Microsoft Aims to Unstick 'Laggard' Label
Although Microsoft (MSFT) is betting heavily on its Longhorn operating system -- still some two years away -- company bulls are counting on a menu of other products to drive growth in the interim.
But are these offerings meaty enough to help Microsoft's shares lose their recent reputation as a straggler?
The company's stock has slumped nearly 4% from a year ago vs. a 1.7% rise in the Goldman Sachs Software index. The shares haven't broken the $30 mark since March 2002, stubbornly eluding analysts' one-year price targets that reach as high as $35.
Longhorn, the next version of the company's flagship Windows operating system, has been hailed as the likely driver of Microsoft's largest upgrade cycle ever.Last month, the company put to rest speculation about its launch date by announcing that the new desktop operating system will be released in the
- a 64-bit version of Windows Server, which has been delayed to the first half of 2005;
- a new version of Microsoft's SQL Server database software, code-named Yukon, coming in the first half of 2005;
- Visual Studio 2005, the next major release of Microsoft's development platform, to be rolled out with SQL Server next year; and
- the next-generation Xbox console, rumored to be hitting shelves by the 2005 holiday season.
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