I'm like you. I'm a meat 'n' taters kind of investor. I make my calls based on publicly available materials, because that's how most people have to do it. Jane and Joe Oddlot don't get to rub elbows with CEOs and ask them how the biz is doing over tea, pinkies out, winks and nudges, etc.
That's one of the reasons I tend to avoid meeting with management whenever possible. I think legendary value guy and filings sleuth Bob Olstein had it right when he said that he could learn everything he needed to know about management from the filings.
But I'm making an exception to this rule next week. Sort of.
To its credit, despite my frequent, loudmouthed criticism, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) has graciously offered to let me sit in on a Vista and Office launch event in New York. CEO Steve Ballmer will be there, and apparently there will be a "moderated Q&A" after we have a little nosh.
I'd love to ask Ballmer, "Dude, can I 'squirt' you a little something from my brown Zune?" so he could see just how lame "the social" is in reality. Or I'd like to hit him with, "Why did uninstalling Office 2007 cripple my Office 2003 software?" and share my ongoing reinstallation nightmare.
But instead, I'm going to give this opportunity to all you Fools out there. Assuming they let me up to the mic following this little stunt, I hereby pledge my face time to ask a question of your suggestion.
Wondering why Mr. Softy doesn't just leave the portable media space to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) ? Want to know why it continues to butt heads with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) on search, even though it's getting trounced? Want to know why there's still so little video and music content on the Xbox 360, despite serious, device-integrated challenges from Disney (NYSE: DIS ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE ) ?
Here's your chance to query Microsoft.
Send your suggestion here. I'll pick the best one and try to get it answered. Just keep it above the belt.
At the time of publication, Seth Jayson was long Microsoft common and calls, but had no position in any other company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Disney and Yahoo! are Stock Advisor picks. Fool rules are here.