Monday, February 20, 2006

Microsoft Campus Expansion... foo!

Let's slim down Microsoft into a lean, mean, efficient customer pleasing profit making machine! Mini-Microsoft, Mini-Microsoft, lean-and-mean!

"$%#@ you, the horse you rode in on, your little dog, and your little company-aspirations, too!"

So Mr. Barr was first out with a summary of Microsoft's revised Redmond campus expansion plan. What do you know, the athletic fields are back! What is the name of the technique where you share a plan to take something away and then people complain fiercely and then you give it back without it ever costing you anything but letting them feel as though you're listening to them? There should be a name for that.

I have a future pastime to look forward to that is especially called out in the recent color-map: a round-about in the center of campus?!? Oh, you know I'm going to have to bring my picnic and sit down (at a safe distance) and enjoy that show. When the everyday bright, good-looking Microsoftie drives onto campus, anything they've learned about being a considerate, safe driver gets flipped right off: "Faster, faster, Puddy-cat! Must! Be! First!" A round-about is certain to be better entertainment than Project Gotham.

Anyway, the expansion certainly seems like a series of nails on the coffin of any aspiration for Microsoft to slim down into a company that management can handle effectively. Now, I feel for the folks who are doubled or tripled up and continuing to do a great job. It seems odd that our leadership didn't see the overcrowding coming. So it seems like a good move to acquire and spread to relieve the pressure that we're currently under, though I continue to believe the best way to relieve that pressure is to release everyone not contributing to the success of the company. And then resell and make a profit on any of these edge buildings we no longer need.

As for continuing to grow and to hire people: why? How about first looking inside of Microsoft and making it easier to move within the company from job to job, especially considering there are two big groups wrapping up major product waves? It's highly unproductive towards our company that once you're inside Microsoft it's probably harder to move to another group than if you were an outsider. Try loosening the restrictions first so that:

  • Anyone can interview and move-on when they like. You plain don't need permission to interview. The new boss and old boss can negotiate a transfer timeline, if need be. Just see if managers don't change a tad if they realize they actually need to value and re-recruit their people vs. banging the drum and chanting, "Code! Code! Code! Code!"
  • A lighter interview process: interview with your potential future boss and the as-appropriate. It boggles my little mind as to why this is treated as a full-press interview.
  • Support aggressive internal recruiting. Technical recruiters should know the rhythm of our product groups and when it's best to recruit people internally to new positions. This allows people to continue grow and unleash their energy vs. staying in the same group and job until they suffer skill-attrition and become more of a liability than an asset.

If we had more fluidity to Microsoft careers, you'd have some good business Darwinism where healthy groups attracted appropriate growth and unhealthy groups shed team members until the leadership got fired off and replaced with something better. The only good reason I can see for having a heavyweight process is that it helps groups identify and avoid some of the deadwood hired during the major expansion years. But just about anyone can suss them out. And hopefully a revised performance review process that doesn't encourage keeping 3.0 filler around to make up the bottom of the curve will make it way easier to move the deadwood out.

Jeff Raikes All Hands with special guest star Lisa Brummel

Along comes a comment:

If you're really into seeing what our executives are saying internally as of late, you should:

(1) go by our internal website for serving up cached videos, (2) go to Monday's listings, (3) Watch JeffR's all-hands meeting.

Well, not all of it. But JeffR does address some of the concerns that you see bubbling up here and near the end, before the Q'n'A, LisaB shows up to do a short version of her listening tour.

At the end of last week, some interested folks gathered around my peer's laptop at lunch to watch this off of http://studiosmedia/, all of us agreeing anyone could skip through any boring parts. Well, actually, we first found LisaB's presentation about an hour and a half (Oy! Is this an All Hands or The Company Meeting?) into the video and that's as far as we got, other than enjoying Mr. Raikes mea-culpa over office space at 1:20-ish. It's a pickle, alrighty.

If you missed a Listening Session and want more than what Lisa's internal site provides, this video provides a great, quick summary of what the LisaB buzz is all about. Interesting quotes:

  • "The curve is essential to the people agenda we have at this company."
  • "I would like to see the curve go away."
  • "In the end, the curve needs to change."

To think about the potential for big change here that will be industry-leading and help Microsoft re-invent itself just makes me go quoting Jean-Louis Gassée.


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157 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re: your thoughts on hiring: You have GOT to be kidding me. If you think the politics between teams and in some cases within teams are bad now, just wait until anyone can move to any group, any time they like. People will spend more time horse-trading and promoting themselves than actually getting work done. I've been behind your sentiments before, but this is just bloody silly.

Anonymous said...

"Re: your thoughts on hiring: You have GOT to be kidding me. If you think the politics between teams and in some cases within teams are bad now, just wait until anyone can move to any group, any time they like. People will spend more time horse-trading and promoting themselves than actually getting work done. I've been behind your sentiments before, but this is just bloody silly."

What rubbish, good people are already walking out the door. Why not make it easier to keep them in the organisation? What are you going to achieve by chaining them to their desks?

Anonymous said...

Uh, no. Mini's got it right. My first move between teams, former mgr kept trying to come up with an excuse why "permission to intvw" was not possible. Asked HR who gave me the "don't be afraid to ask" spiel. Ha! What happens when you ask and get, "NO!" In the end, I was able to transfer, but not without a lot of pain.

Anonymous said...

I think expansion is good. I hope it is used for hiring new people instead of extending the luxury of existing employees. I have seen bay area companies like Oracle and Google. I think even if you put two employees in a single Microsoft office it is still a luxury. So please stop saying that we have space pressure. On the other hand there are so many projects I work with and none of the projects have enough employees. There are thousands of position open. I hope Microsoft could become a hundred thousand employee company after the expansion. At this point we can't afford to be slower than competitor. The only way is to have more manpower. Even if it is underskilled provided we are getting all the super-skilled manpower too.

CanadianBeerBeaver said...

I've lost all faith in MS management. Although, when I was surfing through the MS exec pages, I came across this guy called J Allard - he's the Corporate VP in charge of XboX. If only the other VPs could be as cool as him!

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/jallard/default.mspx

Anonymous said...

What's the problem with round-abouts? They are quite simple. Traffic on the round-about has right of way. It is all quite courteous and civilised. I am sure Redmond based Microsofties will cope. Drivers in other nations seem to have got the hang of them.

Anonymous said...

Regarding LisaB: her site slowly adds new documents. It is interesting to me how many of the documents there mention this site (and, as of late, even propose the implementation of an internal version of Mini-Microsoft).

How instrumental has the raw conversation at Mini-Microsoft been at firing off internal discussions that move towards action? I believe that Microsoft management has always been receptive to listening to its employees when there is a focused outcry. It is just that you need something to prompt the outcry and say something has got to change.

Anyhoo, remember that 10 Crazy Ideas paper? One of the versions there on Lisa's site has feedback rolled into it, including that from BillG. I think Mini would be heartened by one of Bill's comments regarding reducing headcounts on large dev projects:

BillG: “Headcount cuts. This is very tempting.”

Anonymous said...

"There are thousands of position open. I hope Microsoft could become a hundred thousand employee company after the expansion. At this point we can't afford to be slower than competitor. The only way is to have more manpower. Even if it is underskilled provided we are getting all the super-skilled manpower too."

Well this kind of thinking should scare the living hell out of anyone still working. How, exactly, does adding more people to an already bloated disfunctional corporation make it more competitive? Hopefully this person is a L60 PM somewhere and doesn't have a clue otherwise. If this is anyone in management, run for the doors!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 'permission to interview' comments above, as has been noted here before, asking for permission is kicking open a one-way door. You had better get the job, because there is no way back. I know that the system was created to allow managers to reduce the impact of critical people to a critical project. What it has become is a message to your manager akin to "you suck, I want out". The standard reaction is "good luck, you think I suck, wait until you see your next review asshole". The reason for this standard reaction is the absolute inexperience of 95% of the Microsoft 'managers'. This is due to the inbred problem noted elsewhere. If someone has no real-world experience in this industry, what the hell are they doing in a position of making management decisions for the largest software company in the world? All of the situational leadership classes in the universe will not teach someone how to manage effectively in the closed microcosm that is Microsoft. It simply does not work. Need proof? Look around you.

Anonymous said...

"And hopefully a revised performance review process that doesn't encourage keeping 3.0 filler around to make up the bottom of the curve will make it way easier to move the deadwood out."

I've been rustling around here since 1989. I've managed ICs and managed leads of ICs. I've worked as a manager in all parts of the company -- systems, msn, and HED.

There's no historical, "official" corporate stance that a 3.0 is anything less than a solid performer. I was trained by my management and by HR training that a 3.0 is a solid review for someone absolutely fulfilling the requirements of their job.

Many times I handed out bonuses, stock and raises to 3.0 performers.

Those days have evidently passed.

Given that a significant percentage of our company HAS to get a 3.0, it is ludicrous to me that anyone would deem them deadwood.

There are plenty of reasons for a 3.0 -- maybe you wound up in a job that's frankly below your level. It can happen. Maybe you just wound up on a team packed with absolute superstars. That can happen too. Or maybe you just decided that you don't want to let the company take every spare molecule of life-energy from you.

Wives and Husbands and Kids and other things matter too.

Whatever the reason, you can decide to live with 3.0s. You do your job, you collect your paycheck, you work to offer good value for your salary.

I take HUGE OFFENSE at the dead wood claim.

We hire smart, talented, motivated people. Even with as much griping as I hear, I know for a fact that VERY FEW real losers wind up at Microsoft. Overall, the quality of the people I work with is incredibly high.

If someone is just not cutting it, we should give them a 2.5 or less and show them the door. Otherwise, we should show appreciation for the co-workers who do give their time, their energy, and their commitment to our mutual success.

This company couldn't function without solid performers. Not everyone has to be a raving fanatic to provide good value.

Mini, if you honestly believe 3.0s are losers, then you've sucked down too much koolaid yourself.

test2dev said...

On internal transfers: I agree with just about all of this except a lighter interview process. There's a lot of variation in talent here. Unfortunately, just because someone is a L61 SDE with 3.5 reviews doesn't mean he or she is necessarily qualified for the average L61 position. With a lighter interview process you have less time to spend making sure the candidate meets the technical bar, OR you blow the entire interview loop on technical screening without assessing job fit. When I went from test to dev, I dreaded the 8-hour interview loops. But when I had to decide whether to accept an offer, I was glad to have spent enough time with potential coworkers to know it would be a good fit.

Anonymous said...

and, as of late, even propose the implementation of an internal version of Mini-Microsoft

Management would love that. They could then do an internal survey of all employees and tell them that "Survey says!" ... everything is fine. Oh wait, never mind.

Anonymous said...

I hope Microsoft could become a hundred thousand employee company after the expansion. At this point we can't afford to be slower than competitor. The only way is to have more manpower. Even if it is underskilled provided we are getting all the super-skilled manpower too.

Do you ever get the feeling that at some point Walmart and Microsoft are going to merge?

That way, employees can give their salary back to the company by shopping at Walmart on their lunch break.

Anonymous said...

What are you going to achieve by chaining them to their desks?

Control! We must have control! Muhahah!

Anonymous said...

What's the problem with round-abouts? They are quite simple. Traffic on the round-about has right of way. It is all quite courteous and civilised. I am sure Redmond based Microsofties will cope.

Microsoft management would make all the streets leading into the roundabout "One Way" streets.

Everyone would drive around until they ran out of gas and then walk to their offices.

veridicus said...

To the AC who said, "I think expansion is good.": You actually believe that making a company bigger will make it faster and more flexible?!? Working on more projects which lose profit all at the same time is supposed to help you keep up with competition? Every successful business focuses first and foremost on their core business. In MS case it's the OS and Office productivity. Throwing more people at a thousand other projects is getting you nowhere fast. Other departments do nothing but burn revenue.

Anonymous said...

good post mini.

I have been reading your blog for a long time and I agree and disagree on alot of your suggestions. However, last night I was thinking this exact same thing. why do we make it so hard to go from group to group.

