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:
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.
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.
as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the
best of intent – complexity is inescapable.
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.
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
he predicts mobile devices with human-like senses of sight sound and
touch -- and more -- eventually be a driving hardware force on the
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 &
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.
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