Speaking at the University of Washington Thursday morning, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said his company is going "all in" on the cloud and betting its future on the opportunities he believes the cloud will present.

Microsoft has been expanding its cloud presence of late through offerings like cloud service Windows Azure, Xbox Live, and the forthcoming Office 2010, which Microsoft says will be available in the cloud in its entirety. Last week the company also announced it was launching a dedicated cloud for the public sector.

In his speech, Ballmer outlined what he believes the cloud is and why it has become a cornerstone of Microsoft's future. Ballmer segmented the cloud into five dimensions.

1. The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities.

2. The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action.

3. The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions.

4. The cloud wants smarter devices.

5. The cloud drives server advances that, in turn, drive the cloud.

The Cloud Must Learn

Ballmer explained that because the cloud is a digital entity, it's growing and learning and needs to continue to do so to survive.

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Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.