The empire strikes back: Microsoft returns to the top of the world

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WASHINGTON: Microsoft is back at the top of the technology world following an extraordinary comeback to close the gap with Apple, some three years into a transformation of the onetime leader by chief executive Satya Nadella.

Microsoft regained its title as the world’s most valuable company when it closed Friday at a higher market value than Apple for the first time since 2010, after a brief move ahead of the iPhone maker earlier in the week.

At Friday’s close, Microsoft’s market capitalization was $851.2 billion, having tripled in value since Nadella took over in early 2014.

Apple’s valuation stood at $847.4 billion, having dropped some 20 per cent in the past eight weeks. Not far behind were Amazon ($826 billion) and Google parent Alphabet ($763 billion).

In the 1990s, Microsoft held the crown as the top tech firm and most valuable company as it powered the revolution in personal computers with its Windows operating system.

But in recent years, it appeared headed to obscurity after spectacular failures in mobile computing, while Apple, Google and Amazon saw their fortunes rise.

Analysts say patience, diversification and the willingness to jettison failing ventures helped fuel Microsoft’s surge.

“Microsoft is firing on all cylinders right now,” said Jack Gold, technology analyst with J Gold Associates.

“Satya Nadella has been doing a fantastic job in leading them away from dead-end areas and being more innovative.”

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