Microsoft's Ray Ozzie to retire

Microsoft's chief software architect Ray Ozzie is stepping down from his role and will retire, the company announced late Monday.

In an e-mail to employees, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Ozzie will retire from the company following a transition period in which he will focus on Microsoft's entertainment efforts. Ozzie, who came to Microsoft in 2005 following the acquisition of his company Groove Networks, was a vocal force behind Microsoft's cloud strategy and played a role in the success of Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software.

Ozzie replaced Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates as chief software architect in 2006. In his e-mail, Ballmer said he does not intend to fill the chief software architect role.

"The CSA role was unique and I won't refill the role after Ray's departure," Ballmer wrote. "We have a strong planning process, strong technical leaders in each business group and strong innovation heading to the market."

Many have described Ozzie as a visionary. Ozzie's initial claim to fame came when his company, Iris Associates, created what would be known as Lotus Notes, a product that during the 1990s was so successful that IBM acquired Lotus Development Corp. in 1995 for $3.5 billion. The success of Notes, the first widely used enterprise collaboration platform for PC users, confounded Gates at the time.

Ozzie joined Microsoft after the company acquired Groove, which is now a key component in SharePoint Server 2010. Shortly after arriving at Microsoft, he wrote a call to arms posting on the need to embrace Internet and Web services and ultimately the cloud.

"Computing and communications technologies have dramatically and progressively improved to enable the viability of a services-based model," he wrote, warning that failure to respond to the evolution of what would become cloud-based services would put the entire company at risk. "We must respond quickly and decisively," he noted.

"His work since, stimulated thinking across the company and helped catalyze our drive to the cloud," Ballmer said.

It is unclear how long Ozzie will remain in his new role, where he will continue to report to Ballmer.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner and an editor-at-large at Redmond magazine, affiliate publications of Government Computer News.

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