10 Urgent Tasks For Microsoft In 2009

Steve Ballmer and company are under pressure to get Windows 7 out the door, stop the executive exodus, and revive Microsoft's advertising. And that's just for starters.
8. Get A New Ad Agency

What's the deal with this $300 million ad campaign?

Microsoft needs to fire Crispin, Porter Bogusky. The $300 million "I'm A PC" campaign that the agency developed for Microsoft isn't working and just makes Apple look even cooler by comparison. As for those Seinfeld ads, the less said the better.

9. Save Windows XP

Windows XP (Microsoft's last, great operating system?) was officially retired in June, but it continues to live on. Most recently, Microsoft said custom PC makers can continue to order copies of XP through Jan. 31. In October, the company said it would give large system manufacturers, such as HP and Dell, access to XP through July 31, 2009.

These are good steps, but Microsoft needs to do more. Because of their distaste for Vista, most businesses will stick with XP until Windows 7 has been fully vetted in the market. But Windows 7 won't ship until late 2009, at the earliest, and the majority of companies and government organizations won't touch a new OS until it's been out for at least a year. That means Microsoft needs to continue to make XP available to businesses at least through the end of 2010, or risk losing more market share to Apple and Linux.

10. Stick To Explorer 8 Standards
With the release of Internet Explorer 8, slated for early next year, Microsoft will add to its Web browser default support for some major Internet standards for the first time.

Among other things, IE8 will feature default compatibility with Web standards such as CCS 2.1 and HTML 5. It also promises improved support for the Ajax language, and other W3C Internet programming guidelines.

The problem: Explorer 8 adds standards long ignored by Microsoft, and most major Web sites have been designed first and foremost to work with previous versions. "Some of today's Web pages might expect the old, less interoperable behavior from IE," wrote Explorer program manager Scott Dickens, in Dec. 5 blog post. Dickens singled out CNN, Facebook and MySpace as being among the major Web destinations that have not made their sites IE8 ready.

Given the programming challenges involved, Microsoft may get pushback from larger customers who would rather not have to tinker with their Web sites. Nevertheless, Redmond needs to stick to its guns on this one. Broad adoption of standards benefits the IT industry as a whole, even if it means users have to suffer through some short term pain to realize longer terms gains.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer