Satya Nadella
Satya NadellaMicrosoft

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hailed MS Excel as the company's finest achievement. "Think about a world without Excel. That's just impossible for me," Nadella said.

While MS Excel changed the way in which accountants everywhere crunched numbers, Nadella, in a way, is changing the way Microsoft works. Business Insider reported that though former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cared more about business, Nadella, a coder at heart, is more interested in developing products that people can use.

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Nadella spoke about how Microsoft's first product was a BASIC interpreter that helped boost the productivity of a programmer and added that it was his self-given mandate to "understand, or rekindle, what it was that drove success, or drove our passion."

Much on the same lines here are four things Microsoft did that really made a difference to the world.

Saved Apple

Yes, if it weren't for Microsoft, the world wouldn't still have Apple. Travelling back in time to 1997, Apple was apparently struggling to stay afloat. Apple founder Steve Jobs decided to call his "frenimy" Bill Gates and after some high-powered negotiation, Jobs famously announced at Macworld 1997: "We have to let go of the notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft needs to lose." Microsoft invested $150 million into Apple in exchange for non-voting shares and continued support for Office for Mac.

Surface Pro

A tablet that took on laptop and created a new type of computers, it's hard to say whether Microsoft has changed the world with the Surface Pro or whether it's still in the midst of doing so. When Microsoft rolled out the first Surface Pro back in 2013, it was the Redmond-based company's first attempt at making its own devices and while the first-gen Suraface Pro was more of a jack of all trades, Microsoft has allowed the Surface Pro to hone its skills well enough to inspire other manufacturers to try their hand.


With the HoloLens, its impact is going to be felt in the near future. Microsoft's crack at augmenter reality (AR), the HoloLens opens a world of opportunity. What's really interesting to know is that the HoloLens is on board the International Space Station and is being used by the astronauts there to simulate repair sessions and even give them an idea of what a component should look like after it's been fixed.

Made PCs mainstream

Saving the biggest contribution for last, if it weren't for Microsoft, the PC wouldn't have gone mainstream. As Business Insider points out, unlike Apple, Microsoft valued software over hardware. Not only did it allow third-party manufacturers to produce the hardware, thus applying econolies of scale and Moore's Law to make things cheaper, by ensuring PC users had more applications they could run on their Windows PCs, Microsoft also ensured Windows remained popular. If one were to think about it, Microsoft did to PCs what Google is doing to Android smartphones. By allowing third-party device-makers to adopt the OS, Google's made Android the most popular smartphone OS.