successor as CEO from 2000 to 2014. The word Microsoft is a portmanteau of English microcomputer and software .

After initial successes with a BASIC interpreter in the late 1970s, the company introduced its MS-DOS operating system in 1981 , which had been developed on behalf of IBM . The IBM PC and its PC -based replicas were primarily equipped with this DOS operating system in the 1980s . In the 1990s, the Windows graphical operating system and Microsoft's office software package Office became market leaders in the personal computer sector.

Although Microsoft is successful internationally, it is struggling in some markets. This is due to fears about backdoors , ties to the NSA and concerns about the espionage scandal that Microsoft products allow for US government surveillance .

market position

Microsoft Office logo since 2019
PC operating systems market share in Germany

Market share and user numbers

Microsoft has been the market leader in PC operating systems and office packages since the 1990s . The company is also present in the entertainment and service industries with the products Xbox , Xbox 360 , Xbox One , Windows Mobile and (formerly Hotmail ). While Microsoft dominated the entire operating system market before the 2010s, the company now only plays a dominant role in the personal computer sector. However, the market share is also falling in this area (see graphic). In 2016, the global share of the Windows operating system in the large and growing smartphone and tablet market was less than 2 percent; in the server sector, Windows only accounted for around a third worldwide, behind the most widespread server operating system , Linux , and just ahead of the similarly widespread Unix systems.

Due to Microsoft's dominant position in the desktop market and the great importance of computer technology in general, the company also influences other areas such as the labor market or language .

profitability and market capitalization

With a return on sales of between 25 and 33 percent between 2005 and 2014, Microsoft was one of the most profitable public companies worldwide after the turn of the millennium. However, the extremely unfavorable takeover of Nokia's mobile phone division in spring 2014 and the slump in the global market for personal computers that has set in since then at the latest has reduced profitability recently (returns on sales in 2015 and 2016: 13 percent and 19.7 percent respectively). . Microsoft is consistently ranked among the most expensive companies in the world by market capitalization according to the Financial Times Global 500 list.

Sales and profit development

Business and employee
development (corresponding financial year)
year employee Revenue
in million USD
Retained earnings
in million USD
2005 61,000 39,778 12,250
2006 71.172 44,280 12,600
2007 78,565 51,120 14,070
2008 91,259 60,420 17,680
2009 92,736 58,440 14,570
2010 88,596 62,484 18,760
2011 90,412 69,943 23,150
2012 94,290 73,723 23,600
2013 99,139 77,850 21,860
2014 128,076 86,830 22,070
2015 117,354 93,580 12,190
2016 114,074 85,320 16,790
2017 124,000 89,950 21.204
2018 135,000 110,360 16,571
2019 144,000 125,843 39,240
2020 156,439 143.015 44,281
2021 182,268 168,088 61,271


In January 2022, Microsoft announced that the company would like to buy the game manufacturer Activision Blizzard for around 70 billion US dollars. Microsoft has spent over $159 billion on its thirteen largest acquisitions . The following table lists them:

rank company Adopted for Accepted
01 Activision Blizzard $68.7 billion 2022
02 LinkedIn $26.2 billion 2016
03 Nuance Communications $19.7 billion 2021
04 Skype 0$8.5 billion 2011
05 GitHub 0$7.5 billion 2018
06 ZeniMax Media 0$7.5 billion 2021
07 Nokia 's Devices &
Services Business
0$7.2 billion 2014
08th aQuantive 0$6.3 billion 2007
09 mojang 0$2.5 billion 2014
10 Vision Corporation 0$1.5 billion 2000
11 Navision 0$1.4 billion 2002
12 Yammer 0$1.2 billion 2012
13 Fast Search & Transfer 0$1.2 billion 2008

The investments in the gaming industry, which Microsoft has been making intensified since 2021, are intended to further strengthen its position in the gaming sector with its own subsidiary Xbox Game Studios and to build a diverse catalog of gaming content, in particular to further expand its in-house Xbox Game Pass .

organization structure

After CEO Steve Ballmer published his Devices and Services strategy for the further development of Microsoft in October 2012 , he announced a fundamental organizational realignment of the company in July 2013.

The five business units that were only introduced in 2008 were replaced by:

  • Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group led by Scott Guthrie
  • Devices and Studio Engineering led by Julie Larson-Green
  • Operating Systems Engineering Group led by Terry Myerson
  • Applications and Services Engineering led by Qi Lu

management level

A list of senior management:

Surname position company
Satya Nadella Chief Executive Officer Microsoft
Judson Althoff Executive Vice President Microsoft
Chris Capossela Chief Marketing Officer and

Executive Vice President

Jean Philippe Courtois President and

Executive Vice President

Kurt DelBene Chief Digital Officer and

Executive Vice President

Scott Guthrie Executive Vice President Microsoft
Kathleen Hogan Executive Vice President Microsoft
Amy Hood Chief Financial Officer and

Executive Vice President

Rajesh Jha Executive Vice President Microsoft
Peggy Johnson Executive Vice President Microsoft
Kevin Scott Chief Technology Officer and

Executive Vice President

Harry Shum Executive Vice President Microsoft
BradSmith President Microsoft
Phil Spencer Executive Vice President Microsoft

Board members

A list of the members of the Supervisory Board:

Surname joined employment
Satya Nadella (Chairman) February 2014 Microsoft
John W Thompson February 2012
Reid Hoffman March 2017 Greylock Partners
Hugh Johnston September 2017 PepsiCo
Teri List October 2014 gap inc
Sandra E Peterson December 2015 Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
Penny Pritzker November 2017 PSP Partners
Charles W. Sharp October 2014 Wells Fargo & Company
John W Stanton July 2014 Trilogy Partnerships
Emma Walmsley December 2019 GlaxoSmithKline
Padmasree Warrior December 2015 Fable Group Inc.

management level of the subsidiaries

A list of the management levels of the subsidiaries:

Surname position company
Jeff Weiner Chief Executive Officer LinkedIn
Shannon Brayton Chief Marketing Officer LinkedIn
Nina McQueen Chief People Officer and
Vice President
Steve Sordello Chief Financial Officer and
Senior Vice President
Nat Friedman Chief Executive Officer GitHub
Erica Brescia Chief Operating Officer GitHub
Carrie Olesen Chief Human Resources Officer GitHub
Mike Taylor Chief Financial Officer GitHub
Jason Warner Chief Technology Officer GitHub
Jonas Martensson Chief Executive Officer mojang
Vu Bui Chief Operating Officer mojang
Karen Severinson Chief Financial Officer mojang
Daniel Frisk Chief Architect mojang


