p2pnet view P2P:- To: Executive Staff and direct reports / Date: October 28, 2010 / From: Ray Ozzie / Subject: Dawn of a New Day
Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect took over the role from Bill Gates. When he unexpectedly resigned, last week, Microsoft shares dropped 2.2%, said the BBC, quoting Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer as saying Ozzie would focus on “the broader area of entertainment, where Microsoft has many ongoing investments”.
But his “decision to step down also follows a number of other senior departures at the company”, said the story, noting, “his resignation may cast some doubt over the technological direction Microsoft will take next”.
However, Ozzie has no doubts about the direction the at company should take.
The line in intro is the heading to a memo he has posted on ray ozzie’s blog where he says “Who I am is perhaps best described by what I’ve built.”
In part, “Our PC software has driven the creation of an amazing ecosystem, and is incredibly valuable to a world of customers and partners”, he says, going on, ” And the PC and its ecosystem is going to keep growing, and growing, for a long time to come.”
But, he stresses, “today, as I wrote five years ago, ‘Just as in the past, we must reflect upon what’s going on around us, and reflect upon our strengths, weaknesses and industry leadership responsibilities, and respond. As much as ever, it’s clear that if we fail to do so, our business as we know it is at risk’.”
The emphasis is Ozzie’s, and he goes on >>>
And so at this juncture, given all that has transpired in computing and communications, 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. 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?
Those who can envision a plausible future that’s brighter than today will earn the opportunity to lead.
In our industry, if you can imagine something, you can build it. We at Microsoft know from our common past – even the past five years – that if we know what needs to be done, and if we act decisively, any challenge can be transformed into a significant opportunity. And so, the first step for each of us is to imagine fearlessly; to dream.
Continuous Services | Connected Devices
What’s happened in every aspect of computing & communications over the course of the past five years has given us much to dream about. Certainly the ‘net-connected PC, and PC-based servers, have driven the creation of an incredible industry and have laid the groundwork for mass-market understanding of so much of what’s possible with ‘computers’. But slowly but surely, our lives, businesses and society are in the process of a wholesale reconfiguration in the way we perceive and apply technology.
As we’ve begun to embrace today’s incredibly powerful app-capable phones and pads into our daily lives, and as we’ve embraced myriad innovative services & websites, the early adopters among us have decidedly begun to move away from mentally associating our computing activities with the hardware/software artifacts of our past such as PC’s, CD-installed programs, desktops, folders & files.
Instead, to cope with the inherent complexity of a world of devices, a world of websites, and a world of apps & personal data that is spread across myriad devices & websites, a simple conceptual model is taking shape that brings it all together. We’re moving toward a world of 1) cloud-based continuous services that connect us all and do our bidding, and 2) appliance-like connected devices enabling us to interact with those cloud-based services.
Continuous services are websites and cloud-based agents that we can rely on for more and more of what we do. On the back end, they possess attributes enabled by our newfound world of cloud computing: They’re always-available and are capable of unbounded scale. They’re constantly assimilating & analyzing data from both our real and online worlds. They’re constantly being refined & improved based on what works, and what doesn’t. By bringing us all together in new ways, they constantly reshape the social fabric underlying our society, organizations and lives. From news & entertainment, to transportation, to commerce, to customer service, we and our businesses and governments are being transformed by this new world of services that we rely on to operate flawlessly, 7×24, behind the scenes.
Our personal and corporate data now sits within these services – and as a result we’re more and more concerned with issues of trust & privacy. We most commonly engage and interact with these internet-based sites & services through the browser. But increasingly, we also interact with these continuous services through apps that are loaded onto a broad variety of service-connected devices – on our desks, or in our pockets & pocketbooks.
Connected devices beyond the PC will increasingly come in a breathtaking number of shapes and sizes, tuned for a broad variety of communications, creation & consumption tasks. Each individual will interact with a fairly good number of these connected devices on a daily basis – their phone / internet companion; their car; a shared public display in the conference room, living room, or hallway wall. Indeed some of these connected devices may even grow to bear a resemblance to today’s desktop PC or clamshell laptop. But there’s one key difference in tomorrow’s devices: they’re relatively simple and fundamentally appliance-like by design, from birth. They’re instantly usable, interchangeable, and trivially replaceable without loss. But being appliance-like doesn’t mean that they’re not also quite capable in terms of storage; rather, it just means that storage has shifted to being more cloud-centric than device-centric. A world of content – both personal and published – is streamed, cached or synchronized with a world of cloud-based continuous services.
Moving forward, these ‘connected devices’ will also frequently take the form of embedded devices of varying purpose including telemetry & control. Our world increasingly will be filled with these devices – from the remotely diagnosed elevator, to the sensors on our highways and throughout our environment. These embedded devices will share a key attribute with non-embedded UI-centric devices: they’re appliance-like, easily configured, interchangeable and replaceable without loss.
At first blush, this world of continuous services and connected devices doesn’t seem very different than today. But those who build, deploy and manage today’s websites understand viscerally that fielding a truly continuous service is incredibly difficult and is only achieved by the most sophisticated high-scale consumer websites. And those who build and deploy application fabrics targeting connected devices understand how challenging it can be to simply & reliably just ‘sync’ or ‘stream’. To achieve these seemingly simple objectives will require dramatic innovation in human interface, hardware, software and services.
How It Might Happen
From the perspective of living so deeply within the world of the device-centric software & hardware that we’ve collectively created over the past 25 years, it’s understandably difficult to imagine how a dramatic, wholesale shift toward this new continuous services + connected devices model would ever plausibly gain traction relative to what’s so broadly in use today. But in the technology world, these industry-scoped transformations have indeed happened before. Complexity accrues; dramatically new and improved capabilities arise.
Many years ago when the PC first emerged as an alternative to the mini and mainframe, the key facets of simplicity and broad approachability were key to its amazing success. If there’s to be a next wave of industry reconfiguration – toward a world of internet-connected continuous services and appliance-like connected devices – it would likely arise again from those very same facets.
It may take quite a while to happen, but I believe that in some form or another, without doubt, it will.
For each of us who can clearly envision the end-game, the opportunity is to recognize both the inevitability and value inherent in the big shift ahead, and to do what it takes to lead our customers into this new world.
In the short term, this means imagining the ‘killer apps & services’ and ‘killer devices’ that match up to a broad range of customer needs as they’ll evolve in this new era. Whether in the realm of communications, productivity, entertainment or business, tomorrow’s experiences & solutions are likely to differ significantly even from today’s most successful apps. Tomorrow’s experiences will be inherently transmedia & trans-device. They’ll be centered on your own social & organizational networks. For both individuals and businesses, new consumption & interaction models will change the game. It’s inevitable.
To deliver what seems to be required – e.g. an amazing level of coherence across apps, services and devices – will require innovation in user experience, interaction model, authentication model, user data & privacy model, policy & management model, programming & application model, and so on. These platform innovations will happen in small, progressive steps, providing significant opportunity to lead. In adapting our strategies, tactics, plans & processes to deliver what’s required by this new world, the opportunity is simply huge.
The one irrefutable truth is that in any large organization, any transformation that is to ‘stick’ must emerge from within. Those on the outside can strongly influence, particularly with their wallets. Those above are responsible for developing and articulating a compelling vision, eliminating obstacles, prioritizing resources, and generally setting the stage with a principled approach.
“But”, Ozzie adds in ray ozzie’s blog, “the power and responsibility to truly effect transformation exists in no small part at the edge. Within those who, led or inspired, feel personally and collectively motivated to make; to act; to do.”
And, he tells his readers, “In taking the time to read this, most likely it’s you.”
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