More distressing: Cloud applications are supposed to be relatively immune to update problems, aren't they? They're certainly nowhere near as difficult as patching the Windows kernel -- an activity Microsoft undertakes with alarming frequency these days. We already know about security and privacy and performance issues while working in the cloud. Do we have to worry about versioning and patching problems, too?
Versioning isn't a simple issue. During that span of seven weeks, for example, plenty of support people were left twisting in the wind. Microsoft rolled out the new Hotmail randomly -- there was no way to raise your hand and say, "I need the new version, let me in!" If you were trying to help someone running the new Hotmail, you probably had to log on with their Live ID to get a taste of the new product. Imagine how that would play in your organization if you had a mission-critical application dependent on Hotmail.
Is this the future of cloud computing: roving patches that hit and miss and take seven weeks to stabilize? Where the best solution is to ditch Microsoft's own product and use one from Google?
Many other problems with Hotmail have surfaced: Attached photos get rotated incorrectly in the delivered message. They're stored for 30 days on SkyDrive whether you want them there or not. Several people report that Word and Excel documents may or may not open in the cloud, and one person says that a router hang in the middle of opening a document resulted in the message being deleted. Meanwhile, one Windows Live Solution Center thread dealing with new Hotmail complaints mushroomed to roughly 600 entries, many of them unprintably angry, before being locked down.
If Microsoft can't do the cloud right, who can?