Today, Microsoft's operating system controls the largest share of personal computers in the world, and one of its founders, Bill Gates, is recognized as being either the wealthiest, or among the wealthiest individuals on earth. Yet the company, which is not even 30 years old, had humble beginnings. Gates lacks a college degree but has built the Microsoft empire using strategic marketing techniques, careful product positioning, and by changing the way that his customers do business. This research considers the company's culture, a critical factor in the corporation's success.
Microsoft defines its mission to "empower people through great software--any time, any place and on any device" ("What We Do," 2001). The company recognizes that it is the industry leader in a number of the markets in which it competes (although not all markets, including handheld personal digital appliances), and it emphasizes innovation and entrepreneurial decision making in its value statement ("Living Our Values," 2001). It is not clear, however, that Microsoft has always embraced entrepreneurship among its employees; when the company's vice-president of product development retired after only eight years in the mid-1990s, the company completely reorganized its internal structure, although the vice-president (Mike Maples) had overseen some of the most successful product development in the company's history (Darrow, 1995).
When Microsoft reorganized in 1995, the Platforms Group was formed to oversee the development of the company's so-called "back office" products, including its operating systems but not including its business applications. At that time, the Platforms Group included the Advanced Technology Group, Business Systems, Personal System, and Developer/Consumer Systems (Darrow, 1995).
Microsoft has since refined the organizational structure it implemented in 1995. Today, the company ope