Ozzie and the cloud

Steven Levy, a tech writer whose every article I read if I can get my hands on it, has a fascinating Wired article about Ray Ozzie and his long march to make Microsoft survive and prosper in the cloud. Service-based computing can be a disruptive innovation for Microsoft, since customers become less reliant on a single, fat client (dominated by MS) and instead can use a  browser as their main interface.

I have used Lotus Notes since well before the company was bought by IBM, and always considered it to be a fantastic platform that is somewhat underused, chiefly because while its execution is great, the user interface is somewhat clumsy (getting better, but still) and it is hard to program for. As an infrastructure play for a large corporation, Notes is just great. As a platform for software innovation and innovative interaction, it leaves a lot to be desired. The question is – can Microsoft gain dominance in this market (Sharepoint seems to execute on that one), extend it to consumers (Vista is not a good omen here), and somehow find a business model that works? (By that I don’t mean one with it the same profitability as it has now, that just isn’t possible. But one that is somewhat profitable long-term?)

If anyone is going to be able to pull that off, it will be Ozzie. The article paints, as I see it, a very complete picture and tells me a lot more about the relationship between Microsoft and Ozzie than I knew. But that is usual with Steven Levy articles, ever since he wrote "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" back in 1984.

Highly recommended. (And since I like long and detailed articles: this one is at 6900 words or more than 40,000 characters including spaces. Just a hint to my Norwegian newspaper friends, who thinks anything more than 7000 chars won’t be read by anyone.)