I complimented Microsoft when it announced it was going to invest a few billion in building a SaaS grid. But that is a pittance compared to what it is about to spend on buybacks. Granted that is better than a cash dividend (from a buyer's perspective of how cash they pay Microsoft is utilized) but it is a sad commentary that Microsoft cannot find good R&D areas which are better investments than its own stock. Or how about paying customers back an "innovation dividend" in the form of lower prices.
Buyers need to become smarter about funneling tech dollars through Microsoft. Not enough of that is going in to new or better product. Optimize current Windows infrastructure (James Governor thinks that's one reason Citrix recently reported 30% revenue growth as customers have given up on Vista). Start evaluating Office 2.0 alternatives. Look at Open Source options to SQL Server and MS tools. Look at SaaS alternatives like NetSuites and salesforce.com to MS Dynamics. Challenge its audits.
Microsoft recently unveiled "voluntary" development principles to guide it after major portions of the US anti-trust settlement expire in November 2007. Customers need to ensure Microsoft does not need to be so reprimanded again - by diversifying their dollars across many more vendors. That would make Microsoft agree with Fortune...
Update: Niall Kennedy leaves Microsoft after joining it 4 months ago and gives a glimpse of a company which appears paralyzed even in the SaaS initiative it has announced as strategic.