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   Technology StocksMicrosoft Corp. - Moderated (MSFT)

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To: Don Green who wrote (19561)6/25/2021 1:07:24 PM
From: Sr K
   of 19601
Microsoft’s Windows 11: The Big New PC Features Coming This Year

A redesigned interface, new productivity features and the ability to run Android apps are all key to Microsoft’s plan to give PCs a fresh ‘Start’—and take on Google and Apple

Windows 11: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on the New ‘Start’ of the PC (Exclusive)

0:00 / 7:29

Windows 11: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on the New ‘Start’ of the PC (Exclusive)

Windows 11, due out later this year, is full of new features, including a new Start menu that's been moved to the center and a Microsoft Store with Android apps. In an exclusive interview, WSJ’s Joanna Stern spoke with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella about the software, the influence of the pandemic and his strategy of competing with Google and Apple. Photo illustration: Alex Kuzoian/The Wall Street Journal

Joanna Stern

Updated June 25, 2021 11:07 am ET

You don’t have to be a Microsoft historian to see the ping-pong pattern:

Windows XP — Hit!
Windows Vista — Flop.
Windows 7 — Hit!
Windows 8 — Flop.
Windows 10 — Hit!

If you were playing the odds, you’d bet Windows 11, announced Thursday, would flop. But what I’ve seen so far of Windows 11 looks smart. Plus, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella, in an exclusive interview, joked that 11 is a lucky number.

While the Windows 11 interface has been redesigned, it’s more a fresh coat of paint than a complete remodel. Yes, Microsoft has moved the Start button to the bottom center, but, don’t you worry, you can always put it back in the left corner. There are loads of new productivity features, too, and the headline feature: Android apps!

Amazon (yes, that Amazon) is bringing its Android app store to the new Microsoft Store, and Windows 11 PCs themselves will be able to run the software, regardless of the chip that powers them.


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From: Sr K7/27/2021 6:44:56 PM
   of 19601
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company's Teams workplace collaboration software continues to enjoy strong uptake, now with nearly 250 million active monthly users.

Its Teams enterprise phone business, he said, also is seeing strong growth. That is a category Zoom Video Communications has identified as a key growth area.

On an earnings call, Mr. Nadella said, "We have nearly 80 million monthly active Teams phone users."

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From: Don Green7/28/2021 10:33:25 AM
3 Recommendations   of 19601
Microsoft tops $60 billion in annual earnings for the first time to cap record-breaking year

Microsoft stock initially declined despite blowing away expectations, but headed slightly higher after executives said they expect the growth to continue in the first quarter of new fiscal year

Microsoft Corp. released fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday afternoon.Associated Press

Microsoft Corp. finished yet another record-breaking year with more than $60 billion in profit and $165 billion in sales, showing why it has become only the second $2 trillion company in U.S. stock market history, and shares turned around after it projected more growth.

Microsoft MSFT, +1.14% on Tuesday reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $16.46 billion, or $2.17 a share, up from $1.46 a share a year ago. The maker of Windows and other software products divulged revenue of $46.15 billion, a quarterly record and up from $38.03 billion in the year-ago quarter.

“Our results show that when we execute well and meet customers’ needs in differentiated ways in large and growing markets, we generate growth, as we’ve seen in our commercial cloud – and in new franchises we’ve built, including gaming, security, and LinkedIn, all of which surpassed $10 billion in annual revenue over the past three years,” Chief Executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.92 a share on sales of $44.22 billion, according to FactSet. Microsoft shares fell 3% in after-hours trading immediately following the release of the results, after falling 0.9% to $286.54 in regular trading on a tough day for tech stocks, but turned around to a small gain later in the extended session following an upbeat forecast shared in Tuesday’s conference call. The stock was up 1.5% premarket Wednesday.

For the full year, Microsoft totaled $61.27 billion in profit on sales of $168.09 billion, both easily exceeding the records established in its previous fiscal year. The gains exceeded expectations at the beginning of the year, as Microsoft’s cloud-computing and -software offerings found needy customers in employers scrambling to move to a work-from-home setup due to the COVID-19 pandemic and expected to continue to shift to online options.

“It is abundantly clear that Microsoft is well-positioned to continue to benefit from a number of secular trends powering IT spending today, including the greater focus on digital transformation and the accelerating shift to the cloud,” Evercore ISI software analysts wrote earlier this month in a preview of the sector.

