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Microsoft Businesses Technology

Ray Ozzie's Departing Memo a Warning To Microsoft 345

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-bsods dept.
itwbennett writes "In a parting memo to Microsoft, Ray Ozzie urges Microsoft to 'really, truly, seriously start thinking beyond the PC,' writes blogger Chris Nurney. Nurney suspects that 'Ozzie has been making these points internally for some time,' and that the memo 'could be his way of putting it in the public record.' Some of the memo's juicy bits: 'It's 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. ... Today's PCs, phones & pads are just the very beginning; we'll see decades to come of incredible innovation from which will emerge all sorts of "connected companions" that we'll wear, we'll carry, we'll use on our desks & walls and the environment all around us.'"
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Ray Ozzie's Departing Memo a Warning To Microsoft

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  • MS is doing that (Score:2, Insightful)

    by weachiod (1928554) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:25PM (#34017098)
    I think someone has missed Windows Phone 7 and the tablets Microsoft will be releasing shortly. Hell, Microsoft Courier looked like the only tablet I wanted. Screw iPad, Courier was cool.

    But the truth also is that Microsoft has a huge dominance on computer market and that isn't going anywhere. They are truly dominating it. I don't think it's a warning as such to Microsoft, just a suggestion for if they want to grow. And interestingly, that is what Microsoft is and has been doing for many years already. Xbox360 is a truly fantastic product too.

    Just bring me something that Courier was supposed to be. I want it, I need it! Combine that with environment like Windows where everyone can freely develop their software and include things like XNA and Xbox Live and you have a wonderful product on your hands!
  • by Squidnut (1905196) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:28PM (#34017150)
    Smartphones and tablets are a step in the right direction, but they're nowhere near the ideal of ubiquitous computing that Ozzie is suggesting. Much like Microsoft, you're not looking far enough ahead.
  • A tip. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eepok (545733) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:30PM (#34017170) Homepage

    The future of the PC is not immediately viewable from the window. One must step out and look around.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:32PM (#34017202) Journal

    Was was thinking the same thing.

    Windows Mobile has seriously SUCKED the life out of me, like my life sucks because of it. (I could have won concert tickets but my phone couldn't even preform a simple speed dial in under 10 seconds).

    I don't know anyone who actually owns a zune, but lets just say my only run-in with it has been the zune apps on the Xbox - which is actually worse at managing my media than the original Xbox way of just navigating a filestructure. Thanks!

    I could name a handful of other Non-PC products that Microsoft has, but really, whats the point? None of them can actually compare to their competitors on the market, at least from a users perspective. I think I would much prefer it if they focused SOLELY on the PC and made Windows 8 actually something worth buying - get rid of those issues with backwards compatibility.

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:37PM (#34017288) Journal

    When Ray says "Beyond the PC" what he's really saying is "beyond Windows OS".

    This has been Microsoft's greatest nemesis, is their own myopia. They view everything with the tinged glasses of Windows. You can see this with Windows Mobile 7, even if it isn't "Windows" is trying to leverage "Windows 7" branding.

    Specifically addressing what you're saying, the problem with Courier was that it was Kindle wannabe. They kept the book format when quite frankly it shouldn't have. Try turning the page with one hand. The KindleApp for iPad is even better than Kindle. And it is more useful than any standalone ebook reader.

    Which brings me to tablets: If Microsoft makes a tablet that isn't some bastardized copy of Windows, I'll take a look. Until then, no thank you. Buying an overpriced one use computing device to me seem silly, and trying to shoehorn Windows into a tablet type device is just as pointless.

    Apple gets all of this. Apple is no longer just a "computer company" and is branching out and fixing all the other related edges of technology that has been hamstrung by companies like Microsoft and their limited thinking. Apple is not just Macs any more, and that is a big reason they are the new Microsoft, and #2 in Market Cap, possibly getting to #1 next year sometime.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:39PM (#34017314)

    The Xbox 360 is a fantastic product? So you've never owned one have you?

    RROD pops to mind and the overall 16.1% failure rate over 6 to 10 months use.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox_360_technical_problems [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.tgdaily.com/games-and-entertainment-features/36070-report-xbox-360-failure-rate-above-15 [tgdaily.com]

    Plus the fact that it didn't support an HD format for games, no Blu-ray support now, no Bluetooth support, it's not that fantastic of a device.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:51PM (#34017484)
    A lot further ahead! Better computer security, fewer viral plagues, faster software, more open standards, better interoperability, cheaper software and support. Microsoft is just a drain on the economy that we can't afford in this economic climate, just ask the London Stock Exchange.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:53PM (#34017514)

    You aren't really listening. iOS is designed fro the ground up to be a touch-based OS. It sits on top of a specialized OSX platform. Android is similar, but is made by Google and sits on top of Linux. The reason why Blackberry touch smartphones have sucked is that the retro-fitted their old apps, and aren't all optimized for touch. Windows mobile seems to suffer from similar problems. You need to think of it from the user paradigm rather than making it "A pc on a phone, or a PC on a tablet." Apple and Google have done a much better job at that.

