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Why Microsoft should fear Ubuntu's cloud efforts

In the past, Microsoft could show up late to a party and still win. That's becoming harder to do, as it's forced to compete on so many fronts. Despite a vast developer army, Microsoft's efforts have been highly confusing and occasionally nonsensical. Microsoft needs developers to win in the cloud.

But Ubuntu, with legions of developers and more than 10 million users, has substantial market power to shift the cloud into entirely different directions.

As fellow CNET blogger James Urquhart pointed out, Ubuntu now has "cloud computing" inside.

* Ubuntu server will start promoting cloud computing through entirely open-source software.
* For those wishing to manage clouds, Ubuntu will apparently contain tools that leverage the Amazon APIs
* Canonical will create standard Amazon Machine Images from Karmic Koala, essentially creating "ready to run" appliances that will serve as "standard builds" to the Amazon community.
* The Eucalyptus project out of UC Santa Barbara will soon be included in every install package.

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