All of a sudden, things aren’t looking so bad for Microsoft

Microsoft Signage_Entrance_Print

Microsoft Signage_Entrance_Print

Over the last few months people have been asking a lot of questions about Microsoft. That’s understandable. Steve Ballmer’s retirement was sudden and, even a few weeks before he was named, Satya Nadella was a dark horse in the race to replace him. Now though, things are starting to look up for the Redmond-based tech giant.

Once we started learning more about Nadella, it became increasingly apparent that he was probably wasn’t the worst candidate when it came to setting Microsoft back on track. He had, after all, run its most successful division and came with serious geek credentials.

Now that Microsoft’s released its first set of quarterly results under his helm it’s clear that he’s got an ever-more solid base to build on.

As has been the case for some time now, Microsoft’s cloud products led the way with Office 365 growing 100% and Azure growing 150%. Given that Enterprise and Cloud is where Nadella cut his teeth, his appointment (in that respect at least) seems inspired.

“Our products and services continue to deliver differentiated business value to our customers, and we continue to win share in areas like cloud services, data platform, and infrastructure management,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft.

Perhaps more promising though are the gains the company’s made in the spaces it’s been struggling in over the past couple of years. A couple of numbers in particular would’ve brought smiles to the faces of Microsoft’s top execs:

While it won’t have the folks at Google losing any sleep just yet, Bing’s US search share grew to 18.6% and search advertising revenue grew 38%.

After having to take a US$900-million writedown on its Surface tablet in Q4 2013, there’ll also be a good few sighs of relief from the fact that Surface revenue grew over 50% to approximately US$500-million.

Heck, even the XBox One, which launched to a storm of controversy managed to shift 1.2-million units.

“This quarter’s results demonstrate the strength of our business, as well as the opportunities we see in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We are making good progress in our consumer services like Bing and Office 365 Home, and our commercial customers continue to embrace our cloud solutions. Both position us well for long-term growth,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “We are focused on executing rapidly and delivering bold, innovative products that people love to use.”

The Nokia factor

Perhaps the thing Microsoft can be most positive about however is presented as single line in the earnings report. “Microsoft expects to close the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business on April 25, 2014.”

Yup, that’s right, as of today Microsoft officially owns its own handset business. Nokia’s Lumia series is already one of the most compelling in tech today — especially at the lower end — where its devices more than compete with the equivalent Android offerings.

Windows Phone meanwhile is making rapid gains in the mobile OS space (some might argue at the expense of BlackBerry, which is true but only to a certain degree). The final ingredient in the mix is convincing developers to build apps for the platform, something it’s also getting better at.

Inevitably, people will compare Microsoft to Apple, which had a stellar quarter and in a number of respects the comparisons are entirely fair. We’re not saying that Microsoft is about to overtake its Cupertino-based arch-rival just that the possibility of it doing so again suddenly doesn’t seem like something out of the realms of fantasy.



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