Ray Ozzie surprised a lot of people earlier this month when he stepped down from his post as Microsoft's Chief Software Architect (and presumed heir apparent to the Mad Ballmer as CEO).
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After reading the memo, the first question on my mind is, did Ray Ozzie jump or was he pushed? And if the latter, did they give him one of those cool Ballmeron parachute chairs I've been reading about?
In "Dawn," Ozzie starts with the obligatory praise for how much Microsoft has managed to wake up and smell the coffee in the five years since he penned his original all-hands memo ("The Internet Services Disruption"), then launches into how his employers ended up spilling some of the scalding hot stuff all over their laps:
....the last five years has been a time of great transformation for Microsoft. At this point we're truly all in with regard to services.... Yet, for all our great progress, some of the opportunities I laid out in my memo five years ago remain elusive and are yet to be realized.
Certain of our competitors' products and their rapid advancement & refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy. Our early and clear vision notwithstanding, their execution has surpassed our own in mobile experiences, in the seamless fusion of hardware & software & services, and in social networking & myriad new forms of internet-centric social interaction.
In other words, Microsoft fell hopelessly behind the iPhone, got its Web assets handed to it by Google and Facebook, and was totally pole-axed by the iPad.
Not that any of this is a terrible surprise. As the French say, the more things change, the more often Steve Ballmer needs to change his shirt.
Mostly, though, Ozzie wrote about a "post-PC" era where we'll swim through a world of connected devices like a goldfish in a bowl. (There's that damned castle again -- where the heck did that come from?) In this world, every device we carry or encounter is smart, can talk to each other, and can anticipate what we want without a whole lot of prompting.