Microsoft Earnings: 7 Essential Facts

Microsoft's Q3 beat expectations. Strong performers include cloud products and Xbox, but Surface and consumer PC sales still pose a problem.

Xbox Live revenue was up 17% in the quarter from a year ago. Bing now holds almost 19% of the US search market, and Microsoft reported that its overall search revenue was up 38%.

Microsoft added more than 1 million Office 365 Home users during the quarter, bringing total subscribers to more than 4.4 million. With the recent launch of the low-priced Office 365 Personal subscription option and Office iPad apps, this momentum could continue.

6. Nokia is still a question mark.
Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's device business is scheduled to close on Friday. It will add 30,000 employees to the company's workforce. Microsoft's upbeat third-quarter results suggest its ongoing companywide reorg is progressing reasonably well. Integrating so many new workers could be a distraction.

Both Nadella and Hood acknowledged that investors are eager for more specifics about the Nokia deal, but neither detailed any concrete plans. Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 announcement earlier this month drew a lot of attention, but the company faces an uphill climb in the smartphone sector. IDC's 2014 projections give Windows Phone only about one-fourth Apple's market share and only one-twentieth Android's.

7. Analysts gave Nadella an early vote of approval.
Nadella didn't reveal a master plan for Nokia, but analysts and investors appear willing to give the new CEO some leeway. He inherited Microsoft's problem children, but he didn't conceive them, after all.

During prepared remarks, Nadella leaned on buzzwords from his earlier appearances, describing a world of "ubiquitous computing," in which current form factors join new wearable and Internet of Things siblings, and in which data is perpetually harvested for insights. Nadella's not the only CEO forwarding this vision of the future. But with Microsoft's cloud and datacenter products advancing, his plan is starting to look sharper.

During the Q&A, nearly every analyst ostentatiously thanked Nadella for joining the call -- something his predecessors in the job rarely did. Nadella repeatedly said he wants Microsoft to be accountable to investors, customers, and partners. "We want to build products people love to use," he stated, adding that he will focus on usage metrics as a key measure of success.

Emerging standards for hybrid clouds and converged datacenters promise to break vendors' proprietary hold. Also in the Lose The Lock-In issue of InformationWeek: The future datacenter will come in a neat package (free registration required).