Great things were expected from Ray Ozzie when he joined Microsoft five years ago to take over from Bill Gates as chief software architect. But while he undoubtedly contributed to the company's nascent cloud strategy and forays into new business models, his departure is disappointing.
Ray Ozzie was the man behind Lotus Notes (a groupware product that is still in widespread use some 20 years since its introduction) and the innovative start-up company Groove Networks. Although highly respected within the IT industry and clearly of great intellect, I'm left thinking that perhaps Bill Gates' shoes were too big even for Ray Ozzie to fill, or perhaps when he slipped them on they were laced-up rather too tightly for his own comfort.
Written almost five years ago to the day, Ray Ozzie's ‘internet services disruption’ email summed-up his assessment of the terrain in which Microsoft would be fighting its future battles. In his memo, Ozzie talked about the power of the advertising-supported economic model, the effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model and the demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ‘just work’. However, as a Microsoft observer I'm not yet convinced that the company has completely grasped these key tenets.
Ray Ozzie's primary focus during his tenure at Microsoft was the Windows Azure programme, which aims to bridge the worlds of cloud and desktop computing. But with Ozzie departing, and with no obvious plans to backfill his role as chief software architect, one wonders who is now in overall charge of Microsoft's technical strategy. Steve Ballmer? I think not.
The author is Ovum principal analyst