Amazon 'free' cloud beats Microsoft at its own game

No-cost test more attractive than Open365 to developers, developers, developers, developers

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Amazon is taking a clip out of Microsoft's video guidebook to promote both the use of cloud computing and its EC2 PAAS among both ISVs and corporate developers.

Last week Amazon announced it would offer a year of free service to new customers wanting to play with on-demand computing at no cost.

The main audience for the offer appears to be corporate developers and test-dev staffers, who could use the 750 hours of free Linux VM use to experiment with on-demand computing without having to get special budget approval.

The offer would also appeal to ISVs who don't qualify for partnership deals, and who can't afford to build their own SAAS platform to make their products available online.

Either way, Amazon is going after the core of what gave Microsoft the win over Apple, IBM, Novell, Linux and everyone else for the last 20 years -- its ability to get developers to build apps for its platform, which brought in the end users.

Remember the " Steve Ballmer Going Crazy" monkeyboy video? Goofy as Ballmer is, he successfully drilled into the heads of Microsofties that it was more important to attract applications to run on Windows than to attract end users directly.

Do it badly and you're Apple circa 1996. Do it well and you're Apple circa 2010.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is going after end users directly with Office365 -- an online version of its Office and other productivity apps aimed at Google and Zoho, but missing.

That's great for attracting end-user SAAS customers, small and even mid-sized businesses that don't want to buy and maintain Microsoft apps on every user's PC if they can avoid it.

SMBs are already moving a lot faster into SAAS and the cloud than larger companies.

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