Software optimize

Microsoft should get its head out of the clouds

Microsoft's biggest current mistake is creating the perception that Windows users are going to be dragged into the Cloud whether they want it or not.

Last week's Microsoft InSights column brought me a deluge of email and comments from critics who think I think Microsoft can do no wrong, just because I wouldn't want to live in a world where the company didn't exist. That's hardly the case. So this week I'm going to talk about what I believe is one of Microsoft's biggest current mistakes:

Creating the public perception that Windows users are going to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Cloud whether they want it or not.

I don't know whether this perception is even correct. I hope it's not. I hope the obvious enthusiasm for the Cloud has just temporarily obscured their intent to continue to offer software for those who aren't ready to trust their applications and data to the Cloud. But recent actions, statements, and ad campaigns have many longtime Windows loyalists -- from consumers to end users to IT pros -- feeling a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Everybody's in love with the Cloud, but is that really true? Just as wine aficionados who hang out only with other oenophiles who think that everyone appreciates the taste of a 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, those who are enamored with the Cloud tend to hear only the feedback that reinforces their own opinion of it. Is Microsoft's vision clouded when it comes to what a large part of its customer base really wants?

Every time I write about cloud services, my email feedback indicates that many, many people are still afraid of the cloud. And yet, it's a love/hate relationship. They want the benefits of cloud storage (for backup and accessibility to their files no matter where they are). They like the convenience of webmail that lets them send and receive messages from any computer, without having to set up an email client. They enjoy having the ability to stream media to their computers, TVs, and handheld devices. So why do so many people who use these services daily say they're adamantly opposed to the "move to the cloud"?

"You can keep the change"

Some of the kneejerk reactions to any mention of the cloud can be attributed to that interminable human characteristic that has held back progress since the beginning of time: discomfort with change. Even when the changes are completely beneficial, many of us are resistant to learning new things, doing things in a way that's different from how we've always done them before. I think it's telling that when I did a web search for "resistance to," the first suggestion that popped up was "resistance to change." The search on that phrase (enclosed in quotation marks) returned almost a million results. Obviously it's a pretty common problem.

There have been many scholarly studies done on why and how people resist change, and the reasons run the gamut from the fear that their livelihood is being threatened (such as the IT pro who is afraid adoption of cloud computing will render his job obsolete) to laziness (such as the consumer who just doesn't want to learn how to use new technologies).

I think an important factor is the helplessness and resentment that people feel when change is imposed on them without their consent. We've all heard the old joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb (only one, but the light bulb has to want to change), and while it might not be true of light bulbs, to a large extent it is true of people. Being forced to change involuntarily scares people and/or makes them angry.

And make no mistake about it: cloud computing is bringing big changes already, and those changes are likely to become more dramatic in the future. For those who embrace change, it's an exciting time to be involved with computers and technology; for everyone else, not so much.

I spent a good part of my Labor Day weekend having a discussion with an attorney who just upgraded from Office 2003 to Office 2010 and hates the changes. No amount of showing her how she could still do the same things -- often more easily with fewer clicks or keystrokes -- could appease her. The old way worked for her, and she wasn't interested in learning something new.

We're hearing that the Cloud is going to change the world of computing. Unfortunately, for many people like my friend, that's not perceived as a good thing.

The communications breakdown

It's not that Microsoft wants to force its customers to do something they don't want to do. In fact, pleasing customers is one of their primary concerns (as it is for any company that wants to be successful). They invest a great deal of money into efforts to discover what customers want and provide it.

Their CPE (Customer and Partner Experience) is a program aimed at increasing customer satisfaction. They welcome and actively solicit feedback on their products. In fact, some would say they do it a bit too aggressively at times; I know I'm often annoyed by those pop-up surveys that seem to always interrupt my TechNet searches when I'm deep in the throes of trying to troubleshoot some problem.

So it's not that they don't care or don't listen, but sometimes I think Microsoft doesn't always listen to the right people. They don't seem to understand that most of the feedback they get during the beta testing of products is from a subset of computer users who aren't necessarily representative of the majority. Beta testers, by their very nature, like trying new things. Most end users don't.

Microsoft also listens closely to their most valued enterprise customers. These are huge companies with lots of resources. Their wants, needs, priorities, and capabilities are different from the many small and mid-sized businesses that make up the rest of the business world.

A case in point: I've heard Microsoft employees say that their feedback shows that "everybody" wants less GUI and more PowerShell. I'm sure those IT folks in the top-tier enterprises do feel that way. Those are people who command high salaries and are extremely technically savvy.

But many of the IT folks in SMBs that I hear from are not asking for more "PowerHell." They're complaining that instead of just adding the command-line capabilities -- which would be great -- Microsoft seems to be taking away the GUI, bit by bit. I've heard it a number of times: "The graphical interface is the whole reason I became a Windows admin instead of a UNIX guy" and "If they're going to do away with the GUI, we might as well just run UNIX servers."

Cloudy daze

What does that have to do with cloud computing? Aside from the fact that some suspect the GUI is going away because they (the Windows admins) are going away soon, I think this same sort of tunnel vision -- listening to or focusing on the feedback from a small subset of customers -- is the same thing that's making the company believe "everyone" is eager to rush headlong into the cloud.

