July 12, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Microsoft's 'Cloud OS' takes shape

DENVER--Microsoft is in the early stages of a plan that will see virtually its entire lineup of underlying Internet services opened up to developers, the software maker made clear this week.

In addition to making available its existing services, such as mail and instant messaging, Microsoft also will create core infrastructure services, such as storage and alerts, that developers can build on top of. It's a set of capabilities that have been referred to as a "Cloud OS," though it's not a term Microsoft likes to use publicly.

"Cloud-centric is probably a better way to say it because Cloud OS makes it sound like it is only running on the cloud," said Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live. "A lot of the data, a lot of the apps, a lot of the interesting things are on the edge. They are on the PCs. They are on the Xboxes. They are on the phones."

But, quibbles over nomenclature aside, Microsoft made clear this week that it aims to play the same role on the Internet that it plays today on the desktop--that of providing its own applications as well as the underlying plumbing and tools that developers use to build their products.

In a speech to partners at its Worldwide Partner Conference here, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer promised that the company would be talking to developers later this year about the first version of its developer platform, some pieces of which are currently available in beta form. Hall echoed the message that Microsoft plans to open up much of the technology that powers Windows Live as well as the underlying infrastructure.

"What's ours is yours," Hall told the crowd.

The ambitious promise comes more than a year and a half after Bill Gates first announced the company's plans for Windows Live at a November 2005 event in San Francisco. Since then Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie and a team have been working on turning Microsoft's Internet business from a series of separate services offered directly by Microsoft into a set of more unified services that can be offered either by Microsoft directly or through partners.

At this year's Mix '07 show, Ozzie, who has been crafting the Live strategy, did talk about allowing programmers access to some of its higher-level services, such as Windows Live Spaces. But he was largely silent on the topic of the underlying developer platform.

"I've nothing to announce in that realm at this time," Ozzie told CNET News.com in an interview then. "Yet, it's pretty clear that we're working on some stuff."

Late last month, Microsoft introduced two new Windows Live Services, one for sharing photos and the other for all types of files. While those services are being offered directly by Microsoft today, they represent the kinds of things that Microsoft is now promising will be also made available to developers.

Among the other application and infrastructure components, Microsoft plans to open are its systems for alerts, contact management, communications (mail and messenger) and authentication.

"Windows Live is here as a platform for our partners," Hall said. That's not exactly the case--yet. Microsoft has made a couple of pieces, such as its Virtual Earth service, available commercially. Other components are available either for broad or limited testing, while still others have yet to be offered to developers. Instant messaging, for example, will be made broadly available to developers in test form in October.

'A real computer science challenge'
One of the key challenges Microsoft faces is trying to write tools that allow developers to code in such a way that it doesn't necessarily matter if it is a phone or a PC that is accessing the service, or whether a file is stored locally or in the cloud.

"There's a real computer science challenge for abstracting all of that well, abstracting how do you find and manage devices, how do you access devices and do it in a way that is transparent to the developer," Hall said.

Hall likens it to Windows in its early days.

"A lot of what Windows was doing early on was memory management, storage, all of the things today we take for granted," Hall said. "The vast majority of developers (today), they are not thinking, 'how am I going to store this particular piece of data in memory?' It just happens. The same thing is going to happen in the mesh model."

Microsoft is also trying to make sure that its business terms are attractive enough to woo the next MySpace or YouTube to bet on its technology. It has spent months talking to existing partners, but also to venture capital firms and start-ups.

For now, Microsoft is offering up many of its services free for up to 1 million users, while saying it wants to strike some kind of deal if a service exceeds that threshold.

"If this becomes a big, big commercial success we want to have a value exchange, but we'll give you plenty of ramp room," Hall said.

As it works to build out the underlying core services, Microsoft is also offering up applications to partners, such as Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and the Spaces blogging tool.

Until now, most of the deals have been one-off deals that the company has had to individually negotiate. Among Microsoft's early deals are a few colleges and universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, as well as some telecommunications firms. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a deal with Qwest, which will offer its Internet subscribers the option of using a Qwest-branded version of Microsoft's Windows Live services.

"It was a much more custom engagement model," Hall said. "Now we are moving to a scalable come one, come all approach."

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82 comments

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>>> 'Cloud OS'<<<!!! Why...
... don't they just name the thing "WARP" (since that is the Code-Base anyway) and done with it since sooner or later - photons and all get sucked into the Black Holes! Looks like computing at the speed of "light" all over again!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Commander_Spock is a talkbot
For those who do not know, it is a program, not a human. I'm not
kidding.

