SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Like a friendly but persistent sales rep, Microsoft has a message for anyone who owns a personal computer: If you haven't yet upgraded to Windows 10, the company highly recommends it.
So highly, in fact, that in coming weeks, PC owners who have set their machines to automatically install important updates — like security fixes — could find the new operating system already downloaded and ready for activation.
Microsoft's aggressive campaign to promote the latest version of its flagship software has already led to the deployment of Windows 10 on more than 200 million devices since its release last summer. It's also part of a multi-pronged strategy that analysts credit with contributing to the early stages of a financial turnaround, as evidenced by Microsoft's latest earnings report on Thursday.
The Redmond, Washington-based tech company reported nearly $5 billion in profit on nearly $24 billion in sales for the holiday quarter of 2015. Revenue was down 10 percent from a year ago, but after adjusting for deferred revenue, the numbers were better than Wall Street analysts expected.
Microsoft beat Wall Street's estimates for sales in key segments, including its cloud-computing business and the division that sells PC software, Surface tablets and Xbox gaming consoles. Earnings amounted to 78 cents a share, after adjusting for one-time costs. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected adjusted earnings of 71 cents a share.
Microsoft's stock rose more than 3 percent in extended trading after the results came out.
"All around, this looks like a quarter that (Microsoft CEO Satya) Nadella can frame and put in his office," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.
Nadella has been pushing the company, once the dominant seller of PC-based software, to adapt to a world where people are increasingly using mobile gadgets in addition to PCs, and where businesses are moving more of their operations online.
Microsoft broke with tradition last year by releasing Windows 10 as a free upgrade for older PCs, with no charge for future updates. It's also redesigned other popular products, such as the Office word-processing and spreadsheet programs, to work as mobile apps for devices running operating systems made by Apple and Google.