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Is Microsoft jettisoning Azure name?

“If it is true, it’s pants-on-head retarded.”

That’s how Tier 1 analyst Carl Brooks described reports this week that Microsoft will drop “Azure” from the branding of its public cloud offering.

“Azure is a dynamite brand — it’s almost a byword, like Amazon is, for a certain kind of cloud infrastructure, and in a very positive way,” Brooks said. “They’d be nuts to drop it and I’m hard pressed to understand any potential benefit.”

As it turns out, Brooks was right; Microsoft isn’t that irrational — although sometimes it might seem that way. The confusion began when a popular tech blog got wind that the software titan had sent out an email to Azure subscribers advising them that it’s cutting “Azure” from the names of a bunch of Azure services.

“In the coming weeks, we will update the Windows Azure Service names,” the message said. “These are only name changes: Your prices for Windows Azure are not impacted,” according to the email quoted in the blog post.

What had occurred, however, was less than meets the eye. The changes are to Azure’s “billing portal,” another tech blog revealed, and don’t affect the overall naming of Azure services.

After several hours of silence, Microsoft did finally issue an official clarification. “Microsoft continues to invest in the Windows Azure brand and we are committed to delivering an open and flexible cloud platform that enables customers to take advantage of the cloud. The brand is not going away.”

That’s a good thing. “It would be like dropping ‘Exchange’ in favor of ‘Microsoft Email Server’,” Brooks added, calling the excitement “a tempest in a teapot.”

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