Category Archives: The Cloud

Why Microsoft Needs Windows 7 to Succeed

Thursday, 22 October sees the highly anticipated arrival of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, with many believing that the future of the world’s largest software company will depend on its success.

The enormous scale of Microsoft’s grip on the market becomes clear when told of the 90% of computers relying on its Windows operating system, and over 1 billion people using it.

Microsoft’s last financial year saw a £35.7bn turnover with a net profit of approximately £9bn. Over half the profits generated were reliant upon Windows.

Experts have predicted that Microsoft’s stranglehold over the market was due to drop, with competitors Linux and Apple waiting to jump in. Many experts predict that software will be shifted to the “cloud,” where people connect to remote servers to access their software in a revolution to worldwide computing.

Microsoft brought about the attention of regulators at the US Department of Justice and the European Commission with ruthless actions towards competitors.

The release of its Vista operating system 3 years ago rendered many of its first users with unusable hardware and software; a crushing blow and seriously damaged its reputation with software developers and customers alike.

Most people still prefer Windows XP, Vista’s eight-year-old predecessor, with estimates suggesting that Vista has between 18.6% and 35% hold on the market.

Annette Jump, research director at technology firm Gartner, believes that “Vista is the worst-adopted operating system” whilst Microsoft International’s Jean-Philippe Courtois thinks “we don’t feel great about Vista adoption.”

This could be the only chance for Microsoft to regain the confidence that took a blow during the Vista period. Many Microsoft executives feel that they learnt a lot from what went wrong with Vista.

Windows 7 looks set to be released in good time, just 3 years after the release of Vista. Those that have tested it have reported it to be fast, secure, reliable, and easy to use. Microsoft have made big steps to avoid making the mistakes experienced with Vista, and prepared its partners for the release.

Mr Courtois believes that “the Windows ecosystem is the broadest in the world, and we have to take care of that,” with Alex Gruzen from Dell Computers surprised at how “the preparations for Windows 7 have been a remarkable step up from the days of dealing with Vista.”

He continued by revealing that “in the past, Microsoft looked at its operating system in isolation, and gave it to [manufacturers] to do whatever they wanted. Now they collaborate, help to figure out which third-party vendors are slowing down the system, help them improve their code.”

AMD produce greener processor chips

AMD have announced that they are modernising their 45 nanometer “Shanghai” Opteron processors by creating new energy efficient chips that will be able to operate within thermal envelopes powered by as little as 55 Watts.  Advanced Micro Devices are hoping that the new, greener processor chips will wind up in servers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun Microsystems.

There are five of the newly green processor chips each varying from the original Shanghai Opteron chips, running at a much lower power consumption than their predecessors.  Where the original Shanghai Opteron chips would run at an ACP (Average CPU Power) rating of 75 Watts, the newly updated chips run at a cooler 55 Watts.

“When we first came to market we brought out the standard power (Shanghai processors) because that’s where the bulk of our market is.  As always, we follow up fairly quickly with the HE, which are the energy efficient models, and the SE, which are the high-performance models,” announced the director of business development for server and workstation products at AMD, John Fruehe.

AMD are claiming that the rush to produce these high performance, low energy chips is to fulfil the need to compete with the massive amount of “computing cloud centres” that are popping up by the likes of Apple and Google who deliver cloud services.  Not so long ago these greener processor chips with their lower clock speeds would have been a flop on the market, however with the unexpected growth of the cloud computing market, AMD’s senior product manager, Steve Demski, is predicting that they will be seeing a high demand for these newly undated processor chips.

Fruehe continued to discuss the plans for the processors in the market through 2009, saying, “These processors basically fill out the 2P, 4P and 8P products.  We had the standard products that were introduced in November so this will fill out the line-up and give [customers] a standard model, a low-power and a high-performance part. 

“As we get into the later part of this year, you’ll see us bring out our ‘Istanbul’ product and those will be six-core processors and those will also fit in the same 1207-socket (Socket F) and so the customers that have a “Barcelona” [65-nm Opteron] system can also take advantage of a Shanghai part or the upcoming Istanbul processor,” said Fruehe.

However, AMD have also recently made the news headlines due to the fact that they have decided to cut down their processor production in an attempt to avoid creating “unwanted” chips that they won’t be able to sell.

“We’re slowing everything down quite a bit.  We think our CPU sales out of AMD will be less than consumption… our inventories will drain in Q1 – we’ll clearly be manufacturing below our shipment level,” announced the chief financial officer for AMD, Rob Rivet.  AMD are claiming that once the demand for their processors returns then they will return to their original rate of production.

Microsoft Unveils Windows Azure at Professional Developers Conference

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Today, during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008), Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Corp.’s chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, the cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform, and highlighted this platform’s role in delivering a software plus services approach to computing. The Azure Services Platform is an industry-leading move by Microsoft to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.

Ozzie described how this platform combines cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft’s global datacenter network. This provides developers with the ability to deploy applications in the cloud or on-premises and enables experiences across a broad range of business and consumer scenarios. A limited community technology preview (CTP) of the Azure Services Platform was initially made available to developers in attendance at PDC2008, giving them a chance to try out its features and functions and plan for their own future development.

“Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community,” Ozzie said. “We have introduced a game-changing set of technologies that will bring new opportunities to Web developers and business developers alike. The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft’s commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the Web. Most important, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business.”

Empowering Cloud Development With the Azure Services Platform

Unlike many of today’s service-based solutions, the Azure Services Platform provides developers with the flexibility and ability to create applications while taking advantage of their existing skills, tools and technologies such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual Studio. Developers also can choose from a broad range of commercial or open source development tools and technologies, and access the Azure Services Platform using a variety of common Internet standards including HTTP, representational state transfer (REST), WS-* and Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub).

Key components of the Azure Services Platform include the following:

– Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking
– Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting
– Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control
– Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites
– Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud

State-of-the-Art Datacenter Infrastructure

Microsoft also described the importance of building robust datacenters in delivering online services. Over the past year, Microsoft has opened major datacenters in Quincy, Wash., and San Antonio, with additional centers scheduled to open in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft is leading the way in services infrastructure with innovative use of shipping containers as flexible and portable housing for servers, providing 10 times the density and dramatic savings in power usage. Supporting the Microsoft software plus services strategy, Microsoft’s datacenters serve up e-mail accounts, Web pages, instant messages, photos, videos, software programs and search information to millions of Internet customers worldwide.

Cut Costs and Unlock Innovation

Services technologies, when employed alongside other core technology enablers such as virtualization and modeling, will result in dramatic benefits for customers’ IT departments. Specifically, these technologies will enable a new and more dynamic world, where IT departments can drive down operating costs, focus their spending on systems that differentiate the business, and ultimately enable IT to become a more strategic asset.

“Only a few companies in the world can bring the promise of cloud computing to reality, and we are excited about the strong capabilities of the Azure Services Platform,” said Paul Farrell, senior vice president of research and development for Epicor Software Corp. “We believe that Microsoft’s initiative and leadership in software plus services will be beneficial to Epicor customers as we architect our solutions to optimize for cloud and on-premises solutions.”

Providing Businesses Choice and Flexibility Through Software and Services
Microsoft’s service offerings also include Microsoft Online Services. These solutions deliver enterprise-class software as a subscription service, hosted by Microsoft and sold through partners. Microsoft services applications, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting can be used as a complement to or in addition to on-premises software, enabling the power of choice depending on a customer’s IT strategy.

More information about the Azure Services Platform and Microsoft’s software plus services offering can be found at http://www.azure.com/.