They're not. When people see that all the commercials for Microsoft products are about the "cloud," when they hear rumors that "Windows 8 is going to be all about the cloud," when they observe that all Microsoft's top employees seem to have moved into the Cloud services, when they hear that "the only teams with money in their budgets are the cloud-focused ones," they start envisioning a future where Windows resembles the Google Chrome OS -- nothing more than a fancy web browser that's almost totally dependent on an Internet connection. And they don't like that idea.

I'm not suggesting that Microsoft abandon their cloud strategy. I'm just saying that they need to keep their feet on the ground while their heads are in the clouds. They need to reassure their customers that the cloud is going to give them more options, not fewer. They need to let the public know that Windows will still be there for you if you want to run applications and store data locally. They need to make their commitment to customers who like and want to keep using their existing products just as clear as their proclamation of being "all in" with the cloud.

A cloud by any other name

I've said this before, but it's been a while, and I think it bears repeating. "Cloud" is a word that carries negative connotations for many people. While Microsoft (along with other SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS providers) is envisioning big, fat, happy white puffs of fluff -- the kind angels float on -- many other folks equate the term with angry, dark, lightning-filled harbingers of danger and destruction -- the kind that spawns tornados, takes lives, and costs tons of money to clean up after.

At this point, we're probably stuck with the terminology, but I think Microsoft should differentiate itself by establishing a new identity for its cloud services and gradually phasing out the use of the word "cloud." I believe that would make it easier for them to win over some of those for whom the word represents possible job loss, fewer choices, loss of privacy, less security, higher cost, and scary changes.

Instead of describing Office 365 as "It's familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud," why not just say "delivered over the Internet"? Everyone loves the Internet. Instead of "Microsoft private cloud," why not "next generation datacenter"? That doesn't conjure up the fear of a pink slip for IT pros. Instead of "Windows Cloud Operating System," why not call Azure the "Windows Anywhere Platform"?

It will probably never happen, but I think if they listened a little more closely to all the customers, they might realize that all this public display of affection for the Cloud is actually turning a lot of people off and turning them toward the idea of examining alternatives (i.e. Mac or Linux) in anticipation of the day when Windows is a Cloud-only OS.

Also read:

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

58 comments
support
support

Remember the "change" we were sold to endure in Windows Vista. Not all IT change falls into same bucket as the common human characteristic to resist change. Remember the Office Ribbon in Office 2007? That had to be fixed in Office 2010. IT change is the kind that is typically scrutinized from all angles. Windows 7 does NOT save keystrokes for IT administration. However, the change does provide other advantages. Don't be too general about changes in IT...

hengehog45
hengehog45

'Cloud', similar to Fudge don't you think? You know how sometimes some one tries to 'Fudge' an issue in order to avoid talking truths about stuff they dont want publicly exposed? Well I think that this is kind-of what is going on here. I completely agree with every thing that is expressed in this article. Basically, The Cloud is a gimmicky way of reselling the internet, or internet computing. (You could also call it Internet Service Provision or something like that.) Yes! The internet. Its been around now for long enough and internet computing isnt brand new. Whats different is the size of it and the new opportunities that arise as the internet continues to grow and develop. Lets face it; companies like Microsoft can make far more money when they charge subscriptions, yeh? So they have a product that they want to sell, and the 'Fudge' is that by calling internet computing 'The Cloud' they can make it seem like something different, because otherwise "so?! Its just the internet", and avoid any questions about security, cost, access, control, ownership, and so on....

spasse
spasse

I think that Microsoft needs to continue support both a remote cloud & non-cloud environment. To clarify, by remote cloud, I mean an environment where the applications and/or data files are hosted outside a physical location controlled by the end user or the company that he works for. As others have amply pointed out, there is a host of security and connectivity issues that make the universal adoption of the remote cloud impossible at this time. But also understand that the growth of the Tablet as an end point device will continue to drive the concept that applications and their associated data files ???need??? to be hosted on devices that exceed the processing, files storage & UI capabilities of the tablets that exist today. I suspect that the ???private cloud??? will continue to evolve as well, to serve the expanding ecosystem requirements of tablet like devices, while still providing for the security & availability issues that are best served locally. At the time when the ubiquitous high speed internet access becomes a universal reality, the remote cloud really may come of age. But hopefully not in the form of Skynet??? ;)

DGIM
DGIM

that we used in the 70's and 80's. Apart from the legal problems in using this (UK specific and hopefully in the past) we remember the joys of service interruptions, unannouced software upgrades, line-speed capacity problems, high costs and poor response at peak times (Service Bureau make money by providing the MINIMUM capacity to support expected user load.) Poor service from help desks. Great fun. At least when my people run a service the problems are ours and we can deal with them, without paying through tghe nose.