  • by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:55PM (#34017552)
    The other problem with the Courier is that it never existed... It was nothing more than a photoshop mockup or rendered 3D model. Their next tablet will be "no thicker than a sheet of glass" [slashdot.org]
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:59PM (#34017590)

    Apple gets all of this. Apple is no longer just a "computer company" and is branching out and fixing all the other related edges of technology that has been hamstrung by companies like Microsoft and their limited thinking. Apple is not just Macs any more, and that is a big reason they are the new Microsoft, and #2 in Market Cap, possibly getting to #1 next year sometime.

    Close, but no. In all seriousness, Apple does not 'get all of this' in the manner that you suggest. They're not looking for 'superior' so much as they are looking to lock users into their App stores. So to claim that Apple doesn't possess limited thinking is, in my view, patently false. They are just as single minded, but towards a different end. They don't care about the technology in the least (iphone that doesn't work well as a phone, anyone?), but they ARE indeed all about the platform and the vehicle to future sales that it represents.

  • by stms (1132653) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:04PM (#34017644)

    Xbox360 is a truly fantastic product too.

    What are you smoking Xbox 360 is a terrible product. 50% of them fail after 1 year. The online service cost too much and is covered with ads. The xbox is coasting on its games (which are the most popular) combined with the fact that I can't play with any of my friends unless I subscribe their crappy service. The 360 exploits the market the same way windows does. I own a 360. Fuck the 360.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:08PM (#34017704)

    > like my life sucks because of it. (I could have won concert tickets but my phone couldn't even preform a simple speed dial in under 10 seconds).

    Seriously. Your life sucks because a toy telephone prevented you from winning concert tickets?

    > Was was thinking the same thing.

    How on god's green earth is this comment marked "insightful"? I see slashdot is still the festering circlejerk it always was. Makes me long for the days of goatse and beowulf clusters and first post. At least that was entertaining.

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:11PM (#34017758) Journal

    Apple is not Mac, the same way Microsoft is Windows.

    What you said may be true, or may simply be a way of monetizing the marketplace in a way you don't like, but that is not my point. Apple is not a "computer company" the way Microsoft is a "Windows" company.

    There is nothing at Microsoft that isn't either "Windows" or "Me too" device (XBOX, ZUNE).

    And even if you think iPod, iPad, and iPhone are in the "me too" category, they revolutionized industries that weren't "computer" related. And frankly, the iPod, iPhone and iPad make anything before them look ... "PC". Those devices transcend computing.

    I don't have iPad or Mac or iPhone. I have an iPod full of music, and haven't bought a single thing from ITMS. I prefer buying tunes on CD and ripping them, because they can go on ANY device I want. I'm not locked into anything Apple.

  • by TedTschopp (244839) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:19PM (#34017864) Homepage
    The problem with the Zune was that Microsoft was fighting yesterday's battle with it. This is the same problem with the Windows Phone. The Smart Phone market is almost run its course and Microsoft has taken too long to respond. Microsoft needs to be fighting today's battles, not fighting yesterdays wars.
  • by swb (14022) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:29PM (#34017992)

    Or all of the above?

    I sometimes wonder if MS senior management isn't full of guys making good money, looking at how much time they have until retirement is a real option and thinking "If we can just string this Windows/PC model along for a couple more years, I'll be set. Retire in my late 50s. Second home (or boat or ....) paid for. Enough savings to live off until 401k money kicks in."

    I can see where it could almost become a cultural mindset, coupled with a financial analysis that says the "real money" comes from Windows, Office, Exchange & SQL. Everything else (phone, tables, hardware, software, etc) is a half-assed feint to keep Wall St. quiet, keep key industry experts locked into long employment contracts and out of the hands of competitors, and occasionally hit the lottery when something sticks to the wall.

    Or is it the actual management model? Keep the Windows/Office core profit engine running, fuck around on the margin and assume you can manipulate the market enough to keep your dominance forever?

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:30PM (#34018010) Homepage Journal

    The iPhone is not called a "Mac Phone". And for good reason.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:39PM (#34018102)

    You, along with many others, liked Courier because it was a fantasy. It was never a real product, just a fake rendering of a very interesting idea. Its main purpose was to distract interest away from Apple's tablet, and it appears to have done its job for some (although not nearly well enough to keep the iPad from becoming a huge success).

    But the truth also is that Microsoft has a huge dominance on computer market and that isn't going anywhere.

