Ray Ozzie Will Join Executive Exodus from Microsoft

Ray Ozzie is leaving Microsoft. The software giant’s chief software architect, who was hand-picked by Chairman Bill Gates, on Monday announced plans to step down. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent an e-mail to employees announcing Ozzie’s decision, and analysts are speculating about the impact of his departure and why so many executives are leaving.

“We have seen many Microsoft technologists leave recently. Robbie Bach and J. Allard’s departures earlier this year, reportedly over clashes on technology direction, are now followed by Ray Ozzie’s departure, again reportedly over clashes on technology direction,” said Dora Vell, principal of Vell Executive Search.

“They are, however, significantly different, as Windows 7 did extremely well under Ray Ozzie, but the entertainment and mobile divisions led by the Bach-Allard team were suffering,” she said. “On the other hand, there are rumors that Bach-Allard perhaps were not given as much full rein as they needed to win against Apple.”

Fruit of Ozzie’s Labor

In the internal e-mail, Ballmer said Ozzie’s work has stimulated thinking across the company and helped catalyze Microsoft’s drive to the cloud over the past five years.

The fruit of Ozzie’s leadership includes Windows Live, which now serves as a web-based services complement to both Windows and Office. SharePoint and Exchange are now also in the cloud. And then there’s Windows Azure, which offers a foundation for more cloud-based innovations.

“With our progress in services and the cloud now full speed ahead in all aspects of our business, Ray and I are announcing today Ray’s intention to step down from his role as chief software architect,” Ballmer wrote. “He will remain with the company as he transitions the teams and ongoing strategic projects within his organization — bringing the great innovations and great innovators he’s assembled into the groups driving our business.”

Transition Plans

After transitioning his teams — and…

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