Microsoft offers operating systems and application programs as well as hardware such as mice , joysticks (the development of Sidewinder gamepads and joysticks has been discontinued), keyboards and other input devices, as well as (since the acquisition of Navision) ERP software. Microsoft has also been offering game consoles under the Xbox brand since 2001 . Microsoft also sells the Windows Phone operating system and, as its successor, Windows 10 Mobile for the mobile market. From 2006 to 2011, Toshiba built the Zune MP3 player on behalf of Microsoft . In the associated Zune Marketplace, similar to the iTunes Store , Microsoft offered music titles in which so-called Microsoft Points served as a means of payment. In 2012, Microsoft launched the Xbox Music service to replace the Zune Marketplace. Since 2015, the service has been called Groove Music . Under the name Microsoft Surface , Microsoft offers tablets in which the hardware is bundled with the software. Microsoft Education offers software for all purposes in digital education, of which Microsoft Teams is particularly in demand for distance learning.

operating systems

From today's main product of the company, Microsoft Windows , there were two lines until 2001:

  • The systems based on MS-DOS ( Windows 1 to Windows 3.0 , Windows 3.1 , Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, Windows 95 (4.0), which was (partly) based on 32-bit architecture for the first time and introduced a new user interface, Windows 98 (4.1 ) and Windows ME (4.9)). With the appearance of Windows XP, the old line based on MS-DOS was no longer continued, and its support has meanwhile also been discontinued.
  • The so-called NT rail ( New T echnology ) . This comes from a development of IBM's OS/2 and from then on called itself Windows NT (with the versions 3.1, 3.5, 3.51 and 4.0). In 1996, the appearance of the user interface was also adopted from Windows 95. Some time later, Windows 2000 (NT 5.0), Windows XP (NT 5.1) and Windows Server 2003 (NT 5.2) followed. On January 29, 2007, Microsoft released Windows Vista (NT 6.0, also Longhorn ). The successor Windows 7 (NT 6.1) was released on October 22, 2009. Based on this technology, all of Microsoft's more recent operating systems later appeared:
    • Windows 8.1 (NT 6.3) was released on October 18, 2013 .
    • On October 2, 2019, a new operating system for tablets was presented at the Surface Event : Windows 10X is to be released in 2020 with the new Surface Neo . Laptops should also be supported.
    • The current version of Microsoft Windows was introduced on September 30, 2014. Windows 10 has been available since July 29, 2015. Windows 7 and Windows 8 users were entitled to upgrade to Windows 10 for free for one year.
    • At the end of June 2021, Microsoft introduced Windows 11 , which has been available since October 5, 2021.

Since PCs gradually found their way into the living room, Microsoft developed the operating system variant Windows XP Media Center Edition (Windows MCE), with which a normal PC with the appropriate hardware can be converted into a media center . Windows XP Media Center Edition is based on Windows XP, but has been expanded to include specific functions (such as film recording, program guide, etc.).

In addition, the company sold the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system from 2002 , which was used on mobile devices. This was replaced in 2010 by the newly developed Windows Phone ; the latter was in turn replaced by the new successor Windows 10 Mobile in early 2016.

Microsoft has been selling the Linux distribution Suse Linux Enterprise since 2007 . According to Heise , Microsoft has climbed to number 3 among the Linux providers with the sale of coupons worth 240 million US dollars.

A Microsoft operating system is installed on most PCs. The only significant exceptions are Apple with its own operating system macOS (5% market share ) and various Linux distributions (<1% market share).

application programs

The most well-known application programs from Microsoft are:

The office programs Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint and Publisher are sold together as a so-called Office package . The latest version of Microsoft Office is Office 2019 for Windows and Office 2019 for Mac . The Microsoft Office package is offered in different editions, which differ greatly in scope and price.

server products

Some well-known server products from Microsoft are (sorted alphabetically):

Development environments, frameworks and compilers

In March 2004, Microsoft released Windows Installer XML as free software .

television platform

Microsoft Media Room logo

Microsoft Mediaroom (formerly "Microsoft IPTV Edition") is a television platform based on IP networks. TV channels broadcast via Microsoft Mediaroom can only be received on a set-top box running the Microsoft Mediaroom operating system or Microsoft's Xbox 360 . Mediaroom end devices do not support reception via the DVB-IPTV standard . Mediaroom is used by BT (UK), SingTel (Singapore), Telekom Entertain (Germany), Portugal Telecom (Portugal), Swisscom (Switzerland), AT&T (US), Reliance (India) and MTS Allstream (Canada). In 2013 Microsoft sold Mediaroom to the Swedish company Ericsson .


Microsoft offers IT consulting and support services worldwide to support customers and partner companies in planning, operating and optimizing their IT infrastructure based on Microsoft products. Microsoft Services employs over 9720 people in 88 countries and 7 regional service centers. The protection of business-critical IT systems and other consulting services for error prevention are offered under the label Microsoft Premier Support Services , while topics such as updating or reassessing an IT architecture, project-specific consulting and kernel infrastructure are offered under Microsoft Consulting Services . With Azure , Microsoft has been offering a cloud computing platform for Everything as a Service (EaaS) since 2010.


The best-known series distributed by Xbox Game Studios (formerly Microsoft Studios ) include the Halo series, Age of Empires , Minecraft (bought by Microsoft), Forza Motorsport series and the Microsoft Flight Simulator , the further development of which was initially discontinued. In 2014, the flight simulator engine license was handed over to Dovetail Games .


The current Microsoft Press logo

Specialist literature is primarily distributed under the Microsoft Press label .


mobile technology/software

Microsoft offers hardware and software for mobile applications, such as the MP3 player Zune , the mobile operating system Windows Phone , Windows Mobile and formerly the relatively unsuccessful Microsoft KIN . In September 2013, Microsoft bought the mobile phone division of the Finnish manufacturer Nokia for EUR 5.44 billion , with which a strategic partnership had previously been entered into. The takeover was completed on April 25, 2014, and since then the cell phone production has operated as a subsidiary under the name Microsoft Mobile.



Bill Gates 2004 in Copenhagen
History of Microsoft logos
logo time and description

Microsoft logo (1982).svg
Microsoft "Blibbet" logo filed with the USPTO on August 26, 1982 and used until 1987.
Microsoft logo (1987) + slogan (1994).svg
Microsoft "Pac-Man" logo designed by Scott Baker and used from 1987 to 2006 with the motto: "Where do you want to go today?"
Microsoft logo (1987) + slogan (2006).svg
Microsoft logo, used from 2006 to 2011, with the motto: "Your potential. Our passion."
Microsoft logo (1987) + slogan (2011) horizontal.png
Logo of Microsoft, used from 2011 to 2012, with the motto: "Be What's Next."
Microsoft logo (2012).svg
Microsoft's current logo, introduced on August 23, 2012 to symbolize the diversity of the Microsoft product portfolio.

