Ballmer: Microsoft 'all in' on cloud strategy

Microsoft's chief executive tells the world the entire company is now focused on the cloud.

cloud computing

Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer says his company is throwing its weight fully behind the cloud.

In a speech at the University of Washington, Ballmer told his audience that 70 per cent of Microsoft employees' time was currently devoted to cloud computing-related projects, a figure that would rise to 90 per cent over the next year.

And in a company wide email sent out the following day, Ballmer wrote: "When it comes to the cloud, we are all in. We are all in across every product line we have and across every dimension of the cloud."

Just days after Google Europe boss John Herlihy said the traditional desktop PC would be rendered obsolete in three years by cloud-centred smartphones, Microsoft and Ballmer joined the search giant in forecasting a future dominated by cloud computing.

From the outside at least, it marks a significant shift in policy for the company. Microsoft has regularly painted its vision of a software-centred future supported by web services; now, it seems, the two have merged, with Ballmer discussing five "dimensions" that defined how the cloud was used and "realised value".

More than four years after chief software architect Ray Ozzie's "internet services disruption" memo called the ad-supported services and software business model "most challenging and promising to our business", Ballmer all but conceded that Microsoft had failed to meet that challenge by saying "there's so much unrealised potential".

However, he said the cloud was now informing virtually all areas of the company's operations, from Office 2010's online focus to Windows Phone 7's prioritising of the cloud over more traditional voice and other legacy functions.

To go with the change of focus, Ballmer revealed the company would launch a new cloud-focused website, while the internal email also promised an ad campaign in the US and continued emphasis on the cloud from Ballmer and other senior Microsoft officials in speeches and other public appearances.

"We have strong competitors," he wrote to employees. "We need to be (and are) willing to change our business models to take advantage of the cloud. We must move at 'cloud speed', especially in our consumer offerings."

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