I simply cannot read a book without using a bookmark. For the life of me, I can't ever remember the place where I Ieft off and was last reading.

Though I've purposely tried to acquire the skill, several times during my life I've ultimately failed, and had to dig back through each page, reading each line, to see if anything looked familiar.

I also learned early on not to pick a lavish bookmark. My wife loves to read and the more extravagant the bookmark was, the more apt I was to lose it and eventually find it stuck inside one of my wife's books. Eventually, I learned to just use whatever I could find or create. Technical conference badges are my current favorite bookmark. Right now, I have my MMS 2013 badge in one book, and my TechEd 2013 badge in another—and I alternate between the two books.

Microsoft's Cloud Communications and Offerings

Trying to decide which book to read last night, the two bookmarks reminded me of how quickly Microsoft's cloud communications and offerings have changed between conferences. After MMS 2013, the attendees were notably disappointed (and verbally said so) that there were no real announcements made. After TechEd 2013, which was full of exciting announcements, those same MMS 2013 attendees felt left out even further since Microsoft chose TechEd to awe the crowd. MMS is a Microsoft conference focused on managing the Microsoft cloud using System Center, and is a long-standing community event where Microsoft is able to preach to a friendly, loyal crowd. Yet, they didn't this year.

But, it really wasn't Microsoft's fault. They just weren't ready in April when the MMS 2013 event occurred in Las Vegas. But, since April, Microsoft has lit a fuse that has everyone bracing for an explosion. The news coming out of Redmond is fast and furious. As I think back to MMS 2010, when Microsoft first unveiled their "We're All In" cloud mantra, those very first steps were highly scrutinized. I guess we could stick a bookmark there and call that Chapter 1.

HP Cloud OS Now Competes Directly with Windows Azure

But, like any good novel, a distinct plot arises that is so interesting and gripping that you just can't put the book down until you figure out how the main character survives. That happened this week when HP announced their very own cloud OS that seems to compete directly with Windows Azure and Windows Azure services­—and this is just after TechEd 2013, where Microsoft announced they had awarded HP with a partner of the year medal in virtualization. The word "partner" conjures up images of a friendship, or at least, two parties working together. We already knew about the other cloud competitors like Google and Amazon, but no one expected HP to turn on Microsoft. Even Microsoft was caught unawares, posting a blazing dissection of HP's announcement and accusing HP of "borrowing" Microsoft's own buzzwords.

Read through the following articles to get caught up:

The next few months will be interesting as HP and Microsoft write new chapters in this compelling story and attempt to make me lose my place in the story. The wonderful thing is that Windows IT Pro already provides a good bookmark for me. I don't have to look for or create one, and I definitely won't lose it since its right there, sitting firmly in the Windows IT Pro menu.

We'll be following this story closely and reporting on any new events. You can follow along, too, by monitoring the same Windows IT Pro bookmark that I'll be.