Microsoft made a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit on strong sales of its software and services for businesses, plus a solid holiday season for its Surface tablets and the new Xbox game console.
Releasing those figures it said nothing about a replacement for chief executive Steve Ballmer, who revealed last August that he would retire within a year after 33 years with Microsoft.
Analysts noted this earnings report, which was probably Ballmer’s last, allows him to leave on a positive note.
Reportedly the search for the right person to head the world’s largest software company is down to a handful of candidates, including internal and external executives.
The company co-founded by Bill Gates 39 years ago was central to the personal computer revolution, and its Windows and Office products still dominate business desktops, but it lost its way with consumers in the last decade under Ballmer as Apple and Google stormed ahead in mobile computing.