Just 25 years ago, one day in late August 1995, in Redmond, United States, the Microsoft company of Bill Gates launches the operating system Windows 95.
It is a revolutionary product – although inspired by an earlier system that worked in the Apple Macintosh of Steve Jobs-, because it introduces a graphical interface system with windows much simpler than the previous one, based on the MS-DOS and that will open the doors of offices (and homes) to computing forever.
Months later, the Explorer browser will also be released. In 1995 The vanguard dedicates several pages to the launch, which is accompanied by a world tour to the rhythm of the song Start me up of the Rolling Stones. In one of its articles –which today inspires almost tenderness– the newspaper highlights how, thanks to Windows 95, “a simple click with the pointer and the mouse on an X located in the upper right part of the screen closes the program or document when instant”.
The program costs 19,900 pesetas and not all computers could support it. We are at the dawn of the internet. The most popular search engines at the moment are Altavista and Yahoo! and the modem is activated by emitting a loud beeping, with a very slow connection.
Few then imagine the impact it will have, but Bill Gates has a nose and lays the first stone of his empire, which will place him steadily among the richest men on the planet. An empire that today, more than two decades later, has little to do with that of then.
Microsoft is the undisputed leader in computer operating systems, with an overwhelming presence in the business environment. But it no longer only sells physical products, but updates in the cloud. Over the years, the company has diversified and made acquisitions that have profoundly transformed it.
“In these 25 years it seems that they have innovated little, but it is not like that. Its operating system has become a hegemonic world standard, on the basis of office automation
and no one can overshadow it. Also its Office software package, which is not talked about so much, has been at the base of the increase in productivity of companies ”, says Enrique San Juan, director of Community Internet- The Social Media Company, a Barcelona-based company focused on consulting digital. “Now more than products it sells services. It is a company that seems somewhat dormant, but no. It is very effective, ”she adds.
Between the rungs of his growth, there were several significant moments. For example, the purchase of Skype in 2011, when it was the only thing in the videoconferencing sector, allowed it to access a tool that, not without difficulties, it has subsequently managed to relocate in the business sector and that has successively allowed it to develop from Micorsoft Teams.
Another significant move has been LinkedIn in 2016, which has transformed from a resume container to a data platform that is sold to human resources, with a subscription model. Today is the only social network Business to Business, that brings together the productive elite with almost 700 million users (being absent in key markets such as Russia or Japan).
Less fortunate, however, was his foray into mobile telephony. In 2014 it paid 7.5 billion dollars for Nokia, which has not been able to resuscitate and which cost 7,800 layoffs. It was better with the video game sector, with the X-Box console, which has established itself as one of the reference options in a market in full growth after the confinement of the pandemic.
The stock market has awarded Microsoft, especially since the arrival of Satya Nadella in 2014: the value of its shares have almost multiplied by six. In his first email that he wrote to employees, the manager stated: “Our industry does not respect tradition, it only respects innovation.” And so, almost in silence, without spectacular announcements, the company has exceeded 1.6 trillion dollars in market capitalization (close to the GDP of all of Spain).
Even in times of coronavirus, it has consolidated, along with the rest of the technology companies, its leadership in the sector. So far this year, amid the worst recession since the Great Depression, its shares have appreciated 35%. Today revenues are very diversified, from Office (25%), the cloud Azure (23%), Windows (17%), extends to sales of PCs, games and other services. Curiously, the company currently has 715 million Azure subscribers, four times more than Netflix subscribers.
In recent days, it has been negotiating to take the umpteenth leap into the void and turn the screw, with the acquisition of the Chinese social network Tik-Tok, the favorite of tweens and generation Z. Why get into such foreign territory to Microsoft’s philosophy?
“Because TikTok has made Instagram age suddenly,” says San Juan. “It is a fun, sparkling social network. But above all it has a sophisticated algorithm based on Artificial Intelligence that allows detecting user preferences and offering them different and personalized content ”.
Once again, the data. The oil of the XXI century. Knowing the tastes of the next generation can be a gold mine, because a detailed x-ray of the market can potentially be obtained. Access to a know how It represents an added value that the firm of Bill Gates, as it has demonstrated on other occasions, will know how to make profitable. Like the Rolling Stones songs from 25 years ago, which always work.