Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Blast off for Mini-Microsoft!

Why another weblog about Microsoft? This is a weblog written by someone working for change at Microsoft. I’m working for change from the inside (you don’t get to see that, most likely). And I’m working for change from the outside (yes, this right here). I intend to use this area to post one Microsoftie’s view of what is going on with this company and what opportunities exist to shine again. Thanks for reading this and I hope you’ll return in the future. Please subscribe to the feed! You’re not only obviously incredibly good looking but also exceptionally smart. Please share with me your input about what I say here plus any insight you might have. What kind of things do I intend to post about? Oh, let’s see:

  • Microsoft needs to reduce employee size. It’s too big. It doesn’t need a quicky Atkins-equivalent. No, it needs to get itself on a corporate exercise program that will shed itself of unwanted groups and employees. And stay on that.
  • Microsoft needs to stop hiring. It’s hard enough finding the scarcest of treasured corporate resources: the talented individual suitable for working at Microsoft. Stop hiring, trim down, and rebalance those precious scare employees inside to where they can be more productive and make products that delight our customers.
  • Re-interviewing: all employees below a certain life-time review average need to re-interview. Those that don’t make the cut the second time around get to look for new opportunities elsewhere.
  • Unleash employee driven innovation with a Microsoft Labs community area.
  • Less research, more application.
  • Continue the community effort and make it so if you’re not leading cool innovation, your butt is dedicated to some time per week helping out in the community, sharing all that wonderful knowledge between your ears. Reward that!
  • Back to Basics. Win32 and C++. Bread and butter. Not everything can run in the freaking CLR.
  • Re-energize the home market. The home market is pretty tepid with-respect-to Microsoft-branded software. It can’t take that much effort to invigorate Microsoft for the home user and make it cool.
  • Start working vigorously on Internet Explorer again. Winning the browser wars, dusting off our hands, and running away screaming from IE to the Next Cool Thing represents the very worst in less-than-competitive behavior.
I LOVE THIS COMPANY! Mini-Microsoft, Mini-Microsoft, lean-and-mean!


anothermsemployee said...

This is so great! I was thinking of doing something similar. I think you should allow anonymous posting as it would probably increase the number of comments you receive.

Maybe we can meet on campus one day.

Who da'Punk said...

Mini-MSFT: Thanks - I just turned on commenting for everyone. More to come :-)

Anonymous said...

I'll second the back-to-basics. I'm tired of the API-Of-The-Week.

On a side note though, you have called for dumping the unprofitable groups. How does revitalizing Explorer mesh with that? It seems that Explorer was largely an effort to crush Netscape, not a profit driven exercise. I'm sure I missing some other strategic tie-in though.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog, as a independent developer, its encouraging to see someone working to get Microsoft back to their roots. Thanks,

Anonymous said...


Do you have any thoughts about Microsoft's corporate blogging strategy? Why is the company encouraging so many employees, over 700 to blog? Any PR related reasons?

John Cass

Anonymous said...

Upon reading most of your posts I have these comments. Most of your ideas are unoriginal and obvious, while some are plain stupid.

Getting rid of underperformers. - Obvious and being done. Focus has been there for several years.

Re-energize the home market. Umm we have a whole division devoted to this. Do you think that you are smarter that all of them? Then go apply for a job there.

Stop hiring - rebalance. You don't think these jobs will be posted internally? Of course they are. If you think we are being undisciplined in creating new jobs, just try to get new headcount approved.

Continue community efforts. We are doing that in a big way. Glad to see we have your approaval.

Back to basics. Dumb. Why not go all the way back to assembler? Frameworks and abstractions help us develop more code better and faster. Yes not everything should run in the CLR. But a lot more can be acheived in many produts by using it. Let me guess - you are a Win32 C programmer? Can you say "job security worries"?

Working on IE again. Have you missed the whole web services thing? The whole industry has moved on to new things. Browsers are so 90's

Anonymous said...

Upon reading most of your posts I have these comments. Most of your ideas are unoriginal and obvious, while some are plain stupid.BillG, is that you???

Pete Cooney said...

Interesting blog--thanks for sharing ideas.

However, I would submit that, as a Microsoftie, your attitude about "back to basics" is part of the problem that makes Microsoft a problem for the rest of the world.

Win32? C++? Good grief, man. You obviously never worked in a real company where these first-gen technologies have become bloated developer-driven problems.

I advise you to dig into Open Source and take some of the innovation in that community back to MS, where you can then take what is really a promising .NET future to the next step.

Anonymous said...

>>Browsers are so 90's

If browsers are so 90's than why are they the most used tool in 2005 ?

What did you use to read and post to the blog ?

A lot of innovation could be put into the browser

Anonymous said...

To poster #5 with the browsers are so 90s comment:

This is the very hubris that is making MSFT, "the other software company". As an employee that implements software and hardware solutions, I can say that Microsoft products comprise a small fraction of what we implement. The rest? Apple, a variety of flavors of Linux ,or Open Source software, depending on the client's needs. There is a MSFT product for everything we implement but there exists

Your bloat is making your software suck and people don't want to buy it. Well, less people want to buy it.

As far as browsers go and your comment. The only browser that's "so 90s" is IE. Good job.