nico
nico

Microsoft has been both a source of revenue and immense frustration for us. Revenue because we are able to service our customers drawn from real-world experience and frustration; and because we realize how much damage is done because of the silliest of mistakes ??? mistakes that a single testing effort of their software would have picked up. A while ago I floated the notion that Microsoft must have calculated the cost to produce 100% bug-free software, which, in my opinion, is infinite, so it's not attainable, as opposed to the price it charges for its software. If the percentage of bug-freeness is, say, 90%, the price of a product would be X dollars and if they would lower the bug-freeness level to, say, 80%, (by debugging less) it would be Y dollars, then the savings would be X minus Y dollars. That's money going directly into the profit column. To put the benefits of this kind of savings in perspective: with a net profit margin before taxes of, say, 3%, one has to multiply these type of savings with 33.3 to arrive at the amount of sales necessary to produce the same giving all other variables remain the same. It's a windfall CFOs worth their salts will not easily overlook. Naturally, the burden of further debugging their software would then fall on the customer, who, in the majority of cases, are not equipped to deal with the problem. So, we (and others living in the same Microsoft shadow that we do) get the call. It generates revenue for us but we are reluctant to criticize Microsoft because their poor judgments increase our revenues; providing Microsoft with convenient cover to continue this practice or even perhaps further lower their debug and product quality standards. What does that have to do with the Cloud? The same disregard for what's in the best, long term interest of Microsoft opens up a huge amount of opportunities for us to early on identify Microsoft's blunders and introduce patches, fixes, other software and consulting to our customers. Sounds like a good symbiotic relationship, right? Perhaps, but we are very jittery about Microsoft's name irrationally conjuring up negative impulses, which might cause CTO's to steer away from their products even though there might be no material justification to do so; and from us, too. That is a threat to our survivability. Personally, I don't believe it's merely a case of not listening to all their customers; that's the kind of mistake a small shop such as ours is prone to make. With the resources, experience, and information at their disposal, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is calculated. It is rather an air of elitism and infallibility that bedevils their planning than a simple case of missing the point. Perceptions are hard to change and it takes a lot of perseverance, money and time to accomplish, just ask Nissan and Toyota. I am afraid that Microsoft's perception of smart is moving away from reality and their future, and the company might be heading for a real-world awakening that's going to destroy an immense amount of wealth and opportunity. There is a distinct realization that we are defending the indefensible and promoting less than moral business practices when we explain to our customers why they have to pay us to fix that which they bought, under the impression that it would work as advertised, in the first place.

britnat
britnat

Good article - and highlights all the issues our end-users raise. There are numerous "secure" sites, where the key accounting network is never exposed to the internet. The owners want it that way - and will look at alternatives if Microsoft force the issue. And, once they change, the rest of their organizations will follow. A snowball can start an avalanche. There is also the issue of "critical mass". Not all Microsoft offerings are equally received - remember Win ME. The fact that a huge user base continues to use Win XP and Office 2003 illustrates that people find something they like, and stick with it. As developers we've learn NOT to tinker with things like the GUI unless there is a pressing need to do so. And most people prefer simplicity and RELIABILITY over "new features" (many of which are just old feaures dolled up). One thing not mentioned - the Cloud is good for Microsoft. They are ever-conscious of the piracy problem - and believe that SAAS is the answer.

Guyx
Guyx

Never mind the over reliance on a poor broadband infrstructure in the UK. If you run a business would you put any critical component of your network 'in the cloud' where a 3rd party can flick a switch and take it away from you in a instant! This could a financial issue, a technical issue or as previously stated the provider might want to re-adjust the terms of service. For most companies the investment in large data pipes (for SLA rather than bandwidth concerns) the ultimate lack of control and the fact that it is more expensive in the long run, in most situations compared to 'on premise' is not going to appeal to most sensible business owners. Most real 'IT' people know that the 'cloud' is a device to tie you up, tie you in and and put them (the supplier) in complete control. Not where a sensible business person would want to be unless of course you are selling cloud services. A cloud is just a pain in the A** on a sunny day. As for 'change' bring it on!

Tarasquin
Tarasquin

I'm working as a global service manager for a BIG company looking after multinational clients. Cloud services are offered as well but not taking off yet. The majority of our clients do not want their data stored in a shared datacenter environment WITHOUT PHYSICAL SEPARATION of their data. We cant get enough computer floor space to house the dedicated servers, but a shared server environment is hitting lots of resistance.

pkingfisher
pkingfisher

Try using the cloud services when the net is down or when you live in the countryside with poor internet services i.e. slow connections or none existent. It is just not feasible to base your business services on something that can and does let you down. Also with multiple users on a company internal network all trying to work and do everything via the single net connection it increases the data load on an already poor internet connection. As for security even if it is good it is irrelevant if you can not connect to access your data. Dream on the cloud is not ready or realistic for an awful lot of people.

n.gurr
n.gurr

To start with when traveling in much of the world internet is not cheaply available making the cloud an expensive or useless option - even in the UK. Secondly people want to control their everyday computing usage, they do not want someone else responsible, people are even wary of people behind Facebook. I am sure you all have battles with people demanding their own printers despite having access down the corridor! People do not know what the cloud is and it is not easy to explain in a compelling way!

d graham
d graham

Recently made the mistake of upgrading to a Win7 phone. Now instead of syncing my data between my computer & my phone, it all has flow through the "cloud", and all updates have to be made in the "cloud" in order to update my computer and my phone. I have several issues with that. 1) just a matter of time until it is hacked and my private data is in the hands of persons that I don't wish it to be in possecession of. 2) forces me to use expensive 3g access when I am not at home to utilize wifi 3) no access when the web is "down" 4) only a matter of time until Microsoft starts charging for this "mis-service" Should I go on?

