Microsoft booked a $900 million write-down for slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet and its revenue and earnings came up short of Wall Street forecasts in the fourth quarter.

The company’s profit missed analysts’ projections as Windows sales were hurt by shrinking demand for personal computers

Fourth-quarter profit was 66 cents a share, excluding a 7- cent charge related to the inventory adjustment, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said in a statement today. Sales rose 10 percent to $19.9 billion. Analysts had predicted profit of 75 cents a share on $20.7 billion in revenue, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer released Surface, along with a new version of Windows, in October to stem the loss of consumers to mobile devices that offer many of the same features as laptops and desktops. The new products have failed to ignite demand. PC shipments fell 11 percent last quarter, according to Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.

“This is because of the triple whammy of the economy, tablets and Windows 8,” said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Surface, Microsoft’s first-ever computer, is selling poorly. Just 900,000 units were shipped in the December and March quarters according to IDC. Microsoft cut the price on one version, Surface RT, this week.

Management Revamp

Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said consumer PC shipments dropped 20 percent in the quarter.

“We know we have to do better, particularly on mobile devices and so that’s a big reason we made the strategic and organizational changes we made last week,” she said in an interview. Asked how long it will take for Microsoft’s position in tablets to make up for the contracting consumer PC market, Hood said: “It will take a long time for that to happen.”

Net income for the second quarter was $4.97 billion. The company reported a net loss of $492 million a year earlier, which included a $6.2 billion writedown related to Microsoft’s 2007 acquisition of AQuantive Inc.

Unearned revenue, which comes from sales of multi-year deals that will be recognized in the future, was $22.4 billion, compared with the $21.8 billion average projection, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue was boosted by the recognition of sales deferred from previous quarters related to coupons given to customers for Office upgrades.

Business Units

Ballmer is reorganizing the world’s largest software maker to try to spur better performance in areas like mobile computing as consumers gravitate to tablets and smartphones. The biggest reorganization of Microsoft in a decade is designed to speed development of hardware and services as the company’s Windows business continues to suffer from the shrinking PC market and poor demand for Windows-based mobile devices.

The revamp may result in changes in how Microsoft reports earnings for its various units, Hood said in a conference call last week. Microsoft previously had eight business units and reported earnings broken into five groups. It now has four product-engineering units and hasn’t said how it will handle earnings for the new structure. Today’s report is the first being handled by Hood, named in May to replace Peter Klein.

“They’ve got three different headwinds pushing on them, which is why they did the reorganization last week,” Gillett said. “Looking at the progress of this quarter, I bet they wished they did it a year ago.”

Weak Windows

Intel Corp., the largest semiconductor maker, yesterday forecast third-quarter sales that may fall short of some analysts’ estimates as the PC slump also erodes its largest business.

Microsoft has said it has sold more than 100 million copies of Windows 8. The company is currently testing a new version that addresses some customer complaints about the design and adds new features. It’s also working with computer makers to get more machines in stores with touch screens and lower prices.

Windows sales are being besieged by poor demand for PCs, reflected in five consecutive quarters of declining shipments, which researcher IDC predicts will be the worst annual drop on record. Sales in the Windows unit were $4.4 billion, below the $4.8 billion average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

“Consumer PCs remain pressured,” said Sid Parakh, an analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen in Seattle who rates the shares a hold. “Consumers are buying smartphones and tablets. Microsoft has launched some products in those areas but hasn’t made much headway. They’re late to market, and they’re not competitively priced.”

(Bloomberg News and The Associated Press contributed to this report).