Microsoft will spend $8 B to catch up in cloud computing

In announcing three new virtualization products today, a top Microsoft official outlined a new Microsoft "vision statement," to be supported by $8 billion in annual software R&D spending across entertainment, Vista, and cloud computing.

Although Microsoft "is not the leader" on the consumer side of software for cloud computing, the company stands way above everyone else on the business side of that equation, maintained Kevin Turner, Microsoft's COO, in a keynote speech at today's "Get Virtual Now" conference in Bellevue, Washington.

Turner outlined a new Microsoft strategy of spreading an $8 billion R&D budget -- the largest in the industry, he claimed -- across areas that include entertainment software, Vista-enabled desktop computing, and both the "commercial" and consumer aspects of cloud computing, a phenomenon he sees as closely intertwined with virtualization.

The COO told attendees that this strategy is in line with a new "vision statement" developed by Microsoft's current management team which complements a mission statement created three decades ago.

In the earlier mission statement, he noted, Microsoft foresaw building software that would run on every desktop and server in the world. Conversely, under the new "vision statement," Microsoft wants to build software that will leverage the Internet to operate on a "world of devices," according to Turner.

While acknowledging that the same can't yet be said for MSN LiveSearch and other elements of consumer-focused cloud computing, Turner contended that in terms of commercial cloud computing, Microsoft is the industry leader. "Make no mistake about that," he declared.

Turner then attacked Google for offering "no choice" in cloud computing. Microsoft's strategy differs markedly from that of Google, he argued, in that Google gives cloud computing customers "no choice" but to use a Google-hosted cloud.

Microsoft, on the other hand, expects that its virtualization software will be used to support clouds hosted in three different places: on customer premises; by partners; and by Microsoft itself, Turner elaborated.

Microsoft's virtualization software line-up already includes application virtualization. In addition, Microsoft previously integrated hypervisor software technology called Hyper-V Server into Windows Server 2008.

At the customer conference today, Microsoft rolled out three new virtualization products, all slated for release over the next month: Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5; a new standalone edition of Microsoft Hyper-V Server; and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

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