Saturday, December 10, 2005

Confidential Mercurial Comments

Corporate Confidential

Yes, I recommend the book. I didn't realize that I still had strong personal attachment to meritocracy and workplace justice until I read through all of Ms. Shapiro's secrets and ended up feeling corporate career naive, even for all my years. I'm sure if Ms. Shapiro looked through the comments here from folks complaining when brown-nosers succeed while they feel punished for speaking their mind, she'd give a matter-of-fact, "Yep. That's the way it is. Everywhere."

Some of this you can see in action in your own career. For instance, right now (allow me to polish-prep my nose) I have the best boss in the world and someone who makes a huge, positive impact at Microsoft. So it's very easy for me to sing praises for my boss and support my boss vocally and with great passion and loyalty. Everyone should be so fortunate. I can see in retrospect why things work out well for me more often than not given my transparent, enthusiastic support. It comes very easily. When I've had bosses in the past that I've been honest about my lack of admiration for, well... no soup for me. The book serves as one way to calibrate your own personal "duh!" meter.

I strongly recommend chapter five for all managers, especially if you've been recently promoted to a lead position.

If you want to comfort your scorn over lack of recognition for your merits as you strategize for the future, you should read this or a similar book. It's sort of the Art of War for cogs in the machine that want to run the machine one day, and perhaps change what they thought as unfair or poorly run. It does go to an extreme of disempowering the employee in some cases (vacations and leaves of absence, for example), and not all the lessons apply to Microsoft. However, as long as Microsoft continues ranking and rewarding people the busted way it does, the majority of the lessons are pretty on target.

(Oh, and a word to the wise: the Microsoft mid-point review is coming up and most groups do an informal stack rank to check-in on how people are looking going towards the major review. Where are you in your team's stack rank? If you can't answer that question authoritatively, you're probably lower than you think.)

Lisa Brummel Listening Tour

So, continuing the HR theme here, Ms. Brummel will be doing a listening tour to hear employee concerns. After reading Ms. Shapiro's book, I personally visualize such information gathering as Wile E. Coyote hiding behind a bolder as the Road Runner notices a pile of bird seed in the middle of a lasso trap beneath a gently swaying suspended bolder. Yes, please, speak your mind. Are you deft enough to get away with a "Meep! Meep!?"

The thing is, what actionable changes does Ms. Brummel see herself empowered to effect at Microsoft? I'd like to think a lot, but I can't count the number of times HR representatives tell a group of employees the way it should be and later management comes in says the way it's really gonna be, and HR falls in line.

I'd be thrilled to the dickens to see changes (like in compensation, recognition, streamlining, and the busted review model) but those changes have to be enacted from up on high. I can only hope Ms. Brummel has exceptional negotiation skills. A number of people here have enthusiastically sung Ms. Brummel's old-school-Microsoftie capabilities but still I don't have any insight into her plans to improve the Microsoft experience for the employees (and, as a result, for our customers and partners and shareholders). Other than the Company Meeting presentation, her agenda has been opaque to the rest of us.

Listening tour? What kind of feedback will you or did you provide?

Partners, the Bench, Gold Stars, and Blue Chips

No, Bubba, I don't know what they are and probably wouldn't be told as part of my eventual exit interview. But, some follow-up comments were kind enough to shed some light on these Microsoft career distinguishers:

(1) Partner is 68+ and has a special profit-sharing performance-based compensation plan.

Blue-chip is a classification given to highly-desirable candidates. What it translates to, I don't know.

(2) the bench - this is the set of partners who can take over vp job

gold stars - special award ( a golden star ) given to people.

blue chips - special award for chosen people given by HR

(3) gold stars - special award ( a golden star ) given to people

More specifically, it's an award that recognizes someone who is at or near the top of their team. Someone who will likely have (or currently has) a huge impact on the future of that team. The reward can be substantial, such as a year's worth (for a top performer of stock.

Profit sharing? Yowza. Big rewards for some kind of above-and-beyond efforts? Sounds like upper management should not only share the cash-infused love down a little lower, but also share some level of information here to inspire results. Wouldn't it be better if all reward systems we have in-place are not enshrouded in mystery until you reach the 33rd degree of level 68?

The Maniacally Mercurial Man from Michigan

(Alliteration - always fun when done well!)

Kurt G. was kind enough to share his parting thoughts he sent to SteveB. It's a long comment but it's well worth the read: KurtG's letter to SteveB. Here's a snippet from near the end:

Does trimming the fat mean splitting Microsoft up into different companies, selling off portions of the business, or just making massive leadership cuts? I will not say I know the answer, but I do know that Microsoft is getting too big for its own good, both from a product and management perspective. And I’m not taking about reorgs here; God knows we’ve done enough of those. I am talking about making hardcore cuts. It would be a shame to see Microsoft become another Digital due to smaller yet leaner and meaner competitors like Google, WebEx, Adobe, and others who continue to team up for battle.

In closing, I will be announcing my departure today, and unfortunately, I am really happy. Not that it even matters, as there are many folks who leave Microsoft on a regular basis, but therein lies part of the problem. Great talent isn’t being lost because competitors appear that much more attractive; it is because Microsoft is becoming that much more unattractive.

Four Random Things

(1) As far as I can count, there are eight papers from Think Week declaring severe problems that Microsoft is currently facing, including the review system, potential for innovation, efficiency of development, quality of products, and revenue growth. Wink to Sanaz and Bubba for the mentions of Mini-Microsoft. And here's a general confused, mesmerized Blue Dog stare for the EEG leaders' ideas (I agree with the statement of problems, though).

(2) An interesting short post from Matt Stoller at MyDD: Unions in the 21st Century. I, ah, think it overstates the impact of Mini-Microsoft, though. I'm pretty sure at least a few dozen Microsofties read this blog, I'm not sure beyond that (and, in a crazy way, I really don't want to know). But I do agree that non-lead team members have started talking with increased savvy over the past year about what it takes to succeed professionally working at Microsoft, given the shared insights into stack ranking and the compensation curve.

(3) If you do read Mini-Microsoft, you might also enjoy...

(4) Interesting comments continue coming in on the last two posts. I'll do a comment summary soon, but in the meantime:

141 comments:

qu1j0t3 said...

Since I may be taking a lead architect and PM role in the near future, my ears pricked up when you recommended the book to anyone who might want to change systems that are 'poorly run'.

I soon realised the irony of this - and this is not a trolling comment - because one of the things that is, IMHO, 'poor management' in companies I consult with, is the reflexive choice of Microsoft products. The applicable rule seems to be, "Microsoft has a shrinkwrap box that says it does that", shortcircuiting any kind of evaluation in the contexts of the team's technical needs and activities.

What would you say, MiniMSFT, if people like me regard empowerment as the chance to say NO to Microsoft - after an evaluative process?

Who da'Punk said...

More people honestly saying "No" when the software doesn't suit them is pretty much essential to the software ever getting better. More of our customers shouting "No" and telling us why would be a welcomed cacophony to me.

Maybe we'd even end up doing more end-user and consumer focused features... and throwing out people who couldn't deliver the results to make our customers say, "YES!"

Anonymous said...

The thing is, what actionable changes does Ms. Brummel see herself empowered to effect at Microsoft? I'd like to think a lot, but I can't count the number of times HR representatives tell a group of employees the way it should be and later management comes in says the way it's really gonna be, and HR falls in line.

Well, one of the actionable changes she is empowered to make is the listening tour because she wants more of those little green pieces of paper in your parents wallets. Or, rather your wallets. "Don't go!" (even though you could make a lot more somewhere else) "We're making changes!" (we're going to help you understand that giving you more stock would just cost the company too much money because, well, gosh, there are just so many of you full time equivalents)

'Listening' is always good for pacifying the masses for a few months until they figure out nothing changed. But that's after the bonus and there's plenty of time to think of something to do next time.

After all, she just got the job and needs time to think of something really creative.

Is there any way of tracking which 'campaign promises' are being kept after this tour? Like Longhorn/Vista, are any of them going to get redefined along the way to make them easier to check off the list?

After a VP fires off an email about what is going to change, does anyone check what actually changed a few months later?

It all comes back to accountability and that's just too much pressure for a Microsoft executive.

As HR will tell you if you ask about what has changed, "You do not have a business reason to know!".

Anonymous said...

The thing is, what actionable changes does Ms. Brummel see herself empowered to effect at Microsoft? I'd like to think a lot, but I can't count the number of times HR representatives tell a group of employees the way it should be and later management comes in says the way it's really gonna be, and HR falls in line.

>>
First clean up the HR org and do a listening tour. One should look at the Senior HR Managers, HR directors, senior directors and HR GMs, see what they produce compared to what they get paid for a second. The product group PUMs and GMs probably did useful work at some point in their life - I dont know what the HR crew did or doing? You dont need to look no further than people like TerryE in NDT are still employed, promoted.

Anonymous said...

I attended a Listening meeting.

My grades for Lisa so far:
-Identifying the main issues: A
-Understanding of the main issues: A
-Success solving the main issues: Will assign a grade late next year.

Anonymous said...

You're crazy if you don't think a lot of us Borg are reading along. I have personally turned a number of people onto it, including my boss and boss's boss. It makes a nice thing to do in lieu of throwing yet another bitch-and-moan session at them about various broken things.

I suspect few of us comment simply because we don't want any Brazil-like shock troops to appear out of the ductwork and abduct us to Building 7.

-yet another disgruntled senior IC

Anonymous said...

Random reader:

re: how many read this blog.

I am completely disconnected from ms but am interested as an historian of business process. I'm sure there are many others.

It's very, very interesting from this perspective. I can't imagine that finanical analysts aren't reading the blog...and competitors.

Anonymous said...

I attended a Listening meeting.

My grades for Lisa so far:
-Identifying the main issues: A
-Understanding of the main issues: A
-Success solving the main issues: Will assign a grade late next year.


How are you going to measure that success?

Is the solution to every problem she says she is going to solve directly observable by you?

Can it be measured objectively? Or, is most of the criteria subjective?

If the criteria are objective, will you have direct access to the data to verify the results (e.g. any increase in compensation)?

Probably not.

Anonymous said...

"You dont need to look no further than people like TerryE in NDT are still employed, promoted."

Right on, however, if she or another HR pogue is listening to this I suspect they will respond "we only represent what management wants."

Well, I know of a few people from NDT she helped contribute to their constructive dismissal. I also know that Jawad was not aware of the "right" details on a few of those people.

Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of those folks not properly allowed to be entered to permanent records?

TheKhalif said...

Profit sharing? Yowza. Big rewards for some kind of above-and-beyond efforts? Sounds like upper management should not only share the cash-infused love down a little lower, but also share some level of information here to inspire results. Wouldn't it be better if all reward systems we have in-place are not enshrouded in mystery until you reach the 33rd degree of level 68?


Yet another reason why the decision to leave came easier. I never even knew about the stack rank and did work in COSD that should have made me at least a 61. Out of 10 leads in various levels, I had one that was slightly worthwhile.
And to top it all of, I left with nearly 1000 worthless stock options. I would have to agree with KurtG that I was actually happy when I went to B43 for the last time.

Anonymous said...

Without mini’s blog there would be no ‘listening tour’. In fact, prior to being able to blog anonymously, any discontented comments would be treated as a threat to Microsoft’s security. A whispering campaign would be started by senior management’s sycophants (parasites), the employee’s manager would cave to the parasites and give the interested employee a low review score precedent to being riffed. In other words, the very individuals who had the conviction of their own thoughts, who loved the company, who could really improve the company, would get the shaft.

Do I think the listening tour is going to be a dramatic success? No. Lisa Brummel will do what she’s hired to do. Take notes and report to management. But the fact that management is engaging proves exactly what we have figured out over the weeks. That the problem is with leadership. And unless the problem is corrected, leadership will take the company, themselves, and their employees, down with it. Bill, Steve: Now is not the time to hide behind your authority. Now is not the time to only trust the council of your closest lieutenants. Now is time to pull back the curtain on your personal Oz and start answering the questions of the very people (not game pieces) who put food in your mouth.

