Microsoft seeks reinvention through cloud, revamps several product lines

Microsoft has sold 90 million copies of Windows 7 to date and no doubt makes the most popular operating system in history. But the past few years the media buzz has been all about radical innovators like Google and Apple who have made exciting headways in terms of fresh new product lines especially in mobile segments. Microsoft has seemed content so far to basically follow their leads and merely capitalize on its past laurels and patents.

Microsoft has decided to change all that and seems determined to break fresh ground in the future.  It has set its eyes firmly on first cloud and then mobile to achieve this purpose. No big surprise there.                                                                                   

Microsoft’s chief financial officer, Peter Klein while speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference last week highlighted several new moves that signify a clear departure from the past and a reprioritization of product directions .He indicated that Windows XP may finally be phased out as Microsoft is encouraging more businesses to switch to Windows 7.The software giant also finally took the steps to bring its lackluster Windows mobile to be on par with other richer, more popular mobile platforms like iPhone and Android and tightly integrating it with its X-box gaming, Zune music and other web products. Some would say long overdue.  But the point is Microsoft is embarking on a new journey with gusto. Apart from Windows Phone 7, other new products that are slated for release this year are Natal for Xbox 360, and Microsoft Office 2010.

It is also quite significant that this software company historically known as a market leader in Operating systems and business apps, is now positioning itself as a challenger to the internet giant Google on many fronts. Not only are they going toe to toe on the mobile scene with Window 7 and Android, Microsoft’s strategic partnership with Yahoo brings a new lease of hope for its slow moving internet search technology Bing that competes with Google search .

The cloud market may triple to more than $150 billion by 2013, according to research firm Gartner. And Microsoft has entered the public cloud game without its characteristic delay .Azure has been a shrewd venture for Microsoft and it seems only natural for it to capitalize on its cloud platform as it seeks to reinvent itself to a new market reality away from the traditional desktop scene. It already has the bandwidth in place in terms of infrastructure and clientele to present integrated internet services that includes an established consumer email service, hosted enterprise products, live services in addition to its Azure cloud operating system. When talking cloud, virtualization cannot be too far behind. Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualized server computing tools is surprisingly emerging as a strong, cheaper alternative to the much hyped VMware technology especially as Microsoft has been making serious efforts to close the gap in technology. Microsoft also announced Feb. 24 that it is creating a dedicated government cloud computing and plans to spend $9.5 billion on research and development this year, $3 billion more than the next closest technology company and most of it centered on online computing. In fact 70 percent of Microsoft employees have been put to work on some kind of cloud-related project. Seattle based Cray Inc. has been enlisted by Microsoft Research to come up with a supercomputing architecture to dramatically lower the total cost of operating cloud computing data centers through power delivery efficiency, high-density packaging and innovative cooling technologies.

Steve Ballmer was recently quoted during a speech at the University of Washington, in Seattle as saying that Microsoft is “betting the company” on cloud computing. “This is the most mainstream thing for Microsoft.” Considering that it is ahead of its enterprise cloud competitors like IBM or Oracle at this point of time, Azure holds promise as a game changer for the industry especially with Microsoft pushing it with all its might.