Microsoft Is Feeling the Weight of the World

surface“The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT),” commented CEO Steve Ballmer in the company’s first-quarter results. “Investments we’ve made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services.”

The new era turned out not to be very exciting. After an early-November drive to nearly $30, shares spent the rest of the year bouncing between $26 and $27. Demonstrating a little optimism ahead of its second-quarter earnings, shares were up about 1 percent on Thursday afternoon, but the stock is still down nearly 6 percent year over year.

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At the end of November, Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, said that “after just four weeks on the market, it’s still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market.” For better or worse, this connection, that the fate of the entire PC market will be a function of the success of Windows 8, was established months before the product launched.

“We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for.” It was up to Microsoft to give Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) the finger, revitalize the declining PC market, and show the world that it could keep up. Success was the new era Ballmer was hoping for, but it’s not here yet…