Does it really matter that Ray Ozzie is leaving Microsoft?

Devastating departure or irrelevant exit? Depends who you ask

So how has Monday's news that Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie is leaving the company being interpreted by industry observers?

That depends on the observer. The Register's Tim Anderson says that while "it does not look good for Microsoft" at first glance -- coming as it does after several other executive departures -- Ozzie's retirement could be a "healthy change" for Redmond if it reflects the reality that "execs other than Ozzie were shaping the company's software architecture."

Which Anderson appears to believe was the case, based on Microsoft's announcement last December that Azure -- Microsoft's cloud computing platform championed by Ozzie -- was being put under the leadership of server and tools business head Bob Muglia. That kind of thing can leave your company's cloud computing evangelist with a lot of free time on his hands.

Ozzie, known as one of the creators of Lotus Notes, joined Microsoft in 2005 when Redmond acquired his company, Groove Networks.

Tech analyst Ben Kepes tweets that Ozzie's departure portends bad things to come for Microsoft: "It's not hyperbole to say that this is an absolute disaster for Redmond," Kepes wrote. He doesn't explain how, but GigaOm hints at it with its headline, "Ray Ozzie to Leave Microsoft: Has The Future Left the Building?"

Maybe. But if no one is listening to the in-house visionary, what difference does it make if he's there? As Computerworld's Preston Gralla notes, "At Microsoft, (Ozzie) found himself unable to cut through turf wars and political in-fighting to make much of a mark."

That would leave one to conclude that Ozzie's absence from Redmond's corridors won't make any real difference at all.

Meanwhile, Microsoft shares (NASDAQ: MSFT) fell 84 cents, or 3.3 percent, to 24.98 by mid-afternoon trading Tuesday, though a number of tech stocks were down throughout the day.

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