3 min read

BBC – Microsoft has unveiled a cloud computing service, in which data and applications will not be stored on individuals’ computers. The new platform, dubbed Windows Azure, was announced at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.
The platform was described by Microsoft’s chief software architect Ray Ozzie as “Windows for the cloud”.

The framework will be offered alongside the next Windows release, Windows 7.

In true Microsoft style, MS is a bit of a late comer in this market space, behind Google and Amazon…I hope it doesn’t take 3 attempts to get the product fully baked.

These are some cloud based applications

Apple Mobile Me
This soon-to-be-launched subscription service which will synchronise e-mails, photos and contacts between multiple devices. Your desktop, laptop and mobile device will stay in sync so long as they have access to Apple’s servers in the cloud.

Google Docs
Google Docs has an intuitive interface and consists of applications normally associated with the desktop – a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation designer. Documents can be saved to the cloud or to your own machine. Multiple users can work on the same document from different computers with changes taking effect almost instantly.

Adobe Acrobat
This attractive online word processor has cloud storage space for your documents. It also includes collaboration tools and an online PDF converter. It is currently in beta testing but free to join.

Jooce
Jooce is a flash based desktop environment aimed at users of internet cafes. Dragging a file onto the desktop actually uploads it to the cloud giving you easy access from any internet-enabled PC.
Network.com
Blender 3D
Sun’s data centres are available for hire by the hour to power on-demand cloud services. Used mainly for processing scientific data, the servers can also be used for rendering animations via the open source Blender 3D software on the desktop.

Evernote
Use your phone to take a snapshot of anything you need to remember then upload it to Evernote’s servers in the cloud. Any text in the images is scanned and indexed to create a searchable database. It is currently in private beta testing.

Live Search
Microsoft’s search engine for mobile phones makes heavy use of cloud processing to bring a rich experience to searching on handheld devices.

Twitterfone
This service uses speech recognition in the cloud to convert voice messages into “tweets” on the social network Twitter. Currently in beta testing, you will need to join the queue for an invitation to join.

Blist
A database application with an attractive interface, how-to videos and innovative drag and drop design. Once created, your database can be shared with other users of the site.

Picnik
This is photo editing in the cloud. Upload images from your local machine or import them from another site such as Flickr or Facebook. The site’s colourful buttons mask powerful photo retouching tools. It is also possible to add text, shapes or a frame to your creation.

Adobe Photoshop Express
Another photo editor which makes good use of the cloud to store your pics. Tools for editing photographs will be familiar to users of Adobe’s industry standard Photoshop image editor. Once the masterpiece is complete, you can add it to the site’s gallery for all to admire.

G.ho.st
G.ho.st (type this directly into your browser address bar, no www needed) stands for Global Hosted Operating System and is a flash-based virtual operating system. The web desktop looks and feels like a PC desktop interface, but it is accessible anywhere. It offers 5GB of free storage and 3GB for e-mail, and web and office applications (Zoho) built-in.