Cloud appears on horizon during Microsoft analyst presentations

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I watched a few of the presentations via webcasts yesterday of Microsoft’s Financial Analysts Meeting. Don Dodge has a breakdown of several of the key items that were presented.

The Windows Live Services model is becoming maybe, a tad clearer, but Microsoft isn’t yet ready to show what it’s really up to here. The one thing that was relatively new was all the talk of “clouds.” It appears Microsoft is building out quite an infrastructure to host pending services. There weren’t a lot of details given, however, I’m not sure what good the details would be to anyone at this time anyway. What are we talking about anyway? So many possibilities. We’ll have to see how this unfolds.

Clouds aside, I thoght I’d share a couple random impressions I had.

First, I didn’t hear any mention of Tablet PCs this go round–well Bill Gates did talk about the importance of “natural input” and pen technologies. Yes, he’s “the man” when it comes to some kind of Tablet mention.

Actually, “Ultra-Mobile PC” did get a nod in a slide somewhere along the line–during a segment where the various types of computing devices were mentioned. Unfortunately I’m not sure if the slide was referring to phones or UMPCs. Since I to grab at anything Tablety, I’ll assume they meant UMPCs :-).

Thirdly, Surface computing devices got good mention too. Bill Gates gave a brief demo, but it didn’t appear to go all that well. Initially the device didn’t turn on and you could see there were quite a few missed and inaccurate detections when he tapped the surface. (The overhead lights too bright?) Steve Ballmer also gave the Surface computing initiative some kind remarks as he mentioned during a Q&A session that the response to the Surface Computer was a surprise. As a Tablet advocate it’s no surprise to me: People are looking for richer touch experiences, whether they are on a UMPC, Tablet PC, whiteboard, table-top, or some futuristic Surface. I’m not so sure the OEMs are hearing us, hopefully, Microsoft will nudge things along. I’ve blogged it before, I’ll say it again, there’s something much bigger here than a Surface Computer as Microsoft is demoing. The clue: Think outside the box. (I had to say that :-)).

There was also lots of talk about how microprocessors are unlikely to be increasing in clock speeds over the coming years and instead that more cores will become the story and as a result developers need to start adapting. I’ve seen where Intel is going this direction too with threading tools for developers, I’m not sure what Microsoft is proposing here. I wonder if we’ll see some apps migrate down from larger multi-core systems first, and then Microsoft, Apple and the like will adapt their OSes and tools to simplify building out similar systems. Another approach is to think like the web and construct tools and apps that work similarly. Thread pools managers and dynamic languages anyone? I’m not so keen on this approach. Personally, I’d like to see tools that help do things we’ve never been capable of doing, such as real-time video analysis from multiple cameras, archiving and searching everything you’ve ever done on your computer, real, real-time sharing of data and displays. Again, we’ll have to see.

Overall I was quite impressed. I’m glad Microsoft decided to share the broadcasts.