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Microsoft Azure Sales Top $1 Billion Challenging Amazon

Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Azure software and related programs have surpassed $1 billion in annual sales for the first time, a sign of progress in the effort to challenge Inc. in cloud computing.

The sales milestone for Azure -- which stores business information and programs on remote servers and lets customers access them over the Web -- was reached in the past 12 months, said Curt Anderson, finance chief for Microsoft’s server and tools unit.