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New year's resolutions for Microsoft

A top 10 to-do list of the hurdles the software giant must tackle in 2005.

    Directions on Microsoft has released a list of what it considers the top 10 challenges for the software giant in 2005.

    "Left unattended, each (challenge) could ultimately interrupt Microsoft's 25-plus-year run of growth and profits and leave the door open for younger, smaller and more nimble competitors," the analyst house said in its end-of-year research note Wednesday.

    In the order they were published, the 10 challenges are:
    • Better detailed, multiyear road maps for major products such as Windows XP, Office and Exchange.

    • Revenue-generating acquisitions. According to Directions on Microsoft, the Great Plains Software, Navision and GeCad buys are not delivering enough fast enough.

    • Better security--"despite laudable efforts by Microsoft, such as drop-everything-else code review, security is still a problem...In fact, the bad guys seem to be winning."

    • Making the PC a home entertainment hub, not trailing integrated digital-lifestyle approaches that, at the moment, are led by others, notably Apple Computer.

    • Doing a better job of convincing customers that they can get more out of their software by using newer versions.

    • Fending off open-source software. This is about server software but now increasingly also about the desktop, in the form of the Linux operating system, the Firefox browser, and and its commercial variants.

    • Convincing developers that its upcoming Longhorn version of Windows is the way forward.

    • Making Xbox 2 the profitable, well-supported game console the first Xbox has struggled to become.

    • Shipping a 64-bit version of Windows that encourages PC upgrades.

    • "Playing well with others." On the day that the software company received no slack from a European court, Directions on Microsoft noted, "Microsoft needs cautious, clearly written and tightly enforced rules of engagement for employees working with customers, partners and competitors--particularly cases involving any exchange of intellectual property or trade secrets. Otherwise, it will be planting the seeds of tomorrow's multibillion-dollar settlements."

    Tony Hallett of reported from London.