Posts with tag "cloud computing"

There’s Steam in that there Cloud

One of the cool things about being in this business for a long time is that it can give you some interesting back history to point to as new stuff is brought to the tech market. Such is the case with Valve Software’s announcement today about the upcoming roll-out of its Steam Cloud. Now I remember when Steam first came out as part of the Half-Life game and just about everyone expressed their displeasure over being forced into using Steam. Fast forward to today and we have Value rolling out its own version of cloud computing for Steam members and everyone thinks it is a great idea.

The idea is that the Steam Cloud; a free extension for users of the Steam platform, is that gamers will be able to save games and mouse and keyboard setups on the Steam Cloud and then be able to access those things across multiple PCs

The Steam Cloud will “just work,” meaning any user changes to their game options will propagate to the Cloud by default. Upon logging into Steam from another PC, these settings will be brought down from the Cloud and automatically leveraged by the game. Any configuration changes on this second machine are then synced to the Cloud for future sessions.

As cool as this might be I just discovered that they accept PayPal at the Steam Store – this could be dangerous :)

Microsoft’s Cloud OS Has A Name – Maybe

I really appreciate those bloggers out there who have the infinite patience to go through screenshots, documentation, press releases and other such sundry items in order to dig up some tasty tidbits. It is because of this type of detective work from bloggers like Kit Org and Long Zhend that we find out the interesting, humourous or questionable things that are happening in the world of Microsoft and Windows.

The rest of the post can be found over at the WinExtra Blog

Is It Time To Start Packing For The Cloud?

It would appear from what a few people are reporting on their blogs that Microsoft is going public with their first version of their implementation of the Windows Cloud OS. While that probably won’t be the actual name upon delivery the fact is that Steve Ballmer says it’s going to happen. This of course has – as usual – brought out the Microsoft naysayers hot on the trail of some new stuff to slap Microsoft around with.

Much of the current discussion right now is stemming out of a post by The Register where they quote Steve Ballmer from a speech he gave in London. It was there that he talked briefly about how they would be introducing Windows Cloud; its temporary name, at this year’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in about four weeks. The thing is as Joe Wilcox pointed out, this information was announced on an even earlier date (Sept. 8th) by Bob Muglia.

This fact though has largely been ignored by all the bloggers who have rushed to progosticate on how the world will end when Ballmer does make the announcement at the PDC. It hasn’t stopped any of them either from riffing on about how given Microsoft’s penchant for announcing stuff only to let it flounder the chances of anything substantive actually being presented is pretty slim. Such was the attitude of Stan Schroeder at Mashable this morning when he said

Microsoft is big and slow, they announce stuff like this months before it’s ready; so my guesstimate is that Ballmer’s four weeks will turn into months really soon.

Then we have Svetlana Gladkova at that the whole exercise will prove whether Microsoft can actually do something right when it comes to the web or just another of its many failures

But anyway it will be interesting what Microsoft has to offer and how it will affect the internet industry – or if it will be yet another failure for the software giant online.

I realize that Microsoft has made more than a few blunders when it comes to the Internet, but there’s a few things that people are missing in their rush to jab Microsoft with some sharp sticks. The first thing not being considered by many of them is that Microsoft is no longer Bill Gates; and I would wager that for most of the last year it hasn’t been.

People are forgetting that Ray Ozzie is the driving force behind the company’s move into the Internet world ever since he was hired in 2005. This whole exercise is exactly why he was hired in the first place; and for the better part of the last three years he has been working on this with all the resources available to a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Folks seem to think that things like Windows Cloud is just something that Microsoft has thrown together. Well you can bet that this would be the wrong thing to be thinking, especially when you tie in the fact that the Windows platform; since the release of Vista, has been headed up by Steven Sinofsky. It is because of him that any word of what is going into this Windows Cloud, the Live platform and the Windows platform hasn’t made it out of a very tightly controlled circle of product teams.

We have only seen dribs and drabs of the possible pieces that will make up this Windows Cloud OS; and while people seem to be under the assumptions that it is going to be browser based it is obvious that they haven’t been paying attention to Live Mesh at all.

While Google is principally working from the browser as the interface to their interpretation of cloud computing they have recognized that it can’t all be online and this is why they came out with Google Gears. What they are doing is commonly referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS) which is very different from Microsoft’s approach. With them it is more of Software plus Services (S+S) which mean the seamless integration of desktop applications and their web based counterparts. In essence it won’t make any difference if you are using the web side or the desktop side when it comes to the applications or data.

