TIME.com: Is Microsoft A Slowpoke? -- May. 10, 2004 "When a company's revenues grow 17%, as Microsoft's did in the past quarter, it might seem a little churlish to suggest its glory days are over. Its chairman, Bill Gates, even reclaimed his title as the world's richest man, after a widely published story claiming that the founder of Ikea had replaced him turned out to be so many Swedish meatballs. And Gates' baby, based in Redmond, Wash., is still by far the largest software maker in the world, with a healthy $56 billion in the bank and revenue conservatively expected to rise 5% next year, to about $38 billion. It has buried the hatchet with Sun Microsystems and AOL with billions of dollars in legal settlements. What could possibly be wrong with Microsoft?
Answer: quite a lot. When you fly as high as Gates & Co. did during the 1990s, growing an average 36% annually, maintaining that altitude is nearly impossible. So Microsoft's growth rate is now no larger than that of the PC industry as a whole. Its stock price has stalled at 1998 levels. A new version of its flagship Windows product, once expected as early as 2003, may ship in 2006, lacking many of the cool new features Microsoft had hoped to include. By then, Windows is expected to be squaring off against its toughest challenge to date, from Linux, a rival operating system that literally gives itself away."
A handy collection of most current conventional-wisdom views of Microsoft, all in a single article.