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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used a speech at the University of Washington to suggest that the company’s strategy moving forward will focus primarily on the cloud. Ballmer cited a number of services and platforms, including Windows Phone 7 Series and <leo_highlight style=”border-bottom: 2px solid rgb(255, 255, 150); background: transparent none repeat scroll 0% 50%; cursor: pointer; display: inline; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial;” leohighlights_underline=”true” leohighlights_url_bottom=”http%3A//” leohighlights_url_top=”http%3A//” leohighlights_keywords=”xbox%20live” onmouseout=”leoHighlightsHandleMouseOut(‘leoHighlights_Underline_0’)” onmouseover=”leoHighlightsHandleMouseOver(‘leoHighlights_Underline_0’)” onclick=”leoHighlightsHandleClick(‘leoHighlights_Underline_0’)” id=”leoHighlights_Underline_0″>Xbox Live, as particularly cloud-centric. Microsoft faces substantial competition in its cloud-based initiatives from a number of companies, notably Google in the areas of search engines and online productivity suites, and the question remains how its desktop-centric products such as the Windows franchise will change in order to meet what Ballmer sees as the new IT reality.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested during a March 4 speech at the University of Washington that, despite his company having made its fortune through desktop-based software platforms such as Windows and Office, the primary focus going forward will be on the cloud and applications derived from it.

“We shipped Windows 7, which had a lot that’s not cloud-based. Our inspiration now starts with the cloud,” Ballmer said. “Windows Phone, Xbox, Windows Azure and SQL Azure … this is the bet for our company.”

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