In 1975, the student Bill Gates , together with Paul Allen and Monte Davidoff , developed the Altair BASIC 2.0 programming language for the Altair 8800 computer from MITS (Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems) on an emulator programmed by Paul Allen for the Intel 8080 processor . The software was initially available in two versions: Altair BASIC 4K and Altair BASIC 8K . On July 22, 1975, Gates and Allen signed a distribution agreement with MITS in Albuquerque . In addition to a one-time payment of  $ 3,000 , the contract stipulated that Gates and Allen would be paid $30 for each 4K-BASIC, $35 for the 8K-BASIC, and even $60 for the Extended Edition (BASIC with manual) if an Altair buyer ordered the software along with the kit from which the Altair 8800 had to be soldered together. The name "Micro-Soft" came about on November 29, 1975, when Gates and Allen had to think about an advertising campaign .

As "General Licensors" they received an additional $10 for each BASIC above the 8K version ordered with the calculator. Customers who had already assembled such an Altair without purchasing the software paid $500 for Altair BASIC 4K or $750 for the 8K version to get their computer working in the first place. Gates and Allen received half of this revenue from MITS as licensor . The contract with MITS was capped at $180,000. It contained a clause granting Microsoft the right to sell the software to other computer manufacturers. MITS demanded royalties for this . Another clause required the young company to set up a one-person telephone customer service team once sales exceeded $2,500 a month. A second person became necessary once sales reached $5,000 per month. As a result, Bill Gates was unable to continue his studies.

Gates and Allen concluded an agreement between themselves, which regulated the tasks in the company and the distribution of profits. Monte Davidoff, who programmed Altair BASIC's floating-point functions, was paid a one-off payment of $2,400. Gates and Allen shared earnings of $1,516 in their first month.

As with version 2.0, the development of Altair BASIC 3.0 required special programming skills due to the small memory of the Altair. Bill Gates had to resort to unusual methods to reduce memory requirements as much as possible. Later Microsoft employees would often drive this Gates code to despair when they had to revise it for maintenance purposes. At the same time, these programming methods were also helpful in proving other software manufacturers illegal use of Microsoft program parts, because Gates was the only one who could explain the code.

The development costs for Altair BASIC amounted to 40,000 dollars. The greatest costs here were caused by the purchased computing time on the mainframes of a data center , in which Allen initially developed an emulator for the Intel 8080 in order to be able to tackle BASIC at all. To save costs, Gates first drafted large parts of the BASIC in pencil on a notepad.

Considering this cost, it is hardly surprising that Bill Gates was upset when 50 copies of a beta version of Altair BASIC were circulated before the official release of Altair BASIC .

Microsoft developed its own BASIC interpreter from Altair BASIC called Microsoft BASIC , which quickly became known through its implementations on the various home computers of the time. Other manufacturers licensed the Microsoft BASIC code and developed it independently (e.g. Apple and Commodore ), or they developed alternatives with a syntax that was largely compatible with Microsoft BASIC (e.g. Atari ); both strategies thus contributed to the further spread of this language. BASIC was so widespread that practically every computer system sold at the time had a BASIC available.

In addition to the BASIC interpreter , Microsoft also developed compilers in these years , e.g. for BASIC, FORTRAN and COBOL . These were initially based on the CP/M operating system.

Microsoft later tried, in cooperation with other companies, to introduce a home computer standard called MSX , which was intended to assert itself against the multitude of mutually incompatible home computers. He was temporarily particularly successful in Europe and Japan. However, the following development put an end to the era of home computers as well as the MSX.

In addition, Microsoft also offered a Unix -like operating system in 1980 with Xenix . Due to the system's hunger for resources, which was great at the time, Microsoft stopped further development and sold it to SCO in 1987 .

BASIC and the other programming languages ​​did not do well in 1979-1980. In order to attract additional customers, Microsoft had even produced the "Microsoft Softcard", an add-on card with a Z80 processor for the very successful Apple II computer, which allowed the Apple computer to run the software written for CP/M from to run Microsoft. However, the card quickly became an important independent revenue generator for the young company and surpassed the programming languages ​​in importance, since many buyers were primarily looking for the opportunity to use the successful CP/M-based office programs from other companies, such as WordStar . It was already becoming apparent here that the market for ready-made application programs far exceeded that for programming languages ​​in terms of sales potential in the long term. As a result of this realization, Microsoft began to abandon its almost exclusive focus on programming languages.

Development of MS-DOS for IBM

The meteoric rise of Microsoft only began through a cooperation with IBM . In 1980, IBM needed an operating system as quickly as possible due to their late entry into the home computer business with their IBM PC and turned to Bill Gates' company. However, Microsoft did not have its own operating system, so Gates sent IBM's negotiators to Digital Research , which developed and distributed CP/M. But Gary Kildall , the head and founder of Digital Research, was not present. IBM therefore spoke to Kildall's wife, Dorothy. IBM merely gave her a non-disclosure agreement for her to sign, deferring negotiations, but Dorothy Kildall hesitated and would not sign anything until her husband returned. After waiting three hours in vain, the IBM negotiators finally exited Kildall's office.

Bill Gates' mother, Mary, was connected to IBM President John Opel through the United Way charity, of which she was a board member. Through this connection she paved the way for her son to "Big Blue". At first, Bill Gates was reluctant to do business with IBM, but after a meeting with Allen, Microsoft finally approached IBM and signed a $186,000 deal for an operating system that laid the foundation for Microsoft's success and whose historical significance is arguably none of the suspected at the time. Two days later, Microsoft bought the 86-DOS operating system from Seattle Computer Products for $50,000 , a CP/M variant that was initially referred to as QDOS ( quick and dirty operating system ) during development . The programmer Tim Paterson was bought in at the same time and hired for Microsoft. QDOS was basically an imitation of CP/M and had taken some functionality directly from it. Paterson, Gates and Allen carried out all sorts of modifications to the software under the code name "Project Chess", which was then delivered to IBM under the name MS-DOS. The changes in the operating system provided that CP/M programs could be run under MS-DOS, but MS-DOS programs did not run under CP/M. It was only after launch that IBM discovered it had purchased a CP/M variant and paid $800,000 to Digital Research for a waiver of legal action against IBM.

