Microsoft Floats Cloud Plan

Yesterday, at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, Ray Ozzie announced Azure, a new system to create internal and external clouds and link them together.

Details were a bit sketchy, but here's how I understand it: Azure is an operating system of sorts because it manages and runs applications, which in this case exist in some sort of cloud. The platform, at this point, is aimed at developers who can use .NET and Visual Studio to build these apps.

VMware, with its Virtual Datacenter Operating System, announced something conceptually similar a month or two back. Here, IT uses virtualization to turn existing apps into cloud services which can run in your own datacenter or out in an external cloud -- or a mix of the two.

One key difference is that Microsoft already has massive datacenters and plans to build more. This way, Microsoft can house your apps and store your files so they're available no matter where you are or what device you're using.

I like the idea of having my data safe and always available. The only downside as an end user is: Who controls the files? I like to have ownership of the files I create, and don't want somebody controlling my access. And I would never want them taken away.

What do you make of all this, and are you going to give the preview of Azure a try? Let me know at [email protected].

Bill Gates De-Retiring?
Bill Gates has never been one to sit still. In fact, if you've ever met him or seen him, you know he literally can't sit still, but instead rocks forward and backward as he talks.

Those who thought the energetic Gates would retire from his day-to-day Microsoft duties to play Canasta were sadly misinformed. Besides heading The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and remaining chairman of Microsoft, Bill has a brand new gig: bgC3.

This new concern is a think-tank with goals similar to his foundation: To look at the big issues that affect our world -- and perhaps help. This is still very much in stealth mode, as you'll see when you click on

Vista SP1: Your Turn
Redmond Executive Editor Lee Pender is writing a feature story about Vista SP1 and needs your help. Here's a personal note from Lee:

"Redmond magazine is doing a Reader Review of Vista SP1. What's a Reader Review, you ask? Well, it's a product review in which you, the reader, serve as reviewer. (Yes, it's exactly as the name suggests. It really is that simple!) We'd love to get your thoughts on Vista SP1 for the story, so please send them along forthwith to [email protected]. Don't worry -- we won't just take your stuff and throw it into the magazine. If you contact us, we'll be back in touch with some follow-up. So send us your thoughts on Vista SP1 today...and thanks for your participation."

Feel free to drop Lee a line -- we just may quote you in an upcoming issue of Redmond!

Mailbag: What To Do About Windows 7, More
Last week, Doug shared some of his confusion over Windows 7. Here are some of your thoughts about the direction Microsoft should go with its next OS:

Microsoft is running out of time to GET IT RIGHT. If Win 7 doesn't hit the mark directly on the head, then no one will really care after that. I feel the new OS should be based on the Singularity core, be x64-based and use VM technology for any compatibility issue with older programs. Microsoft should not spend one more second working on x32 except for security patches. All of its OS development efforts should be focused on getting a core with legs, without messing it up with all sorts of features. Something like Win 2008 Server Core.

Here's my list of advice for Win 7: Make it capable of virtualization as Server 2008 Hyper-V and App-V. Make it as light as possible (Google did that with Chrome and it works). Remove IE from Windows. Eliminate drivers and services from its core and keep them on the installation DVD for further installation when needed. Make it more video-efficient without the crashes caused on Vista. Make it 64-bit with 32-bit capability for legacy apps. Eliminate Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center; videos, pictures, music and folders should open and organized without any delay. Increase touch-screen use and features.

You are on the wrong side of this one. The reason many of us dislike existing desktop OSes and are moving away from the them is even more compelling with super fat clients. They need even greater capacity and more expensive end user machines; they have huge patch management issues, as well as end user usability complexity and manageability issues; they're an IT support nightmare and need massive training schedules for IT staff; they're overkill (90 percent or more of users only use an Office suite, including e-mail and a browser); they add unnecessary complexity which adds risk to systems; they come at a higher cost in all IT departments that consumes funds at more stategic areas.

Long live the thin client and cloud computing. Down with fat clients and non-virtualized servers.

A few more of you chime in on Microsoft's new patent on a tool to clean up online gaming language:

If the game owner has the choice to censor or not, then this is a great benefit. It allows parental control of online gaming. Which is as it should be done.

We're already blurring the lines between reality and the virtual world and this just contributes to it. People are beginning to think like computers.

And one reader's epic rant about the evils of software authentication left Dave wondering:

I just read Dr. John's hyperbolic rant against software activation and registration. I've never had a problem with MS activation that took over five minutes to solve, but I agree that registration is quite annoying.

However, I wonder if I'm misinterpreting his point. It seems like he's saying that the pains of activation and registration are driving him to Linux, where there are no comparable apps, and therefore no activation or registration hassles. If that's the case, why not just give up the computer altogether?

Got something to say? Say it here! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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