Microsoft in 2004: Grappling with New Challenges

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : BSTA108 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Case Length : 09 Pages
Period : 1998 - 2004
Organization : Microsoft
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : Global, USA
Industry : Software Industry


With a market capitalisation of $302 billion (on 14 October 2004), Microsoft is the world's second most valuable company after General Electric and the most profitable technology company in the world. However, it is facing increasing competition from IBM (International Business Machines Corporation), the largest player in the IT industry and Linux, the open source operating system, which is attracting both tech companies and corporations. In the face of this onslaught, Microsoft has announced its own strategy to make software more user-friendly. Its new product, 'Longhorn' is well integrated, with an array of useful features and works well 'out of the box'. Longhorn's launch has been delayed and it is expected to be available by 2006. To meet the launch target, Microsoft is cutting back on key features.

Meanwhile, analysts are questioning Microsoft's ability to come up with new products. The company has spent a total of $32.6 billion on R&D since 1990, but has few breakthrough products to show. Microsoft is also moving into other businesses like the Xbox game console, web-surfing cell phones, software for wrist watches that could get news updates, and more recently into speech-recognition systems. But these businesses do not promise much, both in terms of revenues and profits in the medium term. With Microsoft's revenue growth slowing down to single figures for the first time in the last 29 years, analysts are wondering if Microsoft is becoming a large, unwieldy and slow moving giant.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 2
Exploiting New Growth Opportunities 5
The Road Ahead 5
Exhibits -


Microsoft Corporation, Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, IT industry, Longhorn, Windows XP, General Electric, Xbox game console, Web-surfing cell phones, Software for wrist watches, IBM (International Business Machines Corporation), Linux, User friendly software

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