Old Microsoft logo
(1982 to 1987)

Although the quality of MS-DOS fell well short of the state of the art - even in Intel 's internal dossiers it only received a devastating verdict - the PC, which came onto the market in autumn 1981 for just under 3,000 dollars, was a great success. The reason for this was IBM's open licensing policy, which also allowed third-party manufacturers to produce the PC, so that prices fell due to competition, as well as the need of customers to establish a standard that was most likely expected from IBM, the market leader at the time for mainframe computers. Partial source code downward compatibility with CP/M also contributed to the success of MS-DOS, which made it possible for common software such as WordStar , dBase II or Microsoft's BASIC to also be available under MS-DOS after a few modifications and reassembly to deliver. This principle of small steps while maintaining backwards compatibility was also often criticized because the technical possibilities of the hardware were not fully used and progress was thus delayed. Due to a serious illness, Paul Allen left Microsoft in 1983, but remained the main shareholder alongside Gates. The rapidly growing company had more and more liquid funds at its disposal. Nevertheless, for example, Christmas bonuses were given to employees in the form of shares. Many of these employees became millionaires within a few years because of the shares worth a few hundred dollars.

Graphical user interface

Although the main competitor Apple introduced a graphical user interface in 1983 with the Apple Lisa , a forerunner of the Macintosh , which saved users from entering commands via the keyboard, the PC ultimately dominated the market.

A lawsuit filed by Apple for copyright infringement through the graphical user interface was dismissed in 1995 after a process lasting several years. Apple also filed a lawsuit against Windows 95, which was released in the same year. Apple was already in significant distress as a company at the time. A settlement was therefore reached in which Microsoft averted Apple's bankruptcy by acquiring non-voting shares in Apple and making a payment in an unknown amount, and Apple in return withdrew its lawsuit.

Although the window technology had been introduced to Unix systems as early as 1984 with the name X Window System , Microsoft managed to secure the name "Windows" as a trade name, albeit only after a lawsuit against the US Patent and Trademark Office .

In the early to mid-1990s, Microsoft released more entertainment, educational, and children's software under the Microsoft Home product line , trying to attract more consumers.

Problematic approach to digital research

Microsoft had now reached a market position from which a policy of crowding out the competition became possible and was also pursued. In doing so, one did not always move within the framework of legality. The disclosure of internal correspondence as part of antitrust proceedings revealed that in 1991, with the approval of company management, a version of Windows 3.1 had been put into circulation that displayed a fake error message when Windows 3.1 ran on DR-DOS , the operating system of competitor Digital Research installed by MS-DOS. Because Digital Research decided not to sue because of its dependency on Microsoft, Novell founder Ray Noorda bought the rights to DR-DOS for $400,000 and filed the lawsuit. Three weeks before the trial began in January 2000, he settled with Microsoft for a settlement of more than $200 million. It is uncertain whether Ray Noorda passed on any of the sum won to Digital Research, especially since Digital Research disappeared from the market some time later.

Binding other companies to your own products

Microsoft had already provoked investigations by the Cartel Office in connection with the introduction of Windows 3.0 . In order for programmers of application software to remain competitive, they need information about the specification of the new interfaces in good time before a new operating system version is released. Microsoft made this information available only under non-disclosure agreements under which the developers agreed not to develop software for other operating systems for three years. Microsoft also granted PC manufacturers discounts if they were willing to pay license fees not only for every Windows installation but also for PCs equipped with other operating systems, so that Microsoft also earned money from the sales of its competitors. After investigations lasting several years, the Cartel Office agreed to a settlement in which Microsoft only promised to refrain from this contract policy in the future.

Cooperation with IBM for OS/2

Old Microsoft logo (1987 to 2012)

Microsoft developed the OS/2 operating system together with IBM , version 1.0 of which appeared in 1987. Conceptually and thanks to its first 16-bit and later 32-bit technology, OS/2 represented a clear leap in quality and was equipped with structures that Microsoft was only able to offer again years later with Windows NT . It was agreed that IBM should develop the user interface and Microsoft the kernel, which happened up to version 2.0. Due to the simultaneous success of Windows 3.0, however, Microsoft decided to orientate the programming interfaces for the successor OS/2 Version 3.0 to Windows instead of OS/2 Version 2.0, thus provoking a crisis of trust between the contracting parties. Microsoft left this cooperation in 1991 and IBM had to develop OS/2 alone, the next version of which appeared in 1994 as OS/2 Warp 3 .

Despite the technical superiority of the 32-bit generation of OS/2 in both versions 2.x and Warp 3, users continued to rely on DOS-based Windows 95 and some also on Windows 3.x. In addition to IBM's marketing mistakes, Microsoft's announcement of the release of a Windows version with the code name " Chicago " for early 1994, which should be able to handle both 16 and 32-bit technology, also contributed to this development, which discouraged many customers from switching on OS/2. In fact, however, this Windows only appeared in August 1995 under the name Windows 95. This business policy is also known as the announcement of vaporware .

Development of Windows NT

After the end of the cooperation with IBM , Microsoft continued the development of its operating system according to its own ideas. This operating system, which was initially intended as the successor to OS/2 Version 2.0 , was then released in 1993 as Windows NT 3.1 . They deliberately did not choose "1.0" as the version number, instead they wanted to create the connection to Windows (for Workgroups) 3.1 with 3.1 and thus come onto the market with a higher number. Bill Gates was able to win over David N. Cutler for the development of the architecture . The latter had developed VMS , among other things , and was considered at that time to be the developer with the most experience in the development of operating systems to date.

Similar to VMS, NT also got a 32-bit kernel architecture around which a 16-bit subsystem was created for compatibility with Windows 3.11 , and as the main interface a 32-bit subsystem for the Win32s interface (Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups). The POSIX subsystem was introduced for Unix software . All subsystems were designed by David Cutler in such a way that none of them could cause the other to crash, since they ran in protected (separate) memory systems (engl.: Protected Mode ). As a true preemptive system, the kernel distributed the CPU time to the respective subsystems using the time slice method. As a result, the kernel functioned as a multitasking and multiuser system , which brought with it a level of complexity previously unknown on PCs, but rewarded the user with stability previously unknown in the home environment and opportunities never seen before.

Rick Rashid , who, among other things, helped develop the UNIX MACH kernel , was hired for the memory management architecture . The HAL was introduced between the hardware level and the subsystems . On the one hand, HAL was a neutral intermediate layer for various hardware platforms, since initially MIPS and PowerPC processors were also supported in addition to Intel processors. On the other hand, the choice of the name HAL was also a tribute to the (allegedly infallible) supercomputer HAL Series-9000 from the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey . Installation required either 21 diskettes or three boot diskettes plus a CD-ROM.

As a result, so-called old habits were cut off with NT , i.e. downward compatibility ended, which led to an outcry from many users. The (then) high hardware requirements were also criticized at the time. DOS compatibility was dispensed with insofar as DOS no longer served as the basis as before, but as a 16-bit subsystem was now responsible for the control of the microkernel . As a result, the system could no longer be programmed directly, i.e. hardware- related, as it used to be, which in turn meant that NT could not be used in some special areas for a long time. Technically, NT was neither based on MS-DOS nor on OS/2 , but initially made their programming interfaces available as well.

