Microsoft 3.0

What I believe you actually saw last week at the PDC, if you looked carefully, was Microsoft 3.0


The dust is now settling on PDC 2008 and more measured commentary is arriving. I’ve been waiting for this PDC for a long time and to see the reaction. I thought I’d give you my take on what really went down last week and connect to some others who are doing the same.

There were numerous announcements, these being the big 4:

  1. Windows Azure
  2. Azure Services Platform
  3. Windows 7
  4. Office Web Applications

I’m going to discount the one that is getting the most news and focus on the others. Yes, I’m going to ignore Windows 7 as everyone knew that was coming and though it’s a huge step forward, far more educated commentators than me will remark upon that. The other reason I’ll ignore it is I personally think the other 3 topics are much more significant for Microsoft. Why?

  1. They signal new business models on the way – subscriptions and ad supported
  2. They signal a shift in the choice offered to customers – on premise or cloud based
  3. They awaken a latent Microsoft developer community to the cloud – enabling a vast ecosystem that grew from Windows on the desktop and taking them to the cloud

Perhaps most significantly, what I believe you actually saw last week at the PDC, if you looked really carefully was Microsoft 3.0 (lets argue about the number some other day)


What I mean by that is you saw the emergence of a new Microsoft technology approach, driven by Ray Ozzie. As I’ve said many times on this blog, the Ozzie Microsoft is a different Microsoft. It’s a more outside in approach - hence the support in Azure for Eclipse and the announcement of OpenID integration. What you saw last week at PDC was a 3 year plan being methodically executed. If you go back and look at Ray’s 2007 Financial Analyst Meeting  presentation you will see Azure right there. Not by that name but called Cloud Infrastructure Services. Above it you will see see Live Platform Services (now .NET Service and Live Framework) and above that you will see applications like SharePoint & Exchange - which we now brand under Microsoft Online. I had dinner with my friend in LA last week who helped put together that FAM presentation. We both smiled knowingly about the final pieces of the jigsaw now falling in to place.

I’ve been at Microsoft for 11 years and have never seen us execute against a strategy quite like that. I have seen us turn the supertanker a few times and to quote the every quotable Scoble

You just saw Ray Ozzie turn the creaky old cruiseliner hard to port and damn, it is impressive.


Maybe Robert made the right choice to watch PDC from afar as he seems to have really got it. He surprised me with this post Never underestimate Microsoft’s ability to turn a corner as he gets it more than any other Microsoft observer yet. Kip Kniskern (who I finally got to meet at the PDC) also understands what’s happening here and notes that we’ll remember this PDC as The Ray Ozzie PDC. Make no mistake, last week was a big turning point for Microsoft.

Now the real work begins though. To paraphrase Kip it’s “a Posse ad Esse” time. If your Latin is rusty, that means Turning Dreams In To Reality. That’s what Microsoft now faces – taking the elegant execution from Ozzie and team and connecting it so the assets Scoble talks about – our salesforce, our evangelists, our developers, our customers, press, analysts and more. That’s partly where my jobs lies in but I’m a small cog and this is a whole company responsibility. In shifting a supertanker you don’t want anything pulling in the opposite direction and you need all hands on deck.

Is this just an overexcited employee pushing out hyperbole and spin? Maybe, but I’d like to think not. I’ve been talking on this blog for a while about this stuff but a little over a year ago I thought for a brief time about leaving Microsoft. When I got a glimpse that Microsoft 3.0 was not far away and I could be close to the engine room I didn’t hesitate. The last year in Microsoft has been the most exciting and challenging I have ever had – a direct result of our Software plus Services and where Ray Ozzie is taking the company. He’s taking it there slower than some would like but talk is cheap; execution matters. That is happening and it seems I’m not the only one thinking that way in a post PDC world:


“Let's not underestimate what they're trying to do here...perhaps the most complex programming undertaking ever conceived. Given their track record, (do) we have to at least say is there a scenario where they crash and burn here? Yeah there is," he said. "But if they can deliver in reasonable time frames, can anyone touch them?"
Jonathan Yarmis, AMR Research


It will take a while before Azure is ready for prime time … still, I think it's a very visionary, pragmatic idea
David Smith, Gartner


“Suddenly they look focused as a company and I'm seeing them execute as a company…the last time I thought they were focused as a company was with Windows 95.”
Rob Enderle, Enderle Group


Ozzie's new system, called the Azure Services Platform, will require a complete reworking of just about everything Microsoft puts out. In scope it makes the writing of the Windows operating system look like three-letter hangman
Victoria Barret and Quentin Hardy, Forbes


"It's a complete re-helming of Microsoft's strategy across the board,"
Lee Nicholls, Getronics


So welcome, to Microsoft 3.0


Some other interesting posts that influenced this one

Comments (4)

  1. If you want the rights to "Microsoft 3.0," Steve, they’re all yours. Microsoft 2.0 is the end of the road for me (as far as tech books go)… mj

    Microsoft 2.0

  2. Sprague D says:

    Steve Gillmor saw this coming awhile back (and, I think, was the first to use the "turning the ship" metaphor):

    An exciting time to be a Microsoft customer…

  3. D. Lambert says:

    Don’t forget about the revenue model that drives Azure – this is no small part of the reason for this change:

  4. thanks Mary Jo but you set the bar too high for me to even think of attempting that 🙂

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