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August 1, 2006 11:18 AM

Watch out, Google, Microsoft now gets the Net

Posted by Brier Dudley

That's the take of Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan, who was apparently swayed by Microsoft's financial analyst meeting last week.

Rangan, the most prominent "neutral" analyst on MSFT over the past year, today upgraded his rating today to "buy."

In a note to clients, Rangan said it's now time to jump in. Catalysts for growth include online services, Xbox and the arrival of Ray Ozzie, and he thinks Microsoft has a good chance of gaining ground against Google.

"Investor patience has been tested and expectations have been reset lately. Now is the time to look at Microsoft,'' he said.

Rangan said Microsoft has transformed.

Our view is that Microsoft gets the Internet, and that the desktop will be an asset in the pursuit of its Online strategy. The old Microsoft exemplified the strategy of a pure software company. It saw everything as a software problem, with the device -- PC or mobile -- storing the data and intelligence. Google exemplifies the strategy of a pure Internet company. It sees everything mostly as a problem sitting in the Internet cloud, with the server storing the data and intelligence. The new Microsoft is a combination of both these viewpoints. The desktop is important to the Internet experience, especially when it comes to doing things like synching up calendars and e-mail from the work desktop through the cloud.

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