Former top Microsoft exec Ozzie: World is over the PC

“Ray Ozzie, the man who succeeded Bill Gates as Microsoft Corp’s tech visionary, believes the world has moved past the personal computer, potentially leaving behind the world’s largest software company,” Bill Rigby reports for Reuters.

MacDailyNews Take: A Microsoft “tech visionary’s” job: Watching what Apple does, throw it into blender in order to inoculate it from legal proceedings – unless we’re talking retail stores and then you just copy as exactly as possible, including locations – and foist it onto a technologically ignorant public. The main problem for Microsoft is that consumers have become technologically literate, can see that their “tech vision” has been, for decades, whatever Apple was doing, upside-down and backwards, 5-10+ years late.

“The PC, which was Microsoft’s foundation and still determines the company’s financial performance, has been nudged aside by powerful phones and tablets running Apple Inc and Google Inc software, the former Microsoft executive said,” Rigby reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Speaking of Apple knockoff non-artists.

Rigby reports, “‘People argue about ‘are we in a post-PC world?.’ Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world,’ Ozzie said at a technology conference run by tech blog GeekWire in Seattle on Wednesday. ‘That doesn’t mean the PC dies, that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things.'”

MacDailyNews Take: How about “trucks,” Mr. Visionary?

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm. But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars… PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people… I think that we’re embarked on that… You know, people laugh at me because I use the phrase “magical” to describe the iPad. But it’s what I really think. You have a much more direct and intimate relationship with the Internet and media, your apps, your content. It’s like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, June 1, 2010

Rigby reports, “Ozzie was making his first public comments on Microsoft since stepping down from the tech giant abruptly in 2010. He spoke just hours after Tim Cook, the chief executive of Microsoft’s arch-rival Apple, stressed the emergence of the ‘post-PC world” forged by the iPad.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Forever following Apple.

Rigby reports, “Ozzie said the fate of Windows 8 would determine Microsoft’s future. The latest version of the company’s operating system will work on tablets powered by low-power ARM Holdings chips, which Microsoft hopes will allow it to rival Apple’s iPad, and put the company back at the cutting edge of consumer technology.”

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft has never been at the cutting edge of consumer technology. Never.

Rigby reports, “Windows 8 may help Microsoft bridge the gap to the post-PC world, but the “doom and gloom” scenario for the company is people switching to portable, non-Windows devices, said Ozzie.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft’s best chance is that Android gets crippled enough and expensive enough through patent infringement litigation and royalty settlements that the HTCs of the world need a new “cheap” iOS. Even that prospect sucks, though, because iOS really isn’t expensive, as 315+ million iOS devices sold to date mightily attest.

Microsoft. The new Kodak.

As we wrote last spring:

Microsoft, in trying to cram everything into Windows 8 in an attempt to be all things to all devices, will end up with an OS that’s a jack of all trades and a master of none (which, after all, ought to be Microsoft’s company motto).

By the time this hybrid spawn of Windows Phone ’07 + Windows 7ista actually ships, one can only dream where Apple’s iOS and Mac OS X will be! For Microsoft, it’ll be more like a nightmare. Perhaps Microsoft will someday put some scare into Google’s Android/Chrome OS, but only time – and a lot of it when measured in tech time – will tell. We simply do not see the world clamoring for the UI of an iPod also-ran now ported to an iPhone wannabe that nobody’s buying to be blown up onto a PC display.

From what we’ve seen so far, Windows 8 strikes us as an unsavory combination of Windows Weight plus Windows Wait.

Not to mention that probably no one on earth knows how much or what kinds of residual legacy spaghetti code roils underneath it all (shudder). Is Microsoft giving up on backwards compatibility? If so, people might as well get the Mac they always wanted. If not, then Microsoft’s unwilling to do what it takes to really attempt to keep up with the likes of Apple or even Apple’s followers. No matter what, if Microsoft’s going to ask Windows sufferers to “learn a whole new computer” (and that’s exactly how they’ll look at it, regardless of how Microsoft pitches it), millions will simply say, “Time to get a Mac to match my iPod, iPhone, and iPad!”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mac 95” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s new iPad could dramatically alter the Windows PC upgrade cycle – March 8, 2012
The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012
The 9 versions of Windows 8 show one of the key differences between Microsoft and Apple – March 2, 2012
Windows 8 tablet vs. Apple iPad running iOS 5: feature by feature (with video) – March 1, 2012
Needham: Apple Mac growth to continue six-year run of outpacing Windows PCs – February 28, 2012
Tim Cook: Apple the only company innovating in personal computers, and have been for some time – February 24, 2012
More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video) – June 1, 2011

47 Comments

  1. Letting Ozzie walk out was a major MS blunder.

    The man was a visionary and saw the potential of online collaboration and how software would someday be interconnected long before many of our other visionaries.

    MS would have never started integrating office into the cloud without Ozzie leading the push.

    Sadly for MS they never embraced all that Ozzie wanted to change at MS and he became fed up and left.

