Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has taken plenty of hits for Microsoft's missteps in the tablet and smart phone markets. But shouldn't Ballmer also get some credit for apparently getting Microsoft back on the right track -- particularly in the business market? Skeptical? Consider some of the latest revenue milestones involving Microsoft's core business applications -- Dynamics, Exchange Lync and SharePoint.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) delivered record Q3 revenues last week, as revenues grew 6 percent to $17.41 billion. That's not "spectacular" growth, but Microsoft shares are now trading around a 52-week high.

Sure, serious challenges remain in the smart phone and tablet markets. But Microsoft has serious momentum in the business applications market, and the software giant is hoping Windows 8 potentially addresses the tablet market. Microsoft will certainly pound home that messaging during the upcoming Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2012 (WPC 2012, July 8-12, Toronto).

Server Apps Remain Hot

In the meantime, Microsoft Partner Network members should shift their attention to Microsoft's core business applications. Among the latest quarterly highlights:
  • Microsoft's Server & Tools business experienced 14 percent growth amid strong demand for SQL Server and Microsoft System Center, Microsoft said in its earnings statement.
  • Within the Microsoft Business Division, Dynamics CRM revenues grew more than 30 percent and overall Dynamics revenues jumped 11 percent, the earnings statement revealed.
  • Exchange and SharePoint both grew double digits, while Lync revenue growth accelerated to over 35 percent, Microsoft said on the earnings call.
  • Overall, Windows revenues slightly outgrew the underlying PC market due to the strength of the business refresh and attach gains in several geographic regions, Microsoft indicated on an earnings call.

What's Missing From This Picture

Overall, Microsoft's core software businesses seem pretty darn healthy. But some glaring holes certainly remain.
  • Microsoft barely mentioned the smart phone and tablet markets during last week's earnings call. Yes, the company keeps saying Windows 8's arrival later this year is the key to the tablet and ultrabook markets. In the meantime, iPad and MacBook air sales continue to skyrocket.
  • Microsoft has not really disclosed its Office 365 and Windows Azure revenues -- though Channel Chief Jon Roskill earlier this year told The VAR Guy and Talkin' Cloud that Microsoft is rapidly emerging as the world's top cloud computing software provider.
Will Microsoft back up those cloud claims during the upcoming WPC12 conference? The VAR Guy will be listening.

In the meantime, doesn't Steve Ballmer deserve at least some small piece of credit for delivering strong quarterly results -- and impressive performance in the server applications market?