During the first keynote of PDC last week, Bob Muglia associated this year’s PDC with the 1992 PDC, which featured the coming out of Windows NT. (I still think of “WNT” as “V++ M++ S++”, given David Cutler‘s leadership on both operating systems.)
I think there is much to draw from this comparison where the future for Windows Azure is concerned.
In 1992, PDC’s coverage of NT followed after at least a two-year effort to develop the new operating system (e.g. the OS first ran–minimally and non-commercially at Microsoft–in 1990). Commercial availability followed PDC a year later (i.e. Windows NT 3.1). However, adoption of NT didn’t take off until 1996, with the release of Windows NT 4.0 (and the availability of hardware and applications necessary to accomplish day-to-day work).
I’m not saying that Azure’s “take-off” won’t be until 2012 (i.e. “Red Dog”‘s 2006 commencement plus six years). Yet, Microsoft’s own comparison of Azure to NT is helpful in combating both near-term tendency to hype and in understanding the long-term potential of the cloud where Microsoft envisions it to be.