I already discussed a couple of books about the history of Apple in an earlier post, so it seems appropriate to discuss a couple of books about the history of Microsoft as well.

Idea Man

Let’s start with the most recent one, written by Paul Allen. Paul is one of the co-founders of Microsoft, this gives the book quite a lot of depth (and drama).

The book starts off by describing their days at Lakeside School and Harvard but it quickly moves on to the important stuff: How they started Microsoft and what it took to make the company successful. When the book came out there was quite a lot of fuzz surrounding it, people thought Paul was a little bit too critical of Bill Gates. Having read the book myself I have to disagree, the book paints a fair picture of both their personalities, flaws included.

When you’re about halfway through, the book gets a little bit boring. This is mainly because it starts to focus on all of the different investments Paul made after he left Microsoft, it’s interesting but it seems to go on forever.

Showstopper!

Another great book about Microsoft! Showstopper is focussed on the history of Windows NT and how it all came to be. At the time this was one of the most complex software projects ever and it would go on to power computers for the next twenty years. The book gives you a vivid picture of the enormous stress the project had on the developers and how it destroyed mariages and friendships.

The book is interesting because nobody is writing new operating systems anymore. Windows NT was one of the last big projects on this front that got a lot of traction (not counting Android, iOS and other mobile OS’s).

World War 3.0

Microsoft’s history is filled with court cases, the biggest one took place in the late nineties and was between Microsoft and the United States Government. This book will take you through this tumultuous time at Microsoft and will describe how Microsoft was almost split into two separate companies.

This book is not about technology, but about Microsoft as a whole. The personalities behind it and it’s agenda at the time are very well described this makes the book a pleasure to read.

A Microsoft Life

This last book is quite entertaining and informative. It written by Stephen Toulouse who spent fifteen years at Microsoft. The book describes the life and work of a Microsoft employee in a very open and direct way, this makes the book an absolute joy to read. This book, together wit Idea Man are absolute ‘must reads’ when you’re interested in Microsoft and it’s history.