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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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October 28, 2008 2:42 PM

Steve Ballmer e-mail: Microsoft, clouds and the "technology revolution"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft's chief executive weighed in on all the PDC announcements with an "executive e-mail" that was just sent to customers.

Ballmer describes the tech landscape and where Microsoft is heading with its Azure cloud computing platform, Live Mesh services and Windows 7:


On what's missing in today's technology revolution:

During the past decade, a dramatic transformation in the world of information technology has been taking shape. It's a transformation that will change the way we experience the world and share our experiences with others. It's a transformation in which the barriers between technologies will fall away so we can connect to people and information no matter where we are. It's a transformation where new innovations will shorten the path from inspiration to accomplishment.


Many of the components of this transformation are already in place. Some have received a great deal of attention. "Cloud computing" that connects people to vast amounts of storage and computing power in massive datacenters is one example. Social networking sites that have changed the way people connect with family and friends is another.

Other components are so much a part of the inevitable march of progress that we take them for granted as soon as we start to use them: cell phones that double as digital cameras, large flat-screen PC monitors and HD TV screens, and hands-free digital car entertainment and navigation systems, to name just a few.

What's missing is the ability to connect these components in a seamless continuum of information, communication, and computing that isn't bounded by device or location. Today, some things that our intuition says should be simple still remain difficult, if not impossible. Why can't we easily access the documents we create at work on our home PCs? Why isn't all of the information that customers share with us available instantly in a single application? Why can't we create calendars that automatically merge our schedules at work and home?

On the evolution of personal computing:

Ultimately, the reason to create a cloud services platform is to continue to enhance the value that computing delivers, whether it's by improving productivity, making it easier to communicate with colleagues, or simplifying the way we access information and respond to changing business conditions


In the world of software plus services and cloud computing, this means extending the definition of personal computing beyond the PC to include the Web and an ever-growing array of devices. Our goal is to make the combination of PCs, mobile devices, and the Web something that is significantly than more the sum of its parts.

The starting point is to recognize the unique value of each part. The value of the PC lies in its computing power, its storage capacity, and its ability to help us be more productive and create and consume rich and complex documents and content.

For the Web, it's the ability to bring together people, information, and services so we can connect, communicate, share, and transact with anyone, anywhere, at any time.

With the mobile phone and other devices, it's the ability to take action spontaneously-to make a call, take a picture, or send a text message in the flow of our activities.

On the blend of computing services that companies will use:

Software plus services also recognizes that for most companies, the ideal way to build IT infrastructure is to find the right balance of applications that are run and managed within the organization and applications that are run and managed in the cloud.


This balance varies by company. A financial services company may choose to maintain customer records within its own datacenter to provide the extra layers of protection that it feels are needed to safeguard the privacy of personal information. It may outsource IT systems that provide basic capabilities such as email.

This balance will change over time within an organization, as well. A company may run its own online transaction system most of the year, but outsource for added capacity to meet extra demand during the holiday season. With software plus services, an organization can move applications back and forth between its own servers and the cloud quickly and smoothly.

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