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Nokia, Skype, ARM: Microsoft's big year in review

Why 2011 is critical for 2012 at Redmond

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

MicroBite 2011 saw Microsoft place a some big bets to break into new markets: putting Windows on ARM to challenge the iPad, becoming a web telco with the record-breaking $8.5bn purchase of Skype, and an exclusive deal with handset manufacturer Nokia to deliver smart phones using nothing but Windows Phone.

Some choices seemed logical: ARM dominates smartphones and reckons it can clean up in tablets. Others, less so: spending so much for loss-making Skype in a no-bid contest with no clear explanation of how Microsoft thinks it can make its money back.

Another big bet that was placed: Windows 8, the successor to Windows 7, was unveiled. Windows 8 introduces a tablet-friendly user interface for use on tablets but also presents Microsoft with a genuine dilemma: how to introduce this brand-new way of building and interacting with Windows without losing existing customers and developers using "old" Windows.

Meanwhile, mumblings of discontent with the performance of Steve Ballmer finally broke out into the open.

If 2011 was a year of big bets, 2012 will be critical in seeing whether these bets pay off.

Join All-About-Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley and The Reg's software editor Gavin Clarke in their look back at the highlights of Microsoft's year and what it means for the next 12 months. You can listen using our player below, or download the MP3 or Ogg. ®

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