While NT 3.1 still seemed very sluggish, this point was completely eliminated with the successor NT 3.51, since the latter was characterized by speed and extreme stability. The graphical user interface was designed as an additional subsystem that was under the control of the microkernel and therefore could not cause the PC to crash. A blocked graphics driver could be remote, i. H. be restarted from another PC. The entire architecture and many services of the server version were already included in the workstation version. Small peer-to-peer networks could be set up easily and securely. In Microsoft's philosophy, NT should serve as the "development platform" and the less expensive Windows 95 should become the "end user" platform. A subsequently loadable graphical user interface was offered for NT 3.51. This was then the outlook for NT 4.0. However , the CAD customers mistrusted this constellation and then chose the much more expensive NT as the platform, on the grounds that experience has shown that the software runs most stably on the platform on which it was also developed and debugged , i.e. made error-free.

In order to become a force to be reckoned with in the CAD market, Microsoft implemented OpenGL , based on the 3D interface IRIX GL created by Silicon Graphics . With advances in hardware, you could skip the three boot diskettes on NT 4.0 using bootable CDs and boot directly with a CD , which made installation much easier.

As a result, Microsoft tried to place Windows NT in the market against Unix and OS/2, which was very successful in many areas. In particular, the market for workstations and servers was to be wrested from IBM with its then AIX Unix. When NT 5.0 entered the beta phase at the end of 1999, Microsoft's marketing department decided at short notice to rename it to Windows 2000 . However, this led to uncertainty and the market stayed on NT 4.0 for a relatively long time . Windows 2000 was offered in two versions: Windows 2000 Professional for the workstation and Windows 2000 Server for the server. Microsoft used this marketing trick again in 2001 with Windows XP (internal: NT 5.1). Here, too, a certain reluctance could be felt for a long time, especially among business customers: Many were skeptical about the "new" product, which was not least due to the fact that the naming and continuity with NT 4.0 was not immediately and obviously recognizable for laypeople.

Windows NT 4.0 retained support for OS/2 , 16-bit, and text-based programs. POSIX and OS/2 were no longer offered under Windows XP (i.e.: NT 5.1) , especially since these two subsystems could not use the XP security systems either. Support for MIPS and PowerPC processors has also been discontinued. Also, on the initiative of Bill Gates, the separate graphics subsystem of NT 3.51 was removed and positioned one level lower and thus closer to the kernel (and thus closer to the CPU). With regard to the development of computer games, this brought more speed, but on the other hand there was also the risk of a loss of stability. An unstable graphics driver could now crash the system. To prevent this, Microsoft introduced a certification of the driver software. Drivers that conformed to the Microsoft standards were thus given the status of WHQL tested.

At the end of 2001, Windows XP (internal: NT 5.1) appeared with the variants XP Home (for private users) and XP Professional (for business users). XP Home differed from Windows XP Professional primarily in its reduced rights management and limited network services. Windows XP was phased out in 2008. Finally, in April 2014, technical support ended. New PCs and laptops were only sold with Windows Vista. Only niche products with low hardware requirements are still (as of July 2008) offered with Windows XP (Mediacenter). While the server and client had the same version number up to Windows 2000 (NT 5.0), the Microsoft strategists chose a new name for the server starting with Windows XP : Windows 2003 Server (NT 5.2). With the introduction of Windows Vista (NT 6.0), the matching server was called Windows Server 2008 .

The successor to Windows Vista was named Windows 7 for marketing reasons , but has the internal version number 6.1. In the case of the server version of NT 6.1, the strong relationship to NT 6.0 is also evident in the marketing name: Windows Server 2008 R2.

Market-strategic delay of Intel's innovations

Since Windows had not kept pace with the audio and video capabilities of the PC's x86 processors , shortly before the market launch of Windows 95, Intel planned to offer other hardware and software manufacturers their own driver interfaces and so-called APIs in order to integrate the already to enter the announced multimedia business. Since this software should also be made available for other operating systems and would also upgrade Windows 3.1, which Microsoft had already written off, Microsoft threatened in negotiations with Intel in mid-1995 that it would only continue supporting the Intel platform if these developments were stopped. Intel gave in. Even Windows 98, developed years later, did not yet have all the capabilities that Intel had wanted to provide in 1995.

Start of the "browser war"

Microsoft initially underestimated the potential of the emerging Internet , so Netscape was able to gain a foothold in this market segment with its browser. Microsoft followed suit with Internet Explorer (IE), which was developed under time pressure , and it was only with Windows 95 that the portal MSN, the "Microsoft Network", was developed as a direct answer to AOL and CompuServe , which had previously divided up the public online market.

Microsoft attempted to push Internet Explorer through a strategy of bundling products with the operating system, which critics saw as anti-competitive. Furthermore, Microsoft successfully put pressure on Compaq by terminating the distribution license for Windows 95, since Compac had initially delivered its PCs with Netscape instead of IE. The so-called browser war began . The US Department of Justice saw the product bundling and this procedure as a violation of the previously agreed settlement. However, Microsoft was initially able to fend off the corresponding lawsuit in 1998 after three years of appeal. In the European Union , however, a program had to be installed from Windows 7 onwards that enabled the selection of an alternative browser. Since December 18, 2014, this is no longer necessary. This was automatically displayed when Windows was run for the first time.

subversion of software standards

In 1996 Microsoft acquired a license for Java , a platform-independent programming language from Sun Microsystems , and developed its own development environment and Java implementation for it under the name Visual J++ . However, this resulted in a proprietary Java variant that partially accessed Windows directly instead of using the operating system-independent Java Virtual Machine , as the Java concept had envisaged. In this way, many application software developers produced products that ran only on Windows. After a legal dispute with Sun in 2003, Microsoft only supported the MSJVM (Microsoft Java Virtual Machine) sporadically in the form of security updates until 2007. Accordingly, Sun's Java is used almost everywhere again today, and most professional applets are compatible with it today.

Microsoft followed this policy of adopting software standards and subsequent modifications in numerous other cases. Affected are the WWW standard HTML for websites and CSS . For years, most web designers oriented themselves to the special display method of Internet Explorer, with the result that many websites were not displayed correctly by competing browsers, which were based on the official standards. The character set standard ISO 8859-1 , JScript , ECMAScript and DOM , the TCPA standard and various network protocols are also affected .

Likewise, as a competitor to the MP3 format, the proprietary WMA format was developed to combat MP3. Microsoft's e-mail products also work with their own extensions and small deviations from international standards.

