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Ozzie warns Microsoft of post-PC future

Microsoft's chief software architect Ray Ozzie, the man who stepped into Bill Gates' boots, is leaving the company - and warns those left behind that they face an uncertain future.

Previously part of Groove Networks, which was bought out by the software behemoth in 2005, Ozzie served as the chief technical officer of Microsoft until Gates' departure in 2006, at which point he was thrust into the limelight as the company's new chief software architect.

Those days are over, however, with Ozzie announcing his intention to step down from the role and retire from Microsoft, following the completion of a 'transition period' which sees his input being added to the company's Xbox department.

As he leaves, Ozzie has a stark warning to those colleagues he leaves behind, outlining a post-PC future in a memo distributed to Microsoft executives and Ozzie's directly-reporting staff.

In the memo, Ozzie warns that unnamed competitors have "surpassed [Microsoft] in mobile experiences, in the seamless fusion of hardware and software and services, and in social networking and myriad new forms of Internet-centric social interaction," despite the company's "early and clear vision" in those areas.

Ozzie goes on to mention the 25th anniversary of Windows 1.0, which arrives on the 20th of November, but warns that since those days of early graphical user interfaces the growing complexity of the PC ecosystem means big changes ahead, in an environment that he warns is becoming increasingly frustrating for its users.

In the memo, Ozzie warns: "Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT. Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use. Complexity introduces security challenges. Complexity causes administrator frustration."

To succeed, Ozzie argues, those left behind at Microsoft must: "close [y]our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like, if it were to ever truly occur. How would customers accomplish the kinds of things they do today? In what ways would it be better? In what ways would it be worse, or just different? Those who can envision a plausible future that’s brighter than today will earn the opportunity to lead."

The memo, reproduced in full over on Ozzie's personal blog, paints a picture of a world where computing is a vastly different experience to anything that has gone before, and is a clear message to Microsoft: innovate or die.