2012 - Year of Microsoft

I’ll say it: I’m bullish on Microsoft in 2012. This could be the year that it shakes its malaise and takes its place alongside Apple, Google, and Amazon as a dominant innovator of the mobile age. For the first time in forever, Microsoft has a couple major products that are not merely good enough. They’re just plain great. I’ve been effusive in my praise for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s new mobile operating system. At the Consumer Electronics Show this week, we saw the one piece that has been missing from Microsoft’s new phone effort—killer hardware. Nokia unveiled the Lumia 900, the most powerful and beautiful Windows Phone to hit the United States yet (it will be released on AT&T sometime this year). Then there’s Windows 8, the spectacular desktop OS that Microsoft plans to release this year, and which will feature a new mobile-friendly touch interface that could make for the first viable Windows competitors to the iPad.

If you consider Microsoft’s Xbox juggernaut, which now features not just games but lots of entertainment apps, you begin to see the outline of a strategy to win big. Here’s a company with a killer mobile and desktop OS, a place in hundreds of millions of offices and living rooms around the world, a great design team, an unbeatable sales and distribution arm, and billions in cash. When you put it that way, Microsoft almost sounds as good as Apple, doesn’t it?

I am bullish too especially with Windows Phone. It will see its best year once Nokia devices start rolling across. HTC and Samsung WP7 devices have struggled when compared to iPhone and Android devices. Nokia will push it the right way in Europe and Asia with its relationship with Telco's and market presence. Windows 8, whatever we have seen is cool, if combined with right hardware, it will excel as a great alternative to iPad. XBOX will continue and maintain its numero uno position. We will see many new ways Kinect's use is imagined but no concrete sellable implementation. Bing will grow even further and gain market share but that gain will come lesser from Google's share and more from Yahoo and others. In my view, 2013 will be even better. Fingers crossed.