In one experiment, Microsoft is managing desktops and services, such as SharePoint, for a big customer. In another, Microsoft monitors server loads for high-availability moments. Chairman Bill Gates said software subscription services were something at which the company was looking.
Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard have tumbled all over each other in the past three years to take the lead in this market, which also hardly exists. In the utility computing dream, corporations don't buy software or hardware. Instead, they lease it as a service.
The push into utility computing, however, doesn't mean that Microsoft will move more deeply into consulting. It would represent a conflict with its channel partners, said Witts. Margins on software are also higher, he added.