Charles Wolf

Putting lipstick on Microsoft's pigs

August 6, 2009: 6:00 AM ET
Windows Mobile. Image: Microsoft

Windows Mobile. Logo: Microsoft

At the end of a long report on the Apple Stores -- and the corner he believes they have turned -- Needham analyst Charles Wolf turned his attention this week to Microsoft (MSFT) and its plans to launch a fleet of company-branded stores of its own, complete with wall-sized digital screens, spaces for free public events and "Guru" bars to deal with customers' software complaints.

Let's hope Steve Ballmer isn't on Needham's mailing list, because Wolf's two-page description of Microsoft's efforts and its products may be most dismissive ever produced by a Wall Street analyst. He even goes so far as to evoke the old lipstick joke that got Barack Obama in so much trouble with Sarah Palin during the primaries.

"Microsoft has always touted itself as an innovator," Wolf begins in a section entitled The Sincerest Form of Flattery. "But the company's true genius has stemmed from its ability to copy the ideas of others."

And the company it's most fond of copying, he says, is Apple (AAPL).


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