Much of the recent discussion about Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has centered around the cut in CEO Steve Ballmer's bonus, which to some extent was due to ongoing losses in the company's online operations. A bit less prominent in the news are Ballmer's comments in the annual report of the world's largest software company:
There's a remarkable amount of opportunity ahead for Microsoft in both the next year and the next decade. As we enter this new era, there are several distinct areas of technology that we are focused on driving forward — all of which start to show up in the devices and services launching this year. Leading the industry in these areas over the long term will translate to sustained growth well into the future. These focus areas include:Developing new form factors that have increasingly natural ways to use them including touch, gestures and speech. Making technology more intuitive and able to act on our behalf instead of at our command with machine learning. Building and running cloud services in ways that unleash incredible new experiences and opportunities for businesses and individuals. Firmly establishing one platform, Windows, across the PC, tablet, phone, server and cloud to drive a thriving ecosystem of developers, unify the cross-device user experience, and increase agility when bringing new advancements to market. Delivering new scenarios with life-changing improvements in how people learn, work, play and interact with one another.
We are uniquely positioned to lead in these areas given the breadth of our devices and services portfolio, as well as our large, global partner and customer base and the growing Windows ecosystem.
Ballmer continues to argue that Microsoft will be among the most important software companies in the world, That is true because of its size. But he also argues it will be the most relevant, because within this breadth the company plans to be extraordinarily innovative. Whether that is so will be analyzed by the public or most investors not based on enterprise software, products for businesses or server enhancements. Windows 8 will be the critical measure. Its release is less than a month away. By the end of the year, the pace of downloads and the tenor of reviews will say a great deal about whether Ballmer's sentiment is true.
Douglas A. McIntyre