NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When it comes to investing in technology companies, there are two important rules investors must follow to be successful.Rule #1 is that there is no value without growth. Rule #2 is to never forget rule #1. While there are companies including Apple ( AAPL) and Amazon ( AMZN) that make it easy to remember these tenets, what I have begun to realize is companies tend to lose their "tech status" pretty quickly once Wall Street becomes accustomed to lowering performance expectations for the stock in question. It has happened to once-high fliers such as Cisco ( CSCO), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and most recently Dell ( DELL). By and large, I've become somewhat convinced that this is where software giant Microsoft ( MSFT) finds itself today. I say "somewhat" because unlike some of the names that have failed to produce growth in sufficient quantities, Microsoft is on the verge of being able to do something about this in a relatively short period of time. One cannot mention Microsoft today without wondering why it can't be like Apple. For that matter, this comparison has been the source of what has become a less than favorable appeal towards the company by the investment community. However, I think the best way to assess Microsoft and its value is on its own performance rather than on what the competition is doing. However, the unfortunate thing is that the competition is often doing too well to the extent that it offers the perception Microsoft has somehow lost both its ability to compete and innovate. Be that as it may, for Microsoft to succeed in today's environment, it needs to understand not only where it is but also where it wants to go. For that matter, so does its critics, many of whom are too quick to proclaim the company's demise. Its upcoming release of Windows 8 has the ability to silence these opponents. But the question remains, can it execute? I think this is a make or break opportunity for the company and likely its real last shot at becoming a player again within consumer market. In fact, its life depends on it.