Wednesday, September 16, 1998 Published at 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Microsoft takes over the world
Winds of Fortune: Microsoft soars to the top of the league
Twenty three years after it was founded, the US software giant Microsoft has won the official title of biggest company in the world.
Valued at $261bn (£163bn) on the New York stock exchange on Monday, Microsoft has finally beaten its number one rival, General Electric, in market value.
Owner, Bill Gates, the world's richest man, still owns 20% of the company, worth an estimated $56bn.
From rags to riches
Mr Gates launched the company with his best friend Paul Allen, in the inauspicious surroundings of an Albuquerque hotel room.
The government's Justice Department and 20 states have compiled a 90-page document citing allegations of monopolistic practices against the software giant.
The latest news of its dominance could be seen as providing fuel for the US government's case.
Fred Dickson, director of research at Branch, Cabell & Co, a Virginia-based retail brokerage, said: "It just builds on their case - if there is a case - that Microsoft is the dominant technology company in the world."
In the dock
The Justice Department accuses Microsoft of trying to kill in its infancy the Java language developed by Sun Microsystems, seeing it as a threat to its Windows operating system.
It also argues that Microsoft has been unfairly using its advantage of having more than 90% of the world's PCs running Windows, to squeeze rival browser Netscape out and dominate access to the World Wide Web.
Wall Street analysts said Microsoft's success was the result of the company's rapid growth, which has also been seen in other technology companies.
But there has been an overall fall in the stock market in the last few weeks, and General Electric - producer of jet engines and electric lightbulbs - has suffered more than Microsoft in its fightback.