5. Google's cloud apps
Google provides a host of cloud services to the enterprise, including Gmail, Google Docs, collaboration software and many more. So far, Google hasn't been able to cut into Microsoft's productivity application suites or cloud offering in Office 365. But over time, as more companies warm to the cloud and realize that Google has attractive pricing, that could change. Expect the cloud product race between Microsoft and Google to only intensify as the years go by.
6. Windows Phone 7
There is a lot riding on Windows Phone 7 for Microsoft. Currently, the software company lacks a notable presence in the smartphone market. Microsoft says that it will change, but so far, it hasn't followed through on that promise. If it can't get Windows Phone 7 into more consumers' hands next year, it might be lights out for Microsoft's mobile division.
7. Nokia devices
It's important to note that Windows Phone 7 likely won't be a success without help from Nokia's upcoming line of handsets running the software. The problem is that Nokia devices have been losing market share at a rapid rate lately, and by the look of things, that situation won't change any time soon. But if Windows Phone 7 can reverse that trend, it will help Microsoft's mobile standing dramatically. If not, the future looks dark forMicrosoft in the mobile space.
Speaking of the mobile market, it's also important to note how important Android is to Microsoft's future. Currently, both Microsoft and Google are following the same strategy by creating an OS and letting vendors use it on their devices. Android is the winner so far, but Microsoft thinks it can change things. If Android continues its meteoric rise and solidifies its ownership of the space, as expected, Microsoft might be left to pick up the scraps-an eventuality that could negatively affect Microsoft's financial performance.
9. Apple's iOS
If Android is a threat to Microsoft in the mobile market, Apple's iOS must be, as well. The operating system is running on the world's most popular smartphones and tablets. What's more, many people believe it could be coming to the Apple TV, thus paving the way for the companies to battle it out in the living room. If it weren't for iOS, Microsoft wouldn't have so much trouble in the mobile space. But it is having trouble, and there's no stopping iOS.
Over the last couple of years, we've been seeing many PC vendors think twice about Windows. The trouble started with Vista and became a concern when some PC vendors started offering desktop Linux as an alternative. Then, HP said it would consider offering WebOS on its PCs. Another majorthreat emerged when Google launched Chromebooks. If Windows 8 is a success and PC vendors see less value in other platforms, Microsoft will be just fine. But the changes going on in the PC market are enough to scare Microsoft-and for good reason.