Anonymous said...

Check this blog from Mini-MSFT from a year ago about HR. Has any of this problem gone away - nada - in fact HR is still the fastest growing org in the company and is bigger than any product development org.

A Microsoft Targeted Layoff that will also Increase Employee Morale: HR

A recent comment:


Here is the graph I want to see - HR employees per MS employee over the last 10 years. I remember seeing some data quite a few years ago that showed the growth rate of HR was double the growth rate of the overall company.

I'd absolutely love to see that graph, too. Like most folks who have been at Microsoft for a while, I, too, have felt the increasing presence of HR and have wondered why in the world all those folks were needed. There hasn't been much in the way of bonus for me and my group with all the HR hires: we practically have to run all the internal / external hiring ourselves. What HR contributes could truly be replaced with a set of VB scripts and Outlook rules. (But of course, I'm losing no tears over not being able to hire people.)

What would increase employee morale? In addition to announcing an HR downsizing, tie that into committing to not change the review process for the next five years. The review forms mutate more than common cold virus.

One year we have to learn new company values (and where the hell did that come from, anyway?) about the time we lose our minor review (goodbye bonus / review rating). Then that's tied into our competencies. Then we fill in a chart for each company value and whether we excel at it, or are satisfactory, or need improvement. Yet there's no accompanying message nor common metric and some groups say "E,E,E,E,E!" Then that disappears. Finally, we're asked to throw off those wimpy "Goals" and energetically engage in "Commitments!" It's like we're being inflicted with the latest management fad every six months. What next time? Who in the world thinks that they are doing a good job running the review process for this company? Move those people out and let the folks filling out the review focus on their accomplishments and not going through training every six-to-twelve months to help decode how to fill out their review.

Anonymous said...

>> Well, I know of a few people from NDT TerryE helped contribute to their constructive dismissal. I also know that Jawad was not aware of the "right" details on a few of those people.

Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of those folks not properly allowed to be entered to permanent records?

>>

No surprise - as there is no accountability in the org that is trying to impose accountability in other groups. In other words - preach what you dont practice.

This is a recipe for disaster for the company and eventually for the HR org. Lisa Brummel would have retired with several millions in her account by then.

Anonymous said...

You can restore ESPP benefits to what they were before by simple adjustments. At a cost of 200K/employee - reducing three hundred employees from non-core businesses ( such as HR ). One can also calibrate the partner compensation to 65th percentile of the industry. Even better, reduce the partner compensation by 10K - this is chump change for the partner as the average partner makes north of $1 million. At around seven hundred partners, one is looking at 70 million in savings to fund ESPP.

Anonymous said...

Don't expect change from the listening tour. I worked in Office for years, and every year I left very clear feedback on what I see as the big problems. Every year our manager has asked for and received candid feedback on the real bad numbers for our group. Every year he hinted at changes coming soon.

And every year, nothing happened.

I've moved on (to a startup) and couldn't be happier: I got the opportunity to lead, I know I am getting a fair deal out of the company because I know where I stand with respect to everyone else and I have some real responsibility and there is room for growth.

Way I see it, at MS, as an IC you get screwed, there is nothing low level management can do to change that even if they care and the high levels are just too busy paying themselves ridiculous bonuses to notice anything. You can either stay, shut up about it and continue to be abused, or think for a moment and walk.

Anonymous said...

the average partner makes north of $1 million. At around seven hundred partners,

Are those numbers correct?

That is $700 million. That is completely outrageous. It's not just a violation of the company's fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, it's highway robbery.

The reason the stock has not moved is that the company is being systematicly looted by the people at the top, even as they madly add people below in a bid to grow their fiefdoms to justify their ludicrous compensation. How many vice presidents does one company need?

Here is a gift we could give Wallstreet right now: RIF all these burned out old timers whose only reason for sticking around is so they can play big man on campus, and boost earnings by 700 mil next year.

Anonymous said...

I never even knew about the stack rank and did work in COSD that should have made me at least a 61.

Can anyone tell me what COSD's purpose is and if they've achieved any of it?

Anonymous said...

It isnt just Microsoft but other high tech companies have compensation packages that are skewed to the upper management. It is the top 2% that makes 60% of the money. Intel, Cisco and Oracle follow the same model.

TheKhalif said...

Can anyone tell me what COSD's purpose is and if they've achieved any of it?



COSD is the Core Windows Team. Thinsg like drivers, HAL, mgmt, filesystem, etc.

TheKhalif said...

It isnt just Microsoft but other high tech companies have compensation packages that are skewed to the upper management. It is the top 2% that makes 60% of the money. Intel, Cisco and Oracle follow the same model.


People aren't complaining cause their not making a VP salary they are upset because the people who are are not worth it and because all the blame gets pushed onto people who can't make decisions anyway.

Anonymous said...

Blue Chip is not that big of a deal - it's a campus potential hire that is deemed by a recruiter to be in the top {small number}% of all campus hires that year. Therefore more attention will be paid to trying to get that person to join.

For partners, if you look at the career stage profiles that were rolled out last year you will see the top in each stage called partner, and it says L68+. The compensation is a bit of a mystery but what I do know is that partner compensation is dependent on the company-wide CPE metrics that you sometimes hear about. Meaning that partners' compensation (probably mostly stock awards based on the SEC filings) varies per year, based on how much the company makes, how satisfied the customers are, etc.

Bench is a leadership training program. You're right that it's the people who could take over as VPs but that's long term. There are two benches: normal bench for <68 and partner bench for >=68. That is what they call the "corporate bench". There are also per-team/division bench programs, which allow these types of programs to reach down to lower level people (you generally have to be 66-67 to get into the corporate bench). I know of several of these programs, in different divisions. If you want to be a VP some day, you should ask your manager if yours has such a program and when you can get into it.

Anonymous said...

"The reason the stock has not moved is that the company is being systematicly looted by the people at the top"

You think?

insider selling

Anonymous said...

"Here is a gift we could give Wallstreet right now: RIF all these burned out old timers whose only reason for sticking around is so they can play big man on campus, and boost earnings by 700 mil next year."

Their reason for sticking around is to make money - lots of it. And with the Top 500 bonus coming up again this fiscal, you can bet they're licking their chops for the next round of upfront bonuses. Maybe the real gift for shareholders would be to get rid the people who created and condone this "pay for non-performance" system - Gates and Ballmer?

TheKhalif said...

A Little Moderation

I don't have Mr. Scoble's ability to deal with any and all comments (well, I guess he did go on a cleansing spree for Channel9 once). After playing the comment-delete game, I switched over this past weekend to trying out the comment moderation feature recently added to Google's Blogger. I. Love. It. And maybe it's just post holiday coincidence, but after turning it on, the comment quality shot through the roof. Thank you.




Imagine if "mgmt intiatives" were comments and they could be improved by a little moderation and scrutiny. Maybe MS could have saved a few billion in fines and a few thousand good employees.

Anonymous said...

the average partner makes north of $1 million. At around seven hundred partners,

>> One million is probably a low ball number. Kaifu Lee told google that he wont go there unless he can get paid more than $10 million in four years. He was guaranteed that pay at MS. It comes to 2.5 million/year. He was just an ordinary VP - not senior VP, group VP or president etc. The partners are compensated at top 1 percentile of the industry - the rank and file blue collar employees get paid at 65th percentile ( or lower ) of the industry.

Anonymous said...

"Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of those folks not properly allowed to be entered to permanent records?"

Because that would actually expose visibility into issues which are generally hushed in order to protect a manager/group (or as it's termed the company) from harm from possible law suit, upstream accountability or cross-group discredit.

Network Experience (netxp) is one such group who does this practice as does MSIT/ITG/IT (whatever they are called), WMD, Shell

Anonymous said...

"Network Experience (netxp)"

heh they are toast

Anonymous said...

For partners, if you look at the career stage profiles that were rolled out last year you will see the top in each stage called partner, and it says L68+. The compensation is a bit of a mystery but what I do know is that partner compensation is dependent on the company-wide CPE metrics that you sometimes hear about

>> Partner compensation has three parts - salary, bonus and stock awards. Partners typically get 1000 - 10000 times more stock than a L59/60 employee. Their bonus varies from 400K - 1 million based on some metrics.

Anonymous said...

Gosh.. reading these comments here, morale appears to be seriously low.

I was at my office building one weekend recently, and there were not even 3 cars parked outside. I remember how many people used to work on weekends some 4 years back. (I am not saying people should work weekends; people used to want to work for whatever reason back then.)

If the top 2% executives really makes 60% of the R&D budget, that explains a lot of morale issues!

Does upper mgmt think this company is like a GE or GM where machinery is more important than people?

Can someone tell me if the 2% making 60% also happens at google?

Thankfully, this is a free country and people are free to leave MSFT. (except of course, those having their immigration papers processed).

Anonymous said...

To the ex-msft from networking who keeps replying to their own posts about how hr/their mgr kicked their ass to the curb- for the love of christ please please stop replying to your own posts, we get the picture.

Anonymous said...

"Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of those folks not properly allowed to be entered to permanent records?"

Because that would actually expose visibility into issues which are generally hushed in order to protect a manager/group (or as it's termed the company) from harm from possible law suit, upstream accountability or cross-group discredit.

------
In this case it seems to expose TerryE for lawsuits/discredit - not some manager.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
You wish to speak about skewed compensation, okay I will let you know that it isn't just Microsoft. Several years before I came to MSFT, I was a Dev Lead at The Software Toolworks (Mindscape). I happen to work with the CFO earlier when he was in charge of his own smaller company. We were friends. When each project would ship, we would get completion bonuses. They would give the devs approximately 1500-2500 options for completing the product. People were not thrilled but were told basically that was what everyone got. I later found out via my friend that 99% of all offered options went upstairs to sales, marketing and the execs. The artists, devs, and sound engineers got the leftover 1%. Needless to say, that was eventually one of the reasons I left. I couldn't say anything at the time because it would have been to obvious how I knew, but that was in the early 90s, so I don't think anyone will waste their time trying to figure out who I am now. I couldn't say anything then, and it ate me up inside. That was their continued practice for a long time afterwards as well. I don't know what it is now. The company has been bought and sold so many times since then, I don't even know who has the name anymore.

Anonymous said...

>> "Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of those folks not properly allowed to be entered to permanent records?"

Because that would actually expose visibility into issues which are generally hushed in order to protect a manager/group (or as it's termed the company) from harm from possible law suit, upstream accountability or cross-group discredit.

>>
In this case the feedback was about the HR generalist in NDT. Feedback was given to HR management but was ignored.

Anonymous said...

Partners typically get 1000 - 10000 times more stock than a L59/60 employee.

Always great to know that the company places my value at 1/10,000th of a partner. Think I am going to do one second more work than I have to? Forget about it.

CEO compensation is out of line in corporate America, and people have become used to that. But Microsoft has created its own little aristocracy that gets paid like kings and amuses itself by watching the serfs at the bottom of the pecking order stab each other in the back for a raise that matches inflation.

Anonymous said...

"To the ex-msft from networking who keeps replying to their own posts about how hr/their mgr kicked their ass to the curb- for the love of christ please please stop replying to your own posts, we get the picture."

There have been various posts about this org for many months. I would not assume it is the same person

sl-

Anonymous said...

This blog definately seems controlled from afar -:)

Mini .. raise your hand .. swear your not simply a polling troll for management health index #s

Who da'Punk said...

I swear that I'm not a polling troll.

Anonymous said...

Well, I know of a few people from NDT she helped contribute to their constructive dismissal. I also know that Jawad was not aware of the "right" details on a few of those people.

Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of those folks not properly allowed to be entered to permanent records?


On washingtonlawhelp.org, there is a document that gives an overview of your rights as an employee in the state of Washington.

The document is entitled Your Rights and Responsibilities as an Employee in Washington State.

You have the right to look at your personnel records any time during your employment and for two years after your employment ends. You also have the right to insert rebuttals into your personnel file during that period.

If you want rebuttals in your personnel records, legally, Microsoft cannot stop you. If they do so, you can file a complaint.

You can hire an attorney to help you.

