It's not quite Ray Ozzie's Microsoft swan song -- at least not just yet -- but the company's soon-to-retire chief software architect did issue a warning to the company. In a memo he wrote shortly after announcing his plans to leave Microsoft, Ozzie prophesied the "Dawn of a New Day" in computing.
For all the progress Microsoft has made on the service-centric seamless OS front, as well as moving Windows to the cloud, Ozzie said some of the opportunities he expressed in the memo he wrote after Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates promoted him to chief software architect remain elusive.
"Certain of our competitors' products and their rapid advancement and refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy," Ozzie admitted. "Our early and clear vision notwithstanding, their execution has surpassed our own in mobile experiences, in the seamless fusion of hardware and software and services, and in social networking and myriad new forms of Internet-centric social interaction."
Imagining a Post-PC World
Ozzie suggested that Microsoft close its eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might look like. He went on to say that those who can envision a plausible future that's brighter than today will earn the opportunity to lead because if you can imagine it, you can build it.
"Connected devices beyond the PC will increasingly come in a breathtaking number of shapes and sizes, tuned for a broad variety of communications, creation and consumption tasks," Ozzie predicted. "Each individual will interact with a fairly good number of these connected devices on a daily basis ..."
Ozzie predicted we'll see decades to come of incredible innovation from which will emerge all sorts of "connected companions" that we'll wear, carry and use on our desks and walls and the environment all around us. He pointed to service-connected devices going far beyond just the "screen, keyboard and mouse," such as devices that will see, recognize, hear and listen to consumers and what's around them.
Then he challenged Microsoft to mark this five-year milestone by fearlessly embracing that which he sees as technologically inevitable. But will Microsoft answer the call under the leadership of CEO Steve Ballmer?
Microsoft's Real Challenge
"Microsoft has moved toward the cloud and has gotten good reviews for Windows Phone 7. But many of Ozzie's critiques ring very true," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Media Intelligence. "He's got nothing to lose and nobody to please, so he's speaking the truth as he sees it. And this new era of mobile and cross-platform computing does threaten Microsoft."
As Sterling sees it, Microsoft came to rely on its near-monopoly on the desktop and a kind of consumer lock-in to sustain its core franchises: Windows and Office. But, he said, now Microsoft not only doesn't own mobile computing -- it's a heavy underdog. Sterling said consumers are no longer concerned that if they buy devices or applications from Microsoft competitors that they'll be outliers or shut out somehow.
"Microsoft has able and very formidable competitors in Apple and Google, and it will be challenging for the company to regain the market position and momentum it had through much of the last two decades," Sterling said. "However, it's also a company with huge resources and so can throw lots of money and engineers at problems."
Posted: 2010-10-30 @ 6:10pm PT
Ummmmm - what are your trying to say ???? Sort of a dozen paragraphs to fill in a page.