Microsoft’s profits in the three months to the end of March dropped slightly but the results still beat analysts’ expectations after a surprise rise in sales of its Windows operating system.The world’s largest software firm made a net profit of £3.2 billion ($5.11 billion), compared with £3.3 billion a year earlier.
Sales rose by 6% to £10.875 billion.
Windows sales rose 4% against forecasts of a 4% decline, though sales at its entertainment division, which includes the Xbox console, fell 16%.
Its business division saw revenues increase 9% “reflecting the continued strength of Office 2010”, the company said.
Microsoft shares rose 3% in after-hours trading in New York.
The company also noted that the results for the same quarter a year ago had been boosted by a £288 million tax benefit.
Windows is facing competition from the growth of tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad and mobile devices using Google’s Android system.
However, Microsoft is hitting back with the release of Windows 8, an operating system for PCs and mobile devices.
Earlier this week Microsoft said this next operating system would come in three different types.
For those with Intel-compatible machines, the OS will be available in two versions – Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
And for those with devices, largely tablets, powered by ARM-designed chips, there will be a Windows RT version.