Where in the world is Ray Ozzie?

Where in the world is Ray Ozzie?

Summary: Ray Ozzie is Microsoft's chief software architect--that's Bill Gates' old job. He is charged with building a bidirectional bridge between Microsoft's lucrative rich-client past and its cloud-computing future.

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Ray Ozzie is Microsoft's chief software architect--that's Bill Gates' old job. He is charged with building a bidirectional bridge between Microsoft's lucrative rich-client past and its cloud-computing future.

Ozzie, who joined Microsoft in March of 2005, is keeping a low profile lately.

The last time he gave a major public address was at the MIX 07 conference in April of this year, rolling out the Microsoft's AIR/Flash competitor Silverlight. He did speak at Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting in July, giving an update on the Live platform.

He hasn't posted on his Window Live Spaces blog, linked on his Microsoft bio page, since the spring of 2006. He used the blog to talk about new ideas, such as Simple Sharing Extensions and Live Clipboard.

I talked to several people who know Ozzie, and they maintain he prefers to stay out of the spotlight and let his software do the talking. In his previous incarnations developing Lotus Notes and Groove, Ozzie maintained a low profile. Yet, he is quite an articulate and credible speaker.

Chairman Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer have been carrying the bulk of the high ranking Microsoft official public evangelist role. When Gates leaves his day-to-day ringmaster role in July 2008 to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ozzie will have to appoint someone to be the chief Microsoft software architect/evangelist or take on more of that role himself.

In terms of letting the software do the talking, Mary Jo Foley recently posted a kind of report card on Ozzie's efforts with Windows Live Services, which graduated from beta phase on Nov. 6, with availability in 36 languages and across 59 countries.

winlive2.jpg

Blogging hero Mary Jo concluded: "Microsoft still has quite a way to go to make its Windows Live story truly intuitive and understandable by non-Microsoft-watchers. But compared to where the company was even a year ago, the Live team has come a long way.

Microsoft is hoping to funnel a good portion of the more than 400 million users of Hotmail and Messenger users into the additional Windows Live services. And, the company will likely use its Facebook relationship (investing $240 million and selling ads on the service) to market Windows Live.

In September Microsoft announced Office Live Workspace for consumers and small businesses. The company describes the services as “a new Web-based feature of Microsoft Office which lets people access their documents online and share their work with others.” It's not a Web-based set of Office applications.

Office Live, a set of services, not productivity apps as you might expect, for small businesses lacking IT support, currently has more than 350,000 customers worldwide.

Microsoft has also hatched Windows Live Community Builder, a service that appears similar to Office Live, that competes with Google Apps for Your Domain and includes several Windows Live services bundled together with administrative and customization capabilities.

mscommunity.jpg

However, unlike Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheet and Presentations) Microsoft's Live offerings don't include productivity applications. Windows Live Writer, for example, is a downloadable blogging tool, not a cloud-based, collaborative word processor.

Microsoft has taking its time in delivering cloud-based applications, in part to avoid cannibalizing its $16 billion desktop office applications business with free or ad-supported, lighter-weight versions of Office.

Ozzie's strategy is to leverage the rich client legacy with companion online applications. He talks in terms of user scenarios and hybrid models that map to customer needs, rather than trying to mimic the Web-centric browser-based applications of what Google, Zoho, ThinkFree or even salesforce.com.

In bridging the gap between the old and new worlds, and leveraging Ozzie's extensive background in creating collaborative, networked applications, Microsoft is developing a Sync Framework for adding synchronization, roaming, and offline capabilities to applications, and using any data type, data store, transfer protocol, or network topology.

Google has developed Google Gears, an open source browser extension that gives Web applications offline, hybrid functionality via JavaScript APIs.

Last year at this time, Ozzie said:

"At the highest level–and I am really thinking at that level–we are in the productivity business. When I was a Lotus, I competed with Microsoft, and [at Microsoft] we have a well defined suite. There are new scenarios, and as a company we want to deliver what people want. Some scenarios are about documents, some are with sharing and collaboration, others are standalone or with SharePoint, and some are Web-based back-ends with a rich front end and some components are pure Web. There are scenarios for high bandwidth, mobile or sitting in front of a large screen."

