There was a lot to like when Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced its fiscal 2016 Q1 earnings on Oct. 22, and based on its 12% share price pop since delivering the good news, investors agreed. Cloud revenue continues to soar, the adoption of Office 365 is skyrocketing, and even long-suffering units like Microsoft's Bing search have turned the corner.
With over 110 million downloads it became available to the masses in late July, it's safe to say Microsoft's latest operating system (OS), Windows 10, has also been a success. And should a recent study from Gartner bear out, the record-breaking adoption of Windows 10 could prove to be a game-changer, boosting results across multiple divisions.
Gartner says that in just two short years "Windows 10 is poised to become the most widely installed version of Windows ever," with a whopping 50% of enterprises either utilizing the new OS or beginning the process of adopting it by 2017.
Gartner points to Windows 10 being a free upgrade and its compatibility with earlier versions of Microsoft's OS as two reasons it will be an unmitigated success. That, combined with a "pent up demand for tablet and 2-in-1 device rollouts" in the workplace, is expected to drive Windows 10 deployments. In fact, Gartner suggests that the pace of the Windows 10 rollout will help fuel a transition to a "new employee workspace that is more mobile."
Not only did Microsoft's Bing search engine unit report an impressive 29% jump in revenue last quarter, it actually turned a profit -- and ahead of Nadella's schedule, no less. What was the impetus for the Bing turnaround? Windows 10, and that's with a "mere" 110 million downloads. Assuming 50% of enterprises upgrade to the new OS by 2017, Bing's growth to 20.8% share of the U.S. search market could prove to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, with a market share of just shy of 64%, supplanting Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) as the king of search isn't likely any time soon. Thanks in part to its renewed focus on mobile search, Alphabet's 35% year-over-year increase in paid clicks last quarter make it pretty clear who the king of the search hill is. But Microsoft doesn't need to unseat the formerly named Google for Bing to be a success: continuing to eke out gains and profits thanks to Windows 10 will work just fine.
Microsoft, like Alphabet, has heard some grumbling from investors due to seemingly poor mobile results. Thing is, Nadella's mobile-first initiative entails a lot more than selling smartphones, which is why Microsoft's mobile ambitions could get a big boost from the adoption of Windows 10. Gartner's expectations for a more mobile workforce as Windows 10 becomes the preeminent enterprise OS could boost sales of Microsoft's Surface Pro pseudo-tablet line-up.
As businesses become more mobile, it stands to reason many would outfit their employees with devices that match their enterprise OS, half of which will be running Windows 10 in a couple of years according to Gartner. Microsoft's Surface Pro line-up, pre-loaded with enterprise-compatible Windows 10, would seem to be a natural.
Let's not forget where Microsoft butters its bread: the cloud. And commercial Windows 10 adoption should also provide a boost to the company's cloud results. As enterprises shift away from legacy data storage and analytics solutions to cloud-based services, many of the 50% of enterprises utilizing Windows 10 are likely to opt for OS compatible cloud solutions like Microsoft's Azure platform and its associated Software-as-a-Service suite of products.
At an annual run-rate of over $8.2 billion, Microsoft is already at or near the top of the list of cloud providers, and Windows 10 should add fuel to the fire. As more enterprises shift data to the cloud from in-house systems, opting for a solution from the same provider that developed the enterprise's operating system -- aka Microsoft's Windows 10 -- is yet another "natural."
Microsoft became the leading software provider in the world thanks to its OS dominance, and Windows 10 could prove to be just as important as Nadella and team continue the company's emergence as a mobile and cloud leader.