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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Microsoft: No longer the biggest
Microsoft's Bill Gates
Can Microsoft regain top spot?
Microsoft is no longer the world's biggest company by market capitalisation.

The Microsoft Trial
Three other US companies have overtaken the software giant in terms of stock market value.

The firm's value has plummeted by 41% so far this year, from nearly $600bn to $358bn.

Much of the reason for the fall has been the uncertainty prompted by the on-going anti-trust case.

It has been overtaken by General Electric, now worth $506bn, Intel, worth $441bn and Cisco Systems, $436bn.

Over the past year Microsoft shares have moved downwards from a high of $120 to $68 in early trading on 7 June.

Meanwhile rival Cisco has seen its share price rise $25 to more than $60 as the company has gained from its role in providing the hardware for the internet.

And for most the year it has been vying with computer chip maker Intel for second place. Intel's Pentium chips are widely used in personal computers worldwide.

GE: an industrial giant

The company that now holds the title of the world's biggest company is an industrial giant which makes everything from toasters to jet engines.

GE has sales of $110bn - nearly ten times that of Microsoft - and 340,000 employees worldwide.

It has seen its profits grow by 15% a year to $11bn.

GE Capital Services, its financial subsidiary, makes up nearly half its sales.

GE produces power generation systems, locomotives, medical imaging equipment and electrical appliances.

It also owns the US television network NBC and its financial news subsidiary, CNBC, and ironically, has a joint venture with Microsoft to provide news on the internet (MSNBC).

Microsoft's future

Microsoft's shares now face a further period of uncertainty as the company's legal battle continues. It could also face difficulty in recruiting and retaining employees whose pay has been boosted by their share options.

The Seattle-based firm is likely to go to an appeals court on any rulings.

It could suffer further losses from lawsuits brought by competitors, who would be able to claim triple damages for any losses suffered.

And with its energy and resources tied up in the lawsuits, the company may find it difficult to continue to innovate in the future, or move so aggressively to buy up competitors.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan
"The government came at us with extreme and radical remedies"
The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reports
"Microsoft officials claim the government's actions could harm the whole industry"
See also:

03 Apr 00 | Business
03 Apr 00 | Business
22 Feb 00 | Microsoft
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