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Friday, June 16, 2006 - Page updated at 12:48 AM

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Ray Ozzie: Long known for his wizardry with software

Seattle Times technology reporter

Ray Ozzie has long been considered a software-industry pioneer.

Ozzie, who is replacing Bill Gates as Microsoft's chief software architect, made his mark creating IBM's Lotus Notes collaboration and e-mail software and later founded Groove Networks, a file-sharing technology company that Microsoft acquired in March 2005. Microsoft executives said they wanted to snag Ozzie for years, and after the Groove acquisition Ozzie took the role of chief technical officer.

From the moment he stepped through Microsoft's doors, Ozzie was in a position of prominence and influence within the company's top circles. He has been a key player in Microsoft's continuing efforts to connect all of its products more to the Web, including business programs and the Xbox video-gaming system.

"I cannot overstate the importance of what Ray Ozzie has done here," Gates told Fortune earlier this year.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer recently said that when Microsoft set out to choose the technologies it would focus on, Ozzie came back with a list of 70 items. Ballmer balked, saying the list was too overwhelming. But Ozzie insisted, and the list became official.

Mark Anderson, a Friday Harbor technology pundit, said Ozzie has the ability to tailor the technical to the practical. "He looks at how people behave and then makes products that fit their behavior," he said, "and that's something Microsoft has never been good at."

Before he founded Groove in 1997, Ozzie created a company called Iris Associates. According to Microsoft, it was at Iris that he began initial work on Lotus Notes. He also worked at Data General and has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ozzie, 50, was named "person of the year" in 1995 by PC Magazine for creating Lotus Notes. The magazine credited the program with enabling a trend that began in 1994 of people working together in groups on computing.

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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