Ray Ozzie on Azure, Office unchained, and Openness

Next Story

White dogs and American models: This is how Apple sells the iPhone in Japan (TV commercial)

Three years to the day from his corner-turn memo about changing Microsoft’s direction from software to software plus services and after two days of keynotes, Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie reviewed the launch of the Windows Azure cloud OS and forthcoming online versions of the Office suite.

Ozzie: It’s fun that it’s all coming together. It was Mary Jo [Foley] yesterday who pointed out that today is three years to the day that I wrote that initial Services memo – the disruptions thing.

Gillmor: The San Francisco thing…

Ozzie: Right, what a disaster that was… When there’s no Internet access when we’re trying to show how the company’s going live…

Gillmor: Obviously, it’s a bit of jujitsu to get to the Web with Office.

Ozzie: The the way that they’ve done it.. a few years ago when they were in the planning phase of this next wave, it was basically, what approach should we take? Should we race to the finish line and have something that was complementary with the base Office or should we do it in a way that guarantees compatibility so that we could implement things and have the same back end so that the same file formats would be … it would have their full richness and so on? And that’s the route they went and I think for the customer it’ going to end up being the right route. If you happen to be at a kiosk or wherever, you can use the document where it happens to be stored,and people who are using the PCs will not have any clue that you used whatever – it will just work.

Gillmor: So basically you buy Office and you get all the licenses?

[Frank Shaw interjected: We’ve not talked about pricing and licensing. For consumers, one way to access would be the Office Live workspaces and they’d be free or ad supported.]

Ozzie: But you could assume that we want to offer enterprise users the power of choice in the way that they do these things, and even though we’re not talking about specifically about the licensing..

You’ll find a way for that to happen…

Ozzie: Yeah.

The BBC demo was astounding I thought.

Ozzie: It was neat because they were using Mesh to replicate their content down to the devices. It was great.

Gillmor: You know my Twitter mania, It was interesting that hey talked about activity streams. They seem to be looking at a relationship with users, where they insert themselves as a kind of dynamic portal. Does that ring any bells for you?

Ozzie: It rings bells in a few ways. I think everyone has, whether it’s Facebook feeds or Twitter or Groove alerts or whatever, I think we’ve all come to the realization that you need to give the user tools to tune the way that they would like to be notified of different activities that are out there that they’re interested in, and you need to give people the ability to both feed many things and collect from many things.

I don’t know that the world is going to unify on one; it doesn’t seem to be heading in that direction – one aggregator…

Gillmor: It didn’t happen with email.

Ozzie: That’s right. It didn’t with email, although it’s weird. I didn’t know how instant messaging was going to pan out, but it never really broke out of the walled garden.

Gillmor: Some people, including me, think public IM like Twitter will become an aggregation point for all of these things.

Ozzie: Could very well be. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. for them. I have not followed that in months so I don’t know if they have begun to address some of the architectural issues. Or if there are proposals to use XMPP type technologies.

XMPP seems to be becoming a greenfield. I heard from a Microsoft business partner that he’s using Silverlight not so much for its video capabilities but as a callback mechanism to keep the website in sync with the servers in the cloud.

Ozzie: That’s interesting.

Gillmor: That seems to be the kind of service fabric you’ve been announcing for the last couple of days.

Ozzie: Yes, there are many ways that these things can be mixed and matched. That’s why this conference and this audience are such a good group. For Microsoft this has the highest dynamics of any ecosystem related to our technologies. The open source community has its own people who are always at the forefront pushing, trying to mix this with that and see where it goes. I’m pretty excited that at least it’s out there now and probably over the next six months or so we’ll see how people are recombining it.

Gillmor: Back to Office for a second. The online version seems to be some part SIlverlight, some downlevel browser.

Ozzie: Yes, they’ve used Silverlight strategically. I don’t know what it will be like when they ship, but wherever they use Silverlight, they also have an Ajax version, but they prefer to use the SIlverlight version because it’s richer. It’s especially richer when you’re syndicating a presentation online, the way it renders text and so on.

Gillmor: And of course for me, it works on the Mac.

Ozzie: Yes, it does work on the Mac. We’ll get you to switch. There’s a whole new movement of switchers.