    When your visionary says your core product is not the future on his way out you are in trouble.

      1. Cloths. 

        Steve Ballmer, a man of the cloth? High priest of Windows? Casting out demons by throwing ritual chairs across the revival tent, Bobby Knight-style? Saving minions’ souls by crushing their illicit iPhones under an elephantine foot? Banishing from the fold apostates too weak-willed to resist the press of profane reality—as Eve sinned with the Apple? This is what I picture. Wait…

        Oh…not “cloths”. You meant “clothes”. Oh no. Not that. 

        Not as good a vision.

      1. The “Ballmer” factor I’m sure led to him deciding to leave.

        Can you imagine telling that rhino that Windows is not the future? All that guy knows is windows, hell he does not even know windows, he just knows that it ‘sells’ and that fact clouds everything else out, reality be damned!

  2. Considering the history of ARM and Apple’s close involvement with them from the very beginning, there’s a an irony in MS using their processors to run Win8.

  3. It’s funny, because this is the sort of thing appearing on TOST analyses that take into account evolving FLAN technologies and emerging market CARP for years.

    Guess the MSFT battleship is just too big to turn around in choppy waters with second rate skippers.

  4. This article makes some good points, but the Microsoft-bashing is as silly as the Apple-bashing I see on Windows-centric sites. It also doesn’t distinguish between operating system and application software.

    The fact is – for now, at least – both Mac and Windows platforms are useful, and mobile, notebook and desktop forms all have their place. There is none that’s superior. For example, my iPad 2 is like a new appendage, but the mobile versions of Photoshop and Avid are nowhere near substitutes for the full-blown versions. And the Windows and Mac versions of Office have no credible alternatives. Remember that people use computers for more than just web, Twitter and Facebook.

    1. Office has no creditable alternatives? For 90% of Office users there are many better alternatives.

      As for other software that requires more horsepower, that’s what desktops are for.

      You have no absolutely credibility when you try to pump up Microsoft like this.

      1. for most people office is needed ONLY cause they think they can only use office.
        iWork works for me (c’mon apple where is iWork 12?)
        OpenOffice works great, there are others also. But there are people that think office is the only thing out there.

      2. I’m hardly “pumping up” Microsoft. My point is that both platforms and each form factor has good points and bad points, and just like the tools in your garage, each one has usefulness and dis-usefulness depending on what you want to do and who or what you are interacting with. I use both, and am equally happy and frustrated.

    2. I’ve been a Mac user since 1984 and have been Microsoft Office free since the 90’s. Libre Office, iWork, heck, even Bean creates MS Word compatible files. The only way for “official” MS Office to survive into the future is by porting them to iOS and trying to convince the millions of iPad and IPod Touch and iPhone users that they need “real” MS Office.
      Good luck with that.

      1. Nah office will on in the business world, that is what keeps it entrenched.

        Really in that realm there is no alternative, well there is, but the alternatives are usually half baked and cost more in the long run.

        Word is one program. Not many people truly understand why office as a suite has no equal.

        1. Really, you are right. A colleague of mine works miracles with Word and Excel an VBA. I agree that most people do NOT need F11, but some do and make Office work for them. Pages and Numbers? Come on, that is just silly! Yes, KeyNote is great, better than PowerPoint, but Pages and Numbers? And Mail on OSX? JOKE! Great interface, but is is crap. I love Apple, but in many a case Windows is better to use…..Mostly for Office….

          1. Ahh, yes, what we have here is TROLL technique number 69. Say “something nice about one thing”, then say you “absolutely love Apple” and then follow that on with saying “how crappy everything else is”. It can appear quite a subtle technique….to a moron.

            I have worked in an environment where I have had to use worksheet, presentation and documentation software for 80% of my workday for over 20 years. Same for my wife. In the 90’s we were FORCED off our Macintoshes because MS played hardball with our IT about licensing pricing for Word Xcell. They wanted us to switch to windows to get better pricing. Fast forward to 2007, went back to Macs and we have used Keynote, Pages and Numbers and Mail in our Marketing/sales, Engineering and finance departments. All departments in fact. Our company has 700 people and we have had no problems with iWork and Mail SW whatsoever.

            As another example, Apple is thousands of people working in very demanding situations that require use of worksheets and documentation and presentation SW….are saying that a company like Apple would be better off using MS office? Yeah Right!!!

            1. Man do your engineering department a favor and let them use excel.

              Numbers flat out does not cut it for any engineering department I have been in.

              Where to start the list of the ways that Numbers fails vs. excel. Jesus. Its a long one.

              No real way to link to data or pull data into numbers beyond importing csv, small excel worksheets or resorting to bizarre applescript kludges. In excel I routinely pull down thousands of rows of data directly from a SQL database. I have yet to find an easy to way to do that in Numbers.

              Numbers has a row limit of 65,536. I routinely pass that in excel when doing analysis on large data dumps.

