Dan Farber thinks I'm being too cryptic. He wants me to weigh in on the Microsoft announcements of today. My sense is that I've talked almost of nothing else for months now, and have mostly been ridiculed for anticipating what in fact is coming true. Namely:
- Jim Allchin has been retired, replaced by someone we know nothing about except that he doesn't personally own every single byte of code in Windows like Jim does.
- Jeff Raikes appears to have been promoted, but I think it's just a way to bury the sinking Office under a pile of packaged vertical apps as
- Ray Ozzie takes over.
The myth of Eric Rudder's ascendancy has been deprecated in favor of his previous role as Robin to Bill's Batman, and the notion that Steve Ballmer is on the ropes is also exposed as biz book byplay. Ballmer took exactly one workday to flip the Plan B switch once the PDC bounce faded. He may not know what will happen next, but he's lame-ducked Allchin and shoved the Office team into the burgeoning services group where it won't survive Bosworth and Benioff's on-demand express.
On this week's Gillmor Gang, Nick Carr agrees that Ozzie's got a small window of opportunity to insert Office's rich offline model into the middle of the RSS services fabric. Nick says 2 years, I say 18 months. If Google or any group of players builds out the WiFi/EV-DO grid sooner than that, the window shrinks accordingly. We don't need no steenkin' replication if we stay connected on plane, train, and ipodmobile. The only bet worth making for Microsoft is to componetize the rest of Office and deliver it to a Firefox/IE audience before Google et al deliver a calendar and text editor. Can Ray pull this off? Gates told Udell Ray's successfully pushing something called 2-way RSS internally.
The big problem for Bill and Ray is that the other team can call audibles at the line of scrimmage and run a 2-minute offense from kickoff. Ironically, that's why Ozzie's the right man in the right job. When IBM dumped his architecture to move to Websphere, Ray dumped Notes. Now IBM and Sun are hawking hairball replacements when chunks of XML are the real simple solution. Allchin won the war. Now Ray can win the peace.