Windows RT

Microsoft has posted a net income of $6.56 billion (£3.93 billion) for the three months to the end of December.

The figure represents an uptick from $6.38 billion posted by the world's largest software firm over the same quarter in 2012. Headline revenue rose 14% over the quarter to $24.5 billion, signalling a healthy quarterly performance.

In a trading update indicative of a more holistic improvement in corporate fortunes, Microsoft specifically mentioned a "strong demand" for its cloud services, alongside rising sales of Xbox consoles and Surface tablets.

Sales of Office 365 and Azure more than doubled over the quarter on an annualised basis. On the latter point, Microsoft said it had moved 7.4 million Xbox consoles, up from 5.9 million over the same period a year earlier.

The figure was boosted by the launch of Xbox One in model in November. Including all devices, the division saw a 13% increase on an annualised basis.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer, who is due to retire this year after 33 years at the company, hailed the quarterly performance. In a call to analysts, he said Microsoft's investment in its devices and services businesses, under its transformation plan, was a key factor behind the strong results.

However, Ballmer did not say anything about his replacement.

He succeeded founder Bill Gates as chief executive in 2000, and the search for his successor has been the subject of feverish market speculation.