Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, would be leaving the company, making him the latest in a line of visionaries to leave the Redmond campus. What is startling to so many isn’t that Ozzie’s going – his daring, cloud-first strategies runs counter to every prevailing stereotype about Microsoft – but that it seems Microsoft’s still betting big on its legacy business, which many have assumed would begin to whither sooner rather than later.
In other words, Microsoft is still placing many of its bets on the traditional Windows/Office powerhouse rather than on the Ozzie-led cloud Azure architecture, which has, as the New York Times’ Ashlee Vance points out, run into stumbling block after stumbling block:
Microsoft’s cloud story has been mixed under Mr. Ozzie’s leadership. The company has a number of huge services like Hotmail and Xbox Live and online versions of its corporate e-mail and collaboration software. But it took Microsoft years to build the Azure platform that stands as its highest profile cloud play, allowing companies like Amazon.com and Salesforce.com to strengthen their positions in the market.
But can you really blame Ozzie? Barbara Darrow saw the writing on the wall months ago, when she outlined coming fractures between Ozzie and the teams he was, in theory, supposed to lead but which he had little to no direct control over:
You’ve got to wonder how Ray Ozzie, the chief strategist brought in to forge Microsoft’s cloud thinking, can prosper in this environment where a half dozen company presidents report into the CEO, Steve Ballmer, but not to him.
And you’ve got to wonder if long-simmering rumors of discord between Ozzie and Sinofsky, mean trouble for Azure ahead. After all, if a mere tablet threatened Office, think what true cloud computing means to Microsoft’s ginormous on-premises operating systems and apps business.
So what’s Microsoft’s cloud strategy now? Do they even need one to make you, as a Microsoft corporate customer, happy? Let me know in the comments or directly via e-mail, listed below.