At the Mix 07 event in April, Ozzie said regarding a cloud-based Office suite:

"[Office Live] will progressively broaden…we have no specific announcements today. In my opening remarks, I laid out a design pattern and you will see it replicated through the offerings we do. You use a PC for what a PC is good for and look at the overall scenario, what is best for the PC and what in services as standalone or in conjunction with a PC or mobile device. In all of our products can use that pattern to extrapolate."

On the other hand, Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's Business division, has said that customers aren't asking for an Office in the cloud. That may be the case broadly speaking, but a billion of users on Web who need to create and share documents is a very large addressable market, and Google is aggressively pursuing it with its growing set of communications and productivity applications.

At a meeting with financial analysts at Microsoft's Redmond, WA headquarters in July, Ozzie said regarding the rich client software + services model:

"We are the only company with a platform DNA to viably delivery this kind of highly leveraged platform approach to services and we're certainly one of the few companies that has the financial capacity to capitalize on this sea change."

Meanwhile Ozzie remains cloistered in Redmond, mapping out Microsoft's next major software moves to capitalize on the sea change, moving Windows deeper into the cloud. The company is adding a million square feet of new data center space with facilities in Austin and Chicago, evidence of Microsoft's financial means and growth plans.

Next year will be pivotal for all the players pushing office suites. Google and others will have bridged the gap from the online to offline with Google Gears. And Microsoft and Ozzie will likely cross the bridge, with a newly articulated scenario, and deliver a cloud-based, hybrid version of Office, or MicrosoftWorks, that completes the Windows to Web transformation.

Topics: Windows, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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53 comments
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  • There have got to be a lot of internal fights going on, so they don't let

    Ozzie talk. The fact that the evangelist role is so important right now, and that Ray Ozzie is such a good and articulate speaker, means that something is terribly wrong here. Why wouldn't you use him?
    DonnieBoy
    • No arguments at all.

      Ozzie is an employee and does as told.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • But, Ozzie is very articulate and a VERY good speaker. Why not bring out

        your best???? Is it that they are having internal fights about what Ozzie wants to do??? Sure, if they tell Ozzie to shut up he will, but why tell him to shut up????
        DonnieBoy
        • He may be a great open source guy

          but that doesn't mean MS is going to spill the beans before they make their moves.
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • He does not have to spill any beans. He just has to convince partners and

            others that MS is working for them, and will have the best solutions. They need to keep them on Windows and away from Linux. He can do that without telling them anything that is secret.

            But, that is the dance that all executives must dance. What to keep secret, and what to tell customers, partners, etc. Hiding a key executive that is very articulate and popular does not help with that dance, it just makes it worse.
            DonnieBoy
    • Any proof?

      on internal fights? Or any of the rest for that matter?
      No, didn't think so.

      The 'evangelist role' is not all that important at this point and time. Folks like you (and the press in general) love to bash MS, regardless of what they do or say, so why bother?
      His style is to do what he is best at. Let Balmer do the bible thumping.

      What they need to do is let the success of their programs speak for themselves. Even as a 'flop', Vista has sold more then every other non-MS OS out there. That says a lot.
      If they can get the same sales with less criticism with Server08/SQLServer, that will say all that needs saying.
      mdemuth
      • But still, if he is good, why not bring him out??? They are losing market

        share to Google and Firefox, and that has to be troubling. At the same time they are having huge problems with Vista. If there ever was the time to bring out your best and convince everybody that it is ok, it is NOW.
        DonnieBoy
        • Losing market share to Google?

          Where do you gleem that tidbit from? And what huge problem with Vista? The same issue they had with XP? So what's the issue here?
          GuidingLight
          • Read the article, Google jumped to 58.5% of the web search market last

            month. Here is the link to the very recent article:

            http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6219821.html

            And, enterprise adoption of Vista has been dismal, and is a big problem for MS.
            DonnieBoy
  • Also, MS needs to stop taking baby steps, or Google will be so far ahead

    that they will never catch up. Microsoft is still trying to hold back features for the online version as to not cannibalize the cash cow.

