It's time for the Microsoft pundits, press and the peanut gallery to stick our necks out and make our year-ahead predictions regarding the Redmondians.
When I looked back at my Microsoft predictions for 2008, I was surprised I was actually somewhat accurate.
I was right about five of them -- everything from Fiji resurfacing (though very badly), to Apple admitting it had licensed ActiveSync, to OOXML getting the ISO standards nod. I was early on a couple of my guesses, specifically Windows Mobile phones getting Zuned (that will be announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, it seems), and Office 14 hitting beta (Office testers are expecting code real soon now). I was dead wrong on two: Former Adobe exec Bruce Chizen didn't end up joining Microsoft. (My bet? Stephen Elop got the job for which Chizen could have been a candidate.) And Microsoft did end up fielding a tech preview of Windows 7; I said there was no way they'd do so in 2008.
So let me give my crystal ball another spin. Here's what I think Microsoft will do in 2009.
1. Ship Windows 7. RTM is sounding like a done deal for Q3 2009. Holiday PCs -- and maybe even back-to-school ones -- will be preloaded with Win 7.
2. Ship Windows 7 Server, a k a Windows Server 2008 R2, either on the same day as Windows 7 or very shortly thereafter.
3. Ship Office 14. Yeah, I know testers aren't getting code until early 2009. But the Office team hasn't been sitting on its hands. As usual, Office testers don't get test builds until the next version is pretty much set-in-stone. RTM guess? Q4 2009.
4. Ship Visual Studio 2010. Don't let the name fool you. VS 2010 will hit before the end of this year.
5. Deliver the final Azure services platform to developers. Microsoft can't let Amazon completely run away with the cloud-computing developer market. Officials said at the Professional Developers Conference in October that they'd release the final Azure platform in the latter half of 2009. I think they will make good on that goal.
6. Deliver take one of its Zune Mobile services to handset makers/carriers before the end of 2009. Project Pink -- a k a the Zunification of Windows Mobile -- will be shown at CES in January and start appearing on phones by the end of 2009.
7. Rebrand Live Search as Kumo -- but still be unable to grow its query share much beyond 10 percent. If Microsoft does end up doing some kind of search partnership with Yahoo (an event I'd guess is still somewhat likely, once a new Yahoo CEO is in place), Microoft's query share will go above 10 percent, but will still be nowhere near Google's 60+ percent. Even deals like Dell preloading the MSN toolbar with Live Search on new PCs (which takes effect in March, I hear), won't get Microsoft in Google's query-share ballpark.
8. Find itself defending its Windows Live/Windows 7 integration before the European Commission, possibly as a result of a new antitrust complaint lodge by Google.
9. Let go thousands of contractors, consolidate product groups and nearly freeze hiring. But not lay off any of its 90,000-plus full-time employees or require them to take unpaid vacation days.
10. Become so completely consumed by Apple envy that it over-invests on the consumer side of the house. In 2009, Microsoft's failure to tend to its enterprise knitting will begin hurting its business software/services sales.
Your turn. What do you expect the Softies to do -- and not to do -- in 2009?