Saturday, January 21, 2006

Microsoft Town Hall, Google, and OfficeBallot.com

Just some random notes I wanted to kick out before I go stock up on crazy delicious food for the big, silly game (I've certainly come to appreciate having a game's violence on the field than in the stands).

MSFT: The FY06 Second Quarter results are coming this Thursday, January 26th. It will be interesting to see if we're positive or cautious analyzing where we are and looking forward through FY07. I can't imagine any other time where we couldn't beat the drum of enthusiasm and profits than now, given that we're shipping new versions of just about every single software product we develop. A good, upbeat outlook would shine within the current conditions.

And, should we get any hard questions and if the hard questions regarding stock performance keep coming in, perhaps we'll have to implement what one recent commenter came up with:

Is the CFO of Microsoft going to hold a "listening tour" to pacify shareholders?

Well, the context of that was actually more around BusinessWeek's Dirty Little Secrets About Buybacks and Microsoft's dirtiness there. Most people look at how few shares are being flung in their direction and doing the math. Some part of Microsoft is getting a huge distribution of stock awards, and it's not the folks doing the front-line work.

Microsoft Town Hall: that was one crowded town hall meeting with Gates and Ballmer - I think that shows the enthusiasm and desire that Microsofties have to hear from our executive leadership more often and I for one am absolutely thrilled that it's quarterly. It helps to close the gap that I believe exists between front-line contributors and top leadership. And important messages don't have to stumble their way through dithering middle managers. I hope that it rotates through the presidents and senior VPs over time so that it stays fresh. While I know Gates and Ballmer can come up with answers for about every question, I'd like to hear answers from those one or two levels closer to the action, too.

I don't have a whole lot to kvetch on here. There's Doug Mahugh's report and the Keiji Space report to read. Some of the questions were hard and interesting and while the answers sounded honest, some were just deflections (e.g., the whole ad-hoc Google-time request discussion: take it up with your manager [hello?!?! that's not working so well currently]).

One deflection that irritated me came at the end of recognizing everything we do is the result of the people we hire. Then, Ballmer somehow tied the stock price going up based on the increased contributions of each Microsoftie. Right before that there was mention of enabling and incenting people and how LisaB is now a Senior VP. But the flipping around seemed to come too soon. Please show that current problems are indeed being fixed and then say, "Okay, we believe we have a system for honest compensation and recognition now. Let 'er rip and let's go ship!"

Oh, and Mr. Liddell, I have an excellent solution for our current Redmond over-crowding space problem: fire people, fire people, and fire people! Ballmer doesn't understand how we ran into this space problem? We over-expanded and hired way too many people that we just plain don't need. Plus it's impossible to move-on people.

Additionally, I don't understand a goal for Microsoft to be a mega-corporation at 100,000 people. While the majority of that might indeed end up being in China and India (pointed out at the meeting as places where CompSci graduates are still being produced), there's just no good business reason to grow (other than those horded employees are not potential competitors). Is there a stack of specs executive management is reviewing longingly and bemoaning, "shucks, if we only had more people we could have delivered these great products..." I don't think so. The problem is that we're so big that we're stumbling over ourselves as is.

And we did get to have a crickets chirping moment: Ballmer addressed the glass ceiling on the stock and went through the rah-rah blah-blah speech about looking forward, three-year review, deliver innovation, watch the expenses, keep the faith, and deliver results. Pause for applause.

<<crickets>>

Hmm, no applause. Ballmer observation: "Awfully quiet here." Though I have to admit another nice deflection was comparing how Microsoft runs our business vs. Enron (?!?!) and how Enron was entirely focused on the stock price and we're focused on good business fundamentals. Can we, ah, find a different company to compare ourselves to?

Google slips: First comes along BusinessWeek pondering Is Google Out of Steam? and then Friday lands a sucker punch to Google's moneybag (well, along with a bunch of other stocks). Wired magazine wrote about click fraud recently and how that could eventually catch up to burn Google. Of course, the R-rated named site f-'d Google has been predicting the click fraud ruination of Google for a long time (and general collapse in general). And throw in that curious collection in the Google Pack that has most people politely coughing after their confused consideration of just what the heck good all that is. I can only guess it's helping Google feel their way through the dark world of suite packaging and distribution, let alone support. I guess they had to cobble something together for CES...

http://www.officeballot.com/ - This new website has come up in a few comments as a place to anonymously rate and provide feedback on anyone in your company (your boss and co-workers, especially). Looks like a potentially explosive idea. I'm a bit suspicious (work email registration + employee complaining = crazy suspicious ?) myself but I'd be interested in hearing anything interesting that people find there. Their about page has the following inspiring snippet:

Our Mission: To use the Internet to bring open meritocracy to the workplace. We believe today's corporate world is slowed down by corporate bureaucracy, politics, and incompetence. Most companies spend a lot of time on HR policies to reward their best employees. But at the end of the day, despite their efforts, most corporate organizations fail to develop a system that adequately measures and rewards performance, especially among managers. Our aim is to use the Internet to empower employees, to harness the open feedback of the workplace to bring meritocracy to corporations.

Interesting. Perhaps a way to channel all the thoughts coming to your mind as you fill out your mid-point, attend all those stack ranks, and fill-out Microsoft's version of the manager review feedback.

Manager review feedback: speaking of manager review feedback, one thing I got out of the wonderful LisaB listening tour is that she reviews the feedback comments but can't act against supposedly awful management because the comments, by the time they are rolled-up, are disassociated with the person the comment is talking about. Fix: when filling out the text fields for your manager's feedback, be sure to put your manager's alias in there. And now might be the most important time to provide this feedback. If you've got a good boss and want them to stay your boss, spend a few moments praising what they do well. If you have the worse micro-managing bureaucrat in the world, well, spend some time provided cases describing what they just don't do well at all. And slip in that alias.

84 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then, Ballmer somehow tied the stock price going up based on the increased contributions of each Microsoftie.

Clue number 35 that your employer is too big is that they feel compelled to sell you this proposition. I see "products, not share price" didn't last too long.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the space issue as that critical I guess. My office mate (first time I've had one of those) is pretty cool and I get lots done with my Rio Carbon plugged in. :-) But don't we think that they are trying to solve this with the acqusition of the Safeco buildings and immediate leasing of them? Or do we think (and I fear) that they will just see that as another justification for the hiring of more bloat.

Anonymous said...

Then, Ballmer somehow tied the stock price going up based on the increased contributions of each Microsoftie.

Persuasion is cheaper than compensation.

Steve "Mesmer" Ballmer is seeing if he can squeeze more out of you using only the power of his mind instead of using Microsoft's cash and stock.

If he increases your compensation, there'll be less for the partners.

He seems to be saying it is the fault of employees that the stock price is not going up.

Given past history, if Microsoft's revenues did go up because of the employees working harder, the partners would likely just syphon off more revenue for themselves and the stock price would still remain stagnant.

Anonymous said...

Most people look at how few shares are being flung in their direction and doing the math. Some part of Microsoft is getting a huge distribution of stock awards, and it's not the folks doing the front-line work.

Front line that makes up 60% of the work force is getting 25% of the rewards. Nice way to motivate people to "innovate", "deliver" and "ship quality products".

Steve's talk at the town hall was more about the same - old wine in an old bottle. He did not acknowledge any problems with the company. He summed it up by saying "if you deliver, the stock price will go up".

TheKhalif said...

Mini,
I've been here awhile and we've had our disagreements, but I want to ask you what you think is a good size for MS.

Having worked in Windows, I know there are at least 1.5X redundancy, add to that the amount of deadwood, and WIndows could be cut in half. Especially all of these managers who just fail miserably at writing down what their reports do.

SO sinc ethere are about 70-80,000? worldwide, I woul dthink that with proper "pruning" that number coul deasily be cut in half. MS shoul dnot expect to be the largest employer. As you yourself mentioned, replacing "cogs" at MS is not like replacing "cogs" at GE. MS "cogs" have to have a high level of expertise no matter the position.

So, do you think 30-45000 is a good number?

Anonymous said...