WCarlS
WCarlS

My problem with having only Cloud-ware? Reliability and Longevity. Need a good example? G.M. In case you're unaware, the old G.M. is gone, has been renamed, and according to its' attorneys, is not required to and will not honor any warranties. Now, on the "Cloud", if your hosting firm goes away, is bought and renamed, and ALL your data is turned to fog, "Who you gonna call?" Dependability, Reliability, and Security means having control. With "Cloud", you don't get that.

mbrello
mbrello

Debra: As you are probably aware, John Joyner recently posted an article regarding the Cloud (http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/networking/migrating-to-office-365-practical-aspects-of-moving-email-to-the-cloud/4675?tag=nl.e071), and I posted a lengthy opinion that I will not repost here. I agree that there are conveniences associated with cloud computing. However, we lost Internet connectivity just the other day due to our ISP's line being cut. We were without Internet from 11 am through the end of the day. Had our operations been solely reliant upon the Cloud, we would not have been able to access our data nor any Cloud applications. Fortunately because our data is local and our applications are located on each client/workstation, we were able to continue working even without Internet connectivity. As are most of us here, I'm in the IT field and because technology is constantly changing, I try to make sure I'm not resistant to change. However, I can't see the feasibility of being able to perform your duties only as long as you can connect to the Internet. And WHY is it that everyone seems to want us to entrust their data to them? Maybe I sound a little paranoid, but it's disconcerting to me that "they" want us to store all of our data on a cloud. The next thing you'll know, they will be controlling your access to your data - what, when & where. And fees will continue to rise just because they can do it, and because you need/want access to your information, you'll pay those fees. Like I said, I know it sounds paranoid, but they are concerns that I have regarding the cloud.

Alienwilly
Alienwilly

I can thank the cloud for most of the personal computer repair business that comes my way. All I'm trying to say is the more time you spend in the clouds, the more likely you will be visiting a computer repair tech. MOST people that come to me DO NOT keep their machines and programming up to date. Consider this my free gift to you. Personally, I use it as little as I possibly can on my personal machine (you know, updates and such).

kevsan
kevsan

There are a number of sayings that include the word cloud, most are negative. Surrounded by a cloud of mystery, head In the clouds, clouded over, angry clouds, cloud the mind, behind every cloud is another cloud, Happiness is like a cloud, if you stare at it long enough, it evaporates, walking on cloud 9, the cloud of uncertainty and so on. Think that just about wraps up my opinion of Cloud Computing. One major breech and the cloud will dissipate.

mjc5
mjc5

Absolute truths: Your data is safe. That is proven every day, the web has never ever had a data breach. Ever! Everyone is always connected to the web. The cloud is back to the future in it's purest form. I remember a fellow who bought one of the early PC's some time in the 80's. Had a modem on it and a business plan to rent computing time to other people. Fast forward to today, and we have people wanting us to go back to this. Software as a service, remote storage and management. And management is titillated by this new nirvana. I can just see it in the meetings..... "Early projections of the cloud process framework indicate that cloud systems can allow for an 80 percent decrease in redundant human resource allotments, enhanced throughput, and increased implementation of process. We expect significant in creases in profit!" It doesn't matter what Microsoft has plans to do. The cloud is coming, and there is nothing we can do about it.

BeyondITall
BeyondITall

I do not wish to remain static. I do not fear change. I do not change simply because change is available to me. Examples: DOS 4 - BAD idea and very unstable. Windows as a DOS overlay - GOOD idea, BAD performance and stability issues WIN95 - GOOD idea, BAD stability and compatibility Incorporating the browser into the OS - BAD idea. PUSH technology - VERY BAD idea. The only "push" should come from the local server to the work stations. WIN ME - BAD idea, very unstable, poor compatibility, NO command line. MS did make the DOS boot disk a valuable tool again, with WIN ME! WIN2K - Great idea, for the corporate level, BAD idea for the home user VISTA - Eye candy with bells and whistles. Need I say more? The CLOUD? Great idea for the corporate level, NOT so good from the aspect of control over your data and security. You want it? Fine. I have NO issues with that. WIN8 - Should Microsoft believe that their new OS be designed for the CLOUD, let them do so but, they should also have an installation option that is not centered on the CLOUD. I welcome change but, the change has to be for the better.

Greg_Clark
Greg_Clark

Cloud computing as an idea is good in theory but in practice, it would be plagued by the inadequacies of the local network and infrastucture provided by carriers. In Australia we are supposed to be on the receiving end of the panacea of all Internet infrastructure, the NBN, which I will believe when I see it all built nationally and working. I'm 61 years old and don't think I will be alive long enough for it come to fruition. At a supposed 100 megabit bandwith per person (ROFLOL) maybe that will be the perfect platform for the cloud computing. Why don't we just pool all our resources and build a gateway system (like a Stargate) that will allow people to travel from one place to another all over the world. Planet gate...yeah. After all our ancestors had it 100,000 years ago. And I believe in Unicorns.