I changed groups 3 years ago and my manager made me feel so bad for wanting to pursue an new group. After i went through the 8 hour interview and got the offer. I had to wait 3 months to transfer. My manager made it so difficult for me to leave. I wasn't even doing anything.

This past august I wanted to change groups again. I did an 8+ hour interview in a group. I met with the as app and when I was done he said he would let me know in a couple of days. Needless to say I didn't get the job. However, had i been external I'm pretty sure I would have gotten that role after going through all of that.

I agree completely that we need to make things much easier here to allow users to move from one group to another. Of course there should be some requirements like you must be in the job for a year have a minimum review score. Each group could even make their own minumum requirements to enter. Things like life time review score etc. If you don't meet those requirements then you might have to do a longer interview.

However we do it we need to make much easier to do change jobs.

I spent about 10 years in the non MS world and it was so easy to change jobs. You interviewed ususally with one or two people and if they liked you that was it.

Anonymous said...

"The curve is essential to the people agenda we have at this company."

I listened to it today, I think this is a good thing for the company as it is too big. However, she is not commenting on how some of the "bad fat" is hiding and tossing good people in the roadway for loss.

I would like to see more information on this. I have seen one to many good m'softies get their career impacted by these "bad managers."

Anonymous said...

Thought your comments on internal hiring were interesting. I just jumped ship from devdiv, where I was an SDET, and am starting as an SDE within the Windows Live org in a week or so. I found my manager to be pretty supportive, even though our team has seen huge attrition in the last year. Luckily, since I didn't have much work to do, I was able to do ~10 informational interviews and then 3 loops in different groups. The only issue I saw was that my manager is trying to keep me on as long as possible training my successor, which I think is getting a bit ridiculous.
To all those 'softies out there stuck in a dead end job - go nuts and start looking around, I think you'll like what you see...

Anonymous said...

I still don't think that LisaB is qualified for that position. She hasn't demonstrated anything to the contrary. Give it another year and we shall see. My bet is that nothing will improve under her.

If MSFT wants to see anything get better, here is my idea. Hire, the author (Cynthia Shapiro) of that book Corporate Confidential. Get her into a contracted exec position for a three year stent. She understands both sides. If they let her have some free riegn, I bet she could get a lot accomplished. I guess Lisa possibly could if they gave her free riegn as well, but think that is not likely. Also, I think the author could get more done, because it doesn't seem like she is an insider with the top execs.

Lisa can post all the docs, and videos she wants. Make us all feel comfy, but it won't change the fact that she won't be able to get anything real accomplished.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Microsoft needs more people to compete better is ridiculous. Look at the credits screen for almost any non-Microsoft piece of software and you will be surprised. It usually takes less than a dozen developers to make a piece of software that's rich and fast and functional and stable. If you have a small number of people working on a project, they're going to be laser-focused on solving actual user problems because they can't afford to burn cycles on useless features or overengineered, unstable architectures. Microsoft is aggressively proving Fred Brooks right.

Anonymous said...

And the legal hassles keep mounting:

Computer maker files antitrust suit against Microsoft

Gee Steve, maybe cut another check. That'll get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

"It usually takes less than a dozen developers to make a piece of software that's rich and fast and functional and stable."

Duh. Why do you think that isn't the focus? How are you going to build an empire and justify 7 levels of mgt with a team of a dozen developers? Sheesh. [sarcasm].

Anonymous said...

I hope Microsoft could become a hundred thousand employee company after the expansion. At this point we can't afford to be slower than competitor. The only way is to have more manpower.

No, the way to do is to follow mini's advice and shrink the size of management so that every attempt at innovation doesn't suffer death by process. And while we're at it, clear out some of these groups that seem to only exist because we figure the everyone else is making money in that space, so we might as well piss away a few billion proving that Microsoft can find a way to fail in that market.

Microsoft is plenty big. In fact too big. And pure size isn't going to win any more battles than it has in the past.

Announcing an expansion like this sends exactly the wrong message to upper management: "We're going to be way too busy staffing up for the next several years to even think about introducing some degree of accountability any time soon. Please keep doing what you're doing. Or not doing, as the case may be..."

Anonymous said...

"The idea that Microsoft needs more people to compete better is ridiculous."

On one side we are saying that employees are so overburdened that they could not even give time to their families and on the other side we are saying no to hire more employees?

Mini-Microsoft could have two extreme meanings. One decrease the number of products and keep the number of employees the same. Or it could mean decrease the number of employees and keep the number of products the same.

The first option will give more employees per product and could give each employee more time. But it will cut drastically into the future profitability of Microsoft.

The second option will make us more profitable (provided we could excecute with the same effectiveness which I doubt) but make employees lives a hell.

Note that Microsoft's biggest advantage is its size. Microsoft won OS and Office because Microsoft is a comprhensive software company. Microsoft needs to do the same with Business software, Mobile software and Online software. So decreasing the number of products is not an option. But to execute well a large number of products we need to have a large number of employees. Or else each employee needs to work harder and see the family while dreaming in the office.

Why do you think Google is putting out a large number of online software and hiring an employee every few hours?

If you as an employee want a better life then think of hiring more? Bigger size is never a disadvantge. Microsoft is already divided into three separate divisions with synergy between them. You are saying that if these three separate divisions are three separate companies (without the current synergies) then there sum would be more than the whole? This is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Re: Internal Hiring. When I was a manager, I gave a key team member permission to interview four months after joining my team. He had reached a crisis of confidence, and wasn't sure the job he'd come into with me was the right fit. He saw an opportunity and pursued it. He did not get an offer. Not only did I give him permission, I coached him on his strategy for the interview. I truly believe that the company is strongest when people are in the best position for themselves. Long story short: not only did I not punish this person, we used the experience to talk about how he could make his current job a better fit. Fundamentally, we engaged in a partnership. I remember training somewhere that said this was an important part of management.

Couple years later, I left the team for an IC job, much because I felt I had NO partnership with my manager. Upon hearing I was leaving, the employee pursued a management job with another group. He got it. I can only hope he's also building partnerships with his reports.

I do miss managing, and I have a huge team of contractors under me. But it's review season, and I don't miss that! My manager? A gem who has his eyes opened daily by the silliness well documented in these pages.

Anonymous said...

Totally off-topic, but since Mini-Microsoft is about as close to ValleyWag as we'll get, I want to share the newest Google story from there:

Larry Page goes nuts: http://www.valleywag.com/tech/larry-page/larry-page-goes-nuts-156186.php

Then he announced that he doesn't want people to use 20% time to work on new ideas

Oh, oh... if Google is starting to come apart at the seams, Microsofties are going to find a lot less to complain about and will have to go back to being happy to have a job.

Anonymous said...

>I hope Microsoft could become a hundred thousand employee company after the expansion. At this point we can't afford to be slower than competitor. The only way is to have more manpower.

MSFT is already a hundred thousand+ employee company. Please check headtrax under BillG. Don't forget to include vendor, csg etc.

MSFT should aim at becoming 300,000 person company. This way we can beat GE with the number of employees. Google wont have any chance to catch us because more man power means better economy.

Who da'Punk said...

Mini, if you honestly believe 3.0s are losers, then you've sucked down too much koolaid yourself.

Please allow me to interrupt you while you're tearing me a new one. I can see why my comment was easy to misunderstand out of context from my previous posts.

What I meant to clearly re-grumble about are those groups who keep their low performers around so that they have a reliable set of 3.0s to give out and fill-up that portion of the curve, rather than 2.5 and move on those low performers and then have to deal with the harsh reality of peer-relative compensation.

Hope that's clearer.

Anonymous said...

The comment about roundabouts is hilarious.. no idea why Microsofties wouldn't be able to function with roundabouts even though other cities do just fine. Are drivers that bad here?

I just went off on a rant yesterday in fact, about how hard it is to internally transfer between teams. Why do they treat us like externals candidates with no prior MSfT experience? It's completely ludicrous. And to the person that mentioned a L61 SDE might not be qualified for a L61 in another team, give me a break. Every team wants to feel like their hiring bar is higher than everyone else's. This just adds red tape to the process and consumes unneeded time. Why spend 8+ hours interviewing a candidate when they are just shifting teams? Talk to the old manager, go through 2-3 hours of interviews and you're done. That's it.

Anonymous said...

What I meant to clearly re-grumble about are those groups who keep their low performers around so that they have a reliable set of 3.0s to give out and fill-up that portion of the curve, rather than 2.5 and move on those low performers and then have to deal with the harsh reality of peer-relative compensation.

If you get rid of the dead wood, you are then going to stick someone that does solid work with a score that won't even get them a cost-of-living adjustment.

The curve has to go first.

If you are worried about grade inflation when evaluating developers, how about peer review of the actual software they wrote. If you think someone's work is crap, prove it by finding a lot of bugs in it and then vote. Put your signature on a legal document with your vote. If you can't back up what you say about someone with facts, don't even try because they will probably sue you for fucking with their income.

Anonymous said...

To those arguing for "Macro-microsoft" (and there sure are a lot of you using words like "synergy", while telling people to be "happy they have a job" - so I can only wonder which tiers of the company you people operate in) I think you miss the point.

The fear is not '100,000 gifted programmers working on fine new software', it is '100,000 balding flunkies, working on Powerpoint decks and greasing up to the guy above them'. There is an axiom: "Don't keep doing what doesn't work". What's being done is not working (or not very well, at least), so you don't need to be doing more of it. Mini is arguing for cleaving off the inefficient top end, and dead wood. You are arguing for 'grow like bastards', regardless. The former, if implemented, is guaranteed to improve overall quality; the latter is very unlikely to.

I'm beginning to think this place is being invaded by management.

Anonymous said...

Note that Microsoft's biggest advantage is its size. Microsoft won OS and Office because Microsoft is a comprhensive software company.

Are you kidding ?

Microsoft won OS and office because its a monopoly. Says the United States government. Says the European Union. And says all the companies that sued MS, that will sue and that are suing you.

AND in regards to the recent Vista leak, GREAT job guys. Apparently, Microsoft plans on releasing a million versions of the OS for every individual client. So, I guess my question is whats to prevent everyone from buying the cheaper version of the OS (meaning less $$$$).

AND for you "URGE" (MS IPOD killer music device, according to BillyG) fans. Apple is holding a special event on FEB 28 to announce several "fun new products". If anyone is tight with BIllyG, can you tell him to watch Steve Jobs do Apple's new product announcement. If BillyG is going to copy everything under the moon and sell it, he should at least copy Apple's product announcement style. Its much better to announce a new product and sell it the same day versus announcing a new product to only have it delay for years and years.

Anonymous said...

There's no historical, "official" corporate stance that a 3.0 is anything less than a solid performer. I was trained by my management and by HR training that a 3.0 is a solid review for someone absolutely fulfilling the requirements of their job.
Beg to differ. In the group I was in before leaving a year ago, I was informed by my manager that they had a policy of only keeping 3.5 or better performers in this group. Hint, this was a VP. You cannot tell me that there isn't an internal policy that a 3.0 is a loser. If you become a repeat 3.0, you are 'flagged' and put on a list that the group VP has to go over and discuss and justify. Ask your local HR rep about the 'flags' that are put on people based on a whole set of very subjective criteria.

Anonymous said...

Re: an Internal MiniMSFT site

I think their hope that this kind of dialogue be taken off the public domain and moved into place where it can be controlled.

I would like to suggest to Lisa that we already have a forum, she+team just needs to follow the discussion here more closely.

A frustrated grunt in CSD said...

Interesting discussion on how dysfunctional Networking is. There is another area like that in Microsoft - the connected systems division in windows server

The leadership (wabhe in particular) practices of "kiss-up kick-down" style of management. I hear the GM is about to make VP - nice to see what it takes to make that level

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what the new employees will do, except create more meetings and more "cross-group collaboration" opportunities for GPMs. And slow down the rest of us.

Every major project I've been a part of for the last six years has been stalled for serveral months at the begining because of turf battles. You can't build anything these days without part of it overlapping with what some other group is doing, and so begin the "colloaboaration" meetings.

