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Microsoft posts first-ever quarterly loss

It was the Online Services Division's fault, honest

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As was widely expected, Microsoft announced a loss of $0.06 per share for the fourth quarter, ended in June, which marks the first time the software giant has posted a quarterly loss in the 26 years it has been a public company.

Most of that drop is attributable to a previously announced $6.2bn charge that resulted from Redmond's botched acquisition of online ad service aQuantive.

In addition, Microsoft says it has another $540m in revenue related to the Windows 8 Upgrade program that must be deferred until next quarter, once the company has actually shipped customers the upgrades.

Believe it or not, though, other than those two little items, the news from Redmond is generally rosy. Microsoft earned $18.06bn in revenue for the fourth quarter (a record) and $73.72bn for fiscal year 2012 (another record), according to its financial-results report on Thursday.

Revenue grew for most divisions of the company, with the exception of the Windows and Windows Live Division, but most of that division's decline can be chalked up to the aforementioned deferred upgrades.

Microsoft's flagship products keep selling, too. Redmond says Microsoft Office is now installed on one billion PCs around the world, and that 50 per cent of desktop PCs worldwide now run Windows 7.

Even the beleaguered Online Services division, which runs the unpopular Bing search engine, reported revenue growth of 8 per cent – if not actual profits. (It was this division that took the aQuantive charge.)

So while most Microsoft-watchers will doubtless be buzzing about the quarterly loss, for Microsoft this quarter was really about taking the bad with the good. Revenues are solid, and with the launches of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Office 2013, and Windows Phone 8 all due in the coming year, this quarter may be the Redmond-haters' last chance to gloat. ®

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