Microsoft’s top software architect Ray Ozzie steps down

19 Oct 2010

The chief software architect at Microsoft Ray Ozzie is to resign from the company shortly, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer revealed in an internal memo to all staff at the software giant.

Ballmer paid tribute to Ozzie’s software vision, especially for the advent of cloud computing, which he saw coming.

Ozzie contributed to the early success of Windows and has been instrumental in Microsoft’s transition to a world where software via internet services is becoming increasingly the norm.

Ballmer said that Ozzie conceived, incubated and shepherded Windows Azure to be the platform that will drive Microsoft’s growth for years to come.

He said he has no plans to replace Ozzie in the role of chief software architect and said Ozzie will remain with Microsoft to transition the teams and ongoing projects within the company.

Before he retires, Ozzie will focus on the broader area of entertainment, an important area for Microsoft, because as well as the launch of Windows Phone 7, its Xbox 360 platform is beginning to really flourish in terms of sales and the advent of forthcoming products like the Kinect, which is due out in November.

The full text of Ballmer’s email is below:

From: Steveb
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010
To: Microsoft – All Employees
Subject: Ray Ozzie Transition

This past March marked a significant milestone for the company when, in a speech at the University of Washington, I sent a message to the world that we’re ‘all in’ when it comes to the cloud. In that speech I noted that Ray’s Internet Services Disruption memo nearly five years ago, and his work since, stimulated thinking across the company and helped catalyze our drive to the cloud.

As a company, we’ve accomplished much in the past five years as we look at the cloud and services. Windows Live now serves as a natural web-based services complement to both Windows and Office. SharePoint and Exchange have now decidedly embraced the cloud. And by conceiving, incubating and shepherding Windows Azure, Ray helped ensure we have a tremendously rich platform foundation that will enable app-level innovation across the company and by customers for years to come.

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.

Please join me in thanking Ray and wishing him well.


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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years