Ballmer previews 'Windows Cloud'

Ballmer previews 'Windows Cloud'

Summary: Speaking to developers in London, Steve Ballmer says Microsoft will announce a cloud-based operating system within a month--with a catchy new name.

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Microsoft will launch an operating system for the 'cloud' in four weeks, chief executive Steve Ballmer told delegates at a Microsoft-sponsored developer conference in London.

Tentatively entitled 'Windows Cloud', although Ballmer suggested it would have a "snazzier name" at launch, the product is designed to make it possible to "just… write an application and… push it to the cloud", Ballmer said.

'Cloud computing' is a term used to describe a situation where applications are based on web servers and accessed through internet connections, rather than being installed on clients.

This leads to a new business model of subscription-based applications, generally known as 'software as a service' (SaaS) but dubbed by Microsoft as 'software plus services'.

Amazon said on Wednesday that it would offer some of its cloud-computing customers the option of running Windows over its systems. Others have argued that Google's recently launched Chrome browser includes many features, such as its use of the Gears offline-functionality feature, that could help it evolve at some point into a cloud-based operating system.

"Every time there's a big new trend, a big new opportunity, we write a new operating system," Ballmer told delegates at the conference. "We're now in the process of writing a new operating system. For lack of a better term, before we announce it in four weeks, I'll call it Windows Cloud."

"It's too hard today for people to write cloud applications," Ballmer continued. "You've got to… hire a [hosting service or] have your own servers; you've got to have some sense of how you want to build your application and manage your servers. Even if they're physically being taken care of by a third party, that's a complex process. You should just be able to write an application and, if you will, push it to the cloud, and have the service taken care of."

Ballmer suggested that developers would be able to use the .NET Framework to build applications for the cloud server, browser and client, and said Windows Cloud would make it possible to deliver "click-to-run" software more efficiently than was possible with "most software from yesteryear".

"We don't want to make everything as least-common-denominator as the browser, but we want to make things as easy as click to run," Ballmer said. "So we've got to evolve Windows to the .NET model. You still get all those advantages that we associate with PC operating systems. You get rich user interfaces and user interaction, which is only going to get better with speech."

"With PC operating systems today, you can mix and match and control your own applications. You want to be able to do that, even if the application is distributed to you from the cloud. There's a lot that will happen on the underlying platform — the whole way we think about writing and managing applications as the world moves towards software plus services," Ballmer said.

Ballmer also alluded to "new business models" that would accompany the cloud approach. "Some things will be sold, some things will be put out on a subscription basis, some things will be monetized through advertising. We need to make sure there's a model and a platform that supports all of that."

Ballmer added that the time such services would take to appear would depend on the customer. "In the consumer market, a lot of this will happen quickly," he said. "In the enterprise market, a lot of this stuff could take three, four, seven or more years to really transpire".

Topics: Cloud, Apps, Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development, Windows

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26 comments
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  • Sounds cool! (NT)

    .
    P. Douglas
  • Lots of complexity there

    I'm interested to see how this develops. There are many issues that serious applications must address, such as how much redundancy is needed (do you need redundant web servers, redundant database servers, a web server farm, etc) that can significantly affect the cost and the software design.
    Or, for example, how do you upgrade your application when the upgrade involves changes to the underlying database? Who has access to the database? Who administers it?
    It will be interesting to see how they address these issues. If they can present ways for serious applications to be deployed quickly and easily, that will be something.
    ted@...
    • Complexity is something MS doesn't do very well.

      I still have a wait and see attitude towards cloud computing, but I'm cynical enough (re: been around long enough) to know that Microsoft doesn't have the engineering chops to pull this off. Given the choice between using Microsoft's implementation of an openly developed design, or using technology that Microsoft themselves cooked up, I choose the former.

      I could list quite a few, but I'll cite CORBA as a specific example. Common Object Reqest Broker Architecture. Soundly designed, implemented by several vendors. Microsoft's answer: DCOM. Need I say more?
      User07734
  • Let me dust off my Terminal

    Sounds like we're going back to the Stone Age. Back in my terminal days, there was a screen and keyboard. The server was in the basement of the building and tons of serial cable connections. This type of computing is to allow more control over the connection and more processing power from the Cloud server. But this time, instead of one server, it's a bunch all over the internet. Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft currently have cloud systems currently out there for a price per meg / time.

    One problem. You will have a boost in borrowed processing power, BUT you will see a slowness in data flow over the internet. I'm not sure if this will actually make any difference for the standard business. You might save sometime if your system crunches numbers all day long though.
    Maarek
    • At least this time it isn't "green screen"...

      Yes, the pendulum is swinging back to centralized computing. But, this time differences include:
      - A full GUI vs. "green screen"
      - "Centralized" is in "the cloud" vs. "the basement"
      - Cheaper servers vs. mainframes
      Basic Logic
  • Microsoft Extends Vista Downgrade By Six Months

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/03/windows_xp_recovery/

    What? I thought it was over! I thought no one could get XP anymore!!!

    Wow, talk about flip-flopping.
    itanalyst2@...
    • An Upgrade Not A Downgrade

      Xp Still Rules As The Best For Home And Office!Wake Up! It is all about the money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      MDBlair@...
  • Turning your paid off PC into a Pay-Per-Use Taxi?

