Microsoft: Still a fair bit of juice left

Gobsmacked. That’s what the Brits call it when something jaw-dropping happens and you can’t think of anything to say. Microsoft’s blockbuster quarterly results kind of fall into that territory for me. I have to admit that I’m one of those skeptics who has been talking about the gigantic software maker as yesterday’s company: slow-growing, boring, etc.

Don’t get me wrong — I still think that Microsoft is most of those things, except maybe for the “slow growing” part. Who knew that the company had a quarter like that in it? Profit up 23 per cent to $4.3-billion, revenue up 27 per cent to $13.8-billion. To put that in perspective, Microsoft made almost $50-million in profit a day during the quarter, which means it took less than a week to pay for its recent Facebook investment.

Apparently the skepticism about Vista (which I have also shared) has been more or less misplaced (although it is important to remember that the 88 million copies sold are to retailers, not to consumers), and a strong Halo 3 launch also boosted the software behemoth’s bottom line by a substantial amount. And yes, all you Microsoft critics can rest easy — I know that a lot of those Vista sales and Office sales are a result of Microsoft’s virtual monopoly.

The only issue for Microsoft now is the curse of inflated expectations: can the company produce a quarter like this one every time? Unlikely. And if there’s one thing the company likes to do, it’s to talk down expectations and then outperform. That could be a little harder to do now than it has been in the past.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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