Operating Segments

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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. Additional information on our operating segments and geographic and product information is contained in Note 21 – Segment Information and Geographic Data of the Notes to Financial Statements.

Windows & Windows Live Division

Windows & Windows Live Division ("Windows Division") develops and markets PC operating systems, related software and online services, and PC hardware products. This collection of software, hardware, and services is designed to simplify everyday tasks through efficient Web browsing and seamless operations across the user's hardware and software. Windows Division revenue growth is largely correlated to the growth of the PC market worldwide, as approximately 75% of total Windows Division revenue comes from Windows operating system software purchased by original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs"), which they pre-install on equipment they sell. In addition to PC market changes, Windows revenue is impacted by:

  • hardware market changes driven by shifts between developed markets and emerging markets, consumer PCs and business PCs, and among varying forms of computing devices;
  • the attachment of Windows to PCs shipped and changes in inventory levels within the OEM channel; and
  • pricing changes and promotions, pricing variation associated with OEM channel shifts from local and regional system builders to large, multinational OEMs, and different pricing of Windows versions licensed.

Principal Products and Services: Windows 7 and prior versions of the Windows operating system; Windows Live suite of applications and web services; and Microsoft PC hardware products.


The Windows operating system faces competition from various commercial software products offered by well-established companies, mainly Apple and Google. The Windows operating system also faces competition from alternative platforms and devices that may reduce demand for PCs. User and usage volumes on mobile devices are increasing worldwide relative to the PC. We believe Windows competes effectively by giving customers choice, flexibility, security, a familiar and 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 Apple, Google, Yahoo!, and a wide array of Web sites and portals that provide communication and sharing tools and services. Our PC hardware products face competition from computer and other hardware manufacturers, many of which are also current or potential partners.

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. This 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 computing, storage, and management capabilities and a relational database, which allow customers to run enterprise workloads and web applications in the cloud. These services also include a platform that helps developers connect applications and services in the cloud or on premise. Our goal is to enable customers to devote more resources to development and use of applications that benefit their business, rather than to the management of on-premise hardware and software.

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 primarily from multi-year 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.

Principal Products and Services: Windows Server operating systems; Windows Azure; Microsoft SQL Server; SQL Azure; Windows Intune; Windows Embedded; Visual Studio; Silverlight; System Center products; Microsoft Consulting Services; and Premier product support services.


Our server operating system products face competition from a wide variety of server operating systems and applications offered by companies with a range 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 commercial and non-commercial software developers. A number of companies, such as Red Hat, supply versions of Linux.

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. 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, 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.

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.

Our cloud-based services offerings also have many competitors. Windows Azure faces competition from Amazon, Google, Salesforce.com, and VMWare. SQL Azure faces competition from IBM, Oracle, and other open source offerings. For Enterprise Services, we compete with a large group of diverse companies, including multinational consulting firms and small niche businesses focused on specific technologies.

We believe 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

Online Services Division ("OSD") develops and markets information and content designed to help people simplify tasks and make more informed decisions online, and that help advertisers connect with audiences. OSD offerings include Bing, MSN, adCenter, and advertiser tools. Bing and MSN generate revenue through the sale of search and display advertising. Search and display advertising generally accounts for nearly all of OSD's annual revenue.

We provide updated and new online offerings on a frequent basis. In December 2009, we entered into a definitive agreement with Yahoo! whereby Microsoft will provide the exclusive algorithmic and paid search platform for Yahoo! Web sites worldwide. We completed the algorithmic transition in the U.S. and Canada in July 2010 and the paid search transition in October 2010 and have begun transitioning algorithmic search in international markets. We believe this agreement will allow us 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.

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


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, social recommendations, and a broad selection of content. We have 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 and 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.

Microsoft Business Division

Microsoft Business Division ("MBD") offerings consist of the Microsoft Office system (comprising mainly Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync) 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, which may be delivered either on premise or as a cloud-based service. 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 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 generally is affected by the level of PC shipments and by product launches.

Principal Products and Services: Microsoft Office; Microsoft Exchange; Microsoft SharePoint; Microsoft Lync; Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Dynamics CRM; and Microsoft Office Web Apps, which are the online companions to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. In June 2011, MBD launched Office 365, which is an online services offering of Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.


Competitors to the Microsoft Office system include software application vendors such as Adobe, Apple, Corel, Google, IBM, Oracle, and numerous Web-based competitors as well as 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. 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 OpenOffice.org project provides a freely downloadable cross-platform application that also has been adapted by various commercial software vendors to sell under their brands. Web-based offerings competing with individual applications can also position themselves as alternatives to Microsoft Office system products.

Our Microsoft Dynamics products compete with 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, Salesforce.com's on-demand CRM offerings compete directly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Dynamics CRM's on-premise offerings.

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

Entertainment and Devices Division

Entertainment and Devices Division ("EDD") develops and markets products and services designed to entertain and connect people. The Xbox 360 entertainment platform, including Kinect, is designed to provide a unique variety of entertainment choices for individuals and families through the use of our devices, peripherals, content, and online services. Mediaroom is designed to provide live, recorded, and on-demand television programming regardless of your location or device. Windows Phone is designed to bring users closer to the people, applications, and content they need, while providing unique capabilities such as Microsoft Office and Xbox LIVE functionality.

Nokia strategic alliance

On April 21, 2011, Microsoft and Nokia entered into definitive agreements to form a strategic alliance to jointly create new mobile products and services and to extend established products and services to new markets.

Microsoft will license to Nokia and Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as Nokia's primary smartphone platform. Microsoft will receive a running royalty at a competitive rate from Nokia for the Windows Phone platform, with minimum commitments reflecting the large volumes Nokia expects to ship. We will also provide Nokia with developer tools to accelerate developer support for Windows and Windows-related platforms. Microsoft and Nokia will collaborate on joint developer outreach and application sourcing. Microsoft's Windows Marketplace infrastructure will support a new Nokia-branded application store. Participants in the Windows Phone ecosystem will be able to take advantage of Nokia's billing agreements with operators in markets worldwide.

Nokia will deliver mapping, navigation, and location-based services to the Windows Phone ecosystem and will deliver a core set of mapping services for a broader set of Microsoft's map-based offerings. Microsoft's Bing and adCenter will power search and advertising on Nokia's devices and services. Nokia will innovate and customize on the Windows Phone platform, contributing its expertise on hardware, design, and language support and will help bring Windows Phone to a broader range of price points, market segments and geographies. Microsoft will make annual payments to Nokia, in recognition of the unique nature of Nokia's agreement with Microsoft and the contributions that Nokia is providing.

The agreements recognize the value of intellectual property portfolios and put in place mechanisms for exchanging rights to intellectual property. As part of these arrangements, Nokia will receive payments including consideration to be paid as part of a mutual release.

Principal Products and Services: Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment console, Kinect for Xbox 360, Xbox 360 video games, Xbox 360 accessories; Xbox LIVE; Mediaroom; and Windows Phone.


Entertainment and devices businesses are highly competitive, characterized by rapid product life cycles, frequent introductions of new products and game titles, and the development of new technologies. The markets for our products are characterized by significant price competition, and we anticipate continued pricing pressure from our competitors. 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. In addition to Nintendo and Sony, our businesses compete with both Apple and Google in offering content products and services to the consumer. We believe the Xbox 360 entertainment platform is positioned well against competitive products and services based on significant innovation in hardware architecture, new developer tools, online gaming and entertainment services, and continued strong exclusive content from our own game franchises as well as other digital content offerings.

Windows Phone faces competition primarily from Apple, Google, and Research In Motion. 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.