Microsoft’s (MS) Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie revealed the company’s plans to bring Web-based storage and applications to the masses at the latest MS Developers Conference this week, in Los Angeles, CA.

As reports, Ozzie unveiled MS’s ‘cloud’ initiative, Windows Azure, which he said will make Internet-based storage and computing power available to everyone — for a fee, of course.

The initiative will involve MS establishing massive new data centres around the world and deploying the new Azure platform on the Web.

Ozzie observed that one of the biggest benefits to users will be the ability to access their data files from anywhere, on any compatible device — be it a desktop PC at home or at the office, a notebook on the road, or a smart phone anywhere. No more laborious syncing files between a ‘home-base’ PC or network and ‘remote’ or mobile devices.

Azure is seen as a direct competitor to online applications and storage services already offered by Google and other major Internet players including IBM and But being late to the party is nothing new for MS. Other players were already marketing word processor programs to the young PC market when MS launched its Word application. And MS is infamous among Web watchers for its late entry into the browser sweepstakes with Internet Explorer (IE).

In spite of its late entry into both markets, MS managed to dominate them by offering those products in concert with its popular Windows operating system. IE, in particular, quickly dominated the browser market simply because it was supplied free, and installed automatically, as part of the Windows operating system, on millions of new computers.

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