Microsoft’s Long Road Ahead
Microsoft (MSFT) first gained an industry foothold in 1980 when IBM agreed to bundle Microsoft’s operating system with each computer sold. As personal computers became more and more commonplace in the 1990′s, Microsoft grew to supply over 90% of these systems with cutting-edge operating systems like Windows 3.1, Windows 98 and others. Times have been tougher for Microsoft in recent years, however, as the global company finds themselves facing stiff competition from virtually every direction, most notably in the mobile market with the mainstream use of smart phone technology as well as tablets. Microsoft has also been working hard to gain more share of the Paid Search market although Google AdWords continues to have a strong hold there.
Things have been better for Microsoft in the past than they are today. Windows Vista was a disaster and while Windows 7 did help to repair some of that, changing technologies have left Microsoft lagging in emerging markets, far behind that of the iPhone, iPad and Android-based mobile devices. Bing continues to lose money hand-over-fist, and just hasn’t seen the kind of positive results needed to unseat top Paid Search networks. Yes, things could be a lot better for Microsoft in 2012 than they are. Does that mean they’ll continue to get worse?
Windows 8 promises to be something unlike Microsoft has ever released. Set for release later this year, the operating system claims seamless integration between PC’s, smart phones and tablets. In reality, the desktop version is more difficult to get used to due to the lack of start menu and some other features, and this could discourage consumers from going all in. The O/S seems to work great on mobile devices, however, which is what Microsoft is targeting. Microsoft’s major competitor, Apple, routinely forces their base to learn new technologies, so why shouldn’t Microsoft?
Microsoft has a long road ahead of them if they want a market share in the mobile market of more than 10% by 2016, and an even longer road to make their search engine, Bing, a household name. Overhead is generally pretty low for a company of this size, however, and the business is structured to weather tough economic storms. It may not be a good idea to put all of your eggs in the Microsoft basket, but if successful, Windows 8 could help to bring them back from 2nd-tier tech obscurity.