It's been a less amazing year over at Microsoft ( MSFT). The software behemoth spent most of 2012 churning sideways, only giving shareholders around a 4% gain over the course of the last 12 months. That doesn't even approach half of what the broad market returned over that same period. But Microsoft (and its shareholders) could be in store for a change of fortunes thanks to a sideways consolidation that's been forming for the last month and change. Consolidations occur after big moves, in MSFT's case, the big decline that's been in force since the middle of September. Because the sideways price action is bounded by horizontal resistance and support, it gives traders a black-and-white way to determine whether it makes sense to buy or to remain a seller. Resistance at $27.75 is the big price level to watch for investors looking for a reversal. That's because it's the price that's acted like a ceiling over the course of the consolidation channel - there's still a glut of sellers above that price, but once it's taken out, we've got a buy signal. MSFT's downtrend broke earlier this week when the sideways channel proved stronger than selling pressures. That's a good early indication of strength for this stock.