Microsoft's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, has set out a vision of the future based on “software plus services”.
Ozzie opened the company's annual Mix developers’ conference in Las Vegas with a keynote address setting out Microsoft's direction in a world where enterprises are increasingly interested in the software as a service (SaaS) model.
Microsoft's moves into the SaaS field have been regarded with some scepticsim, with observers noting that the client software giant is not about to give up its big earner.
In his address, Ozzie argued that services would not replace local client software, but would instead be complementary to applications running on the desktop.
Microsoft would continue to invest in its traditional application programming interfaces for Windows, but rich internet applications would offer the ability to marry desktop applications and online services, he said.
Ozzie tailored his message for the conference's developer audience, highlighting Microsoft's recently introduced Silverlight platform, a browser plug-in for running rich applications and supporting video. "We think Silverlight will change the game for video on the web," he said.
The company was embarking on a Silverlight strategy for supporting software and services, he said. "We are delivering a complete family of tools and frameworks for the design, development and deployment of media rich applications from Silverlight on the web to the full .Net framework on Windows. From Visual Studio for developers to Expressions Studio for designers," Ozzie said.
Microsoft would integrate support for its .Net framework – a programming tool used to develop new applications for Windows – into the Silverlight programming model, he said.
Silverlight Streaming, an online multimedia storage service, now available for preview, would also form a key part of the strategy.
"It is our aspiration to create tools and platforms that will make your life as a developer easier and more productive and profitable in developing these software plus services solutions," Ozzie said.
"What we are building is a services platform, an open, interoperable foundation for software plus services... a platform that will make it possible for you to build, deploy and manage service-centric universal Web and experience-first solutions that span the PC, the Web, the phone and ultimately many other kinds of devices," he said.
"This software and services pattern is very powerful and it gives users tremendous flexibility," Ozzie said. "It brings together the best of the Web, the best of the desktop and the best of devices always using the services as a hub."
The combination of software and services would take many forms, he told delegates. Some of the software plus services applications would focus more on services with client-side components, while some would be more client side with a services component.