We've been waiting for some time to hear what Microsoft is going to do with Azure. Since the company announced the service, it's not exactly been hitting us with regular updates. There have been plenty of tantalising hints however and as, just a few months ago, Steve Ballmer was bigging up cloud services,  But the news that it's launching what is already being called a cloud-in-the-box service has shaken things up a bit.

For one thing, it's not quite clear where this new Azure appliance is going to fit in with Microsoft's other products - a problem that Microsoft has had before and will certainly have again. Certainly, there might be some interesting conversations between server salespeople and those hawking Azure unless Microsoft can get a consistent message across.

The other thing is that the Azure Platform Appliance offers an easy first step into the cloud. There's been a disconnect between the amount of words written about cloud computing and the take-up of cloud computing - simply put, despite the best efforts by various vendors and service providers to talk up cloud computing, companies are only just dipping their toes into the waters of cloud. The fact that Microsoft has launched a pre-packaged Azure solution is going to make it easier for companies to take the chance on cloud, they'd find it harder to resist an all-in-one package using familiar software.

Microsoft obviously feels it has stolen a march here. "Microsoft is the first and only company that offers customers and partners a full range of cloud capabilities and the flexibility to deploy these services where and how they wish — whether that is with Microsoft, a service provider, in a customer datacenter or a combination of all three," said Muglia at the launch.

There may be some truth in that but it could also be argued that one of the attractions of cloud computing could be the opportunity to move away from a Microsoft-dominated enterprise and tackle a new way of working. Cloud computing as a concept has certainly just got a whole load more interesting.

Follow Maxwell on Twitter