Antitrust lawsuit and impending split

As a result of these developments, the Justice Department and 19 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in May 1998, the core of which was the browser war and handling of Java. However, the antitrust proceedings came too late for Netscape, which wanted to expand its Navigator into an operating system-independent basis for its own version of Office. It was acquired by AOL in October 1998. A memo from 1996 from the confiscated internal correspondence proved that Microsoft had deliberately and tacitly increased the proportion of incompatible components in Java so that the developers would not notice that they were writing Windows-based Java applications.

When a split of Microsoft into "baby bills" was discussed in the late 1990s as a result of antitrust processes and efforts by the United States Department of Justice, a division of the group into an Internet company, 3 operating system companies and an application company with Office and Internet Explorer Offer Suggested. The tripartition of the operating system division was supported by two other respected US economists, William D. Nordhaus , a professor at Yale, and Frederic Michael Scherer, professor emeritus at Harvard since 2006 and a former director of the Federal Trade Commission .

The first instance judgment of June 2000 called for Microsoft to split into two separate companies for operating systems and application software. After George W. Bush , whose campaign agency Century Strategies was closely linked to Microsoft, won the US presidency in 2001, Charles James was appointed the new head of the antitrust office. James, who had advocated the preservation of Microsoft as a unit before taking office, confirmed the antitrust violations and illegal business practices in the appeal hearing, but the judgment regarding the division of Microsoft was overturned.

Microsoft continued the product bundling policy thereafter, as in the case of the media player built into Windows XP.

New operating system and leadership change

On July 22, 2004, Microsoft announced that it intends to release significant cash reserves accumulated as a result of legal uncertainty following the resolution of significant litigation. In December 2004, Microsoft paid a special dividend of $3.00 per share. The total payout, including the quarterly dividend, was $34.4 billion, making it the highest dividend ever paid by a company.

As a result of antitrust proceedings, Microsoft reached an agreement with the European Commission to offer a Windows version without an integrated media player in Europe in the future. Windows XP Edition N was released in July 2005 as the first generation of these N versions. Other N editions of Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 followed.

In October 2005, Microsoft introduced five "free" software licenses under the shared source program. Two of them, the Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL) and the Microsoft Community License (Ms-CL), meet the criteria for free software licenses according to the Free Software Foundation Europe . After being renamed Microsoft Public License and Microsoft Reciprocal License , these two licenses were recognized by the Open Source Initiative on October 12, 2007 . In addition, Microsoft released so-called express versions of some Visual Studio applications (C#, C++, Basic, Web Developer). Originally, these versions should only be available for free download from Microsoft for one year. However, because of the large community , Microsoft decided that they should remain free permanently. They would have to be registered after 30 days, but could be used free of charge indefinitely. Apart from a few small limitations, they are almost identical to the corresponding full versions. "Minor restrictions" means e.g. B. concretely that with Visual C++ initially no graphical Windows programs can be written; this is only possible after downloading a larger, but free, add- on package (Microsoft 's SDK ). It is still not possible to develop MFC programs then, but programs with a graphical user interface are also possible without using the .net framework.

On June 15, 2006, Gates announced that he would be retiring from Microsoft's day-to-day operations by July 2008 and would leave the position of Chief Software Architect to Ray Ozzie , the previous chief technology officer.

In May 2007, Microsoft acquired online advertising company aQuantive for around $6 billion. In addition, in October of the same year, Microsoft acquired a minority stake in the online social network Facebook for 240 million US dollars ; an exclusive agreement was reached on the international marketing of Facebook advertising by Microsoft.

At the beginning of 2008, information leaked out that Microsoft had developed a system for recording users' bodily functions (US patent application 20070300174), which in turn drew criticism from privacy advocates.

After Microsoft had already unsuccessfully tried to take over the Internet company Yahoo in May 2007 , the software giant started a new attempt in February 2008 and offered 44.6 billion US dollars. Yahoo also rejected this offer, whereupon Microsoft set a three-week deadline for an agreement at the beginning of April 2008. This deadline expired on April 27, 2008, although Microsoft did not respond with the threatened hostile takeover of the Yahoo Group.

For the first time since going public, Microsoft closed the 2008/2009 financial year with a decline in sales and profits. By July 2009, the software company had cut 5,000 jobs worldwide because of the economic crisis and the ongoing slump in the PC market.

Kinect , a body-based control system for the Xbox 360 games console, was developed in cooperation with PrimeSense and released in November 2010. After falling market share of the outdated Windows Mobile operating system, Microsoft introduced Windows Phone in 2010 and started a cooperation with Nokia for future mobile communication products. The release of the new operating system brought some changes to the company's logo, as well as the products and services offered. On March 23, 2011, Microsoft joined 23 other companies, including Deutsche Telekom , Google , and Yahoo  , among others, in the Open Networking Foundation , a not-for-profit organization promoting a new cloud computing initiative that will innovate in the space through small updates , e.g. B. for private networks should accelerate.

Windows 8 was presented in Taipei in June 2011 . Microsoft 's webmail service launched on July 31, 2012. On June 18, 2012, CEO Steve Ballmer introduced the first PC to feature Microsoft hardware: the Microsoft Surface . Microsoft Surface RT, as the first version, has an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 32/64  GB flash memory and an integrated one-megapixel camera. It was released in Germany on October 26, 2012, together with Windows 8. Microsoft Windows Phone 8 was released on October 29, 2012 with new support for multi-core processors and microSD cards, as well as the integration of Internet Explorer 10 .

Since 2013, Microsoft has been one of the first key members of the FIDO Alliance , which developed the Universal Second Factor (U2F) industry standard for universally applicable two-factor authentication .

The Kinect receiver was upgraded for the new Microsoft Xbox One console and the innovations were presented in May 2013. The new Kinect is equipped with an HD camera, a more powerful processor, fine motion detection and a heart rate monitor. The Xbox One is equipped with a BluRay drive, 8 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive. At the 2013 E3 show in Los Angeles, Microsoft showcased games such as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag , Battlefield 4 , and Call of Duty: Ghosts , all offered for the Xbox One.

In March 2013, Patent Tracker , an application for searching patents in the Microsoft database, was launched. On July 19, 2013, Microsoft stock experienced its biggest crash since its IPO in 2000, posting a loss of the equivalent of about 24 billion euros. On September 3, 2013, Microsoft took over the mobile phone division of Nokia .

