Memo urges Microsoft to plan for the death of PCs

Former executive Ray Ozzie told Microsoft employees that the vision of a "PC on every desktop" is slowly winding down

Tablets and smartphones are just the beginning of a "Post-PC world," former Microsoft executive Ray Ozzie wrote in parting memo to the company.

Ozzie took Bill Gates' place as chief software architect for Microsoft in 2006, and the company announced his retirement last week. A letter to his colleagues, titled "Dawn of a New Day," takes an optimistic look at the future, but warns the company that its vision of a "PC on every desktop" is slowly winding down.

"And so at this juncture ... it's important that all of us do precisely what our competitors and customers will ultimately do: close our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like, if it were to ever truly occur," Ozzie wrote.

Ozzie envisions a future of powerful Web services that are independent of hardware, and appliance-like devices that "we'll wear, we'll carry, we'll use on our desks & walls and the environment all around us." The mouse and keyboard will be eclipsed by natural interfaces that sense the user's position, movement and touch.

Ozzie avoids specifics in his memo. He doesn't name products from Microsoft or its competitors; his only mentions of Windows is in the context of existing or past products. So I might be wrong in my interpretation, but I think the implications are obvious: Microsoft, start planning for a future without Windows.

Apple's iPad is the first step. Its inability to act like a fully functioning PC is the subject of constant debate, but to scoff at its popularity is exactly the kind of attitude Ozzie is warning against. This is a taste of the future, where being a powerful personal computer isn't as important as delivering popular Web services in a natural interface. On the software side, Google seems to be driving at the same idea with Chrome OS, trimming the fat of traditional PCs and leaving behind only the browser.

Obviously, Ozzie is trying to peer decades into the future, warning Microsoft that if it wants to be as relevant then as it is today, it needs to start planning for a world of powerful Web-based services and dead-simple devices to access them. The change will be subtle, Ozzie says, but it's already happening.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MicrosoftsmartphonesGooglePhoneshardware systemsconsumer electronicslaptopsdesktop pcsnetbookscomputers

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?