Clash of the Titans

Over at Microsoft’s Partner Conference (WPC) there is the awareness now that Azure (Microsoft’s Cloud) is absolute their big push.  I’d say it is by far their biggest push among products right now, maybe even more so than Windows 7.

The other big announcements at the WPC are really just a continued push of the Windows 7 Series Mobile Phone and Ballmer stated that, “You will see a range of Windows 7 slates. They will run Windows 7. They will run Office. They will accept ink- as well as touch-based input.” via eweek.

While Microsoft is doing the WPC Show & Tell, Amazon has released some serious computing advances for their cloud with the new EC2 Instance Type, Cluster Compute InstanceAmazon CTO Werner Vogels’ blogs more in his entry titled “Expanding the Cloud – Cluster Compute Instances for Amazon EC2”.  Also be sure to check out the main AWS Blog titled “The New Amazon EC2 Instance Type, the Cluster Compute Instance”.

My Thoughts on This…

I’m stoked that Amazon keeps releasing bigger and better functionality.  It appears Microsoft and Amazon are going to quietly go tit for tat on cloud features.  For consumers of the cloud that’s awesome, anyone understanding basic economics knows that this is going to lead to bigger, better, faster, at a much faster rate than just having one king player.  I still ponder how intense it would get if Google actually got into this play, since they don’t seem to have any intent to play in the Enterprise Space.

However Amazon’s release is cool, I still am waiting for these next few releases when Microsoft really starts laying on the heat.  Amazon is still, by far, in the lead over Microsoft’s Cloud Technology and Capabilities.  However, one has to keep in mind that Azure was released in February.  Look at what is available now versus in February and it is shocking, especially considering Microsoft’s History.  I have to say though, over the last 2 years or so I’ve seen an amazing external change at Microsoft.  From ASP.NET MVC to Azure, the code quality improvements, framework capabilities, social media, and community involvement has been very impressive.  Even with these advances, if I had to choose between the two services, Amazon Web Services would get my dollar without doubt.

This is where I actually ponder Microsoft’s efforts to move into markets where they’ve notoriously messed up their reputation.  Their efforts into open source, and the startup realm in general, has been slow and steady.  As of today though, Microsoft has a weak foothold with startups.  Startups, in the next 5-10 years will become the major players of growth within the technology industry.  It isn’t a matter of startups being a nice to have, but a matter of survival over the next decade.  Again, Microsoft’s efforts are paling in comparison and being met with the same lackluster interest.  Amazon meanwhile, with their amazing cloud continues to rock the startup world.

What Should Microsoft Do?

I’ve got an opinion, imagine that.  Microsoft should start releasing their primary development platforms completely open source.  Not slightly, but completely.  Visual Studio and Team Foundation Services should be free.  As it is currently Visual Studio is an awesome product, and Team Foundation Services still needs serious help in some areas and is doing great in others, but together they’d be a proposition that could truly get startups going with Microsoft Products.  Be it in Azure (or AWS), hosted, or whatever.  This would get startups paying attention to Microsoft again.  Otherwise I’d wager on Microsoft continually being pushed out of the important and growing parts of the technology industry.

Then of course, I could be completely off base.  Anyone else got an opinion on what Microsoft, or Google for that matter, should do strategically or tactically?  Post a comment and give me a thought or three.