As expected, Microsoft announced today that it will be renaming its Windows Azure public cloud platform to Microsoft Azure. The change is effective April 3, 2014

"Our commitment to deliver an enterprise-grade cloud platform for the world's applications is greater than ever," Microsoft's Steven Martin notes in a new post to the (now misnamed) Windows Azure blog. "Today we support one of  the broadest set of operating systems, languages, and services of any public cloud—from Windows, SQL and .NET to Python, Ruby, Node.js, Java, Hadoop, Linux, and Oracle. In today's mobile-first, cloud-first, data-powered world, customers want a public cloud platform that supports their needs—whatever they may be—and that public cloud is Microsoft Azure."

Rumors of this renaming surfaced earlier this week in a report by Mary Jo Foley. She had reached out to me because I had predicted this change a few years back, but as I wrote in Azure Is the Future of Microsoft last year, I've been questioning the use of the Windows name in this service for some time. "In many ways it doesn't make sense to call such a thing Windows at all," I wrote. "Azure's a nice name."

Well, now it's official.

What's left to ponder is what this means to Microsoft's overall branding strategy and whether this means that the use of Windows on only semi-related products will stop. As Foley points, out, Microsoft did originally push Windows Azure as a cloud-based version of Windows Server. But in reality, Azure is much more than that. It's no less than the backbone of everything it's doing on the services side of its business.

"Microsoft is a devices and services company," I noted previously. "The services part is the biggest part. Azure is the king of Microsoft services. Azure is the future of Microsoft."