An ugly first week for Microsoft Corp's new financial year, probably its most important to date, has done little to inspire confidence that the software giant can jumpstart a stubbornly stagnant share price.
The world's largest software company, whose stock remains mired around $30, had prepared a multi-pronged assault to try and break into the crucial mobile computing space this year and take Apple Inc and Google Inc down a peg.
But on Monday, it announced a $6.2 billion writedown of a 2007 Internet-advertising acquisition - a reminder that Microsoft has a patchy track record when it ventures outside of its Windows and Office comfort zone.
Days later, Vanity Fair blamed Steve Ballmer's "astonishingly foolish" leadership for a "lost decade", in one of the most scathing articles ever written about the CEO.
It was not the news agenda Microsoft had in mind as it prepared to unveil fourth-quarter results on July 19. The writeoff is expected to hand the company its first quarterly loss - on paper - since going public in 1986.
"This kind of massive write-off is a stark reminder that Microsoft's capital allocation policies in the past have not been ideal at times," said Highmark Capital fund manager Todd Lowenstein.
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