Ozzie at the Bat

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ozziechurchillMicrosoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie faced down two hardball questions in a Q & A wrap to a conversation with Wired editor Steven Levy at the Churchill Club. On one, a much anticipated question about Google’s new realtime collaboration tool Wave, Ozzie had put a lot of thought into the answer. He praised the small startup project as only he could, as a clone of the Groove software he sold to Microsoft while joining the company and taking the CSA reins from Bill Gates.

But he also critiqued the Google effort as “anti-Web”, suggesting the project took on such a hard problem that its complexity might curb its adoption. Nonetheless, he seemed to relish learning from Google’s effort, positioning Live Mesh as a simpler reworking of Groove in the context of integration into the Microsoft OS. For a Silicon Valley audience who probably has paid little notice to Mesh, Ozzie’s careful dissection may spark some deeper attention as Wave exits its early pilot stages and grapples with integration into Google Apps.

The other hardball was more in keeping with the wonky nature of the conversation, which ranged from a deep dive into the Windows prospects for netbooks to a peek behind the politics of Microsoft’s transition into the Cloud. It was a straightforward question about whether Microsoft would support HTML 5 in Internet Explorer,. After a sly jibe at competitors talking about “modern browsers” and saying he had nothing specific to announce, he slapped a screamer back up the middle: “I think you can expect us to do the right thing.”

Ozzie knows this is the line in the sand Google is trying to draw with Wave, Chrome, and Android: that open standards will force Microsoft to comply with standards-based technologies that will reduce IE’s control of the browser landscape. Yet throughout his Valley sojourn, Ozzie reflected a confidence that doing things what he called the Web way would work out just fine for Microsoft. He batted away one question about netbooks moving away from Windows by suggesting 83% of the market worked for him, and for the first time went beyond his standard praise for Amazon’s cloud play by questioning how far it would scale.

In that context, doing the right thing was meant more for his internal audience in Redmond. The G-word seems to roll off Ozzie’s tongue more easily than CEO Steve Ballmer’s and certainly any comment from Bill Gates while he was in charge. With Windows 7 battened down and Azure on track for rollout this year, Ozzie seems confident he’s weathered the storms of internal politics sufficiently to slough off a dramatic challenge at the center of the desktop from Wave and its HTML 5 stalking horse as worthy competition that he and Microsoft can learn a lot from.

The “anti-Web” complexity comment may come off a little paternalistic at first glance, much as Dave Winer has taken discussions about the future arc of RSS more personally than perceptively. But Wave does highlight the deep thinking and roadwork Ozzie has done with Notes, Groove, and now Mesh, and sets the stage for a fascinating struggle over the next six months. Doing the right thing with HTML 5 will be Ozzie’s Nixon going to China moment, but in giving Google the win on the browser, he also takes some ground internally that may pay off somewhere not so far down the road with a Silverlight-based Office on Netbooks. In baseball terms, Ozzie is walking HTML 5 and pitching to Twitter Reader.

  • http://www.techcrunchit.com/2009/06/04/liveblogging-microsofts-ray-ozzie-on-the-potential-of-cloud-computing/ Liveblogging Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie on “The Potential Of Cloud Computing”

    […] We’re at the Churchill Club’s “Potential of Cloud Computing” event, where Wired’s Senior Writer Steven Levy is interviewing Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie. Ozzie made some interesting predictions on the future of cloud computing a few weeks ago at J.P. Morgan’s Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. Microsoft is continuing to assert its position in the cloud as the release of its cloud computing platform, Azure, draws near. Ozzie faced a few hardball questions from Levy, which you can find our analysis of here. […]

  • noooooobs


    Quite frankly they are toast anyway. There’s probably no more incompetent company on the planet of this earch then M$. Seriously, look at the crap they roll out, and maybe its just me. They take half a decade to deliver unintuitive, complex apps that really are obsolete.

    They are 2 slow adapting and developing, too bulky, and most important their IMAGE sucks.

    DO YOU REALLY TRUST A COMPANY that acts the way they do. With HTML5, with FLASH. Do they really have whats best for the user/internet in mind.

    Wave in contrary will be open, as a company you can run your own servers…

    Fact is MS does not get it, it’s run by a bunch of old faddy daddies, that were top 2 decades ago and now try to desperately hold on, while the rest of the world that really matters just has an odd and embarassing smile for them.

    I mean Bing, is a joke, Vista probably the worst IT project on the planet, their Servers suck, Win7 come on gimme a break is that it, SQL server been asleep on the wheel for a while, Cloud Computing…yeah right they can’t even get their own shit running and scalable… look at their websites and design, and look at googles… Am I really the only one that does see that.

