Windows to go cloudy?

According to an article by Richard Waters in the Financial Times (Microsoft looks to cloud to open new windows – registration may be required), Microsoft may finally be ready to take a big leap into the world of cloud computing. He says the wraps are set to be taken off at a conference that the company is throwing for software developers in Los Angeles that starts on Monday.

Microsoft needs to set out a compelling vision to allay concerns among investors and customers that it’s falling behind its rivals in this space, including IBM Blue Cloud, Amazon EC2, Rackspace and Google. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised an “operating system that runs in the internet” – something he dubbed “Windows Cloud”.

It is an overdue move, as cloud computing services are already beginning to make inroads into the corporate IT world, Richard reports:

About 4 per cent of IT budgets are currently spent on the business applications, infrastructure software, servers and storage technologies that support cloud computing, according to IDC.

But by 2012, with the share up to 9 per cent, spending on this new approach to technology will account for a quarter of the annual growth in technology spending, making it an important new market for the entire industry.

Update (28 October): “It’s a transformation of our software. It’s a transformation of our strategy,” said Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, yesterday when he previewed “Windows Azure“, the company’s new ‘cloud computing’ service, at the Professional Developers conference in Los Angeles (see: news report; BBC’s Microsoft to battle in the clouds). There is little doubt that Microsoft has the financial muscle to build the huge data centres required to run applications in the cloud, but it still has some way to go to catch up with its rivals – a point that SaaS blogger Phil Wainewright makes in his commentary: Windows Azure: Microsoft mainstreams the cloud.

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