Ozzie to MSFT execs: you’re doomed kthxbye

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I paraphrase, obviously. But seriously, did you read Ray Ozzie’s Dawn of a New Day? It’s his manifesto for the post-PC era, and a poignant farewell letter to Microsoft executives as he unwinds himself from the company. In Ozzie’s post, frequent readers of this space will recognize what I’ve been calling ‘the new revolution in personal computing’, the rise of a connected world of mobile, embedded and ubiquitous devices, services, sensors & actuators, and contextual transmedia; a physical, social, immersive Internet of People, Places & Things.

“All these new services will be cloud-centric ‘continuous services’ built in a way that we can all rely upon.  As such, cloud computing will become pervasive for developers and IT – a shift that’ll catalyze the transformation of infrastructure, systems & business processes across all major organizations worldwide.  And all these new services will work hand-in-hand with an unimaginably fascinating world of devices-to-come.  Today’s PC’s, phones & pads are just the very beginning; we’ll see decades to come of incredible innovation from which will emerge all sorts of ‘connected companions’ that we’ll wear, we’ll carry, we’ll use on our desks & walls and the environment all around us.  Service-connected devices going far beyond just the ‘screen, keyboard and mouse’:  humanly-natural ‘conscious’ devices that’ll see, recognize, hear & listen to you and what’s around you, that’ll feel your touch and gestures and movement, that’ll detect your proximity to others; that’ll sense your location, direction, altitude, temperature, heartbeat & health.”

- Ray Ozzie, Dawn of a New Day

Frankly, there’s nothing especially surprising about this vision of the future; many of us (including Gates and Ozzie) have been working toward similar ideas for at least 20 years. Former HP Labs head Joel Birnbaum was predicting a world of appliance/utility computing (pdf) in the ’90s. I’m sure that many of these ideas are actively being researched in Microsoft’s own labs.

What I find really interesting is that Ozzie is speaking to (and for) Microsoft, one of the largest companies in tech and also the one company that stands to be most transformed and disrupted by the future he describes. He’s giving them a wake-up call, and letting them know that no matter how disruptive the last 5 years may have seemed to the core Windows and Office franchises, despite the wrenching transition to a web-centric world, the future is here and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And now at “the dawn of a new day – the sun having now arisen on a world of continuous services and connected devices”, Ray Ozzie is riding off into the sunset. I don’t see how that can be interpreted as a good sign.

(photo credit: WIRED)

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