Microsoft in 2011: 10 Things the Software Giant Should Have Done

NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft had a rough 2011 when all things are taken into account. The software giant should have done several things to fix what has been a difficult 12 months.

Microsoft had a rather interesting 2011. On one hand, the company did a fine job of appealing to consumers with products like its Xbox 360, which continued to see skyrocketing sales. But on the other hand, it lost the tablet space to Google and Apple, and handset makers have largely balked at providing the company with their top smartphones for Windows Phone 7. Most device makers focused their efforts on Android, instead.

In other words, this year was a bit of a mixed bag for Microsoft.

But as one looks back at the past year and what could have been, it's clear that Microsoft's management, including Steve Ballmer, could have done a much better job of handling some of the many issues the company faced. From making strategic acquisitions to maybe even getting rid of its top executive, Microsoft had several more options at its disposal that, for one reason or another, it failed to see. And that led to the company's troubles this year.

Read on to find out what Microsoft should have done in 2011:

1. Acquire RIM

Let's face it: The quickest way for Microsoft to regain its lost mobile market share is to acquire a company. And perhaps the best acquisition option out there would have been Research in Motion. The BlackBerry maker has watched its market cap fall, making it cheaper and cheaper for any company to acquire it. With RIM's help, Microsoft could have gone a long way in establishing itself in the mobile space.

2. Maybe even acquire Nokia

Microsoft should have also considered acquiring Nokia. Although that company, like RIM, is watching its market share fall, it has the emerging markets around the world totally controlled. And those markets could be huge for Microsoft's Windows in the coming years. Plus, with Nokia's help, Microsoft could have the hardware-development apparatus it needs to get serious about the mobile market.

3. Get into the tablet hardware business

Following that, why didn't Microsoft try getting into the tablet hardware business this year? After all, as all the device makers went elsewhere to offer their products, Microsoft could have delivered its own Windows 7-based tablet and proven that it could actually work. The smart move would have been to launch the tablet in the enterprise, since that would have been the market most likely to find value in such a device.

4. Made Mango the first Windows Phone 7 version

When Microsoft finally released the Mango version of Windows Phone 7 earlier this year, the company proved that it really does know how to deliver a high-quality mobile platform. The only issue is, Mango was the second iteration of the software. Microsoft should have waited on Windows Phone 7 and given customers the full Mango experience this year, rather than waste its time with sub-par Windows Phone 7 installations.

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...