It's a pity that the only excitement at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) comes outside its earnings news. If you want action, you have to read the dirt: If it's not public comments about the battle for hearts, minds, and eyeballs with new archrival Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), it's yet another legal settlement or government showdown.

Or maybe, just maybe, that's a good thing for investors. After all, Microsoft has been a favorite media target for so long, and shares have been on the ropes so long, that earnings and cash flow have caught up to the point where the company has started to look like a value and dividend play. And unlike IBM (NYSE:IBM), the famous dinosaur to which it's often compared, Microsoft has plenty of potentially profitable mass-market growth tricks up its sleeve.

Yesterday's first-quarter earnings preceded a minor uptick in the share price today, though I still consider it a yawn by Wall Street standards. What else are you going to do when revenues increase only 6% and earnings beat by a penny? We're talking about a giant company from which no one expects much, and where there are unlikely to be any major surprises.

You'll find one positive sign in the server segment, which posted 28% growth in operating income atop 12.9% revenue growth. Although people continue to predict Microsoft's demise at the hands of so-called "free" operating systems and applications, the results don't seem to indicate that Linux is cramping Microsoft's style. In fact, given the recent growth at Linux leader Red Hat (NASDAQ:RHAT), it looks like there is, for now at least, plenty of room for the both of them. In other words, instead of looking for a winner to take all, investors should perhaps expect something more like a Coke and and Pepsi situation.

In other "down the road" opportunities, Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded segment grew by 51%. Keep in mind that at $74 million out of $9.7 billion in total revenue, its share of the pie is pretty tiny. It also trimmed its loss from negative $29 million in the year-ago period to negative $2 million.

The holiday story is, of course, the Xbox 360. Microsoft's next-generation video game console sells at a negative margin, but it's designed (in typical Microsoft fashion) to build market share and work toward future profits. Given the buzz it's getting, it could well nibble away at the market currently dominated by Sony (NYSE:SNE).

I realize this take is about as boring, as, well, Microsoft's earnings, but there's only so much this shareholder can do. Investors looking for a solid cash cow with a horizon-stretching moat and decent future growth prospects would be well advised to take a look under the hood. Microsoft may not seem as exciting as current tech darling Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but that's not really its style. It's simply making good money, and will continue to do so.

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Seth Jayson believes a computer is just a hunk of junk to help you do stuff. At the time of publication, he had shares of Microsoft but no positions in any other firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.