Ray Ozzie has clearly become the heir apparent to Bill Gates on software leadership at Microsoft. In the Gates mold, Ozzie is now the former programmer who goes to conferences and evangelizes Microsoft's vision of the future to developers. That's what he's been doing this week at Mix07, the edgy Microsoft conference aimed at developing next-generation Web apps.
After his keynote address at Mix07, Ozzie said,
"The vast majority of applications that are today desktop apps or Web apps or rich Internet apps are all going to have some sort of component that is Web and client and mobile."
So Ozzie sees the apps of the future being three-headed with desktop client, Web, and mobile versions. This pronouncement came on the heals of yesterday's news that Microsoft's new Silverlight technology for building multimedia Web apps will run across multiple platforms. So it appears that Ozzie is serious about being a good Web citizen and building software that doesn't have the kind of strict lock-in that Microsoft has been famous for in the past. For more on Ozzie's remarks and the Silverlight plans, take a look at these links:
- Ray Ozzie's quiet revolution at Microsoft (News.com)
- Q&A: Ray Ozzie on Microsoft's strategy, his role (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Ray Ozzie is a fully clothed emperor (eWEEK)
- My lunch with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie (ZDNet's Ryan Stewart)
- Microsoft joins the race to open source IT (ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn)
I should note that Microsoft's strategy here is pretty opaque. The Redmond giant doesn't want to allow Google to keep gobbling up more territory on the Web. When Microsoft identifies a competitor, they tend to get obsessed with that competitor, and right now they are obsessed with Google. Of course, even though Google is flush with momentum at the moment, it's important to remember that most of the people who are using Google products are using them from Microsoft Windows PCs. It's unlikely that Google, Silverlight, or even Apple, will change that any time soon.
Nevertheless, a Microsoft that has Web and mobile versions of its programs has a much better chance of maintaining and extending its ubiquity and relevance as we move into the next generation of software. It looks like that's the Microsoft that Ozzie wants to build.