Retiring software chief to Microsoft: Move on

By Reuters
Posted Oct. 25, 2010 at 5:46 p.m.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Corp.’s departing software chief, has asked the company to move on from its roots as a computer-oriented company to imagine a “post-PC world” that relies on wireless devices and the Internet to function.

The call from Ozzie, who announced his retirement from Microsoft last week, is meant to galvanize the company, which has fallen behind Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in the rapidly growing phone and tablet computer sector that many now see as key to the future.

“Close our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like, if it were to ever truly occur,” wrote Ozzie in a memo posted on his blog Monday. “Those who can envision a plausible future that’s brighter than today will earn the opportunity to lead.”

The message comes almost five years after Ozzie made his initial mark on Microsoft with his “Internet Services Disruption” memo, which is regarded as Microsoft’s manifesto for moving toward “cloud computing,” where data and software are supplied over the Internet rather than installed on machines.

In Monday’s blog, Ozzie said some of the goals he envisioned five years ago “remain elusive and are yet to be realized.”

He goes on to praise competitors for “seamless fusion of hardware and software and services,” which appears to be a nod to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android phone system, which are proving more popular with consumers than Microsoft’s offerings.

“Their execution has surpassed our own in mobile experiences,” said Ozzie.

Microsoft’s new phone software will be available on handsets in the United States next month and a slew of Windows-powered tablet devices are expected next year.

Instead of a tech world founded on PCs and software — which Microsoft essentially created — Ozzie urges Microsoft to think about “cloud-based continuous services that connect us all and do our bidding” and “appliance-like connected devices enabling us to interact with those cloud-based services.”

Such devices could be at home, in the car, controlling elevators or highways, said Ozzie.

“Today’s PC’s, phones and pads are just the very beginning,” said Ozzie. “We’ll see decades to come of incredible innovation from which will emerge all sorts of ‘connected companions’ that we’ll wear, we’ll carry, we’ll use on our desks and walls and the environment all around us.”

Ozzie, 54, is working on some of Microsoft’s entertainment projects before retiring in several months. He took over the role of chief software architect from co-founder Bill Gates in 2006.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said there are no plans to appoint a new chief software architect when Ozzie retires.

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