July 13, 2007 11:00 AM PDT

Week in review: Microsoft's cloudy future

Microsoft plans to open up its underlying Internet services to developers as part of an ambitious makeover some refer to as "Cloud OS."

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, on which developers can build. The software maker has been talking for some time about its plans to have a full-fledged platform that lives on its servers, but the company has been extremely short on details.

During a speech at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer didn't quite answer all the questions. But he did promise that more news will come sooner rather than later, and also offered a few hints as to where the company is headed. During the presentation, Microsoft also pledged to share more information with partners and developers.

"This is an ambitious project for us but it is very important," Ballmer said. "We have a lot of news and things that we'll be talking about and unveiling...this year."

Ballmer said that later this year Microsoft will deliver the first version of a set of developer tools to build on top of Microsoft's Windows Live effort, and noted that the tools will be based on .Net.

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.

The idea was not popular among some CNET News.com readers.

"People do not like someone else controlling their assets," wrote one reader to the News.com TalkBack forum. "They would much rather be responsible for their own actions."

Microsoft also isn't quite ready to talk about plans for an ad-supported or online version of its Office franchise, but the company clearly is thinking about it.

"We've put more of our marketing IQ beyond alternative business models and alternative distribution strategies in the last two years," corporate vice president Chris Capossela said in an interview at the Worldwide Partner Conference.

"It's definitely something where we feel there is this whole population of people we are not reaching."

Many of those people are in emerging markets, where Microsoft is trying things like prepaid cards good for two or three months of Office use. But Capossela agreed that there is an opportunity to reach consumers in well-developed markets like the U.S. and Europe as well.

One possibility is to introduce some sort of online productivity options as part of the Office Live suite of software. BusinessWeek reported last year that Microsoft was exploring such a move.

Meanwhile, in an effort to rally its partners around the reality of hosted software, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told them it was a matter of financial life and death.

"We have to change faster internally than the world is changing externally, or we will be obsolete," Turner said, as part of his speech, which kicked off the Microsoft conference.

While change is hard, Turner said, Microsoft's partners need to be ready to offer customers the choice of running software on their own servers or subscribing to hosted services. "It doesn't mean locally based software is going away, but customers want the choice."

Microsoft is trying to keep its partners in the fold through the transition. With its new Live CRM service, set to go on sale next year, Microsoft is offering partners a 10 percent cut of ongoing subscription revenue for those that help sell and support the product, for example. He also noted that an early access program for Live CRM, which kicks off this quarter, is available only through partners.

This year, E3 stands for entertainment
At this year's E3 Media and Business Summit, the three major game console makers--Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony--were all eager to highlight their successes and differentiate themselves from their rivals. Nintendo is at the top of the heap this year after the wild and serendipitous rise of its Wii console.

But beyond that, the "Big 3" at E3 were all about the "E" word. All three presentations stressed a common goal of establishing video games as a form of entertainment that's unquestionably on a par with television or film. As a result--despite the fact that the revamped E3 is smaller, quieter and more exclusive than its massive predecessor--there was nothing low key about the console companies' presentations. With giant video screens, surround sound and fancy lighting, the atmosphere had the feel of a movie premiere. Game previews, with their emphasis on action and storyline, were virtually indistinguishable from film trailers.

Focusing on the entertainment factor was one thing that the companies could use to get the attendees excited. But it was a bit of a catch-22 for the console manufacturers: the "new E3" was supposed to cut down on the glitz factor, but at the same time, it was clear that the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo needed to use some smoke and mirrors (literally) to mask the fact that there weren't going to be a whole lot of shocking moments.

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15 comments

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CloudOS == IBM JavaOS and OS/2
Isn't it really obvious that Microsoft CloudOS is based on IBM's JavaOS and OS/2?

Everyone knows that Windows NT was based on the OS/2 codebase, and that Microsoft steals ideas from other companies because they cannot innovate themselves out of a paper bag. What they cannot steal, they buy out companies that can do what Microsoft cannot.

Gates you're a bore, we heard this before, it is hot as hell in Redmond! Someone ought to open up Windows!