    IMHO I think Mr. Ballmer is trying to move away from a periodic revenue stream (every few years I buy a PC running a Windows O/S, and add MS Office for $$$) to a continuous revenue stream where accessing MS Office is done via the 'cloud', and it turns into a Pay-Per-Use utility.

    To me, this feels like the difference between buying/driving your own car vs. relying solely on a taxi for all of your transportation needs.

    Financially-speaking, this only makes sense for a small percentage of people out there living in unusual circumstances.(NYC?)

    For the rest of us, relying upon a Pay-Per-Use taxi fails the price/mile calculation. If cloud-computing isn't going to raise the price of using PCs, please enlighten me.
    Avionics
    • It's not about transforming the current model ...

      ... I believe it is about extending it. I believe MS wants to broadly give users the ability to run Windows applications virtually from the cloud, on their PCs. Therefore people will be able to run Windows apps locally on their PCs, as well Windows apps virtually from the cloud. If e.g. there is a Windows app a person would like to access on a PC or device he is using, he will have the option of running it virtually if it is not installed on the PC / device he is using. This gives users a lot of flexibility. It means users could run custom Windows apps from work virtually on their home PCs or devices, or they could go to a web site and run a Windows apps virtually without having to install it.
      P. Douglas
  • 4 weeks to deliver....Hs, Ha, Ha!

    Ballmer outdid himself this time!
    If he delivers a real OS in 4 weeks I have a bridge to sell you...in Redmond, WA!
    Linux Geek
    • So,

      If Microsoft unveil a significant CTP or beta of a cloud OS at the PDC (and not vapourware), will you take you mindless drivel, fuck off, and leave the rest of us to some semblance of ration discussion?
      TheTruthisOutThere@...
      • Don't bet on it...

        Cause you just KNOW he can't resist posting mindless ABM flavored drivel. 5 minutes after he loses the bet and Microsoft comes through, he'll be posting something about how evil, lame and/or unoriginal it is...
        Wolfie2K3
    • Clueless as ever...

      Just because Balmer said it was going to be released 4 weeks from now doesn't mean they're only starting to work on it NOW... For all anyone knows, they've been working on it for a couple of YEARS.

      Only a pinhead such as yourself would think otherwise.
      Wolfie2K3
    • He didn't say M$ started the development recently

      It's been going on for a year. Learn to read and comprehend, freetard.
      LBiege
  • I hope it's not a WPF to SL service...

    I've been banging the drum for several years about the lack of convergence between desktop and web apps. I hope SteveB is not outlining a WPF to SL conversion service which I've got to pay for or rely on MS to deliver from server farms (don't you just hate this 'cloud' hype, it's not as though someone is programing the ether) when all I need to do is compile my core code twice, once for the cross browser (SL experience) and once again for extenibility onto the Windows desktop (WPF experience).
    rmac2
  • SaaS will NOT work

    If you think SaaS is a good thing, think again. Security is a super high issue here, only that is enough to give up.
    Gradius2
  • Who does this benefit?

    I can only think that this will benefit people with low end systems - who use their current hardware as a dumb terminal - but at a time when Hardward is at an all time low, is this needed at all?
    bazzlad
  • When will they learn?

    It's not about what name you give something, it's about usability and being user friendly, which NONE of their stuff has ever been, and I would not hold your breathe that this will be either.

    Just like their commercials, they have NO clue. Thank goodness the Gates Seinfeld ones are off the air. Are they trying to alienate their users on purpose now. And that "I'm a PC" one. Doesn't tell me anything they can do, just that they are making fun of themselves.
    Aria Pictures
  • All Your Base....RE: Ballmer previews 'Windows Cloud'

    Hmmm, trust MSFT to provide a secure computing
    environment "in the cloud" for my precious data. I
    think not.

    One high profile hack and all your base are belong to
    .cn or .ru....
    jaredbb
  • RE: Ballmer previews 'Windows Cloud'

    Worse OS choice in history. First, he's knocking off thousands, if not 10s of thousands of people who do not have the data services required to use SaaS. Second, there is no way this will be safe, espically compared to the over protective security of Vista and the decent moderation of XP.

    Now is the question, who is this helping, why even do this? To stop pirating. They'll be viewing data constantly and able to find out where it's going. They will in essence, make it able to shut you down if you download something they consider illegal to do. And what are people going to do? Go to the hugely over hyped, under supported, extremely limited Mac/Apple system? For a week. Mac's are horrible, and over priced. And just a mean thing. Whats left? Either hope they support Vista/XP For as long as they have. Or do linux... It's Free, Highly Supported, Extremely Capable programmers, and besides being FREE (Can I mention that more?) You'll realize some versions will quickly remind you of windows, and if your still young enough to accept a new OS, will adapt very quickly. Also, Mac users, realize this, Mac is practically a scam. They have viruses, they exist, they crash, they are Windows, only with less things to cause a crash, and for viruses Mac's are so tiny that its nearly non existant if you have no benefit for targeting 4% of computers.
    Flawed