Microsoft Software + Services and Cloud Computing (updated)

This article consolidates a number of different sources of information to provide an overview of Software + Services for you.   The introduction of the mass-internet services in the 1980’s, and subsequent commodity availability of high-speed internet services for businesses and consumers has given rise to a new generation of online software services.  

Microsoft outlined back in September 2007 it’s next phase in its strategy for online services, offering a road map for new offerings that synthesize client, server and services software for people and businesses. These offerings will combine elements of client-based programs with software that runs large servers and new services delivered over the Internet.

The offerings expand Microsoft’s existing portfolio of software plus service solutions — solutions that weave together the best of software and Internet services to provide a new generation of rich, seamless experiences that are personalized, integrated and available online anywhere. This approach gives individuals and organizations greater freedom of choice in how they interact with the people, information and activities they value most.

Microsoft Online Services or Microsoft Software + Services is not to be confused with the Microsoft Services business.   Microsoft Services provides offerings including Architecture and Planning, Technology Consulting and Enterprise Support, refer to the website if you would like to learn more.

For detailed information on the Microsoft strategy I recommend reading the Microsoft Servcices Strategy update published 23rd April 2008 by Ray Ozzie - Microsoft Chief Software Architect.

Microsoft Online
Services: Today’s business world demands that technology add value and reduce costs. Online Services from Microsoft can help relieve the burden of managing and maintaining business systems, freeing IT departments to focus on initiatives that can help deliver true competitive advantage.   Learn More and Get Started…   

On the 28th October Microsoft announced that it will be providing web based versions of the popular Microsoft  Office applications, read the feature story.  Once the service becomes available this post will be updated with the relevant details.

  • Microsoft Office Live Meeting: Connect with your colleagues and engage your customers through real-time meetings, training sessions, and events—using only a PC with an Internet connection and basic software. Hosted Web conferencing from the Microsoft Office Live Meeting service can help give you the power to collaborate from virtually anywhere—set up project meetings, brainstorm ideas, edit files, collaborate on whiteboards, and negotiate deals without the cost and hassle of travel!   

  • Exchange Hosted Services: Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services (EHS) offers online tools to help your organization protect itself from spam and malware, satisfy retention requirements for compliance, encrypt data to preserve confidentiality, and maintain access to e-mail during and after emergency situations. The services are quick and easy to implement. Because they are deployed over the Internet, there is no need to modify your existing e-mail infrastructure, install and maintain any new hardware or specialized software, or invest in training for IT staff or end users. With a simple configuration change, you can begin using Exchange Hosted Services right away.  

  • Exchange Online: Microsoft Exchange Online is a hosted enterprise messaging solution based on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 that helps give your business the protection it demands, the anywhere access employees want, and the operational efficiency your IT staff needs. Exchange Online extends rich capabilities to your users with a single sign-on, including e-mail, shared calendaring, and contacts. And it works with Active Directory to ensure that information is synchronized between your local and online directories, allowing your IT department to support a mix of hosted services and on-premise software. Additionally, Exchange Online supports business continuity and disaster recovery with cloud-based antivirus and spam filtering and high data center security standards.  

  • SharePoint Online: Microsoft SharePoint Online provides a highly secure, central location where employees can efficiently collaborate with team members, find organizational resources, manage content and workflow, and gain the business insight to make better-informed decisions. Based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, this Microsoft-hosted solution helps employees create and manage custom team and project-focused intranet sites for collaboration and document sharing. Users get the flexibility and customization they need to truly work efficiently across teams with tools like wikis, blogs, surveys, shared workspaces, and process workflows. And as a seamless extension of the Microsoft Office system, SharePoint Online is familiar and easy to use, and it enables collaboration within the applications your users already know.  

  • Office Communications Server Online: The Office Communications Online solution provides a unified communications capability that helps people be more productive by enabling them to communicate easily with others in different locations or time zones using a range of different communication options, including text based instant messaging, voice, and video. Integration with programs across the Microsoft Office system—including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Groove, and SharePoint Server—gives information workers many different ways to communicate with each other via a consistent and simple user experience.  

  • Dynamics CRM Online: Businesses today need a better way to find, keep, and grow customer relationships. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online combines the power of online services with the richness of your everyday productivity applications. It's optimized for business workgroups or departments who are looking to realize an immediate business impact with a system that quickly adapts to their unique business needs.

Microsoft Windows Azure Online Services: Windows® Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft® data centers.  To learn more visit the Offical Windows Azure Website or and read the article What is Azure?

To build these applications and services, developers can use their existing Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2008 expertise. In addition, Windows Azure supports popular standards and protocols including SOAP, REST, and XML. Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments.   Key components of the Azure Services Platform include:

  • Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking 

  • Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting 

  • Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control 

  • Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites 

  • Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud.

Microsoft offers web based
services which enhance products that you may already use:

  • Microsoft Office is enhanced by Microsoft Office Online: Offers how-to articles, downloads, templates, clip art, and training.  Get Started…

  • Microsoft Xbox is enhanced by Xbox Live: Xbox LIVE is the Ultimate Broadband Gaming Experience that lets you play multiplayer Xbox games live using broadband Internet access (cable or DSL).  Get Started…

Microsoft Windows Live Services: The best of Windows and the Web together, E-Mail, chat, blogs, photos and more.   With Windows Live you're connected to the people and things you care about most.  More services are being added all the time so keep the link bookmarked.  Learn More and Get Started…

  • Hotmail: Stay connected anywhere with your Web e-mail account 

  • Mail: Access your multiple e-mail accounts in one place  

  • Messenger: Connect, share, and make your conversations count  

  • Toolbar: Easy access to Windows Live services from any Web page  

  • SkyDrive: Password-protected online file storage  

  • Spaces: The best place to share your world online 

  • Photo Gallery: Get creative and share your photos and videos 

  • Writer: Easily publish pictures, videos, and other rich content to your blog  

  • Events: Plan your event. Send invitations. Share photos.  

  • OneCare Family Safety: Help protect your family and computer

Useful Information for Developers and Architects

Software + Services (S+S) Architecture: The future is a combination of local software and Internet services interacting with one another. Software makes services better and services make software better. And by bringing together the best of both worlds, we maximize choice, flexibility and capabilities for our customers. We describe this evolutionary path in our industry as Software + Services.  The following website has been developed to explore the architectural impact of building, running, consuming and monetizing S+S solutions.  Get Started…

Blueprints: Blueprints are a series of open source frameworks and workflow-based guidance packages designed to provide an architectural bridge and reduce the friction you experience building real-world Software-plus-Services applications. As a starting point for both architects and developers who are building real solutions, each Software-plus-Services Blueprint includes source code and/or utilities, guidance, structured step-by-step workflow-based guidance and tools delivered within Visual Studio 2008.  Get Started...

Windows Azure Developement Platform:  Explore and experiment with the Azure SDKs  Get Started.  Also visit the Azure Services Platform Developer Center on MSDN.

Windows Live Development Platform: The Windows Live Platform is focused on providing developers and businesses with everything they need to build on top of Windows Live services.  Microsoft is providing APIs for core Live services - such as Windows Live Contacts, Windows Live Messenger, Live ID,  Search, and Virtual Earth - so that developers can access and use these services in the applications they create.  Learn More and Get Started…

Microsoft SOA Products: Oslo” is the codename for Microsoft’s forthcoming modeling platform. Modeling is used across a wide range of domains and allows more people to participate in application design and allows developers to write applications at a much higher level of abstraction.  Learn More and Get Started...

For further information refer to the Microsoft microsite for Software + Services

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