It is now official: Microsoft is taking cloud computing seriously as it announced the Azure Services Platform at the current Professional Developers Conference 2008 in Palermo, California.
The project was officially unveiled by Microsoft Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie, during a keynote speech that sees Microsoft embrace Cloud computing as extensively as it did for Internet back in the days of Windows 95, stating that "Windows Azure is a new Windows offering in the Web tier of computing, a significant extension in the company's family of platforms"
Azure, which is the colour of sky on a bright clear day according to Wikipedia, will be available with the forthcoming Windows 7 Operating system and is compatible with Microsoft's other platforms like the .Net Framework and Visual Studio.
Azure was previously known as Strata and came under the limelight on the 9th of October when Microsoft let the word out on the PDC 2008 sessions page.
Ultimately, as Paul Thurrott from WindowsITPro writes, Windows Azure will allow a generation of developers to build next generation applications that can scale from the smartphone to PC, datacenter and the Internet Cloud.
A limited community technology preview (CTP) of the Azure Services Platform was initially made available to developers in attendance at PDC2008, giving them a chance to try out its features and functions and plan for their own future development.
Microsoft is also exploring the use of shipping containers "as flexible and portable housing for servers, providing 10 times the density and dramatic savings in power usage", long after Google and Sun had announced similar plans.
You can read more about Azure here.