All of Microsoft’s segments produced better growth than analysts expected in the final three months of the company’s fiscal year, which included the launch of a new Xbox and a new version of Windows. “Productivity and business processes,” which comprises most of Microsoft’s cloud-software offerings, grew to $14.69 billion in sales from $11.75 billion a year ago, topping analysts’ average expectations of $13.93 billion. “More Personal Computing,” the traditional PC business, grew to $14.09 billion from $12.91 billion, beating the average analyst forecast of $13.78 billion.

The biggest segment for Microsoft was “Intelligent Cloud,” which wraps in its Azure cloud-computing offering with sales of servers and other equipment needed for a hybrid-cloud setup. Microsoft reported record quarterly sales of $17.38 billion in that segment, up from $13.37 billion a year ago and beating the average analyst estimate of $16.39 billion. The company said that Azure sales grew by 51%, easily topping the average analyst estimate of 44.7%; unlike cloud rivals Inc. AMZN, +0.72% and Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +4.55% GOOG, +1.84%, Microsoft does not break out raw numbers for its cloud-computing offering.

Analysts expect growth to continue in Microsoft’s new fiscal year, predicting ahead of the report that profit will grow to more than $63 billion and sales will increase to $186.74 billion in the 2022 fiscal year.

“As we move into FY22, we think Microsoft’s fundamentals are likely as strong at any point in recent history,” Rosenblatt Securities analyst John McPeake, who has a buy rating and $333 price target on the stock, wrote in a note ahead of the numbers. “We think Azure continues to take share, demand for PCs remains robust,
and Office, Teams, and Dynamics likely continue to grow in the double digits.”

Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said Tuesday that Microsoft expects to keep growing. Hood forecast revenue of $43.3 billion to $44.2 billion in the fiscal first quarter, which topped analysts’ average expectations for sales of $42.5 billion and would reflect growth of at least 16.5% from the same quarter last year.

Hood expects $16.4 billion to $16.65 billion for “Intelligent Cloud”; $14.5 billion to $14.75 billion for “Productivity and business processes”; and $12.4 billion to $12.8 billion for the “More Personal Computing” segment, which will be impacted by a $300 million Windows 11 deferral to the second quarter. Those ranges beat analysts’ estimates for all but the PC segment, which was in-line due to the deferral.

While Microsoft did not provide a full-year forecast, Hood did say their outlook for fiscal 2022 “reflects healthy double-digit revenue and operating income growth” that “results in expanded operating margins.” And she also provided insight on Azure growth moving forward, which Microsoft has not done in the past.

“In constant currency, Azure revenue growth should remain relatively stable on a sequential basis,” Hood noted, suggesting that the growth of more than 50% from Azure could continue.

For investors who trust that Microsoft will continue to grow, the question is whether its stock price will follow. Microsoft has already reached a $2 trillion market cap this year thanks to 2021 growth of 28.6%, easily outpacing the 17.7% growth of the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.13% and 14.8% increase of the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.06%, which counts Microsoft as a component.

For Evercore ISI’s software analysts, the answer is clear: Just keep on posting huge growth numbers, and the stock will respond.

“The easy answer to how Microsoft continues to outperform the S&P is that Microsoft continues to deliver double-digit top AND bottom line growth,” wrote the analysts, who have an outperform rating and $300 price target on Microsoft shares.

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To: Don Green who wrote (19564)7/30/2021 9:36:54 AM
From: Don Green
   of 19601
How Microsoft quietly climbed back to the top of the tech industry

After several bumpy years, the software giant is showing strength once more—while steering clear of courtrooms and media frenzies.

We are living in an era of high drama in Big Tech.

The leaders of modern technology companies seem to spend most of their time either fighting in federal courts or—particularly in the case of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk—attempting to thrust themselves into low-orbit, dominating headlines in the process. Add Richard Branson to the mix and you’ve got the billionaire space race, a game fueled as much by rockets and dollars as it is by constant one-upmanship.

But headline-making stunts don’t drive sustainable growth. Just look at Microsoft, which has kept a relatively low-profile of late—certainly compared to Amazon, Tesla, Apple, and Facebook—all while seeing its share prices rise more than 600% since 2014. While its more boisterous competitors are scrutinized by Congress and the media, Microsoft has quietly carved out a niche in cloud services, software, and hardware, and climbed back to the top of the tech tree. In June, despite mixed reviews for Windows 11, Microsoft became the second American publicly traded company in history to reach a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion.

