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Ozzie Speaks On Microsoft Transition

If Ray Ozzie is at all cowed by his newfound responsibilities as Microsoft chief software architect, he's not showing it.

In a phone interview with CRN hours after Microsoft went public with the news of its succession plan for founder and chairman Bill Gates, Ozzie seemed unfazed. The company announced Thursday that Gates is starting a two-year transition out of his day-to-day duties and has relinquished his chief software architect title to Ozzie.

Asked if this spotlight brings untoward pressure, Ozzie said: "None at all."

"I think Bill and [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] know that sometimes the gray hair can be advantageous," Ozzie said. "If you've been through positive experiences like launching [Lotus] 1-2-3 and VisiCalc, as well as sobering experiences like being at IBM with [Louis] Gerstner when the desktop business hit the wall at Lotus -- it can be very helpful moving forward," Ozzie said. Ozzie, like Gates is 50 years old.

Under the plan, Gates will remain chairman of the company he co-founded 31 years ago with Paul Allen. But starting in July 2008, he will devote the bulk of his time to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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