Windows 7 has put the swagger back into Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT)'s stride. But with Windows Azure, the cloud computing platform that will debut as a paid service on Feb. 1, Microsoft faces a new type of challenge: showing the industry that its deep software expertise can translate into success in the Wild West frontier of cloud computing.
Microsoft, which has spent more than $1 billion to build gigantic data centers to run Azure, faces formidable competition from companies like Google and Amazon that have already become synonymous with delivering services over the Internet. In addition, startups are cropping up left and right to grab their piece of the cloud computing pie. All of which suggests that Microsoft will have to get paying customers onto the Azure platform as quickly as possible to stake its own claim in the cloud.
To make this happen, Microsoft has built Azure to support open source programming languages like PHP, Ruby On Rails, and Python. The idea is to lure developers that haven't traditionally been Microsoft's biggest fans, and it's a bold move from a company that trying to show the industry that it's serious about interoperability.
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