Microsoft (NASDASQ:MSFT) is developing a hosted Windows desktop service called Mohoro. It will run in the Windows Azure cloud. And in theory, it will allow all sorts of devices -- thin clients, PCs, tablets and more -- to access hosted Windows and Office applications. The big question: Will Mohoro essentially extend Windows 8, Windows 7 and Office application access out to Google Android and Apple iOS smartphones and tablets? Hmmm...
Early chatter about Mohoro popped up on Mary Jo Foley's All About Microsoft blog this week. Most of the chatter so far explores Microsoft's current licensing schemes for Windows desktops running in the cloud. But The VAR Guy is far more interested to know whether Microsoft will use Mohoro to solve the current Android and iOS challenge.
To be sure: Microsoft is under pressure to support third-party platforms. A hedge fund, ValueAct Holdings, recently took a $1.9 billion stake in Microsoft and demanded the company port the Office desktop suite to iOS and Android. Surely channel partners would welcome that move as they seek to sell customers the best of both worlds -- popular endpoints with popular endpoint software.
But let's look at this riddle from another perspective. Instead of offering Office -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint -- natively on iOS and Android, couldn't Microsoft instead allow those operating systems to access Office applications running up in the Windows Azure cloud?
Surely, Microsoft has the technical know-how to make that happen. But can Microsoft figure out a profitable business model -- that engages customers and rewards channel partners -- for hosted Office and Windows applications in Azure? That's the riddle of the day.