Monday 21 January 2013

Opinion - Revisited: Where Does Microsoft Go Now?

Several months ago I wrote a post on what Microsoft should do due to the rising market share of iOS, OSX, Android and the apparent realisation from users that they are no longer reliant on Microsoft's desktop products such as Office. In the post (Where Does Microsoft Go Now?) I explained that as Microsoft's market share drops, they should invest more and more into cloud computing, specifically Azure. So what has changed in the last few months?

The New Azure

Six months ago Microsoft released "the new Azure". This new version added lots of new features:

  • Virtual Machines - the ability to create durable virtual machines (including Linux);
  • Web Sites - the ability to quickly create and deploy web sites;
  • Git and TFS publishing;
  • Distributed cache;
  • SDK's for node.js, Java, php and python;
  • SDK's for OSX and Linux.

As you can see they've been busy and added a lot of new features; especially additional languages and frameworks such as Node.js and php. In my original post this is exactly what I said Microsoft needed to do.

Since then they've not stopped releasing updates and new features. Azure Mobile Services has been released which allows "Push Notifications" to be sent to mobile devices like iOS and Windows Phone.

I've also heard that Microsoft will be adding Ruby On Rails to Azure Websites as soon as the tooling is ready (although you can already do this through the use of virtual machines).

Is It Any Good

I've been using Azure since the new features were released and I've got to say I'm very impressed. The new HTML interface is far slicker and easier to use than the old Silverlight one. A website can be created and up & running within a couple of minutes (with a database). Microsoft really has made it easy to use and to get up and running quickly (a new virtual machine can be created in less than 5 minutes). Plus for all you guys that like the command line the Azure CLI tool is even more powerful than the website.

Microsoft has made great strides with the recent release to make Azure appeal to more than just .Net developers. However it is going to take a lot to get existing users to move from already-established cloud providers such as Amazons AWS. As long as Microsoft keeps adding and improving Azure I'm sure more and more people will flock to it.

The future is looking even brighter now for Azure and Microsoft than it did a few months ago. The speed at which updates are coming out and the continual addition of new features will please any developer or systems admin. Along with the very competitive pricing strategy, Microsoft has made it very hard not to choose Azure. Microsoft still has a way to go before Azure offers all the popular languages and services but it has made a huge start and its competitors are already being left behind.

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