Anonymous said...

CEO compensation is out of line in corporate America, and people have become used to that. But Microsoft has created its own little aristocracy that gets paid like kings and amuses itself by watching the serfs at the bottom of the pecking order stab each other in the back for a raise that matches inflation.

Are there any laws that govern what percentage of revenue in a publicly traded company can be allocated for performance based compensation and compensation, in general, for executives and board members?

Or, is it a free for all where you can get away with anything as long as you don't create another Enron?

Anonymous said...

When each project would ship, we would get completion bonuses.

When I helped ship a $9,000,000,000 a year product, I got a usb drive.

Anonymous said...

Quick Comments:

- It is HR bashing time again. Mini where art thou finger on the bleep machine? To me complaining about HR is akin to complaining about Admins or Receptionists. Someday people will understand that HR is a glorified messenger and leave them alone. Even if you fire all HR types, it will not change one thing. I don't find HR very useful still I don't confuse them with being the problem. Yes I lose sleep trying to figure out the difference between Accountability and Execution on the review forms and wishing bad things on whoever came up with these things. Still folks, HR ain't the problem.

- I second the post pleading with the Networking ex-MSFT to leave us out of his war with TerryE/Jawad and NDT. Honestly I don't care - go find another job. And next time, escape before the house burns to the ground, if you know what I mean.

- Executive compensation is a sore topic, not only in msft. But if and when I move to the recieving end of the largesse, I am not sure I will feel as bad as I feel now. However the inside selling just gives me the willies. Are there folks like me who have been here for many years and don't have a single option above water? Sometimes I feel like exercising these options and paying the difference out of pocket out of spite. Yeah right, that will be the day. But is it fair to complain about the selling? Will you buy more stock if you had millions? Even with $0.15 Intrinsic Value (Stock Price minus Strike Price), folks can still pocket plenty of Benjamins if they offload hundreds of thousands of shares. And that's what the execs are doing.

- Can't bet against MS though they are always late to the party. A poster once likened it to eating the competitors' lunch at some point. I read the article in businessweek about what .NET has done to Java and smiled. Be careful about betting against MS despite the bad times. See full story at http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051213_042973.htm

- Will all these uneasy feeling among the troops abate with say a 50% flat pay hike across the board? Methinks so

- I love Lisa Brummel. I love Who da Punk too.

See y'all later. Mini, what will you tell your maker on judgement day? :)

Anonymous said...

"When I helped ship a $9,000,000,000 a year product, I got a usb drive."

Classic, can you imagine if you had 10 years of perfect attendence? You would get an MSN butterfly t-shirt or a "do not disturb" door thing ;-)

Anonymous said...

My grades for Lisa so far:
-Identifying the main issues: A
-Understanding of the main issues: A
-Success solving the main issues: Will assign a grade late next year.

--
I also agree to grade Lisa next year. I have high hopes of improvement but I am not crossing my fingers

kevin

Anonymous said...

"Always great to know that the company places my value at 1/10,000th of a partner. Think I am going to do one second more work than I have to? Forget about it."

These top guys in the corporate world got the "process" right, in a cynical way.

Starting from BillG down, they keep complaining about not having enough talented science graduates here in the US. But what they mean is, "We dont have enough so that we can get them to work cheaply".

So they complain about needing more H-1B visas. Partners are happy that they make 1000 times more than the H-1Bs who are slaving away. While the H-1Bs are happy to have a job at all, in the US, and that too at MSFT. (Not a knock against foreigners, some of them are the nicest, most talented people at MSFT).

So the message from mgmt is : If you are a "family-to-feed" type IC, and you don't want to slave away for a inflation matching raise, please feel free to leave! We know where to find "talented science graduates".


Will all these uneasy feeling among the troops abate with say a 50% flat pay hike across the board? Methinks so


What would the hit on EPS be if that happened? I think the stock would tank if that really happened.

Anonymous said...

"Are there any laws that govern what percentage of revenue in a publicly traded company can be allocated for performance based compensation and compensation, in general, for executives and board members?"

No, it's up to the executive team with supposed oversight provided by the compensation committee, the BOD and ultimately shareholders. In MSFT's case, the comp committee and BOD are rubber stamps to Bill and Steve who seem happy to sign off on the current asinine level of overall compensation and especially the insanely huge proportion that's going to the top 10% despite marginal overall corporate performance. Shareholders could provide some missing accountability but frankly, while MSFT is one of the few to break out stock comp numbers seperately, figuring out the real overall level of compensation is still virtually impossible since significant parts of it are buried as "R&D" or ongoing dilution which has quietly eaten up all ~$40B of buybacks since 00 (since shares+equivalents have still never gone down YOY - a dirty little secret that MSFT management is happy not to highlight).

Anonymous said...

More like 70% flat pay hike for levels < 64, profit sharing per business unit (right: no share if you don't make money), 30% max bonus twice yearly with the max a limit for everyone (including management), "20% time", larger offices, better equipment, better cafeterias, free catered food 6am-10pm.

Anonymous said...

So your partner compensation numbers are WAYY off.

There are four parts, just like at the 80+ levels: salary, bonus, SAs, and SPSAs. Salary is not much different than the lower levels, the ranges overlap, etc. Bonus is better, up to 100% of salary. SAs are actually worse than level 67, but it is made up for by SPSAs. You can take a look at the 10-k proxy statement to get details, but basically you have the chance to get HUGE amounts of stock awards if the company does well overall on things like customer sat and Office upgrades, etc. The target for partners is ~$500,000 per year, but only after a few years of being a partner. Much like our lowly SAs, after 5 years you have 5 SAs vesting at the same time and the idea is that could be a lot of money.

Bottom line, partners don't make anywhere near $1M per year. The VPs get to do that.

Anonymous said...

"But is it fair to complain about the selling? Will you buy more stock if you had millions? Even with $0.15 Intrinsic Value (Stock Price minus Strike Price), folks can still pocket plenty of Benjamins if they offload hundreds of thousands of shares. And that's what the execs are doing. "

Absolutely it's fair to complain about it and on several fronts. First, it's not about would you buy more if you already had a ton. It's about having people in those positions who believe in themselves and the company enough that they're prepared to hold that ton for some reasonable period vs dumping all shares on every vesting cycle. Second, having the company spend $B's doling out options to senior mgt so that they can turn around and flip them for 10% or less is a very inefficient way for the company to provide that compensation (assuming the people really are believers and worth it). Third, stock prices are about supply and demand and this constant dumping provides a steady stream of additional supply even at prices where most people who actually bought their shares wouldn't entertain selling. Fourth, investors follow insider trading and when they see the kind of wholesale, industry-leading, bailing that characterizes MSFT, it's a major red flag. And finally, what contradictory message does it send to rank and file employees when they hear "we're super bullish and you should be too" but then see "XYZ Exec - Shares Acquired 400,000/Shares Disposed of 400,000"?

Anonymous said...

I read the article in .... Magazine about what .NET has done to Java and smiled.

This is a comment to the above statement regarding how (maybe) Java is losing out .NET. I am a religious reader of that magazine and one thing I have learned is that you have to take their information as informative info and not fact. Now that is true for most anything you read, not just that one. You are always hearing about how this technology/language/software (product A) is kicking this other technology/language/software (Product B) in the ass. And then the very next day you will hear the complete opposite (B kicking A) in the ass.

I also love how all these articles site statistics/numbers too. I could easily dig up statistics/numbers that offer up a contradicting view. Its all in how the questions are asked and how the polls are conducted. Hell, you could even have two different people looking at the same data set and they will more then likely come up with two different conclusions.

My point is that you should not smile to hard. Next week XYZ Magazine will come out with an article stating ABCD technology/software/language will kill off all existing technologies/software/languages. Blah, Blah, Blah. I spend a great deal of time reading on the business and technology world just to keep myself aware of things and that is all I see. Every other day, I see an article/news snippet that contradicts what was said two days ago by the same source. And not to bash these guys/gals (writers), these guys/gals are not trained MBAs or technologist but freaking writers who spent there college years learning about Shakespeare. I see it everyday while reading my local newspaper (from a big city so big city paper). Most don't have any clue about what they write about. They are just telling a story.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Still folks, HR ain't the problem.

I love Lisa Brummel.

Please explain your love for Lisa Brummel. What has she done for you?


Even if you fire all HR types, it will not change one thing.

Isn't that the very definition of an unnecessary expense?


Will all these uneasy feeling among the troops abate with say a 50% flat pay hike across the board? Methinks so

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=MSFT

Really? K'yass his children, their faces wet


Wally on Ratbert on Catbert

Anonymous said...

- Can't bet against MS though they are always late to the party.

You couldn't bet against MS (in the past). Today, they are receiving the 'cut of a thousand knives'. ie, Whatever ground they gain in languages, xbox, etc. they will lose elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

BTW, SteveB really holds onto his shares it seems. I haven't seen him selling much.

Anonymous said...

"- I second the post pleading with the Networking ex-MSFT to leave us out of his war with TerryE/Jawad and NDT. Honestly I don't care - go find another job. And next time, escape before the house burns to the ground, if you know what I mean."

I think this person (or people) seem to be venting feedback on issues within a group. This is consistent with the other feedback people have voiced on this blog. Luckily for us Dare has not chimed up :-)

There do seem to be a few people impacted from NDT (discovered through acquaintances) so I don't think this is a single instance/person.

As a blog reader you have the choice to read or disregard something. This is a public forum so asking someone to refrain is going to be fruitless.

Dave

Anonymous said...

In the past, Microsoft was best at evangelism.
Recently, Open Souce (Linux et al) and Google have been better evangelists.

In the past, Microsoft individuals were excited and lapped eachother's work hours.
Now, parking lots are empty on evenings and weekends.

In the past, Microsoft hired lots of green kids right out of college.
Now, most job listings require 3-5 years of experience.

In the past, Microsoft's stock price was climbing every day and people would check it and it would excite them.
Now, people dread finding out how far underwater their expiring options are.

In the past, IC's could expect to see management openings after a couple years.
Now, it is rare to see a new hire make it to lead in less than 5 years.

In the past, Microsoft was somewhat of a meritocracy.
Now, well, read about the politics mentioned in this blog.

In the past, IC's could be openly critical and their concerns would be seriously considered.
Now, people who want to get ahead are smart enough to not question decisions made by those who manage them.

Multiple people have mentioned Machiavelli's The Prince when talking about their work situations.

Too many groups aren't exciting anymore. Worse yet, too many groups are downright distructive and/or abusive to the psyche of their members.

Are these causes or symptoms? If they are just symptoms, what is the core disease?

I hope you all find a way to heal the festering wounds. I am also afraid that some groups to devolve to open practice of BDSM before long.

Either way, I don't want to be there until the problems are fixed.

Good luck mini...you're going to need it.

Anonymous said...

Did some math using data in the Annual Report. There are 35m of those Share Performance Stock Awards outstanding. It's the 68+ Partners only who qualify for those. 700 partners means 50k shares per person - $1.35m at $27/shrae.

The regular stock awards that all of us peon slaves get - well there are 71m of those, which works out to about $32k per person for rest of the 60000 of us out there.

With the performance track record of our execs this is shameful that they are reaping the rewards like this

Anonymous said...

I hope you all find a way to heal the festering wounds. I am also afraid that some groups to devolve to open practice of BDSM before long.

Boredom, Denial, Spin and Mismanagement? Somebody needs a hug!!


In the past, Microsoft's stock price was climbing every day and people would check it and it would excite them.
Now, people dread finding out how far underwater their expiring options are.


Maybe management is bleeding the company because they're afraid everyone would leave if they made enough from stock options to take some time off and look for a job somewhere less Mordor like.

Anonymous said...

>Now, parking lots are empty on evenings and weekends.

That's actually good; studies have shown that the net amount of work completed decreases as the numbers of hours per week worked passes 40.

The image of the uber-hacker running on Mountain Dew and Doritos for a week in all night code-a-thons just plain needs to die.

>Now, most job listings require 3-5 years of experience.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, college hiring is still proceeding full-bore.

>Now, it is rare to see a new hire make it to lead in less than 5 years.