Have a nice day.
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
I'll tell you why
IBM had Microsoft under contract to develop IBM PC-DOS for the IBM PC. Microsoft did, but there was nothing in the contract that said Microsoft could not develop their own version of DOS. Microsoft made MS-DOS, based on the IBM PC-DOS codebase. IBM got mad and sued, but lost.

IBM had Microsoft under contract to develop IBM OS/2 for the IBM PS/2 series computers. Microsoft did, but there was nothing in the contract that said Microsoft could not develop their own version of OS/2. Microsoft made OS/2 3.0, based on the IBM OS/2 codebase and renamed it Windows NT 3.1. IBM got mad and sued, but lost.

Want to know why? Because Microsoft owns the IP in the codebase used for PC-DOS and OS/2, and IBM does not. Microsoft wrote the code, and it was their ball. So Microsoft took their ball and went home because IBM was not playing fair.

They have a saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Shame on IBM for Microsoft fooling them twice. More the fool you for believing in OS/2, which is still Microsoft IP and Microsoft has the legal right to do whatever they want with that IP.

IBM goofed, twice, and now you are the one who goofed. More the fool you.

OS/2 is now a niche market, used by banks who don't know any better and are in danger of being bought out by larger banks who use something else than OS/2 like Linux or Solaris.

It is evolution, Windows evolved, Linux evolved, Mac OS evolved, OS/2 didn't evolve. Evolve or die, survival of the species that is most adaptive to change. OS/2 is not adaptive to change, so guess what?

Windows evolves into Could OS.
Posted by Troll Hard (182 comments )
Link Flag
Hello Houston - Microsoft On Cloud Nine!
While Commander_Spock do not wish to be seen as "knock" these dudes on the Redmond Campus should one venture on an higher orbit then will there not be a "cloudless" environment to be considered (that of SPACE, the final frontier) and here the dudes from the Redmond Campus (often being accused of not being very innovative) are saying that ("Cloud-centric is probably a better way to say it because Cloud OS makes it sound like it is only running on the cloud," said Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live. "A lot of the data, a lot of the apps, a lot of the interesting things are on the edge. They are on the PCs. They are on the Xboxes. They are on the phones.") while it is quite certain that some smarter folks may very well be focusing on topics like quantum theories, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, quantum computing... Question: Do ya all think that the Redmond Campus is the best place on Planet Three from whence sea-change innovations with regards to the future of computing will come!!!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
based on the past
based on microsofts past history of "innovation" i suspect that all of
this will be nothing much until a company that actually creates
things has a product that they can either buy or copy (poorly) for
release.
Posted by shane--2008 (343 comments )
Link Flag
Head up in the clouds
Only kidding there.
Microsoft never ceases to amaze me with their determination to follow through with the advanced options that will make the world we live in tommorow other groups would be wise to follow this lead of believing in dreams(IBM,Sony, maybe Sun (although theres a lot in sun)).
Also a lot of groups would be wise to think collabrativly about this and think about what they can contribte individually to peoples collabrative abilities within the cloud capabilities.
If there's somthing Microsoft need right now its to get a fell of what dreamers and doers are around so that they can make the best package and your group can use and develop with it(win win).

What comes after clouds.
Well clouds are about getting the thunder going and the wok moving while we get a feel for our true potential. They're about allowing us to collaberate technilogically like never before so that groups can gain cooperative cencreat as to provide to best potential to others.
As this world does begin to serment say over the next 27 - 43 years the next stage with the computing power alonside it to achieve such will emerge.

Crystal.

So lets look at this process in form.

Net - power - web - power - cloud - power - crystal.

ok check this out
1961 - 1988 - 2011 - 2028

what does this mean.
Progress takes time.
Posted by wildchild_plasma_gyro (296 comments )
Reply Link Flag
>>>"web - power - cloud - power...
... - crystal. ok check this out 1961 - 1988 - 2011 - 2028 what does this mean. Progress takes time."&lt;&lt;&lt; Did you not miss the SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM. How are you going to see other worlds if you cannot reach WARP SPEED!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
What???
Another talk_bot? What the hell are you talking about? What a bunch of gibberish.
Posted by hounddoglgs (74 comments )
Link Flag
When pigs fly
Well, given the fact that no-one wants to write software for Windows on the PC anymore, why anyone in their right mind would want to use their web tools when there are pleny of better/free/open source stuff out there is beyond me.
Posted by jimcbr (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
woah man
we can tell you don't like ms, jsut don't say absolutes that make you seem stupid.
Posted by RagingAura (28 comments )
Link Flag
Complete lack of direction
MS lacks complete direction in its OS development and that comes from the top.
Posted by JJWhitney (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A lack of Third Party Ambition?
"MS lacks complete direction in its OS development and that comes from the top."

