Ray Ozzie to Leave Microsoft: Has The Future Left the Building?

Ray Ozzie, the chief software architect with Microsoft (s msft) is leaving the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant after a transition period. Ozzie is widely viewed as someone who tried to change Microsoft’s internal attitudes toward cloud computing and other Internet technologies, and is is credited for Microsoft’s move into the cloud with its Azure efforts. In a memo to Microsoft employees, CEO Steve Ballmer wrote:

And by conceiving, incubating and shepherding Windows Azure, Ray helped ensure we have a tremendously rich platform foundation that will enable app-level innovation across the company and by customers for years to come. With our progress in services and the cloud now full speed ahead in all aspects of our business, Ray and I are announcing today Ray’s intention to step down from his role as chief software architect. He will remain with the company as he transitions the teams and ongoing strategic projects within his organization — bringing the great innovations and great innovators he’s assembled into the groups driving our business.

Having spoken with him on a handful of occasions, I always found Ozzie very un-Microsoft like in his approach to software and technologies, and that’s perhaps what made him a change agent. Five years ago, he and Bill Gates wrote two separate memos to Microsoft employees about change and Microsoft’s adaptation to that change. Upon reading those memos, I wrote:

The regressive thinking that puts PC at the center of technology is in full display. No mention of the fact that most of the “computers” in the world are mobile phones, and rest of the planet doesn’t look at the world through a LCD screen. More on this here and here. Or the fact that a broadband enabled world needs to be looked at differently, and needs a different class of applications. How come the big giant up north doesn’t see that it holds the future in its hands in the shape of Xbox 360, the most anti-Microsoft product and the perfect platform for a high-speed world. Hey, that’s just me… blinded by broadband.

Fast forward to today; the technology landscape has changed drastically. Microsoft has tried to adapt, but hasn’t really changed. Perhaps that’s why Ozzie thought it was time for him to make his exit.

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