According to a report in ZDNet, Microsoft will change the name of its Windows Azure cloud computing platform to Microsoft Azure. The announcement is expected tomorrow, with an effective date of April 3, the first day of the Build developer conference. I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the reported name change and will update this post when I hear back.
The rebranding of Azure doesn’t indicate that Microsoft is moving away from Windows. Instead it reflects the diversity of what is possible on Azure, which goes beyond servers in the Windows sense. Microsoft is, it must be said, an increasingly platform-varied company.
Azure has been a successful product for Microsoft, perhaps in part because it embraced platforms that were not Windows, broadening its potential customer base. Thinking of Office in the platform sense, we can see a trend in this.
Later this week, new CEO Satya Nadella will be in San Francisco, presumably to launch the much-expected Office suite for iPad. Questions remain over what form the product will take and how radical Microsoft is willing to be regarding its productivity suite on Apple’s tablet.
The company is at once making large bets on Windows through the unification of that platform across screens and form factors, and also extending its non-Windows products to the platforms of its rivals. This undercuts Windows mildly, given that products unlocked from a Windows world make it less of a requirement to adopt that operating system. But if Microsoft can pull off the double motion, it will be a financial coup for the firm.
Azure standing slightly askance from the Windows brand is therefore not tossing shade on Microsoft’s premier product, but instead is a reflection of a broader reality.