Microsoft’s most recent quarterly revenue clocked in at an astonishing $51.7 billion – a 20% jump which was propelled largely by Azure and other cloud services.

For the quarter which ended December 31 2021 Microsoft registered $22.2 billion of operating income (an increase of 24%), $18.8 billion net income (an increase of 21%), and diluted earnings per share was $2.48 (an increase of 22%). Which is four different ways of saying Microsoft raked in some serious wedge for that period.

It highlighted a ton of increases in its various divisions, including Surface devices (up 8% revenue), Xbox content and services (up 10% revenue) and Linked In (up 37% revenue). But the standout numbers are related to its cloud offerings.

Revenue in Intelligent Cloud clocked in a $18.3 billion, an increase of 26%. Microsoft’s server products and cloud services revenue increased by 29%, and this was driven by a 46% growth for Azure and other cloud services.

There are obviously lots of areas within Microsoft now that include some sort of cloud element, and many ways to slice the pie when it comes to financial results. But the firm says overall it made $22.1 billion from cloud services for the period.

“Solid commercial execution, represented by strong bookings growth driven by long-term Azure commitments, increased Microsoft Cloud revenue to $22.1 billion, up 32% year over year,” said Amy Hood, CFO of Microsoft.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft added: “Digital technology is the most malleable resource at the world’s disposal to overcome constraints and reimagine everyday work and life. As tech as a percentage of global GDP continues to increase, we are innovating and investing across diverse and growing markets, with a common underlying technology stack and an operating model that reinforces a common strategy, culture, and sense of purpose.”

The phrase ‘reimagining everyday life’ is perhaps a nod to the fundamental way life and work has changed over the past couple of years during the pandemic. The meteoric rise of remote working, to the point that many firms seem to be questioning the entire idea of having an office anymore, is one of the most obvious examples.

The big cloud players like Microsoft, Google and Amazon have been some of the key benefactors of this trend, though of course they wouldn’t phrase it quite like that. While the world creeps back to normality, there may well be permanent societal changes that mean this demand for cloud continues to fuel profits.

The other big trend related to cloud of course is the metaverse – and Microsoft, like most of the big tech firms, are keen to make sure they are involved. During Microsoft’s earnings call today, The Verge reports Nadella said: “We feel very well positioned to be able to catch what I think is essentially the next wave of the internet. I think the next wave of the internet will be a more open world where people can build their own metaverse worlds, whether they’re organizations, game developers, or anyone else.”

And a desire to be a key part of the metaverse has been linked to the other big Microsoft news last week, in which it bid $67.7 billion to buy Activision Blizzard. The gaming sector already produces some of the ideas that are supposed to be at the heart of the metaverse, i.e. interacting with people in digital spaces using VR headsets. So owning a combination of cloud infrastructure and the content that may in the end define early parts of the metaverse may have been behind Microsoft’s decision to drop such an extraordinary amount of cash to buy up the games publisher – so it’s just as well for its bank balance that it seems to be raking it in thanks to the former.

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