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In 1969, two teenage boys named Bill Gates and Paul Allen met for the first time. They where
both interested in programming and the emerging industry of personal computers. A few years
later, in 1975, the two childhood friends established the company Micro-Soft, with a
hyphen. The name is a portmanteau of the words microcomputer and software. In 1980, the company
entered the industry of operating systems with their own version of Unix called Xenix.
But their first major breakthrough came with the release of MS-DOS in 1981. After a few
years of battling against IBM's PC-DOS, Microsoft eventually came out as the leading provider.
At this point, most operating systems looked like this. A black screen where you could
execute commands and in return would receive some nice text. Absolutely fantastic for it's time no
doubt, but not very interesting to the average person. So in 1985 Microsoft released a graphical
extension to MS-DOS. Bill Gates almost named it "Interface Manager" but the head of marketing
convinced him of naming it "Windows" instead. At first, Windows was not that popular and
rival company Apple took the lead. But this would soon change. Windows 3.0 became the
first widely successful version of Windows and a strong competitor to Apple's Mac OS.
In 1990, Microsoft introduced the now wildly successful Microsoft Office with software
like Word and Excel. Windows 95 became a huge success for the company and introduced features
like the start menu and Internet Explorer. From here on out, Windows would continue to
completely dominate the market and as such Microsoft was often accused of monopolization.
At the start of the new millennium, Microsoft entered video game console market with the
Xbox to compete against Sony and Nintendo. While the Xbox could not really keep up with
the Playstation 2, it was nonetheless a success selling millions of units. In more recent years,
the perception of Microsoft and especially Windows has been a bit unstable. For example,
Windows Vista sold well but is considered by many to be one of the worst operating systems
ever made by Microsoft. Windows 7 rekindled the brand but Windows 8 once again received
heavy criticism for many of its significant changes. But despite a few minor setback here
and there, Microsoft is still one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Since 2012, Microsoft has undergone a major rebranding to coincide with the release of
Windows 8. One major change was made to the logo of the company. For the first time a
version of the famous Windows logo was included in the official Microsoft logo. But the four
tiles are more than an icon for Windows. Each tile are supposed
to stand for; Windows (blue), Office (red), Xbox (green), and Bing (Yellow). And the logo
isn't exactly new either as it has been used before. For example, in this Windows 95 commercial.
When preparing to launch Windows XP back in 2001, Microsoft wanted a catchy slogan to
go along with it. They eventually settled for "Prepare to Fly" and began printing all
promotional material and covers and so on. Then 9/11 happened and suddenly the slogan
wasn't as catchy anymore. Because of this, Microsoft had to spend over $200 million,
just to change to slogan to "Yes You Can" instead.
Around the mid to late 1990s, Internet Explorer quickly became the standard browser all across
the globe since it came bundled with the operating system. And by 2002, it reached its peak of
a staggering 95% market share. Then something happened. New browsers like Opera and Firefox
slowly began eating away at Microsoft's browser monopoly. This got Microsoft a bit worried
so to counteract this decline, they employed some pretty foul tactics. For example, in
2001 it was revealed that Microsoft had purposely made either inaccessible or incorrectly
displayed on the Opera browser. This was so that Opera users would hopefully switch over
to Internet Explorer instead. While Microsoft has never responded to the accusations, Opera
Software retaliated by releasing a so called "bork" edition of Opera 7. This special version
would only display using the incomprehensible language made famous by
the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show.
Every website and service with users and profile pictures has one of these. A default avatar.
It's usually just a standard silhouette of a person or whatever YouTube is going for.
Anyway one version of Microsoft's email client, namely Outlook
2010, uses this icon. It's interesting because this is actually a silhouette of Bill Gates
from 1977 when he was arrested for speeding and driving without a license.
When Microsoft introduced the first version of Windows Update shortly after the release
of Windows 98, they named the software "Critical Update Notification Tool". However, they soon
had to change this to "Critical Update Notification Utility" given the unfortunate acronym created
by the former.
The default wallpaper used for Windows XP is, or at least was, one of the most recognizable
images in the world. The photograph, named Bliss, was taken by former National Geographic
photographer Charles O'Rear and was captured here in Sonoma County in California in 1996.
While many believed the image to be photoshopped, it is in fact the raw unaltered original.
After he'd taken the photo, he put it up for sale on the stock image site Corbis. And Corbis
is in fact owned by Bill Gates himself. So around 2000, Microsoft contacted O'Rear and
wanted to buy all the rights to the image. And while the exact amount has never been
disclosed, it been said to be one of the largest payments ever made for a single photograph.
If you where to visit the site today however, you would most likely not recognize it as
the green hill is now covered with grapevines.
Before Microsoft launched their new search engine in 2009 they needed a short and memorable
name. Eventually, they decided to use Bang. But they had to rethink this decision rather
quickly as it didn't work as well when used as verb. As in "Let me just bang that real
quick." They changed Bang into Bing and while Google is of course at the top, Bing is still
one of the largest search engines in the world.
Large corporations like Microsoft are known to take copyright and trademark infringement
very seriously. Sometimes however, they seem to take it a bit too seriously. Back in 2004,
a teenager named Mike Rowe registered the domain So phonetically,
when said out loud, it almost sounds like you're saying Microsoft. Only based on this,
Microsoft decided to take legal action against Mike Rowe and the whole thing received world
wide media attention. The website itself had nothing to do with Microsoft or any of their
products as he used it to run his own part-time web design business. But eventually, an agreement
was reached, with Mike Rowe granting ownership of the domain to Microsoft in exchange for
various Microsoft products, including an Xbox. Ah 2004.. When an Xbox could solve anything.
Simpler times.
Back when Windows made its debut, things were simple. The first release named
Windows 1.01 was indeed version 1.01. Makes sense. And it continued to make sense for quite a
while. The name and actual version of the software matched each other. Then they started
using names like Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista, and things got a bit more confusing.
Windows Vista is actually version 6.0. Windows 7 is 6.1, Windows 8 is 6.2, and 8.1 is 6.3.
Now the logical thing would be to expect the next release to be named Windows 9 with a
version number of 6.4. But instead they announced this.. Windows 10? Why skip the nein? Microsoft's
official explanation is that this new release of Windows will, form here on out, be Windows.
In other words, each new update will just have a new version number and not a new name.
Another possibility though is that the name Windows 9 could cause issues for some legacy applications.
Thousands of programs could be using code like this to check what version of Windows
it's running on. Basically, it's checking if the name includes a 9 and if it does it
means it's either Windows 95 or 98. But if Windows 9 was introduced, it would completely
disrupt this system and potentially cause some major issues. Then again, Microsoft isn't
exactly the most consistent when it comes to naming stuff.
This video was part of a collaboration with Alltime10s. They made a video about Google
over on their channel and if you want to you can click the annotation to check it out.