Ballmer Clouds Windows

There was a sculpture at this weekends Nuit Blanche in Toronto that was so cleverly puckish it was bewitching. Immediately when I saw it I broke-out laughing so raucously that I flatly embarrassed my Nuit Blanche companion. Now in my defense I can say that we had just been discussing how both MacOS and Windows Vista were becoming so bloated and barnacled with spurious “features” which dragged down overall performance and made working on the 2 most popular OS even more complex and tedious. Stephen argued that artists and designers had little to choose from. So I noted that there were a lot of great online photo editing tools on the Web right now that were fast approaching the ease of use and features of say a Photoshop 5 (Adobes current Photoshop CS4 is roughly version 9). I made the point that with GIMP, Blender and a host of 2d+3D apps in Linux linked with virtual machines for the essential Mac and Windows graphics packages, designers could get the best from all OS worlds. Stephen said that was the hell he had to go through now.

But Stephen also mentioned the new Windows Cloud OS might provide a hospitable environ for just such graphics tools. And as I previously could not help wondering if this was answer to the Microsoft web conundrum. That little puzzle is what all those Microsoft $600Million per data centers were going to run given that the Windows 2008 Server used for Microsofts own site is slower than 56% of all sites tracked by Alexa. Then Stephen said he had seen a video of Steve Ballmer getting excited while “leaking” info on Windows Cloud OS. He said “you know how excited Steve can get”. So I had promised to reserve judgment, investigate a bit more about this Cloud OS; but also had insisted that this sounded like some airhead notion.

Then we walked into OCADs Useless Beauty exhibition.

And there was an Airhead suddenly right before us .. and the dome-head looked so much like Steve when he gets excited about a favorite topic, zooming bellicose all over the stage, sweating profusely, and almost steaming through ears, nose, and mouth….. It certainly tickled my funny bone. As it turns out, Windows Cloud OS is no airhead idea.

Microsoft has a big Web problem. Its latest Windows software (even when tuned to the MAX as Microsoft.com certainly is) slows down Web Service such that Microsoft.com is slower than 56% of all websites tracked by Alexa (well over 50,000 and all the big boys are in the mix). Windows Server is also one of the most expensive for initial if not also ongoing costs. And its browser, IE8, trails all the rest of the pack by wide margins in speed, size of code, size and install time, features, extensions, and most importantly standards compliance. Web developers now spend 20-40% of their time making sure that apps can be downgraded and otherwise hacked to work in IE6, IE7 or IE8.

But the biggest problem is that IT shops large and small are finding that the silos of information and the barriers to integration are largely Microsoft Windows-made. Sure there are a lot of incompatible non-Microsoft databases and a whole bailliwick of ERP, BI, SCM and hundreds of types office documents and objects which add barriers to quick cross integration. But there is a reason Redmond has needed, because of its mantra of everything runs best in Windows[only], to tout its integration efforts.

So the Cloud is ITs escape hatch from Redmond hegemony. And in response, Windows Cloud OS, with Dave Cutlers help (he of Windows NT which made Windows in 1990s acceptable to Business) will fence off the the Web Cloud enough to make Windows Vista survive long enough so that Microsoft can finally get Windows right. Righttttttttttttttt…..