Microsoft's 16 billion-dollar businesses: An updated list

Microsoft officials say the company now has 16 billion-dollar businesses inside the company. We know what 15 of them are.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As part of a set of stats Microsoft published this week, the company revealed it now has 16 different businesses currently at an annual $1 billion (or more) run rate.


(This doesn't mean businesses with $1 billion in profits; it means businesses contributing $1 billion or more in revenues.)

In 2010, Microsoft had eight billion-dollar businesses: Xbox, SQL Server; System Center; Unified Communications; SharePoint; Developer Tools; Dynamics (ERP & CRM); and Online display and search advertising. Last year, SharePoint crossed over into the $2 billion per year category. And the Server & Tools business claimed six of Microsoft's billion-dollar babies.

Earlier this year, Microsoft added Windows Azure and Office 365 to its billion-dollar roster.

So what's the full list look like now? Here what I believe to be on it, in no particular order:

  • Windows (which also, up until now, included Surface, which contributed $853 million to the total in fiscal 2013)
  • Windows Server
  • Windows Azure
  • Office (client)
  • Xbox
  • SQL Server
  • System Center (client and server both, so includes Windows Intune)
  • SharePoint 
  • Visual Studio
  • Dynamics (CRM and ERP)
  • Online Advertising (search and display both)
  • Office 365
  • Client-access license (CAL) suites (formerly known as desktop access)
  • Enterprise Services (including consulting)
  • Enterprise communication business (Exchange plus Lync)

That's 15 businesses. What's number 16? I asked and have yet to hear back. But many of us company watchers think it's probably patent licensing, possibly even Android patent licensing specifically. Microsoft doesn't break out its Android patent-license revenues and has been reporting them in with Windows Phone (which has fallen under the larger Entertainment and Devices division).

Microsoft is attempting to incubate a number of new businesses and products, hoping to cultivate them so they become billion-dollar businesses as well. As is true of the current list, the list of those most likely to be among the next billion-dollar businesses for the company are primarily, if not entirely, enterprise products and services.

Microsoft is planning to explain the new way it will be reporting revenues, now that it has reorg'd more along devices and services lines, on September 19 at its Financial Analyst Meeting. In the interim, anyone have any other guesses as to what the missing billion-dollar business might be on the current list?

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