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So just what is running on Windows Azure?

In an interview, corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava talks about how Microsoft itself is thinking about shifting its own software into the cloud.

LOS ANGELES--With only a couple of examples shown Monday of programs running on Windows Azure, I started to wonder just how far along things are with the cloud OS.

In an interview, corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava tried to set me straight.

"Windows Azure is at an early stage," he said, "It is real, but it is at an early stage."

In addition to the BlueHoo application shown on stage, Windows Azure was used to build Microsoft's Live Mesh and is also being used to build the next generation of Live Meeting.

"Ultimately the goal is to move all our properties," Srivastava said.

Srivastava also explained another question that was in my head. What was up with his bright red sneakers? I suspected, correctly, that it had to do with the fact that Azure was code-named "Red Dog."

The version of Azure that Microsoft is rolling out now is a community technology preview that lacks a number of features that Microsoft is working to quickly add, he said.

In particular, only software written in managed code, essentially .Net, can currently run. Internally, the company has other types of native code running, with plans to offer that to outside customers sometime next year.

In honor of announcing Windows Azure, which had been code-named Red Dog, corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava sported these red sneakers with his suit Monday. Ina Fried/CNET News

Services also must be built on a set of pre-designed templates, he said, though Microsoft plans to add more templates and ideally, allow services that don't follow any sort of template. Also, for now, Azure services will be running in a single Microsoft data center (the Quincy, Wash. facility). Sometime next year, Microsoft will expand that to other U.S. data centers and eventually move overseas, though that brings with it its own set of geopolitical issues that Srivastava said that the company would just as soon wait to tackle.

Microsoft also expects it will take some time for businesses to move major applications to Azure. For now, the company would be happy if developers just start learning about Azure and playing around with its software developer kit, senior VP Bob Muglia said in an interview.

"Realistically, companies won't be deploying applications for a year or more but there is a lot to learn," Muglia said. "There are new things they need to learn, to understand."