International Corporations: Microsoft

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Microsoft is an international corporation based in Redmond, Washington. The company was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. It is the largest software developer in the world by revenue, and it has diversified its market significantly since the 1990s with many new acquisitions and product developments in both the hardware and software market. Microsoft is known for having brought MS-DOS and the subsequent line of Windows operating systems to the world starting in the 1980s; arguably the company’s biggest claim to fame. Microsoft’s mission objective, as stated on their company website, is “to create an environment that helps Microsoft capitalize on the diversity of its people and the inclusion of ideas and solutions to meet the needs of its increasingly global and diverse customer base”.

Microsoft’s management structure is comprised of separate divisions which focus on a specific lines of goods. Each division has their own customer service, sales and R&D staff. In the past year, these divisions have seen a complete overhaul and reorganization in order to focus on a different range of consumer needs. Until recently, Microsoft employed a system called “stack ranking”, which forced management to rank employees on a bell curve, with only a small percentage rated as “top performers”. The set number of employees to be found lowest on the bell curve were first in line to be either fired or “pushed out”. This system has been ubiquitous in many large companies for years, however the overwhelming majority are phasing it out due to the realization that this method often stunts performance, forcing employees to work in competition against each other. This adversely affects the potential for effective collaboration, something which ...

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...sumers. Windows has seen a drastic overhaul and the Microsoft recently underwent a company-wide rebranding. This is not to say, however, that risks taken by the company are not calculated and measured carefully. Because the company is separated into divisions, it can maintain adequate focus on several markets at once, with minimal interference caused due to a large product launch or new development. The company prefers to test its software for much lengthier periods of time, and releases beta versions to developers far ahead of the official public release date. Windows developers are often given the beta version a full year ahead of time, whereas Apple developers are usually only given a few months to play with the new software before it is released. One could say that internal developments in the company are not guarded from the public eye as intently as does Apple.
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