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Ballmer: Microsoft Will Soon Release 'Windows Cloud' OS [pcworld.com]
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed a few details on Wednesday of a forthcoming operating system that will help developers write Internet-based applications.
Within a month, Microsoft will unveil what Ballmer called "Windows Cloud." The OS, which will likely have a different name, is intended for developers writing cloud-computing applications, said Ballmer, speaking in London to an auditorium of IT managers at a Microsoft-sponsored conference.
Ballmer was short on details, saying more information would spoil the announcement. Windows Cloud is a separate project from Windows 7, the OS Microsoft is developing to succeed Windows Vista.
Ballmer was dismissive of Google, saying Docs and Spreadsheets has "relatively low usage" and that users want richer features in an office software package.
"We want software more powerful than software that runs in a browser," Ballmer said.
Well, that's true and why I've basically looked at but never used the Google apps. I feel no more loyalty/antipathy to one company than the other, so the first one with a good solution could get me to jump.
PS - "good solution" for a word processor in my book means styles, footnotes and indexing, but need not include layout tools like kerning and leading. Anything short of that is mostly useless to me except for writing emails.
Why would you want a word processor (etc.) that does not function without an internet connection?
Or documents that you can't access offline?
Applications that run slower during peak net usage hours?
It just doesn't make sense for business.
No doubt that someone will mention the potential for cloud apps making ultra mobile internet appliances possible.
Thing is, UMPC's, new as they are, already have more than enough storage and processing power to run business apps so the cloud doesn't help.
If the equivalent of Microsoft Office was already available as an online version today (at a small reasonable cost) It would have a massive user base within months. Businesses would start using it in droves. Cost savings on PC installations and support is two good reasons.
Google really need to beef up their apps before someone else jumps in their first, like MS. (Think I would prefer Google over MS on this.)
Google is moving in the right direction, but too slowly.
I think ALL applications will eventually be available online.
There is no doubt of that. But online office type applications won't be an option for real businesses any time soon.
You say you disagree but you don't address the primary issues with online applications. What does a business do when they can't access the software they need to run their business because their internet service is on the blink?
What do they do when they can't access their apps because the primary pipe between them and the service provider is clogged or down?
Hardware issues? Natural disasters? I think it's safe to say that disaster insurance doesn't cover you when an earthquake hits your application service provider on the other side of the country. :-)
What's really needed is smaller, leaner, simpler application software rather than ever-increasing bloatware.
Sure, no-one could go 100% to Google docs, but an increasing number of people are finding that it works well for an increasing proportion of their work.
Significantly, college kids can finish their assignments on any computer (and share with each other!), and they (if I remember correctly) will be the lead users in a few years time.
The argument of online versus desktop is obsolete and, frankly, silly. The future is both.
One of the few remaining questions is Where is the balance between features and speed/convenience (liteness) for online processing - Most who have used it seem to agree on simplicity, rather than emulating the clunkiness of the desktop, with perhaps a much greater freedom to select features. With my desktop programs, I know that I will not use 98% of the features, and yet they fill my hard disk and slow me down. Indexing sounds good to me; I'd like that. But many would not. Online needs to give that choice, to stay lite.
Ballmer was dismissive of Google, saying Docs and Spreadsheets has "relatively low usage" and that users want richer features in an office software package. "We want software more powerful than software that runs in a browser,"
You can say a lot of negative things about Ballmer (and I could add a few more), but he is not stupid; his dismissal of G-Docs is simply a smokescreen (smokecloud?) because M$ has not yet found a way to compete without undermining the Word cash machine; Ballmer knows as well as I do that 'low usage' is 'low but growing fast', and while people may want 'more powerful than runs in a browser', they also want "runs online" - however you choose to phrase it.
Ballmer knows that the future includes online doc processing, without being tied to a proprietary desktop package - M$ will not be able to force people to work only on Word-enabled machines forever, and this is a major headache for them.
Google docs can and does work without a browser, and can and does work offline. My usage has gone from <5% six months ago to almost 50% now; if they had a better print preview, it might nudge up a little further. But I still need desktop software, and almost certainly will for a good while to come.
Portable apps (on a USB stick) offer a better solution.
When students share their work it's normally called cheating!
Are you seriously suggesting that there's no role for online apps outside of home computing? One dollar says you change your mind round about the time Ballmer admits that he does (and "has for a long time"!).
Anyway, that's enough from me. I think we see two such different futures, that there's not enough common ground to continue. Good Luck!
Are you seriously suggesting that there's no role for online apps outside of home computing?YES
Some people believe that if something is new it must be better and will rush to adopt. That is precisely what happened with Vista - yet business broadly shunned it.
Think of it this way...
Home users like webmail because it's easy - there's nothing to set up, yet businesses prefer regular email. As for sharing data, working away from home, etc. - surely that's what virtual private networks are for.
Businesses will feel uneasy with online data storage; But everyone prefers the easy route, and online apps will be an easy route for home and for business.
I still think businesses will like online apps
I have no doubt that some self-employed people will find a use for online apps, people running ebay companies for instance, but the idea that online apps will become mainstream for business is absurd. Businesses whinge when their computers run a little bit slower (e.g. when XP and Vista were first released) so why do you imagine that they will adopt online apps when, without any shadow of a doubt, they will always be slower?
I work for one of the larger U.S. software development companies. (You HAVE heard of it. I don't officially speak for it.) As an employee, I use web-based software for nearly all corporate communications: building and accessing databases is at the core of what knowledge-based workers do, and the content I create is intended to be available, immediately, to be used by other employees from coast to coast. It's not primarily the applications, it's the DATA that HAS to be online. (Whether the applications are online or not is simply a configuration management issue--the tradeoff between application size and mutability.)
If internet access goes down, significant parts of our activity are dead in the water. Some employees live hundreds of miles from the nearest office, and rely on continual internet and/or VOIP connectivity. Perhaps needless to say, the site had redundant net connections.
My company builds software for industrial/professional use; that software simply could not do large parts of what it does, without web connectivity. (The purchase agreement states that our clients must have broadband access. If they are paranoid like I am, they broadband access doesn't absolutely have to be on the same machine their confidential data is.) For our clients, sometimes several hours' work can be done without web access...but they can't always predict when they will absolutely need a web transaction.
For a variety of reasons, including the ability to run extremely complex software on a PDA, my company is trying to move all of its products towards web-based processing.
I don't know what home users are using these days: It's been years since I worked on any project small and restrictive enough for Microsoft Word/Excel/Fontplague/Powerpoint to handle adequately. I do know that my company perceives its current situation as "not making adequate use of the net", and the future, for it, will involve significantly more dependence on online activity--for both employees and clients.
It sounds as though the software you are talking about stores data on company servers. To that extent, I would say it falls outside what I'm talking about. Essentially, your software uses the internet for data access - I do understand that remote access to data and/or data sharing is a requirement of some businesses, but I cannot see major businesses using online software for their database, spreadsheet, accounts and word-processing requirements, etc. Be honest, can you? Why use modern computers that are as powerful as the mainframes of just a few years ago as little more than dumb terminals - it makes no sense.
I seem to recall someone from Sun Microsystems predicting that online apps would rule the world about ten years ago - it hasn't happened and it won't ever happen to any great extent but home users may find them useful if they are free and simple.