"We are at a very interesting juncture," said Ray Ozzie speaking with John Battelle at the Web 2.0 Summit. He was partly referring to Office and Vista being released to manufacturing. But is also a time in which the Web is becoming a better application platform, Microsoft is transitioning into subscription services, offering a music player and service, and Ozzie in growing into his role replacing Bill Gates as the chief software architect at Microsoft, charting his company's future in a new era.
On the subject of Vista, Ozzie stated the obvious, "It's not perfect. It's software and software has flaws."
"The biggest single thing that Vista can do is to provide a safe environment that you do interaction on the Web and load code in a way that doesn’t leave it as open as in the past. Vista is secure by design. We have done lots of static analysis, given the surface area of product, to remove vulnerabilities before it ships." He noted that there will be some missing drivers, but said he was feeling really good based on the internal deployment.
On the subject of delivering applications, like Office, in the cloud, Ozzie said, "We are looking at what kind of experience in this era is the best way to deliver value, and we are examining what is the best delivery model is and then to reshape and re-architect the products based on that." It's consistent with what he said when I interviewed him a few weeks ago.
"From my perspective and looking at what Microsoft has in the product space, we have about half a billion users who use Office actively. This addressable market--some are paid and others are prospects we could upsell to. I don't have to buy companies to acquire a new audience and they understand the value proposition. We just have to deliver value to them that is relevant in this era."
The "in this era" refers to different usage models that range from the rich client to the cloud and servers and services. Whether application have a client component or are pure Web depends on the scenario usage, Ozzie said. Porting PC functionality to the Web isn't a obvious solution. Online brings universal access, sharing scenario and quickly going in and out, and the PC is really good at providing a flexible, fast UI regardless of connection speed and it is reliable, Ozzie said. "We are going from world in 80s where the PC was for document editing to embedding different document types," Ozzie continued. Low-cost terabyte hard disks, the power needed to edit and constrained upload bandwidth favor the PC in a video editing scenario.
Related to the Windows operating system, Ozzie said the we are on the cusp of moving from multi-core to many-core processor environments. "The system needs to help application programmers consume that in a reasonable way without teaching everyone on earth how to factor their code that way," he said. Power management is also another area to innovate, as well as state separation for applications that would bring deployment models up to date. "Everything should deploy from the Web--you shouldn't need a DVD to install software. Search is also an area of focus, helping satisfy a user's intent more than has been done thus far, Ozzie said.
He was also asked about the big shoes he is filling. "There is a certainly mythology around any leader, particularly Bill, he very broad and deep. The way Microsoft works is it is very, very rare that Blll actually gave an order and said go do this. Bill will always have an amazing level of soft power, and people want to follow. The organization reveres him. I was given a free pass. I have known Steve and Bill a long time and came in with benefit of the doubt. I have to earn the followership. I am glad we have a two-year transition so people can see us interacting together. My interaction style is significantly different.
He was asked about any culture changes as he becomes the head software man. "You have to ask people progressively over time who work there. It has to happen locally, you can't mandate it. The Office and Windows group or Xbox group have different ways of working. Thing have changed in certain ways, but it's not one person who makes this happen, it's a conversation.