Microsoft outperformed Wall Street expectations in its third quarter, thanks in part to the performance of its Microsoft Business Division, which is responsible for the company's Office products. The division reported revenues of $4.57 billion for the quarter, a 9 percent increase over the same quarter last year. A recent USA Today article explained the importance of the Office franchise to Microsoft: The publication reports that Office revenues "accounted for $22.2 billion of Microsoft's nearly $70 billion in fiscal 2011 revenue and $14.1 billion of operating income, by far the most of any unit."
Microsoft faces increasing pressure from rival cloud-based productivity suites such as Google Docs and open-source suites such as LibreOffice. Office 2013 and Office 365 might raise the bar in some areas; but by excluding Windows XP and Windows Vista users, Microsoft also opens a door that might allow its competitors to gain market share.
PCWorld editors have been using this early release of Microsoft's new software for the past week. You can read our first-week impressions of the tablet, laptop, and desktop versions, and we'll follow that up soon with a comparison of these programs to some other cloud-based offerings.