Microsoft's Azure Push Puts Spotlight On the Cloud

The buzz around cloud computing got a big bump Tuesday as Microsoft's Ray Ozzie detailed the company's plans to bring its Windows Azure platform to market.

Microsoft's march to bring its Windows Azure cloud development platform to life is poised to usher in a rush of cloud computing activity as developers, systems integrators and ISVs utilize the environment to launch pay-as-you-go hosted applications.

Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, at the company's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles said Microsoft in January will begin testing the provisioning and billing systems that will support Windows Azure. Then, on February 1, Microsoft will start charging for use of the platform.

"Windows Azure is a cloud computing operating environment designed to manage extremely large pools of computational resources. It's a cloud OS designed for the future, but made for today," Ozzie told conference attendees, noting that "tens of thousands" of developers are already participating in Microsoft's community technology preview of the platform, which was launched at last year's PDC.

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Ozzie also detailed several other elements of Microsoft's Azure technology, including the unveiling of "Dallas," a code-named subsystem that he described as "an open catalog and marketplace for public and commercial data."

For more on Microsoft's PDC and the vendor's cloud computing plans, see more coverage here.

Kevin McLaughlin contributed to this story.