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Microsoft’s Windows division roars back to life, proving the PC and Xbox are still very much alive

When Microsoft announced its rock-solid quarterly earnings on Thursday, Wall Street analysts were happy to see the continued growth of its cloud computing businesses.

But there was a surprise buried in Microsoft’s earnings statement. After years of stagnation, the More Personal Computing segment saw a gain of 13% over the same period of 2017, hitting $9.9 billion in revenue.

As a refresher, that segment encompasses the Windows operating system, the Surface hardware business, the Xbox gaming division, and the Bing search engine.

With the PC market in steady decline, Sony’s PlayStation 4 crushing the Xbox One console in sales, and Google maintaining its dominance over search, the More Personal Computing segment has largely been discarded by Wall Street as secondary, at best, to Microsoft’s still fast-growing business cloud services.

And yet, there’s clearly some kind of life left in the segment, still. These results serve as at least a partial rebuke to the Microsoft fans who worry that the company is poised to kill the Surface and get out of the consumer hardware business entirely.

Third party games to the rescue

Microsoft itself credits the strength in More Personal Computing to a few different factors.

First, most businesses still need PCs, and they’re moving to Windows 10 in droves. Microsoft says that revenue from selling Windows 10 Pro licenses to Windows manufacturers was up 11% from the same period in 2017, and that revenue from multi-year Windows 10 service agreements and cloud services was up 21% over the same span. It should be noted, however, that revenue from consumer Windows 10 licenses was down 8%.

Second, overall gaming revenue was up 18% over the same period last year, to about $2.2 billion. Some of that gaming growth is from services, like its Twitch competitor Mixer, or the all-you-can-play subscription service Xbox Game Pass. Mostly, though, Microsoft says that the real driver was Xbox software and services, which was up 24% over the same period in 2017, “mostly on third-party strength.”

This is especially interesting: A common criticism of the Xbox One is that Microsoft doesn’t publish enough titles that are exclusive to the console – giving gamers few reasons to choose it over rivals like the Sony PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. However, Microsoft is saying that games from other publishers are selling well enough to bolster Xbox revenue.

Finally, Microsoft says that revenue from its Surface computers was up 29% from the same period of 2017, hitting just shy of $1.1 billion. That’s a good look for Microsoft, after growth in Surface actually stagnatedduring the all-important holiday quarter last year, reinforcing speculation that the business would be discontinued.

There’s still one quarter left to go in Microsoft’s fiscal year, and it remains to be seen if this growth is a sign of things to come, or just a one-time blip as the company continues to go all-in on cloud.

One thing, ultimately, is very clear: With Microsoft’s phone business almost fully unwound, the company is at least not being weighed down by that albatross around its neck anymore.

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Tom Cruise jumped out of a plane 106 times at nearly 30,000 feet for the next ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie

Actor Tom Cruise is known for doing his own dangerous stunts in movies, and he pulled off one of his most harrowing ones yet for the next “Mission: Impossible” movie – 106 times to be exact.

While discussing the sixth film in the franchise, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” at CinemaCon on Wednesday, Cruise detailed one of the film’s action sequences, in which Cruise’s Ethan Hunt jumps from a plane at nearly 30,000 feet to catch Henry Cavill’s free-falling character.

To get the three shots that he and director Christopher McQuarrie (who returns after directing “Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation”) wanted, Cruise jumped out of a C-17 plane 106 times.

To capture the stunt, a skydiver with a camera on his head fell backward out of the plane to get the shot of Cruise falling. According to a post on McQuarrie’s Instagram, they only had about three minutes of available light each day for the takes before the sun set.

“It’s about what we can do that’s physically possible without killing Tom,” McQuarrie told the crowd at CinemaCon.

This is far from the first time that Cruise has gone all-out for a stunt.

During another stunt for “Fallout,” the actor reportedly injured himself while jumping from one building to another; for the last film, “Rogue Nation,” he hung onto the side of an Airbus as it took off; and in the fourth installment, “Ghost Protocol,” he climbed the tallest building in the world, the Burg Khalifa in Dubai.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” comes to theaters July 27.

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Miniature pony gets police escort home in south Florida

A little pony in southwest Florida apparently wanted to be a wild horse, as it galloped down a highway away from its paddock.

Video released today by Clewiston Police showed an officer escorting the miniature horse back to its home, leading it with a rope while driving the police car alongside it.

Police responded to a call that the tiny horse was running down U.S. Highway 27 last week and got a workout trying to catch the escaped pony on foot.

The department released dispatch audio from their pursuit of the pony. An officer can be heard saying the horse was near a Popeye’s restaurant, then running away. The officer asked for more help and finally reported that the horse was near fences and had nowhere else to go.

To lure the runaway horse to them, police offered carrots.

After the officer led the pony home, police said the other horses came to the fence to greet it.

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