THE MICROSOFT INVESTOR: Windows 7 Overtakes XP As Leading OS In The U.S.

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MSFT Down With Everybody Else 
Markets are trading in the negative on Alcoa’s disappointing earnings and news that the deepening nuclear crisis in Japan has reached Chernobyl levels. Shares of Microsoft are down about 0.70%. Upcoming catalysts include fiscal third quarter earnings to be announced on April 28 at 5:30pm Eastern Time; any entrance in the tablet market; Windows Phone 7 adoption with hardware partner Nokia; strides against current market leaders in cloud computing; gaining search market share with Bing / Yahoo! partnership; and continued momentum of Kinect. The stock currently trades at 8x Enterprise Value / TTM Free Cash Flow, inexpensive compared to historical trading multiples.

Windows 7 Overtakes XP As The Top Operating System In The US (Electronista)
Windows 7 has just overtaken Windows XP as the top operating system in the US, according to the latest stats from StatCounter. As of last week, Windows 7 reached 31.7% share, while Windows XP is only slightly behind at 31.5% per cent (and Vista continues its death march). The data was collected using visitor stats from over three million websites. While this only covers the US, it is still a significant milestone on the path to becoming the number one OS globally and denotes a strong upgrade cycle.

Bing / Yahoo! Partnership Surpasses 30% Search Share (Search Engine Land)
Bing-powered search increased past the 30% market share level in March for the first time since Bing began providing Yahoo with organic search results last August, according to Hitwise. Google continues to have more than twice their combined market share, but dropped a couple percentage points in March to 64.4%. Yahoo fielded 15.7% and Bing registered 14.3%, each jumping 5% from February. They now equal Yahoo’s search share in 2005.

Are Free-To-Play Games Coming To Xbox Live (VentureBeat)
Embracing a new business model, Microsoft is expected to make free-to-play games available on its Xbox Live online gaming service next year. The move isn’t yet confirmed, but it shows that the company is responding to competitive pressures that threaten its core business but also offer a chance for a dramatic expansion of users. The move isn’t a huge surprise, since Microsoft said that its Joy Ride game was originally going to be a free-to-play game on Xbox Live.

Microsoft Moves ERP Into The Cloud As Well (eWeek)
Microsoft is taking another step in cloud functionality, with the announcement that future Microsoft Dynamics ERP will migrate to the cloud, with hosting on Windows Azure. Beta testing for the suite is expected to begin this month. Earlier this year, Microsoft released Dynamics CRM Online, a cloud competitor to similar offerings from the likes of and Oracle.