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For the past few Februaries, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer makes the trek to Wall Street to provide analysts with an annual "Strategic Update" overview, in which he covers the areas where Microsoft plans to invest and why.

This year, during his February 24 update, Ballmer was more about circling the wagons than staking out new, far-flung territories Microsoft planned to conquer in the next 10 years.

(Here is the list of Ballmer's strategic bets he outlined in 2007; here's Ballmer's list from 2008.)

On Tuesday during his hour-plus presentation (which I listened to via a Webcast), Ballmer outlined seven areas "where we invest serious money." He told Wall Streeters that Microsoft planned to engage in careful cash management; to maintain "right-size enterprise overhead"; and to put about three percent of its spending into research and incubation projects in the coming year.

Ballmer emphasized that he believed "the economy will be relatively weak for a relatively long period of time" and was adjusting his investment priorities to reflect this fact.



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