Microsoft is a company which makes a wide variety of technology and hardware products; everything from smartphones to Visual Studio. To build these products, you have to invest heavily in research and development to create new technologies that allows these products to push the innovation needle slightly forward.
And when it comes to R&D spending, Microsoft puts a lot of cash behind its efforts, more than Google, Amazon and even Apple. According to a new report from PWC, Microsoft spent $10.4 billion in 2014 on R&D efforts but that only ranks them number four on the list of twenty companies.
But, even though Apple was not on the R&D list, PWC does rank Apple as the most innovative company for the second year in a row. Google and Amazon round out the top three; Microsoft came in at number eight which is a drop from last year where they were number seven. Why did Microsoft drop? Likely because Tesla jumped from the ninth position up to the fifth spot.
The innovation chart is subjective as you could say that Microsofts move to open source many of their technologies and by going cross-platform with every product could be considered "innovative" in this new world of walled gardens but PWC feels differently.
When a company invests in R&D, they are thinking about the future and taking chances on crazy ideas and technologies. Seeing that Microsoft and others continue to invest significant capital into this field shows that they know the importance research plays into the future success of their companies.
Source: Stragey& PWC (PDF)