This week two giants spoke to the technology wave known as cloud computing. Larry Ellison called it a new label on what everyone is doing already. He acknowledged he was going along with it to keep his marketing and sales guys happy, but basically he called bullshit on it.
Steve Ballmer talked at a deep level about intelligent caching between the cloud and the client. Over an hour of snappy questions by Ann Winblad and Obamaesque nuance from the Microsoft leader let some significant cat out of the bag. No longer software plus services, the net of Ballmer’s signals was cloud + client. If you believe as Jason Calacanis does that we’re on the brink of a startup depression, the technology industry should be very very afraid.
Bill Gates has been thinking so far out ahead for so long that we’ve grown complacent in understanding how long it takes for Microsoft to reposition itself. Most observers still think the company is caught in an intractable wedge between the revenue of the Office group and the release cycles of Windows. The forthcoming Windows 7 announcements at the Professional Developers Conference just before Election Day in Los Angeles can already be understood as a point evolution, more like a service pack from the old Windows NT days when Redmond was trying to absorb consumer Windows into the IT server stream.