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How Microsoft plans to regain its lost glory in 2012

Last updated on: January 24, 2012 18:03 IST

How Microsoft plans to regain its lost glory in 2012

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US-based reader Rangaprabhu Parthasarthy features four key elements that he predicts will help Microsoft emerge as a force to reckon with in 2012 in response to our reader invite.

Products that came out from the Redmond-based Microsoft Corporation were once considered cutting-edge, sophisticated and novel.

Microsoft's bread and butter Windows based desktop computing then got its first jolt in 2000 when Steve Jobs's Apple came out with the spiffy and colourful iMacs.

That in a way led to Microsoft's downfall.

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Image: Mac and Windows wallpaper


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Not that the company stopped producing cutting-edge stuff or making money by the billions. Consumers demanded simplicity and sophistication in the design of products they used and Microsoft was just not there.

Over the years, many of the gadgets I have used, have steadily become non-Microsoft. And I am not alone. The world is going through a gadget renaissance and while Google (via Android) and Apple (via the ubiquitous iOS) have and are enjoying a surge in users, Microsoft has been at the wrong end of the stick for the first time in a few decades.

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Image: General view of Microsoft Corporation new headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris
Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters
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While PCs and the enterprise are still Microsoft's bastions of strength and sales, Apple is starting to make significant headway in the enterprise segment. And from being a leader in the fledgling smartphone business, Microsoft had lost its way completely.

Not any more. The guys at Redmond have tightened their belts and are raring to take back their glory days.

I believe that Microsoft has finally found its bearings and 2012 will be shaping out as one of the most important years for the company. While the company is cash-rich and raking in the revenue, it would not be amiss to liken Microsoft's 2012 to IBM's 1993. And for once, Microsoft is putting its best players, front, right and centre.

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Image: Microsoft chief software architect and co-founder Bill Gates speaks after meeting with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, at Microsoft corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Gates and Toledo signed an agreement for an E-government collaboration, which involves Microsoft assisting the Peruvian education system with technological support.
Photographs: Anthony P Bolante/Reuters
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How Microsoft plans to regain its lost glory in 2012

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Here are four key elements that will help Microsoft emerge as a force to reckon with in 2012.

1. Let's Bing

Bing has and continues to be viewed as the David to Google's Goliath. It has been a loss-making proposition for Microsoft which has continued to invest significantly in the business -- so much so to reward customers for using Bing and buying stuff from search results.

In addition, there was the agreement with Yahoo! that allowed Bing to power Yahoo! searches and thus improve their results. All this has not helped Bing gain a significant share against Google but it's chipping away. But this year could be different.

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Image: Bing

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Google's new Search Plus has brought in detractors out of the woodwork and this could benefit Bing. Bing also recently surpassed Yahoo! as the second most used search engine. And Microsoft has a cozy relationship with Facebook that it will use to give you its version of "personalised search".

And as Facebook grows and allows Bing to mine more of its data, Bing's personalised results will only get better. I don't expect Bing to trump Google anytime soon, but I expect it to gain more traction in the coming years, starting in 2012.

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Image: Bing search engine from Microsoft

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How Microsoft plans to regain its lost glory in 2012

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2. Microsoft and Nokia: Lets be friends

The first products of the Microsoft-Nokia marriage launched last Fall with the Nokia Lumia 710 and Lumia 800. The two giants formally announced to good press, their own superphone, the Lumia 900.

Of the three, the 800 has launched in Europe and Asia to good reviews. The 710 is available in Europe and the US and the Lumia 900 was quite the talk of CES last week.

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Image: Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop (L) welcomes Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer with a handshake at a Nokia event in London February 11, 2011. Nokia and Microsoft teamed up to build an iPhone killer on Friday in a desperate attempt to take on Google and Apple in the fast-growing smartphone market.
Photographs: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

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I believe Windows Phone 7.5 Mango coupled with the hardware sensibilities of Nokia will sell well in Europe and Asia and maybe even in the US. Time will tell how this relationship pans out but it looks to have gotten off to a good start.

2012 will be a year when the two majors establish a good working partnership as evidenced by good products like the Lumia 900.

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Image: Nokia Lumia 900

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3. Let's Kinect

Kinect for Xbox360 is one of the coolest, if not the coolest invention to come out of Microsoft's stables. Although the tech itself is not from Microsoft, the way it has been integrated into the Xbox360 gaming console is praise worthy.

Kinect by any yardstick has been a huge success for Microsoft. It has also spawned a cottage industry for DIYers looking to introduce gesture based motion control into everything. And Microsoft is looking to move this revolution forward with its recently announced Kinect for Windows.

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This would only further Microsoft's dominance in a nascent but rapidly growing eco-system. Kinect will also gain more adoption throughout the world as it gets more and more popular giving it a sound base for Microsoft for years to come.

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4. Windows 8: The one OS to rule them all

While Microsoft's different teams work on enhancing their profile in the search, mobile and gaming business, the most important event for Microsoft in 2012 is the launch of Windows 8.

While every major OS launch from MS is a big event, Windows 8 is bigger than any other because of its scope. Until now, each release of Windows has been a Wintel or a Wintel+WinAMD one that impacts the PC and the server business.

With Windows 8, Microsoft is aiming to capture the interest and wallets of not just its PC and server folks but also the smartphone and tablet users. With its first simultaneous release on an ARM platform, Windows 8 is shaping to be the most critical release for the company in a long time.

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Windows 8 is being looked upon by tablet manufacturers as the third big tablet OS and the second one (after Android) to go up against the might of the iPad.

Windows 8 will also grace smartphones and PCs and offer its radical new Metro UI to PC users that resemble its smartphone look and feel. Early previews indicate that Microsoft may have a compelling OS in its hands with Windows 8.

2012 will reveal the full Windows 8 story and how it plays out for Microsoft.

It is hard to minimise the importance of any of the aforementioned entities to the long-term success of Microsoft in this post-PC era dominated by Google and Apple. 2012 is shaping to be a critical year for Microsoft, one the Redmond giant seems to be well poised to embrace and succeed.

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