This week’s Microsoft news was a bit all over the board, so we’ll need to be summary in our review. As the next Build event approaches, expect things to accelerate all the more. We are entering into the next great wave of Microsoft product improvements.

As we request every week, ensure that you are following TNW’s Microsoft channel on both Twitter and Facebook, and let’s jump right in.

Azure, now in the Billion Dollar Club

Microsoft’s Azure service generated $1 billion in the last twelve months, with its total subscriptions rising 48 percent in the last 6 months. Inside of Microsoft, reaching the billion dollar revenue mark isn’t a small milestone, it’s the moment in which a business unit has proven itself to be viable, and lasting.

That Azure hit the mark isn’t surprising, given that it is a strong priority for Microsoft both internally and externally. Inside, Azure is the platform that Microsoft’s services run on, and externally it is a competitor with the likes of Amazon’s AWS.

The billion dollar mark is a good one. The question becomes how long until its revenue starts with a two.

Windows Phone 8: Performance

If you are a developer of Windows Phone applications, you likely have had a much better start to the year than you did in 2012. According to Microsoft, since the launch of Windows Phone 8 late last year, there has been a 100 percent rise in app downloads, and a 140 percent increase in paid app revenue.

Windows Phone remains the third most poular platform, in the mobile world. But, with its key partner Nokia selling 5.6 million units in the first quarter alone, it is moving devices at a decent clip.

As our own Emil Protalinksi noted, “[n]ot only are Windows Phone 8 handset sales translating into more app downloads, but revenue is being generated for developers: a sign of a healthy platform.”

Windows 8 Developer Angst

Developers of Windows 8 applications that depend on the Microsoft pubCenter ad network have recently seen their ad-fill rate fall in some cases to effectively zero. Complaints are vociferous and Microsoft’s comments have been a bit weak-kneed thus far.

It appears that Bing purchased significant ad inventory on the pubCenter network, an ad buy that ended. Given the nascency of the Windows 8 platform, other advertisers appear in relative short supply.

The promise of Windows 8 for developers was massive reach. However, if developers cannot monetize that massive reach, what good is it? It appears that other ad networks are allowed, though Microsoft has been coy on the point. Still the pubCenter network is a key advertising solution that Microsoft itself provides for developers; if it can’t handle developer needs, can another step up to fill its shoes?

Outlook.com: Big

When it became known that Microsoft intended to ship Hotmail users to its new Outlook.com email provider, it became obvious that the its new service would sport users in the hundreds of millions. We now have the real number: 400 million; the Hotmail exodus is complete.

As TNW reported previously: “Microsoft said it moved more than 300 million active accounts, or 150 petabytes of data, in about six weeks.” No small accomplishment.

Interesting has been a general lack of whining. There has been some complaint, naturally, but not enough to generate headlines. It appears that Microsoft managed to build a product strong enough in the eyes of its userbase, that when they were bumped over, it wasn’t la fin du monde.

Windows 8 Market Share

3.84 percent. Up from in 3.31 percent in March.

Odds and Ends

That is enough for one week, so knock off and have a Lagavulin 16.

Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble