Microsoft: Component shortages not going away any time soon

Microsoft officials are warning ongoing component shortages have affected and will continue to impact its Windows, Surface and Xbox console businesses.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

In reporting its Q4 FY21 earnings, Microsoft disclosed that both its Surface and Windows revenues were affected negatively by supply-chain constraints. While remote work has continued to fuel PC demand, Microsoft and its OEM partners have had problems getting enough components, including chips, power cords and other electronic components that are required for new PCs.

In Q4, Microsoft's Surface revenue fell 20 percent, to $1.38 billion in the quarter. The year-ago quarter comparison was tough because Surface and other Windows PCs saw lots of demand as people needed to buy PCs to enable them to work from home. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood told analysts on the earnings call that Microsoft anticipated that Surface revenues would continue to fall next quarter due to supply-chain constraints.

Supply-chain pressures also will continue to impact Microsoft's Xbox gaming consoles and PCs made by its partners, company officials conceded. Hood told analysts to expect Windows OEM revenues in Q1 FY22 to decline mid to high single digits and Surface revenue to decline by low teens. The Q4 numbers released today had Windows OEM Pro revenues down two percent compared to the year-ago quarter and non-Pro (consumer) OEM growth off by four percent.

Supply-chain constraints don't seem to be impacting how quickly Microsoft can continue to build out its cloud footprint, however. Hood and other officials expect Microsoft to continue to grow its commercial cloud businesses, including Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365. 

Azure was up 51 percent (from some undisclosed base number) for the quarter and Dynamics 365 was up 49 percent from some undisclosed base -- its third consecutive quarter of growth. 

There's a lot of headroom for upselling customers to Microsoft's most expensive E5 SKU of Microsoft 365/Office 365, since only eight percent of Office 365 users are currently on Office 365 E5, Hood noted. Microsoft 365/Office 365 consumer subscribers are now at 51.9 million, up from 50.2 million in Q3 FY21. And Office 365 Commercial products and services grew 20 percent from the year-ago quarter. (Microsoft didn't disclose a new O365/M365 Commercial subscriber count.)

Last year during its fourth quarter earnings report, Microsoft officials talked about weaknesses in small/midsize business (SMB) spending as affecting its various businesses. Based on today's earnings report and forecast, that SMB spending weakness is over.

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