Ozzie, hand-picked by Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates to succeed him as the corporate visionary, gathered a team of 50 or so employees to piece together the concept. Something of an industry legend, Ozzie was a co-creator of Lotus Notes, and he joined Microsoft in 2005 after the company bought his startup, Groove Networks. To hear Microsoft insiders tell it, Ozzie was stepping straight into one of the epic turf battles that have come to define the company over the years.
Ozzie's vision - part of an offering known as Windows Live Mesh - became a threat to a different concept championed by Windows President Steven Sinofsky. His team was working on a similar feature for its SkyDrive Web storage service. The dispute, recounted by four current and former Microsoft executives, centered on Sinofsky's objection to the development of a service that ultimately might become part of Windows that he didn't control. Sinofsky took the fight to Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, arguing that relying on development of the service outside the Windows division could delay the next version of the operating system and undermine the company's flagship product.