Microsoft gets a boost from the cloud, beats profit forecast

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Geek Wire Summit

Revenue from Microsoft's personal computing division, its largest by revenue, fell 0.2 percent to $9.38 billion but handily beat analysts' estimate of $8.81 billion. Operating expenses were $8.6 billion, an increase of 16% (15% in CC) over a year ago. But the big number as always was Azure revenue, which grew 90 percent.

Azure's strong performance helped lift the gross margin at Microsoft's cloud business to 57 percent, said Stephanie Rodriguez, director of investor relations for Microsoft. The rise in subscription sales for Azure and for corporate and consumer versions of Office 365 also provides more stable and recurring revenue. Google was rewarded by a similar share price increase, being up 3.13% in after-hours trading at the time of writing. Revenue from the Office 365 cloud productivity suite was up 42% from the same period a year ago, and revenue from the Dynamics 365 cloud product was up 69%. With no new console on sale, revenue is sure to be hard to come by as the company looks to invigorate its smaller user base into more digital transactions. Operating income, on the other hand, grew by 26% (26% in CC). Windows commercial licensing and cloud services revenue increased by 7 percent.

On the Xbox front, Microsoft says hardware revenue declined significantly - due to lower pricing and fewer sales - but overall revenue still ticked up ever so slightly thanks to increased Xbox Live transactions.

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Microsoft launched a bevy of new Surface computers earlier this year, including a refreshed Surface Pro tablet-laptop hybrid and a lightweight laptop to compete with Apple's MacBook Air. Xbox Live monthly active users saw a 13% growth, to 53 million.

Overall, Microsoft reported first quarter net income of $6.6 billion, or 84 cents a share, on revenue of $24.5 billion, up 12 percent from a year ago. The rest is a 2% (2% in CC) increase in server revenue.

The company's Productivity and Business Processes unit, which encompasses its Office business, its Dynamics customer relationship management service, and LinkedIn, saw a year-over-year revenue gain of 28% to $8.2 billion.

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