Microsoft: The Archetype of Innovational Software
Hello Everyone. I am Robert Dailey, and I believe that innovation is the life-blood of the business world. Innovation is the process of turning a new and novel idea into a market. Without innovation, our world would grow stagnant, and the creation of new inventions would cease.
“When something is not growing, they are dying.”
This statement applies to both business and technological advancement. Fortunately, we live in a world where innovation is still born from the creative minds of people and utilized in a multitude of companies. Some of the companies belonging to the most popular fields on the planet are consequently the most prominent innovators. One of the top five innovative companies in the world is the multinational tech conglomerate Microsoft.
What is Microsoft?
First off, let’s do a brief rundown of what Microsoft is. Microsoft is a multinational technology corporation that focuses on creating computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and many other products.
My favorite aspects of Microsoft that I utilize are their software cloud service, know as the OneDrive, and their internationally famous entertainment console, the Xbox. However, while these are the top Microsoft products that I use, it is essential to acknowledge that they have penetrated various markets and make products tailored to both businesses and consumers.
“Microsoft is a multi-faceted software and full-service technology company. It aims to provide reliable, efficient and accessible home and business software solutions, innovative consumer electronic products, and secure online storage and search services.”
Microsoft could not do this multi-market penetration or build a reliable reputation based on years of functional and exceptional products without constant innovation. Without the merit of new ideas and unique benefits, Microsoft would not be where it is today.
However, before we get into precisely what innovation keeps Microsoft at the top of their industries, we need to go to the beginning. What was the company’s initial innovation that put them in business?
The Development of Windows
In 1975, Microsoft, initially called “Micro-soft,” was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their company started with developing their MS-DOS operating system for the Altair 8800, an early rendition of a personal computer. The budding company made most of its pre-IPO revenue selling its newly constructed software and operating systems to computer companies, like IBM, who were starting to develop personal computers on a commercial level.
However, this system development that previously fueled their business was not their innovation. Microsoft’s true innovation lay in their first unique product that was released ten years after their founding. In 1985, Microsoft released an operating system called Windows, which utilized a graphical user interface that included drop-down menus, scroll bars, and other features previously unseen in most personal computer software.
The company moved its headquarters to Redmond, Washington, and went public at $21 a share. By the late 1980s, Microsoft had become the world’s biggest personal-computer software company, based on sales, and 31-year old Bill Gates became known as the world’s youngest billionaire.
The Here-and-Now of Tech Innovation
That’s all well and good, but what does Microsoft do now?
Currently, Microsoft focuses its investments in A.I., bot, app, and software development to help enable current innovations. These investments lead to more features that can be implemented into their older products, like the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office, to keep them constantly updating and improving. Their goal is to continue to allow yesterday’s products to be a part of today’s technological future.
Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-assisted operating system A.I., is one of several examples of how Microsoft’s investments improve their system. Cortana is an integrated part of Windows and, depending on the user, is an integral component of utilizing the best features of Window’s software. Whether that includes making appointments, analyzing your trending searches, or other things, Cortana can do the job.
As we know, Microsoft focuses most of its time on the software, so consequently, the software department usually sees the most innovation. However, Microsoft is also making tech hardware to complement the features of their software further. Hence, a fair amount of innovation goes into their hardware development as well. They are currently hosting hardware innovation projects focusing on improving the hardware for their cloud services by utilizing open-source, hyper-scale hardware to make the most efficient product available. If you’re curious about these projects, use the link below or click here to read more about them.
Open-Source Hardware Innovation | Microsoft Azure
Open Compute Project (OCP) is a global community of technology leaders working together to unlock proprietary IT…
Since we are still on the subject of innovation, it would be wrong for me not to mention Microsoft’s biggest innovation-fostering event: the Hackathon!
Started in 2013 and evolved into an annual event since then, Microsoft invites all of its employees to make teams and utilize their various skills to address a problem in the world and develop a unique and innovational prototype to counteract it. Over several days, the employees make teams, draw plans, and design prototypes, ready to be presented for judgment at the final stages of the competition.
While I utilize the word competition, Microsoft’s Hackathon is much more than that. It has a list of attributes that make Microsoft’s Hackathon unique from any other in the world:
- One of the largest private hackathons in the world (Over 18,000 participants spanning 400 cities and 75 countries)
- Aids social and humanitarian causes
- Allows employees to express their passions outside of their job
- Promotes continued research of projects brought up both before and after the event
Some of the inventions proposed in Microsoft’s Hackathons have even gone on to become actual commercialized products. For example, the adaptive controller for the Xbox to help people with physical disabilities play the console, and the Ability EyeGaze App, which has become an extension of Windows 10 that allows people to interface their computers using eye movements. These are only several of many unique products made in Hackathon. If you want to learn more about the event and the inventions, click here or use the link below.
At the largest private hackathon on the planet, Microsoft employees fire up ideas by the thousands…
When Microsoft program manager Beatris Mendez Gandica decided to start her own nonprofit earlier this year, she knew…
Unfortunately, not everything is bright in the world of business, even for Microsoft. Because Microsoft has many products and services in many different markets, they have competition in several areas of the technology industry. In software, their main competitors are Apple and Google. With gaming consoles, it competes with Sony and Nintendo.
Microsoft currently has a higher net margin than most of its competitors, like Google and Apple, in the software technology industry. However, Apple dominates most of the technological market share with the widespread distribution of its apple products in cellular devices and MacBooks. In contrast, Microsoft dominates the global operating system industry with Windows.
On the other hand, the gaming industry is less concrete due to the hard-pressed competition between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo between their game consoles based on their functionality and features. For example, in 2020, Nintendo sold millions of more Switches than PS4s and Xbox Ones sold. The introduction of a gaming system that could function as a portable and console appealed to many gamers. Its selection of games also targeted a segment of the gaming market that is often underserved: casual gamers.
More recently, however, the competition has skyrocketed with the release of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5. However, currently, there have been more PS5s sold than Series Xs. This discrepancy is caused because PlayStation, Sony’s gaming system, has exclusives that appeal to an extensive segment of gamers who are willing to overlook the better functionalities of the Series X out of a desire for the exciting new exclusives that the PS5 contains.
The Executive Masterminds
After all this stuff you have read in my Microsoft speel, I’m sure it makes you wonder, “who are the masterminds behind all this?”
If you assumed Bill Gates still, you’d be wrong. He left the company’s board in 2020 to focus more on his philanthropic pursuits (whether that is true or not, it is none of our business….). The current CEO is a man named Satya Nadella, and he is part of Microsoft’s executive team, which has seven members, and the board, which has 11 members.
Here’s a brief list of the main attributes of a few of the leading members of Microsoft’s executive team:
- Satya Nadella (CEO) — Transformed Microsoft cloud infrastructure and service
- Chris Capossela (CMO) — Oversaw transition from MS Office to MS 365
- Judson Althoff (CCO) — Co-innovates with customers to scale digital experiences across the organization
If you want to read more about the leadership roles within Microsoft, click here or use the link below.
Executive Officers - Stories
Find photos, biographies, and speech transcripts of Microsoft executives and board of directors members
Suggestions and Next Steps
Congratulations. You’ve made it to the end.
Hopefully, by this point, I have helped convince you that Microsoft is an innovative company (if you weren’t already convinced). Microsoft is going to keep growing and keep innovating to make the best products on the market. If there were anything I wish they would spend more time in, it’s developing a more stable phone system. I believe that could potentially introduce another range of consumers to their already large customer base.
Still, Microsoft is one of the most popular companies globally, and for a good reason. Whether my suggestion comes true or not in the future, I’m confident they will be fine either way.