Microsoft History
Historians categorize blocks of time with the discovery of certain raw materials
that humans utilized. The Bronze Age and the Iron Age were two periods in human
history that proved through the discovery of artifacts that humans learned to
harness these raw materials ingeniously. The Industrial Revolution of the late
nineteenth century brought the discoveries of the Bronze and Iron Ages to new
heights, and the advent of the locomotive, automobiles, cargo ships and
airplanes were the most evident by-products of such raw materials. Use of these
by-products from the earth’s raw materials dramatically changed the world of
business and trade. With the subsequent invention of wire communications (i.e.,
tapping out Morse code and speaking over telephone lines), business and trade
grew exponentially. Wireless communications via the inventions of radio,
television, and motion pictures contributed greatly to the advances of the
Industrial Revolution. The need to find better ways of doing business to keep
the marketplace fresh and innovative has driven the human race toward the brink
of a new era the Information Age. Unlike more tangible qualities of prior ages,
the Information Age offers less defined qualities. At the heart of this new age
is the advent of the personal home computer. Pumping life into this otherwise
material home appliance is software that incorporates the necessary commands to
access information stored within the computer’s memory. The company that
offered the world its first software manufacturing company was Microsoft
Corporation (MSFT on the NASDAQ exchange). At the helm of this young, innovative
company are William Gates and Paul Allen, a pair of former high school chums who
envisioned a world of home computer technology years before such a dream became
even remotely possible.


Early Influences
Their story begins at Lakeside High, a private high school in Seattle,
Washington. The Mothers’ Club at Lakeside decided to purchase a computer
terminal for the kids with proceeds from bake sales and rummage sales. Students
at Lakeside became enthralled with this new toy. True to their innate curiosity,
Gates and Allen began to dabble farther into the workings of the computer; Gates,
for example, wrote his first computer program at the age of thirteenCa version
of Tic, Tac, Toe. Because the computer terminal was so slow, one game of Tic,
Tac, Toe took up most of a lunch break; if played on paper, a full 30 seconds
might have been required. Despite the simplicity of the program, it spawned the
creative genius in both young men to tackle more challenging programs in the
years ahead. Because the Mothers’ Club was unable to afford continued use of
computer time at $40 per hour, they decided to make it students’ responsibility
to purchase their own computer time. Most students complied by getting jobs
outside school. Gates and Allen became programmers in the summers for
compensation of computer time and $5000 in cash. In his 1995 book The Road
Ahead, Gates describes the mainframe computers of the early ;70’s as A. . .

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temperamental monsters that resided in climate-controlled cocoons . . .

connected by phone lines to clackety teletype terminals. . . emailprotected (11) He went
on to explain that a personal home computer called the DPD-8 was actually
available from Digital Equipment Corporation. According to Gates it was A. . .

an $18,000 personal computer which occupied a rack two feet square and six feet
high and had about as much computing capacity as a wristwatch does today . . .

Despite its limitations, it inspired us to indulge in the dream that one day
millions of individuals could possess their own emailprotected (11-12)
In the summer of 1973, Paul Allen, who knew more about computer hardware than
Bill Gates, shared an article with Gates buried on page 143 in Electronics
Magazine. The article described the invention of the 8008 micro-processor chip
by a young company called Intel. Paul was surprised to receive the technical
manual for the chip in the mail simply upon request. Immediately, he went to
work analyzing its capabilities. Due to the lack of transistors, the 8008 chip
was very limited in its use, but Allen discovered despite the limitations, the
chip was good for repetitive tasks and mathematical data.


