Microsoft Can Reverse Its Misfortunes: 10 Ways to Do It

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-01-05

Microsoft Can Reverse Its Misfortunes: 10 Ways to Do It

Microsoft finds itself in an interesting position. On one hand, the software giant is still a dominant force in the technology industry, generating billions of dollars every quarter, thanks to its many product efforts around the world. On the other hand, it has witnessed its importance in the space decline over the past few years as Google, Apple and other competitors have made it look outdated and confused. 

Currently, Microsoft is far behind online. The company's browser, Internet Explorer, is losing market share to Firefox and Google Chrome. Its mobile platform, Windows Phone 7, is having a hard time gaining market traction in the face of immense competitive pressure from Android and iOS. Simply put, things aren't necessarily looking up for Redmond. 

But that doesn't mean that Microsoft can't change its luck. The company is undoubtedly facing adversity that it won't easily overcome. But it's also Microsoft, and it has the ability to stage a comeback, just as Apple did years ago, that could see it return to its former position as the leader in the technology industry. 

Read on to find out how:

1. It has the cash to do it 

Let's face it: the technology industry is governed by cash. The more money a company has to invest in a technology, the more likely it will find a way to make it work more effectively than the competition's offering. Luckily for Microsoft, it has all the cash it needs to succeed. If it wants to see a return to its former glory, the company must find a way to put that cash to good use. 

2. Steve Ballmer isn't hopeless 

Steve Ballmer might not be the best CEO in the technology space, but he does understand what it takes to be successful in the software market. At least right now, software is still integral to Microsoft's operation. Realizing that, and considering Ballmer has shown some indication over the past year that he's willing to look beyond just desktop software by doubling down on consumer products and cloud integration with products such as Office 365, Microsoft's CEO just might have what it takes to lead the company back to the top. 

3. Windows is still tops 

If Microsoft is defined by anything, it's Windows. The company's operating system is running on computers across the world, and it enjoys a dominant place in that market. Going forward, Microsoft can rely upon Windows to help reverse its declining position. In fact, Microsoft announced last year that it sold 240 million Windows 7 licenses, making it the fastest-selling version of Windows ever. That doesn't sound like a company that's ready to wave the white flag. And it has Windows to thank for it. 

4. Internet Explorer is hanging on 

Internet Explorer is having some trouble competing in the browser space against Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome. In fact, a recent study by StatCounter claims Internet Explorer was overtaken by Firefox in Europe in overall market share. But perhaps it's not time to count out Internet Explorer just yet. The browser is still used quite heavily in the enterprise and across the United States. Microsoft can build upon that and with some tweaks in speed and security, it might be able to regain lost share. Internet Explorer 9 might be the browser version Microsoft needs to regain lost market share.

Microsoft Can Reverse Its Misfortunes: 10 Ways to Do It

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5. It "gets" the consumer market 

Although Microsoft's competition with Google gets the most play among critics of the software company, its efforts in the consumer market have actually been quite impressive. Not only has it watched its Xbox 360 console enjoy stronger sales than competitors, but its recently released Kinect motion-gaming peripheral could be central to its consumer efforts going forward. If Microsoft can continue its success in the consumer market, it might find the market momentum it needs to reverse its recent losses. 

6. Office as the foundation 

Microsoft Office is the juggernaut that helps the software giant post major revenue gains and attract corporate customers. Realizing that, it might be time for Microsoft to rely more heavily on Office. At this point, there isn't a single competitor in the cloud or on premise that will dethrone Office anytime soon. Microsoft can continue to allow Office to keep generating cash while it focuses its efforts in riskier environments such as the Web, knowing all too well that it has Office to rely on to fund those new investments. 

7. Google isn't a guaranteed success 

Google is undoubtedly successful. The company has proven it knows how to appeal to consumers on the Internet and in the mobile market. But Google still hasn't reached the same heights as Microsoft did at its pinnacle. And until it does, it's tough to say which company is really the most capable at dominating the tech industry. Microsoft has done it. Google is on its way to achieving it. But until Google stands alone at the top, Microsoft at least has a shot at beating it. 

8. It has done it before 

Microsoft is no stranger to adversity. When the company released Windows Vista, it expected the market to accept the operating system as the true successor to Windows XP. But that never happened and most consumers and enterprise customers opted to stick with XP. With Windows 7, Microsoft changed all that. Microsoft also proved that it could handle adversity and overcome it with a better product. Can it do it again at a company-wide level? Time will tell. But it's certainly possible. 

9. It's still an enterprise favorite 

Microsoft might not have all the answers when it comes to the mobile market or the Web, but it does know how to appeal to corporate customers. Its operating system is still heavily used by the enterprise and Internet Explorer remains the go-to browser in that market. Realizing that, Microsoft should continue to build up its business through the enterprise. If it can increase its foothold there, it could go a long way in rebuilding its operation. 

10. It understands the importance of tablets now 

At last year's Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off several Windows-based tablets. But over the course of the year, his promises of a host of devices hitting store shelves and making an impact in the market didn't come true. That said, Microsoft showed that it's willing to acknowledge the importance of tablets now. And it fully realizes that if it's going to turn its operation around, it must make tablets a key component in its strategy.

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