Microsoft's Second Quarter ... and Future

Dennis Faas's picture

In a quarter that proved disastrous for the makers of the processing chips that power its software, Microsoft has reported strong earnings for the second financial period of 2006. So strong, in fact, that the Redmond-based company has pledged to buy back $40 billion of its own stock, with at least half of that within the next month.

Normally, it takes years for a company to buy back just portions of its stock. In the past, much of Microsoft's pledge in doing so has been no different. It pledged three years ago to buy back $30 billion, and has only recently completed this purchase. The second half of the pledged $40 billion is not expected to be bought back until sometime before 2011, making the immediate purchase of $20 billion a startling reflection of the "good times" rolling at Microsoft. (Source:

However, some insiders believe the next few years -- perhaps even the next decade or two -- may not be as bountiful for Microsoft.

In facing many attacks on its business tactics -- as evidenced through recent and highly publicized antitrust suits from international conglomerations -- Microsoft has been forced to soften up.

Last Wednesday, Microsoft announced a set of voluntary "principles to promote competition", a set of laws that will take the company in an entirely new direction. Incorporated into the new commandments are many policy goals, including the hard suggestions made by the European Union when they laid down a heavy 280.5 million euro fine just last week.

Some believe Microsoft may see a depression similar to that felt by IBM in the early 1990s, shortly after the United States government launched an antitrust suit against them. It took a few years and a new leader -- Lou Gerstner in 1993 -- to "right the ship" at IBM. (Source:

Microsoft has certainly not made any friends in the tech world. It is often considered "Big Brother" and recent policy decisions and programs have only solidified this popular belief.

Where might this leave them if the times get tough? For now, no worries.

But karma can be a pain. ;-)

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