NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Forget about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama for a minute.
The candidate who should be most nervous this fall is
(MSFT - Get Report)
CEO Steve Ballmer.
Starting with Wednesday's
(NOK - Get Report)
press conference, which
TheVerge.com is already hyping,
Ballmer begins the process of finding out whether Microsoft has a future.
The official launch of Windows 8 in October, which folks like
TechNewsWorld are already writing about
, is not nearly as important as the fate of Windows 8 Phone. That's because, as previously noted, the transition from "feature phones" to "smart phones" has been happening twice as fast as the Internet transition of the 1990s, 10 times faster than Microsoft's own rise with the PC in the 1980s.
We're late in that game, and the question is whether there is any room for a third player, no matter how insanely great it may be.
Microsoft's best hope is to knock
(GOOG - Get Report)
Android off its perch, and a key punch was delivered there by
last week. As
, Samsung has a new Windows Phone called the Ativ and promises to compete fiercely with Nokia for Windows Phone share.
The Ativ announcement comes just a week after Samsung lost to
(AAPL - Get Report)
over claims its Android gear violated Apple's patents. During the trial an Apple executive revealed it had made patent peace with Microsoft,
as ReadWriteWeb reported
, with Cupertino considering Windows 8's look-and-feel to be unique.
But this only works if Samsung, which is also Android's largest OEM, and Nokia, whose CEO bet his company on Microsoft Windows last year, can both succeed in the market.
To that end,
reports that Microsoft will launch
a $1 billion ad campaign
over the next three months. To put that number in perspective, it's twice what the presidential campaign has cost so far, in terms of advertising,
according to an NBC FirstRead story last month.
So there will indeed be a third party on the ballot this fall, the Microsoft party. You will be asked to vote for it with your wallet. As with other third parties, the aim must be to get out of the single-digits in market share, in order to be considered "viable."