Microsoft takes to the clouds

Microsoft has recently taken to the airwaves to promote its cloud computing initiatives for consumers, which it hopes will attract customers that have traditionally turned to the Mac or other platforms to satisfy some of their more creative computing needs. 

Cloud computing has been around for a long time. We already use third-party applications over the Internet every day – think online banking,, search, Maps, or any one of a dozen or more applications from Google. Enterprises have also been long-time users of cloud computing in everything from inventory control to database processing to sales force automation.

Using the tag line “Cloud Power”, Microsoft has already launched Microsoft Office 365, which features a number of options for businesses, allowing them to bypass the need for their own expensive IT infrastructure in favor of cloud-based computing, storage and networking services. Now Microsoft is extending the cloud-based experience for the consumer.

Microsoft’s initiatives recognize the fact that consumers are increasingly engaging in more complex computing tasks like movie-making and video chat. With better broadband access, it makes sense to house the programming for these tasks elsewhere, rather than require consumers to constantly purchase or download expensive software.

A move by Microsoft towards providing cloud computing services would not have been possible without a successful roll-out of Windows 7. The overwhelmingly positive response to Microsoft’s latest operating system update has erased memories of Vista, and has given both Microsoft and consumers the confidence to embrace the new services.

Current cloud options offered by Microsoft include photo-sharing and editing, movie-making, live HD video chat, and file syncing and sharing. File sharing and storage is handled through Microsoft’s Windows Live SkyDrive, a free service which includes up to 25GB on online storage.

To join Microsoft in the cloud, you need Windows 7 and Windows Live Essentials, which can be downloaded for free. Look out for many more cloud initiatives the weeks and months ahead.

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