"The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era at Microsoft," CEO Steve Ballmer said in a prepared statement. "Investments we've made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services, with tremendous opportunity for our customers, developers, and partners."
While investors will scour the earnings statement for clues to the future -- as well as the investor conference call scheduled for later -- this was one of those rare moments in Microsoft's history where the important news accompanying its quarterly earnings statements was not so much the quarterly earnings statement itself. The reason: next week Microsoft will officially release the Windows 8 operating system as well as its Surface as the company takes its next big steps toward a post-PC world that it has dominated for much of the last three decades. That's a market that continues to slow down, a trend underscored by recent warnings from both Intel and Hewlett-Packard of sluggish demand ahead.