Microsoft's Fate This Decade Rests on Success of 10 Products

News Analysis: Microsoft is still hugely profitable and has an immense amount of cash in the bank. But its profits depend mainly on long-established products such as Windows, Office, XBox and others. Here are 10 products, its own and from competitors, that will determine whether Microsoft retains its powerful position in the software industry.

Microsoft is still an important part of the technology industry. Currently, the software giant delivers the software that powers the vast majority of the computers around the world. What's more, its Office productivity suite is the standard in enterprises around the world. To say that Microsoft is an integral component in what makes the technology industry so successful would be an understatement.

However, Microsoft is currently under attack. Companies like Apple, Google, and countless others are trying desperately to marginalize Microsoft in the industry and drive their own brands to the top of the market. In order to do so, they're delivering innovative new products, acquiring companies, and spending boatloads of cash on research and development. It's an open question whether any these efforts will reduce the wealth, power and influence of Microsoft in the software industry, but there can be no disputing their desire to do just that.

With this in mind, there are 10 products that could assure Microsoft's success or bring on a marked decline in its fortunes the current decade. If Microsoft makes the right investments and decisions, the company will continue to be a success. But if Microsoft's competitors get their way, the software giant could be in for trouble.

Read on to find out which products will determine Microsoft's fate over the next decade.

1. Windows 8

Windows 8, which is scheduled to launch next year, could prove to be a huge factor in Microsoft's future success. If the operating system fails to take off, Windows' importance on desktops and mobile devices could go into decline as hardware makers shift to other platforms. But if PC users rapidly upgrade to Windows 8, Microsoft will hold onto its dominant position indefinitely.

2. Bing

After getting off to a slow start in the mid-90s, Microsoft has been putting ever more development effort into Web and cloud products. In response to the challenge posed by Google, the software company has turned Bing into a real competitor in the search market. But Google is still dominating that space, and if it can continue to solidify its position there and further consolidate its power in advertising, Microsoft's online hopes might be dashed.

3. Xbox

Microsoft's Xbox 360 has been gaining in popularity over the last several years. And now, it's easily outselling both the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. Over the next 10 years, that device could become a cash cow for Microsoft as more people turn to streaming services to be entertained in the living room. Currently, Microsoft is aiming at providing live TV through its Xbox 360, which also has Netflix and Hulu Plus support. Simply put, the Xbox 360 is more important to Microsoft than many think.

4. Mac OS X

Microsoft's future success doesn't rely solely upon the software giant's products. Quite the contrary, competing software products like Mac OS X could play into it. For instance, if Mac OS X continues to gain on Windows due to the popularity of Macs, how will Microsoft (and its vendor partners) respond? Furthermore, if developers continue to have success with Mac OS X's App Store, there's no telling if they might focus their efforts on that operating system, rather than Windows. Mac OS X is a real threat to Microsoft.

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...