Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie is resigning from the company.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the resignation in a companywide e-mail Oct. 18. He also noted that the position of chief software architect-one previously held by Bill Gates-will not be reassigned. "The CSA role was unique and I won't refill the role after Ray's departure," Ballmer wrote.
Ballmer's e-mail declined to mention a specific reason for Ozzie's departure but did its best to cast a positive light on developments.
"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 in his e-mail. "He will remain with the company as he transitions the teams and ongoing strategic projects within his organization."
Ballmer also declined to offer an exact departure date for Ozzie. "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." However, "beyond that, Ray has no plans at this time."
Ozzie is the latest high-profile resignation from Microsoft. In September, Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop stepped down to take the CEO reins at Nokia.
Earlier this year, a shakeup in Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division saw the simultaneous departures of Robbie Bach, president of that unit, and J Allard, its senior vice president of design and development. Despite Microsoft's effort to cast those executives' decisions to leave as personal ones, speculation abounded that the division's underperforming products-notably the discontinued Kin phones-forced their resignations.
As chief software architect, Ozzie had been at the forefront of Microsoft's movements into the cloud and social-networking spaces. In October 2009, he announced the creation of FUSE Labs, a unit focused on software related to social connectivity, real-time experiences and rich media.
In an Oct. 8 internal memo leaked to several news outlets, Ozzie wrote that FUSE Labs would bring "more coherence and capability to those advanced development projects where they're already actively collaborating with product groups to help them succeed with 'leapfrog' efforts." Initial Plans for FUSE Labs involved about 80 employees from Microsoft Startup Labs, based in Massachusetts, along with the Creative Systems Group and Rich Media Labs.
One of the products out of FUSE Labs, Docs.com, allows Facebook users to create and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with .PDF support and full-text search.
In an Oct. 14 note on his personal blog, Ozzie described using some of Docs.com's new features to upload documents from an old folder found in his home office. "Inside a sealed packet I found a wonderful artifact from decades ago-a folder of collaterals from the Windows 1.0 launch event," he wrote in his posting. "I've scanned and posted this artifact at Docs.com, which as of today has introduced, among other features, 'browser-based PDF reading' support."
One can't help but wonder if Ozzie's blogged-about decision to clean out his home office was a foreshadowing of his resignation.