Not everybody wants to become a lead. I know colleagues who have made a career out of dodging it.

Moreover, not everybody who does want to be a lead is actually worthy of it, as I can attest to my sorrow.

>Now, people who want to get ahead are smart enough to not question decisions made by those who manage them.

I must ask in all seriousness: have you ever held a job anywhere in your life? People do happen to defend their position if someone else disagrees with them; some leads are unfortunately not mature enough to objectively evaluate people separately from past disagreements. (And, of course, brown-nosing happens everywhere as well.)

Anonymous said...

"With the performance track record of our execs this is shameful that they are reaping the rewards like this"

Agree. Just spit-balling here but maybe their compensation should be tied to the stock price? Bet we'd see some major changes and a new sense of urgency if that were the case. Instead, they getting paid a ridiculous fortune while they tank the company and meanwhile insult shareholders with a .01 cent dividend increase. I see that even Cramer who had finally turned bullish on MSFT is now reconsidering in light of current performance, Xbox news and this silly dividend decision.

Anonymous said...

I must ask in all seriousness: have you ever held a job anywhere in your life? People do happen to defend their position if someone else disagrees with them; some leads are unfortunately not mature enough to objectively evaluate people separately from past disagreements. (And, of course, brown-nosing happens everywhere as well.)



I guess people feel that as the world's largest software company MS has the responsibility to be fair and efficient, growing employees whether 500 or 50,000.

Anonymous said...

Once again, MSFT is down more than the market overall. When the market goes up, MSFT goes up less, and when it comes down, MSFT falls further. What fun.

It's time for you Microserfs to realize that your leaders are NOT VERY SMART. They never were. Sure, they looked brilliant when the PC market was booming and they were riding the wave, but now that the company has real competition, the execs are showing their true colors and abilities.

Even the Xbox 360, which is a nice product, is failing because of negative publicity and management's failure to produce enough supply for the holidays. No doubt the execs in charge will get big promotions and bonuses!

The comp levels mentioned here for "partners" are just a small part of the problem. The main issue is that the execs are incompetent.

Most importantly, what does it say about YOU who continues to work at a place where the bosses lack integrity and ability? Can't you do better?

Anonymous said...

"Someday people will understand that HR is a glorified messenger"

I have to disagree. Solely because to be a messenger, there needs to be communication.

In my interactions with HR, there's been one star player, and everyone else I've had to harass (multiple emails, phone calls over the course of weeks) to get a response.

I still have open questions from September that have not been answered. After 10 follow ups, I gave up.

Hey Lisa - what about some SLAs for HR response times? I'd take a 1 week turnaround at this point.

It's amazing how HR wont call me back, but the recruiters call pro-actively. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"I must ask in all seriousness: have you ever held a job anywhere in your life? People do happen to defend their position if someone else disagrees with them; some leads are unfortunately not mature enough to objectively evaluate people separately from past disagreements. (And, of course, brown-nosing happens everywhere as well.)"

As for many, Microsoft was my first post-college job.

It isn't just the leads who aren't listening and it isn't just junior employees that are trying to get them to listen.

We have GMs who blankly spout the party line when senior ICs (not me) are trying to pull the fire alarm on projects that are seriously off-track. It isn't a matter of disagreement, it is a matter of not even listening.

Anonymous said...

The sparsely populated parking lot on weekends being used as an indicator of employee morale is pretty foolish. Five years back, everyone did not have broadband and the VPN infrastructure was pretty crude. Now a lot more people have that and there fore are better off working from home instead of having to deal with pessimistic folks like you at least on week ends.

Anonymous said...

Blogs like these are the ones responsible for massive outsourcing and billion dollar adventures by MSFT and Intel on the other side of the world. There they get dedicated people who are proud to be a part of MSFT and *VERY* respectful of their higher ups (not that it's a good thing). When Billg sees a whole lot of ppl supporting Mini thru this blog, he gets the idea that Redmond has too poluted a mind and ppl are too busy posting comments on the blog instead of shipping stuff on time. So if you want to hold on to your jobs and that of your future generations, stop whining so much about those who pay your wages. You are far better off than many other ppl in the world and there are millions who would love to work under conditions that you do in COSD. So do the world a service by quitting your job if you find it doesn't meet your needs and ideas of a perfect company and go lay the foundations of your own.

And btw. Mini, if you are bold enough - reply to this comment instead of deleting it.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft increased the dividend 12.5% today and nobody seemed to care or notice.

In the press release the CFO said the increase was to show how confident management is in the business.

The quarterly dividend used to be 8 cents and now it's 9 cents thanks to this bold display of confidence. Of course, the stock dropped 17 cents in response.

Makes you feel real good.

Anonymous said...

Blogs like these are the ones responsible for massive outsourcing and billion dollar adventures by MSFT and Intel on the other side of the world.


Nope. Outsourcing started in the 80's. MSFT started outsourcing much before this blog started. It has nothing to do with blogs or employee dissatisfaction.


There they get dedicated people who are proud to be a part of MSFT and *VERY* respectful of their higher ups (not that it's a good thing). When Billg sees a whole lot of ppl supporting Mini thru this blog, he gets the idea that Redmond has too poluted a mind and ppl are too busy posting comments on the blog instead of shipping stuff on time.


Blame for not shipping rests on everyone.

So if you want to hold on to your jobs and that of your future generations, stop whining so much about those who pay your wages. You are far better off than many other ppl in the world and there are millions who would love to work under conditions that you do in COSD. So do the world a service by quitting your job if you find it doesn't meet your needs and ideas of a perfect company and go lay the foundations of your own.


Free market economy. It is happening already and it will go on. People are complaining right now cuz Seattle is not like Bay area for tech jobs, and not everyone is ready to relocate. Meanwhile, the disgruntled employees have become a drag on the company as a whole. (besides the bad managers).

Anonymous said...

"So do the world a service by quitting your job if you find it doesn't meet your needs and ideas of a perfect company and go lay the foundations of your own."

Some commenters are merely whining and for those who are, I agree with you that perhaps they should reflect on what they have from MSFT that's good. But many others - including Mini himself - are focused on identifying/acknowledging what's wrong with the company and either providing suggestions directly or at least trying to get others to do so. Why is that a bad thing? As a shareholder, I think it's a GREAT thing because unfortunately, we have a company and a stock that clearly aren't performing well and [more unfortunate still] a lavishly paid management team that is either convinced there's no problem (regardless of all objective evidence to the contrary), or knows there's a problem but don't want to disrupt their personal gravy train by rocking the Steve/Bill boat, or simply lack the candor to acknowledge there's a problem and that they're unable to fix it. Either way, more focus on the problems not less is what is required - unless you want MSFT to become the next Digital Equipment with the resultant damage to employees/partners/shareholders/etc.

Anonymous said...

When Billg sees a whole lot of ppl supporting Mini thru this blog, he gets the idea that Redmond has too poluted a mind and ppl are too busy posting comments on the blog instead of shipping stuff on time.

If there was a chance of producing better software cheaper by sending jobs to India, billg would have already done it. Outsourcing brings with it headaches that are not covered in the press as much as jobs loss itself. Many leaders look to outsourcing as a means to save money because they've lost the capacity to innovate, and the respect of their employees along with it. Next time you see billg, tell him that.

Anonymous said...

"The quarterly dividend used to be 8 cents and now it's 9 cents thanks to this bold display of confidence. Of course, the stock dropped 17 cents in response."

The stock dropped in response because today's latest lawsuit aside, the increase in the dividend is ridiculously insulting and leaves MSFT still paying less than the S&P average (despite having underperformed it for three consecutive years) and far less than the DOW 30. All this, while MSFT has the financials to double or even triple it and of course thinks nothing about paying an equivalent amount in annual bonuses to its execs despite this dismal multi-year record of performance. Look, management may be ineffective but they're not stupid. If they wanted the stock to go up, they wouldn't have issued a .01 cent dividend increase. They also wouldn't have done last year's idiotic $35B one-time. Face it, MSFT management says they're focused on driving the stock but their actions suggest otherwise. Suspect it's because they're worried that too many employees would bail if the stock had a quick run and they still need to get Vista out. Also, the longer the stock flat-lines, the more MSFT's mammoth historic options exposure comes down - just ask the JP Morgan guys. And of course, senior mgt is doing quite nicely in the interim regardless - it's just regular employees and shareholders getting hosed.

Anonymous said...

Blogs like these are the ones responsible for massive outsourcing and billion dollar adventures by MSFT and Intel on the other side of the world.
Uhhh...yeah...it's not that you only have to pay people on the other side of the world pennies. Right...
Oh, and if all these complainers would just quit, then American businesses wouldn't have to outsource.
Of course companies are going to outsource...look what's happened to the manufacturing industry in the US. Look how Walmart has taken over the retail market. This is just the extension of this principle, but now the manufactured product is IP (aka software). I would be very interested in your ideas to stop/reverse this trend.
(PS. Props to Mr. Punk for posting the comment this replies to. These are the types of arguements that need to be had.)

Anonymous said...

The image of the uber-hacker running on Mountain Dew and Doritos for a week in all night code-a-thons just plain needs to die.

There's a similar comment on Tech Talk. I think the only effect such an attitude has is that there is a danger that hard work will go unrewarded - because it's not supposed to have happened that way, so it can't be acknowledged.

In any project, something falls through the cracks. Sometimes because of bad longterm planning, sometimes because of wrong tactical decisions, and sometimes through sheer bad luck.

The people picking up the slack are usually in dev: no room for handwaving in code, and some features a product just can't ship without.

What happens when sudden problems surface? There is little incentive for management to fight for getting the project schedule slipped to make sure nobody on a team needs to work more than 40 hours per week. What happens is that some ueber-programmers stock up on Mountain Dew and Doritos and pull several lonely 7-day weeks of hard labour.

And that's okay. It's a matter of pride in your product.

What's not okay is that we tend not to reward such contributors well. I am not even talking about the big bonus and the promotion, but simply compensating by handing out bonus vacation would seem both nice and fair.

Parting thought: if the cliche is so wrong, why are so many employees loosing vacation at the end of the year (or taking vacation but actually working from home)? Is it because they don't enjoy holidays? Interesting research for employees with access: What are the distribution of untaken vacation and of hours logged in while on vacation across the disciplines?

Anonymous said...

The sparsely populated parking lot on weekends being used as an indicator of employee morale is pretty foolish. Five years back, everyone did not have broadband and the VPN infrastructure was pretty crude. Now a lot more people have that and there fore are better off working from home instead of having to deal with pessimistic folks like you at least on week ends.

There's a Spanish saying that: 'a donkey loaded with gold goes up a hill lightly'

ie. its much easier to work and enjoy 24x7 camraderie with your mates when your stock is doubling every year; it makes the experience that much more purposeful and pleasureable. If the stock were still soaring, there would be more cars in the lot, regardless of broadband/VPN.

Anonymous said...

>Now, parking lots are empty on evenings and weekends.

This comment is spot on. I remember my first Christmas holiday period at Microsoft many years ago. I remember thinking to myself, "wow, I got just as much email during the day after Christmas as I do on a mornal spring work day..." and I was amazed during my first year that the email firehose didn't shut off in the evenings and weekends. People were on, they were engaged, they were excited to be doing the work...and it showed.

Now, not even close. Last Christmas I got (including DL traffic) about 200 mails in about 2 weeks. Weekends, you can count on not really getting much (of course there are exceptions for a special event or group on call). Evenings slow down even until the EMEA crowd comes back online around midnight Redmond central. This is a HUGE indicator of morale (and a little of changing demographics)...but mostly morale. People have just said, "it doesn't matter anymore, we don't get paid enough to put in more than 100% (or 80%) and certainly are just going to "work" the hours we get paid for". Sad to see, but unless MSFT changes drastically in compensation, management philosophy, innovation and agility...this will continue. Oh yeah, and the f--king stock price.

Anonymous said...

Yo people!! Stop complaining.

Take a look on Microsoft how it was 20 years ago.

And take a look that's going on now.

