Microsoft revenue up, aided by Windows unit sales, though profit declines

The results are the first to include Windows 8

By , IDG News Service |  Software

However, NPD Group declared in late November that Windows 8 had failed to give the consumer Windows PC and tablet market enough of a boost, and that in the first four weeks after its launch Windows device sales fell 21 percent year on year.

Later in early January, NPD Group said that Windows 8 "did little to boost holiday sales or improve the year-long Windows notebook sales decline."

About a week later, Morgan Stanley financial analysts downgraded the firm's recommendation on Microsoft's stock from Overweight -- the equivalent of "buy" -- to Equal Weight, the equivalent of "hold," citing concerns over Windows 8 sales and over the PC market dynamics.

Meanwhile, IDC reported that worldwide PC shipments fell 6.4 percent to 89.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, year on year, a steeper decline than the 4.4 percent IDC had anticipated. A big part of the problem was that Windows 8 failed to jump-start sales, IDC said.

Even while expressing satisfaction with Windows 8 sales, Tami Reller, CFO and chief marketing officer of the Windows Division, acknowledged in January that OEM partners hadn't made enough Windows 8 touch devices to meet the high demand for that type of computer.

"Frankly, the supply was too short," she said then at an event held at the CES show in Las Vegas where she answered questions from a JP Morgan analyst.

"There was some misalignment between where products were distributed and where the demand was," she added.

Some tablets running Windows RT -- the Windows 8 version for ARM chips -- didn't get the type of distribution "that would have been ideal," she said.

Microsoft is counting on Windows 8 to help improve the operating system's minuscule share in the white-hot tablet OS market, where it lags significantly behind iOS and Android. Meanwhile, the PC market, where Windows has historically been the dominant OS, is shrinking.

Last year, Gartner forecast that worldwide media tablet sales to end users would total 119 million units in 2012, up 98 percent compared with 2011, and that Apple's iOS would continue its dominance with a projected share of over 61 percent. Windows tablet shipments were expected to be only 4.8 million in 2012.

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