First Business Venture
When Paul Allen entered college at Pullman, Washington, a town on the east side
of the state, sixteen-year-old Bill Gates traveled frequently by bus to visit
him. On these long trips across the state, Gates wrote a program that
facilitated the reading of traffic information gathered by municipalities
through a device set up on the side of certain intersections. A long, rubber
tube stretched across the road from one of these devices, and each time a
vehicle ran over the tube a punch was made in the roll of paper within the
device. People deciphered this crude data by visually inspecting the punch
holes and annotating the results. Gates’ program relieved humans from such a
tedious task, using the technology of the 8008 chip instead. With this program
Gates and Allen launched their first company, Traf-O-Data. The two programmers
were full of enthusiasm for the success of their new company; most communities,
however, were reluctant to purchase from two kids: consequently, their fledgling
company enjoyed only marginal sales.


Education Attempt
Gates attended Harvard College in 1973 while Allen secured a job in Boston,
Massachusetts as a programmer for Honeywell. In 1974 Intel announced the advent
of the 8080 chip that boasted 2,700 more tran-sistors than its predecessor.

Because of the disappointment they experienced in the hardware side of computing
through dismal success in Traf-O-Data, Gates and Allen focused on new
opportunities in the software side of computers. With a vision of millions of
computers owned by individuals, the pair banked on competition between Japanese
and American companies for control of the computer hardware market. With this
in mind, and with the introduction of the 8080 microprocessor chip (and
inevitable successors to the chip), Gates and Allen determined that their future
lay in developing software for these computers.


The Motivational Side of Fear
During a cold, New England morning outside a newsstand in Harvard Square during
one of his frequent visits to Bill Gates, Paul Allen picked up a copy of the
January issue of Popular Electronics magazine. The cover photo pictured a small
computer kit called the Altair 8800. It sold for a mere $397, and had 4,000
characters of memory . Panic struck Gates: A;Oh no! It’s happening without us!
People are going to go write real software for this chip.’ I was sure it would
happen sooner than later, and I wanted to be involved form the beginning. The
chance to get in on the first stages of the PC revolution seemed the opportunity
of a lifetime, and I seized emailprotected (Gates, 16).


Driven by fear of someone writing software for the Altair 8800 personal computer
before his own software was complete, Gates scrambled feverishly in his Harvard
College dormitory forgoing a decent night’s rest. Five weeks later, a version
of BASIC became the impetus for Athe world’s first microcomputer software
company . . . In time we named it ;Microsoft.’@ (Gates, 17)
In the spring of 1975, Allen quit his job with Honeywell; Gates decided to take
an indefinite leave of absence from college (never intending to forgo a degree).

Both young men planned to dive into the world of the computer software business
at its very beginning stages. Allen was twenty-two years young and Gates was
only nineteen. They set up operations in Albuquerque, New Mexico because the
city was home to MITS, creator of the first inexpensive personal computer to be
offered to the general pubic the Altair 8800 .


Microsoft provided BASIC language because it allowed a format for computer users
to write their own programs instead of having to rely on scarce, packaged
software. Immediately, the MITS Altair 8800 faced strong competition from
computer makers such as Apple, Commodore, and Radio Shack who entered the
personal computer market in 1977. The strategy at Microsoft was to convince
computer manufacturers to buy licenses to emailprotected Microsoft software with their
computers. Royalties would then be paid to Microsoft on each computer sale.

Aside from the antics of early software piraters and lack of government laws
preventing such activities, this strategy of selling licenses for the use of
their software worked well for Microsoft.


A Japanese Connection
By 1979 half of Microsoft’s business came from Japan. This was due in large
part to Asweat emailprotected of one man in particular. His name is Kazuhito (Kay)
Nishi. Kay telephoned Gates in 1978 after discovering Microsoft in a newspaper
article. Both Gates and Nishi were only twenty-two at the time and shared many
similarities despite cultural and language differences. They met shortly after
the phone call at an electronics con-vention in southern California. Without
attorneys, they signed a 12 page contract which gave Nishi exclusive
distribution rights to Microsoft’s BASIC language in East Asia. Eventually,
their original expectation of $15 million was realized ten-fold through sales as
a result of that contract.


