In Short

Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft remains one of the giants of the computing world. Though many consumers will be familiar with Microsoft through its Windows and Office products, MS is currently in the process of transitioning into a "devices and services" company, following its acquisition of Nokia's hardware business in 2014. In the mobile space, the company competes with Android with Windows smartphones and tablets, including its own Lumia and Surface devices.

Microsoft reached the peak of its dominance in the PC market in the 1990s and 2000s with Windows and Office becoming synonymous with personal computing for many. The company later entered the games console market in the mid-2000s with the Xbox, a brand which has since expanded to cover broader entertainment content. The software giant was also an early player in the smartphone market in the pre-iPhone days, with its Windows Mobile platform.

Microsoft has had an antagonistic relationship with Google in recent years, attacking the company's Chromebook line through its "scroogled"advertising campaign. Microsoft has also successfully sought licensing fees from many Android phone makers, claiming that their devices infringe upon MS patents. Meanwhile Google has been reluctant to support Windows phones with its platform of mobile services.

The modern Microsoft operates under the mantra of "mobile first, cloud first," with a focus on its Azure cloud computing platform, as well as portable devices like smartphones and tablets. The company has recently entered the world of wearables with the Microsoft Band, and offers versions of its Office and Xbox Music apps for Android and iOS, as well as its own platforms.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of Microsoft and Windows, be sure to check out our sister site Windows Central.