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Tickers in this Article: MSFT
Software giant Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is reportedly cutting the price of its Windows 8.1 operating system for manufacturers of tablets and low-cost computers in an effort to compete with cheaper rivals like Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chromebooks.

#-ad_banner-#Bloomberg reported that people familiar with the program said license fees of $15 will be charged to manufacturers who want to preinstall the software on any devices that will retail for less than $250. That's a 70% discount from the usual $50 fee.

In my view, this move was inevitable. Competition has stiffened in recent years for Microsoft, with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) making a huge push back into the personal computing/electronics space and Google transforming itself from an Internet search engine into a technology monster.

More importantly, we have witnessed a structural shift in the personal computing space thanks to the astonishing growth in smartphones and tablets. These devices, while admittedly still in the early stages from a functionality point of view, are increasingly becoming the epicenter of personal computing.

And the newer breed of technology companies like Google and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) will take a larger part in this every day. The result is a healthy increase in competition that is forcing Microsoft to adapt and innovate like it hasn't for a very long time.

Interestingly enough, despite the stiffening competition, MSFT currently trades at levels last seen in 2001 and 2007. While the stock's 180% rally off its 2009 lows is in good part due to the general melt-up in stock prices since then, the fundamentals and technicals are supportive of further gains in the near, medium and longer terms.

Over the past 13 years, MSFT has traced out a massive base/bottom with long-term resistance (since around 2001) coming in near the $38 mark.

Through this lens, the early 2009 capitulation low could have served as the head of an inverse head-and-shoulders pattern. As I often discuss, however, I would not treat an inverse head-and-shoulders (or any other technical pattern, for that matter) over this long a timeframe in the traditional way. But I do see the resistance line at the $38 mark as a major level to overcome.

In other words, if MSFT can break past $38, it could open the way for the stock to move toward the $50 level over a two-year period.

On the daily chart below, MSFT made a higher low in January versus its September lows, which coincided with its 100-day simple moving average.

The stock retested this moving average as support in early February and then jumped higher, breaking past multi-week lateral resistance at $37.80 on Friday. Even though Friday's close was near the day's lows, MSFT now looks ripe to quickly move toward $39 and to make a serious attempt at pushing past the aforementioned long-term resistance area.

Action to Take -->
-- Buy MSFT at $38 or higher
-- Set stop-loss at $37.25
-- Set initial price target at $40 for a potential 5% gain
-- Set secondary price target at $41 for a potential 8% gain in six to 12 weeks

This article was originally published at
Software Giant Just a Few Cents Away From a Breakout 'Buy' Signal

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