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PDC 2008: Windows Azure live blog

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie introduces Microsoft's operating system in the cloud to thousands of developers gathered in Los Angeles.

Ray Ozzie speaking to the PDC crowd at the beginning of his keynote address. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

At PDC 2008, Ray Ozzie and company on Monday morning talked up Windows Azure, Redmond's new cloud computing effort. Here's how the details unfolded in this live blog of his keynote address. Click here for a recap of the news from the event or here to see all our Professional Developers Conference coverage.

10:12 a.m. PDT: Microsoft didn't go into too many details on how it will charge for Azure, saying it will be free during the preview period. Final pricing, "will be competitive with the marketplace" Ozzie said. Keynote ending now.

Microsoft's Dave Thompson tells attendees at the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference that all of the company's enterprise software will be offered as an online service over time.
Microsoft's Dave Thompson says all of the company's enterprise software will be offered as an online service over time. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

9:55 a.m. PDT: Microsoft's Dave Thompson is now talking about how Microsoft itself will offer business software that runs over the Internet. Microsoft currently offers its CRM and Exchange software as a hosted option, but that's just the beginning, Thompson said. Over time, "all our enterprise software will be delivered as an online service as an option," Thompson said.

But Thompson stressed that most companies will want a mix of software that runs both on-premise and in outside data centers. The key is to be able to offer both options with no difference to the end user, something that Microsoft has been betting on.

9:45 a.m. PDT: Muglia is demoing how a company will be able to monitor their Azure services using an add-on to Microsoft's System Center management tool, code-named "Atlanta." dashboard for monitoring service performance
Screenshot of the dashboard for monitoring service performance. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

9:43 a.m. PDT: Check out the Azure Web site. Press release is also live here.

9:35 a.m. PDT: Muglia talks about SQL Services--a version of Microsoft's SQL Server database that runs on top of Azure. (Microsoft talked about this at its spring Mix conference, referring to it then as SQL Server Data Services)

Bob Muglia
Server and Tools senior VP Bob Muglia talks about the benefits to businesses of Windows Azure. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

9:30 a.m. PDT: Now Server and Tools senior VP Bob Muglia is talking about how Azure applies to businesses. He's highlighting how the core requirements of businesses don't change just because applications are moving from a company's own data center into Microsoft's centers. Businesses still need things like interoperability, security, compliance and management, Muglia said.

9:20 a.m. PDT: A third-party developer is talking about one of the first Azure services, something called BlueHoo that uses Bluetooth to create a sort of social network of people that are in close physical proximity.
Screenshot of mobile social networking app built on Windows Azure. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

Each person is represented by a cute little bug called a "hoo" that represents a person with an active Bluetooth connection. Until they are signed up for the service, their "hoo" is gray. Once they sign up, they can enter profile information and make their character come to life.

At that point your hoo turns pink or blue, depending on your gender," BlueHoo's creator Jonathan Greensted said. (Too bad there's not a purple option).

9:15 a.m. PDT: Don't think I've forgotten about you, dear readers. It's just that the talk has turned rather geeky, with a demo of how to build a cloud application.

Amitabh Srivastava
Microsoft's Amitabh Srivastava goes over technical details of Azure. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

9:05 a.m. PDT: Now Amitabh Srivastava is talking more about the technical details of Azure.

Each processor in Microsoft's data center is running its own hypervisor, he said. At the heart of Windows Azure is a "fabric controller" which manages an Azure service throughout its life cycle.

"We have built a platform to allow you to build your killer apps," he said.

8:57 a.m. PDT: Ozzie said that Azure won't run on a company's own servers. "Rather it's a service running on a vast number of machines housed in Microsoft's own data centers."

Azure slide
Slide showing some of the services Microsoft plans to offer on top of Windows Azure. Robert Vamosi/CNET News

Azure is being released now as a technology preview with a subset of what Microsoft eventually hopes it to be.

Ozzie promises that developing for Windows Azure will build on what developers know, but he also talks about a new storage model as well as a system designed for "scale out" rather than "scale up"

"There are ways that Windows Azure needs to be different," Ozzie said.

8:54 a.m. PDT: Ozzie announces "Windows Azure"--what had been called Windows Cloud.

"Windows Azure is a new Windows offering at the Web tier of computing... what you might think of as Windows in the cloud."

8:45 a.m. PDT: Companies have been doing this, building robust Web sites and trying to build all this capacity with their existing IT infrastructure.

"Doing this is extremely tough," Ozzie said.

While internal needs are roughly constant, Web demand fluctuates considerably, meaning companies need to build to peak demand, resulting in excess capacity. The need for redundancy means companies have to build not just one massive data center, but multiple ones.

8:40 a.m. PDT: Ozzie promises that between now and tomorrow, developers will hear the whole strategy from software to services--and developers will get their hands on all the new stuff as well.

Ozzie's shifting to the strategy, noting that how today most of a company's computing resources are devoted toward building things used by a company's own employees. That's shifting to where businesses are expected to have equally rich tools for customers and partners.

He dubbed this the "externalization of IT."

8:37 a.m. PDT: Ray Ozzie takes the stage, thanks the crowd, and tells them how good it is to finally be able to talk "end to end" about what the company has been working on the last couple of years.

"It's a transformation of our software and a transformation of our strategy," Ozzie said.

8:30 a.m. PDT: Keynote just getting ready to start.