Microsoft's Tough 2012: 10 Products That Gave It the Most Grief

NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft didn’t have the best 2012. And many of its troubles can be attributed to several products both it released and others that competitors introduced.

Microsoft had a tough year. The software giant launched two major operating systems—Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8—and was constantly battling with Google over applications and services on the Web.

However, those efforts proved fruitless as these products have yet to show that they are going to produce new large scale growth in their respective markets. What’s more, consumers who saw more to like elsewhere largely ignored Microsoft’s tablet, the Surface RT.

Still, its own products didn’t only cause Microsoft’s troubles. The software giant is facing more competition now than ever. Companies like Apple, Nokia, and Sony are causing it a lot of headaches. Despite Microsoft’s ability to continue to generate billions of dollars each quarter, the company is walking into 2013 in a worse competitive position than it was in when it entered 2012.

Unless it addresses its issues and finds a way to stymie its competitors’ growth, Microsoft could eventually find itself marginalized in markets such as PC operating systems and applications that it has long dominated.

Until then, let’s focus on the products that have caused Microsoft some trouble in 2012. Check out the roundup:

1. Windows 8

Windows 8 was supposed to be the operating system that would welcome the world to Microsoft’s new design philosophy. Instead, the operating system has been criticized for having a steep learning curve and hasn’t produced the rapid uptake in sales and upgrades that Microsoft expected.

That better change in 2013.

2. Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 is a major step up over Windows Phone 7. However, the operating system owns an extremely small slice of the mobile space. Microsoft says that things will change once more Windows Phone handsets are shown off at CES in January and the Mobile World Congress in February. But most analysts agree that the company’s software won’t nab double-digit share for at least the next few years.

3. Android

So, why is Windows Phone having such trouble? Blame it on Android. That operating system owned 75 percent of the mobile space in the third quarter and is expected to have about as much ownership in the fourth quarter. What’s worse for Microsoft, it’s expected to be dominant for the foreseeable future.

4. Google Apps for Business

Microsoft at one time unquestionably dominated the office email space with Outlook. However, Google has made serious inroads with its Apps for Business suite, which includes Gmail, Calendar, and collaboration tools. Microsoft has tried to respond with and Office 365, but it’s not clear those solutions will fend off Google cloud application challenge

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...