After a few years of trying to fill Bill Gates’ shoes as Microsoft’s chief software architect, Ray Ozzie is starting to hit his stride. In a remarkable strategy memo to employees (embedded below), Ozzie essentially shifts Microsoft’s mission from one of creating software for the PC and stand-alone servers to creating an interconnecting mesh between devices and people. He is not abandoning Windows or Office, but he is saying that the value of Microsoft’s software will increasingly depend less on what it can do on its own than what it can do with others. It is not about software anymore so much as it is about Web-based services. Ray, welcome to the club.
Central to this strategy is our embrace of both a world of the web and a world of devices. Over the past ten years, the PC era has given way to an era in which the web is at the center of our experiences – experiences delivered not just through the browser but also through many different devices including PCs, phones, media players, game consoles, set-top boxes and televisions, cars, and more.
There are three overarching principles guiding our services strategy – principles informing the design and development of products being implemented across all parts of Microsoft, for both individuals and business.
1. The Web is the Hub of our social mesh and our device mesh.
The web is first and foremost a mesh of people. . . . All applications will grow to recognize and utilize the inherent group-forming aspects of their connection to the web, in ways that will become fundamental to our experiences. In scenarios ranging from productivity to media and entertainment, social mesh notions of linking, sharing, ranking and tagging will become as familiar as File, Edit and View. . . . To individuals, the concept of “My Computer” will give way to the concept of a personal mesh of devices – a means by which all of your devices are brought together, managed through the web, as a seamless whole.
2. The Power of “Choice” as business moves to embrace the cloud.
Most major enterprises are in the early stages of a significant infrastructural transition – from the use of dedicated and sometimes very expensive application servers, to the use of virtualization and commodity hardware to consolidate those enterprise applications on computing and storage grids constructed within their data center. . . . Driven in large part by the high-scale requirements of consumer services, the value of this utility computing model is most clearly evident in cloud-based internet services.
Software built explicitly to provide a significant level of server/service symmetry will afford choice and flexibility in developing, operating, migrating and managing such systems in highly varied enterprise deployment environments that are distributed and federated between the enterprise data center and the internet cloud.
3.Small Pieces Loosely Joined for developers, within the cloud and across a world of devices.
Application design patterns at both the front- and back-end are transitioning toward being compositions and in some cases loose federations of cooperating systems, where standards and interoperability are essential. . . . At a higher level, myriad options exist for delivering applications to the user: The web browser, unique in its ubiquity; the PC, unique in how it brings together interactivity/experience, mobility and storage; the phone, unique in its extreme mobility. Developers will need to build applications that can be delivered seamlessly across a loosely coupled device mesh by utilizing a common set of tools, languages, runtimes and frameworks – a common toolset that spans from the service in the cloud to enterprise server, and from the PC to the browser to the phone.
Here is the full memo:
(Photo by Dan Farber).