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It's Showtime for Apple, Microsoft, and Google


The 2012 holiday season is almost besides the point. All three tech giants are going out on a limb for sales next year.

Microsoft, after years of fumbles, has to prove that it's a major player in the mobile world. Its strategy is as risky as it possibly could be. It's selling one system for use across all devices-mobile and desktop, touch and keyboard, business and leisure, home and office, productivity, and entertainment.

It's a pass-fail test, with not much in between. Windows 8 is so radically different that business managers will be wary of imposing the learning curve and work disruption that upgrading will cause.

But the line between work and home devices is rapidly disappearing. If any of the mobile devices being built with Windows 8 catches on with consumers, they'll demand a seamless transition in the office.

Early reviews are generally positive. Some are effusive, like this one for ZDNet from an IT guy who flatly declares Windows 8 to be "a new era of computing." Others are resigned to the inevitable, such as a Forbes writer who accepts that Windows 8 is the solution for "losers" like him who need function as well as fun in their electronic devices.

But these are folks who don't care much about Microsoft's stock price. A new analysis from Forrester Research predicts that Windows 8 will help the company hold onto its 90% share of the desktop market, but will get the company only about 14% of smartphone sales. And that's not even a near-future scenario. Forrester expects 2013 to be an ugly year for Microsoft, as it makes the hard transition to Windows 8.

As for Apple, it just wants to continue being the coolest company on the planet. The biggish niche that its products hold is threatened by competition from Amazon and Google Android devices that do the same thing for a much lower price.
Position in MSFT.
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