Microsoft Corporation blew away earnings estimates for the quarter, earning a $1.9 billion profit on record sales of $4.94 billion. As always, company officials were cautious about the future, while they credited the sales surge to Windows NT, SQL Server 7.0 and Office 97.

"We remain guarded about growth in 1999, given the likelihood that organizations will reduce their non-Y2K-related IT spending and the uncertain international economic outlook," said Microsoft CFO Greg Maffei.

Microsoft's stock hit 163 1/4; compare this to last January's 67.

In the next several months, Microsoft will release upgrades to Office and Windows NT that are expected to fuel future growth.

"Corporate customers are choosing the Microsoft platform," said Bob Muglia, senior VP of applications and tools division at Microsoft. "Microsoft Office, SQL Server, and Exchange all reached new highs this quarter, with shipments of all server applications nearly doubling in the past year.