Microsoft Turns 40: Ideas That Changed The World


This year Microsoft marks its 40th anniversary. This means that the world’s largest software company is now middle-aged. Founded it 1975, Microsoft has always been known as a leader on the global technology market. For instance, it was the first company to successfully integrate a web browser into an operating system. In addition, it introduced things like “close,” “minimize,” and “maximize” buttons to software windows. Microsoft was also among the first companies to add graphics to a PC, as well as a office tools like PowerPoint, World and Excel to its desktop OS. Even today, the U.S. giant manages to maintain its position on the market. It is estimated that almost 90% of all computers in the world use the company’s principal products.

These are all popular facts. What is little known, however, is that Microsoft’s ideas have inspired some of today’s most used and top-selling products. Among them are smartphones, the iPad eReaders, Smart TVs and even smartwatches.


If you research the history of smartwatches in Wikipedia, you will read that Seiko was the company behind the first smartwatch. However, Microsoft Corp. was the first company to unveil a smartwatch that worked with mobile data. The giant’s SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) watches were able to get data via FM. Nevertheless, they did not attract a big consumer fanbase due to their lack of a more practical functionality.


Pocket PC platform, which arrived together with the new millennium, may not look like a smartphone, but it did function as one. It serviced a number of purposes – from phone to business tool and media player. Later, the company rebranded its product to Windows Mobile and turned it into a simpler version of the Windows desktop operating system.

Mouse Wheel

Yes, Microsoft is also behind the wheel of your computer mouse. Interestingly, the mouse wheel ideas was initially not approved by Microsoft. Eventually, however, the company agreed that this little idea could indeed improve spreadsheet navigation.


Did you know Microsoft introduced a tablet years before Apple announced its first iPad. The so-called Tablet PC was shipped by Microsoft back in 2002. Just like modern-day tablets, its goal was to be compact and portable, yet almost as powerful as a regular PC. Compared to the first-generation iPad, Tablet PC was much bigger and pricier. That led to the gadget’s market failure. However, it served as an inspiration to the tablet device as we know it today.


Long before Amazon’s Kindle, there was the Microsoft Reader. While this was not an eBook reader, but an eReading software it marked the dawn of e-book reading technology. The application was compatible with a number of Microsoft products, including Windows Mobile, Windows, and Pocket PCs. Unfortunately, the content available for such kind of technology was still very limited.

Music Streaming

You probably assume that online music streaming started with the introduction of Spotify and iTuned Radio. If that is the case, you are wrong. Three years before Spotify and half a decade before iTunes Radio, there was a music streaming service called Zune Pass. Today, it is known under the name Xbox Music.

Four decades after its founding, Microsoft has proved itself as a successful idea generator. The company’s only problem is that its notions are often ahead of their time to be adopted by the mass consumer.


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