Months later, the other group either absorbs (and kills) your entire project, or becomes a critical dependency and then fails to deliver, serious crippling your project. The best outcome you can hope for is that with enough effort your team can hack the other component into your project and create something that works, but has a totally effed up architecture, with tons of unfixable bugs.

This is how badly broken MS management is right now. Adding people decreases the amount of work that gets done.

As far as permission to interview - absolutely ditch this stupid idea. Nobody needs permission to interview with Google. Of course, not everyone who interviews with Google will get an offer, but if you don't get an offer, you don't have to tell your manager you interviewed. So, our best employees will go elsewhere and our worst will stay put.

Anonymous said...

If you become a repeat 3.0, you are 'flagged' and put on a list that the group VP has to go over and discuss and justify. Ask your local HR rep about the 'flags' that are put on people based on a whole set of very subjective criteria.

Management also pushes repeat 3.0's out by saying that for the same job and the same quality of work over time the expectations increase so it gets more difficult to get a 3.5 or higher even if you do improve which means you get another 3.0 or a 2.5.

It is also a way of pushing out people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act is so inconvenient.

Had a rough couple years because your doctor couldn't get your medication right? Too bad. You're out of here!

Anonymous said...

" If you become a repeat 3.0, you are 'flagged' and put on a list that the group VP has to go over and discuss and justify. Ask your local HR rep about the 'flags' that are put on people based on a whole set of very subjective criteria"


-- this is true ... back in 1999 SteveB sent an email (not sure if it was accidental but it came to me) on the need for a higher "employee perf bar" and that repeat low marks will basically end your career.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft won OS and office because its a monopoly."

You got to learn basic lessons in the logic of cause and effect. Microsoft became monopoly because it won OS and Office. To be called a monopoly, in the presense of like products, e.g. Mac OS, you need to have a huge market share first. That is you have to be succesful first.

For an example iPod could be called a monopoly. And Apple is surely misusing it by tying their other products with it. FYI, DoJ, EU commission and many other countries blame Microsoft for extending their success of Windows to other products like Web Browser and Media Player. Part of the reason is that because these countries see an OS as a bunch of hardware drivers. Could be true for Geeky, lawyers, judges and technical people. But for my common friends, OS is a bunch of softwares which allow them to enjoy the computer without any extra hassle. They see Media Player as a driver of their computer's speakers. A bad tying is - Mac OS is tied with Apple Hardware.

If you have any idea of Microsoft's success then it is because of Microsoft's nature of providing a comprhensive and open solution to consumers of the time. Initially consumer wanted something easy to use, Microsoft gave them. As consumer felt more comfortable with computers, consumers wanted some thing less annoying. Windows was causing annoyance because it was crashing frequently. Microsoft gave a stable OS to consumers. Now in the era of malware consumers want security - well Microsoft is working hard to give them security. I agree that it took time for Microsoft to enter this market. But part of the delay was DoJ. Microsoft has to think ten times before giving to consumers what they want. Currently I would put a lot of blame on DoJ on the decreasing quality of Windows. For an example, a clean install of Windows would reboot in a minute. But the windows you get from OEM have so much trash that it takes three times more time to boot it. Note that OEM do not put trash of consumer choice either. They sell the quality of windows for their own profit. For an example, they are selling to Google to put their unwanted trash on Windows, irrespective of whether consumers want it or not. If Google trash makes the computer slower who the consumers would blame? Consumers would blame Windows and comparing it with Mac that Windows is taking more time to boot. If Microsoft is going to feel the heat then it should be Microsoft who puts trash on the computer. Or else it should be Cosnumers. During first time boot time consumers are shown a screen where they tickmark the softwares they want. After the first boot is complete the softwares which consumers have ticked are installed.

BTW, most of the pro-microsoft comments on this blog is due to me. I am not an executive but the lowest on the ladder. But I must tell you that I have an exposure of the company which compares to the exposure which an executive has. I see Mini's blog is highly biassed and not balanced. A balanced set of arguments is always more effective in achieving whatever it is supposed to achieve. For the last six months or so may be I am spending more time on Mini's blog than Mini himself/herself. To give this blog some balance. And preventing this blog to become a dart-board for every employee who is not doing well. In reality these are only 5% of the all employees. But may give an impression to the world that 95% of the happy employees are not happy either. This achieves lower desire in the smart people to join Microsoft. Is that the Mini's goal? Mini's goal is to fire all low productive employee. My gutt feeling is that a good correlation is the set of employees posting comments on this blog.

Anonymous said...

"I think their hope that this kind of dialogue be taken off the public domain and moved into place where it can be controlled"

Some would argue that internally controlled would be supressed but furthermore it would no longer be anonymous.

Public forums will ensure change will occur ... it has done so in politics for hundreds of years

Anonymous said...

The only reason why Microsoft employees are overburdened is because of bad product planning and mismanagement. Just look around you. How many features get cut every milestone? How many features get redesigned? A colossal amount of effort is simply being wasted.

If Microsoft had some focus, we could produce the same software with 1/4 of the staff, and we wouldn't even have to work that hard. But there's no focus or discipline in management because there aren't any penalties for screwing up. The dev manager just puts on his sad face for the weekly meeting and life goes on.

Right now the way Microsoft plans a release is to come up with some asinine mission statement and then let them PMs do whatever crap ideas they came up with in the shower that morning. We should really be spending at least 50% of any release cycle addressing complaints and feature requests from actual customers. (Not the imaginary customers that PMs invent.)

Drei said...

And to the person that mentioned a L61 SDE might not be qualified for a L61 in another team, give me a break. Every team wants to feel like their hiring bar is higher than everyone else's. [...] Talk to the old manager, go through 2-3 hours of interviews and you're done. That's it.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but not all L6x are the same. The level is simply a measure (albeit subjective) of one's ability to accomplish given tasks. There is no question the difficulty of tasks varies from division to division, and even inside the same group. So no, L61 is not an universal stamp of approval.

I do agree though that the process can be unreasonably difficult for internal transfers. Why?

* Hiring external candidates is also preventing competition from hiring, and so the bar is lowered to maximize that effect. You hire for potential, and the expectations are also lowered.
When hiring internally, the new guy is expected to hit the ground running - he's not afforded the same acclimatisation period as a complete stranger.

* With externals, the interviewing/evaluation decides the granted level as well; with internals, you can't really take someone's level back a notch. You have access to their review history, identify traits and try as hard as possible to eliminate your doubts about the candidate's flaws through a lengthy interrogatory. This is where the definition of a level comes into play again - you can't be sure the L62 coming over from X can really handle your L62 needs. No 8 hr loop will answer that satisfactorily, but it's certainly sufficient to assess someone's technical comfort level.

That's not to say internal loops can't be shorter. Push for longer informationals (as in meeting more people from the team), transform these into pre-interview interviews - that way you get a better feel for the requirements of the new position.

Anonymous said...

>Hiring external candidates is also preventing competition from hiring, and so the bar is lowered to maximize that effect. You hire for potential, and the expectations are also lowered.

Great point and another reason why need to add new buildings fast.

Anonymous said...

Hiring external candidates is also preventing competition from hiring, and so the bar is lowered to maximize that effect. You hire for potential, and the expectations are also lowered.
When hiring internally, the new guy is expected to hit the ground running - he's not afforded the same acclimatisation period as a complete stranger.


So, you have an internal transfer being more difficult than a job interview at a new company.

On top of that, you will not get a raise or bonus with an internal transfer but you most likely will switching companies.

Make it more attractive for intelligent people to leave Microsoft. Good plan!

Anonymous said...

If BillyG is going to copy everything under the moon and sell it, he should at least copy Apple's product announcement style. Its much better to announce a new product and sell it the same day versus announcing a new product to only have it delay for years and years.

Microsoft announces vaporware in an attempt to get consumers to wait for their software instead of buying a competitor's.

The only trouble now - the wait has become so long it is not practically possible to wait as long as it takes these days for Microsoft to release a new product.

Also, by bundling applications in the operating system, Microsoft removes its own motivation for updating these applications because doing so does not necessarily add any extra revenue to Microsoft's bottom line.

Between not updating bundled applications (e.g. Internet Explorer) and taking so long to release new products, Microsoft will have to keep cutting costs to make the balance sheet look decent.

They won't bother with cost of living adjustments, they will continue to lower the salaries of repeat 3.0's, replace more highly paid employees by giving them repeat 3.0's and then hire new graduates, shift more development offshore, etc.

You know ... innovation. Microsoft style.

Anonymous said...

Mini's goal is to fire all low productive employee. My gutt feeling is that a good correlation is the set of employees posting comments on this blog.

Those posting on this blog includes you. Why wait to get fired? Lead by example and quit now.

Anonymous said...

The curve is essential to the people agenda we have at this company.

The curve is like religion.

Perhaps a good idea as intended but, in practical terms, leads to cartoon violence.

Anonymous said...

"Those posting on this blog includes you. Why wait to get fired? Lead by example and quit now."

Good point! Good correlation does not mean correlation is one. High correlation could be because of me, you or numeorus other people on the blog. Certainly I spent too much time on this blog. A valid case for firing me. Mini does so too. Note the timings when Mini releases comments on this blog. You could easily make a case for firing Mini too.

But as a general rule in life, losers complaint far more than winners. Stronger people either fight for change or else change their own path. Weaker neither are capable of puting a fight nor are capable of walking on a different path. Mini is fighting and so he/she is strong and most likely talented enough to change his/her path, if wished. This is not true for many other people on the blog. Most are only complaining not fighting for a change. Most commentators seem like to jump the ship but not actually jumping the ship. Why? May be bacause no other ship is willing to have them on board.

Drei said...

Great point and another reason why need to add new buildings fast.

There's still room for doubling.. Let it be known that the context matters; in this case, my emphasis was on "why" and not on "let's".

So, you have an internal transfer being more difficult than a job interview at a new company.

On top of that, you will not get a raise or bonus with an internal transfer but you most likely will switching companies.

Make it more attractive for intelligent people to leave Microsoft. Good plan!


Alright.. 1. Not entirely true, as the vast majority of recs are still filled from the internal pool. Any sane manager will prefer an internal candidate over an external equivalent, all things being equal. What I said is simply that the internal candidate will be worked harder during the interview loop, as the focus is no longer on the discovery of long term potential, but on exactly how strong the guy is. I'm not defending the practice, I'm trying to analyse it.

2. The signing bonus is a 1 time affair, and it's a part of the lure to join the ranks. It's the same with all companies, from all the walks of the economy. Imagine there were transfer bonuses - a lot of people will live on http://career, barely waiting for the next transfer.

3. On "making it more attractive for intelligent people to leave." I'm afraid you're confusing intelligence with materialism. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't see a clear corelation between these two traits. However, your point is well taken. I'd like to think, though, that squeezing out the last cent deservedly yours is not the main drive of people evaluating an internal transfer vs leaving the company. The latter is a decisive step, usually an effect of profound bitterness, whereas the former is simply (by comparison) a tweak in search of a better fit. I don't think anyone transfers internally for an immediate increase in retribution.

Anonymous said...

I think that removing the permission to interview would allow Microsoft to retire a lot processes that don’t really work:

--Manager Feedback: There is no better feedback to managers than their entire team walking out on them. Rather than spend a great deal of money on the current manager feedback form in which employees never really tell the truth anyway, let employees’ feet do the talking.

--MS Poll: By monitoring the turnover rate of a team, you can more quickly assess the health of a team. If everyone on the team is trying to leave, then there are obviously problems. You don’t even need to ask. If there are teams that everyone wants to join, this is a sign of a healthy team with good leadership.

--The curve: Good employees who make valuable contributions will establish reputations that will allow them to find a new job in spite of what their managers say on their review forms. If an employee undeservedly gets a bad review but can move to a different job, then having an open job market would help the employee get out. I guess the only question is what to do with employees who really are low performers? I say continue to give them bad reviews and, if they haven’t found a better job after a couple of review cycles, fire them.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft gave a stable OS to consumers. Now in the era of malware consumers want security - well Microsoft is working hard to give them security

Are you serious ? Are you kidding ?

The reason why we have an "era of malware" is because of you. There are huge, gaping security holes in the software.

I am not an executive but the lowest on the ladder. But I must tell you that I have an exposure of the company which compares to the exposure which an executive has.

So you are SteveB secretary who was told by him to go onto this blog every hour and defend mangament.

For an example iPod could be called a monopoly.
IPOD could be called a monopoly but its not because its not one. Yes it has a huge part of the market but Apple isn't tying it to their OS unlike MS with IE or Media Player. Apple offers IPOD to both MAC Windows folks. Yes, I am sure Apple wants more people to buy MAC but they are not forcing it on them by making ITunes not work with Windows.

Anonymous said...

NOTE: Small Post a little off topic.

We MSFT FTE(s) again are ahead of the curve.

I noticed yesterday and today in CNNMoney.com that the number one article was "Secrets your company doesn't want you to know." The article offers a couple secrets from the book that we seem to discuss around here over the last few months. (Corporate Confidential by Cynthia Shapiro). The articles are at
CNNMoney.com or directly at Secrets your company doesn't want you to know in case you were interested in seeing it.

I just find it interesting that we were months ahead of others in finding the book.

Anonymous said...

"IPOD could be called a monopoly but its not because its not one. Yes it has a huge part of the market but Apple isn't tying it to their OS unlike MS with IE or Media Player. Apple offers IPOD to both MAC Windows folks. Yes, I am sure Apple wants more people to buy MAC but they are not forcing it on them by making ITunes not work with Windows."

Dear Apple friend, you are trying to answer whether Apple is mis-using its monopoly or not. By your logic even Microsoft did not. Microsoft has office for Mac too (in Steve Job's interview on fortune, he called this Apple saviour), Microsoft till now had IE for Mac and Windows Media player on Mac. Microsoft shared all the advantages Microsoft had with the main commercial competitors. As far as Apple in not tying iPod with Mac is because a computer is a more important device for consumers than a music player. You tie ipod with Mac, Mac sales won't go up but iPod sales come down.

Let me tell you where iPod is a monopoly. Purchase an iPod and try to use it. The corresponding CD will not let you use your iPod unless you install a lot of junk on your computer. I do not need to give my name and address to use iPod (you could make a case for iTune) then why iPod forces me to do so? I do not even need iTune to play iPod, but why iPod forces me to do so? Why iPod does not show up as a USB derive like all other goods in the market? That's way I could not simply use Windows inbuilt mechanism to move my music (not purchased for iTune) to iPod. Why quicktime and related software are installed on my computer? Bundling of iTune with iPod is a monopolistic abuse.
Not licensing the iTune DRM is a monopolostic abuse and in this case repeatition of the same business mistake which Apple did decades back and still does not want to learn. Note that both Apple and Microsoft started about the same time (1975 and 1976) and in the same business (though Apple was broader and richer) but now Microsoft is five times bigger than Apple. Just because when Apple was slightly bigger than Microsoft it did try to be monopolistic. Like bundling Software with Hardware. Microsoft won because Microsoft broke this unfair bundling. You coud install Microsoft OS on cheap IBM clones. That's what Microsoft victory was. Consumers wanted that and Microsoft delivered.

Make Mac OS workable on cheap Apple clones. Make it workable on Dell PCs, Lenova PCs and what not. Apple is using more anti-competetive behaviour than Microsoft is balmed for. And Apple is much smaller. That means the Capital Market Principles are already punishing a bad and close behaviour and rewarding a good and open behaviour then why EU wants to interfere with the working of the open market? The reason is they want to get the easy money on the table. Same is true with IBM, Sun and RealNetwork. Remember they all have been given hundreds of million, billlion dollars. I wish Microsoft had fought them instead of settling with them. They are again coming back for another bone. Note that they all are primarily American companies but going to EU for resolving the dispute. Why? Because the big unjustice there is that the decision maker (EU) gets a bone too.

"So you are SteveB secretary who was told by him to go onto this blog every hour and defend mangament."

No. Comments full of spelling mistakes is not a secretary's work. My motivation is the same as Minis. I love this company and see its good part too. This blog with whatever good intentions it has, is spreading misinformation through comments. It is giving an impression that Microsoft is somekind of hell. Whereas all the surveys and market research shows that, even if it is hell, it is a sweeter hell than most other companies. Like other companies Microsoft has its good and bad. Relative to other Microsoft's good far outweighs its bad. For an example, no other company encourages blogging as much as Microsoft does. Other companies fire bloggers as soon as anything against the employer is said. Mini is anonymous but several other bloggers are not.

Anonymous said...

On "making it more attractive for intelligent people to leave." I'm afraid you're confusing intelligence with materialism. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't see a clear corelation between these two traits.

If you're looking for a better fit for your current interests or you are in a toxic work environment, it makes sense for someone who the company considers an asset to be able to move to another job in the company without too much hassle. That includes not having to ask persmission of the very person who may be creating the toxic work environment.

If it is easier or just as easy to get a job at a different company because of the processes at Microsoft, someone talented has no reason to limit their search to the company. Getting a bonus or a raise is just one more reason to consider another company. Maybe you want to pay for your kids college education. It does not necessarily mean you're going to buy a bigger house, TV, etc.

If it is easy to move around the company when your interests change, the company gets employees who are more motivated.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft gave a stable OS to consumers. Now in the era of malware consumers want security - well Microsoft is working hard to give them security

Are you serious ? Are you kidding ?


What a moronic troll. Of course MSFT gives consumers a stable operating system, and of course they're working hard to give them a secure one. The majority of stability problems are 3rd party drivers. And as for security, you know as well as the next person that that's a battle we'll be fighting as long as we have software.

Anonymous said...

But as a general rule in life, losers complaint far more than winners. Stronger people either fight for change or else change their own path. Weaker neither are capable of puting a fight nor are capable of walking on a different path.

Capable people complain too.

Those who would rather be working than having to deal with assholes playing games to one up each other.

If they don't see change, then they decide it is not worth it and move on.

Even an "average" (on a relative curve) work horse is in demand. They free up people who are considered "super contributors" from having to spend all their time fixing the bugs in their "super" code.

If "super contributors" didn't create employment for "average" people who work on sustained engineering teams, product support, test teams, etc. then, perhaps, all those "average" people would not be needed and you could go back to doing "super" things without those lesser beings polluting your visual landscape.

Rack your "super" brain and come up with a way to improve your "super" code.

Have a "super" day!

Anonymous said...

Hiring external candidates is also preventing competition from hiring, and so the bar is lowered to maximize that effect.

So the plan is to hire less qualified candidates so they don't work for the competition, give them lousy review scores to piss them off, and then fire them because of their lousy review scores to set them free to work for competitors?

Microsoft really knows how to motivate the competition.

Anonymous said...

"Capable people complain too. ... If they don't see change, then they decide it is not worth it and move on."

That's exactly what I said. Stronger people either fight for change or else change their own path. Stronger here means stronger by ability. That is capable people. They either fight for change or find a job somewhere else. But I do not think they complain.

TheKhalif said...

Microsoft gave a stable OS to consumers. Now in the era of malware consumers want security - well Microsoft is working hard to give them security

Are you serious ? Are you kidding ?

The reason why we have an "era of malware" is because of you. There are huge, gaping security holes in the software.

I am not an executive but the lowest on the ladder. But I must tell you that I have an exposure of the company which compares to the exposure which an executive has.



This individual to whom the response was diected is one of those "problem children" MS needs to rid itself of. Talk about blinders.

Also, after reading all the comments about MS' monopoly, I noticed that few people understand what the "Windows tax" is.


Way back when there was this "thing" that was the "IBM-compatible PC" named after the ubiquitous IBM-PC. The interesting thing about this PC is that the software system behind it was outsourced. The company that won the CONTRACT was MS.
So MS did not need to "win" a monopoly, it was given one. IBM probably gets a "tax" on every "IBM-compatible PC."

Office was simply the need for a large software company to not pay for their developers to send email and create the "oh-so hated" PowerPoints.

Because MS already had a reputable name it was a no-brainer for the average IT person or Joe Public ( the IT person in his mild mannered guise as a WalMart shopper) to identify with the BRAND NAME.

Of course Word Perfect helped a lot with it's bloated slow, crappy 6th edition, but MS by no means defeated ANYONE with superior product OR execution - even when I was there.

There needs to be a shake-up. I hate that MS is the bane of practically everyone. I really believed in MS' mission to provide a FAST, SECURE, USABLE OS to the masses.

The mission seems to have been diluted by the seemingly "mad march" to billions. MS can make more money just because of inflation. They should be trying to be a stable, value play instead of trying to "conquer and kill" every market that is dominated by a different company.

Lord Bill and Sir Steve need to take a few months outside of Redmond and realize they aren't the center of the world.

Anonymous said...

The majority of stability problems are 3rd party drivers.

Yes, its always someone elses problem isn't it? There have been and will continue to be software that MS have released that destabilised its own OS. This is the nature of the monolithic beast and gives the impression of an unstable platform. ActiveX anyone?

Anonymous said...

Re allowing people to "vote with their feet", see http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_07_22_a_talent.htm


Among the most damning facts about Enron, in the end, was something its managers were proudest of. They had what, in McKinsey terminology, is called an "open market" for hiring. In the open-market system--McKinsey's assault on the very idea of a fixed organization--anyone could apply for any job that he or she wanted, and no manager was allowed to hold anyone back. Poaching was encouraged. When an Enron executive named Kevin Hannon started the company's global broadband unit, he launched what he called Project Quick Hire. A hundred top performers from around the company were invited to the Houston Hyatt to hear Hannon give his pitch. Recruiting booths were set up outside the meeting room. "Hannon had his fifty top performers for the broadband unit by the end of the week," Michaels, Handfield-Jones, and Axelrod write, "and his peers had fifty holes to fill." Nobody, not even the consultants who were paid to think about the Enron culture, seemed worried that those fifty holes might disrupt the functioning of the affected departments, that stability in a firm's existing businesses might be a good thing, that the self-fulfillment of Enron's star employees might possibly be in conflict with the best interests of the firm as a whole.


Maybe a little restraint here is not such a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

"I think that removing the permission to interview would allow Microsoft to retire a lot processes that don’t really work:"

First we have to understand the reason behind permission. It is there because an employee does not leave a critical piece undone. Of course when the employee leaves the company altogether then it is a problem. But Microsoft tries to minimize the problem whenever it is in its hands.

I like the solution which someone suggested that instead of permission, the hiring managers and the earlier managers negotiate the transfer date of the employee. But the problem is that there are teams who needs employee now. They do not want to lock their openings for someone who will join after many months.

I think another solution could be that an employee asks for permission. The managers have only a limited time (say six months) to hold the permission and after that the employee gets automatic permission. This is a reasonably good solution. But even better solution could be the following.

Remove the permission altogether but before that Microsoft needs to make sure that no team is critically short of employees. That is why, in several of the above comments, I proposed macro-Microsoft.

Right now there are several projects in Microsoft which do not have luxury of being late like Vista. They need to beat the competitors like Xbox 360 did. They are massively short of employees. If the permission system is altogether removed then these projects will lure employees from other projects by offering inflated levels. That will be a bad balance in the long term for the company. But when this critical shortage is relieved by hiring tens of thousands of new employees then the permission system could be removed (may be the employee shortage never gets filled. But then that's good for employees as well as the company). Take it take one can't find top notch quality of employees when the need is that huge. Some would be less than average productive too.

Anonymous said...

Re: "What do you know, the athletic fields are back!" They never left, they've just been moving around. These are high level concept drawings and subject to change as concepts are refined - building shapes, garages above vs. below ground, locations of open spaces, etc. In the master plan draft that was first made public in Jan05, the ball fields were expanded and relocated to the area where buildings 123-126 are currently and included a new locker room building. The latest rev shows them in approximately the current location but with changes based on new buildings and street locations. In the next rev, they will likely morph again. Bottom line - ball fields and outdoor spaces are an important part of campus, have always been in the plan, and will continue to be in future revs.

