Face PalmSomeone please tell Microsoft what the cloud is… this is getting embarrassing. Have you seen the “To The Cloud” commercials? They all loosely follow the same formula. Someone is faced with a problem, they say “To The Cloud” and then they show you a Microsoft product that solves their problem. My issue is that none of the solutions they use have anything to do with the cloud.

What Is “The Cloud”?

When people talk about the cloud, they are referring to cloud computing. Cloud computing is a relatively new thing. It basically boils down to someone selling a computer’s resources rather than the computer itself. So if I had a few computers in my basement, and you wanted to use them to perform some task for a week, and I let you use them for the week, and then someone else use them after that, then thats a basic example of cloud computing.

For example, Amazon has probably the most well known Cloud Computing infrastructure. Its called Elastic Cloud Compute or EC2 for short. It allows you to basically rent a computer that you never actually see or touch. You use it for whatever you want, and when you are finished, you are billed only for what you used. This usually means you are billed for the time you own it, and also for any network bandwidth used during that time.

What Would Someone Use the Cloud For?

The cloud is best used for a task that takes a long time, and that can be sped up by having many computers do it at the same time. For example: imagine you have a few hundred thousand video files, and you need to convert them to a different format. If this conversion takes 10 minutes per file, then it could take years for a single computer to do this. But since the conversion of one file can be performed independently from the others, then you could have many computers working at the same time to cut down on time. So you could go buy 1000 computers and set them all up to do this work, but with cloud computing, you can rent just the resources you need, write a script to get them all going, and when they are done, you can stop paying for them. So using 1000 cloud computers could cut the time down to a day or two, and it will cost you  significantly less than buying the 1000 computers for 2 days of use.

What Does Microsoft Think the Cloud Is?

From their commercials, it looks like Microsoft thinks the cloud is the internet. To be fair, some people used to refer to the internet as a cloud, but these days it means Cloud computing. But if their commercials instead said “To The Internet”, they would be much more accurate.

Here is an example which you have probably already seen. In this video, a family has just taken some group photos, and the mom is none too pleased. Seems like the idiot kids could not sit still for the 5 seconds it would take to get their pictures taken, but they all do it across different photos. So in photo #1, idiot kid #1 makes a stupid face, but in photo #2, its idiot kid #2 that ruins it, and so on. The mom, then gets the bright idea to go “To The Cloud” to fix this problem. Perhaps the magical powers of the cloud will let her take the good pictures of each kid and make just 1 good family photo. Not only that, but the cloud can let her post the resulting picture to Facebook.

Sorry Microsoft, but this has nothing to do with the cloud. This is image editing, which doesn’t even need the internet. Followed by uploading an image to Facebook. Uploading media does not use cloud computing.

In the next example, a couple is stuck at the airport waiting for their flight. The man finally gets sick of just sitting there, and comes to the revelation that the cloud can relieve their boredom. “To The Cloud!” he exclaims. So he picks up his laptop, and uses remote desktop software to log into his home computer, transfer a dumb TV show that he must have previously pirated to his laptop, and then watches it. Cloudtastic huh?

This video has the same problems. One computer connecting to another is not cloud computing! Its called client/server, and its been around for decades. Remote desktop software has also been around for decades. And of course file transfer has been around forever.

What Do You think?

So am I the only one who is bothered by this? I don’t think so, because people even mention this in the comments of the YouTube pages where I got these videos. Still, I’d love to hear your thoughts about if I am right, or if am I missing something.