While it wont necessarily attract the same level of consumer interest as the upcoming Windows 8, Microsofts week featured an announcement of particular importance to a wide subset of IT pros: Microsoft SQL Server 2012 has been released to manufacturing.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is designed to carve up big data for business-enhancing insights. In conjunction with the platforms general availability, Microsoft plans on issuing a host of new data-warehousing solutions, including a software update and new half-rack form factors for Microsoft Parallel Data Warehouse appliances. Data is being generated faster than ever before, and organizations need a way to process and analyze all that data, Ted Kummert, corporate vice president at Microsoft, wrote in a March 6 statement.
Microsofts plans for tackling big data within the enterprise include an Apache Hadoop-based distribution for both Windows Server and Windows Azure. Apache Hadoop is a scalable solution for companies looking to crunch massive amounts of data, sorting through it to find the tendencies and patterns necessary to make better business decisions. Microsoft previously announced the Hadoop augmentation for Windows Server and Windows Azure at its PASS Summit 2011.
Even as it powered toward the future of some products, Microsoft began to shut the door on others: The Windows Marketplace for Mobile service for Windows Mobile 6.x, the increasingly antiquated predecessor to Windows Phone, will shut down in a few months.
Beginning May 9, 2012, the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace service will no longer be available, read a note posted on the Microsoft Answers Website. Starting on this date, you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications directly onto your Windows Mobile 6.x phone through the Marketplace.
However, applications and games downloaded before that date will continue to work on devices. Windows Mobile applications and games that are compatible with Windows Mobile 6.x may still be available directly from their developers or via third-party marketplaces, added the posting. The shutdown will not affect Windows Phone Marketplace, which offers applications and games for Microsofts newer Windows Phone.
Microsoft launched Windows Mobile 6.5 in October 2009 with diminished expectations. During Microsofts Venture Capital Summit the previous month, CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly suggested the company had screwed up its smartphone franchise, whose market share had been steadily eroding in the face of fierce competition from the likes of Google Android. Windows Mobile 6.5 was supposed to act as a sort of stopgap measure until Microsoft could launch a new and improved smartphone operating system, which turned out to be Windows Phone 7.
But Windows Phone has thus far proved unable to reverse the market share slide that started with Windows Mobile: According to data released the past week by research firm comScore, Microsofts share of total U.S. smartphone subscribers declined from 5.4 percent in October 2011 to 4.4 percent in January 2012.
On the cloud and virtualization front, Microsoft is also starting to take aim at companies that deliver Windows as a virtualized service to other platforms. That includes OnLive, which has developed a service that brings the Windows desktop to Apples iPad and Google Android tablets.
We are actively engaged with OnLive with the hope of bringing them into a properly licensed scenario, and we are committed to seeing this issue is resolved, Joe Matz, corporate vice president of Microsofts Worldwide Licensing and Pricing, wrote in a March 8 posting on Microsofts Volume Licensing Website.
Microsoft, of course, is plotting its own version of Windows on tablets, complete with a touch-friendly version of Office. That fact will surely power many other Microsoft decisions in months ahead.