According to several reports on Thursday, Microsoft's (microsoft.com) CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the company may soon be launching a cloud version of its Windows operating system, unofficially named "Windows Cloud," later this month.
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Speaking yesterday at a Software Plus Services event in London, UK, Ballmer said the OS would be aimed at developers writing cloud computing applications and more details would be provided at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles near the end of October.
"We need a new operating system designed for the cloud and we will introduce one in about four weeks, we'll even have a name to give you by then. But let's just call it for the purposes of today 'Windows Cloud'," said Ballmer, according to reports by 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."
Although extensive details weren't shared, Ballmer hinted at some of the features that would be built into the new OS including geo-replication techniques (a way to replicate data across many physical servers in different locations), management modeling and a service-oriented architecture model.
According to reports on My Broadband, Ballmer reportedly also said that Windows Cloud would be separate from Windows 7, the OS Microsoft is developing to succeed Windows Vista, and the company wasn't expecting to completely move its Office productivity suite online, even though there would likely be a "lite" version of the software available online.
Cloud computing is a concept that has stirred up a lot of buzz over the last year, and despite some criticisms about its consistent reliability or readiness for the enterprise market, many hosting providers have been launching their own cloud-based services to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive. Certainly, technology giants like Microsoft, Google and Amazon have been heavily playing in this space as well.
"What we are really witnessing here is the transformation of an industry, and Microsoft is trying to play catch-up with everyone else," writes John Brandon for ComputerWorld. "They have a corner on server software, productivity software, and the desktop OS but are not clear market leaders in the cloud. That distinction belongs to Amazon, Google, and companies like 3Tera. I'm not exactly sure what Ballmer is hinting at, but 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 and compete directly, it seems, with Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine."
Earlier this week, Amazon said its rival Elastic Computer Cloud service would run on Windows Server and the SQL Server database beginning this fall.
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