Microsoft was founded on April 5, 1975, with the goal of putting a PC in every home. The company has been enormously influential in the 40 years since, but it's the company's future, not its past, that co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates focused on in an April 3 letter to Microsoft employees.
"We have accomplished a lot together during our first 40 years and empowered countless businesses and people to realize their full potential," Gates wrote. "But what matters most now is what we do next."
The letter, which made the rounds online and in social media soon after it landed in staffers' inboxes, outlined Gates' vision for the company he co-founded in a post-PC world. "I believe computing will evolve faster in the next 10 years than it ever has before," Gates wrote. "We already live in a multi-platform world, and computing will become even more pervasive."
Essentially, science fiction's fantastical, computer-aided landscapes of the future are rapidly becoming reality. "We are nearing the point where computers and robots will be able to see, move, and interact naturally, unlocking many new applications and empowering people even more," continued Gates.
Today, Satya Nadella, former cloud computing chief, heads Microsoft. "Under Satya's leadership, Microsoft is better positioned than ever to lead these advances," commented Gates about Nadella, who was named CEO on Feb. 4, 2014.
On April 3, Nadella (@satyanadella) tweeted, "Thank you to our customers, partners & employees who made 40 yrs of @Microsoft possible! Look forward to the next 40 & #empowering everyone"
Bridging the digital divide is a major aim for the Redmond, Wash.-based company. "Technology is still out of reach for many people, because it is complex or expensive, or they simply do not have access," said Gates. "So I hope you will think about what you can do to make the power of technology accessible to everyone, to connect people to each other, and make personal computing available everywhere even as the very notion of what a PC delivers makes its way into all devices."
Gates, who now serves as an advisor for the company after stepping down as chairman of the board at the same time Nadella was named CEO, still has a hand in the innovations the company is bringing to market. "In my role as technical advisor to Satya, I get to join product reviews and am impressed by the vision and talent I see," he said. "The result is evident in products like Cortana, Skype Translator, and HoloLens—and those are just a few of the many innovations that are on the way."
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also took to social media to celebrate the company's 40th year. "40 years ago Microsoft began, what a journey! Here is the title page from Microsoft's first product BASIC," he wrote in an April 4 tweet. Among the copyright information and line numbers, the accompanying picture states, "Paul Allen wrote the non-runtime stuff. Bill Gates wrote the runtime stuff. Monte Davidoff wrote the math package."