Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ray Ozzie on Open architecture and interoperability

Recently Business standard had published a E-Mail interview with Ray Ozzie, the chief architect of Microsoft, who was on a "learning trip" to India. You can find the article here.

I always believed that Ray Ozzie was one of the best thing to happen to Microsoft. He is one person who understands the importance of products that encourage collaboration and networking rather than the ones which are "PC centric"(like most of Microsoft products). So with him at helm of things at Microsoft, at least one can hope and expect the much needed change in attitude. Since the time he has taken over the position of chief architect, you get to hear things which you generally do not associate with Microsoft. You get to hear more of "Open architecture" and more of "interoperability" these days. In his own words

I'm spending a significant amount of time ensuring that our products' architectures are open, interoperable and secure by design.

Also the emphasis is clear when he says..

We're embracing this change at Microsoft, shifting toward a 'services mindset' across the company. In the past year, we've launched some 20 new Windows Live services, including a very significant update to and our Windows Live Search service

sounds too good to be true isn't it? But the ground reality is still a stark contrast. Even while chief architect speaks of open architecture and interoperability, you can see Microsoft continue to wield its monopolistic iron grip to press "closed code and standard" to its users and throttle competition. You do not know what to make of this statement from Ozzie

when any company's products become successful and pervasive enough that other companies' operations depend upon them, open interoperability becomes paramount

when you know that Microsoft in there latest operating system Vista
- Is strangling third party application developers(read Symantec/McAfee) by not releasing the APIs for OS.
- Killing the hardware market by introducing ridiculous security policies(OS License is invalidated after a single upgrade)

The only way you can make sense out of Ozzie's statement and the ground reality is to redefine "Open architecture" and "interoperability" in case of Microsoft.

I was delighted to see Ray indicating shift towards 'services mindset'. If somebody were to ask me who is one of our most dreaded competitor, I would say its not the Junipers, the Huaweis' or the alcatels, but its Microsoft. They have a very healthy balance sheet, cash reserves and monopoly that they can use to severely retard the progress of people adopting "IP centric" approach(say google spreadsheets instead of excel)for their day-to-day computing needs. Ideally Steve Balmer would want all the apps that user will ever need to be provided on a Windows based PC, but such a trend would not go down well with us, as we get paid only if a IP packet moves over the network i.e. when people collaborate and share over the network. So, in light of this, Ozzie's statement sounds quite exciting.



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