Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting 2011 offered executives the chance to tout what they termed the company's "momentum" over the past year.
Xbox Kinect, Office 365 and other offerings were all cited as drivers of that momentum. However, executives also emphasized the relative newness of the latest generation of products, as if to suggest their true impact has yet to be felt.
"We've only just launched Windows Phone," Bill Koefoed, Microsoft's general director of investor relations, told the audience. "Obviously, we have some work to do. We feel we have a great product on the market." He also cited Microsoft's deal with Nokia, which will see Windows Phone ported onto the latter's hardware, as a relatively new business relationship.
Even as it pushed a vision of an evolving future, Microsoft also made it clear it intends to make some clean breaks with the past, particularly Windows XP. That warhorse of that decade-old operating system still powers any number of computers, and Microsoft would dearly prefer for all of those to upgrade to Windows 7. "XP has been a wonderful product," Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, said during his part of the presentation. "It is now time for it to go."
Microsoft is spending this week unveiling details of Windows 8 at its BUILD conference. On Sept. 13, Windows and Windows Live division president Steven Sinofsky offered a demonstration of the next-generation operating system in action, arguing that revolutions in consumer and business technology over the past three years make the next-generation operating system a necessary upgrade from Windows 7.
Windows 8 aims to not only continue Microsoft's dominance of the PC operating system space, but also give Redmond an inroad into the tablet market, currently dominated by Apple's iPad. It offers a touch-optimized interface alongside a more traditional desktop. According to Sinofsky, the next-generation operating system will be "equally at home on ARM and x86."
Microsoft is also intensely focused on pushing its "all-in" cloud strategy. According to Turner, Microsoft has replaced its old vision, which involved placing a computer on every desk, with one in which everyone is connected via "a continuous cloud service." Microsoft can only hope that its cloud initiatives, which include Office 365, continue to have momentum with both consumers and businesses.