This week, Microsoft surpassed General Electric to become the world's largest company, as measured by market value. Microsoft's move into the number one spot came thanks to a small stock price increase, which gave the company a market capitalization of over $299 billion. GE, by contrast, has a market capitalization of just over $295 billion. Microsoft had held the number one spot once before, when it pushed past GE for most of 1999. But GE had been ranked number one since April 2000, after a brief stint behind Cisco Systems. Microsoft, Cisco, and GE, of course, have been hit hard by the sliding economy. Despite being among the largest companies in the world, both Microsoft and GE have market capitalizations that are less than half their peak values.