Microsoft has definitely turned around. PDC was the proof that the company is back on track. Not that it was necessarily off track â€“ since theyâ€™ve been working on it for the last 3 years – but the lack of communication certainly wasnâ€™t inspiring anyone.
What exactly has caused this transformation?
Answer: Ray Ozzie.
Less than a year ago (just after the MVP Summit) I was gravely concerned about how Microsoft was being lead. Ray gave the keynote speech at the Summit, and it left me bored and underwhelmed. And even though Bill Gates had handpicked him, I was pretty critical. How little I knew.
Around that time I asked a few Microsoft guys for their thoughts on Ray Ozzie. The response was usually along the lines of â€˜â€¦actually, I donâ€™t really know much about himâ€¦â€™. And that of course was a big part of the problem. If you donâ€™t know much about the man, then chances are you donâ€™t know much about what the man is thinking.
My, how times have changed. The revolution that was showcased at PDC has put Ray firmly centre stage. Microsoft is in strong hands. But what exactly do we know about him personally? To answer that comes the perfectly timed December edition of Wired (it was actually released a week ago), with its tantalizing title:
Saving Microsoft: Can Ray Ozzie fix the house that Bill built?
Itâ€™s a fantastic piece. I actually bought the magazine today (I didnâ€™t realise until I started writing this post that I could actually read it online for free!) and couldnâ€™t stop reading. It explains everything I wanted to know about him, his history, what makes him tick and what scares him (I was heartened to learn he is extremely anxious when having to present). I agree with Steve Clayton when he hat tips Scoble describing Ray as â€˜a change agent who is busy turning a super tankerâ€™. Heâ€™s a determined, impressive man of vision. As he needs to be.
The article also covers little tidbits like why they wore those red shoes (you can thank Dave Cutler for that) and how the name Red Dog was arrived at (spoiler: it involves a strip club).
As Iâ€™ve said recently, I used to be a doubter, now Iâ€™m a follower. The more I learn about him, the more Iâ€™m impressed. Heâ€™s won me over. He has credibility, integrity and (regardless of whether you love or hate Notes) it has to be said that he has a highly acclaimed developer pedigree. I think Iâ€™m a believer.