It can't be easy being Ray Ozzie. Microsoft's chief software architect is just 18 months into the job as Bill Gates' handpicked successor, yet depending on whom you ask, his tenure will either signal a bold new era for the company or mark the beginning of its terminal decline.
From the perspective of Microsoft shareholders, the picture certainly looks grim. After a decade of timid stock performance, the fiscal year that ended June 2009 saw Microsoft's net revenue decrease for the first time in its history. It also announced its first-ever layoffs and has since exceeded its original estimate of 5,000 pink slips
. But worst of all, for the first time in recent memory, Microsoft confronts a rival of goliath proportions that seems capable of going the distance with the software giant.