derek
derek

I was very impressed with the security that was offered by those enterprising individuals who made available online storage of critical data. The ability to securely archive (almost instantly) vital data contained in the latest file save was and is very attractive. However I have always assumed that online data storage was a secondary or supplimentary capability. For security reasons I have always operated on the basis that my 'primary' or 'master' storage location was under my control, on physical hardware under my direct ownership and my 'secondar'y or 'copy' storage location was on the Internet (now 'cloud'!) but my perception of this 'new fangled' 'cloud' world demands that I reverse this concept. The idea that I would commit my 'master' data storage of critical information to some 'unknown' location is utter madness. Just recently, it came to my attention that a college student has committed ALL his data - school work, photographs, music etc. etc to the care of his Google 'cloud' account BUT as a result of criminal hacking activity perpetrated on his account, Google has 'locked' him out of his account without any redress! Of course he doesn't have a 'secondary' or 'local' or 'backup' copy of his data so he has no means of rebuilding his 'life' to date. The present concept of the 'cloud' service environment is only attractive to the truly reckless

ben
ben

It's not FUD, it's not fear of change or the fact that I have more grey hair than patience (all though the last one is still true). I often need to work without an internet connection. I use a local email client because I can read email and compose responses even when off-line and have it go out when I reconnect. I work on airplanes, in resturaunts and airports. Internet access is not ubiquitous. I won't upgrade to Office 365 until I can confirm I can do EVERYTHING I do now with 2007 when I'm off-line. Is that so hard to comprehend? And of course "the cloud" is nothing new. "The network is the computer", "thin clients", and so on...the concept goes back decades. The "thin client" idea faded as the capability of low cost PCs and workstations increased. I recall a demo (20 years back) by a company known then as the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) demo'd the kind of stuff you mentioned - email, run apps, see your personal desktop, etc. from any computer. It was cool. It wasn't really needed by most people. I loved it, and I didn't give up anything. Remember "PCanywhere" anyone? I suppose it has to be marketted as all new, breakthrough thinking. It'll impress me more favorably if you sell it as yet another capability that lets me get more work done where ever I happen to be. But then, I'm a grumpy old geezer.

GreyTech
GreyTech

I get the feeling that the cloud has many attributes of my early computing career in the 1960s. We had time sharing with limited availability all out of our control, then mainframes that kept all the control with the IT department (only it was just called the computer department). Then came personal computing where users had control and in large companies anarchy reined for a while until IT departments were formed to bring things under control! This lead to discontent as users failed to communicate their need effectively to IT and IT thought they needed to control users. Now the cloud allows many more jobs to be outsourced to "experts" but still doesn't communicate the needs of the users to the suppliers. It introduces many new challenges, like which country has jurisdiction over my data, how do I run my office when I cannot get onto the internet or perhaps when the bandwidth drops to an unacceptable level, am I abdicating my responsibilities for data security...

promytius1
promytius1

Like all clouds it will disappear. In the meantime, when's the last time you controlled a cloud? Or trusted one? "where's my data?" "Up there - somewhere..." Here's the BAD News - just like the mobile phone's "unlimited" which is now "tiered", what do you think they will do, once you're in the cloud? That's right, you'll have to pay for access, own nothing, and be at the mercy of a money machine, M$, keep your feet and head on the ground.

Sneaky Pete
Sneaky Pete

As far as "THE CLOUD" goes, I wouldn't trust that thing as far as I could throw the building that it sets in. Talk about problems with security, that monster is just waiting to be hacked. One thing that will never happen with me, I will not trust "THE CLOUD" or any website with my files.

dan.wildcat
dan.wildcat

The concerns about cloud computing are real in many places and the major concern I have is that many are trying to move us there too fast and without dealing appropriately with the concerns many people have. I live in a sparsely populated and mountainous area. A lot of people here are still stuck on dial-up because there are no other viable options without giving up the rights to their first-born to pay for it. Even their dial-up is less trustworthy than dial-up usually is. They simply don't have the bandwidth to handle anything cloud-based. A short drive up into the mountains and you can forget about cell-phone coverage as well. So basic access to the cloud is problem number one for many people. When they get the impression that's where everything is going, they know, as of now, they can't participate in it. The second problem, which I agree with, is a basic distrust of storing all my precious information somewhere other than right here at home. As a backup, maybe. But with the number of power and Internet outages in my area, there is no way I'm putting my eggs in that basket. The last thing I need for all my work to come screeching to a halt every time the lightening strikes or our modem goes kaput. My backup strategy has to take into account my environment and that includes less reliance on anything Internet-based. Those are the reasons I am not willing to rely on the Cloud. I may not ever be able to rely on it. But, in all honesty, I think the Cloud will always be alongside of local personal computing. And private on-site cloud app servers are a fantastic idea. Just don't leave me hanging every time I lose access to the Internet, which is often.

tutor4pc
tutor4pc

When I offered a Frenchman a Mouton Rothschild he was almost insulted. So am I when MS talks about the cloud. As an ancient IT guy I rather go back to thin clients and only give few people access to the net. For one thing I do not like the risk, for another I prefer the productivity of having a closed environment. That productivity comes from less work to administer the local network and also from people not playing around. To me the cloud is a fad that will exist as a niche but real work is done at home.

greenfrm
greenfrm

I hate the term and they are trying to stuff everything into the Product/Name. I use the cloud but to me it is an off site server. I never put anything that is confidential on the cloud since I have no trust that it will not be hacked.

