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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png This a Useful Notes page. A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png
Microsoft logo (2012).svg

Their iconic former logo, from 1987 to 2012.

Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, that develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics and personal computers and services. Its best known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, Microsoft Office office suite, and Internet Explorer web browser. Its flagship hardware products are Xbox game console and the Microsoft Surface series of tablets. It is the world's largest software maker measured by revenues. It is also one of the world's most valuable companies.

Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market, first with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows in the 1990s. The company's 1986 initial public offering, and subsequent rise in its share price, created an estimated three billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made a number of corporate acquisitions. In May 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in its largest acquisition to date.

As of 2013, Microsoft is market dominant in both the IBM PC-compatible operating system and office software suite markets (the latter with Microsoft Office). The company also produces a wide range of other software for desktops and servers, and is active in areas including Internet search (with Bing), the video game industry (with the Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles), the digital services market (through MSN), and mobile phones (via the Windows Phone OS). In June 2012, Microsoft entered the personal computer production market for the first time, with the launch of the Microsoft Surface, a line of tablet computers.

Tropes used in Microsoft include:
  • Army of Lawyers
  • Big Brother Is Watching/Sinister Surveillance: A growing trend in Windows since the advent of the Internet era, with Windows 10 so thoroughly engaged in reporting what you do back to Microsoft that it all but panics some privacy advocates.
  • Defictionalization: An April Fool's Day article from Infoworld suggested that M$ would completely skip Windows 9 and go on to Windows 10. And lo, it came to pass that Windows 9 was skipped.
  • Demonization: Linux and Open Source Software in general absolutely terrified Microsoft at the turn of the century. They did everything they could to paint them as an immediate and dramatic threat to the survival of Western Civilization. Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014, got plenty of press for his attacks on Linux, including calling it a "cancer" that infects software and "communist".
  • Easter Egg: Used to be a fairly common occurrence in Microsoft products, in part due to the large numbers of Playful Hackers among the employees and management, but Microsoft eventually disallowed Easter eggs entirely as part of its Trustworthy Computing Initiative. See the trope page for some of the most fondly remembered examples from days past.
  • Idiot Programming: To the extent that Microsoft has its own section on the trope page.
  • New Media Are Evil: If Microsoft doesn't own them. When the Internet exploded into the popular culture in the late 1990s, Microsoft did everything it could to subvert the Net and turn it into a Microsoft product, treating it and its standards as the next targets of its infamous "Embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy. (They didn't count on the Net fighting back.)
  • Obvious Beta: It was quite obvious Windows ME was half baked very shortly after release, and even many of its features were partial or broken versions of what Windows XP would later implement successfully.
    • Microsoft actually has quite a history of this — see the trope page.
  • Perpetual Beta: Microsoft is often accused of this with varying and subjective levels of truth. When its monopoly was weakened by users outright refusing to adopt Windows Vista while XP still worked just fine, and the increasing popularity and variety of alternatives, the company appeared to be starting to clean up its act. They have been through more than one Dork Age before, though. (see: Windows ME)
  • Playful Hacker: Basically founded by a couple, and given what can be found hidden in its products (like the infamous Windows API call BozosLiveHere and its other creatively-named companions, a flight simulator inside Excel, and other goodies) it's pretty clear that they continue to employ more than a few.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Microsoft still makes no bones about their desire to dominate their competition and never passes up a chance to do so, but has softened its stance over the years on competing with OSes like Unix and Linux, even being willing to ensure a degree of cross-compatibility and interactivity with them, since they absolutely dominate certain niches Windows just cannot adequately cover, especially when it comes to certain web applications.
  • Predatory Business
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Microsoft may as well hold the record for Comically Missing the Point with its song licenses:
    • The Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" for Microsoft Windows 95. Note the Broken Aesop variant here; the next line to the song, not appearing in the commercial itself, is "You make a grown man cry." Another line not used is "I can't compete", which some snarkier types have found quite amusing in light of Microsoft's apparent monopolistic ambitions, coupled with notorious quality control problems (especially in the area of security).
      • They actually tried to buy R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It" which would have probably been even worse; however the band turned them down.
      • On the same boat, MS tried to use "21st Century Digital Boy" by Bad Religion, which is about over-reliance on technology and the negative effect it has.
    • The portion of Mozart's "Requiem" that talks about the souls of the damned.
    • Also, a viral ad for Microsoft's Origami platform contained Regina Spektor's "Us", omitting the line "We're living in a den of thieves".
      • The song appears to be about living in a crumbling, decadent, totalitarian empire. Take your pick whether it's the Soviet Union or Microsoft.
    • One ad for Microsoft Office XP used Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe". Needless to say, the commercial ends before the lyrics start up...
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them: Was infamous for this kind of attitude throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, defying even antitrust investigations to continue doing business the way it wanted. Among the abuses it engaged — and still engages — in is the practice of forcing PC manufacturers to pay a license fee for Windows on every machine they create — whether it ships with Windows on it or not.
  • Sigil Spam: Ever since Internet Explorer was fused with Windows from 95 to ME, you got used to seeing the IE logo a lot.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Clippit (a.k.a. Clippy), the animated paper clip "assistant" in Microsoft Office. Clippy is almost universally loathed, and by itself accounts for about 10% of that trope page.
  • Streisand Effect: In February 2010, Microsoft forced security Web site Cryptome offline with a DMCA takedown notification to their hosting company, due to Cryptome hosting Microsoft's "Global Criminal Compliance Handbook" - a guide on the surveillance services Microsoft performs for law enforcement agencies on its online platforms - for all to see. When Cryptome went down, the web replied in kind, with many sites hosting the document themselves in protest of the DMCA takedown. Microsoft eventually saw what kind of a backlash they were risking, and backpedaled quite furiously: they pulled the takedown notice, apologized to Cryptome and its readers (saying they only wanted to have the document taken down, not the entire site), and worked with Cryptome's hosting company to get the site back up as fast as possible.
  • Take That: The film Anti Trust, to Microsoft.