The company is owned (a key issue) and operated by software wizards: Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Where is P.Allen now? He is not interested in Microsoft anymore. Creating space ships for him is now giving much more fun and real-estate is much more profitable.

Where is B.Gates now? He more interested in selling Viagra or diversification of his Microsoft stocks into something more stable. He is reinvesting Microsoft stocks into your trash can.

the development people report strictly to software engineers, who report directly to chairman/CEO Gates

No needs to explain this. Even top of iceberg will scare anybody.

[...]
Rest is an exercise to reader.

Anonymous said...

Comment One:

I read an article yesterday about Microsoft's "big and agressive" push into the consumer electronics arena by reorging and putting a new head into place all to better chalenge the IPOD. Ooh, I bet Job's and Company are running scared.

Comment Two:

I been reading about how one blogger was stating that BillG decided to outsource to India and China b/c he was seeing everyone in Redmond whine about work and stuff. Oh please, he is outsourcing like most other companies purely b/c of business economics. Why pay a developer in Redmond $75K a year when you can pay $20K a year in India for the same work. The only thing is that if it is not done right, outsourcing may actually cost more in the long run. My former company decided to outsource some work to India but quickly realized the complexities of outsourcing. We ended up scrapping the whole project and brought the work back home and hired a local IT firm. Lets face it companies are outsourcing for many reasons rather it makes business sense of not and Microsoft is no different. It is the trendy thing to do.

Comment Three:

One blogger commented that Microsoft raised its dividends and no one noticed. Well duhhh, no one cares about Microsoft anymore. It puts out the same crappy, bug ridden products every release. However, it is not Microsoft's fault that is can operate in such a way. For that we can blame ourselves, we as consumers allow you guys to put out bad products.

Question:

What is IC ?

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Continued comments .....(though, a little off topic)

Comment Five: (I think)

I have been on MS OS and OFFICE for many years since the early 90's. It was pretty impressive for many years but have lost its luster. No one cares about the stuff coming out of Redmond anymore. It spends so much time and energy building features/components into is products that no one uses. How complicated does Word have to really be. Most people are just using it to write a freaking paper for class or memo for the office. Of course the really sad thing is that for all your work/energy alot of times Word does not even do what the user wants.

Comment Six:

I am just waiting for the new year. Jobs and Co are coming out with Apptel (Apple on Intel). I been thinking about switching for a year now but have been holding off. However, there are too many nice features about the MAC OS that I cannot resist. The reason for this comment is simple, I am one of many users who are switching unless VISTA can deliver the "Wow" factor like every product/ service coming from everyone except Redmond.

Anonymous said...

Comment Seven:

At one point in time (the 80's-90's) Redmond made nice products simply because it had focus. It made a few products and did it well. However, that is no longer the case. It is making many products badly. Everytime XYZ Company comes out with a new service/product, Redmond scrambles and allocate scarce resources (yes scarce, even at mighty Redmond) to combat it so it can grab a piece a the pie. For example, a while back I heard BillyG and StevyB wanted to jump into and have decided to allocate resources into the desktop publishing/graphics software world. Now come on, for one, it is a small niche market dominated by Adobe. And its dominated by Adobe b/c their product suite combined with Macromedia now just plain old kicks ass. It has awesome tools. Why does Redmond and Co want to waste its money and time trying to get into this market. Ask yourself this, do you really think all these graphic/web designers and developers will dump their prized product (Adobe) for something by Redmond. Some retarded kid could of made a better decision. My point is scrap all these pet projects that waste money and time and refocus. Overhaul OS and Office. Its a simple business plan, refocus to innovate instead of copying.

c said...

On the "hard work pays off" thread:

A friend of mine worked 7 day weeks for six months, as our core product was half-staffed but PM refused to cut scope. Meanwhile, we've got a couple of fully-staffed train wrecks going on. At the end of that he got a 4.0 and no promotion, after four years at entry level. He quit, and the product is [i]really[/i] fucked.

Anonymous said...

"My point is scrap all these pet projects that waste money and time and refocus. Overhaul OS and Office. Its a simple business plan, refocus to innovate instead of copying."

What a concept. Gump, you're a goddamned genius :-) Now all we need is MSFT management to come up with it. Of course, that'll take several years, a few more multi-billion dollar mistakes, a few more tens of billions in lost market cap and then of course, numerous re-orgs to implement this innovative new "streamlining" strategy which curiously will result in no jobs lost and another 100 VPs created. Meanwhile, GOOG will be at $1,000/share...

Anonymous said...

My point is scrap all these pet projects that waste money and time and refocus

Heres another novel concept - quit with the perpetual re-orgs. Seriously, what the hell is my management thinking? Our division just BARELY got done with a re-org earlier this year. And we just had another one this month (not counting the mega re-org).
Oh wait, I forgot - if we didn't have these fucking re-orgs, half our management wouldn't have had anything to do.

Anonymous said...

Google bought AOL for 1B in the morning and paid for it with a $7 jump in the stock in the afternoon. It has to remind Bill and Steve of when they were young. Sort of. The difference, of course, is that Eric Schmidt isn't blind or mean spirited. Schmidt is taking Gate’s place as the software industry's guiding light. He isn’t quite the icon that Gates is, but neither is he setting up his company for long term failure by engaging in short term malice. See you later, Bill.

markl said...

The sparsely populated parking lot on weekends being used as an indicator of employee morale is pretty foolish. Five years back, everyone did not have broadband and the VPN infrastructure was pretty crude. Now a lot more people have that and there fore are better off working from home instead of having to deal with pessimistic folks like you at least on week ends.

Hmm. You might be right that broadband and VPN means that you physically don't have to be in the office to contribute on weekends. Hard to say, but I am sure you could just do a few "sd changes" commands and count all those weekend checkins?

I was there in the old days and witnessed and was part of the awesome energy that was happening at Microsoft. Sixteen years later, I remember walking through the halls rarely seeing anyone in their offices. Everyone seemed to be at lunch, at the pro club, or stuck in a meeting. When does the actual work get done?

A little over a year ago I left Microsoft and went to work for Google. During the interview process, one of the things that really impressed me was the energy in the work places. There were people everywhere coding, talking, obviously engaged in solving problems. Every engineer is sitting in front of dual 24" monitors cranking out code, exploring ideas, etc. Google is alive. I compare this with what I witnessed during my final years at Microsoft, and yes, you have a problem. I don't think it has anything to do with broadband, vpn, or empty parking lots.

I think you have a bunch of fat cats in upper management at the partner level that contribute little or no code and instead spend their days in meetings and planning strategey. They are sitting around, most of them just waiting for the next round of massive restricted stock options to begin vesting in the next few months. To these guys, Microsoft is a safe place to hang with a garunteed big payday.

Those of you in the trenches writing code, there is virtually no incentive to work hard, crank out code ahead of schedule, invent and implement innovative new ideas, etc. Microsoft is just a safe place to collect a paycheck...

This week at Google, I spent three days in Mountain View, and the last two days working from home. My team includes guys in our New York Times Square Engineering office as well as folks in Mountain View. On Monday, I flew up to Mountain View and arrived in the office at 10am. I worked until 3am and guess what. I wasn't the last one in my area of the building the leave! There was plenty of company. All these guys are proud of their work, love what they are doing, and wanted to nail their deadlines and then take a few days off for the holidays. At 330am I arrived at my apartment, slept for a few hours, and then arrived at the office at 8am, grabbed a free hot breakfast, and put in another full day leaving work at 4am. Again, i was not the last one to leave. I work in an area where a team is preparing for an upcoming launch and 90% of that team was there when I left at 4am, and they were there when I returned at 830am the next day. On wednesday, I had a short day. I arrived at 8am and had to leave to catch my flight at 7:30pm. Those guys that were there at 4am when I left the morning before were still there, heading down for dinner when I left at 7:30pm. For me, thursday was a normal 12 hour day, and friday was the reward. We met our quarterly milestone and met our launch. I am confident that my friends who pulled a few all nighters this week will also lauch on time.

Are we all stupid for working this hard and ignoring life around us? I am sure that some will argue that this is exactly the case. For me and the guys around me, this kind of energy is what we thrive on, and whats needed from time to time to create great products.

This is the kind of energy that I think is missing from Microsoft. It was definitely there in the old days.

I don't buy for a minute that the empty offices and empty parking lots are because people are working from home. Instead, I think that the fat cat partners are in meetings while they wait for their stock to vest (== empty offices). And the guys in the trenches have no incentive to work extra hours.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini, thanks for pointing out Corporate Confidential, I got the last copy at the Redmond Borders this afternoon. You're probably responsible for it selling out. I'm almost finished reading it. Cynthia Shapiro is a great writer who makes a fun read.

I am soooo glad that I no longer work for Microsoft. I have a great job at a smaller company, work normal hours, get a lot done, and have fun doing it. I almost forgot how much fun writing code can be. Now I can apply Ms. Shapiro's rules as well to keep the experience a happy one.

When I started looking for a new job, I was amazed at the volume of responses my resume gathered from posts on Monster and Yahoo. My advice to anyone that is sick of the MS BS, is to look a little. There are lots of jobs out there that won't require you to work like a dog just to cover up for your management's terrible project decisions. Besides, it's not like you're going to make a few million in a few years anymore, so there's really no point in putting up with it.

Some of what Ms. Shapiro says can work in reverse as well - there's a point where a company has demonstrated that their interests are so out of line with your own, that it is time to leave. If you're one of the folks still putting in the massive hours like the old days when it paid well to do it, then you should probably re-evaluate your interests vis-a-vis Microsoft. As I discovered, it's easy to do.

Anonymous said...

So I had the opportunity to participate in one of Lisa Brummel's stops on her listening tour. The good news: it "sounds" like something is FINALLY going to be done about the review curve and there are proposals being evaluated. The not so good news: she said she had totally read all of the MS Survey data and couldn't find anything to indicate that any management was incompetent. That was a little disheartening to all of us. However she did seem very tired and maybe we were catching her late in the tour.

Anonymous said...

KurtG's farewell letter to Steve is funny. The guy has been here less than two years and thinks he knows everything.

You can never tell when someone writes one of these emails whether they are truly insightful or just a windbag of a performance problem that lucked into being acquired.

The problem is: if we really do what MiniMSFT wants and trim the fat, then the fat is going to get angry and post comments to MiniMSFT about how Microsoft is losing people.

Could it be we're trimming the fucking fat and you who are leaving ARE THE FAT?

Anonymous said...

Those guys that were there at 4am when I left the morning before were still there, heading down for dinner when I left at 7:30pm. For me, thursday was a normal 12 hour day

Sergey says "do no evil." Letting your employees work like this while you dump 10s of millions in stock is evil. MSFT isn't perfect, but your description of GOOG makes it sound even worse.

You can have passionate, energetic, dedicated workers, and a normal work/life balance. You can ship products without killing yourself, alienating your friends and family along the way. SAS, the most public example of work/life balance is still quite profitable and no one works ridiculous hours. And at 430 per share right now, don't expect to make millions at GOOG unless you were one of the early insiders.

You can find places within MSFT which are great to work. It is a huge company, just look around. Ask for MS poll numbers from prospective groups. Talk to your friends. Join a social DL and ask around. Even COSD has a few refuges of sanity.

Anonymous said...

"Google bought AOL for 1B in the morning and paid for it with a $7 jump in the stock in the afternoon"

Do you hear the theme to jaws yet ...

Anonymous said...

The parking lot as an indicator of morale is utter crap. I have been to the Google plex quite a few times during weekends to show their campus to other folks over the last couple of years and their parking lot is a lot emptier than Microsoft's unles there is something cool going on in the amphitheatre next to the google campus. A couple of times my buddy took me in to give me a look over their latest cool massaging chair, and I didn't see a single soul in the whole 4 connected 40* buildings except for a couple of guys in one of the gaming rooms and one weirdo who was biking around the corridors. So what does this show - none of the Googlians were actually doing any productive work during weekends either. They were just biking around/playing fooseball with a huge amount of energy. No coding or p4 checkins going on in the Plex either during typical weekends.

Anonymous said...

