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Why Microsoft Is Headed to $4

By: Rick Ackerman, Rick's Picks

-- Posted Friday, 12 December 2008 | Digg This ArticleDigg It! | Source:

Rick’s Picks

Friday, December 12, 2008

“Phenomenally accurate forecasts


A while back, when Microsoft shares were trading in the mid-$20s, we used charts to predict they would eventually fall to $4 or lower.  How could such a thing happen to a company with a product that dominates the software world, and with cash reserves totaling more than $20 billion? For starters, consider that Microsoft used to have twice that sum on hand but squandered a big chunk of it on investments that would make the guys at Bear Stearns look like visionaries. Also, they have not exactly enticed new customers in droves with the clunky Vista operating system. While the Redmond behemoth may have been able to ram this product down the throats of captive business and institutional customers, much as they have been doing for years with each new, gratuitously enhanced version of Windows, individual buyers have deserted the platform en masse. Just look around you the next time you’re at Starbucks: probably half of the computers one sees these days outside of the office and commercial airliners are Macs.  The percentage is even higher at college libraries. These are tomorrow’s business users, and most of them wouldn’t use a PC if it were given to them free.


Meanwhile, Microsoft has promoted the lie that if buyers want new PCs with the old XP operating system, the only choices available are low-end machines. This is untrue, as I discovered a month ago, when I bought the computer I am working on at the moment, a Dell XPS that is one of the most powerful models in their line. Microsoft would have been pleased to drop support for the XP operating system a year ago, but it’s plain to see that boxmakers like Dell have simply not allowed it.


Buggier than Ever


Another reason Microsoft’s shares, currently trading for around $20, might actually be headed below $4 is that the Windows operating system has become too bloated and buggy to run third-party applications smoothly. Indeed, remedies for even the most minor-seeming problems with these applications are now beyond the capabilities of most vendors’ support staffs. I know, because I spent more than 20 hours on the line with tech support in an unsuccessful attempt to make a high-end sound card work properly in my old PC. I also had the help of a system administrator who was trained as an audio engineer.  And have you ever tried to get Outlook to remember a password for accessing POP mail at, say, Google?  I did and failed, even with the help of an online tech wizard nicknamed “War”  who had amassed 100,000 points as a troubleshooter at a paid-support Web site.


But the stake through Microsoft’s cold, monopolistic heart may be the new product announced last week by IBM –an office suite that runs on cheap :thin clients” connected to a backroom Linux server. IBM says customers will save $500-$800 compared to what they would spend to license Microsoft’s office suite, which includes the ever popular Excel, PowerPoint and Word. The savings would come not just from the software, but from, reduced costs for hardware, electricity and air conditioning.


Same Old Architecture


Ironically, the cover story in the current issue of Wired magazine is about a man, Ray Ozzie, who supposedly is going to fix the House That Bill Built. Ozzie's qualifications are impressive -- he invented Lotus Notes -- but one wonders whether the culture of mediocrity is so deeply ingrained at Microsoft that the firm is incapable of acting like a start-up, which is Ozzie's plan. Keep in mind that for all Ozzie's talk about innovation, and about moving Microsoft into a position to dominate the "cloud" of wireless possibilities, Microsoft chose to perpetuate its failing business model with the release of Vista. Although this goes bluntly against Ozzie’s vision, it apparently won’t stop Microsoft from releasing Windows 7, which is built on the same architecture as the execrated Vista O/S.





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Information and commentary contained herein comes from sources believed to be reliable, but this cannot be guaranteed. Past performance should not be construed as an indicator of future results, so let the buyer beware. Trading in futures and options contract can be extremely risky, and it is possible to lose your shirt before you even realize what has hit you. For that reason, you should consult with your broker as to your suitability to such trading before you attempt it.  Rick's Picks does not provide investment advice to individuals, nor act as an investment advisor, nor individually advocate the purchase or sale of any security or investment. From time to time, its editor may hold positions in issues referred to in this service, and he may alter or augment them at any time. Investments recommended herein should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor, and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company. Rick's Picks reserves the right to use e-mail endorsements and/or profit claims from its subscribers for marketing purposes. All names will be kept anonymous and only subscribers’ initials will be used unless express written permission has been granted to the contrary. All Contents © 2008, Rick Ackerman. All Rights Reserved. 

-- Posted Friday, 12 December 2008 | Digg This Article | Source:


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