20 Facts You Never Knew About Microsoft

Anyone who owns a computer or has ever used one is aware of the Microsoft company. In fact, many students and workers across the world cannot possibly imagine life without the products that this technology business creates. They have become the biggest and most successful computer software providers in the world and only really Apple can compete with them in the marketplace. Whether you love Microsoft or prefer one of their rivals, there is no denying that this company has made many important contributions to the technology industry and the world would be a different place without them. Despite being a company of which everyone is aware and making such a significant difference to schooling, the workplace, and home computer use, there are still many things that people do not know about this corporation. Here are 20 facts you probably don’t know about Microsoft.

1. It Was Founded in 1975

Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. At the time, they were both students; Gates at Harvard and Allen at Washington State University. They were both skilled at computer programming and dreamed of creating new computer systems. Originally, the company was called Micro-soft and this was a name suggested by Paul Allen. It makes sense as it is a combination of abbreviated terms for microcomputer and software.However, in 1981, they decided to remove the hyphen from their company’s name and call it Microsoft. They founded the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but the company had moved to Bellevue, Washington, by 1979. It wasn’t until 1986 that the company moved to Redmond, Washington, which is now the headquarters of Microsoft. The company has had several logos over the years. In the original logo, the ‘o’was stylized and given the name ‘blibbet’ which was also the name of a burger once sold in the Microsoft cafeterias. The current ‘Pac-Man’ logo has been in use since 1987.

2. Gates and Allen Had Already Founded One Business

Prior to establishing Microsoft, Gates and Allen had already shown their entrepreneurial skills and established another company. They designed a computer system that automatically processed traffic counting data. The aim of this was to read the raw data that was produced by roadway traffic counters and transform these into reports for traffic engineers. They developed this while they were both still students at a high school in Seattle. The company was called Traf-O-Data. They had a limited amount of success with the company. Although financially this venture was not all that successful, both Gates and Allen considered a huge learning experience. It helped them to develop the computer programming skills so they could focus on founding Microsoft. It also gave them the opportunity to develop their business skills and it is these skills that helped them to make Microsoft the huge success it became.

3. Investing in Microsoft Stock in the 1980s Was a Good Investment

People who invested in Microsoft during the early to mid-1980s were probably taking a big financial risk. The company was relatively new at that time and is part of a competitive industry. However, those who did take the risk have found that it has paid off now. A perfect example of this is those who bought stock on March 13, 1986. On that date, investors would have paid $21 for one share of the stock. The value of that one share is worth almost $15,000 in 2017. This means that in 30 years, the value of the shares has risen by over 71,000 %.

4. Microsoft Has Made Bill Gates a Very Rich Man

Although he was only a student when he founded Microsoft, the decision to start this company has led to Bill Gates becoming a very successful and rich man. In 1987, he became the youngest billionaire ever at the age of 31. By 1995, he had earned the title of the world’s richest man as he had accrued a net worth of $12.9 billion. He is not the only one to profit from this business. Analysts have estimated that the growth of the company has created at least two other billionaires, including former CEO Steve Ballmer. In 2014, Balmer bought the LA Clippers for $2 billion. Microsoft has also possibly made more than 12,000 people millionaires.

5. Microsoft Employees Have a Very ‘Sweet’ Tradition

There is a very interesting tradition amongst the employees of Microsoft. If it is the anniversary of the date they started working at Microsoft, there is an expectation that they will bring sweets in to share with their colleagues and not just any old sweets will do; it has to be M&Ms. The amount of sweets they bring in depends on how long they have worked for the company. Traditionally, an employee brings in one pound in weight of the sweets for every year they have been in the employment of Microsoft. This is just one example of the type of working environment that Gates and Allen established from the beginning of the company.

6. Bill Gates Appeared in His Company’s Motivational Videos

As a way of motivating staff who worked for Microsoft, Bill Gates would make motivational videos. These were aimed to keep employees enthusiastic about working for the company and retain focus on the company’s goals. Gates appeared in many of these himself and so did former CEO, Steve Ballmer. The videos generally had a comedic theme, so Gates clearly didn’t take himself too seriously and didn’t mind looking silly. One example of this is an Austin Powers parody video that the pair made together. In the video, Gates dressed-up as Austin Powers.

7. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Once Worked Together

It is well-known that Microsoft and Apple are competitors as these businesses are both in the same field of technology. However, Bill Gates and Apple founder Steve Jobs previously worked together. In the earlier years of their two companies, they collaborated on creating software for the first Macintosh computer and the two men got along well. However, things changed when they each began creating software that was in direct competition of each other. As a result of this change in their businesses, Gates and Jobs developed a rivalry that has lasted for decades.

8. Microsoft Helped Apple to Avoid Bankruptcy

Although Apple is now one of the most successful businesses in the world and is a direct competitor of Microsoft, they once ran into financial trouble. In 1997, the company was almost declared bankrupt and needed a massive investment if they were to continue operating. It was Microsoft that became their savior as the company invested $150 million in their rival. Steve Jobs had the unfortunate job of announcing this investment when he made his first stage appearance as the CEO of Apple. The news was received by boos from the audience. Despite the rivalry between Gates and Jobs and regardless of the poor reception of the news, it was this investment that gave Apple the boost they needed to become the success they are today.

9. Microsoft Has Dabbled in Lots of Technologies

Although Microsoft have excelled in designing and selling personal computers and gaming consoles, these have not been the only technologies they have created. In fact, since the company began they have obtained over 10,000 patents for their product designs and apply for approximately 3,000 more each year. This has involved them creating lots of prototypes for products. Some of the different technologies in which they have dabbled include watches, TV gadgets, and real-time translation. They have also created many prototypes for tablet computers and they are responsible for creating the term ‘tablets’. Unfortunately, many of the prototypes didn’t make it on to the market and many of those that did were a flop. This hasn’t prevented Microsoft from venturing into fields beyond their specialist areas and attempting to develop new technology.

10. Microsoft Are the Creators and Owners of the Xbox Games Console

While most people are aware that Microsoft are the creators of the Windows applications used on personal computers, not everyone realizes that they are also the creators and owners of Xbox games consoles. The name ‘Xbox’ is an abbreviation of ‘DirectX Box’. DirectX is the crucial software used for Microsoft Windows to make intense game graphics. In addition to the Xbox games console, Microsoft also own s the games and applications, the streaming services, and an online service called Xbox Live. The original Xbox console was launched in the United States in November 2001. 24 million units were sold by May 2006. The second console was released in 2005 and by April 2013, there had been over 77.2 million units sold.

11. Microsoft Has 35 Cafeterias

Google is well-known for having a free-for-all ethos in terms of providing food, snacks, and drinks for their staff. Although Microsoft do not quite reach the same standards when it comes to feeding their staff, it is something they certainly put effort into. They have 35 cafeterias that between them serve over 37,000 people each day. Of all the meals served in these cafeterias, pizza is the most popular option. One benefit of working for Microsoft is that they offer free drinks to all their staff. At their corporate campus, more than 23 million gratis beverages are drunk annually. The two favorite drinks amongst the staff are orange juice and milk. Another treat that Microsoft provides for its staff is free candy. This arrives at the Microsoft campus via shuttle.

12. Brian Eno Composed the Microsoft Sound

Every person who uses windows will instantly recognize the start up tune that the computer plays after it is first turned on. Although it is only a few notes in length, it is actually the work of an influential composer called Brian Eno. This talented musician and composer has worked with some major talents over the years, including U2 and David Bowie. When interviewed about his contribution to Microsoft, Eno said that writing such a short piece of music was both amazing and funny. The tune became known as ‘The Microsoft Sound’. It was first used for Windows 95 and the launch for this had an advertisement featuring ‘Start Me Up’ by the Rolling Stones. Interestingly, Eno is also the composer of the music for a computer game called ‘Spore’.

13. Microsoft Uses Code Names

When Microsoft is working on new projects, they often use code names. This is partly to keep their projects under wraps, but is often also because they have yet to think of an official name for a project. There is a long list of the code names they have used over the years, but some examples include ‘Vienna’, ‘Lone Star’, and ‘Longhorn’. Many people also mistakenly believe that ‘Mojave’ was one of the code names they used for a project. However, this is not true. ‘The Mojave Experiment’ was an advertising campaign that was art of a marketing exercise intended to counteract the poor public relations of Vista. They were trying to present the software to potential new users as an original product.

14. Employees Are Called Softies

Anyone who is employed by Microsoft is given the nickname ‘Softie’. Microsoft has over 88.000 employees working at their various premises. The total area covered in square footage of their combined premises is 32,404,796 square feet. There are more than 55,000 premises in the Unites States alone. While many workplaces aim to have an equal split of male and female workers, the male to female ratio at Microsoft is extremely high. Approximately 74% of the employees at this company are male. Microsoft have collated data about their staff to discover who their average worker is and found that an average Microsoft employee is a 38-year-old male. The average salary for a developer is $106,000.

