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Appeared on: Monday, July 12, 2010
Microsoft, PC makers to Offer Azure Cloud Services, Tablet Rivals to iPad

Microsoft and hardware makers plan to release Windows-based tablet computers. The company is also introduced the Windows Azure platform appliance, a cloud services platform for deployment in customer and service provider datacenters. Dell, eBay, Fujitsu and HP are early adopters of a limited production release of the appliance.

The annoucnemens were made today at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 in Washington.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer touted new tablet-style devices running the Windows 7 operating system from about 20 manufacturers.

These small, hand-held, wireless computers are expected to be introduced from Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Sony, as well as from other PC makers, Ballmer said.

"This year, one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates," said Ballmer. "This is a terribly important area for us."

"They'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards, they'll be dockable, there'll be many form factors, many price points, many sizes," he said. "But they will all run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office."

Ballmer's list of tablet PC makers also included Hewlett-Packard, although HP plans to build slate devices running the operating system devised by Palm Inc, which HP bought this year.

Ballmer also said Microsoft had "missed a generation with Windows Mobile," its cellphone operating system which has been losing ground to Apple's iPhone, the Android platform from Google and the Blackberry from Research in Motion,

"We really did miss almost a release cycle," he said. "But Windows Phone 7 has received really great reviews, really quite remarkable reviews.

At the same conference, Microsoft announced that it is teaming up with computer makers to try to make its Windows Azure cloud computing system attractive to government and corporate customers. eBay Inc, Fujitsu Ltd and PC maker Dell are among the companies testing Microsoft's new Windows Azure platform appliance, which lets customers implement Microsoft's newest "cloud" server technology in its own data centers.

In his keynote address, Steve Ballmer highlighted the critical role Microsoft's partners will continue to play in driving the IT industry?s transformation to cloud computing and helping fuel economic growth and job creation in local communities around the world.

Onstage at the partner conference, Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, outlined how Microsoft provides a comprehensive and integrated service and server platform that allows customers and partners to deploy clouds when and where they want. The Windows Azure platform offers a standardized service platform; the customizable Windows Server platform lets Microsoft's customers and partners build public and private clouds that leverage existing investments with maximum flexibility.

The new Windows Azure platform appliance combines Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure with Microsoft-specified hardware, enabling on-demand IT capacity and faster delivery of new applications. Large enterprises deploying the appliance in their datacenters will have the benefits of the cloud services that Microsoft offers today, while maintaining physical control of location, regulatory compliance and data. In addition, Muglia disclosed new details regarding Microsoft code name "Dallas," an information service powered by the Windows Azure platform that provides developers and information workers access to third-party premium data sets and Web services.

Muglia also elaborated on several new enhancements to the Microsoft server platform that make it easier for Microsoft's customers and partners to build cloud solutions, including the Release Candidate of the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0. The company also introduced the Microsoft Management and Virtualization Solution Incentive and the Private Cloud Deployment Kit, which offers financial rewards and guidance to Microsoft's partners as they build virtualization and private cloud solutions. More information is available at http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2010/07/12/realizing-the-promise-of-cloud-with-microsoft.aspx.

Tami Reller, corporate vice president and chief financial officer for the Windows business, announced the beta release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, which enhance the deployment and management of virtualized desktop infrastructure. Reller also emphasized the role of the cloud in Windows and announced the second public beta of Windows Intune, a new offering that uses the best of both Windows cloud services and Windows 7 to manage and help secure PCs. More information is available at http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/business/archive/2010/07/12/windows-intune-second-public-beta-available-today.aspx.


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