Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

Summary: Just days after he started blogging again, Ray Ozzie has announced plans to retire from Microsoft. Ozzie is stepping down as Chief Software Architect, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced in an e-mail to employees on October 18.


Just days after he started blogging again, Ray Ozzie has announced plans to retire from Microsoft.

Ozzie is stepping down as Chief Software Architect, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced in an e-mail to employees on October 18. Ozzie will remain with the company for some undisclosed period of time to handle his teams' transitions. He also will be "focusing his efforts in the broader area of entertainment, where Microsoft has many ongoing investments," according to Ballmer's mail.

Ballmer said he will not be appointing another Chief Software Architect. There's no word on what Ozzie's plans are following his Microsoft departure.

Ozzie joined Microsoft in 2005 and penned one of the most forward-looking memos in the company's history (his "Internet Services Disruption" memo.) After that, he went quiet and made very few public appearances.

He championed Microsoft's Live Mesh and FUSE Labs/Docs.com projects and also helped create the team that developed Windows Azure.

When I wrote my Microsoft 2.0 book in 2007, I questioned whether Ozzie was the right guy to fill Bill Gates' Chief Software Architect's shoes. I thought he'd end up as a researcher at Microsoft or in some other role. But I didn't expect him to leave completely so soon...


Update: In December 2009, Strategic News Service analyst Mark Anderson predicted Ozzie would leave Microsoft in the near-term.

Topics: CXO, Banking, Browser, Collaboration, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

    I wonder if this is his decision or someone elses..

    Azure is big for MS but I can't say he had Bill's impact..
    • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

      @kdimitris33 - and therein lies the entire issue. I don't think there is anyone who could step into Gates' shoes and command sufficient respect from the rest of the troops to cause them to rally to his side.

      While he's a very capable guy, he just doesn't have the caliber to survive in Microsoft's ultra-competitive environment.
    • Time to promote ScottGu to CSA

      He has my back.
    • Guys, give it up. Ozzie is leaving because there is no hope for MS.

      He sees no reason to take the slow painful ride down into oblivion. He can get out now, take a good vacation to reflect, and then jump into a startup to fill Microsoft's vacuum as they slowly taper off. He was NEVER happy with the direction at Microsoft, they NEVER embraced his ideas (which would have been best for Microsoft), he hated Microsoft speak. Balmer, and a number of others, will ride the two sick monopolies as long as they can. Many more, like Ozzie, will leave.
      • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

        @DonnieBoy You are an idiot.
      • Jimster480: We understand you are in shock, but, where is your argument?

      • As much as it hurts...

        @Jimster480 : seems to me you're a MS fellow, afraid of change.<br><br>As for DonnieBoy, he might be troll sometimes, but today he's right. Microsoft is milking only three cows at this moment. <br><br>Windows, which is healthy but stuck in an old frame set (no ARM version, no pure touch interface, etc) <br><br>Office, on the other hand, which is an nice product with a clear path (Office 2010 is clearly touch oriented and the new file formats are thought out for web based interaction), but internal politics has hindered its evolution. MS prefers to dedicate resources creating an Office product for Windows Phone 7 (a limited Silverlight small screen offering) than create a full blown suite to compete with iWork for the iPad where the rewards are greater and the platform's establish. Also they can leverage the Mac Office team.<br><br>Finally, there's XBOX where Microsoft has currently the lead, but that can change any time. <br><br>So essentially Microsoft has been caught in IBM like vortex, in the middle of successful legacy and lots and lots of unsuccessful new products sucking the life of the three workhorses.
      • Cosuna, as much as the real truth hurts you.......

        You and trolls like Donnie Boy who is 0 for 100000000 in his wishful thinking predictions don't seem to understand.
        ARM is for consumer electronics and cannot power business class machines at this time.
        But the larger point is just like SAAS and Cloud computing and list goes on and on....MS is not so much "lagging behind" but playing it conservatively.
        You don't understand that it still has to serve nearly a billion users who will be on laptops and desktops to run their personal and business machines for years and years to come? YOu think they just drop 90% of their business to stay up with the cutting edge startups?

        YOu are as foolhardy as DB. The technology being reported on ZDNET today reaches the lions share of users and businesses normally at least 10 years down the road. Use SAAS as a yard stick. It was going to be the death of MS over 10 years ago...and meanwhile MS found a way to keep it's current customers happy (software) with a firm grasp on the futres (serives).
        That approach has kept them the leader they have been and still are today.

