Forward-looking: Satya Nadella sure is doing things right at Microsoft. Since beginning his tenure as CEO in February 2014, Microsoft's stock price has tripled, a strong positive signal of how the company is being perceived. Microsoft was still leading many areas and was plenty profitable, but was also seen as sluggish and stagnant. Nadella refocused the company's efforts to find growth in business and the cloud, realigned Office to work as a SaaS platform, and is slowly moving Windows in that same direction, but the OS is no longer at the center of everything the company does.
Apple has managed to (mostly) retain its position as the world's most valuable company for quite a while now. Earlier this year it became the first company to hit a trillion dollar valuation, and Amazon followed not so long after. But as the market took a dive in the later part of the year and tech stocks were hit hard, Microsoft seems to be one of the less affected parties.
For the first time in the better part of a decade, Microsoft has challenged Apple's lead. As the market closed Friday, Microsoft caught up with and surpassed its competitor in terms of market capitalization, hitting a total valuation of $851.22 billion. This number exceeds Apple's market cap of $847.43 billion. Needless to say, the value of major tech companies like Microsoft and Apple changes all the time, and Microsoft may not retain this position for long.
Apple's valuation is roughly flat for the year after hitting record levels in August and September. The iPhone maker has been hit this past month after reports of struggles with lower than expected demand for its latest XS and XR phone releases. In other words, Microsoft may have temporarily won by default.
Even though Microsoft is once again in close battle with other tech giants, there's a good chance the Redmond company will remain neck-and-neck with Apple for the foreseeable future.
Microsoft has been pumping out quite a few well-received products, including its Surface line, but perhaps most importantly, bringing tons of fresh cash with Azure and Office 365. Even the company's AR bet was recently awarded a $480 million contract to provide the US Army with combat-ready HoloLens augmented reality headsets.
If they can continue to deliver, maybe Microsoft is finally ready to reach new milestones on a more permanent level.