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Ray Ozzie is retiring from Microsoft, but he has given the company vital innovation in his short tenure, helping to deliver Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Office 2010. He now is boldly predicting that the traditional PC may vanish from the Earth and be replaced with more mobile, internet-connected devices.  (Source: D8)

These devices will be smart-sensing, putting today's leading mobile experiences like the iPad to shame. They will be able to interact via user voice input, "see" the surroundings, and gather info through other senses as well.
Ozzie's previous post seems prophetic, will Microsoft heed his latest advice?


Ray Ozzie has been an important and innovative force in the software industry.  He helped to mastermind Lotus Notes.  And in 2005, he joined Microsoft after the company acquired his networking startup.  That year he became one of three Chief Technical Officers (CTOs).  And the next year it was announced that he would replace Bill Gates as the company's Chief Software Architect, a move that many argued placed him as third-in-command at Microsoft (after Ballmer and the semi-retired Gates) and a likely successor to Ballmer for the CEO spot.

However, Mr. Ozzie, 54, announced last week plans to "retire" from Microsoft.  This week he delivered the company an important parting gift -- a second prophetic software thesis in memo form.

Mr. Ozzie's first memo, entitled "The Internet Services Disruption" chastised Microsoft for letting Google, Skype, and others beat it in fields in which it had laid the groundwork.  The memo predicted the growth of advertising-driven services and an increasing need for "compelling, integrated user experiences that 'just work'".  Microsoft arguably delivered on the latter with Windows 7/Xbox Live, but has continued to struggle on the former with its advertising efforts falling far short of ad-driven services from Google, Facebook, Myspace, and others.

Of course Microsoft is hoping to finally improve on that objective with the ad-supported release of Office 2010 in June 2010.

So what's in Mr. Ozzie's second memo, entitled "Dawn of a New Day"?  Well the first thing he does is predict that a "'post-PC' world" is coming.  He writes:

[E]ven when superhuman engineering and design talent is applied, there are limits to how much you can apply beautiful veneers before inherent complexity is destined to bleed through.
Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT.  Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use.  Complexity introduces security challenges.  Complexity causes administrator frustration.
And as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.

Mr. Ozzie envisions that "connected devices" like smartphones and tablets with internet access will increasingly replace the personal computer.  He says that the concept of connected services -- internet delivered services, accessible at any time -- will become increasingly important.

In order to succeed in this new arena, Mr. Ozzie says that Microsoft needs to dream up "'killer apps & services' and 'killer devices'".  He says that tomorrow's apps will be dramatically different from today's and will feature an "amazing level of coherence across apps, services and devices."   He says that this "will require innovation in user experience, interaction model, authentication model, user data & privacy model, policy & management model, programming & application model."

And he predicts mobile devices with human-like senses of sight sound and touch -- and more -- eventually be a driving hardware force on the market.

He predicts, "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.  Service-connected devices going far beyond just the 'screen, keyboard and mouse':  humanly-natural 'conscious' devices that'll see, recognize, hear & listen to you and what’s around you, that’ll feel your touch and gestures and movement, that’ll detect your proximity to others; that’ll sense your location, direction, altitude, temperature, heartbeat & health."

Will Mr. Ozzie's vision of smart-sensing devices be realized in the next five years?  He's been on the mark so far.  And it's pretty exciting to think that it might be true, given the possibilities of such coherent, "smart" devices.  

A second critical question is whether Microsoft will be able to take advantage of this prediction to re-establish its leadership in the software and operating system market, at a time when its losing user-time to mobile platforms and seeing its own mobile efforts flounder.


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so that's the reason
By superPC on 10/25/2010 12:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
so that's why microsoft tried so hard with its latest product. ms tried to fulfil Ray vision of the future. think about it: device with senses like sight and sound? that's kinnect. won't be a stretch if in the future ms would miniaturize and put it in phones. amazing level of coherence across apps, services and devices? ms tried that too with windows live, xbox live and now win phone 7.

would be interesting to see how all this first step would lead to Service-connected devices going far beyond just the 'screen, keyboard and mouse': humanly-natural 'conscious' devices.

i'm surprise that he left ms, after ms put some inroads to his vision. he should have stick with it until his vision becomes reality.

RE: so that's the reason
By Homerboy on 10/25/2010 12:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
Or, quite possibly, the devices shapped his vision?

Honestly nothing he has "predicted" is all that hard to envision if you just stop and think about it for a min.

RE: so that's the reason
By superPC on 10/25/2010 12:28:48 PM , Rating: 5
everything is obvious in retrospect. that's the difference between genius and visionary. a genius can understand things after the fact. a visionary shaped the fact for the future.