15. Microsoft Has a Large Art Collection

Microsoft is well-known for having Clip Art that people can use in various applications when creating documents and presentations. However, this is not the only way in which Microsoft is interested in art. They are also one of the largest corporate art collectors in the world. Across their carious premises, they have a huge collection of over 5,000 pieces of contemporary art. These include sculptures, paintings, studio glass, ceramics, photographs, works on paper, and a variety of multimedia works. The pieces come from both up-ad-coming artists and for established big names, including Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman, and Takashi Murakami. The works are predominantly split over 150 of the company’s main campuses. Senior management at Microsoft believe that art in the workplace can help to reduce stress, create a pleasant working environment, encourage the expression of opinions, and open discussions, and increase productivity. With so many benefits, it is little wonder that Microsoft is continuing to expand its collection of corporate art.

16. Microsoft Have Unusual Interviewing Techniques

As one of the leaders in the field of personal computers and technology, Microsoft wants to recruit the best staff possible and the interview stage is an important aspect of their recruitment process. While most large companies will stick to standardized questioning during interviews, Microsoft has a rather different approach. They prefer to ask off-the-wall, off-beat questions that require candidates to think creatively about their responses. Microsoft try to include questions and tasks that show the personalities and skills of their potential employees rather than simply asking straightforward questions that a candidate could practice the responses to in advance. It is possibly an urban legend, but according to some sources, one of the best questions they ask during an interview is why a manhole cover is round. They have also asked candidates to complete puzzles in the past so they can analyse their problem-solving skills.

17. The Microsoft Corporate Campus is Full of Rabbits

Years ago, someone dumped some unwanted pet rabbits on the land around the Microsoft Corporate Campus. It wasn’t long before the rabbits began to do what rabbits do best and soon they were multiplying rapidly. At one point, the situation got so out of control that the Microsoft staff had to start catching rabbits and having them neutered. Despite taking these steps to tackle the rabbit problem, there are still plenty on the campus to this day. Therefore, if you ever need to visit the Microsoft Corporate Campus for any reason, it is likely that you will see a whole bunch of rabbits while you are there. Microsoft are not the only computer technology company that can boast of having pets on their land as Google is known to have goats.

18. The Windows XP Background is Probably the Most Viewed Photo in History

Although the exact figures are difficult to confirm, it is widely believed that the background photo used for Windows XP may be the most viewed photo in history. The photo is of a grassy field and hill with a mountain in the background and a blue sky above. The original photograph was taken in Sonoma County in California and was given the title ‘Bliss’. Photographer Charles O’Rear took the photo in 1996 and Microsoft paid for the rights of the photograph. It then became the default background for Microsoft Windows XP. Although people have the option to set their own background, everyone who has Windows XP will have seen this photo at least once when they first set up their computer. Many people choose to keep the default background and will then see it every time they turn on their personal computer. For this reason, it is believed that ‘Bliss’ is potentially the most viewed photograph of all time.

19. The Marketing Campaign for Windows 95 Cost Over $300 Million

When Microsoft have a new product, they take their marketing campaigns extremely seriously. They are also willing to spend heavily to advertise their products. This was certainly the case when they launched Windows 95 in August 1995. It is believed that the advertising budget for this advertising campaign was in excess of $300 million. The campaign included the Rolling Stones theme song, advertisements featuring Jay Leno making jokes, and a range of other extravagant marketing techniques. Although Microsoft invested heavily in their advertising campaign, it was an expense that paid off as it was at this point they became truly dominant in desktop computing. Over the five years after the launch of Windows 95, Microsoft’s annual revenue climbed by more than five times.

20. Microsoft Beat Apple to the Smartphone

The Apple iPhone now dominates the market for smartphones and it is often believed that they were the leaders in this industry. It may surprise you to learn that it was, in fact, Microsoft that were the first to create smartphones and that they beat Apple at launching in this field by seven years. The iPhone was not released until 2007, but Microsoft began making waves in this area in as early as 2000. At that time, Microsoft was already putting Windows on smartphones and PDAs. However, the impact of their efforts with regards to smartphones was somewhat disappointing. This may explain why former CEO Steve Ballmer was extremely dismissive of the iPhone when it was launched in 2007.


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