After Steve Ballmer announced his retirement as CEO in August 2013, he was succeeded in February 2014 by Satya Nadella , previously employed in the company's cloud computing segment. Likewise, Bill Gates resigned as chairman to focus on his position as technical advisor to the company; his successor is John W. Thompson.

environmental profiling

In January 2020, Microsoft announced plans to "recover" by 2050 the entire [[ carbon footprint]] it says it has caused since 1975. Microsoft also supplies more than 500 organizations with programs based on artificial intelligence (AI) in the AI for Earth project. In April of that year, President Brad Smith unveiled the Planetary Computer AI platform , designed to help scientists, conservation organizations, and the company's customers tackle global species extinction. According to Microsoft, the new system could use satellite images to analyze tree density in forests more quickly or feed an algorithm with measurement data from bodies of water to calculate the risk of flooding in different areas. Together with the environmental analysis association GEO , Microsoft has offered a funding program for which research projects that want to use the "Planetary Computer" project can apply.

In addition, Microsoft uses a more environmentally friendly type of concrete in company buildings, which is intended to limit carbon dioxide emissions during manufacture.

Subsidiaries in German-speaking countries


Microsoft Deutschland GmbH was founded in 1983 and its company headquarters are in Munich - Schwabing . Regional offices are located in Stuttgart , Cologne , Hamburg , Frankfurt am Main , Berlin and Walldorf . From 2003 to 2013 there was a research location in Aachen (European Microsoft Innovation Center) . Research and development is currently still taking place in the Search Technology Center Europe in Munich. The company employs over 3000 people in Germany.

A growing business area is the Public Sector (PS). The focus is on the areas of education and health care as well as on administrative modernization , for which large backlogs have been identified in Germany. A political team in Berlin maintains relations with politicians and organizes events on digital change . On June 21, 2021, a digital day 2021 took place on questions of digital education (clouds, learning to program, etc.). There is a market for software as well as the training on it. A "digital education pact" is supported by Microsoft Germany. Partner is u. a. Deutsche Telekom and the D21 initiative .

The current Managing Director of Microsoft Germany since November 2020 is Marianne Janik , who previously managed Microsoft Switzerland. Former chairmen were Achim Berg from 2007 to 2010 , then Ralph Haupter until 2012 . When he took over responsibility for Microsoft in Greater China as CEO in April 2012 , Jane Gilson continued to manage business at Microsoft Germany on an interim basis. From mid-September 2012 to spring 2016, Christian P. Illek chaired the management board. In the spring of 2016, Sabine Bendiek took over the management of Microsoft Germany and ran it until it was taken over by Janik.


Microsoft has been present in Switzerland since 1989 and employs more than 620 people as Microsoft Schweiz GmbH in Wallisellen , Bern , Basel and Geneva .


Microsoft Austria GmbH was founded in 1991 and is based in Vienna . The company employs 350 people. Microsoft Austria is a member of the Austrian platform Industry 4.0 .


Like many large US corporations whose main business is selling intellectual property assets, Microsoft hardly pays any taxes. For this purpose, controversial transfer tricks such as Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich are used .

The influence on state institutions such as health care and education through the sale of software, school materials and training courses is seen as innovative on the one hand and profit-oriented on the other.

In November 2017, Microsoft is listed in the Paradise Papers publications .


Many critics refer to Bill Gates ' monopolistic attitude . According to them, Microsoft's corporate strategy is anti-competitive and not customer-centric. According to the critics, the most important changes in new product versions are based in particular on the following motivations:

  • Making it more difficult to use products from other manufacturers (e.g. by changing standards or constantly expanding the operating system with additional functions that are already offered by third-party providers).
  • Creating a compulsion to switch to the latest version (e.g. by creating incompatibilities, obliging OEM manufacturers to switch to the latest operating system platform)
  • Securing the monopoly position (e.g. through file and software incompatibilities, network incompatibilities, marketing)

Critics attribute the market dominance in PC operating systems to founder Bill Gates' talent for conquering markets. The quality of Microsoft products is a subject of much heated debate among experts. Some critics branded the origin and distribution policy of the first Microsoft products, which were crucial to success, as unethical (cheap purchase and marketing of software expressly designed as a disposable system). In addition, Bill Gates was accused of having accustomed the general public to the dubious "truth" that errors in software and sudden computer failures during operation, so-called crashes, are to be accepted as "normal". As a result of Microsoft's clever marketing and influence policy, almost every new PC today comes with a pre-installed Windows system.

Furthermore, the undermining of software standards and the exploitation of Microsoft's monopoly market position are criticized.

Discounts for Windows-only distribution

Microsoft offers large manufacturers exceptionally favorable conditions for OEM software. In the context of the US Department of Justice 's antitrust proceedings against Microsoft, it became known in 2001 that Microsoft had made these conditions non-transparent and in some cases linked them to the obligation not to deliver desktop computers without a Microsoft operating system. The out-of-court agreement in the cartel proceedings banned this approach for the future.

product bundles

The high market share for operating systems represents a virtual monopoly and makes it easier for Microsoft to quickly spread new technologies on the market via the Windows platform. This was e.g. This was achieved, for example, with Internet Explorer, which was preinstalled in (updated) versions of Windows 95 and was even merged into the system in later versions of Windows. At times, Internet Explorer achieved a market share of up to 85% and outperformed its competitor at the time, Netscape, thanks to its competitive advantage. This browser war ultimately triggered the US antitrust proceedings against Microsoft in 1997. In the European Union, Microsoft was also obliged to offer the operating system without Windows Media Player .

antitrust violations

Microsoft is often criticized and reprimanded. Since 2004, the European Commission has imposed numerous fines on Microsoft for violating competition laws. Conditions were imposed on the group with regard to the disclosure of interface specifications and the decoupling of products. The most significant criticisms of Microsoft are

  1. the abuse of its position as market leader for an anti-competitive contract policy towards economically dependent companies,
  2. the anti-competitive bundling of different products,
  3. the undermining of established software standards with the aim of customer loyalty to Microsoft as a result of incompatibilities: " Embrace, Extend and Extinguish ",
  4. long-unpatched vulnerabilities in operating systems and applications and
  5. delaying software innovations for strategic corporate reasons.

Numerous court cases were and are still pending on the first three points of criticism. Dissatisfaction with business policy and the quality of the products, which critics often see as falling short of the state of the art, has contributed significantly to the emergence of an open source movement that wants to offer better alternatives to proprietary products such as those from Microsoft. With the publication of the internal “ Halloween Documents ” in 1998, it became known that Microsoft analysts saw free software , especially GNU/Linux , as a strong competitor and proposed strategies to combat it.

data breaches

In 2002, Microsoft received the "Lifetime Award" from the German Big Brother Awards . The negative award was given "primarily for his services in the widespread introduction of copyright control technology: Digital Rights Management ". Microsoft made a positive impression because it had its then German corporate data protection officer, Sascha Hanke, collect the award in person, which no award winner had dared to do before then.

The group was also criticized for spying on user behavior with the help of its in-house media player . Microsoft Active Protection Service and the virus scanner Microsoft Security Essentials have also been criticized for collecting user information.