RE: so that's the reason
By RedemptionAD on 10/25/2010 12:33:12 PM , Rating: 2
That word "think" that is the problem. People don't like to do it. They want someone else or something else to do it for them. Lazyness is the bane of mankind. In many ways technology has made our lives better as a tool to amplify what we have, for the lazy ones it has added another crutch to substitute for what they don't want to learn or work for. IMHO.

RE: so that's the reason
By Ammohunt on 10/25/2010 3:34:54 PM , Rating: 2
agreed Convenience also breeds a purposeless life living becomes existing and happiness becomes a unobtainable pursuit. Humans are at their best when adversity makes a calling.

RE: so that's the reason
By VitalyTheUnknown on 10/25/2010 5:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
If purpose of life is to be happy then as long as you get food, drink, sex and entertainment it will keep you content and that may surprisingly give you time to contemplate on your role in the universe, develop then satisfy curiosity and all that would make your existence meaningful.

RE: so that's the reason
By Ammohunt on 10/26/2010 3:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
What you just described is an existence not life and living; if all your survival needs are met does that lead to happiness? If that was a ture statement then big lottery winners and the wealthly would be the happiest people on the planet which is often not the case. Only those that strive for a purpose greater then themselves (sometimes meeting basic survival needs is enough) are truly happy.

RE: so that's the reason
By fteoath64 on 10/26/2010 12:33:32 AM , Rating: 2
@Ammohunt: "Humans are at their best when adversity makes a calling."
This is only an observation and not necessarily so as it is a survival response. As sentient beings, average humans lack he drive and focus to steer for a better future. That may be due to a lot of reasons most of it have nothing to do with looking at humanity's future. So is it really a lack of intelligence ?.

The purposefulness belief is personal to each and in most cases are totally wrong since they tend to lack wisdom and periodic review. This means the majority of people are living with a lie, which they think is the truth all the way to their grave. Sad isn't it ?.

RE: so that's the reason
By Ammohunt on 10/26/2010 3:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
This is only an observation and not necessarily so as it is a survival response. As sentient beings, average humans lack he drive and focus to steer for a better future.

Humans like all organisms on this planet are subject to those said basic survival instincts. Just becasue in humans they are masked by a false belief in absolute control of our environment or an acute awareness of ones consciousness does not make them less prevalent in ones psyche nor diminish their control of the basic biological processes that ensure a normally funtioning organism the will to live. It is from this basis that man defines his existence whether he is aware of it or not.

Hence the reason i firmly believe that someone that is rewarded for doing nothing to meet basic survial needs (however great that sounds) will be miserable as compared to someone that is rewarded for meaningful accomplishment for the same. This is why entitlement systems or human organization ultimately fail and why systems based on individual accomplishment and merit are so sucesseful. literally "be all you can be" not "be the sum of what someone else lets you be"

RE: so that's the reason
By highlander2107 on 10/26/2010 12:54:39 AM , Rating: 2
" Lazyness is the bane of mankind."

U mean laziness?

Lesson: it's always the hypocrite.

RE: so that's the reason
By Da W on 10/25/2010 1:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
That's not necesseraly true.

At every point in time, where a phone or tablet or brain-implented device will be powerful enough to do a task, a full fledged PC will be even more powerful and able to do the task better.

I do not share his vision of other electronic devices becoming a substitute to PCs, i think they will be a complement. I think the PC will remain and just physicaly change it's place around the house, like being primarily in the living room, or being in the basement next to the water heater being the "brain" of your digital home, with voice rocognition and responce all around the place just like star treck. Of course you will then be able to wirelessly sync your phones and gazillion of other devices with your central PC.

Anyway aside from technical possibility, one rule will drive the adoption of the next digital evolution: economics. Only the best price-quality ratio shall dominate.

RE: so that's the reason
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2010 11:21:59 AM , Rating: 2
Frankly I think the guy's an idiot by making a statement so "bold".

Fact is mobile devices will always have some sort of compromise that has to be made in order to use them. The PC platform will still remain as the one device where, due to it's large form factor, it will require no compromises.

His statement reminds me how in the 1980's we all actually thought that by the 2000's we would be in hover cars living in Jetson's style skyscrapers and virtual reality would be common place.

Can't do any worse than Lotus Notes...
By sviola on 10/25/2010 1:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
Ray Ozzie has been an important and innovative force in the software industry. He helped to mastermind Lotus Notes .

If he is behind Lotus Notes, he ahs a big stain in his resume...that is a bloated, slow and ugly piece of bad software

By Solandri on 10/25/2010 2:40:20 PM , Rating: 5
Bear in mind that Lotus Notes was first released in 1989. It was a groundbreaking app back then, both in concept and execution. It pre-dates both the Web and 10BaseT (the regular RJ45 ethernet cables we're all familiar with today).

The current incarnation of Notes has suffered from more than two decades worth of feature bloat.

Get your pitchforks...
By Motoman on 10/25/2010 12:35:42 PM , Rating: 2
He helped to mastermind Lotus Notes.