    That's true, but not the point. The point is post-PC. MS is extremely weak on that front, and just like Sony losing their lead from the Walkman to the iPod, MS's huge lead in the PC world won't amount to much in the non-PC world.

    Just bring me something that Courier was supposed to be. I want it, I need it!

    It's not going to happen. I'd suggest you give up on it, at least for the time being. Otherwise you'll be in perpetual frustration. It's like wishing expectantly for wizard powers. By focussing too much on the non-real, you pass up on the real. MS teased you with the Courier, but what they gave you, later than promised, was a shitty Windows 7 slate from HP.

    Say what you will about Apple, but at least they promote real products that they actually deliver. You say screw iPad, you want Courier. Well, sure, but iPad has the supremely important feature of actually existing.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:49PM (#34018252)

    Dude, you are so full of shit man.

    Think about this way. High School. The jocks, which you could arguably say are the fittest physically, are getting all the pussy. Are they adapting? No. They never change their game and remain the same all throughout high school. They walk around, and if by some sort of unknown gravitational effect, pussy just flies around corners to them.

    Now take all the nerds, geeks, loners, etc. Do they adapt? Hell yes. It's a constant churn of adaptation, trial and error, failures, notes, frustrated exchanges. I don't think the NSA has worked as hard to decipher encrypted communications between terrorists. Negative comments (allegedly reduces a girls self-esteem to the point where penetration might actually be theoretically possible), pirate eye patches, fake tattoos, not-really-gay-but-playing-one-in-the-hopes-of-a-shower-with-you schemes, are all a fervent series of adaptations.

    Yet who gets all the pussy still? The jocks.

    Survival of the most adaptable sounds logically, but come on, we both know it is survival of the fittest in practice.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:52PM (#34018288)

    Over 14 million iPhones and 4 million iPads sold last quarter. It will take a *lot* of hipster-anecdotes for Samsung Galaxy or WP7 to reach numbers like those.

    So the point is, right now, I don't think anyone is too late to the party, as it's just getting started.

    You're right, but iOS has a huge head start, and Android is catching up to iOS. That doesn't leave a lot of room for WP7.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:54PM (#34018324)

    Apple was the one who popularized smart phones as we currently know them. Tablets are coming to the market with Microsoft software on them, but Apple was the one who popularized tablets.

    The problem that Microsoft runs up against again and again is that they're a software vendor, not a hardware vendor. Sure they sell xboxes, mice and the odd webcam and zune, but for real hardware they depend on the hardware manufacturers, and it's very very hard to get the likes of HP or Dell to innovate on Microsoft's behalf. Things are further complicated by the fact that Microsoft, as a software vendor, has to be reasonably hardware-supplier-neutral. They last thing they want to do is get in bed with Sony and then piss off Toshiba.

    Apple does well because they sell hardware, not software. Sure they have some great software on their hardware platforms but they start with the hardware. The fact that installing OS X on a piece of non-Apple hardware is a breach of the license shows how firmly they're in the hardware camp.

    When you own the hardware and the software, you can truly innovate when it comes to gadgets - When you only own the software, you can't.

  • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:03PM (#34018454)

    Microsoft was fighting yesterday's battle

    You've nailed it! Everything Microsoft is doing is reacting to the changing market, change introduced by others. Microsoft isn't able or willing to disrupt their own business. Maybe they shouldn't. There's nothing wrong with being boring and mature (Oracle and IBM make billions being boring).

    What has Microsoft being doing the last couple of years? They showed some vision by investing in Facebook, but then spent months trying to buy Yahoo!? It's just bizarre.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:06PM (#34018484) Journal

    You aren't really listening. iOS is designed fro the ground up to be a touch-based OS. It sits on top of a specialized OSX platform. Android is similar, but is made by Google and sits on top of Linux.

    Windows Phone 7 is also designed from ground up to be a touch-based OS (unlike WinMo, which was more pen-oriented). So? What does branding have to do with it all?

  • How does... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sracer (534850) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:08PM (#34018536)
    ...the reality of the Kin fit in with your fantasy view of Microsoft?
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:21PM (#34018682)

    The Xbox 360 is a fantastic product? So you've never owned one have you?

    I owned one, which lasted about 3 years before it RRoDed, BTW. I replaced it with another one. I'd say it's a fantastic product.

    RROD pops to mind and the overall 16.1% failure rate over 6 to 10 months use.

    Yes, yes.

    Plus the fact that it didn't support an HD format for games,

    Maybe I don't know what you mean by "HD format" but... yes it does? Duh? Xbox 360 games are HD by default. Hell, the original Xbox spit out 480p by default, and 1080i if games wanted.

    no Blu-ray support now,

    I don't care about that.

    no Bluetooth support,

    I can't even imagine a universe where I'd care about that. It has wireless controls, wireless IM keyboards, it just lacks the Bluetooth protocol specifically-- who gives a shit about the protocol if it has all the same peripherals?

