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Microsoft Takes Another Step Backward

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With shares of Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) having reached a new 52-week high recently, the stock is up more than 25% over the past six months. Given the dire state of the PC industry, patient investors were (understandably) jumping for joy.

Any progress this company makes is always followed by a step or two backward. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it sold 100 million copies of its flagship Windows 8 operating system, while also describing sales as having occurred in the "first six months of life."

That's a great spin on the situation. However, as TheStreet contributor Gary Krakow pointed out, there's also another way to look at it. Krakow offered the following:

"Microsoft released Windows 8 in October, 2012. In its first three months of life (November through January) they say they moved 60 million copies of their new OS. But, that also means that after the initial release euphoria -- and the holiday shopping season boost -- they sold only another 40 million copies of Windows 8 in its second three months (February-April) of life. Any way you look at it those numbers mean sales are slowing down."

Essentially, although Microsoft has indeed made some progress, it's still not time to get excited yet. For a company with much to prove, this sort of uninspiring sales performance isn't the news that's going to keep CEO Steve Ballmer's detractors silent. Ballmer was quoted prelaunch Windows 8:

"The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era at Microsoft. Investments we've made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services, with tremendous opportunity for our customers, developers, and partners."

As nicely as I can put it, given Ballmer's "questionable" history of execution, the Street never really bought into his hype. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the soft adoption of Windows 8, consumers haven't been buying it, either. The question remains, is Ballmer still the right guy to lead Microsoft? How this is still a debate is a mystery to me.
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