The future lies in the platform in the cloud, according to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.
During his keynote on Wednesday at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2008, Ballmer said enterprise users will come to expect web-ready interfaces that are both familiar and as responsive as their desktop counterparts.
"The world will insist on 'click to run', not 'click to install' or 'click to configure'," he said, referring to web applications that make use of developer technology such as Ajax to create richer environments.
Ballmer called for developers to write applications that can be migrated seamlessly from the desktop to the 'cloud', a move that is in line with the company's 'software plus services' SaaS strategy.
"People expect consistency in interfaces," he said, pointing to Microsoft's bid to make its web applications similar in appearance to their desktop versions. He added that systems administrators familiar with Microsoft's Exchange Server messaging platform can expect to find a similar interface in the company's future web offerings.
Hybrid model to curb piracy
Eduardo Rossini, Microsoft corporate vice president for worldwide small and mid-market solutions and partners, said in an interview with ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet Asia that the hybrid mix of 'software plus services' is expected to help combat piracy rates in emerging markets.
Referring to a set of new subscription services offered under Microsoft Online Services, Rossini said: "Piracy is a problem in many markets. But when it's [available at] US$15 a month, per user, there is no reason to pirate," Rossini said.
He conceded that issues with broadband connection in developing markets still exist, and these would pose a barrier to adoption of web applications in some countries.
These locations are likely to choose a balance that leans more towards on-premise software in the hybrid SaaS strategy, he said.