Financial Review

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We operate our business in five segments: Windows & Windows Live Division, Server and Tools, Online Services Division, Microsoft Business Division, and Entertainment and Devices Division. Our segments provide management with a comprehensive financial view of our key businesses. The segments enable the alignment of strategies and objectives across the development, sales, marketing, and services organizations, and they provide a framework for timely and rational allocation of development, sales, marketing, and services resources within businesses.

Windows & Windows Live Division

Windows & Windows Live Division (“Windows Division”) has overall responsibility for development and marketing of the Windows operating system, Windows Live and Internet Explorer. Windows Division revenue growth is largely correlated to the growth of the PC market, as the original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) distribution channel accounts for approximately 80% of total Windows Division revenue. In addition to PC market changes, Windows OEM revenue is impacted by:

  • hardware market changes driven by shifts between emerging markets and developed market, consumer PCs and business PCs, and the impact of lower cost netbook PCs;
  • the attachment of Windows to PCs shipped and changes in inventory levels within the OEM channel; and
  • pricing changes and promotions, the pricing variation associated with OEM channel shifts from local and regional system builders to large, multinational OEMs, and other pricing factors.

Windows Division offerings consist of premium and standard edition Windows operating systems and online software and services through Windows Live. Premium Windows operating systems are those that include additional functionality and are sold at a price above our standard editions.

Products and Services: Windows operating system: Windows 7, including Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise, and Starter Edition; Windows Vista, including Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business, Enterprise and Starter Edition; and Windows XP Home. Windows Live suite of applications and web services.


The Windows operating system faces competition from various commercial software products offered by wellestablished companies, including Apple and Google, and from the Linux operating system. Linux is derived from Unix and is available without payment under a General Public License. Partners such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel have been actively working with alternative Linux-based operating systems.

The Windows operating system also faces competition from alternative platforms and new devices that may reduce consumer demand for PCs. User and usage volumes on mobile devices are increasing around the world relative to the PC. Competitors such as Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Opera Software Company offer software that competes with the Web browsing capabilities of Internet Explorer, a component of the Windows operating system. Our operating system products compete effectively by delivering innovative software, giving customers choice and flexibility, a familiar, easy-to-use interface, compatibility with a broad range of hardware and software applications, and the largest support network for any operating system.

Windows Live software and services compete with Google, Yahoo!, and a wide array of Web sites and portals that provide communication and sharing tools and services.

Server and Tools

Server and Tools develops and markets server software, software developer tools, services, and solutions that are designed to make information technology professionals and developers and their systems more productive and efficient. Server software is integrated server infrastructure and middleware designed to support software applications built on the Windows Server operating system and includes the server platform, database, storage, management and operations, service-oriented architecture platform, security and identity software. Server and Tools also builds standalone and software development lifecycle tools for software architects, developers, testers, and project managers. Server offerings can be run on-site, in a partner-hosted environment, or in a Microsoft-hosted environment. Our cloud-based services comprise a scalable operating system with compute, storage, and management capabilities and a relational database, both of which allow customers to run enterprise workloads and web applications in the cloud, as well as a platform that helps developers connect applications and services in the cloud or on premise.

Server and Tools offers a broad range of enterprise consulting and product support services (“Enterprise Services”) that assist customers in developing, deploying, and managing Microsoft server and desktop solutions. Server and Tools also provides training and certification to developers and information technology professionals for our Server and Tools, Microsoft Business Division, and Windows & Windows Live Division products and services.

Approximately 50% of Server and Tools revenue comes from annuity volume licensing agreements, approximately 30% is purchased through transactional volume licensing programs, retail packaged product and licenses sold to OEMs, and the remainder comes from Enterprise Services.

Products and Services: Windows Server operating system; Windows Azure; Microsoft SQL Server; SQL Azure; Visual Studio; Silverlight; System Center products; Biz Talk Server; Microsoft Consulting Services; Premier product support services; and other products and services.


Our server operating system products face competition from a wide variety of server operating systems and server applications, offered by companies with a variety of market approaches. Vertically integrated computer manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Oracle offer their own versions of the Unix operating system preinstalled on server hardware. Nearly all computer manufacturers offer server hardware for the Linux operating system and many contribute to Linux operating system development. The competitive position of Linux has also benefited from the large number of compatible applications now produced by many leading commercial and non-commercial software developers. A number of companies supply versions of Linux, including Novell and Red Hat.

We have entered into business and technical collaboration agreements with Novell and other Linux providers to build, market, and support a series of solutions to enhance the interoperability of our products with their virtualization, management, and network security solutions, and to provide each other’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products.

