Redmond hold ‘em
In a recent speech to the University of Washington, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said "we're betting our company on...this incredible transformation around the cloud."
He went on to ask, rhetorically, what the cloud is, and based the majority of his speech, which you can see embedded in its lengthy entirety (Silverlight - and most probably IE - needed) below. Ballmer chose to whittle-down his definition of the cloud into five chunks.
Firstly, it is an extension of the kind of global opportunities created by the Internet. In this respect Ballmer offered a gracious bit of respect to Apple and its App store, and spoke about how it helps people to monetize their intellectual property. Secondly, he spoke about machine learning - the cloud as a two-way relationship in which your unique needs and behaviours are learnt, stored and adapted to.
The third concerned social and professional interactions. Social networking is very in-vogue right now, but Ballmer reckons we're just at the start of what the cloud can offer us in that respect and there's clearly a lot more that could be done to facilitate remote working.
Fourthly, Ballmer stressed that the devices you use to access the cloud matter. "Phones don't look like phones looked at all five years ago, and they're not going to look the same in five years," he said. "But they're smart. They're going to get smarter. That doesn't mean that they can't be simple. It doesn't mean that they can't be cheap." Could this be a reference to Project Pink?
Lastly he spoke about servers - how the cloud is built on them and drives innovation in them. Ballmer concluded by conceding that the definition of the cloud is a nebulous thing, "...but, about 70 percent of our folks are doing things that are entirely cloud-based, or cloud inspired. And by a year from now that will be 90 percent... and as I like to say at Microsoft, for the cloud we're all in."