Microsoft: Tech giant enters new markets
The technology giant's stock has remained about flat since 2001, although the mature company continues to grow sales and profits from selling software and services.
Seattle Times technology reporter
Major operations: 40,310 employees work in the Puget Sound area, and the company has offices that dot the globe.
CEO: Steve Ballmer
Major products/services: Windows operating-system software, Office productivity software, server software, video-game console Xbox, search engine Bing, cloud-computing platform Azure, Windows Phone, online services such as MSN and Hotmail.
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While Microsoft is one of the top performers for the past two decades, the rocket days fall squarely in the '90s.
The technology giant's stock has remained about flat since 2001, although the mature company continues to grow sales and profits from selling software and services. In France, they would call it a business of a certain age.
Microsoft has many products, but its mainstay is still Windows. The company is now selling Windows 7, launched in 2009 following the much maligned Windows Vista operating system. The company appears to have recovered with this version of Windows, and customer satisfaction has returned to pre-Vista levels.
The company made $18.8 billion in profit on $62.5 billion in sales in its 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2010.
Office 2010, the other cash cow at Microsoft, has also sold well, and the company is getting ready to sell a cloud-based version called Office 365 later this year.
The cloud, as in cloud computing, hangs everywhere at Microsoft these days. As Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has said, "we're all in" the cloud. In the not too distant future, the company hopes businesses of all sizes will choose Microsoft to store and host software and data in its data centers and deliver it to businesses via the Internet. Microsoft last year launched Azure, a new cloud platform for building software that runs in Microsoft's cloud.
The company debuted the Xbox Kinect, a motion sensor, at the end of 2010. More than 10 million have been sold. The Kinect allows Xbox owners to play video games by moving their bodies, without a handheld controller. Microsoft claims the Kinect is the fastest-selling consumer-electronics device ever made.
Microsoft has even gained a bit of traction in online search with Bing through a Yahoo partnership.
The tail-end position in the mobile industry casts the darkest pall on the company's stock.
The company launched a new mobile operating system called Windows Phone at the end of 2010, but its share remains small compared with Apple's iPhone and Google's Android operating system. Microsoft did, however, seal a deal with Finnish phone giant Nokia to make Windows Phone the primary platform for its smartphones. The companies have not said when those phones will start selling.
Microsoft also does not have a tablet operating system, even as Apple has sold millions and two generations of iPads. The company says the next version of Windows will run on mobile devices such as tablets, but it isn't set to talk about its plans until September.
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or email@example.com
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