What is Microsoft?


Microsoft Corporation is a software company based in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft's flagship product, the Windows operating system, is the single most popular operating system for home desktop use. Its other desktop products, namely Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player, are either bundled directly with the Windows operating system, or are often sold together with Windows as preinstalled software on new computer systems. Additionally, the company manufactures and sells computer hardware such as keyboards and mice, and owns or possesses interest in several content-distribution channels such as MSNBC, the MSN Internet portal, and the Microsoft Encarta electronic encyclopedia.

The Microsoft Windows operating system started life as an optional addition to the MS-DOS operating system. The idea of a graphical user interface was pioneered by Apple Computer's Apple II and Macintosh. However, due to prior work with IBM, Microsoft successfully convinced the hardware giant to ship Microsoft Windows preinstalled on IBM personal computers. This monumental step had piggybacked Windows to be one of the most recognized software titles in history. The Microsoft Office suit of applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access) began life as Microsoft Works, an Apple Macintosh application that provided the functions of a word processor, spreadsheet, and database all in one. Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer web browser was originally a rebranded version of Spyglass Mosaic.

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Microsoft products have traditionally been plagued with security problems, leading to an entire malicious software industry today. Although all major operating systems and computer programs have been subject to attack at one time or another, Microsoft's latency at resolving issues, and the simple number of them, has tarnished the company's image. Microsoft has a policy of releasing patches to its software on the second Tuesday of every month via Microsoft Update, with no more than 10 major changes to its products at those times. Thus, exploits that are discovered around mid-month are not corrected for at least four weeks, and in many cases eight or twelve weeks can go by before a patch is released for a security issue. Microsoft Corporation has promised that its new Windows Vista operating system will be more secure than previous offerings such as Windows XP, however the ten patches a month policy has not been changed.

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