I had high hopes for the town hall meeting but they were quickly dashed - from the rambling, opening speeches to the canned, mindless (with the exception of one or two) questions - what did the whole thing really achieve?? I honestly don't understand, perhaps I missed something but what was the point of that one 'softie asking about Ballmer's thoughts on Exchange12??

Maybe I'm way off here, but the impression I got from Ballmer's comments were that he felt that the current economic health of the company is partly a reflection of the effectiveness of the employees - and that we need to step up.

Anonymous said...

Manager Feedback - this is not anonymous. It is pretty easy to figure out who wrote the comments. So write feedback at your own risk. I know a friend who was denied a promotion because the manager was upset about comments written about him.

Anonymous said...

Chris Liddel and LisaB. Senior VPs. Please check their org in headtrax to see how bloated they are. Once we have Senior VPs, we have to have junior VPs and more partners. Try getting promoted from L63 to L64. You wish you were a partner or junior VP.

Dennis Howlett said...

It would have been interesting if Ballmer had been making the comparison between Enron and Microsoft based on 'innovation.' Enron did groundbreaking work in the development of risk models for trading floors that is still being developed to this day.

Except that MSFT isn't perceived as an innovator. Regardless of size.

As to the stock price - it's static because the market doesn't believe the company has a growth future. That's what stock sentiment is about. And it's why GOOG is looking so good - at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was disappointed by the town hall meeting. It would have been nice for Steve say that he hears our pain and that he'll be doing something about it. Is he really unaware of the morale problem? Or does he simply choose to ignore it? Does he not care? At least Lisa seems sincere that she wants to do something substantive. Let's hope she comes up with something good and that Steve listens and acts on it.

Anonymous said...

I was at the town hall meetings, and the thing that struck me the most was how star-struck people were by Steve and Bill. I'm a pretty new employee, and this is the first time that I had seem either of them in person. But guess what... they're just people. When they said thank you and walked off the stage, I turned around and started making my way through the crowd toward the stairs. As I looked around, I saw that almost everyone was still looking at the state, and off to the left where the two of them had gone. I realized that everyone was watching to see where they were going, who they were talking to, etc. etc. I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of the situation.

Also, after seeing Steve for the first time in person... wow, that guy is a walking talking handjob, and everyone seems eager to line up for their turn.

Anonymous said...

Heard Kevin Johnson speak the other day. He didn't say he had concluded the Windows Division had too many people, but he said he thought it was a possibility.

Said a lot of other things I liked, but I felt the same way when BrianV joined Windows.

There is a space crunch. The real estate & facilities group makes it worse by being incompetent.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Ballmer would cite Enron and somehow stress MSFT's superiority. Enron broke the law and subsequently collapsed, detroying ~$60B of shareholder value. MSFT also broke the law (on two continents no less and counting) and while it hasn't yet collapsed, shareholder's have already lost $250B+ under Ballmer's leadership (?), and there has never been more concern over the safety of the remaining $270B. Ballmer's right about one thing at least - there's no comparison.

Anonymous said...

"Then, Ballmer somehow tied the stock price going up based on the increased contributions of each Microsoftie."

I'm getting really tired of hearing this argument. Obviously the contribution of every employee has an impact. But stock prices are based on earnings and perceptions. On the earnings front, costs (due to the ridiculous post 00 explosion in headcount, the massive losses in the "emerging" businesses", and the seemingly endless special charges for legal settlements or the latest compensation bailout) have been escalating far faster than revenue growth until last year, and now revenue growth is slowing to a crawl. Then you have the buybacks that could have helped drive EPS but have been squandered to pay insiders instead. On the perception front, you have the fiasco that is Vista, the failure of the emerging businesses to make a significant positive contribution despite in some cases over $10B spent, and the unwillingness so far to really lead in the new internet world vs defending the old. You also have Gates/Ballmer's penchant for trashing competitor's offering while simultaneously failing to make good on the promise to deliver something better (can you say a better search than GOOG for example?). Finally, you have the shareholder-hostile decisions like the buyback money going to dilution, the below-market dividend, the ridiculous sums being paid to insiders and now Directors while the company stagnates, the seemingly complete lack of executive accountability, the endless headline risk be it legal/security/open source related, etc. Instead of blaming general employees, Ballmer should start looking at himself and his senior team and asking whether they've committed MSFT to the right strategies, whether their contributions are commensurate to the $10'B's they're collectively paying themselves, and whether they're doing everything they can/should to thrill customers while unlocking value for shareholders. The answer from this shareholder is DEFINITELY NOT and fixing that, will have a lot more impact on the stock than every general employee working a little harder.

Anonymous said...

"Ford also will commit to reducing its number of top executives by March 1"

That's an interesting news tip on what's going on at Ford. Can't we do the same thing? Imagine the moral if we got rid of some of the partners and other high profile "do-nothings". I think that we'd all put up with a little space crunch to see a few empty corner offices and associated cost savings.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog every so often, just sorta peeking at what is going on. I am currently focused on my masters and soon to be Phd in AI/compsci. Ok, so recently a friend who works at MS wanted me to give him my resume cause he thought i should at least check it out. Ive worked for large companies before I came back for my masters/phd, and even a billion dollar trucking company as a lead designer developer, so I was in no hurry to do that again. Anyway, I said "what the hell" and sent in the resume anyway. so. I get this "phone interview" setup, which I honestly was just showing up to, I didnt "prep" for or anytghing, I didnt know much about it. Needless to say, although I have worked on {PSO, Genetic Algo, AntNet} optimization, computer vision, (Insert other AI projects) in c++, I could not reverse a goddamn string to his satisfaction (Apparently he wanted pointer tricks, and I just did a stock index reverse loop. bad++ on me.), nor did I "request to start coding". Kids, if thats how you do interviews, well, you are going to continue to get the people you continiously bitch about here. I may not be the perfect candidate, but the interviewer was pretty damn arrogant. I asked a friend of mine (who has worked for intel and the military in high end performance graphics stuff) how he would have done it, and his answer was exactly like mine. He was like "why would I reverse a string?". Mini --- great site --- but you need to realize, attitudes like this will further eat you guys alive from the inside.

signed,
"I guess I just cant code."

Anonymous said...

Oh damn, forgot about those meetings. I was too busy actually getting stuff done Friday. Glad to hear I didn't miss anything. Isn't that usually how it goes? It will be interesting to see if they continue to hold these, as they suggested they would.

fCh said...

I am glad the author of this blog has brought up the issue of corporate buybacks as presented by BusinessWeek.

Elsewhere, another member of the investor community was in strong disagreement with the amount of R&D dollars Microsoft has spent over the past 6 years relative to results. His source of optimism about Microsoft's prospects came from the possibility of reducing the R&D expenses at MSFT.

At least, MSFT is considering stock grants an expense, unlike Intel. Problem is that MSFT stock is a back-door for increased compensation. So, when I read Ballmer somehow tied the stock price going up based on the increased contributions of each Microsoftie. [...] Okay, we believe we have a system for honest compensation and recognition now. Let 'er rip and let's go ship!, I consider somebody is low-balling the audience...

Cheers, fCh.

stephcra said...

Speaking about the risks of putting your manager's alias on your mid-year review, again, do this at you own risk.
I worked at MS from 2/2000 to 1/2005 and never had anything but insane, paranoid managers.
During one mid-year review, apparently one of my peers wrote some stuff critical of our manager at the time. In the review he mispelled one specific word several times.
In an attempt to find out who it was, the manager sent out his leads to everyone on the team, having them pretend that they didn't know how to spell this word, the idea being that this one person would spell it wrong, as he or she did in the review, thus unknowingly revealing him or herself.
From what several of my friends who were leads under this ogre said, after he put forth this "decree" the leads got together and agreed that they wanted no part of this and refused to do it, without letting on to the manager.
I wish I could say that this sort of story was the exception. Unfortunately, I have many more just like it.

Anonymous said...

Off the original topic, but for those who are quitting in the next 2 weeks who have Super Bowl tickets, do you want to unload them?

Customer

Anonymous said...

I somehow think that we as Microsoft are not thinking logically, esp. Mini sometimes intentionally tries to misguide.

