Of all the numbers in the just-released report from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the one I like the best may not be one you would expect.

You see, the software giant mints own coin, but then returns to shareholders a good deal more than Redmond did in seasons past. Its cash from operations came in strong, at more than $7 billion, and that's great. At 60 whole percent above the year-ago, on Vista sales of seldom found aplomb.

Impressive part comes next; the Redmond hulk returned another $7 billion back to owners of the stock, by buying up a $6.1 billion batch of its own stock (that's net of shares it sold), and on top of that, the dividends came very close to giving yet another billion back.

It's strictly speaking 97% of operating cash flows turned into creating value for the common Fool. While less of a percentage than we've seen in recent quarters, still that follows from the healthy inflows; dwarfing them is tough.

Not many companies can match that feat. Not Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), nor Verizon (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T). They generate the cash, but reinvest in infrastructure, growth, or in their coffers. OK, the ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) juggernaut keeps up with Microsoft in giving back the cash from operations that it makes to owners of the common stock, it's true. But given that we're talking here about a software giant long resisting div'dends, the generosity, I think, deserves a bit of praise for honest efforts made to make this a rewarding stock to own.

(Oh, did you miss the usual National Poetry Month tidbit? Check again. Excluding tickers, this Take was written in blank verse -- iambic pentameter -- with only two small cheats.)

Further Foolishness:

Microsoft and Wal-Mart are two of the stocks on our Motley Fool Inside Value scorecard.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. He will weep for the passing of Poetry Month. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will make your day, every day.