The project, called Windows Azure, was unveiled by Microsoft head techie Ray Ozzie during a conference for more than 6,000 Microsoft software developers at the Los Angeles Convention Center. If successful, Azure could transform Windows from a wasting asset to be defended at all costs into an offensive weapon that gives Microsoft advantages even Google can't match.
"What we announced today was much broader than anything anyone has tried before," says Senior Vice-President Robert Muglia. Microsoft on Monday announced a version of Windows that runs over the Internet from inside Microsoft's own data centers. It's less a replacement for the operating system that runs on one's own PC than it is an alternative for developers, intended to let them write programs that live inside Microsoft's data centers as opposed to on the servers of a given business.
There weren't many details on how Microsoft will charge for Azure, saying it will be free during the preview period. Final pricing, Ozzie said, "will be competitive with the marketplace."