Ray Ozzie gets it - will he take Microsoft to the RIA promised land?

Ray Ozzie gets it - will he take Microsoft to the RIA promised land?

Summary: Since the announcement that Ray Ozzie was taking over for Bill Gates, I've been doing some digging on Ray's background, some "ROzSearch" if you will. After looking at what he's written on his blog and the kinds of ideas he's championed, I'm really excited about what Microsoft is going to do. I also think he can breathe a ton of life into WPF and bring about its full potential.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Ray_Ozzie_2004_clean.jpgSince the announcement that Ray Ozzie was taking over for Bill Gates, I've been doing some digging on Ray's background, some "ROzSearch" if you will. After looking at what he's written on his blog and the kinds of ideas he's championed, I'm really excited about what Microsoft is going to do. I also think he can breathe a ton of life into WPF and bring about its full potential. To use one of my favorite football analogies, if I were starting a company from scratch, I'd take Ray first overall in the corporate fantasy draft - assuming we're in the software division (you should ask me about corporate fantasy drafts, I assure you - it's riveting).

Ray is in a difficult position. Vista has, up to this point, been a disaster. They haven't shipped on time, the press is bad, and features are slowly leaking out of what was supposed to be a revolutionary operating system. In the Bill Gates world, the operating system is what gave Microsoft all of its power. We need to compete with a web browser? Bundle a free version with our OS. And it makes sense, it cost Bill an extraordinary amount of energy (and some would say karma) in order to get Windows its place as a dominant operating system. In Bill's mind, it starts and ends with Windows. Ray knows better, he knows it's all about the web. He sees that applications are being delivered over the web and that doesn't bode well for the operating system as it stands now. The upsurge in popularity that Apple is starting to see only makes the picture darker. But the bright side is that Ray's ideas are good. Simple Sharing Extensions? Great idea. The Office 2007 web demo? Brilliant. The Windows Live initiative? Quality, and much better than everyone thought it would be. The guy has been doing some very cool things while under the not-so-gentle eye of Bill Gates. Imagine what he can do once Bill is gone.

ray_ozzie.jpg 

And that's part of the intrigue. 2 years seems a long way off, but it will be after Vista, after Office 2007, and after their web moves mature. He'll be taking over with what amounts to a clean slate and his biggest strength, web, playing a bigger part of the company. With the timing and the technology, we could legitimately be in a place to see Microsoft totally reinvent itself. Combine that with the fact that Microsoft may be the dominant player in the video game market (street cred) and make a bigger splash in mobile devices and you have a company with a lot of avenues to distribute its software - all heavily influenced by the web. Things could be rocking up in Redmond.

It's still a travesty that WPF isn't cross-platform, but I chalk that up to the "BillG" mentality. Make sure you use the power of the operating system. But under the "RayO" mentality, that's not going to be a given. WPF is awesome, and I think it's going to get big, enterprise-level developers and businesses to buy a ticket on the RIA train - but it's not cross platform, and that's bad. Ray has the mindset to change that. He sees how important the web is, and I think he sees that the next generation of software is going to be heavily internet based. He can't change things over night, but he can influence teams now, and by the time Bill steps down, he'll be able to get things turned around quickly. Don't let me down Ray - make Microsoft fun again.

Topic: Microsoft

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4 comments
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  • At last. Balanced commentary.

    Basically I agree and I liked the whole tone of this piece. Everybody is looking at Google and writing MS off but that's not how it's gonna go down IMO. MS can reinvent itself yet again. They have been Johnny-come-latelies before and they can do it again. Lets face it. That's their style. They work best under pressure and they often hire-smart Ozzies.
    NewZed
    • reinventing MS ...again

      I pretty much agree here. I think Bill Gates has been stuck in the corporate mentality of business apps without realizing it. Yeah, MS has expanded with it's fingers in everything, but trying to change the core business has been like tilting at windmills.

      It's going to be nice to have a level playing field again. Now if they can address the bloatware issues somewhere up the road!
      Joey1058
  • Over due

    Great post. I think Ray will be able to breathe life back into Microsoft and get it going again - that's if balmer doesn't get in the way.....
    toddwade
  • Not again

    God, please stop the hype.

    Not one Web 2 hyper has addressed any of the problems with Web-based apps. The Web isn't important - apps are. The problems with any serious use of Web apps beyond airline booking, web surfing and reading blogs is that they aren't reliable or secure.

    These caricatures of BG as holding back MS and fearing the Web are becoming boring. The problem with the Web and browsers is with what they are - really bad platforms to build apps on.

    There's just one phrase in the article that points to reality - when the Web becomes mature. Perhaps the people hyping Web 2 could consider how and when the Web will become mature enough for anyone to actually consider business use of Web apps.

    My business Internet connection was down for 3 hours this morning - an outage. Thank God I had local data storage and rich client side apps or I wouldn't be doing any work at all.
    TonyMcS