Waiting on Ozzie
Conventional wisdom says you never want to follow a legend. For every Steve
Young following Joe Montana, there are countless examples of people who struggled
in the shadow of their famed predecessors. Think John Sculley at Apple, or the
parade of interim execs who followed Philippe Kahn at Borland.
So pity Ray Ozzie, who two years ago was named Chief Software Architect of
Microsoft. The facile intellect behind Groove Networks seemed just the man to
shepherd Microsoft forward in the era of open source software and Internet-borne
services. And yet, here we are, waiting still for Ozzie to strike his course.
Oh, we're told that moment is coming, but we've heard this before. We were
told to wait until MIX 07 for Ozzie to make a splash, then told to wait for
MIX 08. Now Microsoft points us to the Professional Developers Conference (PDC)
in October. At some point, Ozzie is going to have to assume leadership of Microsoft's
technology vision, or cede it to someone who will.
Maybe Microsoft believes that the recent Live
Mesh announcement is the first step toward Ozzie's emergence, but I'm not
so sure. The service is awfully raw and today addresses just a fraction of the
broad vision that it must fulfill. What's more, a number of industry watchers,
such as Mary Jo Foley and Dmitry
Sotnikov, opine that Live Mesh is essentially another cut on the Groove
Other takes are more cynical. In
his blog, Joel Spolsky complains that Live Mesh is "Groove, rewritten
from scratch, one more time. Ray Ozzie just can't stop rewriting this damn app,
again and again and again, and taking 5-7 years each time."
And so the question begs. Two years after ascending to the very pinnacle of
the software development industry, is it time to ask if Ray Ozzie might, in
fact, be a software visionary without a vision? Or should we show a little patience
and wait for PDC? E-mail me at email@example.com.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/15/2008 at 1:15 PM