When it comes to tech stocks, four-decade-old Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. However, that didn’t prevent MSFT stock from returning a solid 19.4% to investors in 2015. As the New Year begins, Microsoft’s stock price could climb even higher. Here’s why.
MSFT Stock: Windows 10 Now on Over 200 Million Devices
The company released its newest operating system, “Windows 10,” in July of last year. Since then, adoption has been absolutely phenomenal. In fact, there are more than 200 million monthly active devices around the world running Windows 10. (Source: “Windows 10 Now Active on Over 200 Million Devices,” Windows Blog, January 4, 2016.)
In particular, the speed of Windows 10’s adoption has been faster than any version of Windows ever. It even outpaced “Windows 7”—the much-needed replacement of the disastrous “Windows Vista”—by 140%.
Those who updated to Windows 10 also seemed to enjoy it. Users spent more than 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December, the highest engagement on Windows ever.
The increasing adoption of Windows 10 also boosts usage of Microsoft’s products and services within the new operating system. For instance, users have spent more than 44.5 billion minutes in the new browser, “Microsoft Edge,” across Windows 10 devices in the last month alone.
Since its launch, more than 2.5 billion questions have been asked of “Cortana,” Microsoft’s digital personal assistant.
Microsoft’s search engine also became more popular. “Bing” received around 30% more search queries per Windows 10 device compared to previous versions of Windows.
Another neat thing about Microsoft’s newest operating system is that Windows is now running on a single, unified Windows core. This means one app can run on every Windows device—desktops, laptops, tablets, and even Windows phones.
Note that one of the challenges Windows-based phones face are their small market share. Without a large enough userbase, developers weren’t eager to make apps for Windows phones. The lack of apps, in turn, makes the Windows phone less attractive to consumers and this forms a vicious cycle.
With Windows 10 now being the unified platform across Windows-based devices, things could start to change for Windows phones, as developers will be able to reach all kinds of devices with just one version on an app.
The new “Windows Store” is already showing strong signs of growth. In December alone, 60% of paying customers were new to the store.
Intelligent Cars Need Microsoft
Many technology companies have plans to build autonomous cars. While not making its own cars, Microsoft does have something up its sleeve—to build “the ultimate platform for all intelligent cars.” (Source: “Automakers Choose Microsoft as Connected Car Partner,” Microsoft’s Blog, January 5, 2016.)
The automotive industry today is much more than just internal combustion engines. Cars have become the platform for all kinds of technologies. To meet consumers’ growing demand for car tech, companies in the auto industry are partnering with Microsoft.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Volvo Cars, Nissan, Harman, and IAV announced new details about their partnerships with Microsoft.
For example, Volvo and Microsoft are working on a wearable-enabled voice control system. Volvo drivers will be able to talk to their cars using “Microsoft Band 2,” saying things like “Volvo, start the heater of my car” to control internal features.
Other than the above four companies, Microsoft is already working on connected car technology with Toyota, Ford, Qoros, Delphi, and other companies.
According to Microsoft’s vision, “In the near future, the car will be connected to the Internet, as well as other cars, your mobile phone and your home computers.”
The Bottom Line on MSFT Stock
Sure, Microsoft might not be as hot as some younger tech companies these days. However, after all the hype, companies have to deliver results to survive in the industry. With decades of experience and new strategies in place, MSFT stock could see an even better year in 2016.