The end of the Microsoft Empire?

The abysmal quarter reported last week by Microsoft was hardly a one-time occurrence. While Redmond may bounce back somewhat in the future, a host of headwinds makes a return to dominance highly unlikely for the software giant.

The numbers were breathtakingly bad. Sales revenues of $13.10 billion for the fourth quarter ending June 30, 2009, represented a stunning 17 percent decline as compared to the same period last year. Operating income, net income and diluted earnings per share looked even worse, logging year-over-year declines of 30 percent, 29 percent and 26 percent, respectively, for the quarter. Worst of all, Microsoft (MSFT) reported a 3 percent year-over-year decline in revenues for fiscal 2009, the first such decline since 1986.