Mini - good luck.

Anonymous said...

The above comment is mine. Sorry for poor grammar in the sentence, " There is a MSFT product for everything we implement but there exists".

I mean to say, there is a MSFT product for everything we implement but there exists little argument to do so.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder if there were so many bad comments about the company and plenty dissatisfactions etc. Why are you still with Microsoft? Hmmmm ... ... cant find a better company to join? Or perhaps your IT (software or hardware etc) skills have come to freeze!!!

It's about time individual re-interview himself on how can he helps Microsoft improves to the next height than posting plenty of lame comments to stir the gound.

Hmmmm... ... I only happened to chance this Mini upon reading Businessweek. I'm not an employee of Microsoft.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

"Getting rid of underperformers. - Obvious and being done. Focus has been there for several years."

Focus? Years?
DEC laid off for 8+ years. Is that the model? Managing is not leading.

Watching with interest.

Anonymous said...

First off, I am not an employee of MS; however, I have been a user for say 25 years (feeling old). Anyway, I am probably a large critic about the organization as a whole. Now, not being an insider I am probably, way off base on some topics. Here are a few thoughts and opinions in regards to your post. Please take no offense; if its a tab bit harsh, well, I never had the opportunity of the eyes and ears of MS employees. PS: Grammer checker is off. :-)

*"Microsoft needs to reduce employee size. "
* "Microsoft needs to stop hiring. "
Well, it happens in every company; a lot of times this is managments way of having soldiers and clout with in the org itself. What I am trying to say, its a power play for work load; it may be different at MS but past personal experience dictates otherwise. Are you too big? Don't know, but in any camp, troops have to be aligned and given purpose, not just given head count because you can. Management should be scrutinized for their hiring practices and held accountable for their actions.

*"Less research, more application." Are you stating that research should be trimed down? Or are you saying research should be put into action? Research shouldn't be cut, it should be (eventually) put into action in products.

*"Re-energize the home market."
1) There are several aspects to the consumer market. That particular market is sensitive to prices. Most users won't upgrade until they purchase a new machine. At that point they will still be installing their older apps that they have used from day to day.
2) Give users a reason to upgrade?
3) Use shorter release cycles to add new features and support for the home market. (Corp IT is very different and this won't fly).
4) Resonable prices for software. Honestly, 400-500 USD is not realistic for many home users (office suite). Staroffice, Corel WP suite costs what, 100 bucks? Now that is resonable. Why do you think people hold onto software for such a long period? Software costs more than the PC.
5) What about an unlimited license for home users for their machies; in one home. Yes, I am aware their is a product that address that feature (for office).
6) Allow the user to actually remove the components that they want or need in the product.

*"Start working vigorously on Internet Explorer again." This should have been done a long time ago.

Not that this will be done; but I would like to add a few things to my mindless rants:
1) Encourage document interoperability. Document the format but don't give away the code. Allow easy access to said document via any product. If innovation and product value is at the heart of the model, you will still sell your software. Disclaimer: I use other products as well as MS. Having to always get access to a machine w/windows and office isn't always an easy task.

2) Users don't like to upgrade their OS because it is a pain in the ass. Most people don't make back up copies of their important files. You want people to upgrade? Then give the the ability to upgrade.
a) Upgrade wizard: Let the wizard be pointed at certain (MS) app's and directories (with data) that need to be upgraded. The next step is to have the user just start dumping in CD's for the back up copies. An intergrity check would be nice. Step 3 have the system do a clean install. Step 4 have those CD's import the data back after their fav apps are installed. Take the pain out of upgrading for people. I am a fan of clean installs.

3) DRM: software and hardware, Your not making any fans with this endeavor.

4) System requirements: recommended 2 gigs of ram and a beefy video card? Not going to fly with corporate or home users. From what I have read, there are going to be 3 modes from which a user can run the system, depending on their hardware requirements. Now ask your self: How much different is this going to be from XP will running in lean and mean mode? What, incentive will they have to upgrade?

5) Pre-loaded OS: Ok this is a wish more than anything else. Do I have to buy a license ever time I buy a PC? Even if that PC isn't going to run Windows. I would love to go into a store an buy a machine bring it home and install an OS of my choice. 99 percent of users will go pre-loaded; I would love to have that option.

6) Licenses. Give the user the ability to transfere licenses between machines. Why is it that the OS can only be installed on that one machine. I know, I know, its a price break. Most users don't see it that way. Really, alot of people consider the license scheme some what draconian.

7) Default install. Please make it secure by default. If an app during install wants to change something, identify the risks to the users.

There is more that I can spout off and I am sure people are tired of reading my rant. So, I will stop. Did anyone make it to the end? Please on flames, just vent on some frustrations.

Anonymous said...

Oh please. you all are acting like Polyanas who just work up in the big bad world

get a grip, the corporate world has always been this way. its all about who you know rather than what you do. its the same all over the world. you think other companies are not like MS? They are. have you travelled and worked overseas? its worse there because they dont have legal structures in place unlike the US where at least you can voice some of your grievances. havent you all seen people kissing butt rising to the top?

and for all of you out there with a holier than thou attitude, many of you would do the same if you got the chance.

so lets stop throwing stones. none of us are in that position.