Microsoft in 2014: What to expect

As for the Surface (RT), the same improvements should be expected. Unlike the Surface Pro, the Surface tablet is built to rival the iPad – and assorted Android tablets. So a thinner and lighter form factor with additional processing power is likely to be on the menu.

Office for iOS and Android

In 2013, Microsoft did what many pundits thought was impossible and released Office for iPhone, albeit a stripped-down version that requires a Microsoft Office 365 account. An iPad and Android version are rumoured to be in the works, with a due date of early- to mid-2014.

Android and iPad versions of Office will follow the iPhone one.

The reason for Microsoft's tardiness when bringing its Office suite to iOS and Android is thought to be down to Surface exclusivity. When Microsoft does eventually release an iPad version, customers may be less inclined to purchase a Microsoft Surface (or Surface Pro) device, which are both already struggling to sell.

Internal changes and a new CEO

Steve Ballmer's retirement came as a big surprise to much of the industry, who imagined that Ballmer would be CEO of Microsoft until the day he died. Microsoft has set up a sub-committee to replace the outgoing CEO and, if web chatter is to be believed, potential candidates include Steven Elop, CEO of Nokia, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Skype CEO Tony Bates.

Microsoft scrapped their employee-ranking system in 2013, a system whereby colleagues were encouraged to compete against each other rather than to work collaboratively. It (unsurprisingly) caused much infighting among those Microsoft employees who should have been working harmoniously together.

This internal change may seem insignificant, but it will help create a stronger Microsoft going into the New Year, and that can't be a bad thing for the industry.

The overall picture

Heading into 2014, Microsoft is in an incredibly strong position. Financially, the company remains strong, with a loyal base of business and personal customers who buy its Windows and Office software. It's worth pointing out that the Xbox One is likely to lose Microsoft money in 2014, as it battles the cheaper PlayStation 4 for the hearts and minds of gamers.

Crucially, the arrival of a new CEO is likely to usher in a new era at Microsoft, with key internal changes ensuring ground-breaking products and software. It wouldn't be too much to say that 2014 could be the year that Microsoft strikes back.

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.