Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie leaving Microsoft

Microsoft logoIn a very surprising move, Microsoft has announced that Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, will be stepping down from his position and leaving the company after a transition period. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the news in an e-mail to employees this afternoon, which was then posted for the public to see as a press release.

Ballmer said Ozzie won't leave right away, but did mention that he "will be onboard for a while" and "following the natural transition time with his teams but before he retires from Microsoft, Ray will be focusing his efforts in the broader area of entertainment where Microsoft has many ongoing investments [in other words, Xbox and Windows Phone]. While he'll continue to report to me during the transition, the CSA role was unique and I won't refill the role after Ray's departure," wrote Ballmer in the message. "We have a strong planning process, strong technical leaders in each business group and strong innovation heading to the market."

Ozzie joined Microsoft in 2005 when the software giant acquired his company Groove Networks. In 2006, when Gates announced his upcoming retirement from day-to-day activities at Microsoft, Ozzie took over Bill Gates' position as Chief Software Architect and Ballmer assumed Gates' other role as CEO.

Ray Ozzie

Ballmer credited Ozzie with conceiving, incubating, and shepherding Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, and during the past year, Ozzie has been pushing Microsoft's cloud computing strategy. His most recent project was the creation of FUSE Labs, a group looking at social computing. FUSE Labs is behind the Microsoft/Facebook collaboration docs.com.

Ray Ozzie is (or was) the most senior technical person at Microsoft, regarded by many as the person intended to provide the company's technical vision after the departure of Bill Gates. However, Ozzie's role at Microsoft has never seemed particularly clear, and company insiders felt his impact was superficial. It's also claimed that he rubbed other Microsoft employees the wrong way: a believable claim, having seen the way he corrected Steve Ballmer on-stage at the All Things D conference earlier this year.

Tags: Microsoft

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