Microsoft briefly dethrones Apple as the most valuable United States company (AAPL, MSFT)

Microsoft briefly overtook Apple to become world's most valuable tech stock

Microsoft's dominance in the PC software market gave it a market value that was larger than Apple's for years. The last time Microsoft was bigger than Apple by this metric was in mid-2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While Microsoft dominated Apple during the 80s and 90s, Steve Jobs finally one-upped Bill Gates with the release of the iPod and then the iPhone in the mid-2000s. In August, Apple became the first USA company with a $1 trillion valuation.

Apple has all but lost its lead as Wall Street's most valuable company and is on the verge of being replaced by Microsoft just four months after the iPhone maker breached the $1 trillion mark.

Yet now, that very product is among the the challenges facing Apple, with concerns over weak iPhone demand pressuring shares to fall 25 percent from record levels.

Microsoft isn't immune to weakness in the technology sector, although it has held up much better, falling about 8 per cent from its own all-time high in October as investors take to its enterprise-oriented business, as well as the success of its cloud-computing division.

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Rich Ross, a technical analyst at Everscore ISI, said Apple could see another 18 percent slide.

Microsoft shares rose more than 3 percent as US markets and large cap tech stocks shook off recent losses. "It is not bullish when the biggest stock in the world is in "falling knife" mode", he wrote to clients on Monday.

Earlier, Apple's stock fell, and both companies' market capitalisation were within about US$3 billion of each other, putting them at virtually the same value. Microsoft has been pumping out quite a few well-received products as of late, including its Surface Headphones, and its Surface laptop-tablet hybrid device line-up.