Microsoft made the huge announcement today that Bill Gates will be stepping down as Chief Software Architect and will be replaced by Ray Ozzie. As Richard McManus noted, Ray Ozzie is notorious in his support for the web and this transition shows that the old guard at Microsoft knows the world is changing.
A lot of people aren't yet sold on the software as a service model, let alone delivering entire applications over the web. But if you look at the landscape of software, the change to more agile development and a more distributed model is already taking place. Google has begun releasing heavy duty web applications, Adobe is moving very strongly into the software space (both web and desktop), and now the biggest software company in the world has made a significant leadership change.
It may seem sensationalist, naïve, or just plain crazy to say that the world of software will never be the same again, but it's true. We're moving software to the web and in the process realigning priorities for software developers. It won't make sense to have applications that require an install because you can provide the same level of power and security without the hassle of one. It won't make sense to build applications that require a specific operating system because cross-platform applications will be faster to build and provide more reach.
Bill Gates has had a profound effect on the world, and I wish him the best of luck as he focuses on his foundation. But this is time for new leadership at the world's largest software. Software has gone new age, and it's time to let new blood run the show. The web is here, and there is no doubt Ray Ozzie and Microsoft are going to leverage it as they build the world's software.