For most of the Steve Ballmer era at Microsoft, Microsoft’s revenue growth was sporadic — there would be big jumps whenever the company had new versions of Windows and Office, followed by lulls. The one exception to this was what Microsoft called its “Server & Tools” segment, which included products big organisations use to run their computing infrastructure, like Windows Server and the SQL Server database. Revenue in that segment grew around 10% per year, quarter after quarter, year after year.
In recent years, Microsoft has changed its financial reporting segments to emphasise its shift to cloud services like Azure. But these older products still generate boatloads of revenue and profit.
This chart from Deutsche Bank shows its analysts’ revenue estimates of those server products for the last couple of years, and it looks like growth just hit a wall, and next quarter will see a decline. (The blue bars show annualized growth in constant currency, or “c/c”, to wipe out the effects of foreign currency fluctuations, which are significant because Microsoft sells so much product outside the U.S.) That’s one reason why the stock is down more than 10% since its last earnings report on April 21.
Overall, Deutsche Bank remains bullish on Microsoft, noting increases in other areas like consulting (“enterprise services”) and the cloud business. Still, while Microsoft is managing its shift to the cloud better than most legacy tech companies, there will be bumps along the way.