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10/28/2008
04:30 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
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Windows Azure: Help Wanted In The Blue Sky Mine

Well, there was at least one surprise in the first day of the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference: Microsoft's new cloud OS is named Azure, not the rumored Stratus. Many of the other Azure foundation pieces-parts are predictable adaptations and evolutions of existing Microsoft products and services, which is both good news and bad.

Well, there was at least one surprise in the first day of the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference: Microsoft's new cloud OS is named Azure, not the rumored Stratus. Many of the other Azure foundation pieces-parts are predictable adaptations and evolutions of existing Microsoft products and services, which is both good news and bad.Azure makes a lot of sense for both Microsoft and existing Microsoft-invested customers. It's built using existing Microsoft products and technologies: Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, ASP.NET, plus Windows Live technologies like Live Mesh. That is a practical way for Microsoft and its customers take advantage of what they already know and already are using.

Another theme at the PDC is that Microsoft is trying to be more "open" and draw developers that use other technologies such as PHP or Java. Certainly Microsoft would love to have these users in their corner, but what in Azure will appeal to them? At the moment it seems just the opposite; after seeing the demos I cannot imagine trying to use Azure without the help of Visual Studio's IntelliSense, for example.

Microsoft certainly admits that Azure is a "nascient technology", as Ray Ozzie put it in his keynote. That's wonderful Microsoft-speak for an unfinished product. Yet even when it's finished it seems like it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, for anyone to use Azure effectively without buying completely into the complete Microsoft environment. Microsoft is playing to its developer base rather than reaching out to independent developers. That would seem to make Azure a pure defensive play, so current customers have a place to go in the cloud.

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