Home » Cloud client SW platforms » Microsoft: With cloud services investments starting to pay off Windows 8 and Windows Blue will bring more competitive devices particularly in new smaller form factors targeting the tablet market

Microsoft: With cloud services investments starting to pay off Windows 8 and Windows Blue will bring more competitive devices particularly in new smaller form factors targeting the tablet market

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This statement is the essential  summary of Microsoft current performance according to the results  in the first 3 months of 2013 and the near term actions the company declared now to further improve its stance, particularly in the market which Microsoft critics are calling “PC market”, but not Microsoft, as its Earnings Call discussion was started with the following:

Before I dive into more details on our progress …, I want to address what’s top of mind for many of you, which is our Windows business.
There is no doubt that the device market is evolving. Consumers and businesses are increasingly shifting their focus to touch and mobility, and as a result, they want touch-enabled computing devices that are ultrathin, lightweight, and have long battery life. While Windows revenue has been impacted by the transition from the traditional PC to a new era of computing devices, the overall addressable markets are growing, and we are excited by the opportunities ahead of us.
We built Windows 8 with touch and mobility at the center of the experience, which positions us well in this new era. However, the transition is complicated, given the size of our hardware and software ecosystem. We still have an immense amount of work to do, yet we feel good about the foundation we have laid and are optimistic about the long term success of Windows.
I want to take some time now to be clear about where we are in this journey, and what we are doing to help drive this change. With Windows 8, we are setting a new, accelerated pace for updates and innovations, as we focus on making the Windows experience richer and better.
Since launch we have delivered several important updates to improve our mail, storage, search, music, and video services. During the quarter, we also added to the Surface family of devices with Surface Pro, which combines the performance capabilities of a PC with a modern tablet design.

This means that Microsoft is showing clear signs of staying relevant unlike some recent conclusions just stemming from the initial market difficulties of the new Windows 8 platform:

When Gartner issued its “Forecast: Devices by Operating System and User Type, Worldwide, 2010-2017, 1Q13 Update.” on April 4 and stated in its related press release that:
Traditional PC Market Predicted to Decline 7.6 Percent as Change in Consumers’ Behavior Drives Transition to Tablets and Ultramobiles
The proliferation of lower-priced tablets and their growing capability is accelerating the shift from PCs to tablets. “While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis.”
the Daily Ticker of Yahoo! Finance came to conclusion that Microsoft Could Be Obsolete By 2017: Gartner Report.

So let’s examine all this in detail:

Microsoft Reports Third-Quarter Results [press release, April 18, 2013], the sales revenue historic diagram is from qz.com while that of the Online Services Division operating income from businessinsider.com

Microsoft Corp. today announced quarterly revenue of $20.49 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2013. Operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $7.61 billion, $6.06 billion, and $0.72 per share.

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The bold bets we made on cloud services are paying off as people increasingly choose Microsoft services including Office 365, Windows Azure, Xbox LIVE, and Skype,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “While there is still work to do, we are optimistic that the bets we’ve made on Windows devices position us well for the long-term.”

The Microsoft Business Division posted $6.32 billion of revenue, an 8% increase from the prior year period. Adjusting for the net recognition of revenue related to the Office Upgrade Offer and Pre-Sales, Microsoft Business Division non-GAAP revenue increased 5%. During the quarter, we launched the new Office, enhancing productivity and the user experience through new mobility, social, and cloud features.

The Server & Tools business reported $5.04 billion of revenue, an 11% increase from the prior year period, driven by double-digit percentage revenue growth in SQL Server and System Center.
Our enterprise business continues to thrive,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft. “Enterprise customers are increasingly turning to Microsoft for their IT solutions and as a result, we continue to take share from our competitors in key areas including hybrid cloud, data platform, and virtualization.”

The Windows Division posted revenue of $5.70 billion, a 23% increase from the prior year period. Adjusting for the recognition of revenue related to the Windows Upgrade Offer [see: How Microsoft got Windows revenue to go up despite PC sales going down [The Guardian, Feb 19, 2013]], Windows Division non-GAAP revenue was flat. During the quarter, we added to the Surface family of devices with Surface Pro.

The Online Services Division reported revenue of $832 million, an 18% increase from the prior year period. Online advertising revenue grew 22% driven by an increase in revenue per search.
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The Entertainment and Devices Division posted revenue of $2.53 billion, an increase of 56% from the prior year period. Adjusting for the recognition of revenue related to the Video Game Deferral, the division’s non-GAAP revenue increased 33% for the third quarter. Xbox LIVE now has over 46 million members worldwide, an 18% increase from the prior year period.
“Our diverse business continues to deliver solid financial results, even as we navigate the evolving device market,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in long-term growth opportunities to drive our devices and services strategy forward and deliver ongoing value to shareholders.”