There are two ways a company returns value to shareholders.

1. Dividend.
2. Buy back.

Ignoring tax consequences, and in the absense of options and restricted stock grants, in principle both options are equivalent. If a one hundred billion dollar company returns a one billion dollar then the overall market cap of the company decreases by 1 Billion dollar (assuming the company still has sufficient cash leftover to execute whatever strategy it wants to).

In case of dividend, each stock decreases by 1 percent on the day of dividend.

In case of cash back, the value of the stock does not increase or decrease but the number of stocks decreases by one percent.

This was all in principle. But now if the employees have restricted stocks and options, then it is always benefetial for the employees to have stock buybacks over dividend. For employees stock buyback is better than no returning of money to shareholders and which in turn is better than dividend. That's the reason when Microsoft returned a huge dividend ($3 per share) it repriced each option and also increased the number of option. Essentially, converted the dividend effect into buyback.

So as a employees if anything you have to bash is the continuous increase of dividend. Otherwise any person will common sense would find a common sense answer of our failure and that is we are moron enough to accept the businessweak article.

Yes, Microsoft did issue a huge number of stocks to employees as compensation. And it neautralized the effect of the buyback. But if the buyback had not happened then you would not have seen this neutralization. It is very similar to that revenue neutralizes the salary paid to the employees, and whatever on top of that is called the profit.

The real issue is that Microsoft offered so many stocks to its employees. Are you saying the Microsoft employees would be happier without these stocks?

Some say that the problem is that disproportionately more stocks are given to upper management. The lowest 60% got only 25%. I think this is just plain capitalism. In any campitalist system this would be considered a pretty much good distribution of wealth.

What fraction of americal wealth does the lowest 60% of americans have? What fraction of intel employees wealth does the lowest 60% of intel employees have? Ask the same question about google, apple, walmart or any of your favorite company.

I think you forget that the front line employees are the engine of a car. Engine is only given the required fuel and maintanence. Because there are a lot of engines out there. The additional profit of driving the car goes to the driver. Because that is what the skillful job is. Yes, it is true that sometimes these drivers make a wrong turn or get a ticket or even worse crash the car. That is something to complained about - Microsoft drivers probably made a wrong turn and also got a ticket. But do not complain about whatever miniscule action the company is taking to cure the misdirection of the company. Stock buyback is always a plus for employees. Mini acknowledge your mistake.

Anonymous said...

Say it with me ... "IT ISN'T GOING TO GET BETTER"... Getting ready for rant...3...2...1.. GO!

Look around you, but change IS NOT in the air. Ballmer doesn’t care about the problems. When’s the last time Ballmer had a serious self-critical introspective about Microsoft. The shareholders seem incredibly subdued about the whole stock devaluation. The higher up managers are too busy protecting their empires. The lower managers are too new to realize how things work. The ICs are leaving, becoming disillusioned, or just plain unhappy. There are problems everywhere. Morale, pay vs performance vs contribution, stock growth, employee skills growth, career opportunities, etc. I'm sorry Mini, but your blog has no point other than giving employees an anonymous refuge. Which, I don't think is all that bad. For the weak minded, this can be seen a corrupting force creating bad morale, but for most of us, this is just confirming the idea that the problems we see on a daily basis aren't any different any where else in the company. I used to think that I just had to find the right place. I’ve spent the last 6+ years looking for my happy spot; I went from a services group to a mainstream product to a newer/smaller MBS product. Guess what? It pretty is much the same everywhere. Here’s the kicker…I’m okay with that (for the short term). MS keeps me paying inflation+1 each year plus a bigger jump every 24 months and I’ll keep showing up until my wife and I are done having kids and then I’ll look elsewhere. The flipside is I have less loyalty to you than you do to me and my 40 hour work week isn’t flexible. MS isn’t that bad of a place as long as you adjust your expectations. We’re not the company we used to be and no amount of bottoms up effort will change that.

Anonymous said...

>Stock buyback is always a plus for employees. Mini acknowledge your mistake.

Correction. Stock buyback is always a plus for the partners. For the employees it may not make that much of a difference.

Anonymous said...

"signed,
"I guess I just cant code."
"

--

very atypical ... interviews are very subjective. The real deal is that there are a number of approaches to solve a problem. Alot of this has to due with potential future needs or other inputs which are used during a design exercise. Implementation is also varied ....

End of the day .. your smart or microsoft didn't bring you in ... the interviewer simply may not have liked your appearance, style, demeanor or simply there are other things going on behind the scenes.

There is nothing wrong with debating the interviewer ... the problem is they usually take offense if you a) know more than them, b) ask them questions beyond their scope/experience/expertise or c) perceive you as a threat to their future or a future for a friend who they are also soliciting for the same position.

You should go in with the "schools in session" attitude and land the job. Just be concious of things outside of the obvious ... be self critical

Anonymous said...

Folks, everyone should realize that no big change to any of our policies, especially comp or any of our orgs is going to happen before the fiscal year ends and Vista and Office 12 ship. Making big changes now would put even more risk into those product schedules than they already have and would put everyone into a spin trying to figure out how the new comp model might work, what exec they work for now, what the new strategy is, etc.

But once they do? LOOK OUT!!! The changes will come fast and furious.

I'd encourage ever Microsoftee to keep their cool another 8 to 10 months and see what happens....

Anonymous said...

1-Regarding the comment about poor recruiting experience, MSFT isn't alone in that YHOO and GOOG have bizarre interviewing processes as well. At least at MSFT, they don't ask you for your GPA.

2-Regarding the Town Hall meeting, why do some MSFTers ask such stupid questions? :( Or lack the balls to ask the real tough questions?

3-LisaB rocks. But will she be able to make the touchdown? Or there be an interception. I have high hopes... Too be seen. At a minimum, she's reset my "Time until I quit" by another 9 months.

Anonymous said...

Stock buyback is always a plus for employees. Mini acknowledge your mistake.

The stock buyback did nothing for the share price so it really didn't amount to anything more than allowing partners and employees cash out their stock grants. The partners got most of that stock.

A small group of people are giving themselves large numbers of shares and then they are using the company's revenue to cash them in.

Most of the shareholders of the company got nothing out of that as usual.

When a small number of people take money belonging to a larger number of people it is usually called theft.

Microsoft is a publicly traded company and owning shares represents ownership in the company.

A few owners of the company are taking money away from most of the owners of the company.

Anonymous said...

I was at the town hall meetings, and the thing that struck me the most was how star-struck people were by Steve and Bill.

Right. Unless you are willing to 'pull back the curtain on Oz' nothing can change. Among comments that have gotten me in hot water in the past, and which I continue to repeat: In order to remain the richest man in the world, Bill Gates is liquidating his position in MSFT and investing elsewhere. 2. Gates cares little about malaria, but would like to top off his career by 'buying' a Nobel prize for the gates foundation. 3. Apart from taking some DEC PHP language programs and miniaturizing them for the PC + hacking together an OC Gates has done little real innovative work. Lots of copycatting, but little groundbreaking. 4. Occasionally, Gates pops up and makes a momentous comment about something or another that is going to happen in the industry (usually because its already happened and because Microsoft has missed the turn in the road.) Finally, 5. Ballmer would not be a CEO in any major company lest somebody handed him the title on a platter. When in doubt, he reaches for the NY Times Bestseller list and any current management book du jour. His job is to be bombastic and hopeful in public - and try to get rid of his detractors in private. On a high note, Ballmer gets kudos for hanging onto his stock. (May have something to do with his already being a multi-billionaire. I don't know.)

These are my opinions. My advice is: keep asking tough questions. By being at Microsoft you may think you are part of something historical and magical. More to the point, you are part of a cosmic hustle. Gates is one of the most manipulative individuals on the face of the planet. He knows when to tilt the mirrors and release the smoke. He has a knack for getting people lined up obsessively behind him. Don't buy into the program or the BS. Keep asking those tough questions.

Anonymous said...

"I somehow think that we as Microsoft are not thinking logically, esp. Mini sometimes intentionally tries to misguide."

