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Microsoft has surpassed Apple to be ranked as the world's most valuable listed company, reclaiming the number one spot after more than 15 years.
The software giant ended Friday with a market value of more than $851bn (£668bn) compared with Apple's $847bn. Under Satya Nadella’s leadership, the old tech giant pivoted put its cash cows at risk, and successfully transitioned to the next big technology wave—cloud computing.
On Friday, Microsoft shares gained more than 0.6% to close at $110.89, while Apple shares finished at $178.60, down about 0.5%.
Apple's shares have fallen almost 25% since October - more steeply than the market overall - amid concerns about slowing smartphone demand and the possibility of additional US tariffs on Chinese-made goods.
Microsoft became a challenger again in large part because Apple’s stock fell nearly 20 percent in November, while Microsoft hasn’t done any worse than the rest of the stock market. But the fact that it hasn’t done poorly is a reflection of its steady focus on business customers in recent years.
Microsoft lost its brilliancy as people were shunning PCs in favor of Smartphones. In 2013, PC sales plunged 10 percent to about 315 million, the worst year-to-year drop ever, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. It didn’t help that Microsoft’s effort to make PCs more like phones, Windows 8, was widely panned.
A turnaround began when the Redmond, Washington, company promoted Nadella as CEO in 2014. He succeeded Microsoft’s longtime CEO, Steve Ballmer, who initially scoffed at the notion that people would be willing to pay $500 or more for Apple’s iPhones.
By many measures - including annual revenue and profit - Apple remains the bigger company.
For now, however, investors are betting that Microsoft's prospects are brighter.
The firm's cloud services unit, which sells to other businesses, has driven the firm's growth in recent years. Apple, by contrast, depends on consumer spending, which investors are worried could slow.
Microsoft boss Satya Nadella is well-positioned to "further transform [Microsoft] into a cloud behemoth over the coming years," he wrote in a research note.
Microsoft flourished in the 1990s and ranked as the world's most valuable company in the early 2000s. But the firm took a hit after a landmark anti-trust case and fell farther out of favour as mobile phones emerged to challenge desktop computers.
In 2010, Apple overtook Microsoft as the most valuable technology firm.
The iPhone maker unseated Exxon Mobil for the overall number one spot for the first time in 2011 and has held the title largely uninterrupted since.
It became the first trillion dollar company in the US this summer but lost its distinction this autumn as its share price started to plunge. 

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