Drei said...

So the plan is to hire less qualified candidates so they don't work for the competition, give them lousy review scores to piss them off, and then fire them because of their lousy review scores to set them free to work for competitors?

Nope. Allow me the use of two examples and hopefully my stance is a bit clearer.

Let's say you're trying to fill a rec, and you bring in the following three candidates:
A - internal, bright, solid guy, aces your interviews
B - external, bright, lacks experience in your technology, doesn't really ace your interviews
C - internal, not so bright, has brushed against your technology, does ok during the interviews.
What is the order in which you extend the offers? I say A, B if A declines, and C (or back to interviewing) if B declines.
I added A to this scenario so that you won't raise the ridiculous point that somehow I am biased pro-externals. If you have a position to fill, it doesn't really matter how you fill it, as long as you acquit of your tasks.
Back to my example; I take B over C because even if C would gain traction faster, I let B possibly go to the competition, and he was brighter. You can train technology into someone, but you can't train them for brightness. Now don't try to pin the bloating of the company on me; blame it on the higher level guy that decided this work needs to be done, and that this open position was necessary. From my point of view, I'm trying to fill it the best way I can. What's that got to do with our topic? Well, to take C over B, he would have had to be just as bright and come up to speed faster, which essentially raises the bar for internal transfers.

Second example (of when things are taken too far, this time. And I hope I'm not abusing your patience): not long ago, we were trying to fill an open FT position. In came an external candidate, who only gets 1 "hire" out of 6 rounds. The round which said "yes" was the lunch interview, which we all know how technical can be. To my surprise, the AA wanted to see him and voted "yes". The AA's feedback mentioned things like ability to climb the MS ladder and leadership potential. Ponder for a second how damaging that can be to the morale of his group, considering that guy would have come in at L61 at the minimum. An hour's talk outweighed 5 others of unfinished solutions, crappy code and suspect analytical skills. And to think we wouldn't have considered a decent internal L59-L60, who may be underleveled.

Anonymous said...

"The company that won the CONTRACT was MS.
So MS did not need to "win" a monopoly, it was given one."

Mr. thekhalif, you said MS won the contract and then said MS did not win but given. Was IBM CEO an uncle of BillG? Microsoft won the contract because Microsoft must have given the best value proposition to IBM. You are saying like, Web Search was given to Google by Yahoo because Yahoo was outsourcing the websearch from Google. But you forget to realize that probably Google was giving the best value proposition. It is easy to take away somebody's credit.

In any case you knowledge of Microsoft's history is massively incorrect. As a starter I would recommend you wikipedia article on Microsoft.

Micrsoft started the march to billions when IBM clones came to market. Microsoft made an OS which could work on them openly. This development made the computer affordable to masses. Competitors were trying to create monopolies by illogical bundling and hence there solution were twice more expensive.

It is also true that many security issues are due to Microsoft yesteryears. But do not forget that at that point consumer were not demanding security but easyness. Consumers started demanding security in last few years. Microsoft even delayed Vista to deliver on security XP SP2. I agree Microsoft still reacted a bit slow to consumers demand of security but as I already said part of the reason is DoJ and EU commission. Which do not want Microsoft to enhance user experience on Microsoft's own product. You won't find this anamoly on any other product in the world. This is such a basic right.

Anonymous said...

Stronger here means stronger by ability. That is capable people. They either fight for change or find a job somewhere else. But I do not think they complain.

If you are expressing displeasure at something, you are complaining.

You can call it fighting if it makes you feel less powerless.

You can try to persuade those in power to make changes in response to your complaints. They really have no reason to listen to you because you go back for more every day.

It is more likely the people who leave that will convince those in power to make changes if enough of the people they want to employ leave and not those in some imaginary "fight" for change.

What actions are you taking in this "fight" of yours?

Anonymous said...

Re allowing people to "vote with their feet", see

Among the most damning facts about Enron, in the end, was something its managers were proudest of. They had what, in McKinsey terminology, is called an "open market" for hiring.

The same consulting company, McKinsey, that came up with the "open market" for hiring also came up with "rank and yank".

Are you really up for learning from Enron?

Rank And Fire

What it does depend on is the willingness of managers to fight for valued employees during what can swiftly become a brutal horse-trading session. "Even if everyone did great," says the former Enron employee, "someone has to fall into the 'needs improvement' category."

In its latest ranking of the world's most admired companies, FORTUNE rated Enron No. 1 in innovativeness and No. 2 in getting and keeping talent.

Vitality curve

Once rank-and-yank has expelled all the weak employees, further iterations may not improve average workforce quality, but instead result in office politics and lowered morale that will ultimately reduce productivity, damage communication and interoffice relations, and encourage cheating. Rank-based performance evaluations (in education and employment) are said to foster cutthroat and unethical behavior. Such behavior resulted when Enron implemented a rank-based system, and this is sometimes credited as a contribution to the downfall of the company.

As a managerial motivation tool, it is similar to the ancient Roman military practice of decimation as a means of punishment of conscripted troops, whereby the remaining 90% were motivated out of fear of becoming the next 10%.

What Really Went Wrong With Enron? A Culture of Evil?

Add to this…a tendency toward cronyism. Managers at Enron's divisions grew arrogant, thinking themselves invincible. We see this insular tendency of the company to seal itself off from forces on the outside. They had something called a rank-and-yank performance appraisal system, which eliminated anyone who fell behind-a real Darwinist system that took care of anyone who might potentially disagree. All of the internal whistleblowers were rebuffed, humiliated, or treated in an intimidating way by the various players. And finally, one of my favorites-their 1999 annual report in which all of the members of the board of directors are listed by their nicknames, again suggesting that tendency towards cronyism…

Rank and Yank?

One of the leading practitioners of forced ranking was Enron Corporation, the Texas energy and trading giant that collapsed in late 2001 under a tidal wave of debt and scandal. It is sobering to reflect that commentators had, in the months preceding its demise, held up the once highly profitable company as proof that rank and yank was the way of the future for all performance appraisals. It was said that rank and yank had produced in Enron "a hotbed of overachievers" - bold rhetoric which now seems a little embarrassing, to say the least.

THE TALENT MYTH

None, however, have spread the word quite so ardently as McKinsey, and, of all its clients, one firm took the talent mind-set closest to heart. It was a company where McKinsey conducted twenty separate projects, where McKinsey's billings topped ten million dollars a year, where a McKinsey director regularly attended board meetings, and where the C.E.O. himself was a former McKinsey partner. The company, of course, was Enron.

At the heart of the McKinsey vision is a process that the War for Talent advocates refer to as "differentiation and affirmation." Employers, they argue, need to sit down once or twice a year and hold a "candid, probing, no-holds-barred debate about each individual," sorting employees into A, B, and C groups.

The broader failing of McKinsey and its acolytes at Enron is their assumption that an organization's intelligence is simply a function of the intelligence of its employees. They believe in stars, because they don't believe in systems. In a way, that's understandable, because our lives are so obviously enriched by individual brilliance. Groups don't write great novels, and a committee didn't come up with the theory of relativity. But companies work by different rules. They don't just create; they execute and compete and coördinate the efforts of many different people, and the organizations that are most successful at that task are the ones where the system is the star.

The Bank borrows an idea - from Enron

The trouble is that supposedly rational managers can create havoc. I looked at the collapse of Enron in 2001 for my book Pretty Straight Guys and found that thoughtful workers blamed the biggest bankruptcy in history on the assessments drawn up by Enron's performance review committee (PRC).

They explained that to secure their bonuses and avoid dismissal they engaged in ferocious office politics. They lied about fellow workers, formed cliques to isolate them and, on occasion, hacked into their files to wreck their work. "It was a pit of vipers," said one. "You can't believe how brutal that process could be," said a second. "You had people attacking other people's integrity, morality and values." It was war to the knife.

The assessment process all but guaranteed fraud. Brian Cruver, a young manager, learned how telling the truth could get him fired. He had to please the bosses by puffing up deals. "The reality of the magnificent Enron was that if people wanted to survive the PRC process and meet personal bonus targets, then they often needed to inflate the deal value," he said. "With the inflated deal value, they could deliver bigger earnings to senior management who in turn could deliver them to Wall Street and investors."


Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

The film features insider accounts and rare corporate audio and video tapes that reveal colossal personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy.

Enron's Green Acres

Skilling had instituted performance review committees to determine the staff's top 5 percent and the bottom 5 percent in each division, and three levels in between. Eventually nicknamed "rank-and-yank," the system inspired all sorts of internal drama and sabotage. And the outcomes were brutal.

The bottom 5 percent could expect to be sent to the redeployment office, also known as the "office of shame," where they got a phone and a desk and a chance to be rehired by another division.

The top 5 percent could expect to be invited to Mexico or Aspen with Skilling. They also frequently made their way over to Advantage BMW. Wayne Wickman -- who runs the dealership -- used to love it when he saw Enron traders come through his door.


Jeffrey Skilling

He fostered a culture at Enron that could be termed survival of the fittest--or the nastiest. His personnel system was known as "rank and yank." The idea was that the bottom 20% would be fired. The others would be rewarded lavishly. Of course, few were rewarded as lavishly as Skilling, who sold more than $66 million in Enron shares even as he encouraged others to buy.

When Enron shares started to dive in the spring of 2001, Skilling got defensive. He repeatedly predicted that they would not only recover but would rise ever higher. Of course, that never happened, and shares of the now bankrupt company are worth just pennies.

Skilling allows that he is no victim of financial fraud, but nor is he a perpetrator. When asked about Enron's accounting, Skilling has a developed a standard reply: "I am not an accountant."

The Nog said...

Mini-Microsoft could have two extreme meanings. One decrease the number of products and keep the number of employees the same. Or it could mean decrease the number of employees and keep the number of products the same.

The first option will give more employees per product and could give each employee more time. But it will cut drastically into the future profitability of Microsoft.

The second option will make us more profitable (provided we could excecute with the same effectiveness which I doubt) but make employees lives a hell.


The argument from critics is that the first option would in fact increase profitability, as most everything besides Windows and Office is a drop in the bucket in revenues, and many divisions are in fact just bleeding money, their only existence justified as a public play to shareholders to show them that Microsoft is still the hip, leading-edge software company they were when Windows 95 came out (perhaps the last time they could accurately be described as at the top of their game), as well as being attempts to extend the Windows platform in the face of more successful platforms that have marginalized the potential for future growth in those markets--e.g., iPods and console gaming. The XBox isn't about games, it's about putting Windows APIs like DirectX into more devices after Sony and Nintendo refused Microsoft's pitch years ago. The more software that relies on DirectX, the more tied that software is to Windows. A lot of projects at Microsoft don't exist to provide a product that is good on its own merits but were actually created in response to various market threats. These hopeless ventures have bloated and confused the company and basically wasted years of resources.

Note that Microsoft's biggest advantage is its size.

s/advantage/disadvantage/

Microsoft became monopoly because it won OS and Office. To be called a monopoly, in the presense of like products, e.g. Mac OS, you need to have a huge market share first. That is you have to be succesful first.

History lesson. The issue is how that success was achieved; in Microsoft's case, it was the rise of cheap commodity PCs that needed a quick and dirty DOS to run them. Microsoft lucked out by riding the wave. Looking back at the 80s and comparing a PC running DOS to an Apple Macintosh or Amiga, it's even more clear that Microsoft won due to PC sales and not its own software merits, as the difference in user experience is almost embarrassing (mouse-driven GUI versus C:/>). After the deal with Sculley at Apple which licensed MacOS interface elements to Microsoft (for use in Office), Windows was born, a quick and dirty GUI for those cheap PCs that were outselling more expensive competitors. By the 1990s, through a braindead deal from IBM and a braindead deal from Apple, Microsoft was now the gatekeeper to nearly all the PCs...they had become a monopoly, and they sure used it.

