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Microsoft exec: No 'Plan B' despite mobile stumbles

Then how about Plan A version 2.0, Mr. CFO?

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Should Microsoft's tablet and phone efforts continue to inspire little interest among the buying public, don't expect a radical shift in strategy – according to one senior Redmond exec, the company has no "Plan B".

"It's less 'Plan B' than how you execute on the current plan," CFO Peter Klein told investors at Goldman Sachs' Technology and Internet Conference this week, Reuters reports. "We aim to evolve this generation of Windows to make sure we have the right set of experiences at the right price points for all customers."

We'd rather not tell the man how to do his job, but we would be remiss if we didn't point out that Plan A does not appear to be taking the world by storm. The sales-figures sleuths at Canalys recently reported that Microsoft sold only 722,000 Surface RT tablet-cum-keyboard devices in the fourth quarter of last year, a mere hangnail when compared with worldwide tablet sales of 46.2 million during the same period. Gartner is a wee bit more optimistic, putting Surface RT sales at around 900,000 – but Apple sold just under 23 million iPads during the same period.

Caveats, of course, abound. The Surface RT went on sale on October 26, missing nearly one-third of the quarter in question, and its more-capable big brother, the Surface Pro, didn't arrive until early this month – and it was only this Thursday that Microsoft expanded the Surface RT's global market from eight to 21 countries.

But still – a mere 722K-to-900K Surface RT units moved during 2012's fondleslab-crazed holiday season? That low number was not likely a Plan A target.

And then there's Microsoft's lack of Plan A success in the smartphone market, as well. Last week, the analytics firm comScore reported that Microsoft's smartphone market share was shrinking, not growing – it slipped to below 3 per cent last December. For their part, IDC put Microsoft's smartphone market share at 2.5 per cent for all of 2012.

The denizens of Redmond's corner offices have seen those numbers, and Klein reports that they are working with their partners to get Windows onto everything from smartphones to tablets to PCs – but ramping that effort is not a full-fledged Plan B, says Klein.

"It's less a Plan B," he said, "and more, how do you tweak your plan, how do you bring these things to market to make sure you have the right offerings at the right price points?"

Call it Plan A 2.0, Plan A+, or even Plan A Pro Studio Gold Innovation Edition Deluxe II for Enterprise. But whatever you call it, despite Microsoft's deep pockets and extensive customer relationships, it's clear that the company needs to get its mobile Plan firing on all cylinders.

"We're very focused on continuing the success we have with PCs and taking that to tablets and phones," Klein said. That's his plan, and he's sticking to it. ®

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