Microsoft Becoming Preoccupied With The Cloud

    October 29, 2008

We don’t know how many people play drinking games while reading press releases, but here’s a warning: taking a shot every time Microsoft uses the word "cloud" must be dangerous to one’s health.  Lately, the cloud is about all the Redmond-based corporation can seem to discuss.

In a press release titled "Microsoft Unveils Windows Azure at Professional Developers Conference," the term appears eleven times.  Something about the pre-beta release of Windows 7 mentions it twice, and in the release titled "Microsoft to Extend Office to the Browser," you’ll see it once more.

To top things off, the cloud then gets named a total of eight times in a release called "Microsoft Outlines Benefits of Software Plus Services to Higher Education at EDUCAUSE."  And all of these official documents were released in the space of less than two days, mind you.

So what’s the deal with Microsoft and clouds?  Well, the software giant may be feeling a financial squeeze.  Its third quarter report indicated that expensive versions of Windows aren’t selling as well as Microsoft expected them to, and the popularity of "netbooks" – machines meant to do little other than connect to the Internet – was officially identified as one reason for this trend.  Netbooks tend to run older Windows software or Linux.

Another cause for Microsoft’s concern might be Google, with all of its free, Web-based word processors and other tools.  Rumors of a proper Google operating system have never completely died down, either.

A logical solution for Microsoft in any case is to make sure its products (like Windows 7 and Office) compete online.  With the Azure move, Microsoft could even be ensuring that outside developers make its products compete online.

Just about everyone stands to reap some very real benefits from this.  For regular users, Chris Capossela, the senior vice president of Microsoft’s Business Division, explained in a statement that a "seamless, synchronized experience across those devices to help them work smarter, faster, and better" should result.

Meanwhile, "When available with the next version of Microsoft Office, Office Web applications will increase the opportunity for OEM and retail partners as they extend the value of Microsoft Office to the Web, thereby addressing the full range of their customers’ needs," according to Capossela.

Microsoft isn’t about to give up on clouds, then, and instead, we’re likely to read more and more about them going into the future.

Keep an eye out for a lot of cloud talk coming from all corners, then.  Just step away from the hard liquor before doing so.