Microsoft is preparing to take its most ambitious step yet in transforming its personal computer business into one tied more closely to software running in remote data centers.
The software giant announced on Tuesday a data storage and Web software system, called Live Mesh, that is intended to blur the distinction between software running on the Windows operating system and an elaborate array of services that will be delivered to a growing collection of electronic gadgets. Live Mesh is Microsoft's late entry into a rapidly growing market described as cloud computing. The term refers to the movement of software applications and services from PCs to centralized data centers, where they are made available via the Internet. Companies like Amazon.com, Google, Salesforce and dozens of others are building computing centers that will effectively outsource data processing and make it a commodity that companies purchase as they would electricity.