Your post sure doesn't help. Yes, ignoring tax consequences and all else being equal, a dividend and a buyback are equivalent. Unfortunately, there are tax consequences not the least of which being for investors and everything else isn't equal. In MSFT's case, when you factor in the real world, $40B of SHAREHOLDER's money used for buybacks since 00 has resulted in no YOY reduction in shares+equivalents and therefore no direct benefit to shareholders. That's an abomination for shareholder's. It's also an abomination for general employees who likely didn't have a berth at the head end of that gravy train. Your futher comment that employees should be against the increasing dividend is simply ignorant. In case you've forgotten, shareholders own this company and you work for them regardless of the fact that the company gives you shares (the cost of which fyi are underwritten by shareholders). Those same shareholders have stuck by this company as it massively underperformed the market for the past 3 years. Saying that employees should be against increased dividend payments is to ignore these facts, as well as the logic that the more attractive the stock is to general investors, the more it will be worth and hence the more exmployee's grants/options will command. Suggesting that if the buybacks hadn't been done, the neutraliazation of options wouldn't have occurred, is correct. But what would have happened? All things being equal, the stock would have decreased further. More importantly, shareholders would have put even more pressure on management to justify these lofty comp levels in light of this lack of performance and management wouldn't have had their "money we've returned to you" argument to try and hide behind.

Let me simplify this for you. You own a lemonade stand. Over the past five years, you've made no money off it. In fact, you're down 50%. Now, it's not because the lemonade stand isn't profitable - it's hugely profitable. No, the reason you haven't been making money is because the management of your lemonade stand decided to double the employee headcount, make huge suspect investments in a bunch of non-core areas that are still collectively unprofitable, get convicted of a felony and be forced to pay a ton in legal settlements, and...oh right...pay themselves ridiculously using YOUR money while telling you they're returning it to you. Now, they can't even make lemonade very well anymore while competitors churn out lower-priced and still drinkable lemonade equivalents, but some of the employees have apparently gotten so caught up in this Alice in Wonderland world, that they actually think its their company alone or in some majority way (wake up call - it isn't) and that they should demand even more money for themselves and be against even the measly dividend payments being made to you - the real majority owner of the business. So what do you think? Plan on bending over further or perhaps get new management and maybe some new employees who can understand who works for whom and why all need to benefit in order for the relationship to succeed?

Anonymous said...

See, Mini, they're addressing the issue:

>> http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/256523_msftads21.html

A $120M ad campaign to trick the world into believing we're small and efficient.

Anonymous said...

Folks, everyone should realize that no big change to any of our policies, especially comp or any of our orgs is going to happen before the fiscal year ends and Vista and Office 12 ship. Making big changes now would put even more risk into those product schedules than they already have and would put everyone into a spin trying to figure out how the new comp model might work, what exec they work for now, what the new strategy is, etc.

But once they do? LOOK OUT!!! The changes will come fast and furious.

I'd encourage ever Microsoftee to keep their cool another 8 to 10 months and see what happens....


The best you can hope for is an increase in pay bringing Microsoft in line with the rest of the industry.

If you recall, Lisa Brummel already said that she has no data suggesting that there is a problem with Microsoft management (of which she is a member).

You have had many years under a review system with so many subjective measures in it that it can be used as a weapon against anyone a manager does not want around (including reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with performance on the job).

That kind of system attracts a certain kind of person. Because of that system, you now have many of those people in management. It will take years to undo the damage.

You also have an example in an earlier posting of a Phd not being offered a job. That is most likely because the employees doing the interviewing know all about the "curve" and don't want anyone jumping ahead of them. The interviewers want to hire smart people; they just don't want to hire people smarter than them because that would mean less compensation and a lower review score.

If you do have a huge increase in revenue because of Vista and Office 12, who is going to benefit from that?

The partners are going to give themselves a huge bonus when Microsoft gets the revenue from businesses upgrading to Vista. It is a monopoly product but they will take credit for the increase in revenue.

Having a monopoly is propping up some really bad management. As the revenue base of Windows and Office is eroded, Microsoft will sink along with it.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the replay of the town hall meeting. Comments:

1. How many times do I have to hear our execs talk about how poorly we market our stuff? Comments like "we didn't tell that story really well". Holy crap, then some heads in marketing should ROLL!!!

2. I don't believe the hype at all. I think that we can be agile and innovative again and much of what I heard sounded like excuse making for why we can't.

3. No comments on compensation or morale (related)...wow, they are in serious denial.

4. Steve's comment that he didn't know how we arrived at a work space problem. WHAT?? He's the CEO. Try for starters that you hired too many middle micro-managers.

5. Flexible, remote working. The fact that Steve said he doesn't subscribe to lots of this is a slam on our technology that really could facilitate this, it's a cultural problem. Good managers don't mind remote work, bad managers need to be overseers. Problem is that we have too many bad bosses.

Overall....unimpressive. Nothing to get up a cheer about and you could tell in the shots of the crowd that nobody was buying it.

Anonymous said...

signed,
"I guess I just cant code."


Years ago, many of the questions were brain-teasers. Then we were told not to give brain-teasers and that the questions needed to be code related.

So some people now just give code related brain-teasers. They might have a goal of seeing how you deal with pressure or with an unreasonable task, but they use a brain-teaser because they like brain-teasers.

There is at least one book and a few websites that have been created to document and discuss the approaches to Microsoft "brain-teaser" style interviews.

Anonymous said...

On officeballot.com -- what a chickenshit site. It's one thing to be anonymous here where you're having discourse about the company, but quite another to remain anonymous while huring bad comments at your fellow coworkers with no accountability. Hell, you could say anything about anyone and be none the worse for wear. Awful -- that may seem good on the surface, but mark my words: some bad things are going to happen because of it.

Anonymous said...

>But once they do? LOOK OUT!!! The changes will come fast and furious.

I'd encourage ever Microsoftee to keep their cool another 8 to 10 months and see what happens....

After every ship, there is a re-org. So what is new in your suggestion?

Anonymous said...

signed,
"I guess I just cant code."


Sorry about you poor but often typical experience with a Microsoft interview. I used to spend much of my time interviewing campus and industry candidates to come and work for our company.

I was often amazed at the way in which really good candidates were tossed out by other interviewers for not doing things the Microsoft Way. The interviewer, rather than examining how well they could solve problems and look at the problem in different ways would instead look for the textbook or one "correct" answer since it's easier than actually *gasp* thinking critically about what you and the candidate are discussing.

Many people are put into interviewing loops against their will or at the last minute and it shows. I've been on the other sides of some of these interviews at Microsoft and I can tell you it is unpleasant.

Even for my "no hires" I wanted them to leave the interview feeling like they had had a conversation with someone who wanted to help them succeed - which I did - even if success wasn't going to happen for them at Microsoft. When I got out, my flyback to offer ratio was pretty near 1.0 (almost everyone I opted to fly back got an offer and I flew back a good number of people). That of course brough criticism for not taking enough risks because "just think of the good candidates you might be passing over."

Maybe you should have signed it "I just couldn't jump throught the right flaming Microsoft hoop."

Anonymous said...

"In MSFT's case, when you factor in the real world, $40B of SHAREHOLDER's money used for buybacks since 00 has resulted in no YOY reduction in shares+equivalents and therefore no direct benefit to shareholders."

I give you an analogy. Music industry sued thousands of individual pirates but still music piracy has not decreased. By your logic there is no benefit to music industry for suing pirates. The benefit is that the music piracy did not increase.

Typically, by giving compensation in stocks instead of cash, the stock float increases. This increase in stock float is a natural cost of the business. It must be accounted properly in the accounting statements. In my memory, Microsoft is among the first few companies who started accounting for this cost in their quarterly statements. So stake holders are made aware of this cost. To your surprise, Microsoft, percentage wise, has a much smaller cost of stock compensation. Many technology companies who would start including stock compensation in their quarterly company would see 50% reduction in their profits. Microsoft's saw less than 20% reduction in profit.

Further, since when buybacks are required for employees (including partners) to execute their options. Employees execute their options in the open market. Buyback or not.

