Five years ago, Ray Ozzie, newly arrived at Microsoft, released his famous memo. In his vision, he showed a transformational path for his company: Software + Services.
In this new memo he once again conjure a vision for his company: continuous services & connected devices or basically, cloud computing.
The essay is high on style, pulling historic parallels such as the soon 25th anniversary of Windows 1.0 (November 20th 2010), the 1939 World Fair in NYC, and the last decade landscape changes in the technology industry.
Ozzie is quite honest in his assessment, quoting the achievement of his company in the last five years (Windows sales for both consumers and servers, Office relevance, Windows Azure, etc.) and what didn’t go so well (mobile space, social networking, etc.).
He hints at a post-PC world, explaining in length how the success of the PC created a very complex eco-system where the smartest architecture end-up being a legacy hindering progress. He doesn’t mention how this should affect the future of Windows unfortunately. No mention of the possibly revolutionary Windows 8.
What he’s more clearly hinting at is that, in the future, the centre of the universe will be the cloud, not the PC. According to Ozzie, devices will multiply and will consume those continuous services. The future is cloud-centric.
His vision is a bit blurry. This is understandable since he won’t be the one implementing it at Microsoft. On the other hand, he takes position on a lot of technological debate. For instance, he doesn’t seem to see one form-factor winning any time soon (including the PC), hence his cloud-centric vision. You can also interpret (which I won’t do here) a bunch of sentences as reasons why he’s leaving Microsoft.
One point stroke me, at the beginning of the memo, when he analyses the failures of Microsoft in the last couple of years: agility. He just mentions it quickly and it’s not really his forte I suppose, but the delivery pace of Microsoft has been a big problem for its success in the Internet & mobile space. Well, that’s not a secret information: beside few products, such as Silverlight, the delivery capability of Microsoft is quite heavy. Windows Live, IE 9, Windows Phone 7, etc. are all taking forever to be shipped. It’s just interesting to see it acknowledged as a reason for lack of success in the very fast world of Social media & Mobile devices.
I’m quite curious to see how Ray Ozzie is planning to spend his days realizing that vision when he’s going to leave Microsoft. Thos are interesting times after all.