Wolfe's Den: Less Client, More Cloud For Microsoft After Windows 7

Intriguing evidence points to the fact that cloud computing services for both enterprises and consumers--in the form of Azure and Windows Live--will loom larger in Microsoft's future than anyone realizes.
Nevertheless, in the public mind -- indeed, in the minds of most of its business users as well, I suspect -- there's an inevitable overlap between the consumer and enterprise messages. (This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's good us Microsoft users can seamlessly transition between our home and work PCs, something Mac users can't say.)

Azure might see a similar dynamic, benefiting from its position as a computer kissing cousin of Windows Live.

As well, I'm guessing that Microsoft's historical tendency to blur the consumer/business line -- remember, after all, where it began, and how hard it's had to work to earn enterprise cred -- is playing into what I perceive as Azure's market positioning as "the cloud service for rest of us (enterprises)."

Azure's platform page speaks to Microsoft's apparent desire to serve as the helping hand guiding business users into the cloud. "Build new applications in the cloud -- or use interoperable services that run on Microsoft infrastructure to extend and enhance your existing applications. You choose what's right for you."

I submit that there's a discernable, qualitative difference between Microsoft's pitch and that of Amazon and Google. Amazon's Elastic Cloud Compute message seems aimed squarely at developers. Google offers both heavy duty developer stuff (like here) and a "lite" entree into Google Apps here), but the twain don't seem to be integrated.

In conclusion, I see I've neglected to dive deeply into the details of some of those perfect-storm technologies -- notably, virtualization and data-center efficiencies -- which I set forth as the thesis for my argument. I'll dive deeper into future columns, but for now let me close the loop by stating that Microsoft's cloud strategy appears similarly intent on shielding its customers from such complexity, and enabling them to get on, as simply as possible, with running their businesses.

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What's your take? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at alex[email protected].

Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of

[Find out when Windows 7 will be right for your enterprise. If you're weighing whether or not to migrate to Microsoft's new operating system, then be sure to check out InformationWeek's Business Case For Windows 7.

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