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Ray Ozzie to step down as Microsoft Chief Software Architect

by Volker Weber

I have been expecting this for a while:

Ray and I are announcing today Ray’s intention to step down from his role as chief software architect.

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Comments

well that news should keep the computer press busy for a while. :)

I loved Steve's line about "Following the natural transition time with his teams but before he retires from Microsoft, Ray will be focusing his efforts in the broader area of entertainment ..."

TRANSLATION: Keep Ray busy playing XBoxes for a few months while he works out his notice period.

I'd say MS will be OK for a while but unless they get a new pilot on board fairly quickly the now rudderless SS Microsoft will be hitting rocks around the time Notes 9 is released.

Graham Dodge, 2010-10-18

"While he’ll continue to report to me during the transition, the CSA role was unique and I won’t refill the role after Ray’s departure."
Rudderless indeed. Ray Ozzie did underperform at MS vs the expectation of those extrapolating from his Lotus achievements, certainly. But to abolish the CSA position?! I would like to think that Mr Ballmer knows what he's doing, but......

Julian Woodward, 2010-10-19

Graham and Julian, calling Msft rudderless is quite a statement. How would you back this up?

Volker Weber, 2010-10-19

Rudderless? Excellent reviews (and sales) for Windows 7, bing is getting good/decent movement, great reviews for WinPhone 7 (including from Volker) don't sound like we've got no rudder. XBox is also doing awfully well.

Granted, there's plenty of things I'd change if I were in charge, but I'd say those are some pretty substantial positive moves for Microsoft in the last year.

Amy Blumenfield, 2010-10-19

If we accept that Ballmer is not in the same league as Gates and Ozzie as a software architect then you will have an unskilled Captain Ballmer setting his own course on technology directions for Microsoft. Certainly Ballmer will have his yes-men around him but will any of them have the intestinal fortitude or political clout to overrule Ballmer's ideas on which course to steer? I don't think so - if Ozzie can't stare down Ballmer then who can?.

So maybe Monkey in the Captain's Chair is not exactly the same as "rudderless" but the effect will be the same ... actually watching Monkey's initiatives on technology might be even more amusing than just watching a rudderless Microsoft.

Amy, no-one denies Microsoft's current success but that success is based on the piloting work of Gates and Ozzie. Let's see how MS is going in 18 months when Ballmer's new strategic decisions start to reach the marketplace.

Graham Dodge, 2010-10-19

@Volker - they lost their inspirational leader. And now, in losing Ray Ozzie, the person who Bill Gates felt was right to replace him a technical lead, Steve Ballmer is completely in charge. So, rudderless exactly, perhaps not: but the man at the helm is very unconvincing (I'm being polite).

@Amy - it's not the last year that counts, given today's announcement: it's the next couple of years.


And I've just realised I've written very much the same as Graham. Great minds think alike? Or fools seldom differ? Bookmark this page and come back in October 2012 ...

Julian Woodward, 2010-10-19

@Graham/Julian. Although I also enjoy gossiping about MS, we should be more interested in IBM's mis-handling of Domino/Notes portfolio than the antics of Ballmer & Co.... IBM has managed to do a lot more damage to the Lotus portfolio, during Ray's tenure at Microsoft, than MS can (and ever will) accomplish as a competitor.

Perhaps Lotus' first son will return ?

Giulio Campobassi, 2010-10-19

Well, the markets have responded by dropping the dull-as-dishwater MSFT share price another 2.2%.

It does look like Ballmer is consolidating his position at the top.

Not a good day for Microsoft.

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2010-10-19

split it into two and pick Mark Russinovich as the technical part of the role and anyone but Ballmer for the 2nd part

Flemming Riis, 2010-10-19

Graham, you brought up Notes 9. Well, from where I’m sitting, and setting side Ballmer (please do ;-) ), I have to say that MS look to be in a whole lot better shape than the Lotus division in IBM.

Ben Poole, 2010-10-19

Ray Ozzie and Microsoft probably did not work well. This does not make Microsoft a bad company or Ray Ozzie a bad Manager. And for the very same reason I think Ray Ozzie would not work at IBM too (@Giulio).
Steve Jobs and Apple works but he is one of the founders of the company (and when he was shown the door some years ago the company nearly went belly up).
Steve Ballmer is leading Microsoft since 2000. Since then companies like Google and Apple are making Microsoft look old but is still a very strong player in IT. Growing revenues by three when you already own 90%+ of the market in some areas is not that bad.

Henning Heinz, 2010-10-19

A few points of view on how Ray was received at MS can be found in the comments here:

The Microsoft Blog: Ray Ozzie leaving post as Microsoft’s chief software architect

Ben Poole, 2010-10-19

I suspect Ray Ozzie is a nice guy with a technical inclination who probably didn't like the hyper-competitive culture of MS. He doesn't need the money, so why bother?

My other theory is he sees Apple and Google doing the new, interesting stuff and sees MS a distant 3rd, with no new technology "toys" to keep him interested enough to stay?

Frank Paolino, 2010-10-19

A third theory is that, after inventing Lotus Notes, what's left to accomplish?

Frank Paolino, 2010-10-19

If only IBM could win him back.

If nothing more, for the inspirational lift that would give them, and the chance for Ray Ozzie to come back to his 'child'. Notes Marketing is a bit of a mess, and despite the tools technical prowess, it's reputation is in trouble. I wouldn't hesitate if I was IBM to say 'here, it's yours again, and here's a bundle of cash that you probably dont need'.

If anyone can bring some traction back to the toolset in the business community, it would probably be Ozzie, and maybe he's just THAT much annoyed with MS to bite:)

Mike McPoyle, 2010-10-19

@Henning: maybe growing revenues threefold in markets where you already own 90% is just that: milking a quasi monopoly. Not that difficult (at least for a while) if you do that aggressively enough... Though hardly sustainable in a fast changing environment.

Moritz Schroeder, 2010-10-20

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