Windows Phone is doing well enough that it might finish the year as the No.3 phone operating system - albeit at a great distance behind Android and iOS - and beat out Blackberry, says Llamas. In the last quarter Apple sold about 34 million iPhones versus about 7 million Windows Phones, he says. "They're not falling by the wayside, I have to give them credit," he says.
Owning Nokia will enable faster decision making and turnaround times on innovations, he says, potentially making the phones more competitive. If Microsoft can differentiate Windows Phone from high-end competitors, it could make advances in the developed markets of North America, Japan and Europe. "Android and Apple are entrenched but not 100% locked down forevermore among users," Llamas says.
Nokia tablets could also be a boon. Microsoft's Surface RT tablets sold well at drastically reduced prices as the company tried to unload inventory in preparation for selling its successor, Surface 2. That's a device without cellular connectivity. Nokia already sells a tablet based on the Windows RT operating system plus 4G wireless for $399 through a service-plus-hardware deal with AT&T. It's also announced Lumia 2520, a Windows RT tablet with LTE for $499.
Nokia's Lumia 1520 and lower priced 1320 phablets smartphones with screens between five and seven inches give Microsoft an immediate entry into the relatively new phablet market that last quarter accounted for 22% of all smartphone sales, according to IDC.
No. 2: De-Ballmer the company
With Steve Ballmer on his way out as CEO, Microsoft needs to leave him behind. The new boss must quickly state the company's goals and set up an internal structure that can convincingly support those goals.
That's important not only for achieving the goals, but also for convincing investors of the company's ability to execute. Microsoft's stock price has jumped up and down over the past month on rumors about who will be the next CEO and when that person will be announced.
Despite the company's continued enormous profits during Ballmer's tenure as CEO -- $5.2 billion last quarter, up 17% from the same quarter last year critics have been calling for his replacement for years, and his successor must address some of the reasons they've been so vocal.
Clearly Ballmer did a lot of things right, but his missteps hurt critics' perception of him. Ultimately a lot of complaints had to do with speed.
"Hey, dude, let's get on with it," Microsoft board member John Thompson told Ballmer earlier this year, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. "We're in suspended animation."