Microsoft financial results: Q2 FY21

Microsoft have, once again, had a stellar quarter (Oct-Dec 20) with overall results of:

  • Revenue up 17% to $43.1 billion
  • Operating income up 29% to $17.9 billion

Looking deeper into specific product categories and areas we can see:

Productivity and Business Processes

Revenue was up 13% to $13.4 billion which included:

  • Office 365 Commercial up 21%
  • Dynamics 365 up 39%
  • LinkedIn up 23%

Intelligent Cloud

Revenue was up 23% to $14.6 billion and Azure was revenue growth of 50%

More Personal Computing

The “other” parts of Microsoft’s business all saw success to with revenue up 14% to $15.1 billion. This included:

  • Windows Commercial up 10%
  • Xbox up 40%
  • Surface up 3%

Microsoft’s results are very consistent and are outperforming pretty much every comparable competitor you can think of…Oracle, SAP, and IBM are very far away from numbers like these! Amazon are still seeing great success with AWS – currently rising around 28% – but that is a greatly limited portfolio when compared to that under Satya Nadella’s control.

There are several areas of Microsoft’s product line-up which are at the very start of their evolution and will grow and continue these results for the foreseeable future.

See the full info from Microsoft here.

Cloudy with a chance of Licensing podcast – coming soon!

I put out a LinkedIn post and tweet the other week to se who’d be interested in joining me on a Microsoft-focused podcast…and it turns out quiete a few people would! The response was fantastic and means that the CWACOL podcast will definitely be happening – and soon. I’ve got a few things to get out of the way first and then I can start recording some awesome podcasts with some awesome people 😁

If you’ve already been in touch, thank you! If not, and you fancy chatting about anything and everything Microsoft – licensing, new products, hardware, the partner channel, working with Microsoft, Surface, development, ISV, etc. – drop me a comment/tweet/LinkedIn DM/email etc. and we’ll get something setup.

Look out for the first episode in the coming weeks!

Windows RT tablets, Reviews & iPads

I had a Twitter conversation with a couple of bloggers from ZDNet today and don’t feel that it was resolved. I don’t know if I’m wrong, if they didn’t understand my point, if they just wanted me to leave them alone or a bit of all three…but here’s the gist.

Matt Baxter-Reynolds (@mbrit) posted a review of the Lenovo Yoga 11 (see it here) which included the following:

“It can’t be a tablet because it weighs too much. It comes in at 1190g (2.6lbs). (For comparison, an iPad mini with silicon case weighs 376g — meaning a stack of about three of them weigh the same as the Yoga”

Now I don’t see how this is a true/fair comparison. The Yoga is almost 50% bigger than an iPad mini (11” vs 7.9”) AND includes a keyboard. I find it very doubtful that any consumer will be tossing up between these 2 devices…one is a small tablet and the other is a small laptop that converts to a tablet form factor. This was the first point I made on Twitter…it feels like the iPad comparison has been thrown in there more to further the “ipads are better than Windows tablets” cause – even when they’re apples and oranges. (No pun intended).

The conversation then moved onto the fact that the Yoga is, at 2.8lbs, too heavy to be a tablet. Now that I agree with…if you’re looking at it being used as a tablet 100% of the time. However I don’t think people will be using it like that. If you want a Windows RT tablet, that will be a tablet ALL the time, there are plenty of other choices…get a Surface or a Samung Ativ Tab; these give you the same OS in a much lighter package.

The most common usage scenario I see for the Yoga (and other convertible devices of this ilk) is 80/20 – a laptop 80% of the time and then being converted to a tablet ~in certain scenarios ~ when required. Thus users get all the benefits of having a full keyboard (a big reason for the extra weight) when working in Office etc with the flexibility to switch it up when needed.




