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Microsoft Contracts Gain as Companies Upgrade Software

Microsoft Corp. had a bigger gain in multiyear software deals than analysts predicted last quarter, a sign that businesses are flocking to the company’s programs as consumers delay purchases or opt for competitors.

Fourth-quarter unearned revenue, a yardstick of future sales, was $20.1 billion in the three months that ended June 30, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said yesterday in a statement. Analysts on average expected $19.4 billion, according to Heather Bellini, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Bellini’s own estimate was for $18.9 billion.