For an example iPod could be called a monopoly.

It could, but it should be noted consumers created the monopoly by choosing Apple over everyone else.

And Apple is surely misusing it by tying their other products with it.

No, they're not, because the issue isn't tying products to other products, as every company has a right to do. The issue is when those products are tied together, and then competitors are prevented from entering the market through the use of monopoly powers, so that people are forced to use your products, which forces them to use all your other products. I'm obviously referring to the OEM deals of the 90s in which Microsoft fined computer manufacturers who sold machines that had competitors' software installed. Apple isn't fining Wal-mart for selling alternatives to the iPod; you're free to buy any player you want. Frankly, Steve Jobs is too cocky about the iPod to think he would even need to institute fees for selling competing players. It's more amusing for him to see the other players try and fail against his baby.

But for my common friends, OS is a bunch of softwares which allow them to enjoy the computer without any extra hassle. They see Media Player as a driver of their computer's speakers. A bad tying is - Mac OS is tied with Apple Hardware.

None of these ties are bad on their own merits. The problem with Microsoft was the monopoly position it was in, and the way it was using that position to prevent the potential success of alternatives to their platform. Shipping a browser on your OS doesn't sound bad by itself, but put in place with all the other things Microsoft was doing at the time, it was one factor of an overall strategy that led to an antitrust trial and guilty verdict. It was very sloppy, overly cocky management, and Bill Gates stepped down as CEO because of it.

I personally have no issue with Windows Media Player or Messenger shipping with the system, though I take issue with the way they're still non-removable without editing the registry, and in the case of Messenger, it was forced to run on every startup, though thankfully MSN Messenger allows you to disable this behavior. It was a silly attempt to get most users to switch from AIM that has so far failed.

Currently I would put a lot of blame on DoJ on the decreasing quality of Windows. For an example, a clean install of Windows would reboot in a minute. But the windows you get from OEM have so much trash that it takes three times more time to boot it. Note that OEM do not put trash of consumer choice either. They sell the quality of windows for their own profit. For an example, they are selling to Google to put their unwanted trash on Windows, irrespective of whether consumers want it or not. If Google trash makes the computer slower who the consumers would blame?

OEMs should be free to ship whatever competing software products they would like on their machines.

Let me tell you where iPod is a monopoly. Purchase an iPod and try to use it. The corresponding CD will not let you use your iPod unless you install a lot of junk on your computer.

I'm assuming you mean Quicktime and iTunes. iTunes interfaces with the iPod and uses Quicktime as the media container format. That's not monopolistic; iPods are a good old-fashioned monopoly because of their success as a really great consumer electronics device. The third-party market does not work as well in the consumer electronics market, and Apple's vertical approach to make the experience seamless has paid off and put them at #1. Complain about iTunes if you'd like, but Apple won #1 fair and square through selling more than everyone else, and you still have the choice of buying a competing player if you'd like.

I do not even need iTune to play iPod, but why iPod forces me to do so?

Apple is obsessed with providing a top-to-bottom user experience and requires the use of their interface to transfer to the iPod. You're free to use a different music player if you'd like.

Why iPod does not show up as a USB derive like all other goods in the market?

Enabling disk usage in iTunes should fix that problem right up, but if you continue to have problems with it, you're free to purchase those other goods on the market instead of the iPod.

Why quicktime and related software are installed on my computer? Bundling of iTune with iPod is a monopolistic abuse.

No, it's not a monopolistic abuse. A company has the right to design products that interface with other products it makes; an abuse would be if the monopoly was leveraged by Apple to prevent you from being able to purchase competing players. Going by your statements on bundling, Windows is a giant hodge-podge of monopolistic abuses staring you in the eye. At least I can uninstall iTunes (even on a Mac!).

Quicktime is installed because iTunes relies on it as its media container format. Since Quicktime was already available for Windows anyway, it makes it easier for iTunes to be cross-platform (it's the only cross-platform solution out there, I might add).
Not licensing the iTune DRM is a monopolostic abuse and in this case repeatition of the same business mistake which Apple did decades back and still does not want to learn.

This business mistake didn't seem to affect their record iPod sales last quarter.

Microsoft won because Microsoft broke this unfair bundling. You coud install Microsoft OS on cheap IBM clones. That's what Microsoft victory was. Consumers wanted that and Microsoft delivered.

Consumers just wanted a computer, and PCs were cheap. They used whatever interface was bundled on it. That's why Microsoft won, because of finagling their way onto every OEM installation. To this day, a lot of people think Windows is the computer, but few go out and specifically purchase Microsoft Windows; most Windows sales are made through computer pre-installations. It's a matter of simply being there when the customer first starts their computer, and Microsoft made sure they were there.

Calling bundling unfair while defending Microsoft of all companies is a slightly odd position to take. This is the company that created a "Freedom To Innovate" page on their website devoted to defending the idea of bundling.

Make Mac OS workable on cheap Apple clones.

You're never going to get around this; Apple makes integrated experiences, top to bottom. They do the hardware and the software so that the whole thing is like one consumer appliance. They're more concerned about making modern art pieces into computer form factors and making those art pieces easy to use than they are about licensing OS X onto every permutation of PC out there so that it can become as creaky as your average Windows install currently is. That's not anti-competitive; it's just Apple's strategy. You seem to have a real chip on your shoulder against Apple over this and I don't understand why. Mac software only runs on Macs, just like Windows software only runs on Windows.

This blog with whatever good intentions it has, is spreading misinformation through comments. It is giving an impression that Microsoft is somekind of hell. Whereas all the surveys and market research shows that, even if it is hell, it is a sweeter hell than most other companies.

Ah, surveys and market research. Tools of the devil, some say. Regardless of what you believe, Microsoft is facing process issues related to its massive size. Unless these problems are fixed, stocks will stay flat and faster competitors will continue to plow ahead. If it continues down its current path, in a few years the company will have been instrumental in creating its own future irrelevance.

For an example, no other company encourages blogging as much as Microsoft does. Other companies fire bloggers as soon as anything against the employer is said. Mini is anonymous but several other bloggers are not.

No offense, but while Microsoft's open blogging policy is refreshing, it's hardly going to save the company from its current plight. With the exception of important voices like Mini-Microsoft, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hiring external candidates is also preventing competition from hiring, and so the bar is lowered to maximize that effect.

So the plan is to hire less qualified candidates so they don't work for the competition, give them lousy review scores to piss them off, and then fire them because of their lousy review scores to set them free to work for competitors?

Microsoft really knows how to motivate the competition.


You know - its not such a far-fetched idea. Assume Microsoft acctually is able to recruit the brightest of the brightest. People once in microsoft may not be willing to leave due to (1)Brand Value , (2) Money (3) benifits.

Here's what could happen. MS hires all the bright chaps around . They join MS - and now get entrenched into the political environment. Most enjoy it - "Dude, I am in Microsoft!" makes a lot of impact on friends and family. Also they start buying houses/cars on loan/mortgage. Those chaps will probably not be able to leave microsoft, even if they want to.

And then, where do you move off from Microsoft ? The probables are Google ( satisfies all 3 requirements above, and most of the people who are really bright have already moved ), or they join/start their own silicon valley startup ( maybe compromise on one or all the 3 above. definitely on the brand value).

In the meantime, by recruiting the brains, the company has stopped the access to these people for their competetors.

Look at the speed at which microsoft is growing. Mini - i salute your spirit, but the train seems to be running the other way :(

hmm... not so farfetched i think. a few hundred years back flight was farfetched.

Whatever. 2c.

- just plain tired.

Who da'Punk said...

I'm on my way out the door (yes, M. anti-Mini, I'm not a 7am / 8am employee ;-) but I wanted to give a quick, big tip of the hat to the deep, thoughtful comments you folks have been adding here.

There's so much quality in this thread's comments, especially around the internal hiring, contemplating Enron practices, and musing over Apple's practices with the iPod.

Anonymous said...

The Nog, your arguments in comparing windows and iPod are inconsistent. You use one set of argument to declare windows is an abusing monopoly and entirely a different set of argument to declare that iPod is not. And I like to point out the inconsitency in your argument.

1. Like consumers are free to buy a different digital player than iPod vertical solution, consumers were always free to buy an entirely different operating system.

2. Apple wants to control the experience for its consumers and that's it right. Windows wanted to control the experience for its consumers too. Then why should OEMs are allowed to install trash on the configuration which Microsoft believe is the best consumer behavior?

3. All the countries want people to have a mix and match choice. Windows OS with a different company's web browser and a different company's messenger and so on. Well, why not want people to have a different company's digital player and a different company's software?

4. Countries want Microsoft to release the interface information (API) of its products so that other companies could design product interacting with them. There is a company, let us assume, Sandisc, who wants to design a hardware which could interface with iTune. Sandisc feels that it is a hardware company and could design a better hardware for iTune than iPod. Why not force Apple to give the interface information (i.e., iTune DRM) so that a company which specializes in hardware design could design a better hardware. The argument you are using for Apple not to give interface information, you could use for Windows case too.

5. You can form the 4 from the other perspective too. Let us say that a company, RealNetwork thinks it is a software company and could design a better software than iTune for iPod than what Apple has done. RealNetwork needs iPod DRM and not licensing to it is anti-competitive because it is disallowing a company specializing in software to put the best software in the market.

Note that both 4. and 5. are feasible as demonstarted by playforsure model. So there is no inherent requirement. Infact the Apple does not have to change anything in its current iPod or iTune to enable 4. and 5., so your argument that Apple wants to control user experience of its vertical solution does not hold either. Because people who choose iPod and iTune together will have the same user experience. The only reason Apple is doing this is to become a monopoly (if you say it is not) and abuse it (if you say it is).


6. You said that in early days Microsoft dirt and cheap OS was inferior and people were buying it because it was cheap. What's wrong in it? A product is as good as its price. So yes Microsoft also won fair and square like iPod is doing. Designing a better product is not everything designing a better product at the right price is. Toyota vs Mercedes?

But in this case I like to open your eyes more. I grew up on dos, windows, Mac and solaris. DOS experience was a primitive technology. Let me compare the other three. Mac was the most useless of the three. It was a complete crap in front of the other two. In fact even Steve Jobs agreed because he threw the crap as soon as he took the charge of the company and that's why Apple lost. Solaris was good but the learning barrier was high and cost factor was expensive. And not only I loved windows but all my class mates loved windows. That was the product of the time. So yes Windows won fair and square. And people did have the choice to buy a crappy Mac or expensive Solaris.

8. In Windows case, Microsoft bundling was industry practice. Even the minnows like Apple were/are doing the same. But in iPod/iTune bundling it is not even an industry practice. No other company is doing this.

9. I still do not think governement or anybody have a role to play here. Because Apple will lose for its close behavior. It is a good strategy for short term but not for long term. Till now digital player is a simplistic technology, a single company could manage. But Microsoft is trying to make it is a platform technology where hundreds if not thousand of other could board. If Microsoft succeed then Apple would lose because it won't be possible for a single company to ace every aspect of the platform. Steve Jobs always try to challenge Microsoft to manufacture its own digital player to fail Microsoft attempt to convert digital player into a platform. But I guess, as their success level showed Bill Gates is infinitely smarter than Steve Jobs. Even if Microsoft design its own digital player, Microsoft won't sell under its brand name but would let other make it and sell it. Sorry Steve Jobs.

Redeemed said...


Make Mac OS workable on cheap Apple clones. Make it workable on Dell PCs, Lenova PCs and what not. Apple is using more anti-competitive behaviour than Microsoft is balmed for.

That will happen the day Microsoft starts shipping SQL Server, Exchange, Office on the fastest growing OS in the industry: Linux.

Anonymous said...

In the meantime, by recruiting the brains, the company has stopped the access to these people for their competetors.

Microsoft does hire a lot of people to keep them away from the competition or take them away from the competition.

Then, for a variety of reasons, they do not use them to anywhere near their potential.

You could say that Microsoft is responsible for crippling the U.S. economy by wasting the talent of people that could be at other companies improving products of a lot more U.S. companies.