Microsoft’s Management Discusses F3Q 2013 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 18, 2013] from which I extracted the following excerpts as the most notable ones:

Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

I think one of the main takeaways for me is in particularly some of our cloud services, we’re really starting to get scale. Bing continues to improve, their margins. And Office 365 is really starting to get to scale. So those things are really encouraging.

Ed Maguire – CLSA

You just launched your Azure infrastructure as a service. Just went generally available this week. And I’d love to get some color on how much that’s figuring in the growth in long term contracts, and what your expectations might be for more traditional infrastructure as a service uptake over the next several quarters.

Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

Great question. It’s clearly a key enabler of our [unintelligible] cloud OS story, and how we’re driving what we’re doing with enterprise in the data center. We have infrastructure as a service, we have now the most complete end-to-end offering through platform, and software, identity, and access.

But having the infrastructure is a key enabler, and I think a real accelerator for the Windows Azure strategy, and really more broadly the cloud OS strategy. We now have a complete end-to-end story through the data center, from private, to hosted, to public, from infrastructure to platform, so I think it’s, again, a key enabler of that [all up] strategy, and an accelerator.

Gregg Moskowitz – Cowen & Company

In recent periods, we’ve seen your MBD [Microsoft Business Division]growth significantly outpace PC unit growth, although we now have a dynamic where your Office subscription is really resonating with customers. So the question is, just looking at it on a directional basis, is MBD revenue outperformance relative to PC units something that you think is sustainable going forward?

Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

The answer is that it will depend, and certainly an offset between attach gains we’re making against the market, offset against some deferrals as revenue moves to a subscription. And so it will kind of depend each quarter. Long term, it’s a great trend, because we’re building up a banked book of business on the subscription side, which will become less and less connected to the PC market.

Then I focused on four subjects for which made further extracts from the Earnings Call:

  1. The Windows and Office (productivity) markets
  2. Q3 FY13 performance for that
  3. Q4 FY13 outlook for that
  4. PC market

1. The Windows and Office (productivity) markets: Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

Looking ahead, we will release the next version of Windows, codenamed Windows Blue, which further advances the vision of Windows 8 as well as responds to customer feedback. The assortment of touch-enabled devices that are built for Windows 8 by our OEM partners is also improving.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve started seeing devices that take full advantage of Windows 8, and we expect to see more devices across more attractive price points over the coming months. As part of this, we are also working closely with OEMs on a new suite of small touch devices powered by Windows. These devices will have competitive price points, partly enabled by our latest OEM offerings designed specifically for these smaller devices, and will be available in the coming months.

In the upcoming back to school selling season, we expect to see devices that incorporate advances from throughout the supply chain, including chipsets. As well, Intel’s fourth generation Core processor will help enable new devices that combine performance benefits with power savings. Later in the year, we expect to see devices based on Intel’s upcoming Bay Trail Atom processor, which promises to deliver tablets and hybrid PCs with extended battery life at competitive prices.

Today in the Windows Store, there are six times as many apps since launch, and we expect more to be added as we gain traction with Windows 8 adoption. In June, we will host Build, our developer conference, where we will provide more tools and information for developers to build great Windows 8 apps.

In retail, we are working to improve the consumer purchasing experience. Our initiatives include focused efforts to further educate and incentivize retail sales professionals and to have better in-store product differentiation.

In summary, Windows is transforming to the new era of computing. As I said on our last earnings call, growth in Windows depends on our ability to give customers the exciting hardware they want at the price points they demand, and a wider range of apps and services to meet their diverse need. We are hard at work with our partners to meet these goals, and we’re confident we are moving in the right direction.

Now, switching gears to productivity, this quarter we launched the latest version of Office, which brings mobility, social, and cloud features to the world’s most popular productivity app. Importantly, the new Office represents a fundamental shift in our model. Now both businesses and consumers can access Office through subscription.

With this shift, we expect to grow our customer base, increase customer satisfaction via continuous updates, and reduce piracy. As our enterprise customers modernize their productivity infrastructures, we are confident that they will continue to deploy Office 365. We also expect our transactional customers to increasingly transition to the cloud with Office 365.

It’s been a while now that we’ve been talking about our investments in the cloud, and I’m pleased to share that we are starting to realize the benefits of those investments in a meaningful way.

Office 365 lights up with this latest release, as evidenced by our growing customer adoption. This quarter was our strongest ever, with net seat additions up 5 times of the prior year. One in four of our enterprise customers now has Office 365, and the business is on a $1 billion annual revenue run rate.

