updated 06:10 pm EDT, Mon October 25, 2010
Microsoft's Ozzie says PCs on way out in blog
Microsoft's departing executive Ray Ozzie has posted an essay sending warning signs to Microsoft that its core Office and Windows businesses would eventually come to an end. He asked coworkers to get ready for a "'post-PC' world" but cautioned that the platform was getting too complex both for users and developers and would likely lead to a backlash towards simpler, "appliance-like" devices. He also acknowledged that Microsoft had wasted its opportunities in mobile and had let Apple, Facebook, Google and others get a clear lead.
"Certain of our competitors’ products and their rapid advancement & refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy," he wrote, dodging examples by name. "Our early and clear vision notwithstanding, their execution has surpassed our own in mobile experiences, in the seamless fusion of hardware & software & services, and in social networking & myriad new forms of internet-centric social interaction."
The soon to be former Chief Software Architect called on Microsoft to rethink its entire interface and app delivery models. The company also couldn't wait for inspiration from the outside and had to have it "emerge from within," especially from those in the middle who might not direct policy but could control the output.
Ozzie's remarks are a rare comment from Microsoft that it may need to adapt its strategy. Company CEO Steve Ballmer has denied that tablets would hurt PCs and has mostly been trying to push Windows 7 tablets as the main competition. He has also been widely criticized for ignoring and minimizing Apple, claiming that the iPhone had "no chance" and dismissing Mac increases only to watch Windows Mobile lose much of its share and the Mac catch up to Acer in the US.
Windows Phone 7 has been given cautious praise since its non-US launch last week and may be key to its tablet future, as Microsoft has raised the possibility of WP7 tablets that would mix the relative ease of use with a larger slate design.