The Elephant in Microsoft's Living Room
The elephant in the room, not mentioned in this enthusiastically optimistic story, is Microsoft / Nokia's introduction this week of 3 new Android phones. While the announcers tried to put on a brave front as to how this would "drive more volume to Microsoft services", it's pretty much an admission that they need Android to compete in the high-growth emerging market segments - in effect, the (very nice) Windows-based economy phones just aren't cutting it.
This is further evidenced by the actual market research, which shows that while Windows smartphones show promising growth rates as a percentage of market percentage (!), both Android and Apple sold a lot more additional phones than Microsoft / Nokia (the article hints at this quite gently). In effect, the math tricks hide the actual dismal state of Windows mobile product sales, to which the slow growth of the Windows application store attests.
And then there's Chrome OS's incredible surge in the 4th quarter (as every major laptop vendor introduced new Chromebook models), and utter domination of such bellweathers as the Amazon laptop bestseller list (4 of 5 are now Chromebooks, not Windows 8 laptops). This only adds to Windows 8's dismal failure in the desktop and laptop market. As XP's long delayed demise finally arrives only 5 weeks hence, XP still has a far larger installed base than 8.
Microsoft almost certainly has several more years of locked-in rich corporate "software assurance" revenues on which to subsist, not to mention their patent fees extracted from Android vendors under threat of massive legal action, which to date has kept their balance sheet looking healthy. Unfortunately, BYOD threatens to tip even corporate income into a death spiral, as when people bring their own devices to work, they tend to buy what they use at home, where Android and Apple reign and Chrome OS shines - which may leave Microsoft as a mere patent licensing and litigation shell of its former self in a few years.
The monopoly has clearly cracked, and competition has returned to computing. Finally.