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Ray Ozzie  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft is losing a key exec

In a surprise announcement this afternoon, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the company's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, is stepping down from his post. Ozzie took over the role as chief software architect from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Ozzie has played a huge role in the development and deployment of Microsoft's Azure cloud-based computing efforts and has long been a pivotal force in the development of Windows-based operating systems.

Here is section of Steve Ballmer's email to all Microsoft employees announcing the departure:

With our progress in services and the cloud now full speed ahead in all aspects of our business, Ray and I are announcing today Ray’s intention to step down from his role as chief software architect. He will remain with the company as he transitions the teams and ongoing strategic projects within his organization - bringing the great innovations and great innovators he’s assembled into the groups driving our business. 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 where Microsoft has many ongoing investments. We have tremendous opportunities in the entertainment space overall, and I’m excited about what we can accomplish. Beyond that, Ray has no plans at this time. 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. We have a strong planning process, strong technical leaders in each business group and strong innovation heading to the market.

While Ray will be onboard for a while, I’d like to thank him today for his contributions to Microsoft, both as a leader and as a long-time Microsoft ISV. As an early ISV, Ray contributed significantly to the early success of Windows. Since being at Microsoft, both through inspiration and impact he’s been instrumental in our transition toward a software world now centered on services. He’s always been a ‘maker’ and a partner, and we look forward to our continuing collaboration as his future unfolds. Ray has played a critical role in helping us to assume the leadership position in the cloud, and positioned us well for future success.

Ballmer's email doesn't give an exact reason why Ozzie is leaving, but one can only hope that his talent is picked up by another high-tech firm. Companies that specialize in cloud computing would probabaly kill to have Ozzie onboard.

Ozzie has even had nice things to say about Google's efforts in cloud computing. "On the Android-versus-Chrome issue, Android is a bet on the past; Chrome is a bet on the future," said Ozzie back in June. "When you install an app, you’re targeting a device. When you use Chrome, you’re looking at a cloud-based future."

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By goodsyntax on 10/19/2010 8:10:48 AM , Rating: 2
There goes Steve again, making another bone-headed decision.

Why wouldn't you appoint a new Chief Software Architect? It doesn't have to happen immediately, but while the role is unique, it is also vital to the future and stability of all of your software offerings.

Hell, with all the duplication of code bases, disjointed development paths, competing products and general incompatibilities between groups, wouldn't you say that this position is more important than ever?

Even all the Bill Gates haters must admit that he did an admirable job of focusing all groups into a common vision. That, unfortunately is lacking these days in Redmond.

I'm waiting for real leadership to emerge in Microsoft. I'm hoping that Scott Guthrie emerges as leader and visionary. I like that he is a hardcore developer, understands software development and understands the implications of multiple product interactions.

My other vote would be for Eric Rudder, but it seems that he has lost his way of late, going from SVP of Technical Strategy to Lead on the Midori project, then online evangelist, to most recently playing Indiana Jones at a TechEd conference in Dubai.

Where is the leadership at Microsoft, where is the vision? Bill, if your listening, your services are still needed.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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