  • by eikonos (779343) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:41PM (#34018916) Homepage Journal
    I haven't finished reading Ray Ozzie's memo yet, but it's written in the same sort of tortured English I've seen from a lot of people at Microsoft. I don't know why they can't write clearly, or why they need to include the word "innovation" so many times, but I suspect it reflects the corporate culture. One particular sentence jumped out at me. This sentence includes the word "innovation" and is full of big words, and yet nearly empty of meaning.

    "We’ve seen agile innovation playing out before a backdrop in which many dramatic changes have occurred across all aspects of our industry’s core infrastructure."

    It's a boring sentence trapped in a boring, verbose memo, so I found it a new home in a Philip K Dick story:

    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. I watched agile innovation playing out before a backdrop in which many dramatic changes have occurred. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die."

  • by bonch (38532) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:58PM (#34019068)

    In case you forgot, Apple is a hardware company. You can't compare Apple and Microsoft on the software level because Apple is also making the hardware. iTunes is just the centralized app they use to sync media across those devices and is not a valid comparison to an OS. You don't even have to use iTunes to purchase apps anymore.

    The point is that Microsoft wants to put Windows on everything. Apple wants to sell hardware devices. That gives Apple an advantage in product flexibility, from workstations to pocket music players to TV addons. Microsoft doesn't have control over what hardware is popular in the market, so they have to bend Windows to it and try to force the idea that it's all Windows, and Windows is great. Apple isn't trying to sell OS X. It's a technical advantage that iOS is based on OS X's foundations, but that's not the point of the iPhone.

    To summarize, the point of a smartphone to Apple is to have an amazing smartphone. The point of a smartphone to Microsoft is to run Windows.

    P.S. People who end their posts with "period" are obnoxious.

  • by haruharaharu (443975) on Monday October 25, 2010 @07:13PM (#34019182) Homepage

    The Jocks get the pussy, so yes they are the fittest, and so long as they continue getting laid, why change? The nerds and geeks around here (seattle) do pretty well for them selves, but the secret is this: own yourself and don't take any shit and be attractive - you will get some too. You don't have to be a jock or a meathead, but it helps to be in decent shape and have some physical skill (unless you like disappointing your sackmates).

    All that pretend crap you're talking about is just getting in the way - bail on it, find what makes you happy and just TALK TO THEM LIKE THEY'RE NORMAL.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Monday October 25, 2010 @07:14PM (#34019202)

    No, it doesn't. Because Apple's stores make perfect sense exactly as they are. Incrementalism implies some other end goals, but the way things work now already explain the current status.

    What's worse, is your imagined end goal of Apple locking people into the Mac App Store completely contradicts Apple's current methodology. Locking people into the Mac App Store won't make Macs more appealing, it will make them far less appealing. So much so in fact that I'm quite certain that if they ever made it mandatory, people would leave Apple in droves.

    In order to keep selling Macs, Apple has to make Macs more attractive than PCs. A locked-in store won't do this. It will do the exact opposite.

    So your theory requires that Apple would give up on their core business (hardware) in order to force people into something that hardly makes any money. Something that can only exist as long as people buy their hardware in the first place!

    It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday October 25, 2010 @08:24PM (#34019804) Homepage Journal

    It certainly has the most paid-for software on it.

    Say-what-now? What kind of software? Have you forgotten where you're posting? If it's not in an apt-get repository or in a torrent somewhere, it just does not exist. That's the only reason I can figure for all of the hate.

  • Re:Prosumer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday October 25, 2010 @08:31PM (#34019854) Homepage Journal

    Are you 12?

    pSony, Nontendo, crApple, Diablow?

    No, scratch that, my kid at 8 is more mature than that.

  • Re:State (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:10PM (#34020140)

    I've been doing this myself for years thanks to great applications like openssh, vnc and rsync. Laptops are fairly disposable to me, I just need to keep a desktop PC online which I much prefer to someone else's infrastructure.

  • by IainCartwright (733397) on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:38PM (#34020342)
    The innovation that interests me is that i can buy one of a range of handsets but my OS gets updated by microsoft.
    If microsoft lives up to their promises i will have copy and paste, and limited multi-tasking, and presumably other cool stuff 12 months down the track.
    I would love android to succeed but i fear it will be harmed when customers are pissed off paying $800 for a phone that their carrier refuses to update to the latest version only 12 months down the track. How may 1.5 owners will get 2.2?
    apple got it exactly right with the iPhone - they deliver iOS updates. The downside being you don't have the choice with the hardware (not that the harware is bad - i love my iPod Touch).
    The evil guys here are Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone (insert local equivalents). Maybe Google should step up to the plate for once and take some responsibility by distributing with the same model as Apple/Microsoft?

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