Anonymous said...

To give this blog some balance. And preventing this blog to become a dart-board for every employee who is not doing well. In reality these are only 5% of the all employees. But may give an impression to the world that 95% of the happy employees are not happy either.

Wow, you did a survey and found only 5% of people at Microsoft are unhappy.

Can I see the data backing up that assertion?

Anonymous said...

The managers have only a limited time (say six months) to hold the permission and after that the employee gets automatic permission. This is a reasonably good solution. But even better solution could be the following.

So, you're supposed to stick it out for 6 months while some co-worker who is the teacher's pet does everything they can to discredit you?

I don't think so. If someone wants to leave a project, they have a reason.

Just about everyone is replaceable.

The company does not fall apart if that person later decides to leave Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Let's say you're trying to fill a rec, and you bring in the following three candidates:
A - internal, bright, solid guy, aces your interviews
B - external, bright, lacks experience in your technology, doesn't really ace your interviews
C - internal, not so bright, has brushed against your technology, does ok during the interviews.
What is the order in which you extend the offers? I say A, B if A declines, and C (or back to interviewing) if B declines.


So you hire B but you have to jack up their level to match the salary of their other offers because everyone knows that Microsoft's stock has not gone up in years.

Are you assuming C is not bright because they don't know or don't want to know how to game the system so their review scores aren't as high as someone who is more political?

Did you talk to C's manager or the people who actually work with them? Since they are internal, did you avail yourself of that opportunity?

Anonymous said...

"If it continues down its current path, in a few years the company will have been instrumental in creating its own future irrelevance."

Agree 100%. Board of Directors - hate to wake you up - but are you listening?

TheKhalif said...

To the individual who said I don't kno wMS' history.

Here is the text from Wikipedia ( your suggestion)


Microsoft's name is a blend for "microcomputer software". The company was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 4, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. After the market saw a flood of IBM PC clones in the mid-1980s, Microsoft used its new position, which it gained in part due to a contract from IBM, to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS.


This clearly says IBM contracted MS to provide DOS. I may not know everything but I know MS. I worked there for five years and shipped 5 OS'.

Anonymous said...

The Art of Demotivation is a book for all those ham fisted managers and HR people trying to perfect their constructive dismissal skills.

Your clumsy efforts at using illegal tactics to get rid of employees that don't blindly follow your mediocre vision of the future are boring. Take some pride in your work. Loser!

If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style. Give up now!

Anonymous said...

To my surprise, the AA wanted to see him and voted "yes". The AA's feedback mentioned things like ability to climb the MS ladder and leadership potential. Ponder for a second how damaging that can be to the morale of his group, considering that guy would have come in at L61 at the minimum. An hour's talk outweighed 5 others of unfinished solutions, crappy code and suspect analytical skills. And to think we wouldn't have considered a decent internal L59-L60, who may be underleveled.

Those are exactly the kind of people we need in management to shrink the size of this company.

Anyone who is smart and wants to shrink the size of the company should help idiots get promoted to management to make decisions like that and then, of course, stop helping them.

Inspiring. Keep up the good work!

TheKhalif said...

It is also true that many security issues are due to Microsoft yesteryears. But do not forget that at that point consumer were not demanding security but easyness. Consumers started demanding security in last few years. Microsoft even delayed Vista to deliver on security XP SP2. I agree Microsoft still reacted a bit slow to consumers demand of security but as I already said part of the reason is DoJ and EU commission. Which do not want Microsoft to enhance user experience on Microsoft's own product. You won't find this anamoly on any other product in the world. This is such a basic right.



No what the DOJ is saying is that there are other companies that can provide things like media players, browsers, etc.

Microsoft would be billions of dollars richer if they just learned "how to play well with others." MS does NOT have to own every piece of software a PC uses.

If they didn't try to break into new markets there would be no need to have 64,000 employees (well, there are still overlaps).

MS should just be happy to expand the kernel and APIs, while leaving browsers and NotePad to other companies. I mean I thought that MS should have given up the source code a long time ago. They ended up doing it anyway.

Maybe they should just sell Media Player and IE and let someone else do it. But then I don't think they need all those new buildings so I guess that won't happen either until MS is forced.

Anonymous said...

They never left, they've just been moving around. These are high level concept drawings and subject to change as concepts are refined - building shapes, garages above vs. below ground, locations of open spaces, etc. In the master plan draft that was first made public in Jan05, the ball fields were expanded and relocated to the area where buildings 123-126 are currently and included a new locker room building.

Maybe Microsoft should move the ball fields to the top of some tall buildings and add some risk to the game.

That will teach them for thinking outside the box.

Anonymous said...

I agree Microsoft still reacted a bit slow to consumers demand of security but as I already said part of the reason is DoJ and EU commission. Which do not want Microsoft to enhance user experience on Microsoft's own product. You won't find this anamoly on any other product in the world. This is such a basic right.

The government is responsible for the poor security in Microsoft's products and not the people who designed and implemented them?

What did they put in your Koolaid?

Anonymous said...

I added A to this scenario so that you won't raise the ridiculous point that somehow I am biased pro-externals. If you have a position to fill, it doesn't really matter how you fill it, as long as you acquit of your tasks.

If it really doesn't matter how you fill a position in your estimation, why not always hire external candidates to take them away from the competition (another of your earlier statements)?

Anonymous said...

This seems dangerous.

Explorer vulnerability posts copy text to web

Perhaps someone on the Internet Explorer team can explain why an option to 'cut & paste' via script even exists.

Somebody at Microsoft thinks this is 'by design' because there is actually an option to enable/disable/prompt for this operation which is enabled by default.

It would be an interesting look into the mind of a Microsoft program manager.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. patent office just gave another company a patent for rich media on the Internet; of course, they already gave the same kind of patent to a previous firm so I guess they'll have to figure out "Who's on first.", "What's on second." and "I don't know is on third.".

Bill Gates' father's law firm handled the legal work on the latest patent.

U.S. Grants Patent For Broad Range Of Internet Rich Applications

A patent has been granted to a relatively unknown California Web-design firm for an invention its creator says covers the design and creation of most rich-media applications used over the Internet. The patent holder, Balthaser Online Inc., says it could license nearly any rich-media Internet application across a broad range of devices and networks.

In the Eolas Patent Lawsuit, Users Lose

The Eolas lawsuit claimed that Michael Doyle (president of Eolas) invented a way to seamlessly embed and interact with external applications via the World Wide Web when he was the director of the University of California academic computing center. UC applied for a patent for this idea, and later gave Eolas (founded by Doyle) exclusive rights to the pending patent in 1995; the patent was officially granted in 1998.

Anonymous said...

>> will lure employees from other
>> projects by offering inflated levels

Hoseshit. You can not go up in level internally by just moving from one group to another.

Another thing is, there's ALWAYS unfinished work if employee is doing any work at all. And some things will be left undone.

Drei said...

Are you assuming C is not bright because they don't know or don't want to know how to game the system so their review scores aren't as high as someone who is more political?

Don't try to read too much into this, there is no conspiracy here. I'm not assuming C is not bright, that is the result of an interview loop. I'm not the hiring manager, so usually I don't even want to know their review history, to preempt any subconscious bias.

Did you talk to C's manager or the people who actually work with them? Since they are internal, did you avail yourself of that opportunity?

We (our team) only ask for more references if there is a serious discrepancy between the demonstrated abilities (during the interviews) and the available review history. That goes both ways, both when the guy is super in interviews but sucked in his previous MS life, and when the opposite is true.

Lastly, as I said before, I'm trying to fill a position with what appears to be the best fit. There isn't always a clear algorithm for it, and frankly I couldn't care less if it seemed unfair to anyone. It happened to me as well, which is one of the reasons that brought me into reading this webspace.

Someone else asked:
If it really doesn't matter how you fill a position in your estimation, why not always hire external candidates to take them away from the competition (another of your earlier statements)?

If A and B from my example were just as good, of course I'd take A.

1. He would help me by coming up to speed sooner, having being accustomed (hopefully) with MS processes (coding standards and habits, src depot operation etc etc), and as such, acquitting of the team's responsibilities more efficiently.

2. The benefit of getting the external guy in this scenario would be keeping him/her away from the competition. The disadvantage is the company needs a new office space, a new parking lot, will offer him/her a signing bonus and a relocation package. When there is no choice, this extra cost is acceptable; otherwise, it's a waste.

Drei said...

I'm a bit leery of touching this subject, but..

MS should just be happy to expand the kernel and APIs, while leaving browsers and NotePad to other companies.

Maybe. But how much money would it make from just a bare-bones OS and some API? IIRC, that's where it started from, so in a sense, it outgrew that stage.
I know Office + Windows make 120% of the company's profit, but if that Windows were pared down, perhaps the users would not have an incentive to buy a Windows PC over its Linux counterpart. I need to tread carefully here, but yes, I do believe some of the gizmos help with the adoption (and continued growth) of a platform. It served MS well, it serves Apple well, and it's not a bad thought, as long as there is some moderation to it.

Maybe they should just sell Media Player and IE and let someone else do it.

I'm not that familiar with what it takes to make IE, but I can tell you it doesn't take that many people to make WMP. The underlying technology/platform is important and is what takes time and resources. And I hope you didn't mean that the OS should not have built-in A/V support.

Getting back to the need for moderation; I think this is what MS currently lacks. It's become too greedy with respect to the markets/fields it wants to penetrate at the same time. It wants to do search, and web services, and rich media, and DVRs, and games, and speech recognition and so on ad infinitum. If it went about doing these things well, and one at a time, probably we'd all feel better about where we're headed. But instead, it appears as if the company is throwing money at problems/opportunities as soon as it can identify them (and sometimes without even doing that). It's a chaotic approach to invading niches (ask me about the group in MS which consists of 7 people: 1 GM + 6 reports). Who knows, maybe there is something that can be seen from the top that us grunts can't discern. For once, I admit that the timing of these efforts is important - if the hot time for doing technology X is now, it doesn't matter if you're doing it right 5 years late. But still, there's got to be an optimal fine line in between these approaches (one being the hard core, back to the roots, OS-only) and the latter.

Thanks for affording me this venting opportunity.

Inactivist said...

You can try to persuade those in power to make changes in response to your complaints. They really have no reason to listen to you because you go back for more every day.

Oh, so true! Even if it's not explicit, the impulse must be there in the mind of the 'superior' hearing a complaint or demand: "He/she's still here..."

This is a part of what I call "We've got you now" mentality: "We've got you now, you haven't left, so it's just not that serious."

Don't believe that it's ever like that? Believe it. Fact is, your bosses must, at some level, assume that if you *really* had your act together, they'd be working for *you*. Such is the nature of the power relationship in primate-filled corporations.

Anonymous said...

frankly I couldn't care less if it seemed unfair to anyone. It happened to me as well, which is one of the reasons that brought me into reading this webspace.

You are saying that you don't care if the process you come up with is unfair but you are upset when someone treats you unfairly.

The ol' "It happened to me so it should happen to you.".

Anonymous said...

I know Office + Windows make 120% of the company's profit, but if that Windows were pared down, perhaps the users would not have an incentive to buy a Windows PC over its Linux counterpart.

The defacto nature of Windows made it a popular platform for software developers.

For users, it is easier to upgrade something you already know than moving to something new unless it is really compelling.

If you're poor, Linux looks good which is why Miguel de Icaza is evangelizing its use in third world countries. What is India and China going to choose?

It will soon get to the point where businesses look at Linux as a serious alternative to Windows on the desktop.

You could always put IE and the other "goodies" in another optional software package on a separate CD in Windows.

Use the same tools you used to untangle the Windows layers to sort it out. Let's hope the DoJ is not listening (for your sake). After all, you told them it was not possible.

The whole bundled thing with Microsoft is to get developers to write software only for their APIs on their platform and then patent them so others cannot use them on another platform without licensing them. The availability of a large base of software from ISVs also contributes to Windows popularity.