Off with his head.

RE: Get your pitchforks...
By Samus on 10/25/2010 2:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
So you would prefer...ACT?

I'd guess Sharepoint took a lot of insight from Lotus Notes, and no doubt Ozzie influenced it, along with Exchange and Outlook, which have no doubt both improved since he joined MS.

RE: Get your pitchforks...
By Motoman on 10/26/2010 10:16:33 AM , Rating: 2
I'd guess you didn't see Notes circa 1995 or so.

Because if you did, you'd realize that it's still pretty much the same product, and it's such an antiquated POS that there's no way to compare it to anything else on the market with a straight face.

Too connected
By Ammohunt on 10/25/2010 3:17:56 PM , Rating: 4
is there such a thing? this article makes me want to move to a cabin in the woods ala Ted Kaczynski(just without the bombing part) I don't want my Physical location/Like/dislikes/driving habits/food preferences/etc.. tracked logged or otherwise gathered for any purpose; even those perceived beneficial. if this is truly the future where do i opt out?

Huh ?.
By fteoath64 on 10/26/2010 12:19:35 AM , Rating: 2
"humanly-natural 'conscious' devices that'll see, recognize".

I think Ray has gone nuts with the above statement!. Human technology is incapable of growing consciousness for several hundred thousand years yet!.

We would have come of age, if our technology is capable of capturing a "spirit consciousness" and putting that into the machine making the device alive truly. Humans ought to interwork their technology with nature rather than trying to duplicate or even try out-do nature. We are so arrogant in that respect.

RE: Huh ?.
By Qapa on 10/26/2010 4:38:50 AM , Rating: 2
"several hundred thousand years yet"

so, you're saying it can't happen before 500000 years?

that's way more stupid than saying it will happen this year!!

You never know what people are working on... and you must see the advances done in 50 years... true, it might not be in our life time, but I'd take your bet against all the money I've ever owned that it will take less than half a million years, that's just dumb!

we'll, at least not considering scenarios where mankind almost disappears in the middle...

btw, conscious devices are simply devices that are aware of something, like your movements - like a motion detector. Now a motion detector alone, is basically used only for alarms (for now), but no matter how stupid it seems, it is still conscious...

Uh Oh
By Ammohunt on 10/25/2010 3:30:00 PM , Rating: 2
Complexity introduces security challenges. Complexity causes administrator frustration.

Wrong! complexity feeds my family if anyone could manage complex systems then i might otherwise be un-employed. Besides the complexity in large systems exists on the backend where most people never see.(If your SA's are competent)

By mattclary on 10/26/2010 3:52:05 AM , Rating: 2
He helped to mastermind Lotus Notes.

I hate Notes.

This is what's wrong with journalism...
By Qapa on 10/26/2010 4:30:15 AM , Rating: 2
He predicts, "Today’s PC’s, phones & pads are just the very beginning; we’ll see decades to come of

Will Mr. Ozzie's vision of smart-sensing devices be realized in the next five years?

nothing else comes out, other than, WTF?

The real future
By Targon on 10/26/2010 9:31:24 AM , Rating: 2
There will continue to be a "PC" industry, with mobile computing being a different yet pervasive influence. Face it, things that require a lot of computing power will still go into a computer, and many people will prefer the customization options and speed that a local computer provides that a "cloud based solution" does not.

Look at e-mail as the perfect example of this. Web page based e-mail clients ALL feel slow and clunky compared to mail clients running on your local device. Other applications will be the same way. Cloud based STORAGE may become more common, but application delivery will always be faster if the application is stored and run locally.

Remember, portable devices NEED to run with less voltage to conserve on battery life, which is why desktop machines are the fastest, followed by laptops, and then smartphones. There will never be a time when a mobile CPU will be faster than a desktop CPU, and while some things can be run with a client/server setup, many things just wouldn't work well due to network latency getting in the way of the experience.

It's a shame
By Exelius on 10/26/2010 10:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
Ray Ozzie should be running that company. It's a shame Ballmer ran him off (which is really what happened here; the stories will come out.) I'm guessing he thought that if Ozzie stuck around the board would have an easier time getting rid of Ballmer.

Microsoft needs new leadership and it needs to come from outside. There's too much NIH and infighting and it comes from the top down. The problem with Microsoft isn't that their technology is awful, it's that their leadership culture is poisonous.

By GatoRat on 10/25/2010 1:28:46 PM , Rating: 1
Keep predicting the same thing and one day you may be right.

This isn't visionary; he's repeating the same thing we've been hearing every few years since the 60s.

In this case Ray Ozzie is a guy with one idea that he keeps recycling and fails every time. The truth is the man has been an total and utter failure at Microsoft, but it seems everyone wants to pretend otherwise.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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