Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie speaks

May 1, 2007

Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie has the biggest shoes to fill at the company. Last June, he took over the position for Bill Gates, the company’s iconic chairman and co-founder. He’s the first to admit that he must step out of Gates’ shadow. “I am not Bill Gates, but I am who I am,” he said during a a question-and-answer session at Microsoft’s MIX 07 Conference on Monday.***The man who created Lotus Notes now stands at the center of Microsoft’s “software plus services” push to incorporate services across its entire business line-up. He sat down for an interview with Reuters. Here’s our story and some excerpts from the interview.******Q: Will you be offering more database infrastructure services?***A: I don’t have concrete things to announce, but we do buy huge amounts of storage, a very large number of racked standard PCs in big data centers and we buy extremely high volumes of bandwidth and content distribution architecture. At a principal level, we are going to be working on and releasing more things that transfer our economics to developers, particularly smaller developers who can’t negotiate those big things.******Q: Why did you announce Silverlight Streaming before something like Windows Live Storage or a more consumer-oriented storage service?***A: Well it’s a developer, designer show. The other ones that we are working on in a variety of classes, there are technical reasons why we are staging things in various ways and there are also market reasons. Amazon.com, I have to give them a lot of credit for being out in front, is trying a certain business model and seeing if it works. We all owe them a little debt of gratitude. They also did a very nice job at letting us see what parts of what they’re doing is catching on.******Q: Are the data center investments going to continue?***A: We believe that it’s going to be a growing thing, but that it can grow in a way that’s tracking the usage and profitability of it meaning it’s not something we have to ridiculously overbuild in advance. We’ve got reasonable visibility into the next quarter or next year, but yes, it will be on the increase.******Q: You mentioned that you can’t necessarily simply move an application to the Web. What parts of Office make sense online?***A: Sometimes we as an industry build things because we can. Those are great to learn from, it’s not necessarily always woven together in a way that’s best for the customer. We are all learning from Google Docs and Spreadsheets, from Zoho, from EditGrid. There are lots of them. There are pros and cons from each. I just think being a company with a big business in productivity that the prudent thing for us to do and the right thing for us to do is to look at these scenarios and look at where things resonate and where they don’t and come out with the right offering.******Q: Does Microsoft’s desktop-based productivity business hinder the company’s Web services push?***A: I look at it the opposite way. Having worked at a start-up also, I know how hard it is to get mind share and to get people up to speed on something. We have a very unique opportunity, which is to help the customer base out there, a huge set of people, who understand what Office is all about and to bring richer scenarios to them. From my stand point, it’s a plus, it’s an additive thing. There are a lot of people right now who have never tried Office in emerging markets. Is there a chance of cannibalization versus growth? I have absolutely no way of knowing but in every situation I have been through in this industry so far what sometimes looks like cannibalization ends up netting out to be a growth opportunity. I can be very, very direct in saying we don’t have our head in the sand about the capabilities of the Web or any given technology.

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