              I can’t imagine being stuck with Numbers every day. Pages I could handle, I find it quite nice and I don’t push it or Word to any extent. Keynote is hands down better than PowerPoint. I happen to like mail, but I only use it for my personal email. I could live with it though since I hate outlook meeting reminders 🙂

            2. He Paul,

              I am boring the heck out of my coworkers because I laugh at their silly Windows and the hard times they face using it. I call them weird because they keep hating it but rather than switching to a Mac (which I allow them, I’d happily sign the purchase orders) they keep hating it and want to try nothing else. Ten years ago MS Outlook crashed on me multiple times a day and I decided enough is enough. I bought my first PowerBook 15′ and have been an enthusiast ever since, convincing every person who uses a computer for home, school and regulate business tasks to use an Apple, even when it was still 10.2! However, some tasks are still better in a day to day environment to perform on a Windows machine with Excel, even if there is a technologically better option on a Mac, simply because there are other companies to consider (business to business) and at times Windows is more forgiving, even if that is an ugly reason!

              I am constantly looking for serious alternatives to the tasks we do in Excel etc and I will not stop the fight, but one thing to remember whilst fighting is to never underestimate your enemy.

      2. Oh, please do not allow MS Office on the iPad.

        Office will ‘fester’ in iOS making every i-‘cloths’ (iPad) in need of some antiseptic solution to rid this “trojan assault”.

    3. Ah, equivocation, the new MS fanboy battle whimper. They also attempt to do this with security (claim that no system is perfect -there for- because windows AND OS X are “not perfect” they are the same security wise. WHich is not even close to the truth)

      It’s just rubbish, as althegeo pointed out there are (better) application alternatives for 90% (I would say closer to 95%) of users. More importantly you can’t “equivocate” the operating systems just because windows is “usable”. Windows is usable (barely in some cases) but has a fundamentally flawed OS structure (fragile registry, one damage is present it propagates sending the OS into a slow death spiral) ) And the security is a joke there are still hundreds of viruses in the wild that can infect windows, including up to date win7 systems (MS’s terms keep any discovery’s “under wraps” for 6-9 months (in some cases over a year) till the can take their sweet time patching the OS, unfortunately that leaves the suckers nieve enough to believe the “win security myth” uninformed and completely vulnerable.)

      1. No operating system has perfect security, it just happens that all of them basically have better security than Windows. That I will agree with.

        The funny thing is that Windows NT (the kernel) was written from the beginning to have strong security, Dave Cutler had already written a secure operating system (VMS) however MS in many cases failed to use the security mechanisms already built into the OS. To make matters worse NTFS while having fine grained permissions literally has too many permissions. Its a mess! Its so fine grained that few people understand how to even configure it so they never bother.

        Windows has reached a point where its literally layer upon layer and it adds to the complexity with each release.

        The registry was about the most insane idea ever. Its designed in such a way that when an application is uninstalled its never fully removed, there are always pieces left over somewhere.

        MS over-engineers things is my opinion after working with their operating system for years. They choose the most twisted and complex path to any solution they come up with.

        1. “They choose the most twisted and complex path to any solution they come up with.”

          All I know is, every single thing in Windows requires 3 steps more than necessary. Why do people use it?

    4. thing is how many people use photoshop and how many people just surf the web?

      in fact vast numbers of people don’t even need Office, most are happy with simple cheap word processors etc.

      Jobs called PCs ‘trucks’ and fact is a lot of people don’t need trucks…

  5. Steve Jobs’ analogy is a bit flawed. I’ve never been to his neighborhood, but in my neighborhood people seem to think that as soon as they have a baby, you need to buy a two-story SUV with three bedrooms and an early warning system for icebergs.

    My point is that cars haven’t replaced trucks, the word “car” has replaced the word “truck.” I’m exaggerating, but not by much: People drive around in “cars” that we would have called moving vans and school buses only a couple decades ago.

    In the future, but In reality, it’s no more a post-PC world than it is a post-truck world. The story is the same but the names are changed to confuse the innocent, that’s all.

    1. US, not in Europe. I live in the Netherlands and have three kids and drive a VW Touran that on the outside looks like a miniature van but is spacious inside. I like Steve’s analogy and it may be more true than we all think.

    1. The “Jobs Era” will never end, as long as Apple exists. Steve has simply evolved to a higher plane, but his essence is still with us as long as we remember him. Now infidel, bend over and prepare to receive the wrath of The Enforcer.

  6. @Ken

    Sorry to hear you live in a bad neighborhood. I hope you are able to move soon.

    Steve’s analogy wasn’t flawed. He was making the general point that in the days of a primarily agrarian society that it made sense that the family motorized and wheeled highway capalel vehicle be a truck which would be useful for delivering their farm products as well as for going into town on Saturday night. Steve was obviously refering to personal vehicles of today vs pickup and flatbed trucks from before.

    Personal vehicles of today woul include all kinds of personal vehicles includig SUV’s even if they are buil on a truck chassis.

    If you go to most shoppng malls you will see mainly personal vehicles.

    Commercil vehicle would also be excuded from the count.

    Welcome to the post truck post PC era.

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