Bill Gates' successor predicts death of PC

Ray Ozzie sees major shift in platform toward handhelds driven by SAAS, clouds

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In a farewell blog dated two days from now, futurist/technologist Ray Ozzie, who took over as chief software architect from Bill Gates in 2008 predicted a 'post-PC world' that has already begun with the spreading popularity of tablets, smartphones, SAAS and cloud-based applications.

This is the guy who pushed Microsoft toward cloud/SAAS beginning with his Internet Services Disruption memo in 2005, shortly after joining the company.

Over a 31-year career in the technology business, Ozzie worked with or for some of the most influential peole in the business -- Jonathan Sachs, Dan Bricklin, Mitch Kapor, helping along the way to develop the first real application suite, Lotus Symphony, and form a couple of his own companies.

At Microsoft he also founded the Future Social Experiences labs to focus on social networking dynamics.

His is not a record of pure, clear vision and success, however. Despite his vision of the Cloud network, and the separate Azure platform, Ozzie has had limited success moving Microsoft into a dominant position in it. Key reasons include the conflict between Microsoft's one-license, one-machine business model, its dependence on revenue from Windows and Office, and its dependence on the enormous network of VARs and resellers with which Microsoft would be competing if it offered its products directly as SAAS subscriptions online.

There were mistakes and cruel developments in Ozzie's technology past as well.

He was largely responsible for the development of Lotus Notes, which was revolutionary in its day, but clunky and painful for end users almost from the moment it was deployed. A database pretending to be an email system, Notes had trouble sending email across anything but its own network until long into the Internet era, Lotus has been revamped and reconfigured innumerable times since the original concept.

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