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Microsoft Software

Ballmer Teases Software-Plus-Services in '07 168

Robert writes with a link to a CBR article hinting that Microsoft's vision of software-plus-services may begin to form this year. The idea is that an online version of Windows, plus a 'cloud' of related services and collaboration software, will allow a user to access their content from anywhere and (theoretically) be more productive. "In broad strokes, that vision is to build a set of services for servers, clients and mobile devices in the Internet cloud, with a new model of computation and user interface. Ballmer seemed to suggest the first of these services would launch, in some form, later this year. Underpinning these services would be a "cloud platform," which is the Windows Live Core architecture the company is working on. 'We are in the process today of building out a service platform in the cloud,' Ballmer said. 'We're building out a service-based infrastructure, not server by server but a new management model, a new device model, new storage, networking, computational model from the get-go.'"
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Ballmer Teases Software-Plus-Services in '07

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  • thin client (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:37PM (#19841681) Homepage
    Now that internet access is ubiquitous, fast, and reliable, the age of the thin client may really be upon us. Though thin clients have been touted in the past and failed, the state of the internet has never been ready to handle thin clients in the past. This has changed.

    Home users and small business simply should not have to worry about maintaining firewalls, patches, backups, revision control, document sharing services, and all the other mess that comes with typical PC use. They have only done it so far because there was no other option. Now things are changing, and I welcome it. The only people who will lose out on this are the low-level tech support types and small business IT technicians. With today's unemployment rates, this isn't a huge problem.

    Yay, progress!
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:37PM (#19841685) Journal
    "Software as a Service" died back in 2000... why does MSFT keep insisting on bringing it back up?

    Sure, the growth of virtualization might make some aspects more palatable, but others (like, you know, "control") are simply not going to be ameliorated by repackaging.

    It's almost like MSFT has been on a re-run kick lately... Software-as-Service, Tablets (okay, "tables" now), etc...

    It would be damned interesting to see MSFT come up with a new idea that folks actually like, instead of chasing others' successes (e.g. with xbox and Zune and IE, to varying degrees of success), or trying to rehash their failed ones.


  • by nanosquid ( 1074949 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:38PM (#19841697)
    Apple hasn't done a lot with it beyond those things to date, but hints that is about to change... I'd say they have a head-start on Microsoft, yet again.

    They sure do have a head start on Microsoft, including the "it will only work well with our own OS" part.

    I think the real leaders in this area are the companies that have figured out how to offer these services in an OS-neutral way and how to integrate mobile and desktop usage. Neither Microsoft nor Apple have done that.
  • Copycat (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:46PM (#19841797)
    Microsoft basically wants to copycat the cellphone 'pay as you go' revenue model. Software 'plus' services basically means the software is useless without some sort of online subscription, specially associated with a single users account.

    Want to read mail? better purchase a subscription to MS-Mail+
    Want to see up to date help files for visual studio? better subscribe to Developer+
    Want to get updates? subscribe to Updates+

    expect each of these services to have a small monthly fee, something like you would see on a cellphone bill.

    People are used to getting gouged for cell service, the sheep will learn to like it for software as well.

    Next step is Microsoft Datacenters, and Microsoft Storage. No need to buy or 'own' a PC anymore, lease/rent it and all your software from Microsoft, for a small monthly fee of course.
  • It would be damned interesting to see MSFT come up with a new idea that folks actually like, instead of chasing others' successes (e.g. with xbox and Zune and IE, to varying degrees of success), or trying to rehash their failed ones.

    Except, as far as I can tell, they've never done that. The core of their business model is to either copy other people's successful ideas (sometimes after buying them, sometimes without), or just take an idea that hasn't ever been successful, and use their weight to ram it down people's throats regardless.

    They have no experience in the creation-of-new-novel-stuff department. Someday, that's going to catch up with them and be their undoing, but with so much money to burn, it could take an exceptionally long time.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:49PM (#19841829) Journal

    Are you kidding? That has got to be one of the worst analogies I've seen here in a long time -- and this is slashdot, for crying out loud.

    Socialism is, at its foundation, public ownership and control of both the State and the means of production. Socialism tends to also mean redistribution of wealth, destruction of the elite, and raising the minimum standard of living (including working conditions, etc). What in Dog's name does any of that have to do with S+S?

    A more apt analogy would be that MS is acting as a private company with control over public infrastructure. To make a politicoeconomic analogy (just as ridiculous, but closer to the truth) like yours, this is more like fascism (collaboration of industry & state, with autocratic leadership). Or rampant capitalism, where access to capital (and hence, the resources to build infrastructure) defines who rules and who controls production.

    At any rate, there is no way you can compare a *voluntary* commercial system with a *compulsory* politicoeconomic one.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:51PM (#19841849) Journal
    These are similar to what killed the whole idea back when MSFT first touted it.

    Software isn't like Cable TV, Phone, or similar home services. After all, I don't put my personal data into any of those, and I certainly don't use them to store my own files. If Joe Sixpack misses the 'rent' on his thin client, he's screwed... hard. Even if his files were stored locally, he'd have a very hard time opening media files which can only be opened by the thin client (yes, I can see MSFT --or someone else-- doing that very easily to produce a literal lock-in).

