Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former chief architect, has penned another visionary memo about the post-PC world where he talks about the post-PC world, complexity and how the software giant can adapt to it.
By Larry Dignan | October 25, 2010 zdnet.com
Ozzie arrived at Microsoft with big ideas that were largely implemented—Azure, Office 365, SharePoint etc.—but he couldn’t communicate them well generally speaking. His exit blog post talks about how Microsoft has to prepare for a post-PC world.
Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer played down Ozzie’s departure somewhat. He said Ozzie’s big thinking is now Microsoft’s strategy. Microsoft is all in on the cloud and the services that go with it. Later, however, Ballmer noted that Windows 8 could be the company’s riskiest product. Sounds like a bit of a post-PC world worry to me.
More: Microsoft’s outgoing Chief Software Architect on the ‘post-PC world’
- Ballmer: Riskiest product bet by Microsoft is the ‘next release of Windows’
- Did Ballmer leave the door ajar for Windows Phone 7 tablet?
But as the PC client and PC-based server have grown from their simple roots over the past 25 years, the PC-centric / server-centric model has accreted simply immense complexity. This is a direct by-product of the PC’s success: how broad and diverse the PC’s ecosystem has become; how complex it’s become to manage the acquisition & lifecycle of our hardware, software, and data artifacts. It’s undeniable that some form of this complexity is readily apparent to most all our customers: your neighbors; any small business owner; the ‘tech’ head of household; enterprise IT.That passage was notable because it’s not just a tech issue. It’s a management issue. Can Microsoft really become less complex? Can it develop less complex products? And what does that mean for longevity—Ozzie also noted that Microsoft has benefited from complexity. One thing is certain: Complexity is everywhere in tech. Enterprise IT projects are complex squared and many times management makes it more complex.
Success begets product requirements. And even when superhuman engineering and design talent is applied, there are limits to how much you can apply beautiful veneers before inherent complexity is destined to bleed through.
Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT. Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use. Complexity introduces security challenges. Complexity causes administrator frustration.
And as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.