SEATTLE -- Microsoft's biggest product in decades, Windows 8, helped lift sales of the company's flagship operating system business, but not enough to rejuvenate overall growth at the company.
The company, based in Redmond, Wash., said its profit declined 4 percent in the holiday quarter, as its entertainment and Office divisions saw double-digit declines in revenue. While the company has a sprawling portfolio of technology products, from the Xbox game console to programming tools, Windows 8 was its star offering over the holidays, the product's first quarter on the market.
Windows 8 sports one of the most radical redesigns of Microsoft's flagship operating system ever, with a tile-based interface intended to take better advantage of computers with touchscreens, including tablets. Apple's iPad has been nipping into sales of low-end laptop computers for some time, a trend Microsoft and its partners in the PC business desperately want to stop.
There have been mounting signs in recent weeks that sales of new computers running Windows 8 have been sluggish. Earlier this month, IDC reported that worldwide PC shipments declined 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter, as Windows 8 failed to reverse a slide in PC sales that continued throughout most of 2012.
Microsoft's sales of Windows, which powers the vast majority of personal computers, appeared to be healthier than those numbers would indicate. It said its revenue from its Windows business, which accounts for more than a quarter of total company revenue, rose 24 percent to $5.88 billion for the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 31.
While Microsoft's sales of Windows typically closely track the performance of the PC market, Microsoft also sells Windows 8 upgrades to people with existing PCs. The company's Windows business also, for the first time, includes sales of Microsoft's own tablet computer, Surface, which it was not offering in the same period a year earlier.
"Our big, bold ambition to reimagine Windows as well as launch Surface and Windows Phone 8 has sparked growing enthusiasm with our customers and unprecedented opportunity and creativity with our partners and developers," Steve Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, said in a statement.
The company said its net income for the quarter was $6.38 billion, or 76 cents a share, compared to $6.62 billion, or 78 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.
Revenue rose 3 percent to $21.46 billion from $20.89 billion a year ago.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, had expected Microsoft to report earnings of 75 cents a share and revenue of $21.53 billion.
Microsoft shares were down 2 percent in after-hours trading.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.