    A thin client would certainly free up the average user from routine tasks... but what if the user prefers to use, say IrfanView [] for managing and viewing his/her image files, instead of whatever the vendor has provided (prolly the MS default image viewer)? I sincerely doubt that the vendor is going to let said user simply install whatever he/she wants, since it would become a logistical nightmare to support on the back end.

    There's still too much room for abuse... on all sides. It removes consumer choice from the equation entirely, unless consumers can organize en masse and simply shift to a friendlier provider. Boycotts of that size, especially with personal data and files at stake, will be infinitely harder to organize and execute. Even regular ones today are tough enough to pull off.

    Technically, I think it's damned fine. VM's for corporate users saves a ton of cash in hardware. OTOH, those corporations aren't as willing to trust their secrets and business on VM servers that they don't own. Users have very similar reasons.

    Don't get me wrong, I can see it happening on some levels... but I just don't see any mass shift towards it (what... you think Joe Sixpack wants his vendor to keep his tax records --or conversely, his pr0n collection-- and not have them within immediate and total control?)


  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:05PM (#19842021)
    how is this off topic? if MSFT is involved you will have to pay to access your own data, and if you miss a payment or are late with it you lose all your data. The same goes for network neutrality. it's just the ISPs who want to nickel and dime you to death.

    The Dot-Bomb of this decade is brewing and it will be these "software as services" repeating the mistakes of AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy again. Apparently we don't learn from history, thus making us doomed to repeat it.
  • by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:27PM (#19842305)

    (..) because people fundamentally distrust others and do not like to be reliant on others when it can be trivally avoided (Linux)

    And nowadays, >90% of desktop users run a closed source OS on their desktop, that automatically downloads and installs updates with unknown contents, whenever the user goes online. And extend it by clicking 'download plugin' whenever something appears to be missing or not working. And keep their mail online on their ISP's servers. And share their family pics online using a photo sharing site that popped up 2 months ago. That is in practice different from software-as-a-service, ehm... how?

    If your assumption were true, people would flock en masse to Linux and other Free/OS systems, because it is easy enough (if you care).

    Personally, I use Linux because (among other reasons) I have more trust in an open source system maintained by many groups of developers, that work on it for fun and a variety of other reasons, than I would trust a closed source system maintained by a single company, that does it just for the money. But hey, that's just me.

    The current state of affairs tells me, that the average Jane trusts a closed source, commercial OS enough to do her daily work, and process sensitive data with it. Software-as-a-service is then just a streamlining of current software distribution methods. So people are ready for that, even if they don't realise it.

    Why software-as-a-service is not the norm yet? Bandwidth limitations? Because no company did a solid execution of the idea so far? Copyright issues with 3rd party software? Because people are used to buying install CD's or computers with preloaded OS? As opposed to a bare minimal software install, and downloading the rest after hooking up the broadband connection? Hey wait, aren't folks already doing that anyway, sort of?

    Who knows... My guess: it just hasn't been done yet (large scale, and well executed), but not because it wouldn't be possible.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:33PM (#19842397) Homepage Journal
    From the Microsoft "me too" department ... Ballmer's answer to Google Apps. Evidently they are hedging their bets against the possibility of Google Apps taking hold and eating away at MS Office market share. Orgs that want to control their own destiny aren't going to go for either one. They're going to use software-plus-services technologies, but they'll run them from their own data centers.
  • by alucinor ( 849600 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:40PM (#19842489) Journal
    How about instead of consumers surrendering all their data to centrally controlled third parties, those third parties send us their code to run locally on our data. Oh wait, I just described an open source distro repository, lol.
  • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @05:15PM (#19842941) Homepage Journal

    They're trying to bring it back because they think that there's a fuck-ton of money to be made renting you services and locking your data up in their proprietary formats.

    There's a fuck-ton[*] of business to be done through Internet-based services. But competition has a weird effect on this kind of business. It pushes prices so close to zero that it's nearly impossible to make the kind of money that Microsoft is used to.

    This is an area that better suits the piranha than the shark, if you'll forgive the metaphor. A swarm of tiny service providers willing to survive on nibbles are going to be much more effective than a lumbering giant that requires the entire beast for itself.

    More importantly, working over the Internet will require improvements in interoperability. Whether they arise through formal standards processes or through reverse engineering, you can count on significant movement in interop if the big software players start to commit to the kind of service that Ballmer is describing.

    I for one - heh - welcome our online services overlords, because I am going to eat their lunch. Bit by tiny bit. 8^)

    [*] That's 0.454 metric fuck-tonnes, for the non-Americans in the audience.

  • Re:thin client (Score:2, Insightful)

    by VoltageX ( 845249 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:30PM (#19845467)

    Vista is a bust, and their lunch is slowly being eaten by Apple and Linux.

    Maybe on Slashdot it is, but if you're buying a new Dell or a new HP or any of those big-brand computers, you're getting Vista. Mac & *nix? As much as I'd love to see a Linux distro on most desktops, it hasn't happened in my town yet! Same with Mac - and I sit here typing this on a Mac laptop with my desktops being Ubuntu machines...

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith