Microsoft carried by enterprise customers

Microsoft has flashier products---Windows 8 and Kinect---but the staid products that appeal to corporations are carrying the company.

Microsoft's Windows 7 may seem like a has-been in the lead-up to Windows 8 in the second half of 2012, but the corporate upgrade cycle continues for the software giant. In fact, Microsoft's enterprise businesses are carrying the company.

Although Microsoft's Windows revenue was sluggish in its fiscal second quarter last week, there were a bevy of bright spots. Among them:

  • Microsoft had good cost discipline;
  • The company has a well rounded product line-up;
  • Its enterprise businesses are chugging along;
  • The entertainment and device division is buoyed by Kinect;
  • And corporations continue to upgrade to Windows 7.

That final point was among the most notable in Microsoft's quarter that ultimately was led by products targeted at the enterprise. CFO Peter Klein said:

The overall business environment remains very strong for us and so all of our macro indicators for business spending in IT remain good, unearned revenue, our renewal for enterprise licensing agreements and enterprise deployment to Windows 7.

He also mentioned Windows 7's corporate chops earlier. Klein said:

The PC market was challenged this quarter, with particular softness in the consumer segments. However,Windows 7 momentum in the enterprise continues and today over one-third of enterprise desktops worldwide are on Windows 7.

Microsoft's ability to weather the lead-up to Windows 8 largely depends on the enterprise. Kinect will get the attention, but it's just a cheap headline. SharePoint, Office and launches of Windows Server 8, SQL Server 2012 and System Center 2012 are carrying the team. Meanwhile, corporate Windows 7 upgrades continue.

Simply put, Microsoft's enterprise businesses are humming. Consider the data points:

  • Six quarters since launch, Office 2010 upgrade continue.
  • Microsoft had double-digit revenue growth for Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Dynamics CRM.
  • Office 365 has 100,000 businesses in the fold.
  • Windows Server Premium and System Center had double digit revenue growth quarters.
  • Microsoft's Lync unified communications platform continues to gain steam.
  • Windows Server 8, SQL Server 2012 and System Center 2012 are on tap to launch.

Bottom line: Microsoft has flashier products---Windows 8 and Kinect---but the staid products that appeal to corporations are carrying the company.

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