Gillmor: Oh really? Where did you hear that?

Ozzie: I don’t know, I made it up. I thought you could start it.

The thing that’s fun for me about what you’ve seen in the last couple of days is that you can get a sense for what it’s like if a company of this scale actually is all working in a productive way toward a common vision. When people are working in many different directions, there’s no real opportunity to notice what the heck people are doing. But once you can kind of weave them together, they’ll make the connection from that thing to that thing and so on. It’s nice to see it coming together, both from the user experience and the back end. What’s your take? I don’t expect you to be totally sold on it, but it’s a little different probably from some of the things you’ve been seeing.

Gillmor: Well, at some point the Mesh and Live services cross over and really obviate the differences at the hardware level. It becomes a kind of uber operating system for the Web. As long as you keep this open, people will be able to compete against this, but they won’t be able to stop it.

Ozzie: The way I approach things is a little bit different, perhaps a little bit difficult to explain. I actually think we should be comfortable in our own skin in terms of the position that we’re in, and not be afraid of the openness. And as long as we do the really good things and expose them in ways that people can hook into it, great things will happen.

  • http://neuronspark.com paul

    This interview sure has the appearance of a quid pro quo for TechCrunch’s assistance in the attempted Yahoo takeover when they repeated Frank Shaw’s aspirational words rather then the actual facts.

  • http://sm2.techrigy.com Martin Edic

    Excuse me, but ‘kiosk’? I think we’re about ten years past that model. I sure hope they have a mobile model or what’s the use? People are already leaving laptops at home because they can get by with an iPhone or other smartphone.
    I can never tell what a lot of the Microsofties are talking about. Ozzie is usually the exception but this time I don’t know…

    • http://amyloo.com Amyloo

      In my very unwired vertical I see lines of people waiting to use shared computers to check their email at trade shows. Probably won’t in two years, but right now? Kiosks.

  • http://professionallocator.ning.com/profile/mylocator MicroLocator.com

    open, software, unchained, meaning 65% of our revenue is about to go free and open to the public?

    SkinLocator-love what your in.

  • http://blog.stealthmode.com francine hardaway

    Steve, I think your vision for Mesh and Live might be far past MSFT’s own. If you put words in their mouth, do you hope they will manifest as you said them?

    And what DOES Ozzie mean by kiosk?

    I do, however, see that Microsoft is trying to redefine itself and get back into the game, and since it has so much cash, it can probably march right up to the front of the parade.

    • http://widgetslab.com Avatar

      Kiosk: A publicly open space where people can go to gather around in order to enjoy a shared experience.

      In the 90`s . Kiosk was how many described Publicly usable computers. there were some at malls or government buildings. it was also how the users individual section in a cybercafe was referred to.

      Ozzie way to see it based on that. so yeah. maybe it is a outdated way to refer to it. but what other single word way you could use?.. :P

  • Mike Lies When He Cries: Say Anything

    1. J. Michael Arrington worked at Wilson Sonsini for Partner Gail Clayton Husick (they wrote a book together)

    2. Gail Husick is Married to Brad Husick, founder of Webaroo.

    3. Mike Arrington endorsed Webaroo in 2006 Techcrunch article, not disclosing the relationship.

    4. Webaroo received VC funding.

    5. Mike Never disclosed the relationship.

  • http://scott.greiff.org Scott A Greiff

    “Be comfortable in our own skin in terms of the position that we’re in” seems to me to be code for “Be okay with the fact that we want the world to use Windows, and all this Cloud/Open stuff is really just to get people to switch to Windows.”

  • http://technonull.com/2008/10/29/nulling-to-a-microsoft-exec-and-more/ Nulling To A Microsoft Exec And More | TechnoNull - Useless Technology News

    […] is a classic – a total waste of bits on the hosting provider’s server. Ray Ozzie of Microsoft says nothing, replying to null questions by Steve Gillmor. Microsoft is doing so many things the wrong way, but Gillmor spends half the interview asking […]

  • http://technonull.com/ TechnoNull-Uselss Technology News

    Hey Stevie, you wrote about Microsoft’s Vista just a couple of months ago: “Vista’s miserable hope-draining failure”, so why are you wasting our time with twitter and cloud computing? How about some hardcore journalism, the type that makes TC such a great blog??
    If you want to avoid more useless technology news, read this:
    You will get a unique insight to the world of technology blogging and news.

