Before I discuss them, let me make it clear that these concerns are largely irrelevant to Windows Phone 8, which was just introduced and should also hit the market this fall. Microsoft is doing most things right with Windows Phone.
I have been concerned about Microsoft for many years, first because of Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) numerous initiatives (Apple stores, iTunes, and iOS), then because of Google (GOOG - Get Report) Docs, which competes with MS Office, and then when I laid my hands on the first Google Chromebook. All of these were clear signs that Microsoft was going to lose market share and see price pressure in the future.Then came the epic 8,600-word post on Feb. 9 by Steven Sinofsky, the head of Windows, on MSDN Blogs. Titled "Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture," this was a declaration of Microsoft's intent to launch "full" Windows 8 on chips designed by ARM Holdings (ARMH) and built by NVIDIA (NVDA), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Texas Instruments (TXN). This showed that Microsoft was going to be able to deliver something that Apple -- and Google -- could not: the full enterprise productivity suite on ARM, in the business productivity form factors. On Feb. 9, Microsoft said it would deliver this new version of Windows 8 in tablet, laptop and desktop formats, and that this version would run Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
You would be able to buy a laptop that ran these apps, but did so with an ARM chip that had so little heat dissipation, and so little power consumption, that it would not require a fan -- just like the iPad -- and would therefore have a much better battery life, perhaps upwards of 20 hours. Microsoft's "holy grail" formula was this: Imagine a customer who mainly needed to run Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It could now be done on hardware that Apple simply does not have. With Apple, you either get the x86 ( Intel (INTC))-based) MacBook, or you get the ARM-based iOS on an iPad. The MacBook performs the Microsoft Office function perfectly, but the best battery life you can hope for is seven to nine hours, while the price of the hardware starts at $1,000 and goes up to well more than $2,000.