Ray Ozzie’s 2005 Memo & Agile

Shortly after Ray Ozzie arrived at Microsoft back in 2005, he wrote a memo (not unlike Gates’ Paul Revere-ish 1995 memo about embracing the internet) which was recently accounced, but not yet released. It outlined a few things, namely the company (Microsoft) had to start thinking and operting like an internet company, and as much as possible, liek a web startup!

Ray pitched ad-supported or subscription businss models, viral distribution and experiences that “just work.” Focus on being seemless, bottom line: Change big-time, or else.  Microsoft at the time was trying to ship Vista and Office so Ozzie project began.  Ray then gathered a team to begin delivering results, in short time frames (sound familiar)?  Ray began code name “Red Dog”, now referred to as Azure, with the help of Amitabh Srivastava & Dave Cutler, out from semi-retirement.

An interesting aspect of the new operating system is that is was produced with a fraction of the manpower the company typically directs to critical projects.  “There are literally thousands of people on windows, but Ray emphasized small groups with very focused people is a better way of doing things,” Cutler says. The goal it seems, was to produce working software faster.  Hmm, thats interesting, without spelling it out, it sure spells alot like Agile to me.  So what exactly does the Ozzie project entail?

  1. Windows Azure – Microsoft’s long awaited “operating system for the cloud” doesn’t run on a laptop – it runs on the companies thousands of servers.  Customers develop their web-based businesses to operate on Microsoft’s data centers, and Windows Azure allocates resources as needed. (expected late 2009)
  2. “Zurich” – codename for Azure services platform, a set of sophisticated tools to help developers manage their own cloud-based services and web apps. (available now in preview)
  3. Live Mesh – a service built on Red Dog that allows people (PC & Mac) to synchronize all their files, photos, and music with all their devices. (expected in 2009, now in public beta, see mesh.com)
  4. Office Web Apps – the next major Office release will include relatively complete Web version of Microsoft’s crown jewels.  Users can subscribe or access free versions supported by ads. (expected in 2010, but some versions may appear sooner.)

If you’re interested in keeping up with all the latest Microsoft developments, I strongly encourage you to check out the sessions from Microsoft’s recent Professional Developers Conference, now available online (for free) at: https://sessions.microsoftpdc.com/public/timeline.aspx

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