Microsoft’s Moving Forward with Cloud Computing

microsoft-windows-azureMicrosoft Corp. leads its industry in part because a vast army of outside computer programmers design software that only runs on its Windows operating system.

Now, the company is fighting to keep those programmers working with its tools as technology undergoes a massive shift.

On Tuesday, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie told a gathering of software developers in Los Angeles that Windows Azure, its system for building software that runs over the Internet, will come out of test mode in January. In February, the software maker will begin charging for use of Azure.

Moving forward with its so-called “cloud computing” plans will help Microsoft compete with companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. Amazon has built a set of Web-based tools including data storage and raw computing power that is popular among startups. Google is challenging Microsoft with e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet and other software that runs in a Web browser instead of on a PC.

The new tools also put Microsoft firmly ahead of companies such as IBM Corp. and Oracle Corp., said Gartner Inc. technology analyst Ray Valdez.

Over the past several years, software over the Internet has gained momentum. People pay subscription fees or look at advertising in exchange for the right to access software through a Web browser instead of buying it to install on their computers.

The setup also makes it easier for software makers to build different versions of the same product for a PC and a mobile phone, for example, all accessing the same data. And when the number of users is exceptionally high, software makers can turn on extra computing power, then shut it off when demand dies down.

Web-based e-mail such as Microsoft’s Hotmail and Google’s Gmail are common consumer tools that operate “in the cloud.”

Now, larger companies are starting to make similar moves, letting Microsoft, Google and others take care of installing and running e-mail and other programs in data centers around the world instead of doing it themselves in-house. And increasingly, they will design their own software using this kind of model.

Valdez said that in recent years, more big companies are building systems based on Microsoft’s technology where they once might have used those from IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and others. The analyst said Microsoft’s new cloud computing tools can help the company cement those gains.

Computing

Potentially malicious WinRAR vulnerability patched after almost 20 years

WinRAR, a piece of Windows software for managing archival formats, has been harboring a vulnerability for nearly two decades, potentially allowing malicious software to insert items into a computer's startup folder without user permission.
Deals

Here are the best Chromebook deals available in February 2019

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- that won't…
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Smart Home

Your office is a mess, and it’s making Marie Kondo cry. Here’s how to tidy it up

Here's how to "Marie Kondo" your office. If you've been inspired to remove clutter and create a minimalistic workspace that makes you happy and helps you focus on what matters, then we have ideas that you'll want to try.
Computing

Apple is reportedly set to showcase a new Mac Pro at WWDC 2019 in June

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the news, leaks, and rumors about Apple's new machine, set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what we're likely to see with the new Mac Pro.
Computing

Prone to web surfing? Google Chrome’s new Focus Mode fights internet distractions

Finding yourself distracted by the web when you need to get work done? A new flag in Google Chrome could hint at a new Focus Mode. The feature may allow computer users to block distracting websites or notifications.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Computing

Intel expects Apple to transition Macs to ARM processors in 2020, report says

It has been rumored for some time that Apple could transition away from Intel to ARM processors, but a new report now claims that Intel is aware of the decision and that it could happen in 2020.
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Everything you need to know about routers, modems, combos, and mesh networks

Modem vs. router: what's the difference? We explain their functions so you can better diagnose any issues prior to contacting technical support. We also talk about a few variants you'll see offered by ISPs and retailers.