Is Microsoft's Mojo Working?

Last Updated May 29, 2009 11:28 AM EDT

In the last few years, even in the face of its piles of money, Microsoft has developed something of a reputation for stumbling. Whether Vista disaster or online ineptitude, the pundit view has often been of a company that was clearly losing it. But as recent news is suggesting, Microsoft may be in a groove that the company has rarely seen before, and could be on the crest of simultaneous success on many fronts.

On the OS front, one of the two critical cash cows for the company, Windows 7 has been getting a buzz and apparently people largely like what they've been seeing. Given how badly Vista performed, both as a product and as a money maker, this could partly be a case of things being so down that everything looks up from there. But there has been evidence that the product might see an unprecedented wave of quick adoption in corporations.

Xbox 360 has been doing well -- at least, once you factor out the massive hardware returns it has seen. Microsoft claims 30 million units sold and 20 million subscribers to Xbox Live -- with the latter "active members," and not all people who ever signed up. (Though no details that I see on the definition of active.)

Early looks at the new multi-touch Zune are getting a surprising number of raves, including an editor at Gizmodo saying that it looks better than the iPod Touch and, here's the real interesting note, has a better interface and works better. Microsoft trumping Apple in a consumer product show down? That's a new one to me. It also makes you wonder what might be up the sleeves in Redmond when it comes to new smartphone designs. Could Microsoft have something that could give the iPhone a run for its money and then some? Particularly if Microsoft continues its aggressive pricing. And the ad campaign targeting Apple has had a measurable impact on consumer perceptions.

And now Microsoft has come out with not-a-badda Bing, the Live Search replacement that has even impressed Steve Wozniak. One of the big strengths? A useful and user-friendly presentation of results.

Put all these together, and you have the picture of a company that has again started listening to users and doing something about what they hear -- with style and effectiveness. And in the world of tech marketing, that's powerful mojo, indeed.

Image via New Line Cinema.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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