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Off Topic: Getting Worse For Microsoft... Before It Gets Any Better

Another harsh week so far

T

his was going to be mentioned very briefly in this evening's digest of links, but the response to a previous short analysis was very positive. It's worth expanding on it now that Microsoft's 'shocker week' is through.

Things haven't gotten much better. To give just a quick overview, an analyst quoted in Reuters suggests that Microsoft should go into debt with another round of buybacks.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) should take on debt to repurchase stock as a way to revive its flagging share price, a financial analyst said in a new report issued on Tuesday.

Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co analyst David Hilal called on the company to take advantage of its predictable cash flow and rock solid balance sheet to execute a leveraged buyback.


As a reminder, Microsoft is estimated to have just $26 billion in the bank. It is far less than it has had for decades. If Microsoft had bought Yahoo!, it would would have borrowed over $20 billion from the bank. Their CFO even headed over to check these option, as reported by Reuters back in March.

This is bad for Microsoft. It had already completed buybacks valued at around $45 billion over the past 3 fiscal years. Will it be more? The frantic investors dropped their shares regardless and the stock nosedived in the past year.

It gets worse. Would you believe that Microsoft has lost $90,000,000,000 in value so far this year? So says Bloomberg.

Microsoft Holders Say Web Spending Masks Idea Drought (Update1)



Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer says he plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the company's unprofitable Internet business. His investors say they want proof he knows what to do with the money.

After walking away from six months of on-again, off-again talks about buying all or part of Yahoo! Inc., owner of the No. 2 Web search engine, Ballmer has left shareholders wondering if he has a plan B.

Microsoft, the biggest software maker, has lost about $90 billion in market value this year as Ballmer vacillated on Yahoo and failed to show how he would crack Google Inc.'s dominance of Internet advertising.


Looking elsewhere in the news, there are too few encouraging signs. Microsoft has apparently just elevated its marketing budget for Windows Vista from $300,000,000 to $500,000,000. That's a lot of brainwash.

Microsoft is really taking the gloves off this time. ZDNet is reporting that it will spend $500 million to make a powerful statement to its hundreds of millions of customers. I imagine the statement would have to go something like this:

Windows Vista isn’t really as bad as they say. Honest. Please don’t be mad at us. We promise our next operating system will be better. Pinky swear.



After the rejection of Windows Vista by so many large companies, including Intel, for whom a heavy Vista was possibly created, there is not much hope for change in the enterprise. Even Microsoft Watch seems to have given up. Here is a new catch of an opinion on Vista:

"Personally, I can't stand it," said Aaron Nettles, president and CEO of Vorsite, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in Seattle. "It just seems more unstable to me, and I can't stand not being productive."


Mind this person's role and location.

Another important point to make is that other Windows-based products like Server 2008 and Home Server are based on the same code and they are equally problematic on the face is it. We looked at Home Server before. It took about a year to fix a serious data corruption bug (resolved this week). What does that say about trust in the product? It's all an illusion, a fairy tale wrapped in brand name.

The other day we also mentioned the financial fraud. Here are some more details to ensure this information is never lost (long-term).



There's a lot more in the distant past and Wired reminisces.

When John Heilemann began working on a book about Silicon Valley in 1998, he discovered that he was hitting up many of the same sources as a group of lawyers from the Department of Justice. The DOJ, of course, was building its antitrust case against Microsoft, and Heilemann wanted in: "I started calling around and got the assistant attorney general to let me inside a lot of the case — as long as I didn't write anything until the trial was over."


Those who believe that Microsoft is still in a strong position and gaining further power are easily carried away by corporation-generated hype and glorification attempts that serve as self-fulfilling prophecies. "If Microsoft does great, so are its products," right? They just need you to believe. It boils down to perception.

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