Those of you in the trenches writing code, there is virtually no incentive to work hard, crank out code ahead of schedule, invent and implement innovative new ideas, etc.

Whenever I have a 1:1 with my manager, he is always 'just finishing up a piece of email' and I have to sit there like an idiot for ten minutes until he is ready to engage. This is to show me who is boss. When my manager starts (to say very little), I appear to give his insight the professional respect it deserves. In reality I'm thinking: ‘why in god’s name (outside of my paycheck and review score) would I take advice, professional or otherwise, from you? You know little about what I do, and when I’ve offered to share the details of my work, you’re either not interested or don’t have enough time. It’s a complete pantomime. Microsoft managers are a parody of managers who can actually manage and Microsoft employees are a parody of employees who actually care.

Anonymous said...

I don't think beyond microsoft, there are many companies (prolly other than IBM) that have as many products that fall under the umbrealla of Systems in Computer Science as does Microsoft. Between compilers (C/C++/C#), core OS (Windows and Virtual PC/Server), database (SQL Server) and networking and distributed systems Microsoft is heaven for anyone with an interest in systems and who wants to get paid a decent wage while working at a reputed company (heard MSFT is the most respected in the FT list).

You get none of this in Google. Some of my fellow graduates with a deep interest in systems joined Google and got thrown into messing around with JavaScript! Can you imagine how dissapointing it is for someone who has sharpened and honed their low level C and assembly skills and hacked around with the Linux kernel day in and out to be slaving on with something WAY high up from the metal like JavaScript and having to deal with a bunch of assholes during code reviews? Sure they are making more money than me in free lunchs and stocks (not much difference in the starting base pay at all tho).

They are robbed off their social life since it's common practice in their groups to work till 3 AM as one guy wrote above AND working on something they don't like at all or interested in. On the other hand, I am enjoying my life messing around with low level code in COSD and having a blast at Microsoft. Sure I am not earning as much as my Google buddies, but I think I am much happier in MSFT than I would have been had I taken up my google offer and dumped into web development where I have no interest or experience.

So it leaving Microsoft for Google or choosing between the 2 depends on where your interests are. If you are a core systems guy, I think MSFT is the best place.

Anonymous said...

Redesign Office and Windows? Oh no, you people have bought into upper management strategy propoganda without even realizing it.

The company line is that our shipped software is golden, our customers love it, and they won't upgrade unless we do "big bets."

Why do you think Office made a giant shiny new toolbar instead of addressing the litany of small problems that customers are always complaining about? Why do you think Windows planned to do WinFS and Avalon? Why do you think each new version of Visual Studio and Media Player look and work completely different from the last?

It's all a bunch of BS because upper management thinks they have to "trick" users into upgrading, when the fact is that these big bets are causing unnecessary engineering complexity and schedule slips to achieve dubious end-user benefit. Meanwhile our customers are frustrated because the actual bugs and flaws that they _really_ care about are rarely (if ever) addressed.

In contrast, the open source community and companies like Apple and Google are constantly releasing new versions of their products, full of features and improvements that would never be done at Microsoft because they're not "big" enough. Continue this trend to its logical conclusion and Microsoft is still churning its semi-V1 products while the competition has highly polished offerings with feature parity. (Some may argue that this is the case already.)

The solution is to get some upper managers with the balls to say f*** you to vision statments and focus on making polished products that will delight customers.

Anonymous said...

This thread is not dying :-)

Anonymous said...

And Intel also has some interesting practices (seem similar to those our HR folks are taking)

http://www.faceintel.com/

Anonymous said...

Some of my fellow graduates with a deep interest in systems joined Google and got thrown into messing around with JavaScript! Can you imagine ...

Your friends sound pretty unhappy. I'm glad they stood up for what they believed in and quit their jobs at Google.

They did quit their jobs at Google, right? :)

Anonymous said...

I am a new hire and this is my sixth month at Microsoft, so I only experienced the first "re-org" this past month, and what happened in my group is that we have many people left, but we added one level in all teams. Say we have three PMs, now one of them becomes Group PM, and the other two report to this new Group PM, samething to the Dev and SDET devision. Interestingly, I heard the same thing happenging in other groups. The re-org is a good chance for people to promote their friends. I don't think the higher management don't know this, but there is simply no way to control. The MS culture is "be agressive", and when you are "so sure" about something, nobody can challenge you.

Speaking of HR, I had experience that it took my HR contact more than a week to respond my email, and the response is that she didn't know the answer to my question.

Now why Lisa will have the "listening tour" thing? Can she get more than reading this blog? I don't believe there is anything she can do.

Anonymous said...

Those guys that were there at 4am when I left the morning before were still there, heading down for dinner when I left at 7:30pm. For me, thursday was a normal 12 hour day

I am happy those who think people should work nights and weekends are leaving. Goodbuy and good luck onwing a Ferrari while living single in the office. Thanks, but I am not changing evenings with my family for any amount of stock options. And, being a manager, I encourage my reports to spend time with family and not to work long hours. And besides, I know quality of code written at 3am. If you think Microsoft was producing great software at those "energetic" days, think again. Users simply love us for our stable OS, right?

Anonymous said...

The comments to this post are pretty interesting. Everything from "why I left microsoft" to "you guys suck - be happy for what you have" to everything in between.

Anyway, I had some points to make. they are basically a call to action. here are some things we can do to better our lot, and make management accountable...

Managing your manager(s)
---------------------

1) Have regular 1:1 with your manager. If your manager is not taking the 1:1's seriously, let him know - and if that doesnt work, escalate. Own the relationship and drive it. I come up with the agenda's for my meetings and send it to may manager a few days before. It seems to work better (for me, atleast) than showing up aat his door without any agenda.

2) Use the 360 Feedback tool to get peer feedback. Encourage your manager to do the same.

3) If you are a lead, and if your direct did something good (or bad), give him feedback immediately. If he was involved with other people on a project, take feedback from them and give it to him immediately. Your employee will thank you for it.

4) Skip 1:1s - Have 1:1 monthly with your manager's manager. Give him feedback about how your lead is doing. Find out about the buisness, tell him about what you have been up to. Then you wont be an anonoymous employee when stack rank time comes along.

5) If possible, develop a rapport with the peers of your manager.

6) Ask your manager to stack rank you with people in your team, as well as the extended team more frequently than just in june/july. Ask him to tell you what rating you might get today, if he had to evaluate you. Give him some time (see #1) to give a thought to this. This will force him to recognize strengths/weaknesses in his directs earlier, rather than at review time.

7) If you see serious problems in your org, and cant bring it up with your manager - escalate. If that is not possible, try talking to HR. or send anonymous messages to the higher ups, although that might not always get results.

Anonymous said...

"Those of you in the trenches writing code, there is virtually no incentive to work hard, crank out code ahead of schedule, invent and implement innovative new ideas, etc. Microsoft is just a safe place to collect a paycheck..."

A couple years ago, I suggested a dozen design improvements to my component, the DEV and PM both argued for those improvements. The requests were shot down due to schedule time, then the schedule slipped by a year but we still couldn't put in the improvements because it was too late in the schedule.

Now, the DEV has switched groups out of frustration twice and been reorged twice, the PM has switched groups three times, and I was laid off in the COSD STE purge.

Five years later the customers are still suffering daily pain of an inadequate tool that we weren't allowed to fix and instead of having .5 DEV and .5 TEST headcount, I hear that this component is currently staffed at "maintanance mode only" .05 DEV and .05 TEST headcount levels. That means that one developer is responsible for maintaining this and 20 other components, so the design flaws won't be fixed until another Netscape comes in and offers the customers a better solution.

Even though we don't have great incentive, we frequently aren't allowed to innovate even if we wanted to.

I kept thinking about the Freedom to Innovate campaign and wished that management would have allowed us to innovate.

Anonymous said...

The not so good news: she said she had totally read all of the MS Survey data and couldn't find anything to indicate that any management was incompetent.

Did anyone ask her if they could read the MS Survery data so they could point it out to her?

That's who she works for - management. Hey, she is management. Why would she admit management is incompetent?

Why would you stick around if you know they are? It's not like they're going to get fired.

Anonymous said...

And at 430 per share right now, don't expect to make millions at GOOG unless you were one of the early insiders.

The last trade on Friday of BRK-A was $89,300.00.

It depends upon whether you believe Google is going to continue to grow or not. We'll just have to wait and see if your decision to work at Microsoft or their decision to work at Google pays off better.

Anonymous said...

Some of my fellow graduates with a deep interest in systems joined Google and got thrown into messing around with JavaScript! Can you imagine how dissapointing it is for someone who has sharpened and honed their low level C and assembly skills and hacked around with the Linux kernel day in and out to be slaving on with something WAY high up from the metal like JavaScript and having to deal with a bunch of assholes during code reviews?

Your friends can spend 20% of their time at Google writing a new operating system if they really wanted to.

Anonymous said...

HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS=HR=BS= Fucked up ^ 0

Do you get that?

I sent an email requesting help from HR. 1 week > no response.

2nd week - sent email to HR with return receipt request > read by 4 people (of course it was a DL)

3rd week - some vendor from HR responds > Why the fudge should I discuss shit with a vendor (I have no issues with being a vendor), but fudge - I am not discussing shiate with a vendor and that's against our legal stuff I thought.

I asked to speak to "my HR person" and I got oh, you can refer to HRweb, and I said "Duh - I want to speak to my HR person or should I call Lisa?"

So she says - oh let me get back to you.

Then I get an email from my HR person that "Oh, you need to discuss that with your manager" and "I replied My manager pointed me to you - I need an answer"

She says - "Let me research that".

It's been 4 weeks, no response. BS - BS.

Anonymous said...

RE: HR Listening Tour

"The not so good news: she said she had totally read all of the MS Survey data and couldn't find anything to indicate that any management was incompetent."

I doubt that many managers are incompetent.

Some are psychopaths (read Harvard Business Review back issues).
Some just play favorites.
Some build empires.
Some are overworked and understaffed.
Some are simply frustrated.
Some have given up and just come to work to collect a paycheck.
Some hint to Volt contractors that the job must get done even though they can't bill for overtime so that they can subtly pressure contractors to do work off of the books.

Where is the "pull in case my manager is doing something un-ethical" handle?

Hell, where is the "pull in case my manager is lining Microsoft up to be a perfect target for the next class action contractor lawsuit"?

Anonymous said...

6) Ask your manager to stack rank you with people in your team, as well as the extended team more frequently than just in june/july. Ask him to tell you what rating you might get today, if he had to evaluate you.

The key word is "might". Your stack rank is relative to everyone else's performance and your manager doesn't necessarily know what employees on other people's teams are doing.

You could ask if he/she thinks you could be doing something better. However, you doing better won't necessarily translate into a higher review score at the end of the year.

The best you could do along the lines of what you suggested is to try to get to know your manager's peers and your manager's manager and get a feeling for what they think of you.

If you feel like Rodney Dangerfield after they get to know you, you better find a different group or a different company to work for.

They'll give you all kinds of advice on how to "improve" until you get the "hint" to go away after nothing you do results in a higher review score.

no longer at ms said...

"More people honestly saying "No" when the software doesn't suit them is pretty much essential to the software ever getting better. More of our customers shouting "No" and telling us why would be a welcomed cacophony to me."

When DaveTh was still over the server division, he used to invite a major customer to each group meeting and these customers would be asked to tell us where we had failed them.

It was very valuable to be regularly reminded that customers don't buy our products because we just shipped on time, instead they buy our products because they fill a need. Furthermore, there are still cracks in our solutions and we don't fully meet the needs of our customers.

That reminder was also much more motivating and morale boosting than being told by a sales guy that us engineers were the water boys running to support the sales team a-la-tour-de-france.

Anonymous said...

The last trade on Friday of BRK-A was $89,300.00.

It depends upon whether you believe Google is going to continue to grow or not. We'll just have to wait and see if your decision to work at Microsoft or their decision to work at Google pays off better.


BRK-A and GOOG have similar market caps, about 130 billion, your understanding of the stock market is suspect.

