Microsoft After Windows

Somewhere deep in the Microsoft [NASDAQ:MSFT] labs are white-coated bespectacled engineers working on something code-named Midori. It's an operating system to be sure, but unlike anything we've seen from Microsoft in nearly two decades, it's not a part of the Windows family. Redmond, it seems, is moving on.

At least, they will be; Midori is reportedly in incubation phase, which is somewhere between research & development and actual market arrival. It won't share any of the Windows architecture that underpins XP, Vista or the forthcoming Windows 7, but will instead draw its genetic makeup from MSFT's Singularity project, an OS concept that places apps, documents, and networking in "the cloud." In other words, the OS will be flexible enough to be run across machines or on one individual machine, with concurrent and complementary distribution of tasks and resources across a network or networks.

This revelation brings Microsoft's strategy a little more in tune with Google's [NASDAQ:GOOG], if a little more in competition with it. Google's big idea is that everything should be based in the "cloud," and no information should be stored locally. Obviously that's not practical yet — Internet access isn't ubiquitous enough for any of our personal or business machines to be simple terminals alone. But the idea that someday our information, documents, music, movies and more (and even the processing power that reads, writes or encodes it) will be distributed all over a network or series of networks seems to be an ever-approaching reality.

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