Microsoft moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to its present home in Redmond,
Washington in 1979 with most of its twelve employees. According to Gates, the
mission of Microsoft was Ato write and supply software for most personal
computers without getting directly involved in making or selling computer
emailprotected (44) The programming team adapted programs to each machine and were
Avery responsive to all the hardware manufacturers . . . we wanted choosing
Microsoft software to be a no brainer . . . along the way, Microsoft BASIC
became an industry standard.,@ Gates was quoted. (44)
IBM Influence
By 1980, International Business Machines (IBM) enjoyed an 80% market share of
large computer hardware, but only marginal success with the smaller personal
computer (PC) market. The Apple II computer appeared poised to takle the
business market, thanks in part to a popular spreadsheet program called VisiCalc.

Based on Apple’s success, IBM decided to enter the PC market. In the summer of
1980, two emissaries from IBM met with Gates to discuss IBM’s plans for a full-
market assault, with components already available off-the-shelf. IBM’s plan was
to utilize Intel’s microprocessor chip and to use Microsoft’s programming
expertise, rather than create its own software. As a result of this meeting,
Microsoft hired Tim Paterson, from a Seattle, Washington firm, who became
responsible for creating the Disc Operating System (DOS) for IBM compatible
computers.


Survival of the Fittest
The first IBM PCs hit the market in August of 1981 with a choice of three
operating systems: Microsoft’s DOS, UCSD-Pascal, and CP/M86. Gates realized
that only one operating system could survive, just as only one video cassette
recorder survived their market previously (VHS beat out Beta Max). Gates
developed a three-part plan to come out on top of the competition: < make
Microsoft DOS the best product of the three < help other software companies
write MS-DOS based software < ensure MS-DOS to be inexpensive.


A Crucial Deal
With these objectives in mind, Gates offered IBM an attractive deal. Microsoft
would allow IBM to use DOS (called IBM- or PC-DOS to distinguish itself from
the nearly identical MS-DOS) for a low one-time fee for as many PC’s IBM could
sell. This deal gave IBM the incentive to push DOS, rather than the other two
oper-ating systems, whose manufacturers received royalties for each PC sale with
their respective operating systems installed. Hence, IBM sold UCSD Pascal P-
system for $450 and CP/M-86 for $175 while DOS was offered at only $60.


Gates’s strategy worked as he stated:
AOur goal was not to make money directly from IBM, but to profit from licensing
MS-DOS to computer companies that wanted to offer machines more or less
compatible with the IBM PC. IBM could use our software for free, but it did not
have an exclusive license or control of future enhancements. This put Microsoft
in the business of licensing a software platform to the PC industry. AConsumers
bought the IBM PC with confidence . . each new customer . . . added to the IBM
PC’s strength as a potential de facto standard for the industry. . . . A. . .

the availability of software and hardware add-ons sold PCs at a far greater rate
than IBM had antici-patedCby a factor of millions,@ which meant Abillions of
dollars for emailprotected (Gates, 49-50)
Competition Errors
After three years of competition blitzing, all competing standards for personal
computers had disap-peared with the exception of Apple’s Apple II and Macintosh.

AHewlett Packard, DEC, Texas Instruments, and Xerox, despite their technologies,
reputations, and customer bases, failed in the PC market in the early 1980s
because their machines weren’t compatible and didn’t offer significant enough
improvements over the IBM emailprotected (Gates 50) Only Commodore Corporation
fared well through the eighties in the PC market, due substantially to lower
cost of models 64 and 128, and the superb graphics of the Commodore Amiga, still
used today by some commercial movie studios.


Gates defends IBM against certain revisionist historians who conclude A. . . IBM
made a mistake working with Intel and Microsoft to create its PC. They argue
that IBM should have kept the PC architecture proprietary, and that Intel and
Microsoft somehow got the better of IBM. But the revisionists are missing the
point. IBM became the central force in the PC industry precisely because it was
able to harness an incredible amount of innovative talent and entrepreneurial
energy and use it to promote its open architecture. IBM set the emailprotected
(Gates, 50)
Birth of Windows
Because of the character-based commands that users of DOS needed to type into
the computer from a keyboard peripheral, Gates saw the potential of losing
Microsoft’s leading software position if it stayed with the MS-DOS format.

