Latest Microsoft analyst attack uses misleading numbers

Today is a holiday here in the United States (Martin Luther King Day, for those of you outside the US) and naturally, this means a slow news day. That also means some articles can get more attention than others. That seems to be happening with an opinion column that was posted on Sunday on Forbes (well, it was on Forbes, but they must have thought it was crap too and have now pulled the post) which is not only innaccurate, but provides false contexts into Microsoft's current state.

The column was written by Adam Hartung, a managing partner at the consulting firm Spark Partners. Hartung has been highly critical of Microsoft in general, and CEO Steve Ballmer in particular, in the past. He wrote a May 2012 column for Forbes which called Ballmer "the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company." (Forbes has since pulled the post but Hautung's own blog reprints the article).

His newest attack claims that people should sell off their stock in Microsoft ASAP. Why?  Hartung cites numbers that show PC sales were declining in the fourth quarter of 2012. However, he doesn't mention the fact that part of the reason was that many Windows 8 specific touch screen notebooks and tablets were in short supply in the final quarter of the year. Indeed, many PC makers say their sales numbers were at or close to what they had expected.

Hartung also cites unofficial numbers for the sales of Microsoft's Surface tablet at one million for the quarter. Again, he doesn't state that Microsoft had only modest sales expectations for the product, mainly because it was only sold at Microsoft Store locations for the first several weeks of its launch.

On the subject of the market share of Windows 8, Hartung claims that Windows XP still has 40 percent of the PC OS market share. As we reported today, that is flat out not true; indeed, Windows XP use has been on a rapid decline for the past year or so. Microsoft also recently announced it had sold 60 million licenses for Windows 8.

He concludes his analyst/rant by predicting that Microsoft will lay off as many as 60 percent of its team members in three years and will sell off its entertainment division, which includes its Xbox business; someone must not have shown him the huge Xbox 360 console sales numbers for the holiday season.

In short, there's no evidence to show that Microsoft is in anywhere near the apocalyptic scenario that Hartung claims is about to happen. We should learn a lot more about Microsoft's current state later this week, when the company announces its fourth quarter 2012 financial results.

Source: Adam Hartung's blog | Image via Adam Hartung and LeParisien.fr

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