Since when giving dividend increases a stock price. Many confuse the supply-demand of stocks with supply-demand curve of goods. Demand of a good depends upon the inherent value of the company, not on how the company chooses to deliver the value to the stock holders. Anything else is just temporal fluctuation in stock value. If a dividend of 9 cents is given the stock loses 9 cents value. Yes, SteveB is right when he says that the only way of increasing the value of stock is to increase profit. The other way is fraud - which creates Enron. Since he knows this lesson not you and that is why he is the CEO and not you.

In what condition Dividend is better for stock holders? If you have any economics friend, you could learn that a better policy is to keep splitting stock to keep the price of each stock within reasons, irrespective of the buybacks. Dividend forces the liquidation of equity on the stock holders, whether they need it or not. Buyback and splitting allows the stock holders to choose whether they want liquidation of equity. Yes, companies who want their stock price in hundreds or even thousands want to be unfair with individual stock holders. And companies who pay dividend rob the stock holders of their choices and put a higher tax burden on them, even on those who did not want a partial liquidation of their stock equity.

Further in MSFT case. If you refresh your memory the announcement of dividend and not issuing options were made together. When options were given, the understanding was that the employees would participate in future profit and prospects of the company. If dividend were the norm for the Microsoft during the option giving time then you could assume that the understanding was that the employees would not participate in the profit given as dividend.

Consider the following scanrio:
An employee got an option at $27. After company's prospect improved or the cash reserves increased. The stock is now traded at $27.08. Well he/she deserved this 8 cents. But the company gave these 8 cents to stock holders. The employee ended up with zero gain. The only fair way is to increase the number of options for the employees and decrease the strike price. But for 8 cents our of $27.08, it would not be much. But it all accumulates. It must be done after every several years.

For example, Microsoft did this with $3 dividend. See the formula they used. After the $3 dividend no employees net worth increased/decreased. The only issue is that Microsoft did not use the formula on the right price point - which was again disadvantageous to microsoft employees. The price point they should have used is the price point just before the announcement - i.e., if the announcement is made after the market closed then the price point used in the formula must be the closing price of the day. Not the closing price of the day of the execution. Because the price after the announcement was already influenced with the announcement. It does not matter when you execute it, it matters when it is announced. When one company announces to buy another at 35% premium, the price of the other company increases just after the announcement it does not wait for the event to happen. Ideally, Microsoft wanted to keep the employees in neutral before the announcement and after the announcement.

Finally Mini: your goal of having the smaller more efficient microsoft is understandable. But treating Microsoft management that everything they do has evil intention does not serve any purpose. We Microsoft employees lose reputation and lose money too. Because some journalist with a goal of making a thrilling story just makes a story out of this blog. For an example microsoft employees morale is down. The fact is that Microsoft is still rated very high from employees. It is the best liked employer in all of washington state and ahead of most technology companies nationwide. If I see around me, I see energetic employees. When I visit your blog - I see desperate empoyees. I think hundred or so comments you get is very reasonable and does not reflect employee morale. Out of 60 thousand it is likely to have few thousands desperate employees. And few of them contribute on your blog. But it is expected that such blogs would attract only unhappy employees. You never seems to write anything positive and most of the comments without logic describes the shining side also as dark side.

Why do not you write about the recent issues where DOJ wanted to have the access of the search data. MSFT proudly provided it and helped the democratically chosen government and one of the compatetitors did not. This after the fact that in their terms/conditions they say that they would use the data to improve their services and provide the data to legal process. When their data is needed to improve a law against a heinous crime they do not want to support. Whereas they use the same data to improve their revenue collection (not necessary improving the google services). I as a google user feel cheated. But I as a msn user feel proud that we did not care to improve our public image but cared to prevent children from pornography.

Anonymous said...

You also have an example in an earlier posting of a Phd not being offered a job. That is most likely because the employees doing the interviewing know all about the "curve" and don't want anyone jumping ahead of them.

as someone who has been a Microsoft interviewer for around 8 years now (no, I'm not in HR, I'm in development), I've interviewed my share of PhDs. I can honestly say that 2/3rds of them couldn't code worth shit. They were great at theoretical stuff (analysing method complexity, etc.) but when it came to writing production code, fuggedaboutit. Judging by the experience that the person is question mentioned (AI, etc.) he'd probably be a fine fit in MS Research, but we certainly don't need anymore headcount in that group, one which would make a great Mini-Microsoft thread in and among itself.

Anonymous said...

You also have an example in an earlier posting of a Phd not being offered a job. That is most likely because the employees doing the interviewing know all about the "curve" and don't want anyone jumping ahead of them. The interviewers want to hire smart people; they just don't want to hire people smarter than them because that would mean less compensation and a lower review score.

Oh please, get a grip. There are plenty of idiots with fancy degrees, you don't know anything about this candidate. I worked with a PhD once who couldn't code his way out of a wet paper bag - STEs were checking in fixes to the messes he made. Even MSR didn't want the guy and eventually he left.

Anonymous said...

"1. How many times do I have to hear our execs talk about how poorly we market our stuff?..."

Running theme throughout all your points: lack of executive candor and accountability. That's why imo MSFT needs new outside blood at the top and a change to the Board to give that person the freedom to make substantive changes. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen and the big increase the Board just received seems suspiciously like a payoff to keep them on side in case things get rocky and someone actually mounts a serious challenge to the [increasingly apparent] Ballmer/Gates train wreck. So, look forward to more of the same until the crisis comes, in which case a leadership change will be unavoidable - unfortunately, by that time, it may be too late.

Anonymous said...

"At least at MSFT, they don't ask you for your GPA."

That's too bad. There's an abundance of research on how effective various techniques are in predicting success in college, employment, etc. Interviews by themselves have no predictive value. Metrics like GPA, SAT scores, IQ, and past performance are much better predictors.

Who da'Punk said...

Finally Mini: your goal of having the smaller more efficient microsoft is understandable. But treating Microsoft management that everything they do has evil intention does not serve any purpose.
I first have to say: daaang, that is one of the smoothest comments I've read in a while.

Next: ooo, I take umbrage to characterizing my characterization as evil. That's too simple of a label to go throwing about. I would characterize it more as disappointed with leadership's apparent disconnection from reality.

Going back to Jay Greene interview with Ballmer: did you read that? What, thumbs up from you? Do you think Mr. Ballmer was even answering their questions? They were dumbstruck at the shallowness of answers, and Ballmer thought he had blew them away with his outstanding outmaneuvering. There's hubris, and then there's disconnection from reality. And that disconnection is what is gnawing at us from the inside, and rather than having a product pipeline that erupts ka-pow! you have each product plopping out... and no reason to expect accountability in the near future.

I don't know... maybe if Ballmer did a do-over with those questions and did an honest job of deeply answering the questions I'd shut up and move on. We can hope.

As for how many people read and participate here: I have zero idea. Maybe you're right; perhaps it's only a scant few. We'll never know.

Anonymous said...

I find it pretty ridiculous reading about some of the posters here being dissapointed with the Town Hall meeting - them not being thrilled and all. These fellows took the time to go attend it live or watch the webcast. They probably have lots of issues with morale and compensation. Yet *ALL* of these folks chickened out when top mgmt gave them an oppurtunity to ask tough questions. HELLO ?! Are you expecting some one else to ask your tough questions for you? You are scared to ask them when given the perfect oppurtunity. You are scared to offer candid comments to your manager scared of the fact that he will track you down. For once, take some risk guys. Worst that will happen is you will lose your job but hey you guys always make it sound like your current work env. is the worst in the world. So in exchange for bitching your heart out to SteveB, you get a free ticket out of your miserable MSFT job. Isn't that a win-win situation for you and a loss for the company you love to hate in that they lost a bold genius like you? So next quarter why don't you gather your courage and make the sparks fly?

Anonymous said...

I worked with a PhD once who couldn't code his way out of a wet paper bag - STEs were checking in fixes to the messes he made. Even MSR didn't want the guy and eventually he left.

as someone who has been a Microsoft interviewer for around 8 years now (no, I'm not in HR, I'm in development), I've interviewed my share of PhDs. I can honestly say that 2/3rds of them couldn't code worth shit.