Researchers at Xerox’s Palo Alto, CA Research Center studied human-computer
interaction and found that computer users could more easily instruct the
computer if users were allowed to point to commands, via a device called a
Amouse,@ as opposed to typing commands, via a QWERTY keyboard. According to
Gates, AXerox did a poor job of taking commercial advantage of this
groundbreaking idea, because its machines were expensive and didn’t use standard
microprocessors. Getting great research to translate into products that sell is
still a big problem for many emailprotected (53)
The process of using pictures CiconsCto command a computer, rather than typed
characters, is called graphical technology. The screen which molds graphical
technology into the character-based operating system format is called a
Graphical User Interface (GUI). In 1983, Microsoft announced its version of a
GUI called Windows7. The Apple Lisa and Xerox Star were GUIs already available
to consumers, but both, in Gates’ view, A. . . were expensive, limited in
capability, and built on proprietary hardware emailprotected (53) This meant
that other hardware companies could not license the operating systems to build
compatible systems. The same was true for software companies, and this hindered
the creation of new applications for the Star and Lisa GUIs by outside companies.


MISSION STATEMENT AND ANALYSIS
At Microsoft, our long held vision of a computer on every desk and in
every home continues to be the core of everything we do. We are committed to
the belief that software is the tool that empowers people both at work and at
home. Since our company was founded in 1975, our charter has been to deliver on
this vision of the power of personal computing.


As the world’s leading software provider, we strive to continually
produce innovative products that meet the evolving needs of our customers. Our
ectensive commitment to research and development is coupled with dedicated
responsiveness to customer feedback. This allows us to explore future
technological advancements, while assuring that our customers today receive the
highest quality software products.


A good mission statement attempts to answer some key questions about the
company and the industry. These questions are Who are we?, What business are we
in?, and Where are we headed? In Microsoft’s mission statement they tell who
they are, as well as what there business is. They stess their goals and where
they are headed very well. My biggest problem with this mission statement is
the fact that Microsoft is to worried about being on top and will do what ever
is necessary.


INDUSTRY AND COMPETITVE ANALYSIS
Dominant Economic Characteristics
Market Differentiation
The first popular graphical platform came to market in 1984 with Apple’s
Macintosh. It was an instant success as the GUI platform of Macintosh
eliminated the need for obscure character commands. Gates worked closely with
Steve Jobs, who was the leader of the Macintosh team, in order to create
Microsoft’s competing GUI version of the Mac called Windows. The major
difference that Microsoft held over Apple was its willingness to allow other
software developers open access to the Windows format. Apple restricted its GUI
to Macintosh computers only. That difference helped to elevate Microsoft
eventually to the software industry leaderCbar none.


Gates devotes pages of explanations of why such a Agreat emailprotected as IBM failed
in its attempts to finally create its own software operating system. He
apologetically cites the specific decisions that IBM made with the development
of its OS/2 operating system. His reason for the disappointing results of IBM’s
attempts are chiefly due to the fact that graphical computing could have found
mainstream success if IBM had been more cooperation with Microsoft in developing
a general application of GUI software to be used with existing hardware rather
than insisting on developing a whole new application.


When Microsoft went public in 1986, Gates offered IBM 30% of MSFT stock in
order that IBM could share in the fortune, be it good or bad, of Microsoft. IBM
declined. This was Microsoft’s attempt at keeping IBM close to Microsoft as IBM
was instrumental in the success of Microsoft.


