Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he wants more powerful software for the Web. Well, Ballmer also happens to have a corporate technological powerhouse under his direction -- shouldn't be too hard, right?
At the 2008 Professional Developers Conference (PDC2008), Microsoft will be divulging information to the world about Windows 7, but the Windows cloud-based operating system is going to be the highlight of the conference.Ballmer was reluctant to provide much details on the nearing announcement of the "cloud operating system" that will supposedly allow developers to create Web-based applications that will run in the cloud. Ballmer said that the company wants to provide the power of desktop applications with the benefits of browser-based applications. Software-as-a-Service has become increasingly popular these days; but, currently, it is only a fraction of the full possibility. The potential for far more improved applications on the Web is still greater than ever. As the browser wars continue on, the services themselves are still where the main focus should be.
This Changes Everything
Consumers should be interested in these developments as this could be the start of seeing the typical Windows application being wired to the Web for things like storage, sharing, collaboration and more. Perhaps we will see a Microsoft Office competitor to hit this "cloud OS"? Then again, maybe this "cloud OS" will give Microsoft a unique edge in the OS wars, when Windows 7 is released. It all depends on how far Microsoft takes this.
Developers should be excited as well, but not all developers will benefit. This "cloud OS" will likely only be running software programmed for .NET, a proprietary software development framework created by Microsoft. So, it isn't clear how many developers Microsoft are alienating by doing this, but it is a move that Microsoft is hoping that will work out.
There are more questions about how far Microsoft is pursuing this project. Will this be a simple hosting platform for .NET applications specifically programmed for this platform, or will this platform allow existing .NET applications to be ported to the cloud without much effort? What will the pricing be (it is likely to be on-par with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud platform)? Will developers be limited to Windows-based software, or will Mac- and Unix-based applications communicate with these services as well?
Waiting for October 27
We won't fully know the details until October 27 at PDC2008. Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, will take the stage and fill us in with information about Microsoft's newest endeavors that could have huge impacts on how people perceive the cloud and how software developers connect to the Web. It will be interesting to see how Amazon responds and if Google decides to enter the fray.