Most of the Phd's in our group were in TEST doing performance work. They did alright.

People don't write enough code during an interview to determine if they can actually work on a software project.

When you see "Phd", you probably think "can't code".

After the interviews are over, you still really don't know if they can code.

You also can't tell if they will work well with the other members of the team.

In other companies, there is a probationary period after you hire someone (e.g. 6 months) in which you can fire them if they don't work out in a real situation.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, but it looks like people are already trying to manipulate http://www.officeballot.com .

Take a look at the "Customer/Consumer Assistance Technology" group, for example...by looking at their ratings, you either have a bunch of rock stars, or a serious case of mutual masturbation.

Anonymous said...

"I give you an analogy."

Okay, you just managed to add one totally unrelated analogy and about a dozen other incorrect statements. But space is limited as is my interest in spending cycles to correct you. Fact: the buybacks have failed to reduce shares outstanding because mgt has diluted the stock even faster to pay insiders - effectively diverting that money from shareholders to insiders. Fact: MSFT's overall level of compensation is one of the highest in the entire industry (albeit that it's not spread around very evenly). Fact: MSFT's dividend is under-market vs the S&P and far below the DOW 30 avg. Fact: dividends historical make up a significant proportion of total return and yes, investors interested in yield are attracted to stocks which provide it. Fact: MSFT's stock performance over the past 3 years is one of the worst in technology which, combined with the compensation stated above, is not a sustainable situation. Fact: shareholders (about 80-85% external) own the company and do so to make a return - not keep senior mgt and certain deluded employees in the style they got accustomed to back in the go go 90's when MSFT was growing at a decent rate.

Anonymous said...

Why do not you write about the recent issues where DOJ wanted to have the access of the search data. MSFT proudly provided it and helped the democratically chosen government and one of the compatetitors did not.

I think it was the blackest day in MSN search history actually. And it's going to hurt business in the future.

Anonymous said...

RE: Mini --- great site --- but you need to realize, attitudes like this will further eat you guys alive from the inside.
signed,
"I guess I just cant code."

The WaggEg employee who wrote this post will be fired. If you re-read the post you will understand why.

Anonymous said...

You have had many years under a review system with so many subjective measures in it that it can be used as a weapon against anyone a manager does not want around (including reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with performance on the job).

That kind of system attracts a certain kind of person. Because of that system, you now have many of those people in management. It will take years to undo the damage.


Which is why you and all your friends and family should buy. Buy!

Please buy!

The Nog said...

How many times do I have to hear our execs talk about how poorly we market our stuff? Comments like "we didn't tell that story really well". Holy crap, then some heads in marketing should ROLL!!!

I think of Microsoft's marketing department the way I think of Fox's marketing department. Fox had a show Arrested Development that had a fan following and won numerous awards, but when ratings were low, instead of firing the people who couldn't market this award-winning show, they canceled the show. Same with Family Guy.

Was anyone fired over the inane .NET branding that happened a few years ago (".NET Messenger" which had nothing to do with .NET...)? Was anyone canned when people barely knew Office 2003 was released? Do I really want to see "Windows Mail," "Windows Live Messenger," "Windows Movie Maker," "Windows Media Player," and "Windows Internet Explorer" in my Start menu (or with the icon change, is it now the "Windows menu")? Microsoft's marketing has a real branding problem. They either undershoot it or they go too far. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am in the last days of my time here at Microsoft - I am leaving of my own accord and doing my part to contribute to the "leaner, meaner, more agile Microsoft" in my own special way. Unfortunately though, I dont think Mini meant me as a candidate for leaving since I was on track for a 4.0+ review score and was given the opportunity for a much sought after promotion - too little too late in my specific circumstance though drove me to a new job in dev outside the company with a substantial raise that made the promotion's salary increase seem like a token gesture rather than profound.
I have several beefs in leaving the company - involving all levels of employee, management, HR and partners:
- HR doesn't care if the inequities of the pay scales and ladder levels come to the attention of ICs. You could be the one and only performer on your team and be given verbal assurance that you're the star, but if your dog assed lazy teammate bleats out his salary and it's higher than yours, you dont have any right to complain or seek equalization - or at least according to HR who read liberally from the Book of BillG. You as the mason bee just stick your tail between your legs and return to your workstation and you'd better maintain your performance since you'll be labelled as a non-team player from now on.
-{sarcasm}Setting up a 1:1 with your lead, coming in with a fully prepared ladder level description with details on how you meet or exceed them all is not a wise career move - your lead knows exactly what you've been doing and the extent of your influence, and your opinions of your performance don't weigh in on how that knowledge is prepared...{/sarcasm} So just shut up and get back to work!
-the best way to motivate an IC is to promise them that you might put them in for a level promotion... if only you do this list of items before the promotion is put in. Among the list is a set of directions on how to configure your office door, lighting, blinds, desk, monitor, etc...
-Another great motivational device is to tell employees that they directly influence the stock price on a market that is controlled by rumor, innuendo, real and made up reports, ship schedule dates being leaked, and more... then write this into a memo that gets passed around to middle management with the requirement that everyone memorize the litany and say 10 Ave Marias before and after the most holy of words...
-finally, make sure that 75% of your workforce are given salary increases that are at or below the cost of living index. Then tell all of them they should be happy to get that since a poll has been sent out asking if you would prefer a bigger raise with far reduced health coverage or to be decreasing on the salary scale while enjoying the same benefits you got for the past 10-15 years...

I'm going to enjoy leaving and then in a year throwing my resume into a pile here - when I suggested to HR that this was an effective way of getting up the ladder at MSFT they suggested it was "abusing the system"... I don't agree since the system has been abused by managers in the company for the last 5-10 years trying to build empires and keep their budget bloat up - now it's time for everyone else to get their share of the bloat...

Cya 'round all!

Anonymous said...

How Microsoft can beat Google

Microsoft can beat Google the same way it killed Netscape: offer ad search for free.

I'd love to see that happen:-)

TheKhalif said...

Yet *ALL* of these folks chickened out when top mgmt gave them an oppurtunity to ask tough questions. HELLO ?! Are you expecting some one else to ask your tough questions for you? You are scared to ask them when given the perfect oppurtunity.


If people see others get forced out for disagreeing with someone one or two levels above how can you think that employees will feel comfortable questioning higher-ups?
I think your statement reflects the lack of democratic process in business today. I thought we had free speech in America. Why does it stop at the door to the office?

Anonymous said...

*ALL* of these folks chickened out when top mgmt gave them an oppurtunity to ask tough questions.
Hear hear. Anonymous commenting on blogs is one thing. Doing something about it is another. Put up or shut up...

In other companies, there is a probationary period after you hire someone (e.g. 6 months) in which you can fire them if they don't work out in a real situation.
In most subs, the probation period is 3 months. Some have 6 months. All have some form of probation. Yet another gap between corp and field. The more I read this blog, the more I think it should be called mini-redmond. A lot of the complaints commenters have just aren't valid outside of corp. In the 3 subs I have worked in, MS is a really good place to be, particularly in comparison with similar outfits - especially around areas like good benefits, lack of politics and opportunity to grow.

Anonymous said...

"How Microsoft can beat Google

Microsoft can beat Google the same way it killed Netscape: offer ad search for free."

Yes, there was one small problem that. Remember the DOJ? Also, burying competitors by offering the product for free is in part what led to the popularity of the Open Source model that MSFT now finds itself under pressure from. Here's an alternate concept on how to beat GOOG: focus on the customer not the competition and provide a superior overall experience/value prop. That way, you can actually make money doing it and possibly even charge a premium. Yes, I know, radical...

Jack said...

"At least at MSFT, they don't ask you for your GPA."

That's too bad. There's an abundance of research on how effective various techniques are in predicting success in college, employment, etc. Interviews by themselves have no predictive value. Metrics like GPA, SAT scores, IQ, and past performance are much better predictors.


Hmmmmm....
High School GPA: 3.something, it's been awhile.
SAT: 690 verbal, 570 math. I think.
College GPA: 2.75 or so. Oops. Too much beer I guess.
IQ: Not sure, but definitely higher than 100.