    MS needs to figure out how to get MS Office Pro online, NOT Works. A crippled online version just plays into Google's hand.
    DonnieBoy
    • Oh pulease... Googles offerings

      can't even match Notepad for features and usability.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Yes, Just Like Zune

        Will pass the Ipod and dominate the market....

        The IPhone will fail miserably

        Microsoft's patent threats to Red Hat have done anything...

        Need I add more to your land of fantasy?
        itanalyst
        • And its all happening.

          I know you didn't like it but I posted a number of links saying the iPod sales have nose dived, and I asked you for any hard numbers on Zune vs iPod sales and you produced nothing but rants.

          And I know of no time MS threatened Red Hat directly, all I have heard is Steve Ballmer agree with the FSF when they said Linux contains MS patented IP. Are you now saying the FSF is full of it?
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Bzzt Wrong!

            Yes, the Ipod sure is taking a hit, is that why Microsoft is slashing its Zune prices to desperately compete with Apple? Is that why they came out with a slim version of Apple's Ipod Nano that costs the same but has less screen space on it?

            I see failure in Zune's future..no matter how many iterations Microsoft tries...

            Look at a catalog, go to Sharper Image...how many Ipod products do you see sold there for the consumer to interface their Ipod with? More than you can count.

            Look at the Zune...see it anywhere other than the corner shelf among the generic MP3 players?

            I was in Sears today, they had a WHOPPING two feet of sales space dedicated to the Zune...

            Ipod had the entire aisle..as it had the entire aisle in Best Buy...Zune had about 4 feet.

            You'd think if Microsoft had so much money for advertising they would dedicate more money and space to push the Zune, but they don't. Oh, and I haven't seen a Zune commercial in forever. What happened? No one remembered to join the social?

            At the campus I work at I have yet to see one student with anything other than an IPod....

            So your prediction is going to fail...as it always does.
            itanalyst
          • Oh, And What About The $80 Zune?

            Yes, Microsoft has drastically cut the price of the 30GB first-gen Zune...the brown one...because no one wants to carry around a 3-ounce turd in their pocket.

            And BTW...you can flash the first-gen Zune with the second-gen firmware, thus making your first-gen Zune a second gen one without having to buy one...

            Nice job Microsoft.
            itanalyst
          • Zune Commercials

            I saw some Zune commercials last week Thursday during prime time. I took away a couple of things. The Shins get promoted in both Zune and Touch commercials. A brotherhood of commerce.

            The Zune commercials were of people being transported to fantasy worlds by their music. Since the music (especially if you listen to the Shins) is the same on each device, isn't this selling me-too rather than differentiation?

            If I were a Zune project manager, reviewing ad concepts, I would request, besides slick, a simple message of what makes Zune better. Frankly the cgi spots, while impressive for their cgi, send a message that somehow one's music, when heard on a Zune, is magical. iPod advertising emphasizes fun, youth, motion, and product look. Perhaps 50 year old me is supposed to think that getting an iPod will make me young, thin, and a killer dancer by listening to my iPod. It doesn't and I don't, but, pardon me while I pop and lock to the late Robert Goulet's "You've Got a Friend In Me," back, puff, puff, and continuing.

            I wonder if the loss of November sweeps programs to the WGA strike is interfering with the way brands which need a push for Christmas can get eyeballs for ads.

            Here we go, let's bring it back home, Mr. Ozzie, listening to the Shins on his Zune is exploring the giant head.
            DannyO_0x98
          • I suggest you wait and see.

            Yes sir, Word will never beat WordPerfect, Lotus 123 can never be replaced, Netscape owns the internet, the XBox will never sell.

            Hmm, seems like you need to join a long line of naysayers.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Nose dived about as much as Vista has

            Sure sales aren't what they used to be but they are hardly nose diving. That goes for both the IPOD and Vista.
            voska
        • SCO!

          You forgot that AXEY claimed SCO would get BILLIONS from IBM!
          thungurknifur
      • I know you hate it when things work so well. But, Google docs works very

        well for a lot of things that are very difficult and expensive with MS Office. No licenses, no servers to buy, admin, patch, etc. Microsoft wants you to think that it all has to be complicated and expensive, but it isn't.
        DonnieBoy