Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington which was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows. The company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made a number of corporate acquisitions, their largest being the acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in December 2016, followed by their acquisition of Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in May 2011.
Earlier dethroned by Apple in 2010, in 2018 Microsoft reclaimed its position as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world. In April 2019, Microsoft reached the trillion-dollar market cap, becoming the third U.S. public company to be valued at over $1 trillion after Apple and Amazon respectively.
Microsoft develops, manufactures, licenses, supports, and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Its best-known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Software products licensed under the contract include Windows 10, Microsoft Office and the core Client Access Licenses for Windows Server, Exchange, System Center and SharePoint, which allow the computer to legally access Microsoft servers over a network. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touchscreen personal computers.
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