320vu50
320vu50

That isn't where many of us think Microsoft's head is. They have never awakened to the lesson of history that says if you don't pay attention to the past you will repeat history over again. Just when it looks like they seem to be getting things right they go off and repeat the mistakes of Windows 2000, ME and Vista. The thought seems to be,"It's the best thing because we say so." Then not understand why everybody doesn't believe them. Well, I'm not convinced a cloud is safe. In aviation there is a saying, "Don't fly into clouds at low level as one just might have lumps in there." Clouds are a sign of storms, rain or snow. Lightning doesn't strike from clear blue sky. So, the general populace is inherently afraid of clouds. I do agree that term is not the best choice. Microsoft's biggest mistake is to assume everyone wants things their (Microsoft's) way. When other things are more what folks want. Because of adverse conditions from sources external to my operation, I want to be able to set the day and time that I will get Microsoft downloads (in the middle of the night), and the ability to install during the next day. But, Microsoft's dictate is that I can only get Automatic Downloads at as set time if the downloaded file is installed. Well, that has problems as many files have crashed my computer and I have to restore to an earlier time and then download and install each one until I locate the culprit, then hide that file and finish the job. Then Microsoft thinks I am an idiot because I tell them what happened when that specific file crashes my computer. I am worried that the rush to replace Windows 7 may be a repeat of ME or Vista. The other rush jobs have failed as well, so why shouldn't this one? Look what happened when they listened to their customers, we got XP and 7 - two programs that work. So, history is at it again? Now it's a cloud. Clouds are pretty but they also 'hide' some pretty awful things. Is this the same with the cloud named Microsoft?

RAYGARFER
RAYGARFER

Good Headline, But the article sounded more like someone who is stubborn. To use an example about a client, that you just showed them how to do somethis this past weekend was a poor example.. Another person just sounding off on Microsoft. Just give more of the plus and minus. Doesn''t Mac have Icloud?

russgalleywood
russgalleywood

Also agree with Chris Thamm above, if MS did try to go for a monthly fee type set up I think it would really turn off a lot of Windows Users. Good new for Linux Lovers like me, we might finally get above the 1% user base!! Not too far though, don't want to loose the elitism tag :)

mcpeters
mcpeters

The major philosophical obstacle to Cloud Services is that of ownership and personal control. Many people and organizations, perhaps even the majority, will continue to keep their data and services in-house rather than relinquish that to the fluffy white entity in the sky. This is particularly true where Microsoft is concerned because it has built its reputation on freedom in computing. A shift to relinquished control is a marked philosophical shift, one that people will not readily adopt. Members of the COA (Cult of Apple) will gladly use the Cloud because they've already given up computing control on a persona level. Not so with MS.

cavehomme1
cavehomme1

...and I hope that some people in MS take note of it, you make some very good points. Personally I use a lot of cloud services including secure backup which is highly encrypted before it is encrypted by the backup software and then sent off to Iron Mountain or China or wherever the bits are kept, so I do not have massive concerns about MS storage cloud or anyone else's storage cloud. What does concern me more is hidden malware and intercepts that hack real time traffic and systems and I don't see cloud systems as being especially more vulnerable then any other system per se - as long as you are connected to the net and communicate then you are susceptible, whether exchanging data between your own company locations or the cloud, period. As for GUI and usability, MS are going to shoot themselves in the foot on this, as other people pointed out. If there is too much candy floss then people will jump to linux or unix, or if not enough candy floss then they will jump to Apple, so MS must cover BOTH! What I mean is that in the same way linux distributions have different desktops such as KDE, Gnome, etc to suite different needs and tastes. So for example, Windows 7 / 8 could easily have provided all the security and other improvements yet still offered the XP desktop as a choice. Same with Office 2007 / 2010, many people spent a decade working and fine tuning their workflow and productivity with Office 95 onwards and only faced minor GUI changes with the menus and functions only being fine tuned. The 2007 incarnation was a MASSIVE change, and totally unnecessary to force people to work to a new, and for them, more difficult or even illogical interface perhaps designed by right-brainers with little regard for left-brainers! I love change but still after 18 months of using Office 2010 I still come across productivity issues and just ignorant design "features" and it is completely unacceptable to force people into such changes. We say we value democracy and choice yet people are prepared to walk over people in this way. Yes many people can take it or leave it, but many people cannot because it is forced upon them possibly without adequate training and it gets up their stress levels and can contribute towards illness; this is serious stuff since it affects the persons whole workflow and ability to produce results as efficiently - of course not everyone, but enough people still have issues with ribbon interface. So to conclude, MS need to provide more options not less options and that way they will help their users and will be embraced by them, I am sure.

mysterchr
mysterchr

My thoughts on the cloud are that cloud services are best served to an individual and not will not be making very much headway into the commercial or government industries. Private clouds certainly, but those clouds will not be any different then the ones they have now. For one thing the government would't trust Microsoft's cloud any one else's that they themselves weren't in control of. And corporate america tends to follow what it's government is doing. Also like the author stated MANY IT admin's and engineers are against the cloud because they know better. And their going to be advising their employers against Microsoft's Cloud so then it becomes the IT guy vs a marketing campaign. Most of these IT guys were hired because their supervisor trusts their opinions and trust them to steer their company's technology into the right direction. I don't think that the "To The Cloud" commercials are going to really convince these business owners to switch. Like I said a paragraph ago the cloud makes sense for a person, not people. Favorite movie quote, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals."

