You probably already know the basics of Microsoft's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended June 30: It stank. Revenue declined 17 percent and net income declined 29 percent year over year in the company's fiscal 2009 fourth quarter. The two factors, of course, were the continued recession and the consequent weakness in the PC market. As we all know, Microsoft is still chained to the desktop, and when PC sales tank, so does revenue.
But there's another factor. The tone-deafness that gave us Vista -- and the long denial of any Vista flaws -- is still on display. Users? What do we care about them? To take a small example: As with every earnings announcement, Microsoft hosted a Webcast for reporters and rank-and-file investors. Yet when I went to the company's investor site and clicked on the conference call link, nothing happened, because the Webcast required ActiveX controls in Internet Explorer, and I was using Firefox. Who cares that roughly 20 percent of the world uses Firefox? Use our browser or you can't play.
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OK, it's not the biggest deal in the world, but after writing this week that Microsoft's Linux play isn't a bad thing for open source, I'm steamed at its clueless and classless behavior.
Meanwhile, the profit picture would have been even worse if Microsoft had not cut spending by $3 billion more than it had forecast last year. The savings came at the expense of thousands of laid-off Microsofties.
Netbook price hike is coming
It won't come as a surprise to our readers to hear that netbook sales are up sharply, and since they generally ship with Windows XP Home instead of Vista, Microsoft's margins take a hit. But here's something Microsoft didn't say on it public call, but revealed to Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.