Microsoft profits surge 17%, beating expectations

Steve Ballmer and microsoft logo Investors are eager to find out who will be replacing Mr Ballmer, who is retiring

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Microsoft reported better than expected earnings of $5.2bn (£3.2bn).

Profits at the technology giant were up 17% from the same period last year.

"Our devices and services transformation is progressing," said boss Steve Ballmer in a statement. He added that Microsoft is launching a "wide range" of new products in the coming quarter.

The report shed no light on who is to replace Mr Ballmer, who announced plans to retire within the next year.

The company has released several new products this quarter, including an update to Windows 8, and recently bought the mobile phone unit of struggling Finnish giant Nokia.

Shares rose 6% in after hours trading on the strong results.

Surface sales

For the first time, Microsoft also announced sales of its tablet computer, Surface.

Surface Despite positive reviews, sales of the company's first tablet computer have been disappointing

It said revenues from Surface "grew to $400 million with sequential growth in revenue and units sold over the prior quarter".

Last quarter, the company was forced to take an embarrassing write down of $900m after sluggish sales.

The computer, well-liked by reviewers, marked Microsoft's first foray into hardware manufacturing.

However consumers, many of whom expressed displeasure at Microsoft's update to its popular operating system Windows, did not bite.

The company still did not provide sales figures of the device.

Succession plans

Investors hoping for any information about who will replace Mr Ballmer in the new year were disappointed.

Earlier today, on a conference call to discuss earnings, Ford boss Alan Mullaly declined to comment on rumours that he was being considered for the top job.

Other contenders include Stephen Elop, the former head of Nokia, who resigned as boss after Microsoft announced it would purchase the Nokia's mobile phone unit for 5.4bn euros ($7.2bn; £4.6bn) in September.

Mr Elop is now head of Devices and Services at Nokia, although he is expected to transfer to Microsoft - where he was once a top manager - once the deal is completed.

Mr Ballmer has been at the helm of Microsoft since 2000, and has been at the company since 1980.

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