Actually, PDC tends to drill down to the ingredients that make up the plates, forks, and the table itself. I have never been lucky enough to attend a PDC event, nor MMS for that matter, but thankfully we have the Web and a Ba-zillion blogs and news releases to collect info from 400 billion directions at once.
Azure indeed looks interesting. But from what I have read on dozens of blogs it seems it was the reason many former-Microsofties left for Google a few years back. They wanted Ballmer and the gang to shift from client platforms to web platforms much sooner and felt Google "got it" when Microsoft didn't. Now comes Microsoft, again. It will be interesting to see how this strategy compares with what Google is doing and segment-focused technologies like Amazon's EC2 and Adobe Air.
I suppose that we'll soon see Oracle, IBM, Sun Microsystems and many others coming out with their "elastic spastic bombastic plastic fantastic" Cloud services. I'm sure WebSphere and Eclipse for example will soon release news about their own IBM-centric cloud offering. Sun will probably work to announce a Java-centric version and so on. So instead of breaking down borders, we're simply moving them from our own servers to someone else's. There are tons of ramifications for considering cloud services for business interests. Privacy, security, integrity, accessibility, performance, availability, control and my favorite: comfort factor. Larger businesses aren't going to jump into this anytime soon. "Soon" for large enterprises usually means months, if not years. SOHO customers are an obvious customer base. Individual customers are another. Like those that are considering Mozy or Carbonite services. These are people that are also considering Google Docs and Office Live Workspaces.
In any case, it's nice to see Microsoft making a shift and doing something innovative again. Even if it's not creating a new market or technology, it's more of an evolutionary approach to what others have already begun. That's alright, every invention draws from other inventions before it. Ok, I knew you wouldn't buy that one. Oh well. At least they're trying on something new. It's been a while since Microsoft has made a shift has major as this one. I think that warrants some respect and attention, even if just to see what they do next. It's better than watching them do the same thing indefinitely.