Microsoft's cloud hit a turning point in the tech giant's latest financial quarter, with Office 365 sales overtaking sales of traditional on-premise licences for the first time.
Redmond recorded a 13 percent year-on-year growth in revenue for the three months ending June 2017, the tech giant's fourth quarter and end of its financial year, bringing its quarterly revenue to US$23.3 billion.
Much of that surge in growth was derived from a 43 percent year-on-year jump in Office 365 commercial revenue, which contributed to a total of US$8.4 billion in revenue for Microsoft's Productivity and Business Processes division, which is now pulling in more money than on-premise Office products.
"For the first time, Office 365 commercial revenue surpassed revenue from our traditional licensing business," CFO Amy Hood said in a conference call transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
Dynamics, Microsoft's CRM arm, increased 7 percent – thanks to revenue growth of 74 percent in Dynamics 365.
Azure basically doubled, recording 97 percent growth, though again Microsoft did not provide exact revenue for the cloud service, simply stating that it helped its Intelligent Cloud division grow 11 percent to rake in US$7.4 billion.
Hood provided some more details on the call, saying: "We closed the highest number of multimillion-dollar Azure deals to date. Our commercial cloud annualised revenue run rate exceeded US$18.9 billion this quarter, growing 56 percent. We finished the year with nearly US$15 billion in commercial cloud revenue."
The scale of Microsoft's cloud success reflects the company's ongoing shift to focus on selling cloud subscriptions at the expense of traditional on-premise Enterprise Agreements, with its Enterprise Services division falling 3 percent.
CEO Satya Nadella told media on the conference call: "This quarter's cloud growth puts us squarely on track to reach the goal we set a little over two years ago, of US$20 billion in commercial cloud in fiscal [year] 2018. More than ever before, customers are placing their trust in the Microsoft cloud.
"CIOs and business decision makers increasingly prefer Azure as they make decisions about their cloud strategy. They value our hybrid consistency, developer productivity, AI capabilities, and trusted approach."
He added that Windows 10 experienced a 33 percent surge in enterprise and education deployments over the quarter.
Microsoft felt the impact of lower phone revenue on its US$8.8 billion Personal Computing division, which declined 2 percent, but after Surface revenue plunged 26 percent during its last quarter, it fell just 2 percent this time around, which Microsoft blamed on product lifecycle refresh cycles.
Nick McQuire, VP of enterprise research at CCS Insight, said: "As expected, Microsoft posted solid results and continues to fly on all cylinders, especially across its cloud business.
"Azure's meteoric rise in particular has been key to Microsoft's success in 2017 and notably, the grounds for the firm's recent restructuring. Azure is on track to become the dominant enterprise cloud platform in the industry over the next several years."
He added: "Last quarter, Microsoft has had to weather the storm of poor performances in its devices business. But the launch of new Surface models this quarter as a much-needed portfolio refresh have helped it improve results and regain some ground against Apple."