I found this article to be a useful summary of the executive suite mudwrestling that seems to be taking place at Microsoft, and why Ray Ozzie's farewell memo is a pretty nice kiss-off from a place that seems to want to stick to the past rather than innovate for the future:

Investors worrying about Ozzie's departure have good reason to be scared. Too many of Mr. Softy's top executives have left for competitors.

The most oft-cited example is Stephen Elop, former head of Microsoft Business, who is now CEO of Nokia. But I think Elop's leaving was largely a non-event. As you can see from the tables above, Microsoft Business is a steady ship.

More worrisome to me Don Dodge's departure for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) -- and not by choice, I might add. Though a lesser-known executive, Dodge is highly respected among software developers.  ...

You know who else is widely respected among developers? Ray Ozzie. He cut his teeth coding and is widely considered the genius behind the creation of Lotus Notes, the productivity software that proved so attractive to IBM (NYSE: IBM) that it spent $3.5 billion to acquire Lotus Development in 1995.

If, like Dodge, Ozzie joins Google, Apple, or another of Microsoft's rivals to help create cloud computing's next great killer app, it would clarify just how out of touch with developers the company has become.

On the other hand, if Ozzie leaves to take another stab at being an entrepreneur -- he's helped create two software companies that were later acquired -- it would be good for the software industry writ large. And in a time of flux, the industry needs as many proven, fast-moving innovators as it can find. Few have a better track record than Ozzie.
Lot of respect for both Dodge and, obviously, Ray.  

Part of me is surprised at the amount of speculation on Ray's future.  I've even been asked to comment on rumor of him coming back to IBM -- which, IBM doesn't comment on rumors, but really?  Were I him, I'd be thinking about taking it easy for a while, though from what little exposure I've had to Ray personally, he doesn't seem the type.

Meanwhile, Microsoft needs to decide what they stand for.  Is it an endless cash cow of Windows and Office (which, when you visit the front page of Microsoft.com, these are the only two product families that appear called out on the top bar), or is it about something for the future?  "Azure" doesn't even appear by name on the front page or any of the drop-downs.  Oddly, neither does "Bing" (other than as a search tool for Microsoft.com).  It seems clear from the recent executive clean-out that MS is betting on the past.  Is it any wonder the charts look like this?

Image:Motley Fool: What Is Microsoft, Anyway?
Link: Motley Fool: What Is Microsoft, Anyway? >

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