Microsoft Keeps Missing Growth Opportunities: 10 Critical Business Sectors

News Analysis: Microsoft is in a difficult position. As it lays off more staff, the company is trying to find a way to compete in a market that is leaving it behind. Then there are some areas where it continues to miss the mark.

Microsoft is in trouble. The software giant was recently forced to lay off hundreds of employees in what was likely a move on the part of Microsoft to eliminate jobs in areas where divisions aren't performing as well as they should. Microsoft's decision to lay off employees is somewhat suspect, considering the company is still generating billions of dollars in profit every quarter.

But perhaps there is more to Microsoft's decision to lay off employees than simply needing to free up some cash to invest in other areas. Perhaps it speaks to the company's current inability to see what it needs to do in every area of its operation. After all, Windows Mobile is still drowning as the competition gains market share, HP has opted for WebOS over Windows in its new tablets, and the company is still battling security issues. There are other areas where it keeps making missteps. Here's where they are.

1. The mobile market

The mobile space could be one of the biggest issues facing Microsoft. The company's Windows Mobile platform is still toiling away in a market that's being dominated by innovative, touch-screen platforms, like Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system. Microsoft plans to release Windows Phone 7 later this year to compete with those providers, but it's debatable just how viable the company's platform will be. By being late to the new mobile market, and forgetting what consumers really wanted, Microsoft has some serious explaining to do when it finally delivers Windows Phone 7.

2. Tablets

Although Steve Ballmer talked about tablets at his company's Worldwide Partners Conference, it's quickly becoming clear that Microsoft doesn't have a tablet strategy in place that can even come close to rivaling Apple's iPad. Part of the fault for that can be attributed to HP, which originally planned to offer a Windows-based HP Slate but recently announced that its tablet will run WebOS instead. Some might believe that HP's decision to go with WebOS has more to do with its recent acquisition of Palm. But it might also tell the market that Windows isn't as ready for tablets as Microsoft wants everyone to believe. After all, HP would have gone with the best platform it could. It may be saying that the best platform isn't Windows.

3. Security

Security continues to be one space where Microsoft misses the mark both in the consumer market and the enterprise. With each Patch Tuesday, the company is forced to deliver several updates to protect Windows users from potential harm. It has even been forced to patch Office, Internet Explorer and other software products. That's not a good thing. And it hurts its chances of fully appealing to consumers and enterprise customers that are deeply concerned with losing important data. Security means the difference between success and failure in today's marketplace. And so far, Microsoft isn't doing well enough.

4. Innovation

Innovation has always been a problem for Microsoft. Although Windows was an extremely innovative product when it first launched, Microsoft has failed to deliver anything that even comes close to matching the innovation its competitors have developed since. As much as the company wants to be considered a major player in the tech space, it will not achieve that if it continues to deliver iterative updates to products that customers don't want. Innovation reigns supreme in today's tech market. And it's on Microsoft to start innovating to meet those demands.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...