Microsoft Business Recap: Nokia Partnership Ready for 2012

MSFT (NASDAQ:MSFT) Up Slightly As Market Maintains
Stocks are up, although have given back earlier gains, as stronger labor market and manufacturing data lifted sentiment after three days of losses. Shares of MSFT are up marginally versus a falling tech tape. Upcoming catalysts include Windows 8 next year; entrance into the tablet market; Windows Phone 7 / Mango rollout and adoption with hardware partner Nokia; strides against current market leaders in cloud computing; making money in the online business, including integration of Skype and improving the search / display business; and continued evolution of Kinect and next generation Xbox. The stock currently trades at 6.9x Enterprise Value / TTM Free Cash Flow.

Bill Gates Will Not Return To Microsoft Full-Time (The Age)
For those of you wishing for Bill Gates’ return to take over the helm of Microsoft, you’re out of luck. Gates ruled out returning to head the company or take on a full-time role. Gates said he would focus fully on philanthropic work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the rest of his life. Gates said he is part-time involved with Microsoft, including giving advice as recently as this week. So there’s that.

Shake Up In The Xbox Department – CNET
Microsoft is believed to have replaced the design architect responsible for the Xbox 360 user-experience, Dan Coyner, an acolyte of Apple-style consistency in user experience and a mainstay of the gaming project since its inception. Emma Williams, who led this month’s Xbox dashboard update, will now head the design and brand strategy of the Xbox group. Microsoft is reportedly planning to launch its next console in 2013.

Nokia And Microsoft Set For “Rolling Thunder” (Bloomberg)
Operation “Rolling Thunder” is Nokia’s plan for rolling out a number of handsets next year in the U.S. and aiming for multiple price points. Chris Weber, head of U.S. operations at Nokia, explained that the company will be at CES in January making a noise as they have been doing in Europe. The Nokia Lumia 900 is set to hit the states early 2012 if rumors  prove true. Nokia has the daunting task of getting carriers on side to stock their Windows Phones, battling against the iPhone and a plethora of Android handsets.

Smartphone Penetration Growing Gangbusters, Up To 44% – BGR
Smartphone penetration over the past two years has exploded, jumping from just 18% in the third quarter of 2009 to 44% during this last quarter according to Nielsen. Smartphone penetration has grown dramatically across all age ranges over the past two years, and young adults remain the most likely to own a smartphone; 53% of U.S. cell phone users aged 18 to 24 and 64% aged 25 to 34 now own smartphones according to Nielsen. The most popular phone in the country during the third quarter 2009 was a feature phone, the Motorola RAZR, while Apple’s iPhone 4 wore the crown last quarter.

Heather Leonard is the Microsoft analyst at Business Insider.