Channel Marker

Oct 2 2008   10:30AM GMT

Windows Cloud coming to Microsoft PDC

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

For much of this year, Microsoft has been trying to convince people that it’s serious about Software as a Service (or “Software Plus Services,” as Microsoft calls it … always gotta be difficult, don’t they?).

Yesterday, the company took its boldest step yet. CEO Steve Ballmer told partners at an event in London that Microsoft will announce a “cloud operating system” at the Professional Developers Conference later this month, according to InfoWorld. He dubbed the OS “Windows Cloud” for the time being, and here’s how he described it, according to The Register:

Just like Windows Server looked a lot like Windows but with new properties, new characteristics and new features, so will Windows Cloud look a lot like Windows Server.

Many partners and analysts have been skeptical about Microsoft’s SaaS strategy because of the company’s dominance in the on-premise software market. There’s concern that Microsoft is only getting into SaaS because of pressure from Google, Salesforce.com and other online-only competitors.

Kind of surprisingly, Ballmer admitted as much yesterday.

“We’re not driving an agenda towards being service providers,” he said. “But we’ve gotta build a service that is Windows in the cloud.”

The PDC is shaping up to be a major show, because that’s where Microsoft will also give out pre-beta copies of Windows 7, its next desktop OS. And it seems like we’re entering a new era that is about to redefine the OS as we know it.

Windows 7 is rumored to support touch-screen technology. Windows Cloud, if successful, could go a long way towards legitimizing SaaS among the masses. Then, of course, there’s VMware’s new Virtual Data Center Operating System, which came with a declaration from CEO Paul Maritz that the OS as we know it is dead.

These changes will undoubtedly affect the channel, but the question is how. Let me know what you think about this shift and its effects on your business.

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