Microsoft profit rises on shift to cloud computing

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Microsoft on Thursday reported that its quarterly profit climbed to $6.5 billion, lifted by its shift to computing services hosted in the internet cloud.

The US technology giant said revenue in the recently ended quarter rose to $23.3 billion, with $7.4 billion of that due to its “intelligent cloud” offerings.

“Innovation across our cloud platforms drove strong results this quarter,” Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said in a release.

“Customers are looking to Microsoft and our thriving partner ecosystem to accelerate their own digital transformations and to unlock new opportunity in this era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.”

Intelligent cloud is how Microsoft refers to services that let businesses take advantage of computing power online in its data centers, coupled with insights or analysis by artificial intelligence software.

Microsoft also said that cloud-based products such as Office 365 rose in the quarter, with the number of Office 365 subscribers climbing to 27 million.

The quarterly profit figure topped Wall Street expectations, while revenue was roughly in line. Microsoft shares were up just over a percent to $75.05 in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings report.

Microsoft said early this month that it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs amid reports the US tech giant was reorganizing its global sales operations.

The pioneering software firm had more than 121,000 employees worldwide at the end of March, according to its website.

It is seeking to be a first port-of-call for businesses relying on cloud computing, as the industry moves away from packaged software.

Microsoft’s cloud platform, called Azure, faces competition from technology powerhouses Amazon and Google.

Each of the companies has also been investing in artificial intelligence which can make services hosted in the internet cloud more intuitive and insightful when it comes to handling data or catering to needs of users.

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