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110 Things Microsoft Must Do In the Second Half of 2011

1. Talk Up Windows 8Not much is known about Microsoft’s next operating system. but over the next several months, Microsoft must start providing more details about Windows 8 to ensure build excitement and also ensure that consumers and enterprise users are ready for the operating system when it launches next year.

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2. Deliver the Goods On Windows Phone 7So far, Windows Phone 7 has not caught on. But Microsoft says it will be able to address that problem with Mango, an update that will deliver a host of fixes to its mobile operating system. At this point, Microsoft has no choice but to dramatically improve Windows Phone 7. If it doesn’t do so soon, it might be lights out for its mobile OS.

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3. Work Hard On NokiaMicrosoft deal with Nokia calls for Windows Phone 7 to be the “principal” operating system in the handset maker’s line of devices. Over the next several months, Microsoft must work closely with Nokia to ensure the devices not only appeal to consumers, but to enterprise users, as well. Microsoft’s Nokia deal could very well make or break Windows Phone 7.

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4. Get Vendors to Release More TabletsThere have been a few Windows-based tablets released so far, but Microsoft must do a far better job in the next six months getting more vendors to jump on its slate bandwagon. Tablets are big business nowadays and so far, Windows has no presence. Microsoft must change that.

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5. Offer Up A Microsoft-Branded TabletThere has been some speculation that Microsoft might offer up a Microsoft-branded tablet. The move would be a departure for Microsoft which has stuck to software in the computing business. But considering vendors aren’t willing to use Windows in their tablets, Microsoft will need to make a bold move and take matters into its own hands. And that means making its own tablet.

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6. Promote, Promote, Promote Office 365The fight for cloud productivity is heating up between Microsoft and Google. And the next several months could prove to be critical to both companies. If Microsoft wants to succeed in the cloud, it will need to spend the rest of the year marketing Office 365. The solution, which launched recently, is Microsoft’s ticket to success in the cloud. And it can’t forget that.

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7. Keep the Pressure On GoogleBy launching Office 365, Microsoft fired a major shot over Google’s bow. And with its recently announced deal with China search engine Baidu to power all English-language searches, the company is hitting Google where it hurts. Over the next six months, Microsoft needs to keep the pressure on Google in search.

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8. Get Skype Ready to GoAlthough Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype still requires regulatory approval, it’s expected to get it towards the end of 2011. Until then Microsoft must work closely with Skype to ensure it can follow through on its plans of integrating the VoIP service into Kinect, Windows Phone 7, and other platforms once the deal is complete. Skype is a vastly important business for Microsoft, and it can’t lose sight of that in the coming months.

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9. Forget About AppleThe last thing Microsoft should be doing in the coming months is worry about Apple. Yes, Steve Jobs and Company is selling the top tablet and smartphone in the market, and the company’s Macs continue to lure customers, Apple is still just a small threat to Microsoft. At this point, Microsoft’s biggest threat is Google, and Microsoft should not lose its focus.

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10. Keep A Close Eye On BallmerMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer is in the crosshairs of investors and analysts who are concerned that Microsoft is not adequately adapting to the changing times in the tech industry. In some cases, those complaints are well-founded. Over the next six months, Microsoft’s board should keep a close eye on Ballmer. If he doesn’t execute, he should be replaced.