Microsoft's Shares Are Having Their Best Run in the 21st Century

With Apple, Google, and Facebook hogging the news, a quick look at the forgotten giant of the tech industry

The Microsoft jokes are out in force, now that the company may buy the beloved maker of the game Minecraft. Many laypeople don't consider Microsoft the juggernaut of the technology industry. That title would go to Apple, Google, or Facebook, depending on the area. And references to the company are as likely to namecheck 90s-era Clippy or new CEO Satya Nadella's unfocused memo as any product the company makes.

But a strange thing has been happening up in Seattle. The company, largely ignored by the media in favor of stories about Snapchat and hypothetical Apple products, is having its best run—at least in terms of share price—since the dot-com collapse. Since the beginning of 2013, Microsoft shares are up 76 percent.

New CEO Satya Nadella, who assumed control of the company in February, has built on the momentum the company got going in 2013. And now the company is flirting with a $400 billion market cap.

The truth is people still pay for Microsoft software and services. 1.5 billion people use Windows. 1.1 billion people use Microsoft Office. These are paying customers who helped the company bring in $86 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2014.

Microsoft may not be cool—if it ever was—but it's not going away.

Share prices of Apple (yellow), Google (red), and Microsoft (blue) from 2013 to present (Google)