Will Ray Ozzie save Microsoft?

Just finished reading Stephen Levy’s story in this months Wired magazine about Ray Ozzie, the new chief software architect at Microsoft and successor to Bill Gates.  He’s the one responsible for some of the more dramatic moves that the company has been promoting recently including Windows Azure, Zurich (Azure Services Platform), Live Mesh, and Office Web Apps.  The four tiers of his strategy to save Microsoft are almost completely focused on “cloud computing”.

  1. Windows Azure is the platform underneath it all, a cloud operating system (formerly codenamed Red Dog) to provide servers to host the various applications that will eventually live on the web.  Competition: Google App Engine, Amazon EC2.
  2. The Azure Services Platform will provide a set of tools to help developers manage the interaction between their apps and the cloud OS.  Competition is currently a set of free open source tools.
  3. Live Mesh is a service built on Azure to allow PC and Mac synchronization across all their files.  Competition: Apple MobileMe.
  4. Office Web Apps are the popular Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) available in the cloud. Subscription-based or free ad-supported versions.  Competition is strong: Google Docs, Yahoo Zimbra, Zoho (all available now).

Whether or not this strategy works, or is an indication of the hype surrounding cloud computing today, remains to be seen. But for sure, Microsoft is quite focused on it.  Ray’s lead for the Red Dog project Amitabh Srivastava, convinced the immortal Dave Cutler (of VMS/WNT fame) to come out of retirement for it.

Interesting times are certainly ahead.

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