Subba’s Serendipitous moments

October 26, 2010

Ray Ozzie’s new memo to Microsoft

Filed under: Business,Model,Strategy — Subbaraman Iyer @ 3:58 pm
Tags: , , ,


Ray Ozzie is a legend. Bill Gates rated him as one of the five best programmers in the world. Ray created Lotus Notes – the popular email and collaborative workspace solutions in the world. Ray succeeded Bill Gates as the Chief Software Architect when Bill decided to leave Microsoft. He is truly a visionary and I had found his earlier memo The Internet services disruption very interesting

Now as Ray prepares to leave Microsoft, he has penned a farewell memo titled Dawn of a new Day. It makes interested reading as he explains several new shifts about where the “post PC world” is headed.

When I read both the memos I get a feeling that despite the 5 years that he spent there and his exhortation for changing, he hasn’t been effective enough. After his routine praise of Microsoft, he makes a subtle but pointed criticism of Microsoft’s business model when he says:

Yet, for all our great progress, some of the opportunities I laid out in my memo five years ago remain elusive and are yet to be realized.

Certain of our competitors’ products and their rapid advancement & refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy. Our early and clear vision notwithstanding, their execution has surpassed our own in mobile experiences, in the seamless fusion of hardware & software & services, and in social networking & myriad new forms of internet-centric social interaction.

There is also a veiled pointer to Microsoft’s seemingly glaring weakness of not being able to conceive the future when he says:

In our industry, if you can imagine something, you can build it.  We at Microsoft know from our common past – even the past five years – that if we know what needs to be done, and if we act decisively, any challenge can be transformed into a significant opportunity.  And so, the first step for each of us is to imagine fearlessly; to dream.

The one irrefutable truth is that in any large organization, any transformation that is to ‘stick’ must emerge from within.  Those on the outside can strongly influence, particularly with their wallets.  Those above are responsible for developing and articulating a compelling vision, eliminating obstacles, prioritizing resources, and generally setting the stage with a principled approach.

But the power and responsibility to truly effect transformation exists in no small part at the edge.  Within those who, led or inspired, feel personally and collectively motivated to make; to act; to do.

In taking the time to read this, most likely it’s you.

At times, it almost seems that he is endorsing Google’s strategy and technology approach.



    Sir, in response to your skeptical outlook of where Azure is headed.

    Azure has been rated to have a top average response time which is a very good parameter to evaluate the “Value” and “Quality” of cloud service provided.

    In my opinion, Azure might have been slow in catching up but certainly it’s platform as a service is redefining the cloud landscape with competing options. The announcement of VM roles adds Infrastructure as a Service option as well.

    Azure has the right combination. Microsoft has recently hired a Linux Open source evangelist to better ties with the community. This is a really good sign.

    Things can always go wrong but I at least see commitment in Azure. They have the cash and they are certainly pushing it hard enough. Google poses a good threat but if you look where Google actually makes money by spamming us with ads rather than any of their products as such. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    So I would argue, Azure has steam in its belly and might be a very good opportunity for Microsoft to thrive in with confidence and Direction. Ray Ozzie is a great leader and he certainly was right to say that Microsoft shouldn’t drag its feet on Azure. But, Considering the options in Azure, I guess, it was worth the wait.

    In my personal experience, we were able to set up a huge project and complete it less than 2 months and a shoe string budget which would have other wise cost enormous money on infrastructure and maintenance. The maintenance and monitoring is also very simple and APIs are there for setting up our monitoring environments.

    Comment by Karthick — March 1, 2011 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you very much for your nice post. A very awesome article, hope to read more next time! With kind regards Mathias

    Comment by Mathias — July 18, 2011 @ 8:12 am | Reply

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