We compete to provide enterprise-wide computing solutions with several companies that offer solutions and middleware technology platforms. IBM and Oracle lead a group of companies focused on the Java Platform Enterprise Edition. Commercial software developers that provide competing server applications for PC-based distributed client/server environments include CA Technologies, IBM, and Oracle. Our Web application platform software competes with open source software such as Apache, Linux, MySQL, and PHP, and we compete against Java middleware such as Geronimo, JBoss, and Spring Framework.

Numerous commercial software vendors offer competing software applications for connectivity (both Internet and intranet), security, hosting, database, and e-business servers. System Center competes with server management and server virtualization platform providers, such as BMC, CA Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and VMWare in the management of information technology infrastructures. Forefront products compete with CA Technologies, IBM, McAfee, Oracle, Symantec, and Trend Micro in protecting both client and server applications. SQL Server competes with products from IBM, Oracle, Sybase, and other companies in providing database, business intelligence and data warehousing solutions. Our products for software developers compete against offerings from Adobe, Borland, IBM, Oracle, other companies, and open-source projects. Competing open source projects include Eclipse (sponsored by CA Technologies, IBM, Oracle, and SAP), PHP, and Ruby on Rails, among others.

Our cloud-based services offerings also have many competitors. Windows Azure faces competition from Google,, and VMWare. SQL Azure faces competition from IBM and Oracle.

We believe that our server products, cloud-based services and Enterprise Services provide customers with advantages in innovation, performance, total costs of ownership, and productivity by delivering superior applications, development tools, and compatibility with a broad base of hardware and software applications, security, and manageability.

Online Services Division

The Online Services Division (“OSD”) consists of online information offerings such as Bing, MSN portals and channels, as well as an online advertising platform with offerings for both publishers and advertisers. We earn revenue primarily from online advertising, including search, display, and advertiser and publisher tools. We continue to launch updated and new online offerings and expect to continue to do so in the future. During fiscal year 2010, we launched new releases of Bing, MSN and Advertising Platforms. In addition, on December 4, 2009, we entered into a definitive agreement with Yahoo! whereby Microsoft will provide the exclusive algorithmic and paid search platform for Yahoo! Web sites. We believe this agreement will allow us over time to improve the effectiveness and increase the value of our search offering through greater scale in search queries and an expanded and more competitive search and advertising marketplace.

Products and Services: Bing; Microsoft adCenter; MSN; and Atlas online tools for advertisers and publishers.


OSD competes with Google, Yahoo!, and a wide array of Web sites and portals that provide content and online offerings to end users. We compete with these organizations to provide advertising opportunities for merchants. Competitors are continuously developing Internet offerings that seek to provide more effective ways of connecting advertisers with audiences. We believe our search engine, Bing, helps users make faster, more informed decisions by providing relevant search results, expanded search services, and a broad selection of content. We have also enhanced the user interface to bring a richer search experience. We also invest in improving the scale of our advertising platform to serve both owned and operated, as well as third-party online properties. We will continue to introduce new products and services to improve the user online experience. We believe that we can compete effectively by attracting new users, understanding their intent, and matching their intent with relevant content, advertiser offerings and software services. We will also attract advertisers by providing them access to targeted end-users on a high traffic network.

Microsoft Business Division

Microsoft Business Division (“MBD”) offerings consist of the Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Dynamics business solutions. Microsoft Office system products are designed to increase personal, team, and organization productivity through a range of programs, services, and software solutions. Growth of revenue from the Microsoft Office system offerings, which generate over 90% of MBD revenue, depends on our ability to add value to the core Office product set and to continue to expand our product offerings in other information worker areas such as content management, enterprise search, collaboration, unified communications, and business intelligence. Microsoft Dynamics products provide business solutions for financial management, customer relationship management (“CRM”), supply chain management, and analytics applications for small and mid-size businesses, large organizations, and divisions of global enterprises.

Approximately 80% of MBD revenue is generated from sales to businesses, which includes Microsoft Office system revenue generated through volume licensing agreements and Microsoft Dynamics revenue. Revenue from this category generally depends upon the number of information workers in a licensed enterprise and is therefore relatively independent of the number of PCs sold in a given year. Approximately 20% of MBD revenue is derived from sales to consumers, which includes revenue from retail packaged product sales and OEM revenue. This revenue is generally affected by the level of PC shipments and product launches.

Products and Services: Microsoft Office; Microsoft SharePoint; and Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM, as well as Microsoft Office Web Apps, which are the online companions to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.


