Anticipation is building as the 2008 Professional Developers Conference approaches, at which Microsoft will unveil details of the new "Windows Cloud" operating system/platform. With pretty much zero data on exactly how the company will tackle this problem -- all while trying to avoid cannibalizing its product base too much -- the general consensus is that Redmond will knock this one out of the park. Writing in MIT Technology Review, Robert X. Cringely says the main question he had was whether the company was taking the challenge seriously enough. And the team focused on the task at hand, he concludes, knows how "risky" the proposition is and is indeed taking it very seriously.
Now the company must execute quickly, Cringely says. Of course, this month's announcement will bring together years of work on the Live Mesh toolset, the Oslo modeling language (which IT Business Edge's Loraine Lawson detailed yesterday), and ... Windows Server.
Just like Windows Server looked a lot like Windows but with new properties, new characteristics and new features, so will Windows Cloud look a lot like Windows Server.
(3Tera, by the way, now has a version of its AppLogic 2.4 operating system that supports virtual appliances running Windows Server -- a request from customers -- and Amazon is beta testing support for Windows Server and SQL Server in its EC2 cloud development service.)
Microsoft has taken a lot of criticism for sticking with its "software plus services" marketing term and strategy while the IT pack became more and more enamored of software-as-a-service (SaaS). The company has very carefully chosen which apps to offer as Web apps, a strategy that seems to confound a few folks who expected an across-the-board treatment. Detractors seemed to think that Microsoft just didn't get it when it came to Internet-based computing and would end up irrelevant as more of everyone else's applications and activities moved out to the cloud. But today, it is looking like Microsoft will preserve its dominance of productivity software on the client, which Ballmer has made clear he fully intends to do, and may well pull off Windows Cloud, to boot.