Believe it or not, 2012 could be the year of Microsoft. No, really. "I'll say it: I'm bullish on Microsoft in 2012," writes Farhad Manjoo of Slate. "For the first time in forever, Microsoft has a couple major products that are not merely good enough. They're just plain great." He thinks Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 are showstoppers. The former happens to power the sexiest phone at CES, Nokia's Lumia 900, and the latter has a touch-friendly, tablet-ready interface.
"I'll admit that this is all more than a bit speculative," he says. Microsoft could still be derailed by its perpetual inherent flaws: Clinging too hard to its still-healthy desktop business, and relying on third-party hardware manufacturers. But this will soon be a company "with a killer mobile and desktop OS," an existing presence in millions of homes, unparalleled distribution, and ample cash. "When you put it that way, Microsoft almost sounds as good as Apple, doesn’t it?" (Read more Microsoft stories.)