Happy 40th birthday to Microsoft. The company was founded on 4 April, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This makes Microsoft the most successful tech company from either of the Mexicos. I was born just four months later, far further north and to the east and I am yet to achieve a fraction of what Microsoft have in the tech industry.
Microsoft’s birthday was described by The Economist, the august newspaper, as one that must be coming as quite a shock to people who have lived most of their lives with the company’s products and still consider themselves young. Even though my first experience of a Microsoft product was circa 1983 and I still consider myself young, I did not feel stung by the Economist writer’s stinging barb.
Instead, a whole new thought popped into my head. My first experiences of Microsoft were when I was eight and nine years old, when DOS was merely a launcher for the games Paratrooper and Sopwith, neither of which had anything at all to do with Microsoft.
It occurred to me, that thirty years on, this week my computing experience has largely been using my Google Nexus 9, whose Android 5.0.1 operating system and its Google Now launcher allowed me to play the games GT Racing 2, Hungry Shark Evolution as well as Asphalt 8: Airborne and Kill Shot, none of which have anything to do with Google. Plus ça change!
As I have, whatever some of my friends might say, done just a little growing-up in the last thirty years, I have also used grown-up apps, like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, MSN News and indeed The Economist on my Nexus 9, none of which have anything to do with Google either beyond being downloadable from the Google Play Store (whose third birthday was last month).
Software distribution has certainly improved since the era of actually-floppy floppy disks in paper sleeves inside stiff cardboard packages. And so has access to playing games! Whilst my Nexus 9 may still crash far too often, it is undeniably more convenient than having to travel to another country and wait until my father takes me with him to work and I get to play games on his work PC, or alternatively whine and whine until my heartless mother gives me a little money to shut me up and I can go play video games at my local bowling alley.
In conclusion, I would like to say thank you to Microsoft for providing me with operating systems on which I have been able to do so many things, programming languages and database software which I have been able to use to write so many things which have provided me with a career and most of my income, not to mention word processors and other productivity and entertainment apps which are so incredibly useful, especially now that they are also available for Android and iOS. Do not worry, for a 40-year-old tech company, you are still remarkably youthful!