I don't know which will pay off more for me. I just know that I like the work I do at MSFT, I like that I happen to be a in decent group working for a good manager, that I have time to spend with my family, that I have more than enough cash for the toys I like to play with. No way in hell am I going to work until 3am (and like a poster above says, we all know what kind of code that gets you), my free time is far too important to me.

I made a conscious choice when I turned down an offer from GOOG. I'm perfectly happy with it, others may have taken a different approach. The key is to be proactive and manage your own career. If your job, wherever it is, sucks, get a new one. But it is possible, even within as dysfunctional a company as MSFT is, to find the occasional oasis and thrive in it.

Anonymous said...

I find the "empty parking lot" story highly amusing and idiotic. Whats funny about all these people pining for the days when MS devs had so much drive and passion, is that they somehow seem to forget that during those "energetic and passionate" days of old, you guys produced the most godawful, most bug ridden, most insecure, most unstable software on the planet. I dare anyone to contest this. It's highly ironic that I curse at MS software alot less today then I did back then in your golden years.

Anonymous said...

>The last trade on Friday of BRK-A was $89,300.00.

Yeah, but Berkshire-Hathaway's P/E ratio isn't 95, nor is it based primarily on ad-revenue.

A lot of smart people work at Google, but that's not going to stop the bubble from popping.

Anonymous said...

"Now, the DEV has switched groups out of frustration twice and been reorged twice, the PM has switched groups three times, and I was laid off in the COSD STE purge"

==
Well, I don't know you but I can say that for what I see is left in COSD Test, they missed the boat. Wow some people are really resiliant ..

I have testers (who were remarked sdet to be saved) who don't even know what app-verifier or prefast is god forbid they actually know how to code.

Anonymous said...

>Five years later the customers are still suffering daily pain of an inadequate tool that we weren't allowed to fix ... so the design flaws won't be fixed until another Netscape comes in and offers the customers a better solution.

Don't worry. As soon as a competitor comes out with such a feature, management will institute a crash effort to maintain feature parity, resulting in much heartburn and overtime for the team, a mediocre initial implementation released to the public, and another fatuous speech by the GM about how well we can execute.

(Gee, I really hope these tears streaming down my face are from laughter.)

Anonymous said...

A couple years ago, I suggested a dozen design improvements to my component, the DEV and PM both argued for those improvements. The requests were shot down due to schedule time, then the schedule slipped by a year but we still couldn't put in the improvements because it was too late in the schedule.

There are a couple reasons that I can think of why they were actually shot down:

1) A manager is trying to prevent you from having an impact on the product (e.g. you're level 61, he's level 62).

2) They think it is a good idea and want to sit on it until they can claim it as their own idea.

I've seen both happen.

One time, I presented an idea in an email to a few people, later someone added me back on the thread and I saw that someone had taken out my name and presented the idea as their own to a 'higher up' group of people.

After that experience, I just BCC'ed the higher up people in the organization whenever I presented an idea in email and the assholes who tried to steal credit did the rest of the work for me in showing who and what they are. If they were honest, there would be no chance of them embarassing themselves.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading Corporate Confidential. Excellent read. EXCELLENT recommendation.

I suggest everyone grab a copy and read it now as soon as you can. Having it read before New Years Day, will allow me to have more control and knowledge starting this next year. That means there is one resolution which will help me and my family. It will also be useful all next year as well.

I wish you all a good holiday and hope that you have time to take advantage of the information contained within the book.

I just got home from work because for the last couple of weeks I couldn't remote desktop into the office. Now I am going to wrap a few gifts, get some sleep and finish the book by tonight. If you can't tell I am splurging and not going to be working today (Sunday), yeah..

Anonymous said...

BRK-A and GOOG have similar market caps, about 130 billion, your understanding of the stock market is suspect.

BRK-A and MSFT both have a P/E of around 20.

GOOG has a P/E around 95.

More people seem to think GOOG is a growing company compared to MSFT.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=5y&s=BRK-A&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=msft%2Cgoog%2Csbux

Yeah, but Berkshire-Hathaway's P/E ratio isn't 95, nor is it based primarily on ad-revenue.

A lot of smart people work at Google, but that's not going to stop the bubble from popping.


Television stations, magazines, and newspapers make a lot of money from advertising revenue. When is that "bubble" going to pop?


Here's a "strange" idea not yet attempted at Microsoft. Rewarding people for teamwork instead of only individual contributions:

http://kas.felinity.net/n325

"For teams of engineers who create a lot of value for Google the company is able to hand out $millions or tens of $millions in bonuses, to be shared among a group of 5-10 programmers."


I don't know which will pay off more for me. I just know that I like the work I do at MSFT, I like that I happen to be a in decent group working for a good manager, that I have time to spend with my family, that I have more than enough cash for the toys I like to play with. No way in hell am I going to work until 3am (and like a poster above says, we all know what kind of code that gets you), my free time is far too important to me.

There is also plenty of unproductive work being done between 8:00am and 6:00pm at Microsoft.

Whether, markl likes to work different hours than you or more hours than you is irrelevant. The point is he is excited about what he is doing.

If you're more excited about your family, that is great.

Anonymous said...

I suggest everyone grab a copy and read it now as soon as you can. Having it read before New Years Day, will allow me to have more control and knowledge starting this next year. That means there is one resolution which will help me and my family. It will also be useful all next year as well.

Thanks for the advertising posing as a regular posting. Is this kind of manipulation covered in the book? I haven't read it.

Anonymous said...

>I have testers (who were remarked sdet to be saved) who don't even know what app-verifier or prefast is god forbid they actually know how to code.

Our customers don't know how to code either but they seem to have no problem finding bugs.

Funny how that works.

Anonymous said...

"1) A manager is trying to prevent you from having an impact on the product (e.g. you're level 61, he's level 62).

2) They think it is a good idea and want to sit on it until they can claim it as their own idea."

-- yup this sucks ... happens all the time .

usually if your being impacted by #1, then #2 will happen regularly. Be concious and network outside and around your manager (or evils on your team .. right alexandru) to be seen for such things.

Anonymous said...

One time, I presented an idea in an email to a few people, later someone added me back on the thread and I saw that someone had taken out my name and presented the idea as their own to a 'higher up' group of people.

interesting. Its almost exactly what happened to me. I had some ideas for a new program. I approached my manager for his advice on the best way to action it. He said: 'send me a proposal' I sent the proposal. Later, when I buttonholed him on it, he said 'yeah, there was some good stuff in there. Keep bringing those good ideas...' Not long after, a fresh ivy league graduate (I'm not banging on the ivy league, I'm banging on entitlement w/o merit) launched my program. And it was my program, point for point, with ‘just enough’ variance tossed in. I received no credit. The ostensible owner of the program ran it into the ground. He simply didn’t have the insight to build it. I couldn’t have been more let down. I knew Microsoft did this to other companies, I had no idea we did it to each other.

Anonymous said...

1. Cynthia Shapiro is going to receive much more royalty this x-mas from all the books MSFT'ies are gonna buy.

2. HR is going to be so screwed after everyone has read Corp. Confi. This is going to be hilarious.

3. With no requests going to HR > they can't show any workload. So might as well let them all go.
Mini - thats about 20% of the organization..LOL!!! That's a start!!!

Anonymous said...

I had an idea a while ago that I presented to our lead PM. During our meeting he said that he didn't see the benefit to the user and "to be perfectly honest" he didn't think it would get scheduled or implemented.

Late that night, he sent out an email to our team's management proposing the idea, complete with mock screenshots, a cool codename, and no mention of my name anywhere.

*cough*companyvalues*cough* What?

Anonymous said...

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these groups are entirely irreconcilable...

From: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM
by Emmanuel Goldstein
Chapter I:Ignorance is Strength
1984, George Orwell

Anonymous said...

From: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM
by Emmanuel Goldstein
Chapter I:Ignorance is Strength
1984, George Orwell


George obviously never experienced a sanitation worker strike.

What we really need is a giant goat.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/golgafrincham.shtml

"The planet Golgafrincham creatively solved the problem of middle managers: it blasted them in to space.

Golgafrinchan Telephone Sanitisers, Management Consultants and Marketing executives were persuaded that the planet was under threat from an enormous mutant star goat. The useless third of their population was then packed in Ark spaceships and sent to an insignificant planet.

That planet turned out to be Earth..."


Finding out what that enormous "goat" is is why we're all here.

Anonymous said...

Comment Eight:

I been reading comments back and forth about the hours worked at Google vs Microsoft. Some MS employees were saying that don't think its good to be working those hours at Google blah blah blah and give excuses as to why they think that way. I think it is all and great they value their time with their family and all because I am like that myself. I would never in my wildest dreams forgo my time with family and friends for work no matter how much I was making or would make (stock options). But that is just me. Having said that, I think what MarkL was trying to say about Google was that working their provides him and his fellow cohorts with a choice. At Microsoft, you could work your regular 9-5 job and get screwed or work 15 hours a day and get screwed. Either way you get screwed. Of course I am exaggerating a bit because I am sure its not that bad at Microsoft. My point was that there is no incentive to work hard and be aggressive because upper management does not care and would probably steal your idea or knock it down. Contrast that to Google. I am sure there are many people at Google like MarkL who work those crazy hours. But I am also sure there are many people there who work semi-regular hours too. I am pretty sure that Google manangement is not chaining people to their pc and forcing them to pump out code at 2am in the morning. The point is that at Google, you have a choice. You are allowed to spend 20% of your time working on your pet project without questions asked as long as it is legal that is. And for all your hard work and long hours, you could potentially land a quick $1 million to your name.

yes some people and that would include myself are happy just collecting a paycheck. However, some people actually love working long hours and taking risk and for that you are rewarded with that at Google. That does not exist at Microsoft.

A lot of smart people work at Google, but that's not going to stop the bubble from popping.

I hate to say this but if the advertising/marketing crashes, Google won't be the only ones hurting. We will all be F**Ked. Advertising and Marketing is what makes the world go round and round. It is what makes us moron continue to buy and spend money on junk that we don't need at all. Companies spend money on ads that tricks us into thinking we need their products, we like dummies nod our heads and buy and they make more money, hire more people to make more junk to sell more junk, and spend more ad money. And the cycle renews. If companies spend less on ads, we buy less junk, they make less money, they make less junk, they hire fewer people and the economy starts going in the shitter. Simple economics.

And another blloger made an excellent point.

Television stations, magazines, and newspapers make a lot of money from advertising revenue. When is that "bubble" going to pop?

What is so different about Google vs. television or any other media outlet. TV broadcasters make a hit show, draw in a large audience and advertisers lots of money to show their junk (products/services) in between the shows. The same thing/principle works with Google but in a different format. The only difference is that advertisers can better target their audience using web search.

For ex: I am interested in finding info for allergy treatment, so I go to google and search for "allergy" and ups pops all these results pertaining to info on allergies along with ads from various pharm companies pushing their own allergy blockbuster. Now contrast that with selling ads on tv. A broadcaster has a hit show. Advertisers have to spend money on market research to find out who is watching the show to make ads that fit that demographic. An allergy ad is produced and shown during the show. However, it is still a hit and miss. For all the advertisers knows only a handful of people watching the show and commercial will have a need for allergy pills. Simple example and huge ramifications. If anything, "the advertising bubble" would hurt more with traditional media.

And a final thought/question on advertising

If there is an advertising bubble and search is so risky, why are all you geniuses at MS plowing forward with it ?

Comment Nine:

Google just won the deal with AOL and cost them $1 Billion. Now lets put aside the business motives/strategic plan behind the deal. And look at it from a competition stand point. It was essentially a HUGE win and Big F-U to BillG and SteveB and Microsoft as a whole. Sure it was a costly F-U. It cost Page, Brin and Co a cool billion dollar but if you don't think this is sending waves through their company and techdom in general. Page, Brin and Goo-Topia was just shot with 10 billion volts of confidence knowing that they can take on Redmond and win. And what do you think this is saying to the rest of techdom ? Hey, maybe Microsoft is that that formiddable and can be knocked down.

