Ray Ozzie coming out of his shell

Mary Jo Foley is covering Microsoft’s Financial Analysts’ Meeting where they are announcing a range of new infrastructure. My friends at Microsoft are pretty hyped up about this, so I’ll be following the announcements closely and hoping to get a better look when I visit Seattle for the Gnomedex conference in a couple of weeks.

Ray Ozzie is expected to announce some major new services infrastructure. Steve Ballmer threw a new name out there, which Mary Jo caught: Windows Live Cloud Infrastructure.

There’s a lot more on the news coming out of the analyst meeting on TechMeme today and I’m sure there’s more to come after Ray Ozzie finishes.

A Web-based IM that “sticks” to the desktop

I’m not a heavy IM user anymore, so not sure Velvet Puffin’s Web-based instant messaging service will really take off the way that R. Chandrasekar is hoping it will (most of my IM traffic has gone to Twitter or Pownce) but it did do something worthy of note: You sign in with your Web browser and you get an IM client that looks like it’s part of the Web page. Close the browser, though, and the IM client sticks around.

This is the kind of “rich Internet application” that I’d expect to see tons of next year after Adobe’s AIR and Microsoft’s Silverlight get better understood (and get finished). Already Pownce has an Adobe AIR version that’s looks similar to an IM client. Anyway, I have an interview with R. Chandrasekar, CEO of Velvet Puffin, and he gives me a demo, too, which I’ll embed here for your viewing pleasure. He came to see me from Singapore, so we met in a restaurant near SFOs airport. Sorry if it’s a little noisy there.

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JimDo: not your father’s FrontPage

Straight from Germany comes JimDo, an online service that lets you create your own Website.

Matthias Henze, co-founder, just was here showing it to me. It’s a Web site builder. I was a bit incredulous with him. “Why do we need another Web tool?”

But he was persistent and nice, explained how they released in China today and are already seeing nutty uptake and how they are getting great reviews.

I still was skeptical until I saw the demo. Wow. It’s like a cross between Adobe’s Dreamweaver and a wiki tool. All online and free. They have a pro version with more features.

One major problem that I banged Matthias on is that it doesn’t yet build RSS feeds. He said that’s a major feature they will add soon.

But if you are looking to build an online Web site, you should check out JimDo. I’ll have my videos of JimDo up next week if you don’t want to try it out before getting a good demo.

We also had a nice chat about what’s happening in Europe (today was Matthias’ first day in Silicon Valley) and I’ll get that up too toward the end of next week.

If I worked at Adobe or Microsoft on the Dreamweaver or Expression teams (which is what they changed the name of FrontPage to) I’d be looking at what this service lets users do. For a small business this kind of tool is a LOT easier to use. Just click on whatever you want to change and up come a bunch of options.

This is a good hint of what an online Office suite should do and feel like, by the way.