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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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  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:32PM (#19841617) Journal still fundamentally a form of "computing socialism" with the vendor adopting the role of the "State", and as such, will fail because people fundamentally distrust others and do not like to be reliant on others when it can be trivally avoided (Linux). Let MS move in this direction.

    They will be quite lonely in their brave new world.

  • by Brad Eleven ( 165911 ) <> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:41PM (#19841725) Homepage Journal
    I once worked for an incredibly successful consulting firm: 2 to 1500 employees in five years, $1M to $500M in revenue, true employment (not "as long as we have a customer for you"), many other examples of goodness and light. It was bought for cash by a huge telecom, who thought that we could deliver on such a vague promise as "remotely managed software services."

    In fairness, the idea was already being floated about, that we could just set up NOCs/ROCs all over the place and somehow, magically, deliver as many services as a demand existed for. The telecom just drooled over it; circa 1997, they were all watching the biscuit wheels falling off of the long-distance gravy train.

    Of course, the behemoth telecom sealed the coffin by demanding that we try to make their broken attempts at non-remote service offerings work. I left when they decreed that Windows NT would be the only OS running on any of their machines. They sold off little pieces of the original firm. Last I heard, a few ex-managers got together and bought what was left of it in order to use the brand name.

    I'm not saying that M$ can't eventually pull this off. If any existing entity could make it work, they could. I base this on their mind-numbing ability to handle huge problems that, you know, "no one could have expected." That is, if they really try to do this, it will fail, over and over again. Only M$, IMO, has the resources to survive these failures. And only M$ could command such a vast array of excellent talent and manage to turn out such mediocre products.

    It looks to me more like they're trying to imitate what they think Google is.
  • by hazee ( 728152 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:44PM (#19841777)
    This seems to be entirely for the benefit of Microsoft - their wanting to secure a regular income, with the benefits to the customer a distant second.

    After all, why go to all the trouble of pushing Vista or its (likely even less popular) successors on an uninterested public, when you can just bill them monthly?

    What do we as customers get out of it? The ability to access our data remotely? I can largely already do that - the things I'm most likely to want access to, such as mail, are well catered for by multiple webmail operations, and it's notable that MS has managed to so badly screw up Hotmail if this is where they're aiming.

    As for other apps, I suspect that network bandwidth is going to put a stop to many of those plans.

    Not to mention the issue of trust - would *you* trust MS with all your data. Again, judging by the success of their Passport scheme, it looks like a resounding NO!

    I find it rather ironic that MS came to prominence precisely because they gave us control over our own computers, rather than being beholden to a single central controller, and now they want to be that controller.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:49PM (#19841831) 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. Essentially right now businesses can choose when (or if) they want to upgrade. A "software subscription" will cost as much or more than the current upgrade schedule and will will guarantee much more regular payments to Microsoft. Also, moving to that type of platform would make it much harder to pirate their software. That'd make it possible to tap those currently-untappable markets where 90% or more of the windows systems are running pirated copies of Windows.

    Plus Microsoft is always about 5-10 years behind everyone else when it comes to "innovation" so they're just now hearing those buzz words that (in their time warped universe) will have nearly destroyed Sun in a couple of years. Poor guys don't even know about 9/11 yet...

  • Re:thin client (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:58PM (#19841943)
    Network access within a corporation has been ubiquitous, fast, and reliable for the past 20 years and thin clients haven't gotten far. So now that Microsoft enters the fray with their swiss-cheese virus fodder, we're supposed to surrender our data to some poorly defined "cloud" network. Not only do we have the problems of maintaining a network well enough to get our data in house, but the data is surrendered to a company that has shown time after time that it is willing to cut the nuts off of a business partner for a dollar.

    No. This is nothing more that Microsoft's swan song. Vista is a bust, and their lunch is slowly being eaten by Apple and Linux. They're scrambling to find something to replace the glory products of yesteryear as they slowly slip into irrelevancy. The company still has some power left to broker, but it is slipping away at an increasing rate as people realize that there are better products to be had for less money.

    Software as a service is a valid business model. It actually works in some situations. But Microsoft's view of it is a way to rent their software, with the idea of retaining more control, the emphasis being on control/revenue retention vs supplying a service. I expect Microsoft will push this as hard as they possibly can, and make some significant wins (No one every got fired....). I also expect they will have an even larger defection rate to open source solutions. If you're going to rent solutions, you might as well rent the ones that work and the prices are lower because there's competition.

  • This time for sure! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GnarlyDoug ( 1109205 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:42PM (#19842511)
    Once again MS announces it is going to get into the business of networked services. Good luck with that. First the announce that they will release computers in India. That sounds like they are chasing Apple and aiming to become their own OEM like Apple is. Except that unlike Apple they don't have someone like Jobs to manage the intricate details needed for Apple's famed integration and user experience to work. Now they want to get into being an ASP. Again. Which sounds like they want to be like Google. Except that unlike Google they don't have massive server farms or other infrastructure, and their services will probably be linked to Windows only programs.

    In short, Microsoft can no longer be like Microsoft since they are losing their lock on the market. However they don't have a plan to become anything new, at least not at a scale that can support them at their current burn rates. All they can do is poorly mimic other company's strategies and business models. That doesn't strike me as a winning strategy. To me this is more signs that MS is collapsing, and over the next five years it will become apparent to everyone that it is doing so.

  • Re:Super-sharepoint? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:48PM (#19842603)

    The one thing MediaWiki is missing for me (I often try to roll out wikis for projects at work) is rich text editing in the browser, at least on par with writely, as well as spreadsheet integration. The fact that you can open documents on a Sharepoint server in your fat client editor and have everything magically find its way back to the cloud thingy is quite a win. Writely and Google spreadsheets are still pretty primitive, at about the level of Office 4.

    Is there any OpenOffice-Mediwiki middleware out there? Seems like the perfect FOSS response to Sharepoint, something that would allow editing on the client, keep things synchronized on the cloud or whatever, announce changes through unified messaging to observers, etc etc. Apple's leopard server is supposed to have a wiki with a browser-based rich text editor (probably so their iPhone users don't feel left out), and it's also supposed to be open source, but I'm not sure that's as full-stack as Sharepoint at the moment (even if, in the end, it's the better solution for most, on account of its price).

  • by Coral Snake USA ( 801957 ) on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:54AM (#19846319)
    Yes and IBM had almost 100% of the quality hardware business back in the early 1980s. When they do STUPID things like dictatorial licensing agrreements backed up by "product activation" and reviving the old anti freedom Sun "Network Computing" monstrosity a monopoly can FALL HARD and the IBM is the proof of it. Sun Microsystems also proved it too by becomming essentially an open source company after the "network computing" scheme failed putting even its crown jewels like Java and Solaris under GPLvTHREE of all licenses for a large business and SOFTWARE PATENT HOLDER to place their software under. Too much more STUPIDITY like trying to revive "network computing" Micro$oft's current regime may just be BOOTED and WINDOWS and OFFICE and may just wind up under GPLv3 or a similar license.

I had the rare misfortune of being one of the first people to try and implement a PL/1 compiler. -- T. Cheatham