Microsoft has had a busy week and currently is the topic on social media. How come? Well for starters at their E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) they announced SmartGlass, a technology that connects the devices throughout your home. You can, for example, start watching a movie on your phone on your way home, keep watching it on your television by using your Xbox360 and then finish it on your tablet when your wife wants to see her favorite soap opera. And the best part of this? It will all be free, it’s just an app on your phone, tablet and/or xbox. It will even be available on iOS and Android. That’s right! Microsoft is supporting the competition now, although it’s pretty safe to assume that the Windows ecosystem will have some extra features compared to Google and Apple.
So pretty impressive start of the week for Microsoft, techies around the world (myself definitely included) were pretty excited about this announcement. Skip ahead a few days later, today on Thursday 7th of June Microsoft announced the next version of Windows Azure, their cloud based platform. And what an announcement it was! Scott “The Gu” Guthrie showed off some of the new features and the world saw that it was good. Azure will include features like Caching, Media Services, Virtual Machines and Websites. You will be able to setup a virtual machine locally and upload the VHD to the cloud, and it doesn’t even have to run a Microsoft operating system. Azure now has support for Linux virtual machines. They have a partnership with Suse and Ubuntu to offer you the server versions of their OS with all the scalability features that a Cloud OS should have. Next to that you can soon host your blog in the Cloud with a free website subscription (free as in free for a year, definitive pricing isn’t known yet). This feature has support for PHP and ASP.net obviously but Azure now brings support for Python as well. Oh and on a “small” sidenote: you can use MySQL now for your Azure apps. There’s a lot more announced for Azure today, just take a look at the keynote or read the blogs from the various Azure MVP’s. Or just search for #meetazure on Twitter but prepare to have your mind blown.
So that’s two days that Microsoft succeeded in actually announcing spectacular technologies, social media is exploding in awe, screaming that Microsoft is finally doing it right. I really agree with this. Datacenters and webhosting companies will have a difficult time competing against the Azure system. Even vmWare and Amazon AWS are facing dark times. In my opinion, Microsoft has officially won the war for the living room with SmartGlass and the war for the cloud with Azure vNext.
So what remains then? The war for the mobile world obviously. At the moment this war is being fought by Apple and Google, ammo mostly being patents. But on June 20th the WP7 summit will start, the keynote will be live streamed just like Azure’s keynote today. So if you put 2 and 2 together, it’s pretty obvious that MS will be announcing WP8 end of this month. If all the rumours about WP8 prove to be true they will effectively surprise the big audience a third time in one month, thus pulling a hattrick.
And how I hope they do! It’s long overdue that they succeed in changing their image from a monster company only interested in money. That was maybe true years ago, but to me they now are a company that dares to innovate, Windows 8 is the biggest proof of that. And they actually listen to their users while supporting the open source scene. Who would’ve thought that of the big bad Microsoft?
To wrap things up, I really like where they are going with all this. I enjoy Windows 8 a lot these days, I’m impressed by both SmartGlass and Azure and I’m eagerly awaiting Windows Phone 8. You’re doing great Microsoft, keep it up!