Richard MacManus writes about the speculation:
Although the hosted services move will put Microsoft into more immediate competition with the likes of Salesforce.com and NetSuite, I see this as a natural segue for Microsoft into the Web 2.0 world. Plus it ups the ante significantly in their much-publicized competition with Google.
Microsoft has come to realise that most of the value in an always-on broadband world derives from ‘the cloud’ – aka the Web. So if Microsoft is going to stay competitive with the likes of Salesforce.com – and keep Google and their web-based Office at bay – then they need to start the transition to the Web platform NOW.