Tech Industry

New financial looking glass for Microsoft investors

The software giant announces new categories for how it breaks down the sources of its revenue, a move that analysts say will give better visibility to businesses that are representing a larger portion of its revenues.

Microsoft investors will have a new way to peer into the software giant's finances when it reports first-quarter results next month.

The company today announced new categories for how it breaks down the sources of its revenue, a move that analysts say will give better visibility to businesses that are representing a larger portion of its revenues.

Microsoft will break down revenue into five categories: desktop software; enterprise software and services; consumer software, services and devices; consumer commerce investments; and other.

Previously the company had four categories: Windows platforms; productivity applications and developer; consumer and other. Microsoft next reports earnings on Oct. 18, 2000.

"Every couple of years, when something gets more meaningful to Microsoft's revenue pie, they will put in new categories," said Michael Stanek, an analyst with Lehman Brothers. "It doesn't change their total revenues, so it's not that significant."

But he noted the realignment does provide better visibility into some parts of the company's businesses.

"The $4 billion they had for enterprise software at the end of 2000 was pretty eye-popping," he said. "That's a pretty good-size business."

Enterprise software and services include such products as Windows 2000 server, SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, developer tools, Microsoft consulting services and product support services.

"We recently unveiled Microsoft.Net, our vision for the next-generation of Internet-based products and services. With .NET, we are focused on growing our core business franchises?while at the same time investing in business opportunities that will fuel the company's future growth. The new segments reflect the company's recent re-organization around these priorities and will help investors evaluate our progress in these areas," John Connors, chief financial officer, said in a statement.

Desktop software, meanwhile, accounted for the largest portion of Microsoft's fiscal 2000 revenues. That category, which includes Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office, generated $16.3 billion, more than half of the nearly $23 billion in sales that year.

Microsoft's consumer business--which includes MSN, WebTV, learning and productivity software, embedded software, mobile and wireless, and games--generated $1.6 billion for the year.

Meanwhile, the company's consumer commerce investments business, which ranged from online travel site Expedia to online automobile site CarPoint, reached $182 million for the year. And the other category, such as Microsoft keyboards and mouse products, had $753 million in revenue.