Bill Gates founded Microsoft on 4 April 1975, making today the company’s 41st birthday. To celebrate, we’ve looked through its back-catalogue of products and rounded up some of its world-changing best.
1984 – Flight Simulator
Before Microsoft released Windows, it created Flight Simulator, a program that made PC gaming popular. The realistic game was so successful Microsoft kept it in constant development until 2012, 28 years after its initial release.
1990 – Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office has become a staple of almost every computer, with more than a billion people using it. At launch, Office included Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the same core apps most of us use every day 26 years later.
1992 – Windows 3.1
Windows 3.1 was the operating system that made computing personal. It was much easier to use than anything that had come before it and looked clean and simple.
1995 – Windows 95
Windows 95 took what made Windows 3.1 a success and ran with it. Even with its super simple design and built-in Solitaire game, it’s amazing to think people actually queued on the streets to buy a copy of 95.
2000 – Pocket PC
By the turn of the century, Microsoft had conquered home computing and set its sights on creating a world of mobile computing. Pocket PC was the first true smartphone, with a Windows-based operating system to let you get stuff done on the go.
2001 – Windows XP
Windows XP is the best-surviving Microsoft operating system, with plenty of computers still clinging to the beautifully designed software 15 years on. Microsoft really has struggled to better XP.
2001 – Xbox
With Xbox, Microsoft showed it could create great hardware as well as software. It also changed gaming forever as Xbox live made it possible play with complete strangers on the other side of the world.
2003 – Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile was when Microsoft started to get the smartphone right. When it launched in 2003, it had pretty much everything you’d expect from a modern smartphone – games, web browser, media player and more.
2012 – Microsoft Surface
While Microsoft had been creating tablet computers since 2000, it wasn’t until after Apple launched its iPad that the company managed to make a success of them. The Microsoft Surface was the first tablet capable of replacing your laptop.
2015 – Hololens
With Hololens, Microsoft created a new type of product that could be as world-changing as the smartphone. Hololens puts virtual images and information over the real world – so you could have instructions overlaid on your car’s engine if it’s broken down, or you could play a computer game in the real world.
2015 – Windows 10
Windows 10 is the operating system designed to tie together your computer, tablet and smartphone. The underlying code for all sizes of device is exactly the same, meaning apps for the Lumia 950 and 950 XL will also work on a PC.
In the last 41 years, Microsoft has done a lot to change the world (we haven’t even mentioned the fact that it bailed out Apple in the ‘90s and made Bill Gates enough money to donate billions each year to charity). And with revolutionary products like Hololens and Windows 10, it looks to be in a good position to keep changing the world.