Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, maintains, and markets computer software, consumer electronics, PCs, and related services. The most popular software products are the Microsoft Windows operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. The main hardware products are Xbox game consoles and Microsoft’s Surface touch PC line. In 2016, it was the world’s highest-selling software maker. Microsoft is ranked 30th in the Fortune 500 of America’s largest companies in terms of total revenue in 2018. It is one of the top five technology companies alongside Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.
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Microsoft was founded on April 4, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. In the mid-1980s, Microsoft dominated the PC operating system market with MS-DOS and then Microsoft Windows. As a result of the company’s IPO in 1986 and the subsequent rise in its share price, Microsoft generated three billionaires and approximately 12,000 millionaires. Since the 1990s, the company has increasingly diversified in the operating system market and has completed a number of business acquisitions. The most significant of these was the acquisition of LinkedIn for $ 26.2 billion in December 2016, followed by the acquisition of Skype Technologies for $ 8.5 billion in May 2011.