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The current state is that you provide APIs (application programming interfaces) and tools. So do, say, eBay, Google and Yahoo. But where do you want to go? People talk about a "cloud OS" and Windows Live Core project at Microsoft. What's different between this Windows Live platform today and where you seem to want to go?
Ozzie: I've nothing to announce in that realm at this time. Yet, it's pretty clear that we're working on some stuff.
Let's just separate it into layers. At the raw infrastructure layer, there is computation, storage, communications --those are kind of DNA elements of desktop PCs, servers, services, whatever. At the most boring, basic level, if there are ways that we can use our assets to extend them to developers in an interesting way, I think it's safe to assume (Microsoft will provide services) at the resource level--and Silverlight streaming is a good example of that.
At the next layer up are things that are referred to as foundation services. Things like identity, management and contact lists, photos, things that are one level of abstraction up. Windows Live APIs and the things that we are announcing here are good examples of things at that level. They're not really low-level, but they start to be really useful specifically to an app.
We have a broad palette of things at each layer that are coming down the pike. The one thing that you can count on--absolutely, unquestionably--is that anything that we do from a services infrastructure platform perspective is aligned with the .Net story--the same developer tools. There might be variants on the (.Net) framework because there might be different library services that are appropriate in a cloud world than an enterprise server world or a desktop world. But the same skill set--and we're supporting people in building, using, and in developing enterprise apps or desktop apps and now in the browser--will have the same thing in a cloud.
You first laid out the live strategy in November 2005. Where do you see yourselves in the progression internally?
Ozzie: I think we're doing actually very well, if you look at the number of offerings and how the groups are engaging customers and understanding how they want to deploy services and when.
I divide the world into two sides--I'll call one managed and the other unmanaged. The managed world is one where an IT person would be involved. We have offerings like Exchange and SharePoint, Active Directory--things like that. There's a lot of impact that's going to happen in that world related to services. You think of Salesforce.com in that world, but it goes way deeper than that. We have enterprise customers basically saying, "Look, you're talking about services infrastructure in the sky. Should I start beginning to think about doing my enterprise apps up there? Should I be thinking about enterprise infrastructure? Which pieces of infrastructure should go up there before other pieces? And are you going to help take us there?"
So those (Microsoft) business units are essentially engaging customers in trying to understand what kind of hybrid forms of say, on-premises e-mail versus on-the-cloud e-mail, on-premises content management versus out there. That stuff is happening and it's moving forward and there are groups working on hosted offerings that partners can use to host our enterprise servers in those environments.
On the unmanaged side where we use the Live moniker, I'll say we haven't done a particularly great job of articulating--I'll take a few arrows--why we choose to brand certain of the MSN services Windows Live and which ones not. To a technical audience, I can explain to them that the ones called Windows Live are the ones that we refactored so they can be syndicated and reused as reusable assets in a number of forms. They represent the platform layer of our services. The things you didn't see (rebranded) are shopping, the portal--those are MSN. Those stay there, we are not reusing those.
But we're making progress. Would we like to be as nimble as a start-up? Sure but we have a customer base, we want to bring the customer base through. When you look at the development work, I'm extremely pleased in terms of what they're building and why, what scenarios they are trying to address.
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