As far as 99.9 percent of the world population is concerned, Microsoft is a stodgy, old-guard technology company. Its bottom line is fully leveraged against PC operating systems and business software—hardly the building blocks of a future-thinking portfolio, right?
But scratch that cold, conservative, pedestrian surface, and you’ll find a Microsoft that’s a veritable hotbed of cutting-edge innovation. Indeed, the company doesn't just loosen its purse strings when it comes to research and development. No, it practically throws money at really big thinkers to build a more wondrous, fantastical future. In 2011 alone, Microsoft's R&D budget reached a record high of $9.6 billion (yes, with a "B"). That’s a lot of Benjamins, and they’re being spent on some decidedly awesome projects.