Will the humiliation never stop for Microsoft?

In the early 1980s, the computer everyone wanted was the Apple II. But then IBM released their personal computer and took over the market. But it wasn't IBM, long the world's biggest PC maker, that made all the money, but the company that made the operating system software everyone bought for their PC - Microsoft.

But in the last few years that story has gone into reverse. Apple and IBM have been slim and nimble innovators, and Microsoft is now the bloated, slow-moving giant. And it shows. Last year, Apple shocked the tech world by overtaking Microsoft in value (measured by 'market cap', the total value of all the company's shares in circulation.) And now, IBM - which doesn't even make PCs any more - has done the same. It's as if thirty years of tech history has gone into reverse.

Of course, Microsoft isn't exactly losing money. Actually, it's just had its most profitable period ever. But in the ultra-competitive world of technology, it's not enough to grow, you have to grow faster than the competition. This latest news might add fuel tothe growing rumblings that CEO Steve Ballmer, hand-picked by Bill Gates, might not be the best person to run the place.

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