LOS ANGELES--With only a couple of examples shown Monday of programs running on Windows Azure , I started to wonder just how far along things are with the cloud OS.
In an interview, corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava tried to set me straight.
"Windows Azure is at an early stage," he said, "It is real, but it is at an early stage."
In addition to the BlueHoo application shown on stage, Windows Azure was used to build Microsoft's Live Mesh and is also being used to build the next generation of Live Meeting.
"Ultimately the goal is to move all our properties," Srivastava said.
Srivastava also explained another question that was in my head. What was up with his bright red sneakers? I suspected, correctly, that it had to do with the fact that Azure was code-named "Red Dog."
The version of Azure that Microsoft is rolling out now is a community technology preview that lacks a number of features that Microsoft is working to quickly add, he said.
In particular, only software written in managed code, essentially .Net, can currently run. Internally, the company has other types of native code running, with plans to offer that to outside customers sometime next year.In honor of announcing Windows Azure, which had been code-named Red Dog, corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava sported these red sneakers with his suit Monday.
Services also must be built on a set of pre-designed templates, he said, though Microsoft plans to add more templates and ideally, allow services that don't follow any sort of template. Also, for now, Azure services will be running in a single Microsoft data center . Sometime next year, Microsoft will expand that to other U.S. data centers and eventually move overseas, though that brings with it its own set of geopolitical issues that Srivastava said that the company would just as soon wait to tackle.
Microsoft also expects it will take some time for businesses to move major applications to Azure. For now, the company would be happy if developers just start learning about Azure and playing around with its software developer kit, senior VP Bob Muglia said in an interview.
"Realistically, companies won't be deploying applications for a year or more but there is a lot to learn," Muglia said. "There are new things they need to learn, to understand."
GreenRoad Technologies announced it has received $3 million in series C funding from Amadeus Capital Partners, Virgin Green Fund, Benchmark Capital, and Balderton Capital on Monday.
The company's main product, the GreenRoad Safety Center, might be called a digital backseat driver. It features on-board sensors tracking some 120 moves made by the driver. Paired with Web applications, a dashboard display offers real-time suggestions about how to steer the car more safely.
GreenRoad claims that clients have found a 54 percent reduction in crashes and a 7 percent drop in fuel costs.
The company says its product is being picked up by commercial fleets, insurance companies, and governments in the United States, Europe, and Israel. With offices in Redwood Shores, Calif., and London, GreenRoad projects that its products could serve 77 million vehicles.
In January, the company raised $14.5 million led by Virgin Green Fund and Benchmark Capital.
With the official release of the latest Star Wars movie still a day away, the movie has already become a political football, writes the New York Times . Part of the problem is George Lucas' opening the movie in Cannes, in the country that the Times writer calls "the biggest blue state of all."
At that opening, Lucas reportedly told the audience that he had no idea when plotting the film years ago that reality--apparently a reference to current U.S. politics--would so closely track his story of a democratic republic subverted by a totalitarian government. Now movie reviews are systematically quoting Anakin Skywalker's Bush-esque line, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy."
Conservative bloggers are now blasting Lucas, even calling for boycotts. The liberal group MoveOn.org is running TV commercials this week drawing its own parallels between the movie's plot and Republicans' threat to end filibusters of Senate judicial nominations.
Sun plans to unveil a new workstation based on Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor next week at its JavaOne trade show.
The machine is code-named Marrakesh, sources familiar with the product said. In a media advisory, Sun said prices for the machine will start at $895.
Sun for years sold computers only using Sparc processors such as its current UltraSparc IV, but in 2002 began embracing x86 chips such as Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron. Sun didn't design its current Opteron products, but that's changing now with the acquisition of Kealia and the resulting return of Sun's first computer engineer, Andy Bechtolsheim .
"You can thank John Doerr for that," Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy said of Bechtolsheim's return in an interview Wednesday. Doerr is a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a Sun board member.
Sun's new line of Opteron servers, code-named Galaxy systems are due out by the end of 2005. The new workstation isn't of the Galaxy lineage, however.
An amusing video has surfaced of a young Eric Schmidt in a public speaking training session while he was an executive at Sun, long before his move to Google. In the 15-minute video, the CEO-in-the-making hasn't yet mastered the art of smooth banter and artful hand gestures, but it does show his knack for aplomb and politesse.
"To be fair, while the video starts off badly -- speaker Schmidt can't decide what do with his hands, mumbles, meanders, and generally acts like the former CompSci Ph.D. researcher that he is -- it gets better as it goes along," writes blogger Paul Kedrosky.
"In the end, while the video is cliche-ridden and full of management-speak nothings, it is an insight into Schmidt," he writes. "Watch, for example, as he rehearses smooth non-answers to made-up questions about executive salaries, benefits, and work-at-home programs. Without actually saying anything, Schmidt gives the silky sense of having said something or another. I was having flashbacks to the recent Google analyst day ..."Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor .
The video game industry has won another victory in its battle against a state law designed to criminalize sales and rentals of violent or sexually explicit games to minors.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Monday affirmed a lower court decision declaring unconstitutional an Illinois state law that proposed such restrictions. The Entertainment Software Association and others had lodged the complaint the day after the law was enacted in July 2005, arguing it violated First Amendment protections.
The law didn't pass constitutional muster because legislators hadn't crafted it in a way was "sufficiently narrowly tailored," the three-judge panel wrote in a 21-page opinion .
Just look at the game "God of War," they said, in which players contend with Greek mythological creatures--and may encounter exposed breasts along the way.
"As we have suggested in the past, there is serious reason to believe that a statute sweeps too broadly when it prohibits a game that is essentially an interactive, digital version of the Odyssey ," the judges wrote.
The ruling isn't the first to toss out state laws aimed at shielding children from video games perceived as inappropriate. Federal judges have already blocked similar laws in Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan and California, and others face pending challenges.
If it seems like many people you know would like to own a hybrid car, J.D. Power and Associates has the data to back up your hunch.
The auto market research firm on Tuesday released results of a survey that found a very high interest in hybrid-electric vehicles--even after the substantial price premium was revealed.
The company performed surveys with consumers before and after telling them of an average $5,000 price difference between hybrids and non-hybrids.
The study found that 72 percent of consumers are "definitely/probably" interested in having hybrid-electric technology for their next vehicle.
In 2005, 58 percent of consumers responded yes to that same question.
After the average price difference was revealed, 46 percent of consumers were still interested in the 2008 survey.
"High consumer interest in hybrid-electric powertrain technology may be reflective of not only rising gas prices but also a heightened effort among consumers to be more environmentally conscious," Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement.
That research dovetails with bets made by many people in the electric and plug-in hybrid car industry. Namely, that consumers are demanding a product that's not quite yet widespread.
The financial part of a decision to go hybrid is getting clearer as well. A financial analyst earlier this month presented information that showed that purchasing a hybrid-electric car has a lower cost of ownership than a gas-only car when gasoline prices are more than $3.18 a gallon.
Meanwhile, the J.D. Power and Associates study found that consumers are not interested in buying so-called clean diesel vehicles.
The researchers concluded that people still have negative associations with diesel from older diesel technologies that have unpleasant exhaust.
The study also queried people on what sort of new technology features they are looking for.
If price were no object, the survey found that people want blind-spot detection, backup assist, and navigation systems. After prices were revealed, consumers showed the highest increase in backup assists , active cornering headlight systems , and wireless connectivity systems .
"Consumer interest is likely heightened by the fact that more states may prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. Wireless connectivity will potentially become a necessity rather than a luxury as time goes on," Marshall said in a statement.
Updated at 12:30 p.m. PT with more detail from survey on consumer interest in desired features.