Microsoft in the Crystal Ball

December 30, 2008

Five scenarios for Microsoft’s future made the shortlist at InfoWorld. You can read the full, remarkably choppy story here. I don’t want to spoil your fun as you scan the five scenarios the wise journalists cooked up for today’s intellectual meal. I can mention one of the scenarios, however. For example, after noting that Microsoft has wandered a bit in 2008, one of the future scenarios is a gentle drift downwards. When I read this, I thought, “If the economy tanks, how gentle will that crash be for the Redmond wizards?” In my opinion, not too gentle. You can work through the other four scenarios which strongly suggest that someone at InfoWorld might want to sign up for an evening MBA program at one of the universities near the InfoWorld offices. The scenario that I think warrants a bit of thought is the break up. The company may be worth more chopped into three or more segments. With a stock price in the $20 range, beleaguered investors and users who have to clean up Word’s crazy behavior on a Windows machine by firing up Word for a Mac may force the issue. If more trouble looms, maybe Mr. Gates will come back. Marketing is not closing the gap between Redmond and the GOOG. Technology, not Zunes, is necessary. And quickly. Time is dribbling away. The company’s 2008 acquisitions provide additional evidence that Microsoft finds itself in a strange new Googley world.

Stephen Arnold, December 30, 2008


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