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Microsoft FAM 2010, Part 2: A Look Back at FY 2010, A Look Ahead to FY 2011

This comes a number of days later than I intended, sorry about that. We flew to Germany over Sunday/Monday for our annual home swap, and it's been a bit hectic/stressful. But I'm getting back up to speed, so let's jump back into Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting, or FAM. In Part 1, we discussed Microsoft's plans for the consumer market because I thought that was the most important and potentially surprising segment, and was presented by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

But the day actually started with Microsoft general manager of investor relations Bill Koefoed. After a bit of promotional mumbo-jumbo, he talked about Microsoft's just-announced quarterly results. Suffice to say, it was all good news.

Microsoft announced "double-digit revenue and growth in every single segment," Koefoed said. "Microsoft is hitting on every cylinder ... As you know, operating income grew 49 percent. We had record fourth-quarter revenue, operating income earnings per share and operating cash flow."

That double-digit growth is only true of Q4. When you look at the fiscal year, the Business division (Office) actually fell one percent, Entertainment & Devices (Xbox) was flat, Server & Tools grew just 5 percent, and online services grew just 4 percent.

Koefoed broke out the news by segment.

Windows. 175 million copies of Windows 7 sold in 9 months. 16 percent worldwide OS usage share. Business overall was up 23 percent year over year.

Server & Tools. Record revenue and record profit in the quarter. "It's now a $15 billion business and growing at a good pace."

Business. "Quarter over quarter growth in the mid-teens" thanks to the launch of Office 2010.

Online services. A really weak comparison to Windows 7 for some reason--"it's hard to imagine a world without Bing"--with 13 months of share improvement since the Bing launch. A note that Google is copying their features, which is true enough. But nothing substantial, financially speaking. Just "great product," "momentum," and "progress."

Entertainment & Devices. Record profit for the fiscal year. (Not a high bar, of course.) "Share momentum" for Xbox. "Great buzz" around Kinect.

The controversial bit of Koefoed's talk, of course, was when he broke down Microsoft's core businesses, noting that there were eight, even though many people think the company has two (Windows/Office) whereas others think they have 25. Clearly, Microsoft has three core businesses (Windows, Office, Windows Server, roughly in that order) and another group of product lines that Apple would call hobbies. Well, that's clear to me anyway.

I think Koefoed is looking ahead. According to him, and thus to Microsoft, the software giant's 8 core businesses are:

1. Xbox and TV. Note that it's not just "Xbox." I'm not sure what this means. Microsoft's non-Xbox living room initiatives have never gone anywhere. Are there big plans for non-Xbox living rooms solutions in FY 2011? I find this hard to believe.

2. Windows Phone. "Being relevant and being successful on the phone is something that we feel is important."

3. Bing. "A huge and growing business."

4. Windows. Assumed to be obvious to everyone in attendance.

5. Office. Also assumed to be obvious to everyone in attendance.

6. "Business users." This is, curiously, "the things [Microsoft] sells to businesses that aren't Windows Server or SQL Server: manageability and virtualization, Exchange, and so on.

7. Windows Server. Also assumed to be an obvious business.

8. SQL Server. Was apparently previous discussed with Windows Server. It's move to a unique core business is interesting, especially when you consider that the latest release is a fairly minor update.

I'm curious that SQL gets called out, but Exchange does not. And the cloud is not seen as a core business, but most likely because it is part of these core businesses and not a business in its own right. (He said it was "an extension" of the core businesses.) Koefoed also called out "enablers" of those 8 core businesses: [retail] stores and [online] marketplaces, services and support, MSN, mice and keyboards, Mediaroom, Visual tools, Windows Live, and Microsoft Dynamics.

Koefoed also pointed out the top questions Microsoft has gotten this year from analysts. "What's going on with the business PC refresh cycle, and how is Microsoft doing in terms of share?" What's the impact of the iPad device on Microsoft?" "Windows Phone 7: What does it look like? How is it going to work? How is it going to be competitive?" "How is Bing progressing? What's the opportunity there?" "Is Microsoft is well positioned to take advantage of the cloud?" Some seem more relevant to me than others.

These questions, alas, are answered by other FAM speakers. (We addressed the iPad/Windows Phone 7 stuff in Part 1.)

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