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Although Microsoft’s profits slightly dropped in the three months to the end of March they still were above expectations after a surprise increase in sales of its Windows operating system.

Microsoft made a net profit of £3.2bn compared with £3.3bn last year.

Overall sales rose by 6% to £10.95bn.  Windows sales rose 4% although its forecast was a 4% decline.  The entertainment division sales, including the Xbox console, fell 16%. Microsoft’s business division saw an increase of 9% in revenue, showing the strength of Office 2010 in the marketplace.

Microsoft shares rose 3% in after-hour trading in New York.

We should note though that the results for the same quarter a year ago had been boosted by a £290m tax benefit.

Windows is facing more competition from the growth of tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad and mobile devices using Google’s Android system. However, they are hitting back with the release of Windows 8, an operating system for PCs and mobile devices. Earlier this week Microsoft said this next operating system would come in three different types to accommodate PC’s and mobile devices.

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