About an hour before the company's analyst call, Microsoft has unloaded its third quarter fiscal results, which to be blunt, are a marked improvement over last year's momentous (but not in a good way) profits downturn. Reported revenue is $14.5 billion for the quarter ending March 31st, beating Wall Street expectations and culminating in a $4.01 billion net income. Those figures exclude a $305 million deferral related to Office 2010 but do include $78 million the folks in Redmond gave to Yahoo! in a search deal. That didn't help the Online Services Division's bottom line -- it reported a $713 million loss this quarter, compared to a $411 million loss this time last year. On the bright side, the Entertainment and Devices division (of which Xbox is a part) recorded $165 million in earnings, up from a $41 million loss year-over-year. Windows and Windows Live continues to be the breadwinner, unsurprisingly, with a $3.061b operating income (versus $2.273b in 2009 -- before Windows 7's debut). We're still sifting through the paperwork and will also be listening in on Microsoft's 5:30PM ET call, so stay tuned!

Update: Market Watch is reporting that Apple has today surpassed Microsoft on the S&P 500, with a float-adjusted market cap of $241.5b, compared with Microsoft's $239.5b. Exxon is still at the top. It's worth noting that this is a free-float index that only considers stocks readily available for trading, and not free-floating stocks such as those held by company insiders. According to the Wall Street Journal, that important caveat explains the discrepancy between those figures and what we're seeing in full market value, where Microsoft's $275.3b cap still bests Apple's $241.63b. So which is the largest tech company based on market capitalization? That depends on how you measure.

Update: The call is on and yes, we'll be liveblogging.
3:11PM Natal being previewed at E3 in June, unsurprising... and that's it!

3:11PM Last question. Q: "Windows 7 upgrade cycle... it appears that a lot of customers are going to attach the upgrade with a server 2008 R2 upgrade." Are you sensing that, and would that delay the typical cycle and / or increase server sales? A: "A high percentage of our customers are either in pilot or prelaunch for deploying Windows 7." We haven't seen that phenomenon... see? You weren't missing much.

3:08PM As you might've guessed, no, analysts aren't interested in yet-to-be revealed Halo Reach multiplayer maps.

3:03PM "Multinational OEMs are being a more significant portion of the PC market." Piracy is also apparently down, on a global scale.

2:57PM Most of these questions so far are primarily related to finance, annuities, etc. We're gonna try to abstain from relaying that and just let you know if they talk about any juicy hardware / software details.

2:55PM Q: "Return to normal seasonality in unearned revenue..." and so on. A: Not important.

2:53PM Q&A time!

2:53PM To clarify, that means the second half of this calendar year. And we've known all that.

2:52PM Entertainment and Devices in first half of fiscal year. Natal (and launch title), Halo Reach, Fable 3, and Windows Phone 7. That's the most exciting part we've heard yet.

2:47PM Entertainment and Devices and Mobile divisions were discussed briefly -- 1.5 million consoles sold, software attach rate 8.8%, first party software revenue declined prior to Halo Wars. Substantially upset by Xbox LIVE membership. And just like that, we're back to more numbers.

2:45PM Starbucks, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and others are "all going to the cloud" with Microsoft. How does this affect the average consumer? It doesn't really, but we thought we'd share something so you knew you weren't missing much.

2:44PM "Last Friday, we released to manufacturing Office 2010." First availability in May, general availability in June.

2:43PM Search outperformed market. "We continue to be enthused with Bing's momentum." 10 months of growth. 11 percent share of search market.

2:39PM "We estimate PC market grew 25 percent year over year. Within that, we estimate consumer PCs grew almost 30 percent while business almost 14 percent."

2:37PM Bill Koefoed, General Manager of Investor Relations, is on the line now. Before that was CFO Peter Klein. More financial figures.

2:36PM So far we're just listening to someone read from the cue cards -- nothing new or exciting yet.

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Microsoft snags $14.5b revenue, $4.01b net income for Q3