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  (Source: Reuters)
Amid low share prices, Ballmer received a chilly reception from some shareholders at their annual meeting

At Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) annual shareholder Wednesday, the company's at-times boisterous Chief Executive Steven "Steve" Ballmer brought in Microsoft's "big guns" -- former Microsoft CEO, co-founder, and tech icon Bill Gates and Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein.  But at the meeting of 450 shareholders, Mr. Ballmer did not need to enlist the help of his fellow Microsoft elite, who remained silent even as the meeting turned chilly, according to Reuters reporters in attendance.

Amid tough questions from the audience, Mr. Ballmer was candid in his assessment that Microsoft was a late-comer to the tablet game, but he told the audience in a fiery defense that he saw "nothing but a sea of upside" for Windows 8 tablets.  He comments, "We're innovating on the seam between software and hardware.  Maybe we should have done that earlier.  [But] I feel pretty good about our [current] level of innovation."

Indeed, Microsoft has some defenders in odd places.  Stephen "Steve" Wozniak, better known as the "Woz", was once a ferocious critic of Microsoft and evangelist for Apple, Inc. (AAPL), the company he co-founded.  But today he said in a recent TechCrunch interview that he fears for Apple because Microsoft has become more innovative.

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer is overwhelmed with anticipation regarding his company's
prospects in the tablet market. [Image Source: Getty Images]

Others might disagree.

While Mr. Ballmer pointed optimistically to Windows Phone sales quadrupling on a year-to-year basis, the platform is still estimated to only own 2 to 4 percent of the global market, well behind Apple and market leader Google Inc. (GOOG).  While Microsoft dreams of "pulling a Google" and rising to the top of the stack, it currently is resigned to vying with embattled Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) for the third-place spot.

But when it came to shareholder criticism, the harshest questions came not about Microsoft's products, but rather why its share price was so low.  Indeed, Microsoft shares trade at an order of magnitude lower than their Google and Apple counterparts.  (To be fair Microsoft has significantly approximately 9 times as many shares as Apple, and 25 times as many as Google).  Apple recently passed Microsoft in market capitalization and today has a total stock value that is more than twice that of Microsoft's.

Steve Ballmer dodged the share value question, remarking, "I understand your comment... [but Microsoft has] done a phenomenal job of driving product volumes... The stock market's kind of a funny thing."

Funny indeed, but the shareholders might have been less than amused.  Mr. Ballmer did placate the critics slightly by pointing to Microsoft's $10B USD profit sharing effort which includes share buybacks and quarterly dividends.

Currently, Microsoft shares are trading at around their levels from a decade ago, having risen roughly 18 percent in 2012.  In other words, despite the criticism, shareholders should be pleased to an extent that Microsoft outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 average of an anemic 3 percent in gains.

Source: Reuters

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RE: optimistic
By NellyFromMA on 11/30/2012 12:43:45 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with most of the assessment between Android and iOS at there most current stages.

I don't know of any REAL tech enthusiast advocating iOS6 or 5 over Android 4.x. Only those who are into their Mac / Apple devices in general as they (perhaps rightfully so) are really into the synchronization between all their devices. This is where I think MS will really see synergy also and I think both camps are heading in the right direction in that regard.

I think Android's success is equal parts right place right time, Openness (not in terms of the OS being open source, because I actually think that's a glaring weakness personally. rather, that app developers have open access to develop for the platform), and search / data agrregation dominance in terms of business model.

It's going to take some time, but I do personally think MS has more to offer here inthe long run though. What's primarily holding them back is Intel's power consumption.

What people don't realize about ARM is it really isn't all that suited for heavy work loads. Any quickness you see in your apps is LARGELY due to the fact most of the business logic for the apps is done on server-backends that are (obviously) significantly more powerful than the ARM devices (and, 9/10 times Intel powered).

The carrot here is that Intel promises next generation is the best generation for power consumption, putting it at leevels already accepted by the majority of smartphone consumers. Sadly, a little more than a third of MS's success hinges on whether or not Intel delivers in that regard.

ARM is great for light consumption as the world has already established. As for an x86 killer, it simply won't happen in the next decade and I'd be surprised if it even has a chance to.

As Arm attempts to optimize and become more robust, Intel becomes more efficent power-wise. There are an extremely select few apps for your phones natively written in a way where they require ARM, largely because most of the work is done on servers.

Just my observation anyways.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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