I don't need some tool asking me for college transcripts in order to get a job. I graduated too long ago and have done too many good things in the meantime to need to dig out irrelevant information to get a job. It's nice to be lucky that way.

One of the best people (in terms of getting shit done and shipping great products) I've ever worked with at Microsoft didn't have college transcripts to dig out. By your logic they should never have been hired.

I agree that interviews are not good predictors of good work. Past performance is pretty good, but only if you have good data. Based on my experience with both internal and external hires, good data is scarce. There's lies, damn lies, resumes, and annual reviews, to steal a phrase.

One of my very best friends in college was off the charts on every metric. SAT, ACT, GPA, IQ, Etc. He's got no ambition whatsoever. No drive, no will to succeed, no fire. I'd rather have a high school dropout with desire.

Bottom line, the hiring manager needs to practice interviewing, learn from a star, and be selective. Too many times I've heard "Well, it's better to have someone in the position than no one at all." Bullshit.

Anonymous said...


Why do not you write about the recent issues where DOJ wanted to have the access of the search data. MSFT proudly provided it and helped the democratically chosen government and one of the compatetitors did not.

I think it was the blackest day in MSN search history actually. And it's going to hurt business in the future.


I agree with you as it being a black day. I was checking out msn search etc, but now I am back to sticking with google. I don't care if M$ can get a better search engine out if they are willing to just give the details to which ever government asks. Today it is the US govt. Tomorrow they may be giving it out to China or India or even to Iraq , just so that they can get better business there????

Anonymous said...

"(Insert other AI projects)"...

are we being astroturfed?

Anonymous said...

>I find it pretty ridiculous reading about some of the posters here being dissapointed with the Town Hall meeting - them not being thrilled and all.

You sound like a partner that rewards brown noses. Why did you chicken out and not leave your name?

Anonymous said...

"I agree that interviews are not good predictors of good work"

Exactly. If we have a strong hire and a mediocre hire, what's the guarantee at the end of the day they would get the job done?

Anonymous said...

I find it pretty ridiculous reading about some of the posters here being dissapointed with the Town Hall meeting - them not being thrilled and all.

You sound like a partner that rewards brown noses. Why did you chicken out and not leave your name?


Well, I am not the one whining. It's you guys. BTW. I am just one happy L60 IC. So there goes your ability to sniff out partners. Also, whether or not I chickened out is not the issue at all :) Or do you like to avoid the issue when it becomes obvious that the issue can be easily solved by no one but you so that you can keep whining.

Anonymous said...

"I agree with you as it being a black day. I was checking out msn search etc, but now I am back to sticking with google. I don't care if M$ can get a better search engine out if they are willing to just give the details to which ever government asks. Today it is the US govt. Tomorrow they may be giving it out to China or India or even to Iraq , just so that they can get better business there????"

You would be fool if that is your reason to stick to Google. It is easier to fight with US government than to fight with Chinese government. For an example - Google just deployed their "censored" search engine. When this chinese journalist blog was removed from Microsoft spaces, I did not hear any offer for google to offer some blog space to the same journalist.

If Google's policies are so private protecting than why do not they fight for countless individuals on whom the government seeks data. They always say "no comments" on this question, confirming that they have been serving the government.

In this case, the government wanted to have some statistical data - how many people search for children porn and whether the children porn is indexed in the google search engine.

This statistical information would be of the same nature that the google provided the top ten queries of the last year. I think it is more useful to know whether people looked for britney spears as the top query than knowing whether significantly many people looked for child porn.

About the index - everytime you search you are sampling google index. Why can't they help the government on this much needed request. Also, note that they did not cite the privacy concern but cite their trade secret concern. All they cared about is money (i.e., misleading the users to a privacy issue, which it is not) not about the social benefit. If they could use the statistical data to milk the advertisers why can't the public use the same statistical data to make effective laws against child porn?

I am proud of Bill and all of Microsoft for their concern about social values. Including the recent gay right support issue. I am proud of being a Microsoft employee for this reason. And yes, this is additional incentive for me to use Yahoo, MSN etc and not use Google.

We as a public must tell google that we are not fooled. If you really want to demonstrate your concern for privace then wait until the issue appears. You will find that Microsoft would be more aggresive in protecting user's privacy than you.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft can beat Google the same way it killed Netscape: offer ad search for free.""

Lest you forget, netscape helped their own demise.

Other than a browser (which was the star of the company) they had poor a poor supporting business plan and really quite scary server products. Bottom line, while we were very competitive, they certainly were stretching themselves too thin and did not have good product to back it up.

You do recall they basically borrowed/stole/hired the UIC browser dude.

The server products were based upon poorly ported to NT NNTP, Firewall, Webserver and proxy UNIX products (which as i recall were open source based)....

Anonymous said...

Why do not you write about the recent issues where DOJ wanted to have the access of the search data. MSFT proudly provided it and helped the democratically chosen government and one of the competitors did not.

I think it was the blackest day in MSN search history actually. And it's going to hurt business in the future.


I agree with this poster, it is one of the blackest days.. second only too when MS re-launch their search engine and the thing is a piece of horse crap and falls to #4. And if you are thinking to yourself, hmm but there are only 3 main search engines....Exactly. The new search engine will fall behind itself.

And can we please stop cloaking everything in "we are protecting the children". If you actually believe the government especially this current administration cares a bit about anyone but themselves, then you are an absolute moron.

The DOJ is not demanding search data because they care about "protecting children" but because they just to keep a tab on your dumb ass and dictate what you can and cannot read/see on the internet.

And MS did not release its search data to the DOJ because MS cared about "protecting children". It released it because it did not want to bothered by dealing with yet another legal battle so get off your moral high horse. "Protecting Children" was the last thing on MS mind, it was a business/legal decision... which is ok. I just hate it when everything cloaked around morality bullshit.

---Stockholder

Anonymous said...

"How Microsoft can beat Google

Microsoft can beat Google the same way it killed Netscape: offer ad search for free."


Microsoft CAN'T.

Microsoft edged out netscape not because Internet Explorer was better but because you guys have a monopoly on the desktop and bundled it with your OS. Given a choice, things may have turned out differently. And if you want proof, check out Mozilla Firefox. Its faster, does not generate pop-ups and its faster.

Search is a whole different ballgame. Search does not reside on OS. MS does not control the internet, nor search. It cannot even get search on the desktop to work properly let alone across the internet. Oh by the way, there is also another search engine called Yahoo. Competition is not just from one player but coming from all directions on all fronts (search, OS, apps)

And guys please stop announcing what Microsoft will deliver/launch and then have it delayed with another annoucement of the launch. Just do it. Make it, test it, announce it and sell it the very next freaking day.

Anonymous said...

I found this post about how it "used to be" at Microsoft in the mid-80s. I didn't start there until the early '90s but it was still similar. The feelings described in this post seem totally gone now:

http://groups.google.com/group/net.jobs/browse_frm/thread/931a1f4c1da6967/4f2cf440919eeda9?tvc=1&hl=en#4f2cf440919eeda9

But they are available at at least one competitor, right down the street in Kirkland.

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow they may be giving it out to China or India or even to Iraq , just so that they can get better business there???? "

They (google) are giving it out to China today.

The Nog said...

Microsoft edged out netscape not because Internet Explorer was better but because you guys have a monopoly on the desktop and bundled it with your OS. Given a choice, things may have turned out differently. And if you want proof, check out Mozilla Firefox. Its faster, does not generate pop-ups and its faster.

This isn't true. Internet Explorer really was better than the version of Netscape that was out. Leveraging the desktop monopoly helped a lot in getting people to try Internet Explorer, but the Netscape brand was still big in people's minds. Netscape killed itself.

Firefox doesn't have anything to do with this because the Mozilla project was opened up many years later.

Search is a whole different ballgame. Search does not reside on OS. MS does not control the internet, nor search.

This is true. The web is not OS-dependent. Many of Microsoft's technologies have tried to tie things to Windows (ActiveX, Avalon) by making websites more Windows-dependent, but it hasn't been a complete success.