Despite not seeing eye to eye with IBM in the development of Windows, Gates saw
the GUI application as the progressive alternative to DOS and continued to
create improvements on the existing applications. In the weeks prior to the
release of Windows 3.17, May 1990, Gates A. . . tried to reach an agreement with
IBM for it to license Windows to use on its personal computers. We told IBM we
thought that although OS/2 would work out over time, for the moment Windows was
going to be a success and OS/2 would find its niche emailprotected (62) IBM again
refused to cooperate with Microsoft insisting total dedication to the
development of OS/2 which was eventually doomed to an ignominious future. AIBM
has proven conclusively through the years that it has no idea of how to create
or market software. Examples are Displaywrite word processing; the PC Jr, IBM
Personal Typing System, and the PS-1, all with proprietary software; OS/2as
mentioned above, and feeble attempts at networking. Now, with the purchase of
Lotus, the software giant should request last emailprotected According to Gates, AIf
IBM and Microsoft had found a way to work together, thousands of people-
yearsCthe best years of some of the best employees at both companiesCwould not
have been wasted. If OS/2 and Windows had been compatible, graphical computing
would have become mainstream years emailprotected (62)
Pace of technological change
In its twentieth fiscal year (July 1BJune 30) since incorporation, Microsoft
leads the software industry with revenues of $5,937,000,000 as of June 30, 1995 .

It is the unequaled standard bearer for software manufactures and with its
release of Windows 957, a total graphical operating system, should remain at the
top for years to come.


Despite its current position, Microsoft is still faced with new challenges as
with the progression of any high-tech industry. The most recent challenges
facing Microsoft are its applications to the Internet and its commitment to the
development of the information super highway.


In 1989 the U.S. Government decided to cease funding its 1960s project ARPANET
and allow the project to be succeeded by the commercial equivalent emailprotected
In its beginning stages, the Internet picked up where ARPANET left off. Its
primary function was to provide electronic communications, or e-mail, solely
between computer science projects and engineering projects. Its popularity
increased as it became commercially available to PC users. To fully appreciate
the significance of e-mail and the transmission of electronic data consider the
evolution of the printed language.


Advances to the Printed Word
When Johann Gutenberg introduced the printing press to Europe in 1450, the
method of copying the printed word was revolutionized. Before the advent of the
printing press there was an estimated 30,000 books available on the earth, most
were hand written by monks. Although it took two years to complete the movable
type for Gutenberg’s Bible, once completed, multiple copies could be made rather
quickly. Almost 500 years later, Chester Carlson, frustrated by the length of
time involved in preparing patent applications, set out to invent an easier way
to duplicate information in small quantities. What resulted was a process he
called emailprotected when he patented it in 1940. In 1959, Carlson aligned with
Xerox Corporation as a means of manufacturing and distributing emailprotected copying
machines. Xerox projected sales of perhaps 3000 units. Much to their surprise,
they placed orders for 200,000 units, and one year later reported nearly 50
million copies a month were being processed. By 1986, that figure increased to
200 billion copies per month and has steadily increased ever since. The advent
of xerography allowed small groups to participate in the capabilities of a
printing press for a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time a
conventional printer would take.


The market size for the computer industry is very large, this past year
it totaled $238.7 billion dollars. It is expected to rise considerably in the
next few years.


The competitive scope for the computer industry globally is very strong,
microsoft is worldwide. The Japenese are very big competitors, but Microsoft is
to powerful to compete with.


Ease of entry is very hard, the computer industry is a costly industry
to enter. To compete with large companies you would need millions of dollars to
even consider getting started. One could start a small computer business
focusing on one area without the cost being overly expensive. An example would
be if you wanted to focus one the accounting industry you need not worry about
anything else. The life of the product depends totally on your needs, as well
as the increases in technolgy. Microsoft comes out with new products all the
time, but you don’t necessarly need to buy them. Sometimes a computer program
can lasts companies for years. It is very difficult to enter the computer
industry due to the large capital requirements and the rapid technological
changes, so either backward or forward intergration would be very difficult.


Driving Forces
There are several driving forces in the computer industry.