Now does that mean Microsoft will collapse and die because of this loss, absolutely NOT. However, this is sending a clear message to everyone that Microsoft is not as great as it thinks it is and no longer the gate keeper of the tech world. Prior to the last couple of years, it seem like everything went through Redmond. Now people see other options.

Anonymous said...

Comment Ten:

Hmm by spending a billion dollars on AOL, Google just saw their market cap. go up by 2 Billion. Does that make alot of sense nad is that warranted? Maybe or maybe not. But it is just a sign that people "think" there is nothing these guys cannot do and shows it can match up against anyone, even mighty Redmond.

Do you think every company/person Microsoft beat the crap out of in the last many years are laughing their ass off and cheering Google?

And of course this maybe a blessing in disguise for Redmond, it may force BillG and SteveB to think about thinks and reevaluate their business plan/strategy. It may do what Mini and others are hoping for,"CHANGE".

Anonymous said...

I find it quite interesting that if someone here supports something or has their own view it becomes an advertising ploy. That person may or may not have their own agenda, but I am going to believe that they really like the book, and that it offered them something valuable. The reason I am going to believe them, is because of everyone else that seems to like it as well. If you haven't read the book, then you are wrongly assuming this is some manipulation. I would suggest you go read the book, then come back and tell everyone yourself if you liked or disliked the book.

To blindly make statements with no logical information supporting your position, seems more like some of the illinformed managers I have seen. Making decisions regarding schedule time, and features for projects they know nothing about because they could never be bothered to show up to any project meetings, or take the time to read any of the design documents.

I guess now, in order to be a reasonable person, you are forcing me to go out, buy the book, read it, and then come back and let everyone know how much I enjoy it or not.

>"Thanks for the advertising >posing as a regular posting. Is >this kind of manipulation covered >in the book? I haven't read it."

>>"I suggest everyone grab a copy >>and read it now as soon as you >>can. Having it read before New >>Years Day, will allow me to have >>more control and >>knowledge >>starting this next year. That >>means there is one resolution >>which will help me and my >>family. It will also be useful >>all next year as well."

Anonymous said...

Stable OS and the quality of code written at 2 AM:

Let us not kid ourselves that the OS is stable because people have been writing code at regular hours in the past few years.

It is more stable due to better tools, processes, compilers and a host of other reasons. Not due to having better programmers or well rested programmers.

Anonymous said...

>Television stations, magazines, and newspapers make a lot of money from advertising revenue. When is that "bubble" going to pop?

I gather you haven't actually looked at how those advertising sectors are doing or you'd have picked a different list.

Anyhow, internet penetration into US households is said to be approaching its peak and the economy is projected to soften over the next year (less consumer spending -> less revenue -> less advertising dollars).

Online advertising is expected to grow at a brisk pace, for the next year at least. I rather expect that it means advertising on more sites rather than allocating bigger potrtion of the pie to Google, though.

So tell me, Google fans, where is the blistering growth that will justify its valuation and P/E ratio?

<pop>

Anonymous said...

>point. It was essentially a HUGE win and Big F-U to BillG and SteveB and Microsoft as a whole. Sure it was a costly F-U.
...
But it is just a sign that people "think" there is nothing these guys cannot do and shows it can match up against anyone, even mighty Redmond.
...
Do you think every company/person Microsoft beat the crap out of in the last many years are laughing their ass off and cheering Google?


Gawd, listen to yourself for a second. It's like an inspirational speech from a B-movie.

Here's a clue, kid: It's all about money. Businesses do not do grudges, they do not do payback. (At least, not if they want to stay in business). You'd better believe that Schmidt has a real good financial explanation for the AOL deal, and it doesn't contain "F-U" or "10 billion volts of confidence". You'd also better believe that Ballmer has an equally good financial explanation for why the offer made to AOL wasn't sweeter than Google's.

Anonymous said...

I find it quite interesting that if someone here supports something or has their own view it becomes an advertising ploy. That person may or may not have their own agenda, but I am going to believe that they really like the book, and that it offered them something valuable. The reason I am going to believe them, is because of everyone else that seems to like it as well. If you haven't read the book, then you are wrongly assuming this is some manipulation.

Several people have said they like the book. None have done it with the hyperbole (e.g. "Excellent read. EXCELLENT recommendation.") and even fewer have suggested when to buy it (e.g. "I suggest everyone grab a copy and read it now as soon as you can. Having it read before New Years Day, will allow me to have more control and knowledge starting this next year."). Then, there's the tug at emotions (e.g. "That means there is one resolution which will help me and my family.").

Maybe the dude works in sales and just can't help the way he speaks. Maybe it is something else.

That is why they call it stealth marketing.

I guess now, in order to be a reasonable person, you are forcing me to go out, buy the book, read it, and then come back and let everyone know how much I enjoy it or not.

Do it now! Everything must go!! It contains vital information that could save your LIFE!

Anonymous said...

I gather you haven't actually looked at how those advertising sectors are doing or you'd have picked a different list.

I expect media like traditional television networks will adapt rather than disappear.

Television Networks in the 21st Century

Anyhow, internet penetration into US households is said to be approaching its peak and the economy is projected to soften over the next year (less consumer spending -> less revenue -> less advertising dollars).

Online advertising is expected to grow at a brisk pace, for the next year at least. I rather expect that it means advertising on more sites rather than allocating bigger potrtion of the pie to Google, though.

You would have to look at the growth of Internet usage, the growth of online payments methods, and the economic outlook in countries around the world (not just the United States) to get an idea of how much growth potential Google has.

The online ad attack

Worldwide ad revenue on the internet grew by 21% in 2004, and it is expected to continue at that pace for the next few years, says ZenithOptimedia, a research firm (see chart). As Google and Yahoo! are two of the most widely visited sites, this greatly benefits them.

INTERNET USAGE STATISTICS - The Big Picture

Ecommerce is set for rapid growth in India

China Ecommerce Growth

Online Ad Sector Sees Steady Growth

Anonymous said...

MS is a much bigger and more diverse company than Google. It's much easier to generalize about working at GOOG than MSFT... some MS people hate it, some of us love it. It's a fallacy to say the choice is between working less on things you hate and working more on things you love. I really enjoy my work at MS, and work 8-10 hour days. I chose between MS and Google, and from what I saw I'd enjoy the work at Google too, but not the environment (I like having an office to myself) or hours.

I may disagree with my project's overall direction, but I have a lot of choice on what I personally work on, and I like it, so that doesn't bother me too much. I have a lot of non-coding interests, so after 40-50 hours of that a week I'm happy to have the time to do other things.

But others on the exact same project do hate being there. Of course, this has been true every job I've worked. I even know at least one Google employee who hates their job, but loves the stock and so is staying put (can't blame them). Maybe I have more opportunities than some posters, but I still don't understand why people stay so long at jobs they hate (with obvious exceptions like getting rich).

Anonymous said...

>> Well, I know of a few people from >> NDT she helped contribute to their >> constructive dismissal. I also know >> that Jawad was not aware of >> >> the "right" details on a few of >> those people.

>> Why were rebuttals from 4-5 of >> >> those folks not properly allowed to be >> entered to permanent records?

>> On washingtonlawhelp.org, there is >> a document that gives an overview >> of your rights as an employee in >> >> the state of Washington.

>> The document is entitled Your >> >> >> Rights and Responsibilities as an >> >> Employee in Washington State.

>> >> You have the right to look at >> >> your personnel records any time >> >> during your employment and for two >> years after your employment ends. >> You also have the right to insert >> rebuttals into your personnel file >> during that period.

>> If you want rebuttals in your >> >> >> personnel records, legally, >> >> >> Microsoft cannot stop you. If they >> >> do so, you can file a complaint.

>> You can hire an attorney to help you."

=======

Thanks for this information, I am like the other posters from NDT who had this treatment. I will followup on this

thanks!

paraviya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i worked at MSFT for about 1 month as an SDET.
i really didn't like testing and left, however a few things struck me...

1. the average IQ there seemed to be pretty high
2. overhead and process seemed to be lowering productivity in some areas, but lowering the overall bug count, but at a very high cost
3. a lot of the work there was just gruelling

overall, compared to other places i've worked, it was an amazing company. don't know about google, because i've never worked there.

however, MS is a ruthless, rich, smart company. one could argue that this has a lot to do with their success.
it remains to be seen if google has the right stuff to justify its sky high market valuation.

from the outside, it does appear that seems are showing up in the google offerings that make me wonder how well they are organized internally.

i'm sure it's a great place to work, but when i see 'google pack' offered with a sense of arogance, i begin to wonder if they aren't heading down the netscape path a bit.

as far as the corporate culture at MS, its clear that good ideas are highly valued. so much, that even managers would steal from their employees. but, remember that its still a bunch of human beings.
this happens EVERYWHERE.
the difference is that MS is actually rewarding good ideas - it may just be hard to get credit for them.

the truth is that very few companies that write code to pay their bills have survived. and if they have survived, quite often they had to switch to a service play.
so, the fact that MS can still ship products and make a fortune is kind of an exception in the software industry these days.

anywhere you work will have issues, but i wouldn't complain too much about microsoft until you have worked somewhere else where you boss is a psychopath idiot who is scared to death of anyone who actually knows what they are talking about.

if a ms manager 'hired down' to protect his position, his(her) ability to 'ship' decreases. he wouldn't last long.

Anonymous said...

Yep. A lot of google employees are working late. Why? Because those people have lots of stock options.
Remember one of VP of engineering quit saying he liked to pursue interests in astronomy. Yeah, right! There will be lots of early retirees from google. Wanna bet?
Microsoft suffers growing too big syndrome like anybody else. Companies come and go. That is a cycle of life. There will be another google or microsoft. Those people working in Google do not need to be arrogant or showing off. They are not the only smart people on the planet. Be nice and pocket your money! For those who are not working for google, wait for your turn (if you are lucky).

Anonymous said...

I wish I had read Shapiro's book last year. It would have prevented me from sharing personal information with HR that has probably destroyed my career development at MS. It's a good book, but there are parts of it that are depressing. There are large portions of it that suggested that the best thing you can do is kiss ass. Harsh. Shapiro is the Machiavelli of corporate America.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who works to make megabillionaires worth a lot more by giving up their lives in trade get what they deserve. I am 45, have a masters degree, a family, not all the material posessions in the world but free time to do what I like to do.

You can debate corporate culture all you want, but at the end of the 18 hour day, you have to look in the mirror and see who is looking back at you.

Anonymous said...

Megamillionaires? Come on? Get Real...
Bill & Melinda ahve eradicated Polio in Africa and now have Malaria in their sites (far worse than AIDS). Sure Linusz is interesting, but I'll stand and clap Bill next time he comes on stage for his charity alone!
Incidentally I'd like to see Linuz solve problems like this?

Anonymous said...

I love the "your friends at google can spend 20% of their time working on..." comment. If you're working 50 hours a week, whose 20% time is it, really?

Anonymous said...

@markl

"I left at 4am, and they were there when I returned at 830am the next day."
So, they don't so much go home to catch some sleep as they wait for the timer to reset so they can respawn, right?

I appreciate your level of dedication but I would definitely need an obscene amount of stock options waiting to vest to make me want to be at the office at 4am. I wouldn't want to frigthen some woman one day who wondered what that old freak wanted from her and have her mother have to explain "honey, that's your dad."

Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper for Google to just have a really fancy dorm room with a desk and the double-whammy 24" monitors next to them so that you wouldn't be more than one step away from bed? You're practically living there as it is anyway, why pay rent or buy a house that you don't go to anyway?
You could have a button that lights a green bulb so that the masseuse could come along to rub your shoulders and neck while you wait for the code to compile.

And don't smirk, I know at least someone who brought a week's worth of clothes to work and slept on the couch in her office. [Ellen, I'm talking about you, honey].

Anonymous said...

I'll take code written at 3am by MarkL or any number of the folks who used to be on the base team as opposed to the "stuff" that was written by those in some of the other groups (browser/shell) at any time of the day. Having had to build and test all of it at some time or another, it's not the when, it's the who. Those who are committed to excellence put it what time is necessary to get the job done, willingly.

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