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Dumb and Dumber Moves at Microsoft

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The world's largest software company is making a lot of boneheaded moves lately.

Big companies are going to make big mistakes from time to time. It's inevitable. However, when a big company is making too many small mistakes, it makes one wonder.

Let's go into just a few of my beefs with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) these days. Let me know if you agree.

  • Mr. Softy is taking the heat for its recently announced layoffs, after it was lobbying for more guest-worker visas. Bloomberg claims that Microsoft is the country's leader in issuing H1-B visas for foreign workers in this country. The media is jumping to conclusions, as always. We don't know how many of the 5,000 employees whom Microsoft will be laying off are Americans and how many may be foreigners willing to code for less. Since Microsoft isn't on the shortlist of TARP recipients, it should have some degree of freedom in -- you know -- deciding how it does things. However, this is stirring up a problematic public relations quandary for the company, regardless of how you feel about the move itself.
  • "Openness is central because it's the foundation of choice," CEO Steve Ballmer said at this week's GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009, taking jabs at Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) closed ecosystem. Gee, isn't that app-selling ecosystem similar to Microsoft's thriving Xbox Live marketplace? Isn't this the same company that had to fork over a huge $460 million penalty to RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK  ) because Microsoft chose to piggyback its proprietary media player into its operating system?
  • Speaking of Apple, how dumb was it for Microsoft to feature a snow leopard on the landing page of its search engine? Snow Leopard is the working nickname for Apple's next operating system, gearing up for an interesting battle with Windows 7.
  • On the marketing front, after stumbling with the costly Jerry Seinfeld ads, and making a somewhat valiant return with it's "I'm a PC" ads, what's the deal with the new "The Rookies" campaign? Cute kids doing amazing things with computers can be an effective message, but am I the only one who just feels like a flawed parent because I don't have a 4-year-old who just happens to be a whiz in manipulating digital photographs?

None of this should matter, of course. Microsoft's financial performance should be enough to overcome its iffy actions and words. Unfortunately, it's still way behind both Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) in search, it's letting Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) run away with the video game market, and it saw profitability slide on a mere 2% top-line advance in its latest quarter.

More meat on the Microsoft bone:

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Nintendo and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of Yahoo! and Microsoft, but not of bad weddings. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2009, at 3:43 PM, DMC17 wrote:

    I'm glad im not the only one wondering if my two-year old will be a digital photo master by the time she is four.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2009, at 5:20 PM, Gustown wrote:

    The Snow leopard was not that dumb. It has lots of people talking about live and many might like it and use it, and I did not know you were so sensitive about commercials, it seem that you do not watch many commercials this was pretty decent in contrast to 99% of the rest that might break your heart. Microsoft in the eyes of many is doomed if they do, and doomed if they do not. Microsoft is a good company and it need to shuffle its leadership to lead once again.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2009, at 5:28 PM, gslusher wrote:

    One more: Microsoft's plan to open branded retail stores. Just what are they planning to sell that, say, Best Buy doesn't? Which brands of PCs will they sell--HP? Dell? Lenovo? Acer?

    The Apple Stores work because they offer a lot more than just the computers, especially service and assistance.

  • Report this Comment On February 20, 2009, at 6:00 PM, bernbern0 wrote:

    One thing that keeps occurring to me as I read these articles is how many times it is pointed out that the author "doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned". It kind of bothers me a little, and I wonder what other FOOLS think. Does an author recommending stocks in these articles have to "eat his or her own cooking"? At the same time I appreciate pointing out the positions MOTLEY FOOL has in each article.

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2009, at 3:14 PM, malibuskier99 wrote:

    You gotta be kidding. A snow leopard on the live search page (changes daily)? You feel inadequate, 'cause your kids are better than you on a pc? This author must have been bored to bother with this...

  • Report this Comment On April 18, 2009, at 9:45 PM, JTSECK wrote:

    This article addresses subtle and unnecesarily scrutinized "mistakes", if you can even call them that. Seriously, this is just being nitpicky.

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