Ballmer gets down with the cool kids

In Thursday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches Steve Ballmer make up an unannounced product name on the spot -- because he wants us to love him? Not to mention how obituaries are written in Wyoming...

Jeremy Kirk comes in peace:

Steve Ballmer
Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer revealed a few details on Wednesday of a forthcoming operating system that will help developers write Internet-based applications.

Within a month, Microsoft will unveil what Ballmer called "Windows Cloud." The operating system, which will likely have a different name, is intended for developers writing cloud-computing applications ... [He] was short on details, saying more information would spoil the announcement. Windows Cloud is a separate project from Windows 7.
Microsoft doesn't envision products such as the Office productivity suite moving entirely off desktop PCs and onto the Internet. But Microsoft is working on a service that would let people do "light editing" of Office documents at places such as a public Internet kiosk, Ballmer said.

John Brandon 'splains:

[It's] essentially a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that will let companies host Web applications. It will debut at the PDC ... it reminds me of the slip Bill Gates made recently in prematurely announcing Windows 7. Windows Cloud, which is a name that Ballmer seems to have made up on the spot, will use geo-replication techniques (a way to replicate data across many physical servers in different locations) and compete directly, it seems, with Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine.
What we are really witnessing here is the transformation of an industry, and Microsoft is trying to play catch-up ... [with] Amazon, Google, and companies like 3Tera.
Okay, but are the shooting their own foot? ... Any company still hanging on the fence about Windows might decide to wait longer and see how this whole cloud infrastructure plays out ... Microsoft is so busy trying to keep track of the cloud developments that they have forgotten all about proper marketing techniques.

Preston Gralla is half-happy:

That's a big step forward for Microsoft, but there's some evidence that it may only get the new operating system half-right ... In the past, Microsoft has seemed to be more intent on protecting Microsoft Office than recognizing that the future of applications is Internet-based ... But Ballmer also made it clear that it will only go so far into cloud-based computing.
Eventually, I think Office will become a hybrid of online and client-based. Just the fact that Microsoft is looking at letting people edit documents using an online version of it is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, though, Microsoft will have to take plenty more steps than that.

John Paczkowski pokes fun:

If Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Free Software Foundation founder Richard M. Stallman are planning a membership drive for their new Anti-Cloud Computing Coalition, they best not go knocking on Steve Ballmer’s door. Because the Microsoft CEO might not agree with their assessment of the Cloud Computing sobriquet as “complete gibberish,” “idiocy,” “stupidity” and “worse than stupidity.”

Paul Boutin waxes cynical:

He made it clear that sorry, no, Microsoft won't be moving to a fully browser-based version of its Office applications. Rather, Windows Cloud will let road warriors do what Ballmer called "light editing" at, say, a public Internet workstation or kiosk ... Sounds like the plan is to do just enough to keep Office customers from switching to Google Docs.

Harry McCracken wonders what the heck it is:

I’m assuming it’s not an OS that’s in any way akin to Windows as we know it as a desktop OS. Rather, it’s more likely a development platform and/or set of services for Net-based apps ... [and] presumably also not the same thing as Midori, the research project involving a post-Windows hybrid desktop/Net OS.
To date, I haven’t heard anybody at Microsoft clearly articulate what Windows is as it moves beyond the desktop onto the Internet ... But the race between Office and Google Docs isn’t about how good a Web suite can be today–it’s about how good they’ll be two, three, five years from now. To crib from Wayne Gretzky’s famous advice, surely Ballmer and Microsoft are trying to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is right now.

To which, truthsearch counsels patience:

This is the pre-announcement to announce an announcement. You'll have to wait for the actual announcement to find out what the hell it is.

But kat_skan is just confused:

Good Call, Microsoft. With five editions of Vista competing with three editions of XP and nine editions of Server 2008 (including three that are just the regular versions without the hypervisor software), plus separate 64-bit versions of everything, the Windows product line wasn't nearly diffuse enough.

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 22 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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