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This is a really cool story and underscores what happens when we’re not paying attention.

Just a few years ago, Microsoft was seen as a lumbering has-been of the technology world.

It was big and still quite profitable, but the company had lost its luster, failing or trailing in the markets of the future like mobile, search, online advertising and cloud computing. Its stock price languished, inching up 3 percent in the decade through the end of 2012.

It’s a very different story today. Microsoft is running neck and neck with Apple for the title of the world’s most valuable company, both worth about $850 billion, thanks to a stock price that has climbed 30 percent over the last 12 months. At the end of trading Friday, Microsoft was just ahead of its longtime rival.

So what happened?

Click here to read the full sort by Steve Lohr, NYT