2. Q3 FY13 performance: Chris Suh – General Manager of Investor Relations

In the Windows Division, revenue was flat this quarter. Within that, OEM revenue performance was in line with the underlying x86 PC market, which continues to be challenged as the PC market evolves beyond the traditional PC to touch and mobile devices. This quarter, inventory levels were drawn down as the channel awaits new Windows 8 devices.

Non-OEM revenue grew 40% this quarter, driven by sales in Surface and continued double digit growth in volume licensing. Businesses continue to value the Windows platform, and volume licensing of Windows is on track to deliver almost $4 billion in revenue this year, and nearly three-quarters of enterprise agreements that we signed this year include Windows.

Additionally, this quarter we saw continued progress in the transition of Windows XP to Windows 7, and now two-thirds of enterprise desktops are running Windows 7.

Now, I’ll move on to the Microsoft Business Division, where revenue grew 5%. Within that, business revenue grew 10%, driven by 16% growth in multiyear licensing. In January, we launched the new Office for consumers. The new Office introduces touch, social, and mobile scenarios as well as tight integration with SkyDrive, enabling access to documents from any device.

The new Office is also available as a subscription, which benefits customers as they are always using the most modern version of Office. As Peter stated, we expect the shift to grow our customer base, and we saw strong early adoption of the subscription service.

I would like to remind you that with subscription, the revenue is earned ratably over the length of the subscription, rather than at the initial purchase. All up, consumer revenue was roughly in line with the consumer PC market, influenced by the shift to subscription and strong [attach] gain.

Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

We are seeing [near term impact from going to subscription revenues on our revenues], particularly in our transactional business, in MBD [Microsoft Business Division], as people move from what may have been a transactional to a perpetual license, where the revenue is recognized up front, to a subscription service, where it’s recognized ratably. So you’re basically deferring the rest of the term of the subscription. So in the short term, you’ll be deferring revenues that were not in a subscription, and would have been recognized immediately.

And as the subscription business is growing, you’ll see that impact growing, but over time, what you’ll get is what looks like an annuity revenue stream, that’s more predictable and has higher customer satisfaction and probably higher retention rates going forward. But in the short term, that will impact mostly in the transactional side of the MBD business.

It is a fact that we are starting to get scale in our cloud services, and so the growth that we’re seeing in Office 365 is really coming at an improved margin as we scale that out.

3. Q4 FY13 outlook: Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

In the Windows Division, similar to this quarter, revenue will continue to reflect sales of Surface and strong volume licensing, while OEM revenue will be impacted by the declining traditional PC market as we work to increase our share in tablets.

In the Microsoft Business Division, multiyear licensing revenue, which is approximately 60% of the division’s total, should grow low double digits. Excluding the recognition of revenue from the Office upgrade offer, transactional revenue, which is the remaining 40% of the division total, should be in line with the x86 PC market.

As a reminder, when updating your Q4 models, we expect to recognize approximately $780 million of revenue related to the Office upgrade offer.

… we are expanding both the product set and distribution, and that is broadly, all devices, inclusive of Surface. We are expanding distribution of Surface. We are now in 22 countries, 70 retailers. And we’ll continue to look to expand that. Not only just expanding, but improving the experience. And that’s true not just for Surface, but for broadly Windows 8 devices. And so we’ll be investing against that for both Surface and a broader array of Windows 8 devices at multiple price points, including lower price points going forward.

4. PC market: Peter Klein – Chief Financial Officer

On the PC market, I would look to some of the third parties, IDC and Gartner. They’re sort of in the 12-13-14 [%] down range this quarter. And in terms of the chipsets, we’ve always felt that with Windows 8, it was a process of the ecosystem of innovating across the board, and really starting to see that on the chips. And we’re very encouraged by both Haswell and some of the Atom processors to really improve the overall user experience that Windows 8 delivers. And over the coming selling season, I think that’s very encouraging and we’re optimistic about that.

I think broadly, in improving our position in tablets, and generally in devices, there’s five or six dimensions ranging from what we’re doing with OEMs on the devices and the range of devices, and how they can have a range of price points. What the chips can do, because I think that’s a part of it. Both first party and third-party apps, and we’ve seen improvements across the board there. The user interface, and how we’re innovating across the user experience. And then distribution

So if you start sort of from the bottom up, all the way to when you buy the product, we’re working across all those dimensions. And on the device side, we are working closely with the OEMs to help them take Windows 8 and show it off in all its glory, across different form factors. I talked about new smaller form factors and how Windows 8 can innovate to improve that experience.

So I think the biggest thing we’re doing is helping them develop new and improved user experiences across the board, across size, across price point, and deliver a really compelling Windows 8 experience. And it’s not just the devices, like I said, it’s chips, it’s the apps, it’s the buying experience, it’s the user interface. So we’re really focused on all five or six of those dimensions going forward.

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