Excerpt from The PC Pioneers
On this day in 1986, Microsft had its IPO – initial public offering
Microsoft Windows 1.0 was finally launched at COMDEX in November 1985, and first shipments were made straight after it on 20th November, selling at $99.95 per copy. It was not yet ‘fit for purpose’ as it still had bugs and proved to be slow.
But Microsoft was adopting an approach to its products that it termed ‘launch then improve’. I guess this was a slight improvement on the early PC hardware manufacturers who often tended to ‘launch then create’.
This prompted an Apple lawyer to be despatched northward to take legal action against Microsoft. Microsoft was shocked as it believed it had its deals in place with Apple and Xerox for the use of the GUI technologies. Neither wanted a protracted legal battle. Microsoft was moving towards its initial public offering. Apple needed all its attention focused on making the Mac a success; Apple III and Lisa were still all too fresh in their memories.
In the event Microsoft threatened to remove its support of the Office applications for Mac and Sculley capitulated. He gave Microsoft a non-exclusive, non-transferable, worldwide, royalty-free and perpetual deal for its Mac GUI in present and future software packages. In return Microsoft agreed that its software had indeed derived from Lisa and Mac and committed to more software support for the Mac, including a deal that would see Excel as a Mac-only platform until October 1986. This was signed on 22nd November 1985, just two days after Windows 1.0 was first shipped – Microsoft must have had a good chuckle!
In March 1986 under pressure from employees to realise their share options a Microsoft IPO placed its shares at $25.75 and raised $61m.