Competitors to the Microsoft Office system include many software application vendors such as Adobe, Apple, Corel, Google, IBM, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, Zoho, and local application developers in Asia and Europe. Apple may distribute certain versions of its application software products with various models of its PCs and through its mobile devices. Corel and IBM have measurable installed bases with their office productivity products. Corel’s suites, and many local software suites around the world, are aggressively priced for OEMs to preinstall them on low-priced PCs. Google provides a hosted messaging and productivity suite that competes with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft SharePoint, including its FAST enterprise search technology. The project provides a freely downloadable cross-platform application that also has been adapted by various commercial software vendors to sell under their brands, including IBM, Novell, Oracle, and Red Hat. Web-based offerings such as 37Signals, Adobe, AjaxWrite, gOffice, ShareOffice, Socialtext, ThinkFree, Zoho, or other small projects competing with individual applications, can also position themselves as alternatives to Microsoft Office system products.

Our Microsoft Dynamics products compete with well-known vendors such as Infor and Sage in the market focused on providing business solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. The market for large organizations and divisions of global enterprises is intensely competitive with a small number of primary vendors including Oracle and SAP. Additionally,’s on-demand customer relationship management offerings compete directly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s on-premise offerings.

As we continue to respond to market demand for additional functionality and products, we will compete with additional vendors, most notably in content management and enterprise search, collaboration tools, unified communications, and business intelligence. These competitors include Autonomy, Cisco, Endeca, Google, IBM, Oracle, and SAP. We believe our products compete effectively with all of these vendors based on our strategy of providing flexible, easy to use solutions that work well with technologies our customers already have.

Entertainment and Devices Division

The Entertainment and Devices Division (“EDD”) is responsible for developing, producing, and marketing: the Xbox 360 platform, including the Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment console and accessories, third-party games, games published under the Microsoft brand, and Xbox LIVE services, as well as research, sales, and support of those products and services; PC software games; online games and services; Mediaroom (our Internet protocol television software); Windows Phone and Windows Embedded device platforms; the Zune digital music and entertainment platform; application software for Apple’s Macintosh computers, Microsoft PC hardware products and other devices. EDD is also responsible for all retail sales and marketing for retail packaged versions of the Microsoft Office system and the Windows operating systems.

Products and Services: Xbox 360 console and games; Xbox LIVE; Windows Phone; Windows Embedded device operating system; Zune; Mediaroom; and numerous consumer software and hardware products (such as Mac Office, mice, and keyboards); and Windows Automotive.


Entertainment and devices businesses are highly competitive, characterized by rapid product life cycles, frequent introductions of new products and titles, and the development of new technologies. The markets for our products are characterized by significant price competition. We anticipate continued pricing pressure from our competitors. From time to time, we have responded to this pressure by reducing prices on certain products. Our competitors vary in size from very small companies with limited resources to very large, diversified corporations with substantial financial and marketing resources. We compete primarily on the basis of product innovation, quality and variety, timing of product releases, and effectiveness of distribution and marketing.

Our Xbox gaming and entertainment business competes with console platforms from Nintendo and Sony, both of which have a large, established base of customers. The lifecycle for gaming and entertainment consoles averages five to 10 years. We released Xbox 360, our second generation console, in November 2005. Nintendo and Sony released new versions of their game consoles in late 2006. We believe the success of gaming and entertainment consoles is determined by the availability of games for the console, providing exclusive game content that gamers seek, the computational power and reliability of the console, and the ability to create new experiences via online services, downloadable content, and peripherals. We think the Xbox 360 is positioned well against competitive console products based on significant innovation in hardware architecture, new developer tools, online gaming services, and continued strong exclusive content from our own game franchises. In addition to competing against software published for non-Xbox platforms, our games business also competes with numerous companies that we have licensed to develop and publish software for the Xbox consoles.

Windows Phone faces competition from Apple, Google, Nokia, Openwave Systems, Palm, QUALCOMM, Research In Motion, and Symbian. The embedded operating system business is highly fragmented with many competitive offerings. Key competitors include IBM, Intel, and versions of embeddable Linux from commercial Linux vendors such as Metrowerks and MontaVista Software.

Zune competes with Apple and other manufacturers of digital music and entertainment devices. Our PC hardware products face aggressive competition from computer and other hardware manufacturers, many of which are also current or potential partners. Mediaroom faces competition primarily from a variety of competitors that provide elements of an Internet protocol television delivery platform, but that do not provide end-to-end solutions for the network operator.

Additional information on our operating segments and geographic and product information is contained in Note 22 – Segment Information and Geographic Data of the Notes to Financial Statements.