I made the point that there ARE cases where it’s ability to transform is useful without it’s weight being an issue – these are primarily desk based scenarios. James Kendrick at this point said:


Now this I don’t agree with at all. You’re in a meeting with a colleague or two and you want to review some documents on your device…is it only me who would prefer to do that in tablet mode, echoing the more natural feeling “looking at paper documents”, rather than all 3 people huddling round a laptop screen?

You’re in a larger meeting, say 8 people around the boardroom table, and have PowerPoint slide you’d like everyone to take a look at. It’s going to me MUCH easier to flip your Yoga into tablet mode and pass that around than a full on laptop.

I think it’s quite widely felt that, in a meeting setting, the screen of a laptop makes an effective barrier between the people involved. Again, flipping your Yoga into tablet mode allows you to negate that, hopefully making everyone feel more comfortable and keeping them engaged etc., and the weight won’t matter because you’re not carrying it.

The feeling that a tablet is only of use if you’re carrying it is, in my opinion, missing part of the picture.

My initial point was that comparing the Yoga to the iPad Mini is not a true comparison, perhaps a little disingenuous and done to tap into that Apple vs Microsoft battle so often prevalent with tablets – even though it’s not really part of the discussion. I re-iterated that point, to which James Kendrick replied:


Which doesn’t really make any sense! The above is not the same as comparing an 11” convertible laptop with keyboard to a 7.9” tablet without a keyboard.

I’m keen to understand if it’s just me who sees it like this or if there’s anyone out there that agrees with me, so I welcome your feedback!

Surface Pro Pricing Announced

Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet has been out for just over a month and is generating a lot of interest from business customers. However, due to RT’s inability to run legacy software (non-RT versions of Office, Adobe Acrobat, LOB apps etc) the general conversation has gone like this:


“Wait for the Surface Pro”

“When’s it out”?”


“How much is it?”

“Erm…not sure”, we’re still waiting to hear from MS”

Well, now we’ve heard. Officially announced by Microsoft, the pricing is:

Surface Pro 64GB = $899

Surface Pro 128GB = $999

Converting them in GBP at today’s exchange rate gives:

Surface Pro 64GB = £560

Surface Pro 128GB = £623

but it is rare that costs of software & devices so truly follow the exchange rates, so it will be interesting to see the final UK price.

These are actually cheaper than those “leaked” from Germany a few weeks ago (Microsoft Surface Pro Pricing Leaked) which is great, as many considered those leaked costs to be too low to be true!

The specs haven’t changed and are as detailed in this post (Microsoft Surface Pro), giving quite the bang for one’s buck.

One thing that hasn’t been confirmed today is Microsoft’s plans for the sale and distribution of these devices. Will the retain the “direct from MS” strategy of the Surface RT or use the more common model of selling via retail stores as well as via the “Channel”, the network of distributors, resellers, VAR and other partners. The latter is the current way that most businesses purchase their laptops (as well as other IT equipment) and if Microsoft choose not to let them into the party, that will be a very poorly received decision…both by resellers and their customers.

The majority of businesses are not set up to make multiple, sizeable purchases via credit cards on websites and they don’t want to change that – thus Microsoft could be losing sales to their OEM partners (which they will at least say isn’t a bad thing) or perhaps Apple. If there are businesses out there happy/prepared to purchase directly from the MS site, there will then be scores of distributors/resellers upset at missing out on potential sales to their customers.

I’m of the opinion that the Surface Pro must, and will, be available via the Channel and retail stores but it would be nice to see it confirmed by Redmond.

Microsoft Surface: A look at Screen Resolution

Microsoft have now released pricing and spec for the Surface RT tablet and one thing that some people have already latched onto is that the screen resolution isn’t as high as that on the iPad 3. This OF COURSE means it is much worse right? Because, just like in the camera world, it’s all about the number of pixels right? What’s that? It ISN’T all about the number of pixels with cameras? That’s right…so why would it be different for screens?

The Microsoft Surface team have, quite brilliantly, been doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over on Reddit and have almost literally* been droppin’ science about the screen, which we’ll look at now.

