In April I wrote the following to a colleague after reading ZDNet’s article on the announcement of LiveMesh:
I have absolutely no respect for Ray Ozzie as an architect. Everything he’s ever created has been overcomplicated shite only an architecture astronaut could love. Seeing the current confusion over “what *is* this thing?” doesn’t give me much hope he’s going to change that pattern this time around.
Since I got the term “architecture astronaut” from reading Joel Spolsky it was a happy circumstance to find that he has a similar (though wittier) opinion of Ozzie’s LiveMesh:
Windows Live Mesh is not just a way to synchronize files. That’s just the sample app. It’s a whole goddamned architecture, with an API and developer tools and in insane diagram showing all the nifty layers of acronyms, and it seems like the chief astronauts at Microsoft literally expect this to be their gigantic platform in the sky which will take over when Windows becomes irrelevant on the desktop. And synchronizing files is supposed to be, like, the equivalent of Microsoft Write on Windows 1.0.
It’s Groove, rewritten from scratch, one more time. Ray Ozzie just can’t stop rewriting this damn app, again and again and again, and taking 5-7 years each time.
And the fact that customers never asked for this feature and none of the earlier versions really took off as huge platforms doesn’t stop him.
By the way, here’s the “insane diagram” I assume Spolsky’s referring to. Or maybe it was this one.
What’s the lesson here? Well, for one thing, that when Steve Jobs put a bullet in OpenDoc, he did the right thing. What other astronomical architectures would be better put out of our misery?