Ray Ozzie's (incredibly long) departing memo a warning to Microsoft

Get over the PC, writes Redmond's soon-to-be former chief software architect

A week ago today Microsoft announced that Ray Ozzie, its chief software architect and the person responsible for pushing the company into the cloud, will leave sometime in the near future. The truth is, Ozzie's departure won't matter because he already had been marginalized within the company. While given plenty of credit for kick-starting Microsoft's entry into the cloud with his legendary 2005 "The Internet Services Disruption" memo and for championing Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, Ozzie was rewarded by having Azure removed from his control last December in a reorganization. After that, the writing was on the wall for the Lotus Notes co-creator.

With a lot of extra time on his hands, Ozzie decided to bookend his tenure at Microsoft with another "wake-up call" memo, this one titled "Dawn of a New Dead." Oops, sorry, the memo actually is titled "Dawn of a New Day," and it ticks off a number of successes and accomplishments during Ozzie's five years at Microsoft. Then Ozzie gets to the point of the memo: Microsoft has to really, truly, seriously start thinking beyond the PC. Some snippets: For the most part, we’ve grown to perceive of ‘computing’ as being equated with specific familiar ‘artifacts’ such as the ‘computer’, the ‘program’ that’s installed on a computer, and the ‘files’ that are stored on that computer’s ‘desktop’. For the majority of users, the PC is largely indistinguishable even from the ‘browser’ or ‘internet’. Maybe I'm giving the average PC user too much credit, but I'm not so sure that last sentence is true. It’s important that all of us do precisely what our competitors and customers will ultimately do: close our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like, if it were to ever truly occur. ... Today’s PC’s, phones & pads are just the very beginning; we’ll see decades to come of incredible innovation from which will emerge all sorts of ‘connected companions’ that we’ll wear, we’ll carry, we’ll use on our desks & walls and the environment all around us. ... It’s the dawn of a new day – the sun having now arisen on a world of continuous services and connected devices. Maybe it's me, but it seems as if this memo easily could have been written two or three years ago. I suspect Ozzie has been making these points internally for some time. This could be his way of putting it in the public record. That way he could say, "Hey, I tried." I'm curious to hear what readers think of Ozzie's departing memo. Feel free to comment below.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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