Neither Micro nor Soft
Green, Paula L., Global Finance
Software titan redefines the term "market dominance."
Whether dazzling computer users with yet another Windows operating system or irritating software rivals and federal trustbusters with its attempts to crush the competition, Microsoft has grabbed headlines and pocketbooks over the past 15 years as it rode the global technology wave to the top.
The software company founded 27 years ago by William H. Gates III and Paul G. Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has become a household name that people frequently either love or hate. Detractors say Microsoft's dominance and unrestrained aggressiveness make it a dangerous player that could stamp out innovation while gaining a stranglehold on the information technology sector-even as technology's importance to the US economy keeps growing. Others say the company's innovations have helped the industry and consumers by making computers and the Internet easier to use.
"Unfortunately, Microsoft has become politicized. And they are very competitive," says Jim Lewis, director of the technology and policy program at The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. "But they took a product that was only used by computer specialists and turned it into a mass market product, something that kids could use.They're the GM of the Internet age."
Fans and foes alike admire a company that has seen its annual net revenue jump more than tenfold to $25 billion over the past decade and net income skyrocket to $7. …