Ray Ozzie to leave Microsoft Corp.
Massachusetts software industry legend Ray Ozzie is stepping down from his role as Microsoft Corp.'s chief software architect, a job he inherited from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Ozzie gained fame as a software developer for Lotus Development Corp. of Cambridge, one of the most successful companies in the early days of the personal computer. Ozzie worked on key Lotus products like the company's Symphony office productivity program. But he gained his greatest fame as lead developer of Lotus Notes, a "groupware" program that let teams of workers share documents and interact through corporate computer networks, no matter where they were located. Notes eventually became Lotus' flagship product. Its success spawned a hostile takeover bid from computer giant IBM Corp., which acquired Lotus in 1995.
Ozzie went on to found Groove Networks, a Beverly company that developed a Notes-like collaboration product for use over the Internet. In 2005, Microsoft acquired Groove and Ozzie joined the giant software company as its chief technical officer. The next year, when Gates retired from Microsoft, Ozzie inherited Gates' title of chief software architect. Groove's software has since been integrated into Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration program.
In an e-mail message, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said that Ozzie's work had set the company on course to play a major role in cloud computing, where users rely on remote, network-connected computers, rather than on local machines. Ballmer wrote that Ozzie's efforts "stimulated thinking across the company and helped catalyze our drive to the cloud."
Ballmer said that Ozzie will stay on during a transition of unspecified length. During that time, he said, Ozzie will also work on Microsoft's entertainment-related businesses. Ballmer provided no details, but Microsoft has become a major force in home entertainment through its Xbox 360 console, which delivers streaming video and music as well as popular videogames like the recently-released Halo: Reach.
The Ballmer e-mail said that Ozzie had no other immediate plans. Efforts to contact Ozzie directly were unsuccessful.
To read Ballmer's message, click here.