        Cosuna, did you notice that MS revenues are still continuing to climb? When is the decrease going to occur that you and DB have been predicting for 10 years.
        Any fool could predict a company will show some loss and be right eventually. When you are 90 years old, please come back and you can get the satisfaction of saying "I told you so".
        IN the meanwhile, Azure is a very strong offering and if you've not tried the FREE online Office Live Apps, then you wouldn't know they blow Google out of the water and keep even low budgets in current technology with the best interface going.
        You admit that they are doing the right things with Office now but didn't for a while. Why do you think that was? You don't realize it has as much to do with their client mix as anything?
        I think MS revels in people like DB and apparently yourself thinking they are always behind, only to find out they are as healthy as ever with record revenues every year.
        They are not a startup, so unless you are foolish, don't expect them to act like one. Most of those are a flash in the pan and teh technology they are pushing never reaches mainstream. It takes years for new technologies to settle in on something the mainstream will adopt but apparently that's not very clear to certain people here.
        A slow steady mixed approach is needed by a large company like MS.
        And as for the technology you claim they don't have, apparently you've not been following MS very well.
        And WP7 is going to be a major phone contender, even though phones are not really Microsoft's gig.
        Apple has skyrocketed but they have no path to future sales other than brand loyalty. There is no "infrastructure" to sustain it. It's consumer electronics and nothing more and as we all know, the star of that arena one day, can be knocked off much faster than in the world of, oh, let's say business software and the infrastructure it builds which lends itself to self perpetuating sales.

        Sorry to burst your bubble but MS knows exactly what they are doing. Their record revenues show this, but keep your predictions going and some year down the road you are sure to be right. In the meantime the rest of us are getting our work done with the best software on the planet.
      • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

        @Cosuna :

        WP-7 is being developed for ARM, and includes touch. The balance which MS chooses to strike between WP-7 and "desktop" Windows isn't clear, at this moment, and netbooks+pad computers running WP7 with "too much" functionality WILL displace Windows "desktop sales....

        But MS certainly has the resources to create and sell a non-crippled "Office" for WP7, if/when they choose to do so.
        Rick S._z
  • What about Ozzy Osborn?

    I think he has a better grasp of technology than anyone at MSFT.
    • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

      @comp_indiana: No. Not even close.

      Ozzie is a really nice guy and is pretty good at the visionary stuff, but only in a very narrow, enterprise-centric field. He lacks the charisma and public-facing charm necessary to lead as the public face of Microsoft. And he definitely lacks the cold, hard, political chops necessary to win in head-to-head battles with the likes of Mundie and Muglia.
      • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

        @De-Void Gates is charismatic? I like Bill. Bill is a super smart guy, but I've never thought of him as charismatic.
      • No, Gates had power because he owned the company, not because of

        his personality. Ozzie personally could stand up to people, but, he did not have the position with power, and they could ignore him. Balmer could have given him the power, but, he was suckered by the other idiots.
      • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

        @notsofast - I didn't say Gates had charisma. I said Ozzie DIDN'T. There's a big difference there.

        Gates was/is as sharp as a tack and unbelievably tenacious - which is why he was able to meet all-comers head-on. Gates was the IT industry's equivalent of mad scientists like Einstein - brilliant mind and quirky as hell.

        Ozzie had none of that . He was pretty smart, but not overly so. He was a nice guy, but didn't really exude the technical chops nor the breathtaking vision that others wanted to rally around.

        Most of what he came up with has now been done: Azure. I get the feeling that once Azure transitioned to STB under BobMu, Ozzie had run out of ideas.
      • Scott Hanselman

    • So true, but, he also realized there was nothing more for him to do at

      at Microsoft. Let the others take the long slow painful ride down.
      • dupe sorry

    • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

      @comp_indiana I personally think it would be great to see Ozzy Osbourne working at Microsoft! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy"> After all, I'm a guitar geek, just disguised thinly as a computer geek! When you get down to brass tacks, it might be good for PR to have him there!<br>www.dfwsupergeek.com
    • RE: Ray Ozzie hangs up his Chief Software Architect hat

      @comp_indiana : how about kelly osborne. She could help revive Kin and the solve the SideKick mess.
  • A pity

    I really liked Ray's commitment to a more connected, open and privacy-respecting platform. I always remember his statement in his first company meeting "everyone online is partying like it's 1984"