Then that simply presents an opportunity for one to provide IT, JJWhitney. And I imagine that one would be very well rewarded.
Posted by amanfromMars (22 comments )
Link Flag
us humans need someone to point the finger at... *NM*
didn't i say no message?
Posted by RagingAura (28 comments )
Link Flag
Not Heaven
I believe Microsoft is saying this project is dead from inception.

But I'm not sure why they think it's in heaven among the clouds.

I'm sure it's farther down below where their Windows OS resides...
Posted by MaLvaDo39 (365 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Made in Heaven
MaLvaDo39,
If IT is on Commander_Spock's Cloud Nine, it is probably AI Seventh Heaven, Global Communications HQ thing they're Floating..... which would make IT a project raised from the dead...... although if ur2die4 IT, IT will obviously out of this World and into some Very Ethereal Wwworlds Virtualised.
Posted by amanfromMars (22 comments )
Link Flag
Sounds fluffy
Sounds very fluffy and marketing-ish so far. From the technical side, it seems to be a scaled up statement of "windows everywhere" talk we heard several years ago. It also implies one can plug only MS-OS based devices into this "cloud" - and with their propensity to not inter-operate with others (and the "E-E-E' practices and resulting reputation), it can be an MS-only cloud. Vapor?
Posted by justice007 (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It sounds like Microsoft has discovered Object oriented programing....
It sounds like Microsoft has discovered Object oriented programing and data abstraction. Soon Microsoft will learn to stay away from the goto command.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perspective
You are thinking in terms of sitting in front of a keyboard and start getting some coding done. This is not about "components" or "libraries" or "just code". This is about arquitecture, empowering services, heck... is not even about object orientation.
Posted by bluetachikoma (2 comments )
Link Flag
C Prompt.
"Soon Microsoft will learn to stay away from the goto command."

Maybe they've been taught/learnt that what you Give is what you Get.
Posted by amanfromMars (22 comments )
Link Flag
You mean as in
"You can goto the library and read up on a little technology called .Net..."

You obviously know shinola about this topic, which, incidentally, has little to do with OOP per se and a whole lot to do with massively distributed computing - and is way beyond anything Java was ever intended to do.
Posted by rivsys (26 comments )
Link Flag
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!
(The Rolling Stones)

This is how The Matrix started...
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Heh.
That was pretty funny, actually. :)

Nice reference.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
I second that!
Definitely funny!! All of the titles for these posts are quite amusing.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Link Flag
Jedi OS
I picture myself and my dear ones, cloacked and caped , in a galaxy
far, far away. Sitting around a coffee-table like apparatus
displaying yet other galaxies and their inhabitants. I got lame
hands from fiddling with the huge touch-screen. I am trying to
book some flight-tickets on the IInet (Intergalactic Internet...) for
our holiday. The coffee table says: Cloud OS cannot print your
tickets at this time... If you want to notify Microsoft about this
problem, just clap your hands...
Posted by henk goewie (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is funny ! I mean... really funny.

"If you want to notify Microsoft about this problem, just clap your hands..."
And after clapping your hands, the coffee table refuses and says : "Invalid Claps, please follow this Clap Setup prosedur. Warning: Cloud OS will record your ID and your Claps later can be used anywhere as ID."

It's really entertain me. I can't stop laughing.
Posted by helmycell (1 comment )
Link Flag
Cue the microsoft bashers!
Uh, a story about MS. Time for the bashers to come out of the woodwork!

Something tells me if this was about an 'Apple Cloud OS' or 'Google Cloud OS', everyone would be singing about how innovative it is.
Posted by LuvThatCO2 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hint for "LuvThatCO2" - The Schism!
"In 1990, IBM and Microsoft were still working together on the development of OS/2. Microsoft, however, had found that Windows 3.0 - released in May 1990 - generated more revenue for them and therefore allotted increasingly more resource to Windows and correspondingly less to OS/2.

By late 1990, Microsoft had intensified its disagreements with IBM to the point where IBM decided that it would have to take some overt action to ensure that OS/2 development continued at a reasonable pace. IBM, therefore, took over complete development responsibility for OS/2 1.x, even though it was in its dying days, and OS/2 2.00. Microsoft would continue development on Windows and OS/2 3.00. Shortly after this split, Microsoft renamed OS/2 V3 to Windows NT"

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.os2bbs.com/os2news/OS2History.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.os2bbs.com/os2news/OS2History.html</a>

They say that: HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF! So, the big, big, big question is: Can Microsoft Be Trusted - Again? ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
OK, here I am
BTW, they are not innovative, they are just copying again. Problem for them is that the Web is democratic, so they will be one player of many.

