The latest report should carry an asterisk. The formal results show this to be the first quarter in which Microsoft recorded a net loss — due to the previously announced $6.2B writedown of ad sales operation aQuantive, as well as a deferral of $540M in revenue from a Windows Upgrade Offer. With that included, the company had a net loss of $492M — down from a $5.9B net profit in the period last year — on revenues of $18.1B, +4%. The revenue figure matched analyst expectations. Earnings per share also would beat forecasts if you strip out the write-down; without it the company generated 73 cents a share vs predictions for 62 cents. Microsoft says that gains are largely due to improvements in sales of desktop and infrastructure software. Revenues for the Entertainment and Devices Division were up 20% to $292M with the addition of Skype, which the company bought last year. Microsoft shipped 1.1M Xbox 360 consoles, down from 1.7M in the period last year. The company says that the console market has been soft. Even so, its Xbox Live membership was up more than 15% as the company “continued to add differentiated gaming and entertainment opportunities.” CEO Steve Ballmer says that Microsoft is “fast approaching the most exciting launch season in Microsoft history” with updates to Windows, Office, Windows Server, and Windows Phone. Shares are up 2.5% in after-market trading.

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