And guys please stop announcing what Microsoft will deliver/launch and then have it delayed with another annoucement of the launch. Just do it. Make it, test it, announce it and sell it the very next freaking day.

I think it's Microsoft trying to let people know they're not letting Google walk all over them. "Yes, we're coming up with a response." The waiting does hurt, though. I don't think Microsoft will ever dominate the web the way it dominates the desktop. MSN Search may always be simply another alternative search engine. That's why I believe Microsoft should be strictly focused on the desktop, which continues to be its strong point. This constant need to enter and annihilate any and all new markets has caught up to the company and made them look like a second-rate follower and not a leader. Things like Window Live and Office Live make me wonder what Microsoft's future plans are with the web--Office available through the web via subscription? Or will Office always be a desktop app with web enhancements through Live? What's the vision? It feels a little unfocused because of the ambiguity. The Live offerings, in my opinion, are there to make it look like Microsoft is on top with regards to a web strategy.

Anonymous said...

I am proud of Bill and all of Microsoft for their concern about social values. Including the recent gay right support issue. I am proud of being a Microsoft employee for this reason.

Microsoft withdrew its support for the legislation, waited until it failed to pass by one vote, and then said they would support it next time.

They only said they would support it next time because of pressure from their employees. They did not actually support it.

They got to satisfy the religous conservatives by not supporting the legislation and then they pacified their employees by saying they would support it next time.

You are proud of being an employee of Microsoft because of their "support". They didn't actually do anything.


Microsoft Draws Fire for Shift on Gay Rights Bill

But Microsoft's decision to withdraw its support for state legislation that would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance drew sharp criticism yesterday from those who say the company missed an opportunity to make an important public statement. Instead, they say, Microsoft caved in to pressure from religious conservatives who opposed the bill, which failed by one vote last week.

Microsoft Backtracks, Supports Gay Rights Bill

Microsoft Corp. said yesterday that it would support a bill in Washington state to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance in the next legislative session, shifting away from the neutral stand it took on legislation that failed by one vote to pass last month.

In an e-mail to employees yesterday, Microsoft chief executive Steven A. Ballmer said he had heard from many workers who sent "passionate e-mails" conveying their unhappiness with the company's failure to throw its muscle behind the bill, as it had done with similar legislation several years ago.

TheKhalif said...

A lot of the complaints commenters have just aren't valid outside of corp. In the 3 subs I have worked in, MS is a really good place to be, particularly in comparison with similar outfits - especially around areas like good benefits, lack of politics and opportunity to grow.



Have you ever heard the term "YMMV?" It means that someone is going to get the 4.0 and the promotions. You say that like you have no idea why you were promoted.


Things that make you go, HMMMMMMM!

Anonymous said...

I found this post about how it "used to be" at Microsoft in the mid-80s.

Ah, yes. Gordon Letwin (far right, second row, that photograph...) Last of the Albuquerque guys, and first to build a 'Microsoft mansion' for himself, on the basis of his stock. OS/2, HPFS... Officially left the company in 1993... Only actually left the employee roster in 2003.

Perhaps all these things tell a story, in themselves. Letwin might be what we'd call a 'partner', nowadays.

fCh said...

For a conversation about

"How Microsoft can beat Google

Microsoft can beat Google the same way it killed Netscape: offer ad search for free."


Microsoft CAN'T.

Microsoft edged out netscape not because Internet Explorer was better...


see this: http://chircu.blogspot.com/2006/01/can-search-follow-browser.html

Who da'Punk said...

Regarding the whole MSN / Yahoo search vs. Google search fighting the subpoena vs. Google and China and "Don't Be Evil"(*) emergent thread: if you want to talk cold, hard specifics, fine. But the broad generalities and crude bashing because it's easy to bash doesn't float my moderating boat.

Please contribute that to a more appropriate place where it can be loved and appreciated.


(*) Except where void.

Bob said...

What interesting insight into the inner workings.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft can beat Google the same way it killed Netscape: offer ad search for free.

That misses the point entirely. With a web browser, a user will make a choice - one or the other. But with advertising more is always better.

So long as companies are getting value out of Google's advertising, they will use it, even if MSN is free. They will use MSN as well.

Anonymous said...

Fire people, fire people, and fire people! ...We over-expanded and hired way too many people that we just plain don't need.

An example of which is this recent thread on the Competitive Intell alias. This is a real thread - I couldn't make up something that shows such silliness and lack of people focused on doing real work. Here goes (cross your legs so you don't pee)!
(read from the bottom)
_______________________________________
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 2:11 PM
Subject: RE: Any references on...

Have you pinged the Hardware team? I know they do research on mouse and keyboard usage.
________________________________________
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 2:52 AM
Subject: RE: Any references on...

There may also be benefit derived from reducing RSI if the pattern of mouse vs. keyboard usage is significantly improved. Might need time/motion study to determine if you're making things better or worse.
________________________________________
Sent: Mon 2006-01-23 13:41
Subject: RE: Any references on...

Don’t think I’d do a TCO study on mouse clicks. I think I’d do analysis on error rates, failures, support costs, and their impacts. The user may not care about the time of 6 clicks, but if he/she increases their chance of failure in accessing a service online because of it, or he/she has to call a helpdesk – it gets MUCH more painful/costly.
________________________________________
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 1:30 PM
Subject: Any references on...

…the average time it takes for a computer user to do one mouse click? Trying to quantify ROI on a process used by many internally and repeatedly where 6 mouse clicks would be saved 

Thanks if you know.

Anonymous said...

Just a clarification for Anonymous, at 12:21 AM:

The request for search information had nothing to do with child pornography. It was about pornography accessible to children (ie. COPA).

The government wants to show that lots of people are searching for porn and hence we need to protect the children.

I think Google had it right: basically the government is trying to push a law through and due to it's rocky support they are subpoenaing data from search engines to show that the law needs to be enacted.

Let's face it: this really doesn't help anything. How does showing that lots of people look for porn equate to "the children need to be protected". It's a strawman and I can't see how you can argue differently.

Unless of course they want to show that there's lots of users searching for both "pokemon" and "boobies"...

Anonymous said...

A lot of the complaints commenters have just aren't valid outside of corp. In the 3 subs I have worked in, MS is a really good place to be, particularly in comparison with similar outfits - especially around areas like good benefits, lack of politics and opportunity to grow.

Have you ever heard the term "YMMV?" It means that someone is going to get the 4.0 and the promotions. You say that like you have no idea why you were promoted.

Where in the original comment does it mention anything about promotion or 4.0's? It talks about field subs not seeming to be like corp in terms of politics and package being related to performance

Anonymous said...

This isn't true. Internet Explorer really was better than the version of Netscape that was out. Leveraging the desktop monopoly helped a lot in getting people to try Internet Explorer, but the Netscape brand was still big in people's minds. Netscape killed itself.

There was a definite effort at Microsoft to "kill" Netscape at the time.

If you read Memoirs From the Browser Wars, you will get a better understanding of why Netscape got "killed".

Anonymous said...

On the subject of the China censorship,
CNet published a study of what each of the search engines censor in China.


http://news.com.com/What+Google+censors+in+China/2100-1030_3-6031727.html


To be fair to MSN Search, they seem to censor the least while Google and Yahoo apply a more broader brush in censoring web sites.

While some posters have commented that manual censorship seems worse than censoring by keyword, the net effect seems that MSN Search censors the least.

Anonymous said...

We all know what killed Netscape - Netscape engineers are weenies!

Anonymous said...

Here's google's official take on the censorship in China.

Google in China

Anonymous said...

... And Bill Gates defends Google's policy in China :

Gates defends China's internet restrictions

Quote:
Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, took the rare step of standing up for arch-rival Google today as he argued that state censorship was no reason for technology companies not to do business in China.

Anonymous said...

officeballot.com is anonymously proxy registered. That and the request for work email is strong evidence that it is a vaid email collection site and nothing more. There was another scam site that worked the same way 'find out what people are saying about you', etc. I hope people are web savy enough nowadays to know not to give personal info to a site that is registered by proxy.