Microsoft will announce its rebranding of its "Windows Azure" cloud operating system to "Microsoft Azure," this week, according to a couple of tipsters of mine.
The announcement is expected to happen tomorrow, March 25, and to take effect on April 3, the second day of Microsoft's Build conference in San Francisco, said a couple of individuals who asked not to be identified, but who are familiar with Microsoft's plans.
The rebranding makes sense, given Windows Azure isn't all about Windows. Azure customers can run Linux in virtual machines on the operating system. Azure users also can run Oracle databases and middleware, and use non-Windows-specific development tools, including Java, Ruby, PHP and Python.
Since 2008, when Windows Azure was still known by its codename "Red Dog," Microsoft's message was that Windows Azure was a cloud version of Windows Server. (Microsoft combined its Server and Cloud teams into a single unit in late 2009.) This twinning of its on-premises and cloud offerings has been at the crux of Microsoft's private/public/hybrid cloud messagaging.
In 2012, there was some brief confusion when Microsoft eliminated the word "Azure" from its cloud billing portal. Microsoft officials said at that time that Microsoft had no plans to move away from the Windows Azure branding.
But these days, even though Windows is still key to Microsoft, the company is emphasizing it's not Windows-only. Microsoft officials are working to position Microsoft as a cross-platform software and services provider. Microsoft's Office on iPad suite, which the company is expected to launch this Thursday, March 27, is another example of that new corporate positioning.
I asked Microsoft officials to comment on the planned Microsoft Azure rebranding and they declined to comment.
Update (March 25): Right on cue, here's Microsoft's announcement of the Azure name change.