Microsoft is at a crossroads currently. I was in a "hate hate" relationship for 25 years with them as a former senior leader in technology at a MegaCorp. Here is my assessment, the good, the bad and the ugly:
First, the Good:
1. Office 365: They have changed their licensing model for consumers and companies alike and they are presently ingesting data center after data center of email, office files and their Lync software (audio, video, meeting collaboration) is actually the best in the business right now. O365 is actually a juggernaut as it is a complete solution vs the likes of Google Drive. I use and love Drive, but it is just not coroporate or consumer friendly. Also, Skydrive integration works quite well.
2. CEO Change: Ballmer needed to go, his smart-alek ways and bullying mentality just don't work. I actually challenged him personally at an IT event where I asked him for a refund of a few million dollars for a failed software assurance contract. Of course he laughed it off (like he did everything), but the fact that he is gone is great.
3. Balance Sheet: As another poster stated, they have a boatload of money.
4. Win 8: I am going to list Windows 8 as both a good and a bad. The great part of Windows 8 is the fact that it is a very good O.S. under the covers. It is "instant on". I had stated several years ago to a msft exec that in order for them to be relevant again, they needed an O.S. that was instant on in order to be considered relevant again. They have this now. The key to Windows 8 experience is turning off the tile interface. There is a company that makes a "shell" program that you can download and have a wonderful PC experience complete with the start button in about 5 minutes.
1. Mobile: I like the Lumia experience, but I think they started too late and are too far behind. Getting an entrenched iPhone user to come across is difficult. Also, I am concerned about the durability of the Lumia devices, the metrics I saw were that the failure rates were actually quite high.
2. Arrogance: Msft is still arrogant. Windows 8 is a great example. They have always felt that they have the right to completely change the interface for how their software works with no regard to the learning cirve they impose upon people. The office experience is another example. They completely changed how their office products worked when Office 2007 came out. MegaCorps spent millions in retraining. I am hoping with Ballmer gone, that they actually listen. As my grandmother told me, "God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason"
3. O365 experience on Android and iPhone: This is their key to survival and they are playing way too many games with this. IMHO, they should have released the Office 365 experience simultaneously on iphone, android and the lumia phones. The software is awesome and it works well on Lumia. For example, Office apps work with full edit, Sky Drive data syncs across all your devices so you dont have to play the "where is my file?" game any longer, and sharepoint and Lync make working together as teams globally effective. I view MSFT a but like I view OnStar 20 years ago (I had a conversation recently with some of the original OnStar folks). OnStar had an opportunity 20 years ago to extend their product through licensing agreements to other vehicles, but chose not to. They paid the price because GM wanted the technology captive in order to try to sell more GM cars. MSFT is in the same position. Their O365 cloud experience is where they need to focus and get out of the device game.
Also, they need to abandon the tile interface as it is a failure. Their latest releases of Windows 8 make it easier to turn it off, but they should just get over themselves and actually listen to their customer base before inflicting them with stuff they think is better.
One last point about Office 365. The software is quit economical now, especially for families. You can download 5 copies of the full suite for $99.00 annually, which is perfect for my family. We love Skydrive, Outllook is a great email program and of course their document suite works well. They finally got out of the CD business. If they can truly mobilize this experience across the mobile segment, they will retain this crown jewel and stay relevant in the world of cloud, which is where the future lies.