Bill Gates successor Ray Ozzie Quits Microsoft

by Abhinna Shreshtha    Oct 20, 2010

Bill Gates successor Ray Ozzie Quits MicrosoftRay Ozzie, who took over as Chief Software Architect (CSA) following the retirement of Bill Gates, has announced that he will be retiring from the role

Ozzie’s plans to quit were announced by Steve Ballmer via an internal mail to all Microsoft employees on Monday (October 18th, 2010). Prior to joining, Ozzie was responsible for developing the popular Lotus Notes. He also started a number of successful companies like Groove Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2005.

Considered a visionary in the IT industry, Ozzie’s decision to leave Microsoft just five years since joining the company, and only four years since being appointed the CSA, has come as a shock, especially since he was expected to be the company’s point man when it came to deciding future technical strategies. In fact, Ozzie had even written an internal email soon after taking over the mantle of CSA to outline his ideas for the future. The ‘internet services disruption’ email urged the company to come to terms with the changing IT landscape, warning that the scenario had changed drastically and it was time Microsoft adapted to it.

“In his memo, Ozzie talked about the power of the advertising-supported economic model, the effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model and the demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ‘just work’. However, as a Microsoft observer I’m not yet convinced that the company has completely grasped these key tenets,” says Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum.

So, is the reason for Ozzie’s sudden departure ego clashes with a Microsoft hierarchy unwilling to change? That appears to be the prevalent opinion as of now. “Although highly respected within the IT industry and clearly of great intellect, I’m left thinking that perhaps Bill Gates’ shoes were too big even for Ray Ozzie to fill, or perhaps when he slipped them on they were laced-up rather too tightly for his own comfort,” says Edwards.

Ray Ozzie’s primary focus during his tenure was to develop a cloud computing strategy for Microsoft, including the Windows Azure pro gramme. With Ozzie departing, and with no obvious plans to fill the chief software architect vacancy, Microsoft will need to work quickly to get someone with the same understanding of the business environment who can lead the company’s technical strategy.