Microsoft posts first quarterly loss—ever

If you read through Microsoft's latest earnings release, you'll see the company gloat about record revenue for both its fourth fiscal quarter and its 2012 fiscal year (both of which ended on June 30). Indeed, Microsoft's quarterly revenue climbed from $17.37 billion a year ago to $18.06 billion last quarter, and full-year revenue inched up from $69.94 billion to $73.72 billion.

The thing is, Microsoft also posted a $492 million net loss for the quarter—the first ever loss in Microsoft's entire 26-year history as a publicly traded company, according to the Associated Press. The loss stems from a $6.19 billion write-off linked to Microsoft's purchase of digital marketing firm aQuantive. Microsoft announced the accounting charge earlier this month, providing the following explanation:

Microsoft completed its acquisition of aQuantive on Aug. 13, 2007, in an all-cash transaction valued at just over $6.3 billion. While the aQuantive acquisition continues to provide tools for Microsoft’s online advertising efforts, the acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated, contributing to the write down.

Despite the sizeable write-down, Microsoft's balance sheet still shows net income of $16.98 billion for the firm's full 2012 fiscal year. That's down about 27% from the $23.15 billion the company posted for its 2011 fiscal year, but it's still a pretty decent chunk of change.

The company's various businesses all posted at least modest yearly growth, as well. The slowest growth was in the company's Windows & Windows Live Division, which only grew by 3% for the full year, and the fastest growth was in its Server & Tools Business, which shot up 12%. "Enterprises are purchasing SQL Server and System Center to support their mission critical workloads and build their business intelligence and private cloud infrastructure," the company comments.

For the past quarter alone, the strongest growth (20%) was in the Entertainment and Devices Division, which is responsible for the Xbox and Skype. Microsoft actually experienced a 13% quarterly revenue decline in its Windows & Windows Live Division, though. Perhaps that reflects reduced demand for Windows 7 as we draw closer and closer to Windows 8's release.

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