Certain short-term factors have contributed to the company’s growth. The PC market grew by more than 10% in 2020, as more consumers turned to their machines for entertainment during the pandemic. Microsoft also saw success with its Surface devices, Xbox content, and cloud services. The brand says its Intelligent Cloud segment alone brought in $48 billion in its 2020 fiscal year.

But there are broader reasons for Microsoft’s growth, including the benefit of brand maturity. Surely Microsoft looks at the media and legal scrutiny that Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook regularly undergo today, then shudders and thinks, Never again.

You’ll recall that as internet browsers like Netscape grew in importance in the 1990s, Microsoft raced to develop its own product, Internet Explorer, and bundled it in with Windows software. This led to a crushing antitrust lawsuit, filed in 1998 by the U.S. government. A federal judge found the company guilty in 2000.

The court ordered a breakup of Microsoft as its remedy. The business was to be broken into two separate units, one to produce the operating system, and one to produce other software components. Microsoft appealed the decision—and won. But while the company avoided a breakup of its business, the next decade saw it largely miss the advent of mobile software, social media, and internet search, falling behind newer rivals such as Google and nimbler ones like Apple.

Microsoft was in danger of being left behind on the tech superhighway. It began making wild bets: a failed bid for Yahoo, a $500 million content-sharing contract with Viacom, the short-lived release of the Kin phone.

This was until 2014, when a gradual rebrand—shifting the corporation’s logos, products, services, and websites, and adopting the Metro design language—came to a head with the appointment of Satya Nadella.

Nadella had previously headed up Microsoft’s Cloud division, and he saw the potential for the technology to become the base infrastructure for businesses around the world. Microsoft unveiled a new mission statement: “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Today, this is brought to life through services like its Azure Cloud, which underpins the entire AT&T network in the U.S., keeping millions of people connected. It’s available across 52 regions, powering water-service management systems in Tokyo, educational services in London, and e-commerce businesses in South Africa in equal measure.

Microsoft has a clearer identity today than it has ever had before. While staying away from headlines, antitrust suits, and the edge of space, the technology giant has developed a product suite that lives up to its mission statement.

Although it took Microsoft 33 years from its initial public offering to reach its first $1 trillion in value in 2019, the next trillion took just two years.

Now, while its competitors are blasting off in courtrooms and spacecrafts, Microsoft is reaping the rewards of a brand strategy 20 years in the making. As it turns out, ??five minutes in space is no match for a decade in the cloud.

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To: Don Green who wrote (19565)8/20/2021 9:33:13 PM
From: Sr K
1 Recommendation   of 19601
ATH 8/20/2021

$304.36 close

+$7.59 +2.56% on 40.8 billion shares

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To: Sr K who wrote (19566)8/20/2021 9:40:13 PM
From: Don Green
1 Recommendation   of 19601
Yes, it is amazing how this stock has performed in the last 7 years

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From: Sr K10/30/2021 11:47:08 AM
1 Recommendation   of 19601
Microsoft Eclipses Apple as Most Valuable Company

The last time Microsoft had a bigger market cap than Apple was July 2020

Microsoft’s embrace of cloud computing, one of the fastest growth areas in tech, has been a key driver to its bottom line.PHOTO: RUNGROJ YONGRIT/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Allison Prang

Updated Oct. 29, 2021 4:40 pm ET

Microsoft Corp. MSFT 2.24% is once again the most valuable company in the U.S., with the software heavyweight’s market cap hitting $2.49 trillion and surpassing Apple Inc. AAPL -1.82% for the first time in more than a year.

Microsoft’s better-than-expected earnings report earlier this week was the latest catalyst that pushed the stock higher.

Meanwhile, Apple warned on Thursday that supply-chain disruptions are hindering iPhone and other product manufacturing. These issues are expected to bring increased challenges during the important holiday-shopping quarter. Shares fell Friday even as the company logged a record 12-month profit nearing $100 billion.

Apple ended Friday with a market cap of about $2.46 trillion.

The last time Microsoft had a bigger market cap than Apple was July 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Many of the big tech giants like Microsoft have benefited from the sustained shift to working from home and remote schooling throughout the pandemic. Microsoft’s embrace of cloud computing, one of the fastest growth areas in tech, has also been a key driver to the company’s bottom line.

