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Can Microsoft Finally Break Free?

Stocks in this article: MSFT AAPL GOOG RIMM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With a single verdict in its patent infringement case against South Korean tech giant Samsung, Apple (AAPL), the world's largest company was able to widen its lead by immediately crippling two of its rivals -- the other being search giant Google (GOOG). However, in an interesting twist of irony, it opened the door for Microsoft (MSFT), a company marred in the shadows of all three giants.

The angle is, since Microsoft is a "non-Android" platform, it stands to reason that developers will now consider it a worthy alternative -- one that is absent of the mess and clutter created by the verdict. It seems for "Mr. Softy," stars are now aligning and you might say "Windows are opening." The only question is, will it seize the opportunity?

Some might suggest that Microsoft has already taken some risks, having alienated its previous model by jumping into hardware with its Surface tablet. At this point failure is not an option. Rivals waiting for it to fall flat on its face. It's hard not to imagine that perhaps even its once proud partners in Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) are not secretly rooting for it to fail.

The fact is, a Microsoft win in hardware may ultimately seal those rivals' already shadowed fate. On the other hand, failure just might do the same to Microsoft itself.

Many investors will claim it all hinges on Windows 8. The product has yet to hit the shelves, but that hasn't stopped naysayers from declaring it a massive failure. But is that really what's important at the moment -- particularly when considering the value that the company's current share price presents?

The launch may not be as crucial as some might think. At least not as important to how the company maneuvers over the long haul in its attempt to engage the consumer while maintaining its enterprise presence.

The fact is, if investors are unable to see value in Microsoft ahead of these product launches, the stock may meet some downward pressure. With a paltry forward price-to-earnings ratio of 9 it is not unreasonable to think that there is a huge bet being made that the company will indeed fail. At $30, the stock is up 19% on the year. While not a horrible premium, it pales in comparison to Apple's 60%.

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