OS/2 lives, OS/2 is the borg, resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!
Posted by Thought Police OMalley (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...even if NT = O/S2
.. how does it matters.. even if NT = O/S codebase...

Who actually developed it?

It was initally M$ developing O/S2 for IBM on contract. When IBM couldn't market it well.. M$ tookover it ... built an empire on it.

Is it really M$'s problem if other company's can't convert their beautiful ideas into bug bucks.

Anyhow... it's since ages... invention is always supposed to be patroned by able(s).

Im this case.. M$ is patronising invention by buying it..

makes sense... isn't it!!
Posted by nonicks (89 comments )
Link Flag
CloudOS == Microsoft OS/2
Yeah, it's kinda obvious the part about OS/2, given the company that originally developed it was Microsoft itself.

Everyone knows that OS/2 was developed by Microsoft, and that Microsoft capitalizes on ideas other companies weren't smart enough to capitalize on and innovate themselves too and have proved that with Xbox Live, VirtualEarth 3D, Surface, among others.

What they cannot invent, they buy just like Google does and you don't seem to care nearly as much (I wonder why is that...).

ABMs (Anything But Microsofts) you're a bore, we heard this before, it is hot as hell in ABMs' planet!

Someone ought to open up these short-minded peoples' minds. Windows lives, Windows is the leader, resistance is futile, you will always have to use Windows!
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Will we ever learn?
Instead of saying foolish things like "Microsoft also will create
core infrastructure services..." why don't you say, "Microsoft
CLAIMS it will create..."

You would think that after years and years of getting burned my
the Microsoft promise of the day you guys would learn to use
that word 'claims' and close with 'we'll write more about it when
we actually see it.'

Microsoft strings the tech sector along with their promises of the
future. Please. Microsoft is so yesterday.

Get an Intel Mac and you can run Mac OS X, Linux or if you
must, Windows.
Posted by clpdan (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PDS
At the moment we do face the possibility of being got through flaws at via hacking setups.
One of the fisrt things that could make use of an advanced cloud would be an advanced PDS(Packet denial service).
Basically a netowrk that knows enough about what about to hit to lower surges during a DOS attack.
Posted by wildchild_plasma_gyro (296 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google should release their Goobuntu O/S
Google should sell their Goobuntu Operating System to the public and stop hording it all to themselves.....
Posted by JCPayne (820 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google should release their Goobuntu O/S
Google should sell their Goobuntu Operating System to the public and stop hoarding it all to themselves.....
Posted by JCPayne (820 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sell?
I think you may have been looking for a different term. Still, I've been wanting to see something like this for a long time.

Google needs to endorse Ubuntu on their main search page, and let people know that windows and osx aren't the only systems out there. Furthermore, I'd just love to see google start an all-out war with microsoft like that. Can you imagine that? Google starts shipping custom ubuntu discs aimed at killing microsoft's cash cow, and assigns developers to open office and firefox projects...

That would be the most exciting thing since the release of the tickless kernel ;)

(typed in ubuntu/firefox/colemak)
Posted by ethana2 (348 comments )
Link Flag
You should stop dreaming
Google doesn't use Windows and Madonna is a man.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Mistake
It was OS/2, not O/S2. Whoops.
Posted by rubenerd (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Week in review: Microsoft's usual bashing
"People do not like someone else controlling their assets," wrote one reader to the News.com TalkBack forum. "They would much rather be responsible for their own actions."

Cool. People do not like having to pay for things or go to work. They would much rather have everything for free and not go to work. What a logic. I'm a genius.


Regarding Apple patents, and after reading user comments here, one can only conclude patents are only a bad thing when is Microsoft patenting something; if it's Apple I guess it's just them rightfully defending themselves. Interesting.


Regarding the iPhone Nano, I wonder what features they are going to take out of an already feature-weak expensive smartphone-wannabe like iPhone to get a lower price.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire
If there is one lesson we have learned from Microsoft, that is it.
Posted by dornbear (21 comments )
Link Flag
 

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