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Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) made its biggest push into cloud computing with this week's introduction of Microsoft Azure. The software maker's goal is to take on companies like (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) and Rackspace (NYSE: RAX  ) , which are hosting third-party cloud computing applications on their growing fleets of servers.

It's a gutsy move for Microsoft. Companies like (NYSE: CRM  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) have been making waves by offering cheap alternatives to disc-based solutions that are stored on a user's computer or a company's own server. Whether it's Salesforce's enterprise software niche or Google taking on Microsoft Office with Google Docs, it's ultimately all about Microsoft swallowing its pride and realizing that the world is changing.

Offering up cloud computing Web services won't be enough to make it relevant. There are companies like Amazon and Rackspace that have been winning over IT departments for a long time. However, between Azure and the gradual rollout of cloud computing versions of its own signature programs, the world is surprisingly flat these days when it comes to competition.

May the best cloud win.  

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Can a pole position in search lead to opportunities in consumer-to-consumer marketplaces? We'll find out now that (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) has launched an open beta of Baidu Youa. Demand is clearly there for the nascent marketplace, going by the 100,000 seller applicants that the company received in its test run of the site. China already has a category killer there in Taobao, but with 1.3 billion people in China, it's hard to imagine just one company hogging all the traffic.
  • Is filmed entertainment recession-resistant? I guess it can be, if you have the right films. DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA  ) seems to have just that, scoring another market-thumping quarter. Powered by the strength of Kung Fu Panda, the studio's biggest box-office winner outside of the Shrek sequels, the company has beaten analyst estimates in each of the past 12 quarters.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google and are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. DreamWorks Animation and are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for DreamWorks Animation. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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