Microsoft’s Cloud: a real strategy or pie in the sky?

Sad to see Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie leave the company this month. Ozzie created Lotus Notes, then Groove, which Microsoft bought out.

Ozzie was one of the good guys. Highly talented, well respected and Cloud orientated. Uniquely capable of filling the vacuum left by Bill Gates’ departure.

I doubt there is anyone following trends today who doesn’t accept the Cloud as our future. Nor who doesn’t realise that the restrictive and expensive desktop’s days are numbered. Anyone but Microsoft, that is.

I can imagine the frustration he felt as he battled against the cash-cow culture prevailing in Microsoft and its obsession with extracting every last penny from its customer base.

Ozzie was a Cloud visionary and tried to steer the desktop-obsessed Microsoft that way. Does this mean that Microsoft’s recent “we love the Cloud” stance is discredited?

Well, here’s my two-cent’s worth…

Trying to capture a virtual world

There’s a famous saying in technology security circles. “You can’t take what you can’t see”. Clearly that applies to taking a market you can’t see and lock to a desk, too.

The big problem Microsoft has is in removing choice from a user who has seen the world laid out before them. Microsoft controlled the desktop, but sure can’t control the browser. But certainly not for want of trying…

Microsoft’s Cloud Offering – tethered to a desktop, of course

Last week, Microsoft launched Office 365. This was supposed to be the answer to Google Docs, Zoho Office and the other Open Source alternatives to Microsoft’s desktop suite.

It replaces Office Live, which fell far short of freeing desktop users from Office’s shackles. 365 is nothing short of a cynical ploy to lock in an audience to an expensive purchase of Microsoft’s latest locally-installed Office Suite, so perpetuating the Windows legacy.

Who’s Microsoft trying to kid?

The corporate world, that’s who. A world supported by rip-off outsource companies doing very nicely polishing the brown-stuff that Microsoft drops on its corporate clients.

A world that has forfeited its technical common sense for short-term goals and lacks any real business vision. And unfortunately, a world driven by big budgets that can mask the inefficiencies of the strategy they follow.

Ultimately, of course, no business can continue to haemorrhage money retaining Microsoft products that simply don’t deliver value, but such a realisation could well come too late. Tankers can take too long to change course in the turbulent waters of today’s market.

And what of the super tanker that is Microsoft?

Ray Ozzie is one very strong guy. He brought his considerable technical strengths to bear on the Good Ship Microsoft. But the ship resisted even his muscle. Now he’s gone, I fear its swung too far the other way and back towards its old core business, the desktop.

Certainly, Wall Street viewed Ozzie’s departure as bad news for the software behemoth. Microsoft shares slipped 2.5% when the story broke.

Can Microsoft swing back in time to catch the tide?

I have my doubts. The marketers are now back at the helm with all the myopia that implies. Good luck Ray. You’re one of the Good Guys.