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Tom Hudson: Microsoft, Facebook to announce new systems

The spectacle of technology product launches has a twin focus in the week ahead. Both Microsoft and Facebook are widely expected to unveil new offerings. Both stocks sit close to new highs as shareholders await the next catalysts.

Microsoft has tried to maintain an air of mystery about its Tuesday event, but the company’s French division leader let slip the big announcement will be Windows9, a new operating system. In an explicit acknowledgement of its target audience, Microsoft’s invitation promises “what’s next for Windows and the enterprise.”

Microsoft needs business customers to get excited about a new PC operating system. The last major release, Windows8, runs on 12 percent of the world’s PCs, according to data firm Net Applications. Windows7 still powers more than half of the PCs across the globe. And the more than a decade-old WindowsXP has a fourth of the worldwide market share.

While Microsoft’s effort is geared toward shoring up its dominance of the computer operating market, Facebook’s pitch in the new week is to more strongly challenge Google’s command of the online advertising market. At an industry conference, Facebook is expected to show a new advertising platform called Atlas. (In a twist of the corporate family tree, Facebook bought the Atlas technology from Microsoft last year.)

The social network has been focused on growing its mobile ad business. A year ago, 41 cents of every ad dollar collected by Facebook came from mobile ads. This year, that jumped to 62 cents of every ad dollar. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new Atlas ad effort promises to give advertisers more data on how audiences interact with their messages.

Both companies have histories of innovation and marketing missteps. With their stocks near new highs, shareholders will be looking for the momentum to continue.

Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts The Sunshine Economy on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.

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