Microsoft to make its case with stock analysts

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) ? Microsoft Corp.’s top executives will meet with stock market analysts Wednesday, giving them a chance to convince skeptical investors that the world’s largest software maker is poised to make up for its late start in smartphones and computer tablets.

The presentation, to be held near Disneyland after the stock market closes, is expected to focus on Microsoft’s efforts to adjust to the slackening demand for personal computers running on its Windows operating system as more people rely on smaller devices and online applications that make it easier to work, play games and stay informed wherever they are.

The shift has helped establish Apple Inc., the maker of the iPhone and iPad, as one of the world’s most valuable companies while feeding perceptions that Microsoft is on the road to technological irrelevance, if not obsolescence, even though its Windows franchise remains highly profitable. Since the iPhone went on sale in June 2007, Apple’s stock price has more than tripled while Microsoft’s shares have declined by 13 percent. Microsoft’s stock closed Tuesday at $26.04 while Apple shares finished at $384.62.

Microsoft is pinning its future hopes on next year’s expected released of Windows 8, which executives are hailing as the most radical overhaul of the operating systems since 1995.

Windows 8 is designed to run on both PCs and computer tablets and will give users the flexibility to control it by keyboard, mouse or human touch. In a switch that irked PC chip maker Intel Corp., Windows 8 also will run on processors made by ARM Holding Inc., whose technology has emerged as the preferred option in the mobile device market. Intel responded Tuesday by announcing a mobile partnership with Google Inc., whose Android software competes against both Microsoft and Apple.

In a Tuesday preview of Windows 8 for applications developers, devices running on the operating system booted up in less than 10 seconds. The system also is designed to spreads applications in tiles that can be flipped through like a slideshow.

Microsoft still hasn’t announced when Windows 8 will go on sale. Analysts predict it will be released next summer to take advantage of back-to-school shoppers or next fall to be ready for 2012’s holiday shopping season.