Stevie from the Surface team says:

“Screen resolution is one component of perceived detail. The true measure of resolvability of a screen called Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), not Pixels”

Here’s a Wikipedia article on MTF –

“The common practice of defining resolution in terms of pixel count is not meaningful, as it is the overall OTF of the complete system, including lens and anti-aliasing filter as well as other factors, that defines true performance. The optical transfer function is roughly the equivalent of phase and frequency response in an audio system, and can be represented by a 3D graph of light amplitude (brightness, i.e. intensity) versus phase and spatial frequency (cycles per picture width).”

As Wikipedia articles of this ilk often do, and I love it, this quickly turns to what can be known as “crazy maths” – you know, the kind where there are more letters than numbers, to give more detail:


Back to “Surface Stevie”:

“Most folks just focus on one number out of dozens of items that effect perceived detail. Without good contrast resolution decreases”

That last piece is what jumps out at me – “without good contrast, resolution decreases”. Here we have a graph that shows contrast sensitivity of the human eye:


“Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eye has become less sensitive. So as a result, the amount of light in a room and the reflections off the screen have a huge effect on the contrast of the display. In fact, a small amount of reflection can greatly reduce contrast and thus the perceived resolution of the display”

Stevie goes on to detail Microsoft’s 3-pronged approach to this subject:

  1. Microsoft has the best pixel rendering technology in Cleartype
  2. Microsoft designed a custom 10.6” high-contrast wide-angle LCD screen
  3. The screen was bonded with the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market

Although they aren’t official, Stevie pulls these numbers out of the bag:

“…the amount of light reflected off the screen is around 5.5%-6.2%, the new IPad has a measurement of 9.9% mirror reflections”


Marketing considerations aside, do you really need all of that “Retina Display” resolution and sharpness? In many cases no, for these five reasons: 

  • Most adults don’t actually have true corrected 20/20 Vision even with glasses or contact lenses.
  • If you view the display further away than the recommended viewing distance your eye can no longer fully resolve the sharpness of the display, so that high resolution is wasted. 
  • Unlike computer graphics images, photographic images (including videos) are inherently fuzzy, with the sharpest image detail spread over multiple pixels. Similarly, you would be hard pressed to visually tell the difference between 640×480 and 2048×1536 photographic images of a (Granny Smith) Apple.
  • Sub-pixel rendering, rather than ordinary pixel rendering, will significantly improve the visual sharpness of any display, especially for computer generated text and graphics, so that is the most efficient approach to improving sharpness.
  • Most people don’t even have 1600×1200 resolution on the much larger 15-19 inch screens on their (Apple or Windows) laptops and desktop monitors and are happy with them (even the tech journalists that I asked).

The AMA post can be found here –

The whole AMA article is here –

Thanks to @CarmenCrincoli for tweeting that post.



*It’s definitely science but they weren’t literally dropping it 🙂

Microsoft Surface pricing announced

Microsoft Surface, the Redmond produced tablet – built from awesomeness and secrecy – is pretty much here. Microsoft have announced pricing and pre-order availability!!!


So what are the scores on the doors?


How does this stack up to the iPad3?

32GB iPad = £479

64GB iPad = £559

So the Surface matches up exactly against the best seller from Cupertino, which I must say I find a little surprising – I thought it would come in under those prices…but I can see Microsoft not wanting to under-value the great hardware and efforts that are on offer here.


  • Integrated Touchstand
  • 32GB or 64GB
  • WiFi and Bluetooth 4 – no cellular/3g
  • 8 hours “mixed activity” battery life
  • 2 x 720p HD cameras, 1 x front & 1 x rear facing
  • USB 2.0
  • Micro SDXC slot
  • 2GB RAM
  • 10.6” Screen

Head over to the Microsoft Store at:

and check out the specs, the accessories and get one on pre-order!

I am REALLY excited about this product release, both from a personal “zOMG, I want one” but also from an industry/technology perspective – this is an exciting time for everyone (except perhaps Apple!).

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