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Microsoft: Online services for businesses, too

Business-oriented online services are coming, CTO Ray Ozzie says at the company's TechEd conference.

BOSTON--Microsoft's message to developers: Online services aren't just for consumers.

Microsoft Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie on Sunday said the company is creating Internet-delivered services for corporate customers to complement its on-premise software.

Ozzie, speaking at Microsoft's TechEd 2006 conference for business technology users, described some of the online services Microsoft intends to offer to businesses, including single sign-on and network management.

While Microsoft has launched consumer-oriented online services, such as Windows Live, until now, it hadn't fully explained how it sees the trend affecting companies.

Ozzie said that Microsoft's strategy is to offer a full line of services as an extension to existing client and server software, much in keeping with a notion first described by Chairman Bill Gates last fall.

For example, corporate customers could connect a Windows network to a hosted management or security service. Or a sales person could do a single search across her desktop PC, corporate network and the Web at once, Ozzie said.

"Microsoft is taking a very pragmatic approach, a seamless, blended client-server-services approach...where services complement and extend Windows and Office applications to the Internet," he said.

Ozzie, who was the driving force behind Lotus Notes and other software, joined Microsoft last year and has emerged as the driving force behind the company's online services push.

He said that services represent the next major disruption in the IT industry, much like the PC revolution and the Web.

Right now, hosted Web services, such as Web e-mail and instant messaging, are having a bigger impact with consumers than businesses. But Ozzie predicted that corporations will be able to take advantage of the service infrastructure now being built by companies like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo.

"Like the PC and the cell phone and e-mail before, this (computing) infrastructure will benefit every segment--individuals, small businesses, to enterprises, to governments," he said. "These investments portend a fundamental change in computing and communications."

He said Microsoft intends to create services that IT professionals and developers can access with their existing Windows skills.

To promote the creation of mash-up applications using Microsoft Live-branded services, the company launched the beta of a new informational Web site called Windows Live Dev on Friday.

Revamped security tools
Later on Sunday, Bob Muglia, the senior vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools business, described the design goals of Microsoft infrastructure software and tools.

He said the priorities that Microsoft has set for its products are: flexible management systems; information security; and more productive Office end-user applications.

Muglia said that Microsoft's security products will be rebranded under the Forefront name, which the company will use for security-related products going forward.

The existing product, Microsoft Client Protection, which removes malware from PCs on business networks, has been renamed Forefront Client Security. A beta version will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

Microsoft also announced the early release of several products, including the beta version of Microsoft Operations Manager 2007 and community technology previews of SQL Server Everywhere and Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals.

Also, Microsoft said that Exchange Server 2007 beta 2 will be available by the end of July. General availability is targeted for the end of the year or early next year.

In addition, Microsoft will distribute Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 2. The final version of the server complement to Windows Vista will be available around the middle of next year, said Bob Kelly, general manager of infrastructure marketing.