‘Windows Cloud’ OS to be revealed next month

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed yesterday that the software company plans to unveil an operating system designed for cloud computing next month.

“We need a new operating system designed for the cloud and we will introduce one in about four weeks,” said Ballmer at a London press conference.

Ballmer referred to the operating system as Windows Cloud, but added that it would not necessarily be the product’s final name. It would enable users to create composite applications from software services, he suggested.

He added that the new operating system would not be a radical departure from its existing platforms. “Just like Windows Server looked a lot like Windows but with new properties, new characteristics and new features, so will Windows Cloud look a lot like Windows Server,” Ballmer said.

Meanwhile, book retailer turned cloud-computing service provider Amazon has revealed that it plans to add support for Microsoft’s Windows Server operating system to its utility services. This will allow customers to run code based on Microsoft platforms – such as .NET and SQL Server – on Amazon’s servers.

The availability of Microsoft operating systems on a cloud computing basis lends credibility and viability to the model. However, as Ballmer’s comments suggest, Microsoft needs to be in the space, lest it is left behind by younger rivals.

Last month, search giant Google released its own browser, Chrome, which the company said was designed to run web applications. Some observers see the browser as a de facto operating system for the cloud computing era.

The cloud computing backlash

Elsewhere, the backlash against cloud computing began in earnest this month. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, a reliably negative but often perceptive commentator on the IT industry, dismissed the term as a fad.

"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do," he said. "I don’t understand what we’ll do differently in light of cloud computing, other than change the wording on some of our ads."

Soon after, open source software pioneer Richard Stallman argued that cloud computing represents a loss of control and freedom on the part of the user.

"One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control," he told The Guardian newspaper. "It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software."

Further reading

Is Google Chrome an OS?
Newly-launched browser from search giant could point to an operating system for software-as-a-service applications

The dangers of cloud computing
Report calls for businesses to wake up to the security challenges of using Internet-based computing services

Find more stories in the SOA & Development Briefing Room

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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