Microsoft has a 20% share of the global cloud-computing market, making it the second-largest player in the industry, according to Gartner Inc. It trails only Inc. , which has a more than 40% share.

Microsoft’s last extended run as the world’s most valuable company took place during the late 1990s and early 2000s, when its business mostly consisted of the Windows Operating system and its suite of Office software applications.

Its peak market cap during the tech bubble was $614.7 billion in December 1999.

Microsoft’s recent growth harks back to that era. Its fiscal year that ended in June was its fourth straight year of double-digit revenue growth—a feat not seen since fiscal 2004. And its annual operating margin passed the 40% mark for the first time since fiscal 2001.

Microsoft becoming the most valuable company in the U.S. speaks to the momentum the company is seeing in the arms race in the cloud space, said Dan Ives, managing director for Wedbush Securities. He said Wall Street views the company out of a different growth lens today than it did a decade ago due to its cloud business.

“They’ve become the Tom Brady of tech stocks,” he said. “The older they get, the better they get.”

Microsoft’s market cap topped $2 trillion in June after reaching the $1 trillion mark in April 2019.

By comparison, Apple passed $2 trillion in market cap in August 2020, becoming the first publicly listed U.S. company to do so. It passed $1 trillion in August 2018.

Microsoft and Apple are currently the only U.S. companies with market caps above $2 trillion.


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From: Don Green11/4/2021 11:45:40 AM
   of 19601
From Elon’s mind to Bill Gate’s wallet: How GPT-3 ended up on Azure

File under: Schrodinger's Partnership

Story by Tristan GreeneEditor, Neural by TNWTristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him

Microsoft recently announced it will soon offer ‘invitation only’ access to GPT-3 via Azure.

This is a weird bit of news. We all saw it coming the moment Microsoft tossed Open AI a cool $1B for “pre AGI technologies” (AGI, artificial general intelligence, doesn’t exist yet, so literally everything is a pre AGI tech lol).

But it’s unclear exactly what this means for OpenAI going forward. Back in 2019, when the two companies inked the partnership, it seemed like OpenAI was going to beef up Azure’s backbone.

What we’re seeing today is more like… a turn-key business opportunity. Microsoft is essentially taking GPT-3’s ability to generate code and turning it into an Azure feature. I suppose there’s probably some chatbot utility there too.

On the surface, this feels like a good thing. Azure’s as robust and stable as any other cloud-based processing platform and GPT-3’s the benchmark for text generators.

Where the majority of academics and entrepreneurs want to repeat the same stupid prestidigitation trick (look! An AI wrote this!), Microsoft’s got the technological gravitas to do great things with GPT-3.

Once you dip your head beneath the surface though, things get pretty murky. But to explain why, we’ll need to start at the beginning.

Once upon a timeThere was an engineer, developer, and entrepreneur named Elon Musk. He partnered with an investor and entrepreneur named Sam Altman – the former president of Y Combinator.

They lead a group of investors in raising a billion dollars to form a non-profit organization dedicated to creating an artificial general intelligence.

The concern was that any AI capable of human-level intelligence would need to be harnessed for the good of all people, not just a single corporation or government.

At the time, most experts considered OpenAI a direct competitor to DeepMind. And, because DeepMind had been gobbled up by Google, it appeared as though Musk and Altman were trying to build a buffer against the kind of terrifying future usually only mentioned in movies about killer robots.

Unfortunately for OpenAI, developing an AGI is expensive. First off, there’s the fact that nobody knows how.

Not only do people quibble over whether it’s even possible to create an AGI using modern technology, but there are strident disagreements between world-renowned AI experts on which approach is the best to even start with.

Secondly, you can’t sell “developing an AGI” as a service or product.

So what’s a non-profit that needs about a billion more dollars to keep the lights on supposed to do? Use its initial funding to create a text generator, sell access to that text generator on an invitation-only basis to the public, and then sell access to that access to Microsoft.

Exit Elon, stage leftMusk absolved himself of all association with OpenAI before Microsoft got involved. In the time since, it’s become apparent that GPT-3 isn’t any closer to being an AGI than Cortana is.

In fact, GPT-3 is essentially useless without a series of hard filters in place. That’s why both OpenAI and Microsoft are forced to offer provisional access on an invite-only basis.