1) Increased efficiency due to economies of scale
2) Change in the industry growth rate
3) Product innovation due to the rapid increases in technological
advancements
4) The need to be the first to develop the new program
The newest driving force for the computer industry was the internet or
super highway. The following describes both along with the advantages they
brought.


The Internet
The Internet offers even more advantages than Xeroxed copiers where information
can be accessed and/or distributed to all interested parties (with a PC) via the
electronic transmission of data. As defined by Gates, the Internet is Aa group
of computers connected together, using standard >protocols’ (descriptions of
technologies) to exchange emailprotected (94) Electronic massages are sent via
phone lines from one computer to another and stored in the electronic emailprotected
of the another computer until the message is emailprotected by the user.


Another advantage to the Internet is AWeb emailprotected on the World Wide Web (.www)
or simply emailprotected Server companies offer graphical pages of information to be
accessed by subscribers of their service. From the emailprotected page of a topic, one
can activate subsequent hyperlinks for further information on given topics by
clicking the mouse device of most PCs.


Although Gates admits that Microsoft was surprised at the commercial success of
the Internet, he has begun work on software applications to make the Internet
easier to access for PC owners with limited computer knowledge. Some people may
confuse the subscriptions to companies on the Internet, such as CompuServe,
Prodigy, and America On-line with the creation of the information super highway,
but according to Gates, the Internet is simply a Aprecursor to the information
emailprotected (90) Comparing the information highway with the Internet is like
comparing a country lane with the Eisenhower Highway System. Even that analogy
would not do justice to the information highway as it will look in twenty or
more years. The limitations of the Internet must first be expanded before
anything resembling the actual information highway exists. One challenge that
Micro-soft and other companies have is to convince the phone companies and cable
companies to replace the coaxial lines that serve homes and businesses with
fiber optic cables. Fiber optics will expand the bandwidth necessary for the
immense amount of information sent on the highway.


Two technologies currently in the works toward this transformation of trunk
lines are DSVD and ISDN. Digital simultaneous voice data can be used with
existing phone lines, but does not provide a sufficient bandwidth to handle
video transmissions; hence, new lines must be laid for this application to reach
full capacity. Even with the current integrated services digital network
technologyCwhich incorporates a wider bandwidth but requires the laying of new
linesCthe clarity of full motion picture images still leaves much to be desired.

Add-in cards which upgrade the PC Ato support ISDN costs $500 in 1995, but the
price should drop to less than $200 over the next few years. The line costs
vary by location but are generally about $50 per month in the United States. I
expect this will drop to less than $20, not much more than a regular phone
emailprotected (Gates, 101)
The Information Highway
Once more and more PC owners hook up to the Internet with ISDN lines, the
groundwork for further progress towards the information highway will be laid.

The information highway was coined by then-Senator Al Gore Awhose father
sponsored the 1956 Federal Aid Highway emailprotected (Gates, 5) during the Eisenhower
Administration. According to Gates, this terminology is flawed. It connotes
the following of routes with distance between two points. It implies traveling
from one place to another when the actual information highway will be free of
such limitations. Some people also confuse the information highway with a
massive government project which, Gates feels, A. . . would be a massive mistake
for most countries . . . emailprotected (6) Just as Microsoft’s mission in 1975 was Aa
computer on every desk and in every home,@ (Gates, 14) so it is with Microsoft
progressing towards A. . . >information at your fingertips’ which extols a
benefit rather than the network emailprotected (Gates, 6)
Key sucess factors
1) The high degree of expertise and product innovation
2) Being able to stay on the cutting edge of technology
3) Companies need to have a low degree of glitches in there programs
4) A very strong customer support system (user friendly)
5) Must be able to meet the customer needs
The computer industry is a strong leader in technology. To compete you
must stay one step ahead of the rest. Microsoft has proven how devoted they are
to computer program developing by always being one step ahead of the rest. When
one is dealing with the computer industry it is very important to have
kniowledgable employees working for you.