Ray Ozzie, who is about to retire after five year as Bill Gates' replacement at Microsoft, has posted a blog in which he describes the failings of the software firm and the end of the PC.
In spite of successes such as Windows Live, Azure and Bing, he describes in the post how Microsoft has been unable to adapt to the integration of services, hardware, software and content across the internet as quickly as firms like Google, Apple and Facebook.
When Ozzie joined Microsoft he wrote a memo to staff called The Internet Services Disruption, to change the culture of the company. Microsoft's previous internet strategy largely relied on locking developers and users into the Windows platform. But this was not the way rivals such as Google operated.
Ozzie realised Microsoft would need to rethink its approach to the internet. In the post he writes, "In the wake of that memo, the last five years has been a time of great transformation for Microsoft. At this point we are truly all in with regard to services. I am incredibly proud of the people and the work that has been done across the company, and of the way that we have turned this services transformation into opportunities that will pay off for years to come."
However, he reflects that Microsoft has not moved far enough. "Certain of our competitors' products and their rapid advancement and 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 and software and services, and in social networking and myriad new forms of internet-centric social interaction."
End of the PC
Ozzie believes the world will outgrow the PC as a general purpose computing device. In the blog he writes, ""We have seen our boxy devices based on 'system boards' morph into sleek elegantly-designed devices based on transformational 'systems on a chip'. We have seen bulky CRT monitors replaced by impossibly thin touch screens. We have seen business processes and entire organisations transformed by the zero-friction nature of the internet."
While the PC has been phenomenally successful, Ozzie says it has inherent complexities, which slows down innovation. He called on the industry to imagine what a post-PC era would look like.
"Given all that has transpired in computing and communications, it is important that all of us do precisely what our competitors and customers will ultimately do: close our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like, if it were to ever truly occur. How would customers accomplish the kinds of things they do today? In what ways would it be better? In what ways would it be worse, or just different?"