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Microsoft cheered its investors Thursday when it announced better-than-expected revenues and earnings for the first quarter of its fiscal 2011.

The always-important consensus of the Wall Street moneymen was that Redmond would report revenue of $15.8bn and earnings of $0.55 per share. Microsoft beat those numbers with revenue of $16.2bn for the quarter and earnings per share of $0.62.

That $16.2bn in revenue represented a 25 per cent increase over the same quarter last year. Net income, at $5.4bn, was up 51 per cent year-on-year.

"This was an exceptional quarter, combining solid enterprise growth and continued strong consumer demand for Office 2010, Windows 7, and Xbox 360 consoles and games," Microsoft CFO Peter Klein said in a prepared statement.

Redmond's general manager of investor relations, Bill Koefoed, was more direct: "Businesses are spending money," he told The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch.

As hefty and headline-grabbing such a Street-beating performance might be, there is a caveat: last year's revenue figures were dampened by the deferral of $1.47bn, explained by Microsoft as "relating to the Windows 7 Upgrade Option program and sales of Windows 7 to OEMs and retailers before general availability in October 2009."

Without that deferral, revenue growth was 13 per cent, and the rise in earnings per share was "just" 19 per cent.

Still, those figures ain't shabby — and they were impressive enough to immediately boost Microsoft's stock up by over three per cent in after-hours trading. ®

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