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One of the brand new features in the new release of Windows Live is the ability to aggregate data from other non-Microsoft websites into your “What’s New” feed – this feature is called “web activities”. If you want people in your Windows Live network to know what stories you are Digging, what you are writing on Twitter, or what you’ve written on your (none Windows Spaces) blog? If so then you will really like web activities.
Web activities control which of your online activity gets displayed on your profile (and therefore on your friends’ “What’s New” feed). In essence web activities put you more in control of your Windows Live experience than ever before – you can now customize your profile to be however you want it.
Go to Windows Live today and start adding web activities you want to share with your Live network.
Back in December 2007, I wrote a post on Cloud Services that was prompted after I read an article in Business Week on another companies ambitions and “wisdom” in the clouds. Today, we are seeing more being written about Cloud computing and cloud platforms, and there is strong validation that the future of computing will include significant innovation and value in web/cloud platforms.
A leading industry analyst firm has listed Cloud Computing as one of the “Top 10 Disruptive Technologies for 2008 – 20012. The firm calls Cloud Computing “A style of computing in which massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are provided as a service across the Internet to multiple external customers.”
Merrill Lynch recently issued a research note: “The Cloud Wars: $100+ billion at stake” (07 May 2008). It states that by 2011 the volume of cloud computing market opportunity could amount to $160bn, including $95bn in business and productivity applications (email, office, CRM, etc.) and $65bn in online advertising.
Forrester Research Report (March 7, 2008) – “Is Cloud Computing Ready for the Enterprise” concludes that “Cloud Computing is looking like a classic disruptive technology.” It highlights the huge popularity with emerging business, and how enterprises are starting to experiment with solutions that are service enabled in the cloud.
David Chappell recently wrote (see his blog to download) a short paper that does a pretty good job introducing us to Cloud Platforms. I agree with some of the conclusions Chappell makes; “The attractions of cloud-based computing, including scalability and lower costs, are very real. If you work in application development, whether for a software vendor or an end user, expect the cloud to play an increasing role in your future. The next generation of application platforms is here.” Mary-Jo Foley believes David’s paper provides us with some clues about what the we are planning to unveil at this October’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC).
We all learned earlier this week that we, Microsoft, walked away from the Yahoo deal. A little over a week ago, I got a kick out of a post at a financial blog (Minyanville) that proposed the following strategy:
“The Michael Corleone play for Ballmer is to offer Yahoo nothing, then treat them like that Nevada governor who wouldn’t sell the Corleones a gaming license. In two years MSFT will be able to throw an arm around a shivering Yahoo and say, “I know your stock is at $10. Out of respect I am giving you a $12 bid.”
Well, the real story is much bigger than buying Yahoo (in my opinion). I read a great opt-ed piece yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Andy Kessler that really speaks to this big battle – The War for the Web.
It is really about the Cloud, Platform, the Edge, and Speed – and I think we are really positioned well with or without Yahoo.
Kessler points out:
“Programs run anywhere these days – on your desktop computer, on servers in data centers, on your iPod, cellphone, GPS, video game console, digital camera and on and on. It’s not just about beating Google at search, it’s about tying all these devices together in a new end-to-end computing framework.”
The proverbial cloud is all about ubiquity for the user’s computing experience. Its about seamless transition (think Live Mesh) regardless of platform, device or application.
Ray Ozzie’s Software + Services Strategy makes good reading at this point. You can find the PDF here! I will leave it at that.
This week, Microsoft launched an exciting element of our Software + Services Strategy, and a component of our cloud computing services. Live Mesh.
The announcement came in the form of a Technology preview. At a high level, Live Mesh is a platform; a software + services platform approach to synching, sharing, storing, and accessing files and folders from your devices on the web. It makes PCs and other devices aware of each other through the Internet, enabling individuals and organizations to manage, access, and share their files and applications seamlessly on the Web and across their world of devices.
Here are some additional resources if you would like to learn more:
Channel 9 Interview with Ray Ozzie and former O’Reilly writer and current Microsoft evangelist Jon Udell.
Channel 10 – Hands on with Live Mesh some of the Live Mesh team (Demo)
LiveSide blog – Live Mesh: it’s everything we told you about (and a lot more)
LiveSide blog – Live Mesh: Boy have we got questions!
It really is exciting to see the pieces come together that will truly enable seamless experiences across devices and computers for individuals, groups, business, etc.
I mentioned Windows Live Dev in my earlier post regarding Cloud Services, and our Live Services. Go there and you can learn more about building compelling applications and websites using Windows Live Services (like Photos, Virtual Earth (maps), Search, and Rich Media (Silverlight Streaming).
You can also download sample application code for out-of-the-box solutions at Windows Live Quick Applications.
This week we released the code for Tafiti (Swahili – meaning “do research”), a search visualization tool built on Silverlight and Windows Live Search. The code was also submitted to Codeplex (Microsoft’s open source project hosting site) where you can find this project and other code.
You can try Tafiti at the demo site or try the original live Tafiti. You can also get interesting insight and tips from Angus Logan’s Blog. Angus is the Technical Program Manager for Windows Live Services.
Speaking of The Web Platform, I get Business Week, and this last week’s Cover Story was titled Google and the Wisdom of Clouds.
The article’s focus centers around Christophe Bisciglia, a Sr. Software Engineer at Google, and his vision for Google 101 at University of Washington. It turns out his vision for the course set the foundation for Google’s Cloud computing strategy. A strategy that hopes to put “incredible computing power in the hands of many.” Google’s Cloud is essentially a gigantic cluster of computers (“hundreds of thousands”), holding extremely large sets of data, and copies of the entire World Wide Web. Making search faster, and enabling answers to billions of queries in seconds.
As the article touts, this move towards clouds signals a fundamental shift in how we handle information. Certainly a data centric view of computing as a utility.
Microsoft, along with IBM and Yahoo, are also highlighted in the article with regard to their “Cloud Power” strategies. Certainly, a lot has been written, speculated, and talked about at Microsoft as it relates to our Windows Live Services efforts. Our strategy has certainly taken on a Platform approach to Cloud Services. The architecture starts at the “Foundation Services” layer, and Cloud Infrastructure Services, led by Amitabh Srivastava, CVP. From there, we have heard Steve Ballmer divide our services into the following four groups to make up our Live Services:
Personal services: Windows Live, Office Live, Popfly, MSN, Live Search
Business services: Exchange Hosted Services, managed communications and collaboration, Office Live Small Business, CRM Live and accompanying Titan development platform
Service enablers: Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, adCenter, click-to-run client (ActiveX, Ajax, Silverlight, .Net and Win32 Softgrid for streaming apps on Windows XP)
Sun believes that “The Network is the Computer”.
Google’s grand vision to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible is hinged on data and data indexed and replicated many times.
At Microsoft, the potential resides in software – platform and tools!
A new version of Live Search Maps was released earlier this week. Its built on the Virtual Earth Platform (new Virtual Earth APIs were also released this week). I think improvements are stunning. The quality of the maps, and the tools is absolutely awesome. Some of the new features include 1-click directions, a new Bird’s Eye in 3D, new improved search, and much more.
See Keith Kinnan’s Weblog (software engineer working on Virtual Earth and Live Search Maps) to learn more.