Although slumping PC sales will certainly hurt Microsoft, the software maker's year could be better than expected, according to one financial analyst.
In a research note on Monday, Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal projected that Microsoft will finalize the code for Windows 7 by June or July and also suggested that a search deal with Yahoo is likely to happen sooner rather than later. And, although it won't be here this year, Aggarwal said that the next version of Office, code-named Office 14, should come early next year.
Officially, Microsoft has said only that it will have Windows 7 on the market by next January, the three-year anniversary of Windows Vista's mainstream launch. However, the company has been aiming to have it out in time to be on PCs that ship during this year's holiday shopping season. PC industry sources told CNET News last month that Microsoft continues to push toward that goal.
The release of Windows 7 should allow Microsoft to make $1.5 billion in additional revenue, Aggarwal said, with nearly $1 billion coming from the upgrade market and as much as $680 million possible if Microsoft is able to increase the number of premium versions of Windows being used on Netbooks.
Even with a sluggish PC market, that makes the company's shares a good investment, Aggarwal wrote in the note. "We are recommending Microsoft as our top large cap pick because at the current level risk-reward appears to be very compelling," Aggarwal said.
Clearly not all is rosy, Aggarwal noted. "There is no doubt that the trends with PC shipments and Netbooks will get worse for at least the next 2 (quarters) but both of these concerns are now largely reflected in the stock price," he said.