Maybe Microsoft actually does get cloud computing. Today they launched their cloud computing offering, very similar to that of Google's App Engine or Rackspace's Mosso. Micrsoft'sAzure Services Platform is a cloud operating "platform-as-a-service" rather then Amazon's Infrastructure-as-a-service that can deliver web, mobile, or hybrid software-plus-services applications capable of bridging traditional operating and hosting environments with Microsoft extensive global hosting environment.
According to their press release, "existing software can utilize the services to add cloud capabilities, and developers can easily write applications for the cloud to be used by end users, or write services that can be consumed within other applications." Currently the service only supports .net but they say java, python, ruby and php are coming soon.
It's also looking like they may include an Cloud Application Store which they describe as the ability to "use Live Services to reach over 460 million Live users, Microsoft .NET Services for workflow, access control, or service bus functionality, or use the Microsoft SQL Services cloud database. Developers can also write applications and web services that can be consumed by business partners or consumers".
I couldn't find any concrete details on the pricing, but they do indicate it will be billed on a utility pay per use model. "Pay as you grow and reduce costs. Pay for the services you use and reduce the capital costs associated with purchasing hardware and infrastructure. Reduce operational costs by running applications on the services platform and decrease the need for maintaining on-premises infrastructure. Increase business efficiency and agility by dynamically adding and subtracting capacity in real time. Envision building an e-commerce Web site that you can scale at the click of a mouse to meet seasonal demands or spikes in traffic based on sales and promotions. The Azure Services Platform helps reduce IT-related costs, freeing up time and capital to focus on your core business."
For anyone into .NET, it certainly worth a closer look.