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Microsoft posted a quarterly loss of $492 million this afternoon, the first time in its history that the company has dipped into the red, as the $6.2 billion write-down from its failed aQuantive acquisition took an unprecedented toll on the company’s bottom line.

(Post updated to correct size of quarterly loss.)

However, excluding that rather giant asterisk, and adding back in $540 million in revenue deferred from the quarter due to a Windows 8 upgrade promotion, the company’s adjusted profits were $6.93 billion, or 73 cents per share — actually beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts polled in advance by Thomson Reuters.

“We delivered record fourth quarter and annual revenue, and we’re fast approaching the most exciting launch season in Microsoft history,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in the company’s earnings news release. “Over the coming year, we’ll release the next versions of Windows, Office, Windows Server, Windows Phone, and many other products and services that will drive our business forward and provide unprecedented opportunity to our customers and partners.”

Microsoft slide showing Windows results. Click to enlarge.

Despite Ballmer’s optimism, the flagship Windows division continued to feel the effects of the sluggish market for personal computers. Even after adjusting for the Windows 8 deferral, revenue in the Windows and Windows Live Division fell by 1 percent to $4.7 billion, compared with the same quarter a year ago.

The traditional PC market is being undercut by the rise of alternative devices including tablet computers, led by Apple’s iPad. Microsoft is adjusting its approach with Windows 8, using a tile-based interface designed to work across everything from desktop PCs to tablets to wall-mounted displays.

For the quarter, Microsoft’s Server & Tools revenue was up $568 million, or 13 percent. Microsoft cited 22 percent revenue growth from multi-year licensing of its public and private cloud solutions as the primary driver of the division’s growth.

Online Services Division results. (Click to enlarge).

The company’s Online Services Division saw a revenue increase of $55 million, up 8 percent to $735 million, thanks to a boost in search advertising revenue, overcoming a decline in display ad revenue. Not counting the aQuantive write-down, which was charged to the division, Online Services reported a loss of $480 million, a 36 percent improvement over last year.

“While our search business has been improving, our expectations for future growth and profitability for OSD are lower than our previous estimates,” the company said.

The Microsoft Business Division, home to Microsoft Office, saw a 7 percent increase in revenue, to $6.3 billion. Operating income rose 9 percent, to $4.1 billion.

Entertainment & Devices, home to Xbox, posted revenue of $1.78 billion, up 20 percent, due largely to revenue from the addition of Skype to the division.

E&D posted a quarterly loss of $263 million, in part due to regular payments from Microsoft to Nokia for to compensate the mobile phone maker for its Windows Phone. Microsoft didn’t disclose the size of the latest payment, but earlier today Nokia said it was $250 million.

The quarter ended June 30 also marked the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year. Not counting the one-time fourth quarter charges, the company’s revenue was $74.26 billion, up 6 percent for year, and its earnings were $2.78 per share, up 5 percent from last year.

Via Microsoft, here’s a more detailed look at the divisional results …

Here’s a Microsoft slide showing the company’s overall outlook. Click to enlarge.

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