  • http://blog.stormideas.com Bob Thomson

    As a start-up building extremely rich interactive web apps, from our point of view what Microsoft is doing with Silverlight, Azure and Mesh solves many of the issues we face on a day to day basis.
    Silverlight gives us rich client side interactivity, up to now, for me there’s been a pain involved in writing rich client side code and UI in JavaScript / AJAX or Flash / Flex, particularly if coming at it as a Microsoft developer who prefers to code in C#.

    With Azure’s storage service we get horizontally scalable storage. I don’t want to be worrying about issues like running out of disk space, back-ups, replication, latency problems for users from further afield etc. I just want to say “store this” or “get that” and have these things taken care of for me.

    If I’m offering something that takes a bit of grunt from the server like document or video conversion then I have to build my system to handle peak load plus a safety margin, this is expensive and inefficient. I also have to learn how to configure and manage servers, load balancers etc – something I’ve done in the past, but again would rather leave to the experts. The idea of spinning up more or less resources elastically with demand and only paying for what I use again appeals.

    For structured data I can use a SQL Server hosted on a physical server but then I have to worry about size, maintenance tasks, backups – for a system of a decent size I have to either hire, or become a DB Admin as part of my role as a web application developer. I’ve done it before, but it’s not what I enjoy and I’d rather be coding a killer feature than making sure I’ve got the right clustered index on my user table. Hopefully I’ll be able to move to SQL Server Data Services and have a lot of these issues taken care of for me.

    It was good to see Ray Ozzie tip hit hat to Jeff Bezos and Amazon in his keynote, as they have pioneered some of the models for dealing with the problems above. For me, it’s a more exciting time than ever to be building rich web applications!


  • Harry nuts

    Gilmore: Am I boring you to death Ozzie

    Ozzie: Fuck yeah.. you boring ole bastard

  • http://enterprise2blog.com/2008/10/enterprise-20-related-news-of-the-day/ Enterprise 2.0 Blog » Blog Archive » Enterprise 2.0 Related News of the Day

    […] TechCrunch: Interview with Ray Ozzie on MS Cloud-based OS (Azure): Ray Ozzie on Azure, Office unchained, and Openness […]

  • http://www.e-mailgrowth.com emailgrowth

    I hope micrsoft can get this one wright. Vista is terrible only thing I like is chess titans. I really would like microsoft to create a more friendlier e-mail system. Trying to create e-mail social for anyone who has a e-mail address. Just check out my website by clicking on my name. Give me you suggestion. Ozzie will do just fine at micrsoft. I like J Allard who created xbox.

  • http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2008/10/halloween-blogging-08 Marc’s Voice » Blog Archive » Halloween blogging ‘08

    […] Live Mesh APIs are ready – and Microsoft announced taht they’ll become a reliable party for OpenID.  Jon Udell calls the recent PDC “Microsoft’s State-of-the-0Union” address.  His post is called:URI, XML, HTTP, REST, and the Azure Services Platform. When somebody as smart as Jon Udell gets this jazzed, believe me it’s because Microsoft relishes being an underdog.  It gives them an incentive to go out and kick some serious ass.  Steve Gillmor has a great interview of Ray. […]

  • brian

    Vista may have been unsuccessful, but Ozzie! is one of the very few guys who can save the sinking boat of Microsoft. with MS investing heavily on Azure and Live Services, MS is all set to back on board!!!


  • http://itasitis.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/windows-azure-missing-from-the-blogsphere/ Windows Azure - missing from the blogsphere? « ITasITis

    […] Unveils Windows Azure at Professional Developers Conference Microsoft PressPass, 27 Oct 2008 • Ray Ozzie on Azure, Office unchained, and Openness TechCrunch, 29 Oct 2008 • Microsoft launches Windows Azure C|net news, 27 Oct 2008 • Windows […]

  • http://tech.cipper.com Cipper Tech

    Looking forward to this new cloud solution.

blog comments powered by Disqus