    They need to take 5% of the brightest kids they have, found a new company and start kicking ass.. and getting rid of the rest – that includes ozzy and balmer. That’s their only chance to survive or not be marginalized.

    • Raza

      @noooooobs, I guess, using your argument, it is safe to say that Google’s Eric Schmidt should be fired as well since he is nothing but an ‘old daddy’.

      Microsoft bashing is becoming so obsolete. ‘Bing’ is a joke…. really…. have you even tried it? show us an example that it sucks and i will believe you.

      • only mistake

        Let me be frank, choosing name as “live” was the only mistake he did when he came to MS. They can never make “live” a brand, like google/yahoo became a brand, is there anybody thinks he can?

      • http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson Jamie Thomson

        No I don’t, ut as far as I know Ozzie had nothing to do with that decision.

    • http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson Jamie Thomson

      Do you have a blog because I would LOVE to read more pearls of wisdom like this. Don’t hide your intellect from the world – share your gift!

  • noooooobs

    A guy that calls Google’s CEO a pussy, and he’ll kill google etc… all the while his company gets kicked in his ass, gets pussy whipped and is being run circles around him and is being made to look like a clown, beats them in every metric that matters… and that for years.. what does it say BALMER.

    THAT HE IS SIMPLY COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH that he is a LUNATIC who does not see REALITY. And a guy like that at the helm to compete with google, when he fucked up, was at the helm for the greatest software failures in the history of the planet…

    Maybe it’s just me but if I were an investor I’d kick the guys ass… and say after wasting BILLIONS of $ on VISTA and a decade… in every other organization they would have burned you alive..

    Or take ozzy’s tour.. those comments.. just shows that he does not get it neither. Relyling on monopoly, market share.. instead of quality of product. They both just need to leave.

    • Nathan

      can some ban this idiot?

      • noooobwss

        if you’re 13 years…. you shouldnt comment on stuff you don’t understand.

  • unkie

    say what you will about MSFT’s challenges, design incompentence and crazy CEO but they generate enormous amounts of cash, have astounding revenues a btw, has created the core and ecosystem that spawned millions of jobs, companies and ideas…they deserve props in that context

    • noooobwss

      Yes they did all that 10 years ago…. name me any accomplishment they’ve done after vista…

      • http://www.google.com/ Latesha

        Now I feel stupid. That’s crelaed it up for me

  • http://www.GoTorque.com George Thomas

    Google is trying to be Microsoft and Microsoft is trying to be Google. The fact is both companies are facing huge hurdles, in a few years, they will face what the newspaper industry is facing – competition from anybody who can write code.
    Today, the newspaper industry is competing with anybody who can write a blog article (like TechCrunch, Engadget, etc.) The Tech section in the NY Times cannot compete with TechCrunch.
    Already, there are web applications that Microsoft and Google cannot compete with (craigslist, monster.com, and dozens more). This will continue exponentially.
    Google and Microsoft should be content with what they have and stop trying to grow. They should concentrate on Search and Windows software respectively. Why are they trying to grow larger and larger, look at what happened to CitiGroup when they tried that approach.

    • Leon

      cannnot compete with craigslist and monster? u gotta be kidding right?

      • noooooobs

        Leon agree with you… craigslist and monster… I was rolling on my floor.. the quality of comments…. here is simply astonishing

      • insight

        noooooobs you are a know nothing troll and do not see things as they are, Leon you are even worse. the guy has a point…

  • http://www.clouds.com Chris

    How come Ray cannot define Cloud Computing ?

  • http://scripting.com/ Dave Winer

    No Steve, I don’t take it personally, I wish you guys would stop with the flame bait. What I objected to was the use of the words death and kill. You’ve stopped using them, so go ahead and opine and I will read and consider what you say. I don’t care if any of these technologies ebb and flow, or one replaces the other. What I dislike intensely are the human metaphors applied to things that aren’t living, never have been, and never will be.

    • Steve Gillmor

      I stand by what I’ve said and have no intention of changing how I express myself. Your commentary since my post has been frequently personal. The “dead” metaphor has been used by me and others going back way before Generalismo Franco, who by the way is still dead. Dislike it if you like, but learn to show respect to those who have always given you the same.