It is this difference that some tech pundits are missing when they try and earn brownie points by putting down Microsoft’s efforts. This is also why we get questions like the one from Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped when he asked

Why do they announce instead of deliver?

The answer to this one is as old as Microsoft itself and one of the earliest lessons the company ever learned. It’s all about the software. Without software that can run using the S+S philosophy then yes their move onto the web and cloud computing will be a failure just as Svetlana suggests. Anyone who seriously follows Microsoft should understand this very basic part about the company as it is something that they have done since their earliest days delivering operating systems. Get the developers involved as soon as is possible – get the software that can run in the new environment out there as soon as possible after shipping the OS. Windows Cloud is no different only more important.

This is why things like Windows Cloud are announced at the PDC conferences because that is where the developers are. This is where they can get the new tools and new operating systems into the hands of the leading software developers for Windows. It doesn’t matter what gets announced at this next PDC regarding Windows cloud because you can rest assured unless you are a developer there won’t be anything to really play with.

That won’t happen until after the release of the next version of Visual Studio and .NET 4 Framework. It will only be then that developer of all levels will be able to do any serious work developing stuff for this new OS. Some point after though we will probably start to see the beginnings of the OS making it’s way into our hands.

As much as it might give the know it all tech pundits plenty of fodder with which to write more negative posts about Microsoft this upcoming PDC announcement isn’t for us. It is for the developers to let them know that some big changes are coming and it is them that I will be listening to afterwords not the tech blogosphere.

Call 911 I’m Almost Agreeing With Stallman

Let’s get this part out of the way right now. I don’t agree with Richard Stallman at all when it comes to his pronouncements about open source software. When he gets on his high horse about how OSS is going to save the world and is the cure for all our evilness I want to run screaming like a girl into the night.

In some ways I think he has caused as much damage to the software world as those people who he rails non-stop against. That isn’t to say that I am against open source software – I’m not. It has its place in our computing ecosphere just as commercial software does. I just think that his maddening self-righteousness about how all commercial software is evil and the only solution is for everyone to use OSS pisses me off.

That said, I read the piece today on the Guardian site by Bobbie Johnson where Richard came out swinging. In the interview he said that the idea of using web-based programs like Gmail was worse than stupidity

But Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the computer operating system GNU, said that cloud computing was simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time.

“It’s stupidity. It’s worse than stupidity: it’s a marketing hype campaign,” he told The Guardian.

“Somebody is saying this is inevitable – and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it’s very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true.”

He was saying this stuff as part of his argument against cloud computing suggesting that by relying fully on the cloud concept we are only selecting yet another evil master to rule over us. Of course his answer for this is for us to keep using our own machines but with OSS alternatives. While I agree that much of this move to the cloud is nothing more than huge marketing hype by all the parties involved I believe it is inevitable that we do move to some form of cloud computing. Whether it be the pure cloud like Google would have us living in or more of the software plus services world Microsoft is advocating still remains to be seen.

Where he does get my total agreement though is in the closing paragraph of the interview where he says

“One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control,” he said. “It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.”

I don’t agree with the cloak of OSS self-righteousness that he drapes his words in but I do when it comes to the idea that we are giving up control to who ever is holding our data in any of those clouds. In someways this is even worse than the control we might give up by using commercial software on our own machines.

Interesting enough Stan Schroeder from Mashable also found himself in partial agreement with Stallman but for different reasons than mine. In his post agrees that it isn’t wise to rely exclusively on cloud software but the problem is that many of the web apps we use aren’t replicable on the desktop

The problem, however, is that Stallman doesn’t realize that some web apps are not easily replicable as desktop open source applications. Give me an open source desktop version of Facebook, and I’ll use it, but it simply doesn’t exist. It’s a common error; many IT geeks and diehards are used to using a relatively limited set of applications and something along the lines of MySpace or perhaps Netvibes seems like a toy or a complete waste of time. Well, it isn’t: these apps are used by millions and most of them wouldn’t trade it for the world, and like it or not, there’s simply no open source alternative.

Like Stan points out as well at the end of his post, it all boils down to personal choice. Examine what your options are. Examine your reasons for using the available options whether they be desktop or cloud based and then decide. Unlike what Stallman would believe as long as you do the above then absolutely no choice you go with should render you as being stupid.