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Ozzie: Open source is greatest threat to Microsoft

Google is a concern, but open source is the bigger worry for Microsoft, according to Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie.

Microsoft is clearly worried about Google as a competitive threat. But the bigger worry continues to be open source, according to Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie.

Ozzie, speaking at Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York on Wednesday, said that while Google is a "tremendously strong source was much more potentially disruptive" to Microsoft's business model.

Ozzie said that since many open-source programmers aren't beholden to shareholders they potentially represent a more formidable force in the market.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect Dan Farber/CNET

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has posted a detailed report on Ozzie's talk. Some of the highlights:

  • Open source has "made Microsoft a much stronger company" by driving changes to Microsoft's products to make them interoperable with open-source products.

  • Ozzie said that a new operating system designed today wouldn't be a single piece of software on a single computer. Instead, it might be something that gives users access to data running across multiple devices, like PCs, TVs, cars, etc. "Instead of the computer being at the center, you (the user) are at the center," he said.

  • Microsoft's pursuit of Yahoo "was not a strategy unto itself," Ozzie said. "It was an accelerator to the ad platform."

Ozzie might elaborate on that operating-system-of-the-future idea at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, slated to take place in October in Los Angeles. Ozzie is giving the keynote speech at the event, and the company is expected to have a broader beta of Live Mesh--part of its Live platform strategy--and offer a clearer picture of its overall services push.