Its mobile share keeps shrinking, with only 3.1% of U.S. smartphone users and falling, according to ComScore. Its Surface devices disappointed. Its search engine and websites are a mess. Its blustery CEO isn't sticking around to see how it turns out and favored chief executive candidate Alan Mulally won't leave Ford to lead the Redmond Renaissance.
So where does this leave Microsoft? Nobody's 100% sure. Its all-in-one solution for Windows 8 and Office has been followed up by talk of Windows 9 -- which could either be the big fix everyone's been waiting for or the next step toward oblivion. Its Xbox One has sold more than 3 million consoles worldwide, but still lags behind the nearly 4.5 million Playstation 4 consoles sold by Sony and the nearly 5.5 million Wii U consoles Nintendo has unloaded in more than a year. The Xbox One is the dominant console in North America by a wide margin, but lacks similar traction elsewhere.Meanwhile, television and online ad time is bombarded with that damned PS4 ad featuring Lou Reed's Perfect Day while the Xbox toils in relative obscurity. It seems like the perfect time for Microsoft to pop in with a Super Bowl ad just to clear things up and give its supporters some hope, but the motivation just isn't there. The core Windows/Office business is keeping things afloat and despite its mobile missteps, the success of the Xbox branch has been enough to keep folks bullish. Share prices are up 77.5% in the last five years and run counter to any perception of Microsoft as a dying brand. There's still reason for concern in the encroaching future and a Super Bowl ad could help bolster the company's image in the meantime. Nobody's pushing the $4 million panic button just yet, but with Google and Apple keeping the pressure on, nobody would blame them if they did. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.