“The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT),” commented CEO Steve Ballmer in the company’s first-quarter results. “Investments we’ve made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services.”
The new era turned out not to be very exciting. After an early-November drive to nearly $30, shares spent the rest of the year bouncing between $26 and $27. Demonstrating a little optimism ahead of its second-quarter earnings, shares were up about 1 percent on Thursday afternoon, but the stock is still down nearly 6 percent year over year.
At the end of November, Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, said that “after just four weeks on the market, it’s still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market.” For better or worse, this connection, that the fate of the entire PC market will be a function of the success of Windows 8, was established months before the product launched.
“We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for.” It was up to Microsoft to give Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) the finger, revitalize the declining PC market, and show the world that it could keep up. Success was the new era Ballmer was hoping for, but it’s not here yet…