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[image credit: NY Times]

I noticed a tweet from @jackschofield pointing to a piece from CNN last week titled Can Microsoft beat Google in the battle to rule cloud computing?. Even though I’m changing roles here at Microsoft and will be less focused on cloud, it piqued my attention. The article was prompted by the recent release of Office 2010 and in particular the web version of Office (Office Web Apps). It also quoted my good friend Tim O’Brien who is becoming more quotable of late – notably "Google is up way past their bedtime in the enterprise [space]."

It was the title of the post that got me which sadly the article never really addressed as it focused on the productivity battle. It did acknowledge that “Microsoft has offered varying cloud services for a while”. That’s what I (and Tim) have been trying to help people understand for a while – that Microsoft isn’t as new to this game as some commentators would have you believe. With services like Messenger, Hotmail, Live Meeting, XBOX Live and more recently Microsoft Online (BPOS) we’ve built up a solid base of customers and expertise at running cloud services – net native stuff on the consumer side, paying consumer services like XBOX Live and over 40 million paying customers using Microsoft Online.

Ultimately the cloud is going to be a big, big landscape for all of the players – Google, Salesforce, Amazon, Zoho etc etc and painting it as a battle for who will “rule” makes a good headline but I’m not convinced there will be a ruler. Just lots of healthy competition and Microsoft as a big participant…but don’t get sucked in to thinking Microsoft is as new to this game as some would have you believe.

Paul Thurrott took up the story with a little more verve than I have so well worth a read :)