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Departing exec warns Microsoft of "post-PC world"

updated 06:10 pm EDT, Mon October 25, 2010

Microsoft's Ozzie says PCs on way out in blog

Microsoft's departing executive Ray Ozzie has posted an essay sending warning signs to Microsoft that its core Office and Windows businesses would eventually come to an end. He asked coworkers to get ready for a "'post-PC' world" but cautioned that the platform was getting too complex both for users and developers and would likely lead to a backlash towards simpler, "appliance-like" devices. He also acknowledged that Microsoft had wasted its opportunities in mobile and had let Apple, Facebook, Google and others get a clear lead.

"Certain of our competitors' products and their rapid advancement & refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy," he wrote, dodging examples by name. "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."

The soon to be former Chief Software Architect called on Microsoft to rethink its entire interface and app delivery models. The company also couldn't wait for inspiration from the outside and had to have it "emerge from within," especially from those in the middle who might not direct policy but could control the output.

Ozzie's remarks are a rare comment from Microsoft that it may need to adapt its strategy. Company CEO Steve Ballmer has denied that tablets would hurt PCs and has mostly been trying to push Windows 7 tablets as the main competition. He has also been widely criticized for ignoring and minimizing Apple, claiming that the iPhone had "no chance" and dismissing Mac increases only to watch Windows Mobile lose much of its share and the Mac catch up to Acer in the US.

Windows Phone 7 has been given cautious praise since its non-US launch last week and may be key to its tablet future, as Microsoft has raised the possibility of WP7 tablets that would mix the relative ease of use with a larger slate design.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Pride comes before the fall

    Ballmer & MS are fools to think people are so enamored w/ Windows as to want to see it on their phones, tablets, TVs, etc. Their pride has let them watch search, mobile, media, social and even OS browsing go elsewhere because of the fallacy of this mantra.

    Never forget this, Monkey Boy...the number one reason so many people use Windows is because they have to!


  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In other words

    Toodle-freakin-oo and good luck, Ballmer!

  1. DeezNutts

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ray is on the money

    Pretty much dead on and what I would expect from the 'software architect' of the company. I'd be worried if he left a peachy 'its all blue skies and candy canes forever folks! BYE!' parting memo! lol.

    MS has been slow to wake up to the changes, but recent products (azure and WP7 to name a few) and internal research projects (midori) are showing that they are finally starting to 'get it'.

    The big question will be if they can execute and release software that delivers value and is needed in the new landscape where the desktop PC is not the primary focus.

  1. dicklacara

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The synopsis and full essay were presented in total "execu-babble". The author may have had some brilliant ideas, but lacks the skill to communicate them.

    A listener/reader must be willing to parse through reams of material to locate a few gems, e.g. the "post PC era".

    I gave up a third of the way in -- I have better things to do than translate English into English.

  1. Herod

    Joined: Dec 1969


    1 word


  1. chas_m



    Oooh ...

    SOMEBODY's severance check just cleared ... :)

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS = Oldsmobile

    In a world of a hybrid and electric car future, MS continues to produce chrome encrusted, gas guzzling junkers. Something only your grandaddy would drive. (Although mine drove only Fords.)

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I suppose Microsoft could have done a lot more

    instead of just coasting along all those years with Windows OS and Microsoft Office but I guess that was all they thought they'd ever need since it was making so much money for them. Those things happen when you feel secure that there's no competition. They certainly had the opportunity and money to develop a really good mobile solution for users. Still, with 90% of the desktop in their pockets, they're not going to collapse in a heap tomorrow. Most of the people I know that use Windows isn't because they're loyal or anything. Most of them used it at work, so they just figured it made sense to have a Windows computer at home. In most cases it wasn't even the cost factor. They just bought what they knew. Things are going to change a tiny bit faster now because they keeping hearing about Apple computers in the media and they're curious about what all the fuss is over.

    I believe Microsoft is somewhat concerned about Apple because they would never had to suddenly open Microsoft retail stores after all these years right across from Apple to grab foot traffic away. MS must be concerned about Apple's consumer mindshare. I'm sure that businesses will continue to stick with Windows for employees for many years to come. Those IT guys aren't taking any unnecessary risks with Apple equipment unless they're absolutely forced to do so.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good for you Ray

    You left Microsoft at exactly the right time.
    Ballmer is next.

  1. SwissMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Is this one of those "The money's all gone..." moments?

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