From Gates to Nadella: Microsoft through the years

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Microsoft Corp. has named Satya Nadella, head of its cloud computing business, as the company’s next CEO. He immediately replaces Steve Ballmer, who had announced in August that he would retire from the world’s biggest software company after more than 13 years at its helm. Here’s a look at key moments in Microsoft’s history.

- 1975: Microsoft is founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

- 1980: Ballmer joins the company.

- 1981: IBM ships first personal computers running MS-DOS operating system.

- Nov. 20, 1985: Microsoft ships first version of Windows, more than a year after Apple came out with its Mac computer with a graphical user interface and a mouse replacing keyboard commands.

- 1992: Nadella joins the company.

- Aug. 24, 1995: Windows 95 is released in one of Microsoft’s biggest product launches ever.

- May 18, 1998: Justice Department and 20 states sue Microsoft, accusing the maker of the ubiquitous Windows operating system of abusing its market power to thwart competition from Netscape and others.

- July 21, 1998: Widely seen as the successor to chairman and longtime friend Gates, Ballmer is named president of the software company. He’d previously led Microsoft’s sales and marketing.

- Jan. 13, 2000: Gates promotes Ballmer to CEO of Microsoft while staying on as chairman and chief software architect.

- Nov. 2, 2001: Justice Department announces settlement of Microsoft antitrust case.

- Nov. 15, 2001: Microsoft releases its Xbox video game system, one of the company’s most successful products.

- March 26, 2004: At a conference for online advertisers, Ballmer says Microsoft’s biggest mistake was failing to develop its own search engine, which caused it to fall behind rivals Google and Yahoo. “That’s probably the thing I feel worst about over the last few years,” says Ballmer. Ballmer vows to put more money into research and development of search technology at Microsoft.

- May 4, 2006: Ballmer says MSN Search, Microsoft’s search engine, is gaining steam against rivals, but still trails Google and Yahoo.

- November 13, 2006: Microsoft launches the Zune music player, its answer to Apple’s iPod. The company discontinues the Zune five years later, in 2011.

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