Former Microsoft exec Ozzie: 'Of course we're in a post-PC world'

Speaking at the GeekWire Summit, Microsoft's former chief software architect also sheds little new light on his startup, Cocomo.

Jay Greene
Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
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Ray Ozzie answers a question at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle. Jay Greene/CNET

SEATTLE--Microsoft fights the notion that the world has entered the "post-PC era," opting instead for the more Windows-friendly "PC-plus" phrasing.

But Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's former chief software architect, has little doubt that the world has moved on.

"Why are we arguing? Of course we're in a post-PC world," Ozzie said during a question-and-answer session at the GeekWire Summit here.

To Ozzie, though, the discussion is somewhat about semantics. Because, in the end, the market for devices that do general computation is going to continue to expand. And there's plenty of opportunity for companies that understand how to create devices consumers want.

Microsoft just rolled out the beta version of Windows 8. The operating system, expected to launch later this year, will power both personal computers and tablets. When asked what it would take for Microsoft to regain influence in technology, Ozzie said it all depends on the success of the new operating system.

"It's all going to be based on whether people buy the product," Ozzie said, declining to speculate on the product's prospects. "It's too soon to tell."

Ozzie, who followed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as Microsoft's chief software architect, left the company in 2010. Prior to that, he created Lotus Notes. Gates once called Ozzie "one of the top five programmers in the universe."

Earlier this year, he started to take the wraps off a new company he's starting, Cocomo. Ozzie has said little about it, though he's hired a handful of former colleagues who've worked with him on communications products at Microsoft and other companies.

The GeekWire founders, John Cook and Todd Bishop, pressed Ozzie on his new venture, but were able to pull out only a few tidbits of new information.

"The thing I have done most of my career is communications," Ozzie said. "I like envisioning tools for new environments."

He added that he's concentrating on mobility, and that he's focused on "cloud-based backends," as well as phones and tablets. But Ozzie offered little else about Cocomo.

"This company, Cocomo, is a handful of people," Ozzie said. "I'm really excited about what they are working on. But it's not time."