chris_thamm
chris_thamm

What Microsoft really wants, is to start selling Windows under a "software as a service" model -- something they can bill you for on a monthly basis. The Cloud is just a convenient means to this end. It will be a cold day in hell before I pay for Windows by the month. In fact, the day I no longer have the option of licensing a version of Windows as a one-time cost, is the day I reformat with a non-Windows operating system. I am not interested in being a perpetual beta-tester for the latest incantation of Windows. Even with Service Pack 1, Windows 7 still doesn't "feel" reliable.The fact that there are about 600 public hotfixes applicable to WIndows 7 with Service Pack 1 makes me want to avoid any new MS OS until Service Pack 2 is available for it -- nevermind being updated to the latest version as it becomes available. And while the Cloud itself may offer some interesting advantages, the fine print still says that the Cloud owners are still in no way responsible for the integrity of your data. Just wait until we start hearing about cloud disasters ("cloudbursts"?) -- where people and companies lose everything they had on the cloud. That'll calm the hype.

PeterM42
PeterM42

Have you ever noticed how clouds can blow away in high winds? There can be distinct advantages in using "cloud" services, but nothing quite so comforting as having your own control over your data.

jnijkerk
jnijkerk

The whole hype about those clouds is nonsense-based. The cloud makes you dependent of 'something else'. Sometimes you will (p.e. in case of your doctor) but not unlimited, sometimes you will not. Letting the cloud slip into yor life is like handling over your wallet to the bank. Who would do that? The question is: Do I keep my affairs under my direct management and responsability or do I choose to let someone else take care of them with a couple of thousand best intentions and a million of absolute guarantees. Thinking of bankemployees, lawyers, consultants, insurance people, mister presidents and other trustworthy people, for me the choice is quite simple en logical. Sometimes it's cloudy and raining, sometimes the weather is real nice. And the fact is that when the clouds are gone my stuff could be with them... Listen folks, I really hate to be in a bad temper on a fine, clear and sunny day. So please, let my feet feel the ground when them clouds pass away. ;-)

Cynyster
Cynyster

IMO M$ should fix the problems with the products they have already. Many small businesses are struggling to keep up with the technology that Microsoft has already changed. Coupled with the fact that ISPs seem to have become less reliable??? not more. Then again, the whole idea of cloud computing drives me nutz. Put your precious data on someone else???s server seems fine when the privacy policy says the wont harvest your data. That is... until they change their policy... again. No! I think I'll keep all my private data where it belongs... on my private servers. If a business wants to have the convenience of internet access they can put up for the expense of secure servers on their own pipe. The cost to benefit ratio is much more readily apparent.

Ron_007
Ron_007

You may not be aware, but MS is delivering a "Cloud" version of Office 2010. Without telling people. It comes in a "Click to Run" (CTR) version which runs in a virtual machine on your local machine (in a surprise "Q:\" drive) and has to connect to the MS servers to download features and Office updates (without notice!). One way people get it is Office 2010 Starter, the one that comes for "Free" pre-installed on new computers (it, inadequately, replaces free MS Works). The other way people get CTR is buying online downloads and downloading to a computer that has a sufficiently high speed internet connection. My beef is that MS does not tell people doing the downloads what is happening. There is a way to get a "normal" installation file, but it is a deep dark secret. I'll concede they can do pretty much what ever they want to do with "free" software. But they should be more up front about it and they should provide a better way for people to re-install it. You can only 're-install' it by using the Windows refresh partition to "re-install' factory fresh windows. Of course that has the fun "benefit" of wiping out all of your data files if you are not careful... Naturally, things are done differently than "normal" installations. Things such as file associations. There can also be unexplained, and un-fixable (no published fix for it yet) "Side by side" type errors where the virtualization engine has some sort of problem. Re-install seems to be the only fix. Too bad if it is Office Starter that is having the problem. Virtualization is fine in the corporate server room, but I question it's suitability for home users. Especially since it is one more step closer to only being able to rent software on a monthly payment basis. And, unannounced automatic "updates" whether you want them or not, no matter if they cause negative effects (break purchased addons, like in firefox).

dogknees
dogknees

... rather than with MS strategy. This whole idea that we are driven by a company making some product or another is the problem. If you want to go down that path, that's fine, but don't blame the company for your unwillingness to apply serious thought to what you want. The whole industry seems to be living in a fantasy land where vendors tell us what we want rather than the reverse. If you don't like their offerings, tell them by refusing to buy their products.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

American companies just don't seem to get that "Cloud Computing" is a very much first-world concept. The rest of us have to make do with slower connections (384 Kb is classified as "broadband" and while we do have DSL up to 10 Mb it is only available within about 2 km of the exchange in larger centres, and is quite costly. Mobile 3G / HSUPA has a nominal speed of I think 7.2 Mb but you never get anywhere close to that sort of throughput, and is breathtakingly expensive) that may or may not be working on any given day when you arrive at the office. So what do you do when the lines go down (for up to 4 days, sometimes, in cases of cable theft)? Might as well shut the doors and call the bank to file for liquidation. Cloud computing might be a brilliant way to make money for service providers but it sure ain't a practical way to run a business if you don't have a 100% reliable high-speed Internet connections.

brendan
brendan

You would be probably criticizing them for not paying enough attention to the cloud. Its not like they're the only major player who is betting on a cloudy :) future.