  • jasons

    Has anyone else noticed that Microsoft appears to be on a roll as of late? Granted, like many tech industry companies, some of Microsoft’s core businesses have taken revenue hit. But lately they just seem like a company that is making sound strategic decisions, that is rolling out innovative, competitive products, and is pushing the boundaries rather than playing catch-up. Has something changed in the company’s management that is leading to this change?

    • noooooobs

      heeeee.. what are you talking about… well bing while still off.. was not a complete failure for a start..but it does not add anything that hasnt been here for a while.
      And otherwise I don’t see anything. Ozy’s appearance here simply confirms that nothing has changed…

      Competitive products.. name me one. And photsynth is nothing but a geek app. I mean something that actually is useful. Look at office 2007 after decades they can’t make a product that allows simple simple things. ITs packed with bugs, confusing, slow, big behemoth. Add features all the time instead of making it more conveniant, simpler, shareable, interactive…

      Look at livemail/hotmail, look at the ass backwards policies.. try forwarding email to gmail… not allowed. Try forwarding gmail to hotmail, allowed. Look at the ass backwards performance of their virus products, look at the vista garbage, win7 just the same as xp… , I mean seriously… what are those people doing.
      Wave has been developped within less then 2 years. M$ would need 2 decades for that.

      But I come back to my original statement take a CEO that thinks Google’s CEO Is a pussy.. and you get a company that gets pussy whipped!!!

      • jasons

        I would prefer to hear comments from someone who is over 13 years old and actually has something meaningful to say.

      • noooooobs

        do you always copy my comments… tzz.. loser…

      • Demo

        This article has spawned some interesting comments, but seriously noooooobs you are a complete moron.

    • Jason Sanders

      I completely agree. I’m quite impressed with what they have been coming up with recently.

      The New Zune Hardware, Project Nadal (for the Xbox) looks amazing, Windows 7 Rocks, Office 14embracing the web, Bing serving up results in an attractive UI…

      While there is still a series some misteps… this doesn’t seem like the same Microsoft from the 2000 days

      • noooooobs

        Bing is live with a new name…. that’s it. And some splash and marketing and u guys think it’s all different…. look under the hood.. notice how everything is similar…

  • http://solaroverpower.com/ Solar OverPower Tech Blog

    Generally, I’m on Google’s side when it comes to the MSFT-GOOG debate and I think MSFT will eventually self-destruct Bing.(and then finally acquire Yahoo search).
    BUT I just found from my blog’s statistics that, believe it or not, traffic coming from Bing IS OF MUCH HIGHER QUALITY than traffic coming from Google, in terms of no. of pages read, time spent on my blog (double that of Google visitors) etc..
    Read all about it, with screenshots, here:

  • Hyloka

    I paid a little attention when Live Mesh was launched, but recently when looking for a good way to remotely access my computers I installed it at home and it’s a pretty slick service. I’m looking forward to when they come out with the client application for mobile and I can control my home PC and access files and media through my mobile devices. Ozzie’s brought a lot of goodness to MSFT.

  • lrd

    I love seeing all these articles about Microsoft & Google fighting one another for control of search. While Apple’s really the company those two should
    be keeping an eye on.

    Soon to have over $30 billion in cash and amassing a huge content community for both the iPhone & iPOD Touch I’d be very concern is to who’s going to really lead the next revolution.

    Hint: I don’t think it’s going to be MS or Boogle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tan_Ng/502271440 Tan Ng

    This article is typical linkbait. Leena Rao’s article has plenty of depth.

  • http://bobtuse.blogspot.com Bob MacNeal

    Great to hear Mr. Ozzie weigh in. I have made a living consulting on Microsoft products, but I also attended the July 09 Google Wave Hackathon and Federation Day to find out what all the buzz is about. I love the concept of real-time collaborative software. Google Wave is an interesting but immature product. There will be many challenges to adoption because we haven’t invented suitable metaphors for user activities. Thus the challenges are usability-based rather than technical.

    If interested, I’ve blogged about Wave at



  • http://www.techcrunchit.com/2009/10/07/ozzie-on-the-realtime-wave/ Ozzie on the realtime wave

    […] Google Wave, now being rolled out for testing by some 100,000 users. Ozzie followed up on his Churchill Club chat, where he described Google as taking on such a hard problem that it might limit […]

  • http://www.qibug.com/2009/10/ozzie-on-getting-users-to-do-the-realtime-wave/ Ozzie On Getting Users To Do The Realtime Wave | Tech stuff center

    […] Google Wave, now being rolled out for testing by some 100,000 users. Ozzie followed up on his Churchill Club chat, where he described Google as taking on such a hard problem that it might limit […]

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