Thankfully it won't be like Windows all over again.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
Here is one of the unarguable logic of this world
That's what I thought first reading the headline. People around here are sometimes getting paid for being bashers, but somehow sometimes not. And in that last case this is because 1."they are happy worms inside the apple wearing the glasses of exclusivity thus ignorance" or 2. Microsoft was the first to "think" software and give wings to a lot of things that the typical "mass sheep" like to think it has been "stolen". People enjoy actually working in collaboration directly or indirectly for MS because of the potential they have ahead (and let say pushing the worms to another step of jealousy though), and enjoy laughing at the ignorance of the mass. But seriously this world is really beginning to smell the rotten parasite and is really irritating because of this bunch of negative sheeps that cannot get away from polluting everything MS, and by the way also for this very example, the cnet talkbacks. So my reply should stand like: Cut the Microsoft bashers!
Posted by william1779 (29 comments )
Link Flag
arqutechtire-mystalk-idiotube
and apple bashers- and the normal people who like to read the comments for a good laugh. i notice one thing, mac users simpler, but ms users make more typos-

wait for it
wait for it
almost

look they are flaming! isn't so adorable how they incessently fight its like having kids and watching them argue for attention!
Posted by RagingAura (28 comments )
Link Flag
The Beginning Of The End
No one is going to go for an OS that resides on line. Even with broadband there are days when your computer can't connect to the internet. If all of your stuff is on line your computer is just a box. I don't believe Apple would propose something like this because it's pretty easy to figure out people won't go for this. Especially after Vista. So if MS does go this way and nobody bites will they become a software company that just doesn't focus on the OS? If this happens who will fill the void? I vote for Apple. They've already shown an ability to run another OS on their hardware. Why not OS X for the PC's that get left behind? In ten years or so the computing landscape could be totally upside down! Let's face it. They're going to have to do something. XP is getting long in the tooth compared to some of the software you run with it. Also it's like Gates has made his money and moved on. I don't trust Balmer to make good decisions. Vista will propbably be mainstream within a year but it's just not enough of a change ( a cheap OS X knockoff and after 5 years ). So what's going to happen?
Posted by cross platform (121 comments )
Link Flag
Oh? Why?
Microsoft blows smoke better than anyone else. They have it down to an artform.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
Vapourware...
is the term that appropriately comes to mind. It's a very old tactic ?
other competing companies generate a lot of interest in their
shipping products, so you announce what you are going to do next,
based on partial and unproven implementations to steal the
marketplaces gaze and hopefully critical sales. IBM did it with the
Stretch vapourware computer to knock out the CDC 6000.
Microsoft has learnt these anti-competitive practices well from IBM.
See Richard DeLamarter's "Big Blue: IBM's Use and Abuse of Power".
Posted by Ian Joyner (66 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No, ...
... it is 'cloudware' to be exact.
Posted by petermpham2003 (20 comments )
Link Flag
Now we know for sure...
... where some "ideas" come from:

"Cloudscape" DataBase Server you say!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/db2/library/techarticle/dm-0408bader/" target="_newWindow">http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/db2/library/techarticle/dm-0408bader/</a>

Now it is back to the "Old School" and its; "Got to have" that "innovative" and similar sounding OS name too. Wow!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Understated
That sure is a bunch of bafflegab in that article. "Vapourware" gives it too much credit. <P>

The only solid part is the fingers reaching for my wallet.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
yeah, it's called JAVA!!! only oh 15 yrs later
yeah, it's called JAVA!!! only oh 15 yrs later
Posted by reachx (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"What's yours is ours", respond Malware Writers
So they're gonna let developers dig way deep down?

This is going to be... interesting.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't Worry, Be Happy Folks...
... as Space Ship - Enterprise Warp's V 5 engines (eComStation 2.0) about to come online soon you are all guaranteed an exciting journey through "clouds"; space, time (and your economic woes which where thrust upon you by certain folks). Enjoy your weekend like you did before the ".com Bubble" exploded. TGIF and it's Party Time!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why to wait the cloud, try G.ho.st
I think potencial alternatives to microsoft cloud os are already in the market with a big vision to deal with people who are moving all their data and application to the web (Web mail, Web photo albums, Web documents?etc) and to be available from anywhere.

Check out G.ho.st (The Global Hosted Operating SysTem) at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://g.ho.st" target="_newWindow">http://g.ho.st</a>. G.ho.st is working to provide a free fully functional Virtual Computer, on the Web, so that every person in the world can do any computing at any time, any place, on any budget.

