Microsoft Gets It Right Sometimes: 10 Recent Smart Moves

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-07-05

Microsoft Gets It Right Sometimes: 10 Recent Smart Moves

Microsoft has inked a deal with China search engine Baidu, allowing the software giant to bring its Bing technology to all English language searches on the Chinese search giant's service. The move should help Bing improve its presence internationally, and at the same time, help Microsoft achieve the single goal it has been after for years now: competing on the same level as Google online.

Microsoft's Baidu deal is the latest in a string of smart moves the software company has made over the last few years. Though critics would argue that Microsoft has made more poor decisions over the years than good ones, the company has done some things that have not only helped it grow, but cemented its position as a top technology company.

Read on to find out which moves Microsoft has made in the last few years that have proven most beneficial for its operation.

1. Its recent Baidu deal

Microsoft's decision to ink a deal with Baidu could be one of the smartest moves the company has made in the online market in a long time. Baidu is China's largest search engine, and an increasingly important force on the Web. With a partnership with Baidu, Microsoft now has another bit of ammo to take to Google. Will it topple Google's search dominance? Of course not-but it will help Microsoft -s chances of eventually achieving that goal.

2. Working with Yahoo

Though Microsoft tried in the past to acquire Yahoo, its decision to ink a deal that has Bing powering Yahoo Search was a good one. As recent market-share figures have shown, the deal has improved Microsoft's competitive positioning against Google. The search market is vastly important to Microsoft. If the company loses to Google, it could miss out on a valuable online-advertising revenue stream. But if it can start growing and reduce Google's dominance, it can start generating some of the much-needed online revenue it's currently lacking.

3. Launching Windows 7

Microsoft's decision to launch Windows 7 sooner rather than later was a good idea on the company's part. Windows Vista, the operating system that Windows 7 replaced, was a nightmare for the software company. Vendors balked at selling it, the enterprise was against deploying it, and consumers were loath to use it. But Windows 7 is the OS that Vista should have been. Now, it's the fastest-selling version of Windows ever released. By getting it right with Windows 7, Microsoft saved its software business.

4. Improving Internet Explorer

Just about everyone who has followed Microsoft remembers the issues the company experienced when it offered up Internet Explorer 6. In subsequent years, Microsoft has released new iterations of its browser and for the most part those versions haven't been as nice as those from Firefox, Chrome and Opera. But with Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft decided to change its luck, get back to quality and deliver something that people wanted. It worked. Now, Internet Explorer is a fine browser for anyone to use.

Microsoft Stays Focused on the Corporate Market

5. Getting in on motion gaming

In the gaming business, Microsoft was being easily beaten by Nintendo's Wii console. The main reason for that was the Wii's use of motion gaming. Rather than accept its losses, Microsoft instead offered up a motion-gaming peripheral of its own, called Kinect. The controller-free accessory caught on with consumers last year, and earlier this year, Microsoft announced that more than 10 million units have been sold. Getting in on motion gaming allowed Microsoft to solidify position in the gaming market.

6. Dangling the Windows 8 bait

Though Microsoft eventually said that it wasn't necessarily the case, the company's CEO Steve Ballmer said recently that Windows 8 will be launching next year. Over the last several months, Ballmer and his executives have been talking a little here and there about Windows 8 and what that operating system will offer. By and large, people around the globe are intrigued. Microsoft's decision to offer up details has been a smart move. For one, by talking about Windows 8, it keeps consumers and enterprise users thinking seriously about Windows. But more importantly, it steals headlines from Chrome OS, Google's recently launched competitor, as well as the upcoming launch of Mac OS X Lion. Microsoft's handling of Windows 8 has so far been superb.

7. Investing in Facebook

When Microsoft decided to invest in Facebook, some wondered if it would be a good move for the company. After all, social networks come and go. But as Facebook has grown, and Microsoft has used its investment to form a tight bond with the social network, those detractors have realized it was a good idea. And now with Facebook potentially eyeing an IPO, Microsoft could stand to gain a huge sum of cash in that sale.

8. Introducing Office 365

Microsoft recently launched Office 365, a cloud-based Office offering. The launch was the latest in a long line of moves by Microsoft to build up its presence in the cloud. The company also offers Office Web Apps, and Windows Azure is still alive and well. With Google beating the cloud drum, Microsoft must prove that it's not only a software company. And so far, it has done so with great success.

9. Staying true to the enterprise

When one considers Microsoft's history, the enterprise has proven integral to the software giant's success. By adopting Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer, the corporate world solidified Microsoft's position as a dominant force in the industry. Moreover, by growing accustomed to Microsoft products at their jobs, employees started buying Windows computers for their homes. Nowadays, Microsoft still hasn't lost sight of the enterprise, as evidenced by its recent Office 365 launch. Microsoft's consistent policy of focusing on the corporate world has proven extremely beneficial to Microsoft's business over many years.

10. Buying Skype

Debate rages over whether Microsoft paid too much for Skype with its $8.5 billion acquisition bid. But after the deal closes, detractors will realize that it was a smart move on Microsoft's part. Skype can improve several Microsoft products, including the company's Kinect, Windows Phone 7 and others. What's more, Skype is wildly popular and running on every major operating system including Mac OS X, Linux and iOS. Skype might prove to be the Trojan horse Microsoft needs to take on competitors. 

Rocket Fuel