GPT-3 is incredibly biased. Without those hard filters in place it has a tendency to generate hate-speech and potentially-harmful misinformation.

And the ethical concerns over GPT-3 access via Azure don’t end at issues of bias.

OpenAI started as a non-profit, quietly transformed into a for-profit under the claim it needed to raise funds to continue developing AGI, and ended up creating a turn-key code generation business for Microsoft.

Business ethicsIt would have been impossible for a good-faith investor to know that OpenAI was not only going to be a closed-source for-profit company, but that it would end up exclusively partnered with Microsoft.

Just because a company claims it’s serving the greater good of humankind doesn’t mean it should get a pass when it flips the “for profit” switch on and off like a neon “vacancy” sign outside a cheap hotel.

The weird part is that Azure is one of the few places where GPT-3’s parlor tricks really makes sense. It can do some genuine good there.

But it’s hard to believe OpenAI went from Elon’s best intentions to building Azure add-ons without leaving some investors and supporters feeling duped.

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From: Sr K11/19/2021 12:43:47 AM
   of 19601
Microsoft Pressures Activision Blizzard

Microsoft’s Xbox chief told employees the company is evaluating its relationship with the gaming company amid questions about its handling of sexual-misconduct issues

Activision Blizzard shares fell more than 2% Thursday and are down more than 10% since the Journal published an article Tuesday about issues at the gaming company.PHOTO: BING GUAN/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Sarah E. Needleman

Nov. 18, 2021 7:02 pm ET

Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT 0.63% videogame boss said the company is evaluating its relationship with Activision Blizzard Inc. ATVI -2.38%in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article about its chief executive’s handling of sexual-misconduct issues at the videogame company.

Xbox maker Microsoft made the remarks in a letter to employees Thursday, a day after the head of Sony Group Inc.’s SONY 0.75% PlayStation business said in a letter to that company’s employees that Sony has asked Activision how it plans to address the Journal’s reporting.

In the letter to employees, Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, also said he personally has “strong values for a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our employees at Xbox.” He added, “This is not a destination but a journey that we will always be on. The leadership at Xbox and Microsoft stand by our teams and support them in building a safer environment for all.”

Sony was Activision’s largest customer in 2020 and Microsoft was its fourth largest, accounting for 17% and 11% of revenue, respectively, according to a securities filing.

The Microsoft letter was earlier reported by Bloomberg.

The Journal’s article, published Tuesday, said Activision CEO Bobby Kotick didn’t inform the company’s board of directors about some reports of sexual misconduct by male employees toward female employees, including alleged rapes.

Activision issued a statement later that day saying the article paints “a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO” and that it “ignores important changes underway to make this the industry’s most welcoming and inclusive workplace.”

The company’s board released a statement shortly after, saying it “remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry” and is “confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.”

A Journal spokesman said in response: “Nothing in Activision Blizzard’s statement challenges the facts in our reporting.”

Since then, the 10-person board has been talking daily about the article and its fallout, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. As chairman of the board, Mr. Kotick has been part of those discussions, the people said.

A spokeswoman for Activision said the company’s board doesn’t have any new statements.

More than 1,100 Activision employees, roughly 10% of the company’s workforce, signed an online petition Thursday demanding that Mr. Kotick resign, according to Valentine Powell, spokesperson for the ABK Workers Alliance. ABK refers to Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment and King, the company’s three major business units responsible for making its Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush franchises, respectively.

The group also organized a protest Wednesday in which more than 100 current and former Activision employees demonstrated outside the company’s Irvine, Calif., campus.

A shareholders group that owns less than 1% of Activision also Wednesday called for Mr. Kotick to resign. SOC Investment Group, formerly known as the CtW Investment Group, further called for Activision Chairman Brian Kelly and lead independent director Robert J. Morgado to step down by year’s end, too.

Investment firms including J.P. Morgan, Benchmark Co. and R.W. Baird & Co. this week lowered their price targets for Activision’s stock.

Activision shares fell more than 2% Thursday to $62.67. They are down more than 10% since the Journal article was published this week and 30% since late July, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit alleging that the company ignored numerous complaints by female employees of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, citing what it called its “frat boy” culture. Activision, which is also being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is challenging the suit.


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To: Sr K who wrote (19570)12/3/2021 11:44:19 AM
From: Lucia
   of 19601

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