Ray Ozzie, who has been Microsoft's technology visionary since the departure of co-founder Bill Gates, is stepping down from his role as chief software architect.
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer announced Ozzie's plans Monday in an email to employees, which was posted on the company's site. Ozzie is expected to remain with the company as it reorganizes development teams and management to fill the void. Ballmer said he does not intend to fill Ozzie's position.
The memo did not say when Ozzie would leave the company. Instead, Ballmer said Ozzie would be involved temporarily in the company's efforts in the entertainment market. "Following the natural transition time with his teams but before he retires from Microsoft, Ray will be focusing his efforts in the broader area of entertainment where Microsoft has many ongoing investments," Ballmer said. Ozzie had no plans beyond Microsoft at this time, Ballmer said.
Ballmer credited Ozzie with guiding Microsoft in its transition toward cloud computing. The impact of his work is seen in Windows Live, Microsoft's cloud-computing complement to Windows and Office, and in the integration of Web services in SharePoint and Exchange. Ozzie also was responsible for the development of Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform for hosting and running applications in Microsoft datacenters.
Ozzie took over the role of chief software architect from Bill Gates in June 2006. Gates stayed with the company for two more years before leaving to spend more time on global health and education work through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Ozzie joined Microsoft in April as one of three chief technical officers after Microsoft acquired his company Groove Networks, a collaboration software maker Ozzie formed in 1997. Before Groove, Ozzie was a founder and president of Iris Associates, where he led the development of Lotus Notes, a collaborative application that included email and calendaring. Ozzie's work was funded through Lotus Development Corp., which IBM bought for $3.5 billion in 1995.