Microsoft to discuss milestones, goals at analysts meeting

Microsoft sold 60 million Vista licenses by the end of June

Uptake of Windows Vista may not be living up to expectations, but Microsoft did manage to sell more than 60 million Vista licenses by the end of June, the company is set to announce Thursday at its annual financial analyst meeting in Redmond, Washington.

The company plans to disclose the Vista shipment figures Thursday during the annual get-together. Microsoft will meet with analysts just days after Acer president Gianfranco Lanci was sharply critical of the operating system, saying it gave buyers little incentive to upgrade.

While it may be fielding sharp questions about Vista's sales figures, Microsoft will have several other announcements to make.

It plans to reveal that the installed base of computers running all versions of Windows globally is expected to reach one billion in Microsoft's 2008 financial year. That figure includes both pirated and legitimate copies; the company declined to distinguish between the two for the estimate.

Microsoft will also say that its SharePoint collaboration software reached US$800 million in revenue for the fiscal 2007 year which ended June 30.

Executives plan to announce that the release candidate of Silverlight will become available on Thursday. Microsoft first announced Silverlight, a browser plug-in that lets Web content providers offer rich video and interactive media in Web sites, in April. A release candidate follows the beta version of software and indicates that the final version is near complete.

In the search and advertising segment, Microsoft plans to unveil a new applied research organization dedicated to advancing search and advertising technology. The group will fall under the Microsoft Research arm but will work closely with the search and advertising platform group. Harry Shum, a researcher who has headed up Microsoft Research's Beijing branch, will lead the new organization.

Executives who present at the meeting are expected to focus on the general theme of "defying the law of large numbers," said Tom Pilla, a Microsoft spokesman. With US$50 billion in annual revenues and a workforce of over 76,000 people around the world, the company faces challenges around continuing to drive growth in a company of that size.

Microsoft's revenue milestone came during a year that it took a US$1.06 billion charge in order to fix faulty Xbox game consoles. The Xbox is relevant to one of three main goals at Microsoft, which includes winning over consumers with products like the Xbox, Windows Mobile and Zune.

Another goal, which will also be outlined during the analysts meeting on Thursday, is to transform the business through its software plus services approach. Microsoft is attempting to adapt to an industry trend that is moving away from software and toward online services. The third goal is growing and extending the company's core business.

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