The sum of Microsoft's fears

What do you think is underneath the future? And how are you going to become the indispensable supplier of whatever it is?

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft chief software architect
Here's the problem Ray Ozzie faces, as I see it. It's what I'd tell him if he were sitting across the desk from me.

Open source is not your competitor. Fighting a war against open source is like the U.S. fighting a "War Against Terrorism." You're putting a noun against a verb.

Open source is not a company or a group of companies. It's another way of doing business. It's another way of developing software in collaboration with customers, it's zero-cost marketing and distribution, it's a different mind set.

It's been around for 10 years. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

It's nice for you to admit your guys are running scared. They should be. But they're running in 1,000 different directions. They're not running forward to a clear, explicit, profitable goal.

This was Bill Gates' genius. He recognized the secret to winning the industry, as it was in the 1980s, was to wriggle under the bottom of the software stack and control the foundation. He lasered in on that, got everyone else to laser in on it, and he won.

So what's the bottom of the stack now? Google seems to have a Clue. It's the code and the resources web services are made of.

Not so much the services themselves. That's digging for gold. But the tools used to build and run them. That's selling picks, shovels, and jeans to the miners.

So what's your vision? What do you think is underneath the future? And how are you going to become the indispensable supplier of whatever it is?

Sorry to say you have yet to answer that question. Judging by what you said today, you have yet to even ask it.

You're a fine engineer, Ray Ozzie. But you're no Bill Gates. And for that open source is thankful.