Moore's Law has driven many degree circuit features below the resolving capability of optical microscopy. Yet the optical microscope remains a valuable tool in failure analysis. This article describes the physics governing resolution and useful techniques for extracting the small details. It begins with the basic microscope column and construction. The article discusses microscope adjustments, brightfield and darkfield illumination, and microscope concepts important to liquid crystal techniques. It also discusses solid immersion lenses, infrared and ultraviolet microscopy and concludes with laser microscopy techniques such as thermal induced voltage alteration and external induced voltage alteration.