Our favorite books on Microsoft

Our favorite books on Microsoft

A list of some of the top books on the history of Microsoft. What are your favorites?

As Build 2016 kicks off, we're taking a look at the changing face of Microsoft this month, and what better way to understand the future than to take a look at the past?

I reached out to Microsoft watchers, employees, former employees, and more for their takes on the best books on Microsoft, and they came back with a variety of superb picks. Here are the ones that came up most often, but leave your picks in the comments below.

Showstopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

While Windows NT is ancient technology history at this point, it marked a real turning point for Windows — and Microsoft's engineering culture. Showstopper! follows chief architect David Cutler's push to make a more powerful operating system that would be equally comfortable on servers and personal computers.

Burning the Ships: Transforming Your Company's Culture Through Intellectual Property Strategy

A little over a decade ago, Microsoft embracing open source would have seemed improbable at best, and for many people simply comical. The two — and especially Microsoft and Linux — were simply at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum in many eyes. Now, Microsoft proudly proclaims that SQL Server <3 Linux while sharing hundreds of open source libraries and programs.

Part of that transformation is thanks to Marshall Phelps, who used this book to document his time negotiating an intellectual property cease fire with Novell and Red Hat which helped pave the way for friendly cooperation in the years to come.

The Road Ahead

Bill Gates, along with now-former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold and journalist Peter Rinearson, wrote a sweeping look at what they thought the future of computing — and the Internet — would hold. Much of what they wrote turned out to be spot on, from the importance of encryption to the way that general purpose computers would rewrite much of the technological landscape.

Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft

Paul Allen's memoir starts with his early collaboration and friendship with Bill Gates that would lead to Microsoft, and runs through his post-Microsoft sporting, philanthropy and aviation ventures. It's about as much an inside look at Microsoft's early days as could be done.

But while these books all look at Microsoft's past — and at this point, Microsoft's ancient history — I couldn't find much on its new chief executive Satya Nadella. I saw one book, available for Kindle and paperback, simply titled Nadella: The Changing Face of Microsoft. With scant reviews, I can't recommend it yet — but I picked my own copy to read and report back on.

What other books chart the course of Microsoft you think are worth a read?

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