Microsoft in the News
Microsoft and Blockchain
If you have been following along with my blockchain blogs, by now you have a good idea of what it is and some of it potential uses. There is a lot of potential for putting blockchain to use and many of them will make our world more efficient, more transparent, more democratic, and less expensive. Given its potential to change the way the world works, you have to know that Microsoft is ensuring they are part of the process.
In the same way that Microsoft made Windows the basis for computing and are making Windows Mixed Reality the basis for a variety of VR headsets, they are creating a blockchain infrastructure that anyone can use to develop their own blockchain based system. Microsoft is using Ethereum as the foundation of this new Azure service.
Like Bitcoin’s blockchain software, Ethereum is an open-source platform. Also like Bitcoin, Ethereum has spawned a cryptocurrency, this one called Ether. Whereas Bitcoin’s blockchain system is a single purpose enterprise, Ethereum is being used by a wide variety of companies for a variety of purposes. The reason Ethereum is widely used has to do with its origin. A programmer working for Bitcoin Magazine had proposed that the Bitcoin blockchain needed a scripting language to allow developers to create applications based on its blockchain infrastructure. When he could not get buy in, he left Bitcoin to start Ethereum. Now, while Bitcoin is seen as a globally distributed payment system, Ethereum is seen as a globally distributed computer system that supports a payment system, AND smart contracts that allow for the creation of land title registries and so much more. Ethereum is positioned to fuel the blockchain revolution that Bitcoin started. It looks like Bitcoin’s first mover advantage was not fully realized.
Ethereum has reached what might be called a tipping point for success. Although there are now several competitors, the Ethereum blockchain infrastructure is the basis for more than 50% of all Initial Coin Offerings. In addition Microsoft, J.P Morgan, Intel, Chase Bank, and over 150 other global enterprise have tied their wagon to Ethereum. (American Express, for example, has gone with Ripple). Some other Blockchain competitors include Sawtooth, Pokitdok, Samsung SDS, Quorum, and Corda R3.
In August of 2017, Microsoft announced that their Azure platform was launching the Confidential Consortium (“CoCo”) Framework, an Ethereum based system that will allow organizations to use the Ethereum blockchain for whatever project they want.