Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer revealed a few details on Wednesday of a forthcoming operating system that will help developers write Internet-based applications.
Within a month, Microsoft will unveil what Ballmer called "Windows Cloud." The operating system, which will likely have a different name, is intended for developers writing cloud-computing applications ... [He] was short on details, saying more information would spoil the announcement. Windows Cloud is a separate project from Windows 7.
Microsoft doesn't envision products such as the Office productivity suite moving entirely off desktop PCs and onto the Internet. But Microsoft is working on a service that would let people do "light editing" of Office documents at places such as a public Internet kiosk, Ballmer said.
[It's] essentially a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that will let companies host Web applications. It will debut at the PDC ... it reminds me of the slip Bill Gates made recently in prematurely announcing Windows 7. Windows Cloud, which is a name that Ballmer seems to have made up on the spot, will use geo-replication techniques (a way to replicate data across many physical servers in different locations) and compete directly, it seems, with Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine.
What we are really witnessing here is the transformation of an industry, and Microsoft is trying to play catch-up ... [with] Amazon, Google, and companies like 3Tera.
Okay, but are the shooting their own foot? ... Any company still hanging on the fence about Windows might decide to wait longer and see how this whole cloud infrastructure plays out ... Microsoft is so busy trying to keep track of the cloud developments that they have forgotten all about proper marketing techniques.
That's a big step forward for Microsoft, but there's some evidence that it may only get the new operating system half-right ... In the past, Microsoft has seemed to be more intent on protecting Microsoft Office than recognizing that the future of applications is Internet-based ... But Ballmer also made it clear that it will only go so far into cloud-based computing.
Eventually, I think Office will become a hybrid of online and client-based. Just the fact that Microsoft is looking at letting people edit documents using an online version of it is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, though, Microsoft will have to take plenty more steps than that.
If Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Free Software Foundation founder Richard M. Stallman are planning a membership drive for their new Anti-Cloud Computing Coalition, they best not go knocking on Steve Ballmers door. Because the Microsoft CEO might not agree with their assessment of the Cloud Computing sobriquet as complete gibberish, idiocy, stupidity and worse than stupidity.
He made it clear that sorry, no, Microsoft won't be moving to a fully browser-based version of its Office applications. Rather, Windows Cloud will let road warriors do what Ballmer called "light editing" at, say, a public Internet workstation or kiosk ... Sounds like the plan is to do just enough to keep Office customers from switching to Google Docs.
Im assuming its not an OS thats in any way akin to Windows as we know it as a desktop OS. Rather, its more likely a development platform and/or set of services for Net-based apps ... [and] presumably also not the same thing as Midori, the research project involving a post-Windows hybrid desktop/Net OS.
To date, I havent heard anybody at Microsoft clearly articulate what Windows is as it moves beyond the desktop onto the Internet ... But the race between Office and Google Docs isnt about how good a Web suite can be todayits about how good theyll be two, three, five years from now. To crib from Wayne Gretzkys famous advice, surely Ballmer and Microsoft are trying to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is right now.
This is the pre-announcement to announce an announcement. You'll have to wait for the actual announcement to find out what the hell it is.
Good Call, Microsoft. With five editions of Vista competing with three editions of XP and nine editions of Server 2008 (including three that are just the regular versions without the hypervisor software), plus separate 64-bit versions of everything, the Windows product line wasn't nearly diffuse enough.