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Can Microsoft be beaten in the cloud?

Microsoft has the desktop forever. Period. But can it leverage this advantage into the cloud?

Roy Schestowitz apparently uncovers a subversive strategy Microsoft is using to block Linux from motherboards everywhere. How? By fighting its longtime partner, Phoenix Technology, which had developed a Linux-friendly virtualization technology (HyperWave) to allow a Linux operating system to run even when Windows fails:

The basic concept is that an embedded Linux OS will accompany the core system firmware or BIOS, allowing instant-on applications to be run from it at any time.

The spat seems to be over for now, but the fight with Phoenix is instructive. Microsoft is far smarter than we generally give it credit. The company keeps an eagle eye on its desktop prize, and is unlikely to allow anyone to build rival technology there. The only way to compete with Microsoft on the desktop is not on the desktop - it's in the cloud. Perhaps Microsoft isn't as vulnerable here as people think, however....

Talking with Mary Jo Foley a few weeks ago, she suggested that even here Microsoft is not lying down, but instead is actively pursuing its "Desktop plus Cloud" strategy. You know, the one where Microsoft blurs the desktop/cloud distinction?

It's an interesting strategy, one that Adobe (AIR) and others are pursuing. I suspect that this blend will dominate the near-term future of technology, not pure cloud-based alternatives.

It does beg the question, however, whether this also likely means that Microsoft will be able to leverage its desktop monopoly to control the cloud, too? Recent evidence would suggest not, but it would be unwise to underestimate Microsoft.