Does Microsoft finally have cloud computing right?

With the release of Office 365, we could finally see big cloud computing traction from Microsoft

It's been a strange week for Microsoft. With the departure of Ray Ozzie, who has been promoting Microsoft's cloud computing efforts for some time, you'd think Microsoft is on the cloud computing ropes. However, while Ozzie was packing up his boxes, Office 365 went live, and it could be the one push that places Microsoft much deeper in the cloud computing game.

Office 365 features Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online as a bundled, hosted package. While it's not Microsoft's first office automation solution delivered as a service, the hope is that a cloud-based solution equipped with features and functions that are equivalent to the now aging client-based Office software will provide an easy path to the cloud for Microsoft customers. If it can pull off that transition, Microsoft may find itself leading the cloud-based office automation space quickly, perhaps passing Google as early as next year.

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Why will Microsoft win that war? Answer: The millions of existing Office users, such as myself, who don't want to learn a new interface to use Google Apps or other cloud-based productivity programs. If it took five years to get your mom functional on Word, do you think you can convince her to switch to Google Apps? Not a chance.

Moreover, although many enterprises don't yet trust Microsoft to deliver enterprise development and deployment platforms in the cloud (meaning Windows Azure), they don't mind trusting Microsoft with their word processing, presentation, and email client needs.

While those in the IT community can argue over the technical differences between the competing cloud-based productivity applications, most rank-and-file users don't care. Thus, as IT departments ponder the movement to the cloud, Office 365 will prevail, as it offers the path of least resistance.

This article, "Does Microsoft finally have cloud computing right?," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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