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Evan Davis on... Microsoft's future

Updated Saturday 28th February 2009

The Bottom Line presenter Evan Davis asks if planning to innovate can ensure success for Microsoft's future

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We asked the question "what is the future of Microsoft?" perhaps wondering whether the company is past its prime, and we got a very clear answer; it’s all about innovation. Microsoft is in a world and market where innovation is obviously, famously, very rapid so it seems like a very plausible answer.

But it raises a very interesting general question about companies that want to elongate or sustain their lives. Can you plan on innovating? Can you go out and say, "I’m going to invent some stuff over the next two years," or do you have to stumble across those inventions and just hope for the best that you’re going to invent them over the next two years?

In some respects innovation can’t be a business plan. The business plan is what you do after you’ve got the innovation. For those who invest or have shares in Microsoft, the key question is whether the fact that Microsoft has been a big innovating company is a guide to the fact it can carry on innovating in the future?

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