Ballmer: Windows Cloud to be unveiled within weeks

Steve Ballmer says Microsoft will unveil its cloud-computing operating system at the end of this month.

Ballmer: Windows Cloud to be unveiled within weeks

Ballmer, addressing IT developers in London today, said Microsoft would unveil the new OS – provisionally named Windows Cloud – alongside Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference.

“Any time there’s a new trend we write a new operating system, and now we’re in the process of writing a new operating system for the cloud,” Ballmer said.

“For the purposes of today we’re calling it Windows Cloud, but I’m sure we’ll have a better name in four weeks when we release it.”

“We need to ensure that when you write apps you’re not thinking about having to do something differently for the net… You should be able to write apps and push them out to the cloud easily, then have something scale it, copy it and distribute it… Windows in the Cloud.”

Microsoft revealed earlier this year that it was working on a cloud-based OS, codenamed Project Midori.

Yet, while Microsoft is pushing Windows into the cloud, Ballmer dismissed the possibility of an online version of Office, despite claiming there will soon “be nobody out there with as wide a range of cloud-computing services as Microsoft”.

He brushed off the idea of creating a Google Docs rival, suggesting there simply wasn’t any value in it. “If you look at Google Docs and spreadsheets, they have relatively low usage. They haven’t grown in six months and there’s a reason for that. People want the full power of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. They need that.”

However, he admitted the company was looking at bolstering the online component of its Office suite: “If you are in an internet café and you want to do some light editing we need to provide for that. That’s all I’m going to say about that otherwise there’ll be no drum roll in four weeks [at the Professional Developers Conference].”

Learning from Vista mistakes

Pressed on Windows 7, Ballmer remained tight-lipped but suggested we’d be wiser to expect an evolution rather than a revolution, after the painful gestation of Vista.

“With Vista we dialled up the security but introduced significant incompatibilities. We worked with our partners to address those incompatibilities. We’ve paid for that transition from XP to Vista – you’ve paid for that transition – so with Windows 7 it’s not ‘a let’s break everything in Vista’, it’s ‘let’s take everything to the next level’.”

Asked if the company had learned anything from Vista’s turbulent release, Ballmer ruefully responded: “The biggest trade off we made was sacrificing security for compatibility. I’m not sure the end-users really appreciated that trade off.”

Despite that, he went on to proclaim the switch necessary, and dismissed suggestions that we’ll one day reach the point where operating systems aren’t needed at all: “Hardware changes, like many-core processors, mandate operating-system innovation,” he said.

“But my feeling is that over time there’ll be two flavours of operating-system releases. The major releases every two or three years, but through our Live services we can also release service-based releases every six months or so which are close to the hardware innovations.”

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