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Ozzie Reveals More About Live Platform Plans

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie has provided a slightly clearer look at the underlying development infrastructure set to power the company's "software-plus-services" initiative.

Speaking at Redmond's annual Financial Analyst Meeting on July 26, Ozzie made it clear that the company's core business of client operating system software will remain a major part of its strategy. "From my viewpoint, every one of our software offerings is either a socket for a new attached service that connects to that software offering, or an upgrade or up-sell opportunity to extend a product's value proposition up to the Web and, potentially, through mobile devices," Ozzie said.

"This transformation from software to software plus services is a very, very big deal for our company. It'll be a very critical aspect of all of our offerings over the next few years," he added.

Ozzie delivered a presentation meant to illustrate how Microsoft will enable this shift through a multiple-layer services development platform.

The lowest layer concerns hardware, and is called Global Foundation Services, Ozzie said. It includes the major datacenters Microsoft has been building for some time, along with the networking assets that provide links to the Internet.

Next up is the Cloud Infrastructure Services layer, which Ozzie termed "a utility computing fabric upon which all of our online services run.

"It has application frameworks that support a variety of app models that are designed for horizontal scaling. And it has infrastructure that manages the automatic deployment and load balancing and performance optimization of the apps that it's managing, running on its infrastructure," he added.

Sitting on top of this will be the Live Platform Services layer, which will contain services meant to serve applications, according to Ozzie. "These are services like identity services, contact lists -- this is the layer where our social graph of your relationships lives, your presence and rendezvous, communication services. Perhaps most importantly, our advertising platform infrastructure lives at this level," he said.

The final layer will consist of the service applications themselves, powered by technology such as Silverlight, Microsoft's new cross-platform browser plug-in for rich Internet applications.

What remains unclear, however, is the story for developers looking to target the coming platform. As RDN columnist and Directions on Microsoft analyst Greg DeMichillie noted in a recent column, so far, Live services suffer from uneven licensing rules and a non-uniform programming model.

Ozzie indicated the company needs a significant amount of time to fully bake its plans, saying announcements regarding the new platform will occur during the next 12 to 18 months. However, he spared no drama in framing Microsoft's vision. 

"We're building a platform to support our own apps and solutions, and to support our partners' applications and solutions, and to support enterprise solutions and enterprise infrastructure," he said. "... We believe we're the only company with the platform DNA that's necessarily to viably deliver this highly leveragable platform approach to services. And we're certainly one of the few companies that has the financial capacity to capitalize on this sea change, this services transformation."

About the Author

Chris Kanaracus is the news editor for Redmond Developer News.

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