In 2018 there was another German Big Brother Award for the company - this time in the technology category "for the telemetry that can hardly be deactivated " (that is the transmission of diagnostic data) "in Windows 10 ".

On September 18, 2020, the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Education , Susanne Eisenmann , received a Big Brother Award in the digitization category because she wants to introduce Office 365 in schools in her state . Laudator Leena Simon criticized the fact that the data of teachers and students were stored on Microsoft servers and were not protected from access by US secret services . This is also the case if the servers are located in Europe. In addition, Microsoft can bypass the ban on product advertising in schools. Eisenmann had previously tried to have the use of Microsoft 365 legitimized by a data protection impact assessment commissioned from Microsoft partner PricewaterhouseCoopers . This study was not published. The state data protection officer Stefan Brink was allowed to see them and criticized them in a letter to the Ministry of Education: "There seem to be structural characteristics of the envisaged processing that make the possibility of data protection-compliant use without significant adaptation of data processing by Microsoft appear questionable".

In October 2021, Microsoft received the negative Austrian Big Brother Award for Microsoft Workplace Analytics for analyzing employees and their activities .

employee appraisal

In November 2013, Microsoft - after years of criticism - fundamentally changed its system for appraising employees (or assessing their performance).

Until now, Microsoft has used the so-called stack ranking (known in other companies as forced ranking) according to the concept of the vitality curve : Within a team there had to be a fixed percentage of top people, mere mortals and "low performers" - no matter how good the team overall and the individual employees really were in their day-to-day work. Even if a boss was extremely satisfied with everyone in his team: he was forced to identify and name supposed "underperformers"; the “ normal distribution ” must be maintained.


Litigation with the European Union

The European Commission imposed several fines on Microsoft.

After the software company Sun Microsystems filed a complaint with the European Commission against its competitor Microsoft in 1998, the European Commission under Mario Monti imposed a fine of 497 million euros in March 2004 after four years of investigations. The Commission and the complainants European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) and the Software and Information Industry Association had accused Microsoft of having used its dominant position in the Windows PC operating system in an anti-competitive manner to gain market leadership in the server market. In addition, anti-competitive bundling of the operating system with application software was again identified. The EU Commission demanded that previously kept secret interface information for communication with Windows server systems should be made available to the competition and that a Windows version without Microsoft's Media Player be offered. Microsoft subsequently offered a Windows without Media Player, but at the same price as the version with Media Player; therefore, the slimmed-down version found almost no buyers. On July 12, 2006, the EU Commission imposed a fine of 280.5 million euros on Microsoft for failing to meet the conditions laid down in March 2004. On September 17, 2007, a European court of first instance dismissed Microsoft's complaint against the European Union and declared the fine of 497 million euros to be justified. In October 2007, Microsoft agreed to comply with the competition authority's key requirements and waived the right to appeal the verdict; this ended the litigation.

On February 27, 2008, the Commission again imposed a fine of 899 million euros because the company failed to meet the requirements imposed in 2004 to disclose interface information to competitors. At the end of June 2012, the European Court of Justice confirmed the fine, but the amount was reduced to 860 million euros. This is the highest penalty ever imposed on a company by a European Union court. The fines paid so far add up to over 1.6 billion euros.

On March 6, 2013, the European Union again fined Microsoft for violating antitrust law, this time amounting to 561 million euros. The Commission accused the group of failing to offer users browsers from competitors for surfing the Internet in the period from May 2011 to July 2012 with the Windows 7 operating system in addition to its own Internet Explorer. In this way, Microsoft exploited its dominant position and forced customers to use their own products.

More processes

  • In May 2003, Microsoft settled its Netscape dispute with AOL Time Warner . Microsoft subsequently paid $750 million.
  • In July 2003, the dispute over force feedback technology was settled with the payment of 26 million US dollars to the games input device manufacturer Immersion.
  • In the dispute over US Patent No. 5,838,906, Microsoft was ordered on August 11, 2003 to pay the software company Eolas Technologies around 521 million US dollars . The patent infringed by Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser allows access to interactive programs embedded on web pages.
  • Microsoft and Be Inc. settled out of court on September 6, 2003 to pay $23.3 million, prompting the maker of the BeOS operating system to drop its anti-competitive lawsuit against Microsoft.
  • On October 3, 2003, a lawsuit was filed against Microsoft alleging that the software manufacturer promotes the spread of viruses, worms and other attackers through poor security mechanisms and its business practices, and that Microsoft does not sufficiently inform customers about the dangers.
  • More than 30 patent infringement lawsuits have been filed against Microsoft: Sun for Java, Intertrust for DRM technology, for streaming technology. In March 2005, Microsoft paid $60 million in royalties to settle the patent lawsuit.
  • Microsoft and Sun settled their legal disputes in April 2004, with Microsoft paying Sun $700 million for the antitrust offenses and $900 million for the use of patents. At the same time, both companies announced broad cooperation.
  • Gateway dropped all antitrust claims against Microsoft in April 2005 for $150 million.
  • After around 10 years of litigation, Microsoft and IBM agreed to pay 775 million US dollars. Additionally, IBM received a $75 million credit for Microsoft software. Among other things, Microsoft is accused of discriminating against the IBM Corporation when purchasing software.
  • On October 11, 2005, RealNetworks withdrew from antitrust proceedings in the European Union and South Korea and from a lawsuit in the United States. Microsoft previously agreed to pay the network streaming specialist $761 million.
  • In 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco allowed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft and retailer Best Buy  , despite concerns, based on the RICO Act . The lawsuit was filed in April 2000 by James Odom, who accused the two companies of fraud by exchanging customer information for credit card purchases without informing the customers concerned. After investing 200 million US dollars in Best Buy , Microsoft had agreed to advertise for this company in return for the retailer to promote Microsoft products.
  • According to Heise online , in April 2009 a jury in Rhode Island sentenced Microsoft to pay $388 million in damages. According to the jury in the trial, which has been running since October 2003, the method used by Microsoft to license Windows XP and some Office products infringes a Uniloc patent. In the meantime, however, the judgment has been overturned in the appeal process.

tax avoidance

An Irish subsidiary of Microsoft made a profit of $315 billion in 2020 but paid no corporation tax because it was "based" in Bermuda for tax purposes , research has found in Britain's Guardian . The profit generated by Microsoft Round Island One is equivalent to almost three quarters of Ireland's gross domestic product - even though the company has no employees. The subsidiary, which collects license fees worldwide for the use of copyrighted Microsoft software, reported annual profits of $314.7 billion in fiscal 2019/2020.


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  • The Microsoft Story (2013)
  • The Microsoft Dilemma (2018)


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web links

Commons : Microsoft  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Microsoft  - in the news


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