Ray Ozzie is the gentleman that took Bill Gates's place after he retired from his day to day duties at Microsoft, and unfortunately, this kinda makes me feel more confident in the opinion I had when that event took place.
Microsoft is losing their spirit.
Let's face it, it's quite obvious now that Bill Gates was the driver behind the Microsoft brand and direction. This is the third notable post that is being vacated since Bill Gates left (the first being the designer behind the Zune interface Robbie Bach, second being CFO Chris Liddell), and yet, somehow Ballmer stays in charge.
Don't get me wrong, Ballmer knows how to make money. Which is why he's a good CEO, but in my opinion, it doesn't feel like he is ushering in a strong "direction" for the company. But maybe I'm being a little critical, trying not to compare him to Steve Jobs, but hate him or love him, Steve Jobs is a great CEO.
It just feels to me that Microsoft is playing the catchup game. Saying "me too" to everything that is coming out. Windows Mobile Phone 7, (which was started a long time ago, but not until the iPhone came out was serious pressure put on this), the Xbox360 (which is probably Microsoft's best product), the Zune copied after the iPod, Windows's constant comparison to OSX, chasing after Google with Bing, and chasing after the iPad now with whatever-the-heck tablets (slate) they come out with.
Sad part is, Microsoft almost invented the tablet business. They pretty much pioneered it. However, they tried to shoe horn a Desktop OS into a tablet PC and wrote enough software to be able to use a pen. Well, it doesn't appear to have caught on en-masse. They didn't go back to the drawing board (like they did with Windows Mobile Phone 7) and design a new user interface, even if they copied the WMP7 interface from the Zune HD. Their current tablet offering does not bode well for touch, and it's unclear where their future direction is going as far as touch is concerned, but it doesn't look good right now. It still looks like they are trying to shoehorn Windows 7, the desktop operating system, into the tablet. It's not going to work! You tried that once, and it failed. So I refer to the current class of computing devices (the iPad, and all the competitors that are trying to come out now as "slate" devices.)
Ray Ozzie, as it states in the below linked article, is best known for creating Lotus Notes. Which really doesn't speak volumes to quality, but it does speak to success. Even a totally awful program can make tons of money. But Mr. Ozzie didn't seem to provide the direction that Gates did. Face it, Gates was the genius behind the Microsoft brand. Even if his tactic was to copy everything he saw, which I'm not saying he did, but even if his tactic was that, it was genius and it worked well.
I am not a Microsoft Shareholder, heck, I'm not even an Apple shareholder anymore, but I'd wonder why Ballmer was still in power considering the stock price hasn't moved much in over 10 years.
Ray Ozzie leaving post as Microsofts chief software architect.