Read/WriteWeb's Web 2.0 Summit coverage sponsored by Yahoo!
In the final session of the day, John Battelle chats with Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie. John starts with the now famous memo, which "leaked" (but it wasn't leaked, according to Ray) - he asked Ray how it was progressing. Ray said the intent of the memo was to start people thinking. He said now they're at a very interesting juncture, now that office and Vista are "done" - i.e. "released to manufacturing" said Ray. He said this means when it will be released to the public, it won't be perfect but "it's fulfilling the role that an operating system needs to have in this era". He said the single biggest thing Vista can do is provide a secure environment for doing things on the Web. He said "Vista really was secure by design", to ensure vulnerabilities were removed before it is shipped. Vista will be released to businesses by end of Nov, and to consumers by end of January. Office is due by end of Nov.
John asks if there'll be a cultural change in Microsoft. Ray says that Microsoft has a lot of different groups and he says things have changed already - but "it's not one person that makes this happen, it's a conversation".
John asks if the current web services and online advertising business model as big a deal as the mid-90's Gates memo on the Internet. Ray said it's as big a deal business-wise. He says they ask themselves what is the best way to deliver value - which John notes is called 'scenario-based design'. He says his message in the memo was: for the experience being delivered via the Internet, which piece will be on PC and which via the browser? So it's an evolution of thinking from the PC era, then the server era.
John asks what Ray thinks of Google. Ray praises Google and says they stay focused on the user. John says Google is proving the advertising model for web services, so he asks Ray what's the zeitgeist on the Microsoft campus. John mentions the office suite. Ray says there are half a billion odd users in the office market, so he says they already have the audience - so his question is how they deliver value to this audience in this era. John asks when Word will be completely web native? Ray says it depends on the scenario of the usage - he doesn't see that it's the right thing to do to take the PC interface and functionality, and port it up to the Web. Ray says the Web is good at universal access, sharing scenarios, etc - and the PC is good at flexible and fast UI, is reliable. He says we're going to a world where we're dropping media items into our documents, but the PC was designed for media editing.
John says that Bill Gates had ability to mandate things to happen, so will Ray have that ability? Ray says that the way that Microsoft works, it is very rare that Bill just gave orders and they had to be done. For Ray, he was given "a free pass" when he came into the company, but he has to earn the "followership" that Bill had.
Qst from the audience: what will be the theme for software in next generation? (3-5 years). Ray said that on the office side, he thinks the biggest opportunity is mobile devices, smart phones - so a lot of opportunity with those different types of productivity scenarios. On the Vista side, hardware is moving from multicore to manycore (many processors), so the system needs to help app programmers to consume that. He also thinks there's opportunities to innovate in power management. He says they'll address Windows support things like state separation and deployment models will be brought up to date ("everything should be deployed on the Web").
Qst regarding the Adobe CEO's comment that PDF has won the game of electronic reading file format. Ray said that they're now in an era where customers are storing data for a long time, so it's imperative that all vendors create formats that enable data longevity. He says XML makes data transparent and that's the world we're in right now.
Qst re Zune, why did MS come up with a closed system for music. Ray says there's one very strong focus with Zune, that is to build an end-to-end experience. He says they never would have succeeded at this if they put too many dependencies and complexities in the product at once - but this may open up in future.