Ekendra Lamsal
Ekendra Lamsal

Maybe I dint get whole out of this article, but I'm in favor of saying "MS should integrate Clouds natively into its Windows OS" That way shall benefit users with their multiple gadgets and devices.

Dknopp
Dknopp

How is that? I have all of the standard apple applications, plus a couple that I downloaded ( openoffice, etc ). Apple does standard updates - just like MS. I can work on my laptop totally without the internet. All of my data stays on my laptop. I can load up foxfire, chrome, all of the standard browsers. In short it is pretty much the same as a windows box - except it works. I have been doing unix/linux for decades - the land of your own control, and the apple OS is a unix operating system. I can pretty much do whatever I want with my apple. Just because the Ipad is a controlled environment ( through necessity I might add, all of the other mobile operating system were crap before the ipod/ipad came out ) does not mean that the apple OS/laptop is not under my control. You gave up control with Windows a long time ago and did not even notice it. But other than that I totally agree with the first paragraph, there is no way in hell I will put all my stuff on somebody's server farm. I don't even like using somebody elses web server.

jgmsys@yahoo.com
jgmsys@yahoo.com

My data is MINE, and belongs in nobody else's hands. Since sites are still apparently hackable, and that will never be perfect, especially if they're running M$ OSes, why put your mission-critical data on that cloud, let alone your personal data, or any projects you might be working on, even from a hobby standpoint? One never knows if you just might one day publish the novel you were writing, only to find out it was ripped off from the cloud and published by someone else, who now has decided to slap you with a lawsuit for copyright infringement? Granted, public records, of course, are what they are, and believe me, I have my worries about that, too. Putting them in the cloud makes it even worse. I'm with you....if M$ decides to force people into the cloud on a monthly-fee basis, I'm going to Linux, pronto. I'm already partially there anyway. that would just be the final nail in the Windows coffin as far as I'm concerned.

russgalleywood
russgalleywood

Thats what it boils down to, if you don't like the way a company does something, use a different company. Surely there must be masses of competitors to Microsoft when it comes to a Desktop OS? Well there must be! Hello? :)

bikingbill
bikingbill

Lines down for only four days? You're lucky! Here in the alleged first-world - the UK - we have a telecoms situation where lots of providers are sub-contracting to each other and it seems no-one wants to employ any actual engineers, never mind train them. So when a physical fault develops we can wait weeks until an engineer turns up. Then they will carry out the minimum amount of work required to get the line to pass its test. It may not be usable, but it passes their internal test. I can't decide if the quality of customer service is already zero, or whether it is possible for it to fall further. My elderly parents - both in their eighties - have had no fixed line telecom service at home for over two weeks while the companies involved point fingers at each other and hope that my parents' mobile battery runs flat before they get to the head of the queue to speak to a real person on the faults line. At work I have been waiting over three weeks to get a simple repair carried out, albeit not a business-critical one. Any supplier wanting to promote cloud computing will have a hard time convincing businesses to trust the cloud when the telecoms suppliers are interested only in their own cost-cutting.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The author didn't seem to give the opinion that Microsoft should stop all development of hosted services (aka. "cloud" for the marketeer brainwashed folks). It seemed to suggest that Microsoft should continue to focus on locally run software product *while*also* developing hosted services. In otherwords; Microsoft should find balance in doing both not focus on one or the other at the expense of the second. And, my personal concerns over hosted services are security based versus "fear of change" based. Lastpass encrypts user data on the user's machine. Lastpass systems only ever stores or touches encrypted data. LP can still securely share information between users without needing decrypted information anywhere inbetween. When Google Apps encrypts on the user's system and only ever transfers and handles encrypted data then we can come back and talk about "cloud" hosted productivity software suites. When Dropbox manages user data like Lastpass and Jungledisk do, we can talk more about using that hosted storage service.

GSG
GSG

when your ISP imposes limits on how much you can download per month. Many of them are already doing this. If I store all my MP3's, ebooks, movies, etc... in the cloud and it requires internet connectivity to use these, then there are too many single points of failure. I'll be throttled by my ISP the first week of the month, and when the cloud servers go offline and lose all of my data (which has happened several times), then I would have to restore from my backup, assuming that everything was backed up. Or, what usually happens around here is that the ISP goes off line for several hours, maybe due to a storm. I still have power, but I can't get to any of my files. If I'm a business, then my business effectively shuts down. Not to mention, that there are whole subsets of business that will run as far away from the cloud as they possibly can. Should my hospital store all of your medical data in the cloud?

dogknees
dogknees

Not everyone has, wants or can get these devices. There are a LOT of people that cannot participate in this revolution. The are a LOT that cannot get any mobile internet service for any money short of a satellite dish, and they aren't very portable.

dogknees
dogknees

But the real point is that change things, people have to be prepared to suffer a little inconvenience or cost. If the majority of businesses of all sorts and sizes really felt this way, they could make a difference. As long as they all just go along for the ride, they get what they deserve. It's like politics, unless you are prepared to get off your a$$ and protest to your elected reps, and to follow through by not re-electing them, nothing will change. And it's not the fault of the politician, it's the direct result of all those who choose to just go along with things. These people are personally responsible for where we are today.