Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Light in the Darkness

Positive re-enforcement time: Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Monitor has a post today titled MSN's Rising Fortune that looks at MSN's recent accomplishments. A snippet:

While the client division whacks away at Windows security problems, chucks features from Longhorn and readies the next-generation operating system's delivery for not 2005 but 2006, MSN chugs out a barrage of new consumer products. Just in the last few months, MSN has unleashed testing versions of a music store (now officially launched), overhauled IM client, blogging service, Web search service and now desktop search utility. More MSN goodies are coming, but I can't discuss them right now.

Being in the black and shipping successive successful software product brings big kudos (and currency) to any group. Is MSN running a renegade mentality? Have they overcome feature fatigue? It will be interesting to see what happens to the V1 software. Does it lend itself to V-next versions (where upon you run into the increasingly common Microsoftie "coding is hard" whining when it comes to modifying fragile/buggy/hard-to-understand code)?

Or is this all throw-away productlets soon to be replaced by other V1 software?

Enough success for group XYZ and the other groups will eventually be preached to about being more like XYZ. How would your group react and what does that say about your group?


Anonymous said...

You know, I would like to meet some of these people that produce the fragile/buggy/hard-to-understand code. It always seems to be someone else.

Anonymous said...

It's true. It is always someone else. The anonymous horrible coder used to work on my team, too. Coding is hard.

Who da'Punk said...

True confessions...I have to admit that I'm not guilt free of producing obscure code, especially some happy-crappy prototype code that ended up becoming ship quality out of sheer need when the time needed to recode and rearchitecture was cut during the first round of adds / cuts.
I should have padded all the other days and stealthed in the work. Lesson learned. Many bugs fixed. Any many p.o.'d inheritors of said happy-crappy code.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least MSN seems to be doing something (finally) that's capturing user/press interest and getting MSFT some positive articles for a change. Now if only they could be first with something impressive... but alas, expecting MSFT to be first with anything these days seems unlikely.

Keep up the good work. As a shareholder, I can't believe how complacent this company has gotten and it's nice to see that at least some employees are lobbying for change. You could start with getting Connors to define "pretty well" as in "the stock has performed pretty well". Is the guy on crack?

Anonymous said...

Well, you have to guess that the stock price is where they want it to be.

A typical line I hear from CEOs nowadays is that they are focused on the long-term and have less interest in the short-term.

So, since todays stock price is the result of efforts in the "long-term past", then everything must be ok with their strategy.

I read something Ballmer said that the current stock price is the result of adjusting to the irrational behavior of the tech stock bubble. So I guess that means the only direction for the stock price from here is up.

Anonymous said...

"There is such an overvaluation of technology stocks it is absurd..And I'd put our company's stock in that category."

Anonymous said...

Great, so now we'll have to endure a new set of retarded MSN ads featuring the butterfly gang. If someone from marketing is reading this - please please for the love of god, produce some fucking sensible ads. All this intangible bullshit ( just doesn't fly ok? Show us the fucking products. Show them in action. SHOW THAT THEY'RE COOL.

On the bright side, looks like they've jettisoned the useless shit like Spot so thats a good thing, right?

Anonymous said...

General things that seem not quite right.

* Creativity - Problem solving is elevated above creativity. This starts right from the interview process where I am not allowed to cut any slack for a creative solution vs. an incorrect implementation. Presumably in this age of Google & code/compile/test one bug on the whiteboard should be excusable.

* Management structure - What is with the dev/test/pm trio / collective responsibility stuff ? So now no one is responsible for making or keeping to a schedule ? Program management is weak as it is, can we please have a Project Manager for every project ?

Anonymous said...'re a PM right?

Anonymous said...

I am a tester who's had to drive the schedule far too many times. IMO the pm role is completely redundant or the person in the role is significantly undertrained about 70-80% of the time.
Weak program management shows up in all sorts of places - my favorite MSN example is having to click "Copy message to Sent folder" at the bottom of a Hotmail email. Thank you, but I'll use gmail instead.

Anonymous said...

>my favorite MSN example is having to click "Copy message to Sent folder" at the bottom of a Hotmail email

oh yeah that. My guess is its just some legacy shit from back when your account was 2mb (or whatever it was) and they didn't want people to keep filling up their accounts with useless reply-mail ("Hey your new puppy is sooooo cute!!!") and not know why they ran out of space so quickly. This ensured that people only saved what they specifically wanted to save.

Heres an even dumber thing about hotmail - messages more than 30 days old are automatically deleted from your Sent folder. Its not even a default setting which can be changed. How fucking brilliant is that? No goddamn user would ever expect THAT one. Of course, you can't change that in your options either....brilliant stuff.

Anonymous said...

>>the pm role is completely redundant or the person in the role is significantly undertrained about 70-80% of the time.

I guess that explains why I can't get hired as a PM - no one wants to compete with me on performance reviews.

Anonymous said...

"So I guess that means the only direction for the stock price from here is up"

Um...there would be at least one other obvious choice. Cleary, investors are so inspired by MSFT's prospects and the calibre of its mgt team that the largest payout in corporate history netted all of .09 gain in the stock? Let's see, $32B to give shareholders .09/share or what would have cost about $1B in increased dividends. Yup, these guys are geniuses all right - or maybe not.

Anonymous said...

So what's your point, it's not obvious.

Anonymous said...

If you're referring to my post about the stock, one-time, etc., the point was that the stock could just as easily implode as continue to go sideways or go up. Indeed, even after 5 years of market underperformance, it's way overvalued base on price to growth, price to sales, price to earnings, etc. (thx in no small part to the huge $ wasted on the emerging businesses with little to show for it so far). Additionally, my point was that the one-time was perhaps the stupidest use of funds in corporate history - $32B lost (with commensurate impact to ongoing earnings via lost interest) to effectively provide shareholders with a $1B dividend. A similar sized buyback, some accretive acquisitions, or simply paying out $1B more in dividends, would all have been much smarter - if the goal is in fact to raise the stock price (unclear at this point).

Anonymous said...

>>the stupidest use of funds in corporate history - $32B lost

I can think of a few shareholders that don't think it was so stupid.

Anonymous said...

>>I can think of a few shareholders that don't think it was so stupid.

Me too - those that wanted to liquidate their shares w/o being seen to do so, those who failed math and those who are "hoping" that the stock eventually recovers the drop and they didn't just trade $32B for effectively an extra .09/share dividend.