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Four needling questions for Microsoft as it hosts Wall Street analysts

Juan Carlos Perez | Sept. 20, 2013
Ballmer & Co. should talk about the reorganisation, plan B for Windows and the Surface, Office for the iPad and other hot-button issues.

In that case, what is Plan B? Would Microsoft be open to rethinking its OS strategy? Some people feel it was a strategic mistake to attempt to have one OS that works both on PCs and tablets, because Microsoft may have ended up with one that isn't good enough for either. After all, Apple has done very well having MacOS for its desktops and laptops, and iOS for its tablets and phones.

Oh, as long as Ballmer and company are addressing this question, it'd be great to get an update on the grand plan to unify Windows Phone 8 with Windows 8 to have a common, uniform OS code base from the phone through the server. Is that a pipe dream? Is it even wise?

-- How long will it take for Ballmer's reorganization plan to be completely implemented and when will its stated benefits begin to be felt?

Sweeping corporate reorganizations are often counterproductive. They can interrupt the flow of operations, create internal confusion and resentments, and trigger doubts among major customers, ultimately hurting sales and product development. There are many examples of restructurings announced with great hope that ended doing more harm than good. Ballmer should be specific about the timetable for completing the reorganization and about when customers, partners and investors will start to see its first fruits. He should also provide an update on how the acquisition of Nokia's smartphone business will affect that reorganization plan, possibly complicating it and delaying its completion.

-- Does Microsoft plan to offer Office for iPad and Android?

With investors chronically antsy about Microsoft's stagnant stock price, Ballmer should explain Microsoft's latest thinking regarding offering a full Office suite for the iPad and for Android tablets, an issue that is perennially on the table. Microsoft's reticence at doing this has been explained as a defensive move to protect Windows. However, it's also true that Microsoft is leaving a lot of money on the table by not providing what millions are clamoring for. It may be time for Microsoft to revisit whether withholding Office from iOS and Android tablets is still justified in order to prop up the value of Windows.


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