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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.

[ image: The chips are up for the software giant]
The chips are up for the software giant
In the past year, shares in Microsoft have jumped 50%, despite the US government's anti-trust trial against the company, which is due to begin on October 15.

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.

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In this section

From Sci/Tech
Analysis: Microsoft taken to task

From Business
IBM chief: Microsoft killed OS/2

From Business
Microsoft trial resumes

The future of Microsoft

Microsoft deposes competitors

USA versus Microsoft - Microsoft rests its defence

USA versus Microsoft: The 16th week

USA versus Microsoft: the 15th week

USA versus Microsoft - the 14th week

USA versus Microsoft - the 13th week

US versus Microsoft: the 12th week

Microsoft begins its defence

Microsoft's 12 angry men

USA versus Microsoft: the case resumes

USA versus Microsoft: the ninth week

USA versus Microsoft: the eighth week

US versus Microsoft: the seventh week

USA versus Microsoft: The sixth week

USA versus Microsoft: The fifth week

USA versus Microsoft: the fourth week

USA versus Microsoft: the third week

USA versus Microsoft: the second week

USA versus Microsoft: the first week

USA versus Microsoft: The first two days

Microsoft's monopoly: the charge sheet

US state drops Microsoft case

Microsoft says Netscape the bad boys

Microsoft turns defence into attack

Professor slams former student's testimony