When do we see a Microsoft Cloudbook?

With Windows 8 Microsoft put many things in the center of the cloud. As it is known from other systems a central Microsoft account can be used to synchronize settings, apps from the marketplace and data across devices. Production and media data can be integrated into the system via SkyDrive. Office 365 and Office 2013 are also available as local and cloud solutions.

The strategic realignment pays off

This also shows the strategic direction of the past months, meanwhile Microsoft has been started e.g. to market SkyDrive with very competitive prices and also to open the SkyDrive APIs for developers. Another important step was the focus on the Office suites for the cloud.

Windows Azure serves as the new central anchor

A further important step was the expansion of its cloud computing platform Windows Azure with the Windows Azure Mobile Services. Developers of Windows 8 applications thus have the opportunity to take advantage of Windows Azure as a cloud backend for their apps in order to store data, send messages or to authorize users. First, only Windows 8 is supported but Windows Phone, iOS and Android will follow.

With its Windows Azure Mobile Services Microsoft is not alone in the market of backend-as-a-service (BaaS). Vendors like Urban Airship, Parse or Kinvey are already there. The idea of ​​a BaaS is to help developers to focus mainly on the frontend of their application. All other topics that revolve around the backend does, and simplifies the service.

Windows Azure Mobile Services

After a basic configuration the data can be stored in the Azure Cloud and associated with the SQL database within Azure. Afterwards the apps can access the data without developers having to write additional code. In the background the Windows Azure mobile services rely on a REST API and JSON-based ODATA format. In addition, the service helps you create spreadsheets, data exploration and configuring the indices and access control. Furthermore, users can authenticate and send messages to the clients.

Compared to other BaaS providers Windows Azure mobile services also enable dashboard analytics capabilities that helps developers to monitor the use of the app, and other metrics.

SharePoint is another building block for enterprise customers

Recently Microsoft has announced the integration of SharePoint and Yammer. Today, users can already connect the two systems with Web Parts and the new Open Graph Yammer to an integrated solution. In addition, standard user profiles, document management functions and feed aggregation will ensure a closer alignment of both solutions in the future.

With “Microsoft Yammer Enterprise” the various paid services are combined in one offer in the future. The user then pays three dollars per month, instead of the current 15 dollars. Also a closer link with Microsoft SharePoint Online and Office 365 Enterprise is planned.

Expansion of SharePoint functionality

Among the most important SharePoint enhancements belongs the new “drag and drop functionality”, so that documents can be quickly deployed via SharePoint. Also new is that tasks can be consolidate across Outlook, Project and SharePoint.

At the base of SharePoint, Microsoft has made ​​changes as well. With the result of improved scalability and performance, due to a new cloud architecture. The Web Content Management has now expanded and simplified cross-site publishing.

In addition, the development of the risk management enables IT departments in companies a better control over the distribution of documents across SharePoint, Exchange and Lync.

New Cloud App Model

In addition SharePoint 2013 features a new cloud application model in the future. Microsoft addressed thereby systematically over 700,000 developers who implement their applications based on SharePoint. The new cloud app model and the new Office store shall help them to simplify the development, purchase, roll-out and management of their applications.

Mobile apps provide access to documents and data

To give users the option to access documents and files from anywhere and with any device, they can use SharePoint Mobile apps in the future. Via different devices, Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android, they can access both SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online.

When we will see a Microsoft Cloudbook?

However, an interesting question still remains. Will Microsoft go maybe the Google way in the future? Is there may soon be a Chromebook counterpart from Microsoft? The browser is becoming the main work area. Furthermore more and more applications move to the cloud via SaaS. And not to forget, with the Windows Azure infrastructure Microsoft provides a fully developed and efficient cloud environment over which even Office 365 is deployed and also a “Microsoft Cloudbook” can be readily supplied with applications, etc. With Windows Azure, Office 365 (Office 2013), SharePoint, Yammer,, SkyDrive, Skype, Windows Store, etc. Microsoft has created the necessary circumstances the recent months and years.

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.

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