A Peek into a Microsoft Focus Group On Web Matrix and Azure

Fundamentals of Web Matrix CoverWe get a special report from Desiree this week on The Bella Buzz podcast, as she returns from her first visit to the Microsoft Campus in Seattle, Washington.  Her mission during the visit was to provide some direct feedback to the developers and marketing team around the products called Microsoft Web Matrix and Windows Azure.

Before we get into the details of her discoveries there, she tells us about playing with the awesome gaming console Xbox Kinect. There are probably some people who underestimate the exciting work that Microsoft is releasing under brand names like Xbox and Zune. Those entertainment devices are much more interesting to the consumer marketplace than the latest edition of the Windows Office suite.

Joomla, Drupal and WordPress users were all present to see how the Windows Azure platform might benefit them.  This cross section of CMS users representing Drupal, Joomla and WordPress were treated to a presentation and some roundtable discussions about the ease with which this integrated platform will help launch web sites.

Microsoft Web Matrix fits into this ecosystem as well.  This development kit is intended to act as a toolbox, where you can find all of the tools needed to develop a site (using one of the three open source applications), integrate it with your MySQL database, and publish it to the web.

With this platform, developers can use a local desktop machine to code their sites and then push them to the web server. In many ways, Desiree felt that this went against the normal practice of developing sites on a development server.  The process that Desiree and her team has instituted helps clients monitor the progress of the site in actual time plus it ensures that the database is set up properly for storing every file path correctly.

The Azure cloud hosting environment precedes the Apple iCloud that was announced just recently. There has been a history of Microsoft attempts at getting adoption into the cloud for file hosting, but has suffered through some feature communication and branding issues.  Names like Windows Live, Windows Live Mesh, Skydrive and Azure have all been promoted as offering “file storage in the cloud” at one point in time.

Desiree can foresee a future of software rental coming from Microsoft’s cloud initiatives.

It is very timely to get some insights directly from Microsoft, coming on the heels of the recent statement from Eric Schmidt regarding the “Gang of Four” driving the consumer internet revolution today. These four in Schmidt’s estimation include Google (obviously), Facebook, Apple and Amazon .. notably leaving Microsoft out of the equation.

Microsoft really made an effort to use the group’s visit to delve into feedback on a variety of topics, ranging from PHP to typography to magazines.  Hopefully all of this feedback from the focus group will help put the company back into the conversation with the rest of the horsemen innovating our digital lives.

Maybe during the launch of Windows 8, some of the features that were discussed during this visit will be integrated into a seamless combination of cloud storage, content management, and maybe even some Kinect type gesture based interfaces. Maybe…


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  1. [...] Desiree met Beau during her recent visit to the Microsoft campus. [...]

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