Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is still most closely associated with its desktop software (Windows, Office etc.), but on Thursday CEO Steve Ballmer said Microsoft was “betting our company” on the cloud. About 70 percent of Microsoft employees are working on cloud-related projects right now; that figure will reach 90 percent within a year, he said.
Ballmer’s remarks — made during an address at the University of Washington — may portend a change in mission for the software giant, which for years has talked about a future of software plus web-based services. Contrast that with the tagline Microsoft is now using for its cloud efforts: “We’re all in.”
Lots of excitement here for Ballmer’s talk — his first ever at the school, a surprising milestone considering the university’s close ties to its Redmond neighbor. The ground floor of the atrium is packed — and people are lined up on four levels of balconies. Before Ballmer started talking, I heard one girl urge her friend to skip class with her. Some highlights:
— The video cliche: Ballmer starts out by asking what the cloud is and then running a video of random people being asked what the “cloud” is. It’s supposed to be funny.
— The “cloud” has always been a source of tension at Microsoft; Ballmer refers to Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie’s famous 2006 memo, in which he said that advertising-supported services and software presented a fundamental challenge to the company