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New MS revenue categories show what's hot, what's not

Windows sales looking a bit flabby, enterprise services on the climb

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Microsoft is taking a one-time charge of $350 million against earnings in its fiscal Q1 in order to comply with new US Financial Accounting Standards Board rules. One of the more interesting side-effects of the move, however, is that the company intends, from the release of its Q1s in 18th October, to provide a more detailed breakdown of the revenue for its various product lines.

This should make it easier to figure out how important the various different product lines really are to the company. As a taster, Microsoft has produced breakdown of historical revenues for 1999 and 2000 for each of the new five business segments. These are desktop software; enterprise software and services; consumer software, services and devices; consumer commerce investments; and, er, "other." The latter isn't terribly important, lumping in Microsoft Press, keyboards, mice and the like, and accounting for $753 million in revenue in 2000.

The numbers for the others however begin to give us a picture of where things might be at. Desktop software (Windows) revenues are, as expected, relatively sluggish rising from $14.5 billion to $16.3 billion from fiscal 99-2000. Enterprise software and services showed a more substantial ramp, $3.3 billion to $4.1 billion while consumer software et al rose from $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion. Some bottom lines would be helpful, but we can't have everything.

Consumer commerce investments are as yet small, tripling in the period though, from $62 million to $182 million. That's the grouping that lumps together Expedia, HomeAdvisor, Carpoint and so on. So we'd be expecting this category to grow very vast, given Redmond's current keenness on acquiring new services, online consumer operations for the use of.

And the $350 million charge? The new rules require quarterly reporting of changes in the value of derivatives, and the sum reflects cumulative historic losses from investments in these. Heavy financial techie stuff, basically. ®

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