Just try it...
Posted by Ramicnet (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
be careful of what you post. what you just said is an ad for that website.
no message
Posted by RagingAura (28 comments )
Link Flag
Alternate Reality Games...
G.ho.st has some pretty phishy Terms and Conditions though which would appear to be very self-serving. A Great idea spoiled/not Intelligently Designed?
Posted by amanfromMars (22 comments )
Link Flag
Not very useful
Ghost has a long way to go. Last I checked, you couldn't transfer files easily, you couldn't even open a picture without it asking you do download it first! (Something that isn't a problem in general on the internet).

In fact, I just checked and the photos I had uploaded to my Ghost Storage are there, but I can't even download them for some studid reason.

And by the way, it's just a glorified flash page.
Posted by mattumanu (599 comments )
Link Flag
Why....
... didn't the S.E.T.I folks think about this idea before!!!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/" target="_newWindow">http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/</a>
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what is the next big thing in theory...
Actually we are doing it in china and I am sure it gonna make huge sense shortly. I mean the future lies in web-based RSS and user-driven mashup, so the youtubes especially facebook vertically are in the right direction but not enough no wonder sometimes they will lost doing something offend their users. We must reject the concept doing the traditional Internet business let alone Operating systems like WebOs or Webservice Opening API. We must build the web as a platform which has dedicated subject and audience thus we can have control to the customer so that we can grasp the internetlised content and application, there is a chinese saying:&#30382;&#20043;&#19981;&#23384;&#27611;&#23558;&#28937;&#38468;. something like and Operator2.0, you know they have vendor of network equipment and handset maker help setup the infrastrcture and provide application then customers help themself generate content: voice, data and even more...But ours will quadplay within internet, software, hardware and media industry, like yahoo to media, salesforce to software, apple to hardware, so this is really gonna be future stuff and we are trying to make it in china. And cheers cause definetely we have entered into an era of unified competition totally (&#21516;&#36136;&#21270;&#20840;&#31454;&#20105;)thanks to the fantastic spurt of ICT and TMT world tend to be flat. I am pretty much sure it will shape the brand new future of this whole TMT&#38;ICT industry.
How:
vision, mission, strategy
vision, focus, execuation
innovation: speed and simplicity
engineering: user experience and security

4more turn to waulerwauler#gmail.com
Posted by wauler (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only Semantics, I Know, but Important.
Great to hear that China are leading the way with ITs Democratisation, wauler, even if it is up to entrepreneurs to put IT in place and Control IT too.

And "I mean the future lies in international internetworking web-based RSS and user-driven mashup,... " works better for me.
Posted by amanfromMars (22 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe not
MS is trying to gain total control over everything electronic. Consider how this proposal, web computing under a new lable, would prevent anyone from using a computer without being on line, and paying MS for the privelege. Total centralized control, by someone outside China.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
Very UNinteresting
Sounds like MS is just trying to recreate MS Outlook for the Web (w/ network file shares). Not very original. I thought it would be something more interesting like Professor David Gelernter's concept of Mirror Worlds, which was a massively distributed processing vision (see Gelernter's C-Linda and Sun Microsystem's JXTA). Microsoft needs to stop trying to find ways to lock users into its 1990's vision of the world.
Posted by knightsqr (76 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Uh, would that be because....
Would that perhaps be because Microsoft has a history of long
delays, vaporware, poor products, etc., whereas Google and Apple
have histories of innovation and cool products? (hint: YES)
Posted by i,Jimbot (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Better Name "Fog Os"
Microsoft: It does something, what that is we're really not sure. It is called cloud on rainy days.
Posted by Sparky650 (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can't help but think people are missing the point. Firstly this isn't anything new, but lets be chuffed with the new buzz word as it makes us think there is some innovation going on.

What really is happening here, is the big guys know the smaller guys are coming up with some innovative ideas, they control the majority of services, so pick the ideas and reimplement them (usually in a bad way - i.e. MS) and then bring it to the global market as their awesome new idea.

What frustrates me the most is not that Microsoft will implement something others have prior, it's that the restrictions, and the ways it's done, lack common sense quite often, have been overcomplicated, and are often restricting me from what i truely want, and left feeling the effort and fudge factor to implement that 5% is just as hard as doing the lot.... seriously!

Something is coming... and it aint this......!
Posted by caiber (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
MS Cloud Services has been great for our company. We had a great company out of Las Vegas by the name of Janalent who worked with us through the process and the transition was almost seamless. Great job abd great solutions. Microsoft's business solutions for SMB is unmatched. www.janalent.com can get you started.
Posted by joeyIT (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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