The end the Chief Software Architect title @ Microsoft?

Ray Ozzy is stepping down the Chief Software Architect role at Microsoft.

He’s going to leave Microsoft in the short future.

Steve Balmer isn’t naming a new Chief Software Architect for the moment.


Since Bill Gates left Microsoft, the company has been running from one re-org to the other.  For instance, earlier in October 2010, two new divisions were created with a new president each.  In the recent months, quite a few president and vice-president have been leave the corporation.  For instance, Stephen Elop, formally MS Business Division’s president left for Nokia on September 2010.

It seems it is becoming increasingly challenging to navigate such a big enterprise as Microsoft has become.  Some think Microsoft is engaged in a down spiral, some think it is a necessary transformation.  I tend to be in the second camp.

The market has changed dramatically since the 1990’s.  Players have changed a lot.  In the early 2000’s, we talked about Sun, BAE, Borland, Lycos, etc.  .  Google was a tiny player.  Facebook, Twitter & YouTube (later acquired by Google) didn’t exist.  The internet wave is quite disruptive.  Actually, I find it impressive for Microsoft to stay relevant after so long.

I still find that Microsoft is bringing a lot of good technologies on the table.  Windows Azure has a very bright potential, SharePoint is a leader in the collaboration portal space, the .NET eco-system (including Visual Studio, TFS, Windows Server App Fabric, Silverlight, etc. ) really is top notch, their multi-core concurrency Fx & tools really hit the target, Xbox Kinect is sold-out on pre-orders, Windows Phone 7 seems poised to be a good iPhone / Blackberry competitor, etc.  .

Of course for all those positives, you can find a nice list of flops (let’s just mention the three months fad Kin), but as long as they can re-invent themselves, they will strive.


I still wonder what happened with Ray Ozzie.  Filling the shoes of founder Bill Gates might have been too big an order.  He did bring the whole Software + Service paradigm shift inside the company, championed Live Mesh & pushed for Windows Azure.  In the mean time, his Groove got on the ice, looking more and more like a SharePoint client.  It seems like he phased out the minute took the role couple of years ago.  The man had plenty of vision and intellect.  Apparently it’s quite hard to push that through at the moment.

Does Microsoft needs a super star at its head in order to work, like Apple’s Steve Jobs?  I don’t think so.  They have quite a battalion of smart leaders.  The company is still learning to find its balance but it doesn’t lack smart people.  If the leadership manage to get all that intellect to work towards common goal, they won’t need a messiah at their head!

In the mean time, you can follow Ray Ozzie on his new blog.

Thanks to Mary-Jo Foley for spreading the news.

2 responses

  1. Mohamed Hachem (Momozito) 2010-10-19 at 07:45

    I think succession of the head office in Microsoft become more like honorary position. The dynamics within Microsoft is already in place and the train is on the truck. I agree that there are lot of challenges ahead as new emerging lead technological companies are emerging. Still Microsoft holds very competitive products. It may be losing in the mobile and internet technologies. Though, its grasp on development tools and investing on day today product as Office and SharePoint will allow it to move on.

    Nevertheless, it has to open fighting fronts with emerging companies through fostering its msn/social media platform. As new companies Facebook, twitter, Google are creating colonies of people who adopt them and stay with them now they want these people to be able to do everything within their realms. They don’t want to share those colonies. It is better if these people don`t need anything from outside. As now for Mac people they don’t want to use PC as they are confortable in their world. If in Facebook you can do all work, relations, internet, search, you don’t need the Office software or the use of twitter. So there is this paradigm of keeping the colonies and sharing this market. Microsoft will continue as there are smart people within the company but if the company is lucky to have a new leader with new vision and high knowledge of technology and business the company will move from being cash cow moving towards retirement to a new leader in technology. One thing that Microsoft should think about is its own people as I have been in company owned by Microsoft.

    Microsoft thinks it is too strong and highly praised so that it could afford the status of slave owner as the Roman Empire had been one upon the time. Employees who work 80 hours per week and have no family life just to hold the title of Microsoft employee, Lot of people are stepping out because of this politic that the company has, the company wants everybody to burn, what matters is that the pyramid looks high. My be ozzi had all what he wanted, but at the end he discovered, that he was just big slave with more money and no life, if the company want to make the life of the people in this world better it should look at its politics with its own people. It has a politic similar to the old state of Sparta unfortunately Sparta vanished even if it had the best soldiers in the world it reached the level where there was no human aspect to the life of its citizens, they were just killing machines so they were easily beaten by weaker human people (Macedonian tribes for historical knowledge). If the company has smart people as it claims these people should think about the within of the company everything after that will be good.

    Thanks Mr. Vincent for such an interesting Article

  2. Vincent-Philippe Lauzon 2010-10-19 at 13:27

    And thank you for the historical analogy, very interesting!

    Apparently Microsoft isn’t the crazy hours slayer it used to be. People on Channel 9 seems to be very enthusiasts to work there. But… I don’t know. It doesn’t have the startup appeal Google had 5 years ago for young people either.

    As Mary-Jo Foley mentionned in her “Microsoft 2.0” book (, the high management is all over 50 (starting with Balmer). They definitely missed the web 2.0 wave. Mind you, they missed the web 1.0 wave as well and didn’t recover too badly for it ;)

    I think you’re right about the web 2.0 war being about capturing audiences. Those audiences are quite volatile when you compare them to a software user base though (e.g. Windows, Office). Microsoft is extremely strong in platforming: establishing a standard (even if there’s already one in place) where third party can plug-in. But this new web 2.0 is very tribal and doesn’t care too much about standards. We’ve seen it with the iPhone and now the iPad: there is a lot of software writen for those platforms only. The cool factor won it all!

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