Within minutes of the official Microsoft announcement today that Ray Ozzie will step into the role of chief software architect, his official biography at the company Web site reflected this latest development.
During his already illustrious IT career, Ozzie, 50, created IBM's Lotus Notes, and he is widely regarded as a pioneer in determining how computers can be used for collaborative work. Microsoft's plan is for him to work "side by side" until 2008 with company founder and chairman Bill Gates, also 50, who turned over the chief software architect's job to his colleague and good friend.
In July 2008, Gates will leave behind the day-to-day work of Microsoft to focus his attention on philanthropic work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he runs with his wife. The foundation has assumed an important global role in health care, including work to eradicate diseases such as malaria and polio, as well as contributing millions of dollars to helping people with AIDS. While the decision to make this career change was "hard," Gates said in a written statement that he believes "the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever."
Ozzie's presence surely must contribute to Gates's optimism. When Groove Networks, the company he founded in October 1997, was acquired by Microsoft in April 2005, Ozzie was named chief technical officer to great fanfare. Before founding Groove, Ozzie was founder and president of Iris Associates, where he created and oversaw the early development of Lotus Notes.
He had played a key role in developing Lotus Symphony, as well as Software Arts' TKSolver and VisiCalc, and his official Microsoft biography further notes that he also worked on early distributed operating systems at Data General.
He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has honored him as a distinguished alumnus. It was at the university that Ozzie is said to have first become intrigued with collaborative systems and how computers can support collaborative work.
Here are links to some other stories prompted by the announcement of Bill Gates's impending retirement from Microsoft.
- "Analysis: What Bill Gates's Departure Means for Microsoft"
- "Gates to Scale Back Microsoft Role in 2008"
- "The Wit and Wisdom of Bill Gates"
- "Gates Announces Retirement Plans"
- Microsoft's information regarding the Gates's announcement, including a link to the Webcast of the press conference.