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TheStreet Open House

5 Things Microsoft Can Do to Hurt Apple, Android

Stocks in this article: MSFTGOOGAAPLNOKPFB

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) looks as if it's out to redeem itself.

The new Surface tablet could put the hurt on Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG). That's not hyperbole.

If Microsoft properly attacks heading into the holiday season, it sets itself up to change the game throughout 2013 and beyond. It needs to work aggressively to get the following things right.

Do Not Provide Office for iPad

Apparently Microsoft has an Office suite ready to roll out for iPad, but it just cannot figure out when to make it available. I hope the hesitation has nothing to do with timing and more to do with a reassessment of the plan in the first place.

I don't get it. You're set to finally make a formidable challenge in mobile and you want to provide the one thing that differentiates you from Apple and the rest of the competition to the competition. This defies logic.

Microsoft bills the Surface as a tablet you can actually do work on. It differentiates itself from iPad and most tablets running Android with its unique design, futuristic keyboard and, maybe most importantly, Office.

Endpoint: opening up Office to iOS might have flown in the PC era, but mobile is an entirely different ballgame. Microsoft plays the role of underdog now.

Improve Voice Recognition or Ditch It and Get Better Apps

I have a Nokia (NOK) Lumia Windows Phone. It's an impressive device. Microsoft needs to get two incredibly crucial things right with Lumia and any other smartphone that runs Windows before the marketing onslaught we should all expect come the holidays.

First, Microsoft uses TellMe voice recognition on the Lumia. While the notion of a "personal assistant" like Siri is a bit overblown, we're being told it's the future. Maybe it is. In any event, Microsoft needs to make major improvements to TellMe or just get rid of it. It's not going to make or break the company's mobile plans.

I am embarrassed to admit this, but the other day, after accidentally discovering the TellMe feature on my Lumia, I activated it and upon its command, I made a fart noise. TellMe thought for a second and responded by producing a Bing search for the word "gay." I made the same sophomoric sound effect for TellMe several more times. It either told me it did not understand or it produced Bing searches for "dinner," "booty" and other random words. This is unacceptable.

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