That's why Microsoft executives freaked out over Java for a while. It meant that developers could "theoretically" write to one API that could be used on multiple platforms. They're now having the same fit over Google.

I believe Windows Server creeped ahead of Linux for the first time recently so it is possible for Microsoft to make gains through competition instead of manipulation. They just happen to prefer manipulation.

Anonymous said...

This is a part of what I call "We've got you now" mentality: "We've got you now, you haven't left, so it's just not that serious."

That's exactly what a co-worker said to me about having kids and working at Microsoft. That's when they've really got you. Changing jobs gets scary.

Your job and your manager might be grating on your nerves but you go back because you need the pay check.

Anonymous said...

I'm not that familiar with what it takes to make IE, but I can tell you it doesn't take that many people to make WMP.

IE's code could be described as a Byzantine spaghetti that needs some Byzantine fault tolerance.

Anonymous said...

But instead, it appears as if the company is throwing money at problems/opportunities as soon as it can identify them (and sometimes without even doing that).

Either a competitor identified a market and is successful causing Microsoft to copy them to make more money or they have a pet project that they'll keep throwing money at for years until eventually it ships.

Major shareholders and the Board of Directors do not know enough about software to say which of the company's projects are solid bets.

They just hold onto Microsoft stock hoping some day it will start to go back up. If you are rich and made the mistake of buying Microsoft stock, you can afford to wait and even a small percentage increase in a stock nets you a lot of money if the amount you have invested is also a large number.

TheKhalif said...

I'm a bit leery of touching this subject, but..

MS should just be happy to expand the kernel and APIs, while leaving browsers and NotePad to other companies.

Maybe. But how much money would it make from just a bare-bones OS and some API? IIRC, that's where it started from, so in a sense, it outgrew that stage.
I know Office + Windows make 120% of the company's profit, but if that Windows were pared down, perhaps the users would not have an incentive to buy a Windows PC over its Linux counterpart. I need to tread carefully here, but yes, I do believe some of the gizmos help with the adoption (and continued growth) of a platform. It served MS well, it serves Apple well, and it's not a bad thought, as long as there is some moderation to it.



You do't understand how busines works obviously. If more companies are able to add value to Windows it will still be worth more.

MS could charge comapnies for the APIs that enable Explorer integration, media integration and simple "widget" tools. Companies could then compete to see who gets the contract. Avanade is a good example, they wrote the Enterprise Library.

Just like DirectX has attracted more customers than IE or Media Player, an API "lease" would allow MS to get a MUCH BETTER image in the industry.

MS is not the only company that can innovate in the Windows space. Look at Infragistics and all of the other partners.
Let's say that MS took a direction like that and total payroll and operating expenses went down by 30%, wouldn't that help the stock?

How much would MS have saved if they looked only at software that helped them save on operating expenses? SQL, Exchange, Office, SharePoint, IM, Visual Studio, BizTalk all fall under that umbrella, but XBox, IE (well, IE was actually a marketing mistake - can you say Intranet Explorer).

Even Media Player could be a set of APIs that allow other companies to innovate with an actual audio\video stack similar to USB. MS could produce "concept pieces" with reduced functionality to attract customers and allow other comapnies to create the fullblown versions to keep them.

The key is that MS is pretty much alone in the industry because of the current and past paradigm. As long as certain higher-ups are sitting on ridiculous amounts of money I don't expect things to change but I hate where MS is.

Just my $.02

Anonymous said...

Unless these problems are fixed, stocks will stay flat and faster competitors will continue to plow ahead.

Microsoft will just buy competitors with increasing frequency since they are so choked these days when it comes to developing their own software.

Microsoft bought Frontbridge Technologies so they could offer companies compliance solutions like capturing every instant messaging conversation that goes on in the company. Microsoft security already does this for Microsoft.

http://www.frontbridge.com/

Ever wonder why your manager or a co-worker always knows what idea you're developing?

It is because you are using your web browser, sending an email on the idea, having an IM conversation about the idea, etc.

If they have a friend that has access to your email server (and they do), you're just a resource to advance their own career.

Think you're safe at home? Wrong again. A buddy working at your favorite ISP can do the same.

Comcast Tracks Web Browsing of Its 1 Million Internet Subscribers

Fitzpatrick said Comcast, using the Inktomi software, is recording the numeric Internet address uniquely assigned to each subscriber, along with the Internet address of each requested Web page. Comcast stores the information for days before it's deleted, but it won't say for exactly how long.

Comcast's tracking is part of an overhaul using behind-the-scenes "proxy" computers, which funnel Web surfing through powerful, centralized computers. Customers previously could volunteer to use these proxy computers, but they are automatically activated now. The proxy computers track the most popular Web sites to determine which ones should be copied to its central computers.


A lot of program managers use their own cell phones instead of using the company phone system to avoid having to testify if archived telephone conversations are ever subpoenaed.

Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Anonymous said...

You are saying that you don't care if the process you come up with is unfair but you are upset when someone treats you unfairly.

The ol' "It happened to me so it should happen to you.".


No, it's the ol' "that's how the system works" and I'm more into solving a problem than I am into aleviating psychological problems of embattled employees.

I read this as a knee-jerk retort to what I wrote, so let me reverse the question: for the same price, do you buy the car that looks well-maintained and runs well during your test, or do you spring for the clunker, hoping it will get better in the long term?

Anonymous said...

"Your job and your manager might be grating on your nerves but you go back because you need the pay check."

That kool-aid over there is strong. There are lots of software jobs in the puget sound that are not Microsoft jobs.

I waited out of fear and regret that I didn't jump ship a couple years earlier.

The market is good. Try the waters for yourself. It is a nice way to get a pay raise. :)

Drei said...

You do't understand how busines works obviously. If more companies are able to add value to Windows it will still be worth more.

No, it only means I disagree with your understanding of it. There is more than one way of being successful, and unless you've personally tried all of them, you can't honestly claim to know what is good and what isn't. Even a good model can be ruined by poor execution, and an apparently poor model can work in a certain market environment.

MS could charge comapnies for the APIs that enable Explorer integration, media integration and simple "widget" tools.

In that case, why would anyone in their right mind pay for this API, instead of developing their apps on a competing, free platform? Oh, is it because of MS' already dominant market position? My contention was that some of the extra apps that MS developed helped with this wide-spread adoption.

Just like DirectX has attracted more customers than IE or Media Player, an API "lease" would allow MS to get a MUCH BETTER image in the industry.

Your claim that DX has more customers than IE is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, you're comparing apple orchards with oranges. By that same token, the file storage API has a lot more customers than DX. Its audience is simply much larger.

Let's say that MS took a direction like that and total payroll and operating expenses went down by 30%, wouldn't that help the stock?

I don't doubt that, but at the same time, abandoning a wide spectrum of applications, cutting support and the associated en-masse printing of pink slips might also stir the stock market, and not in a favourable manner.

I think MS needs to quietly discern the dead ends from the bright horizons, spruce the former up a bit and put them up for sale.

How much would MS have saved if they looked only at software that helped them save on operating expenses? SQL, Exchange, Office, SharePoint, IM, Visual Studio, BizTalk all fall under that umbrella, but XBox, IE (well, IE was actually a marketing mistake - can you say Intranet Explorer).

That is actually a good point, and a bit similar to my initial point: MS expanded chaotically in every possible direction, instead of conservatively estimating the good niches.

Even Media Player could be a set of APIs that allow other companies to innovate with an actual audio\video stack similar to USB.

I'm afraid you're a bit too unfamiliar with this space. WMP is not a set of API, it's a pretty (or not) skin on a more elaborate/integrated player. Had MS not developed an A/V stack, the Wintel would have been as good of a multimedia platform as a wooden butcher's block; both would have an appearance and would make a sound when striked.

I consider the multimedia API to be an obligatory, important and integrated part of any OS. It is so with Apple and with Linux. It requires careful and close coordination between the hardware designers, the drivers, the driver model, the scheduler and the producer of the player itself. (And even you mentioned DX - it encompasses DSound, DShow and DPlay, which are the building blocks of WMP. Now, there is media foundation, but that's a painful subject I don't want to touch.)
The likes of Sony could not wish for something better than the absence of the PC from the consumer electronics picture. The sheer size of that segment dwarfs that of the traditional non-multimedia related PC users.

Getting back on track, WMP does not cost MS a lot to make. It's unfortunate that such a minuscule tip of an iceberg caught the fancy of EU.

Now I'll go back to enjoying my Saturday, if you don't mind, as I wish you all the same.

Drei said...

That's when they've really got you. Changing jobs gets scary.

Your job and your manager might be grating on your nerves but you go back because you need the pay check.


This reminds me of another hurdle on the course of internal transfers, that I don't believe I've seen mentioned. There is a fair number of foreign nationals in MS, who are tied to the ground of their job by virtue of their immigration status. An H1 is approved and assigned per job description, and while the latter is usually vague enough to apply in multiple cases, one could not switch between dev, test dev and program management without serious implications in the status of their work permit. Furthermore, any such individual aspiring to gain permanent residency, risks this process by switching positions. This is not necessarily the fault of the company, as I'm pretty sure it happens everywhere else but it goes back to be an extra incentive for an unscrupulous manager/lead to treat people unfairly.
Sometimes it's not malevolence as it is negligence. (Example: a friend transferred internally a while ago. The GC process had to be restarted, and the new manager had to re-sign/approve the initial step of the process, actions already taken by the previous manager. Well, the papers sat in his posession, untouched, for close to a year, thus delaying the entire process. Of course the manager was repeatedly pinged by LCA, but we're all busy, aren't we..)

Redeemed said...


1. Like consumers are free to buy a different digital player than iPod vertical solution, consumers were always free to buy an entirely different operating system.

Ever tried buying an x86 PC without Windows? Because of Microsoft's coercive business practices with its OEMs, you end up paying for Windows whether you want it or not. Dell recently offered a Windows-less desktop, but a savvy buyer would figure out that the same hardware with Windows cost $50 LESS than without.

If I want to run say Linux on an x86 desktop/laptop I MUST pay the windows tax. This is clearly abusive monopolisitic behavior by Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

for the same price, do you buy the car that looks well-maintained and runs well during your test, or do you spring for the clunker, hoping it will get better in the long term?

You are assuming your test does enough to evaluate what you're getting.

You are also assuming that the test isn't morphing into something else and that the reported results are accurate.

After all, you have more than one person doing the evaluation and the questions do change on the whim of the person asking them.

Don't like their skin color? Hey, ask harder questions. They'll go away.

Oh shit! They answered your questions accurately. No problem. Just tell everyone else they did poorly.

Changing the bar and moving the goal posts might make a funny Olympics related Monty Python skit but, when it comes to figuring out who I should be working with, I would rather have a fair test.

Anonymous said...

My contention was that some of the extra apps that MS developed helped with this wide-spread adoption.

Get specific. Which ones? Notepad? Calc? Solitaire?

Microsoft's operating systems tagged along on popular hardware at the manufacturer's request (IBM).

That large base of hardware running Microsoft's operating systems attracted ISVs to write software for that platform.

That availability of software attracted people to the Microsoft platform.

Anonymous said...

There is a fair number of foreign nationals in MS, who are tied to the ground of their job by virtue of their immigration status. An H1 is approved and assigned per job description, and while the latter is usually vague enough to apply in multiple cases, one could not switch between dev, test dev and program management without serious implications in the status of their work permit.

Microsoft likes H1B employees because they can legally pay them less than citizens or permanent residents.

Anonymous said...

I was at Apple for three and a half years. The rule about internal recruitment there is that your current manager has to be informed if you're interviewing for another spot, but he can't keep you from doing so.

He can delay your transfer on an emergency basis for a while, but that's highly frowned upon. The attitude around Apple is that if your team can't stand the loss of a single engineer, then management has Fucked Up, big time.

-jcr

Anonymous said...

I have to agree about changing groups. I moved groups about 3 years ago, and my GM at the time pulled me in his office trying to keep me there. He told me, "There are a lot of smart people where you are going, why go to that other group and be a small fish in the big ocean, when you could stay here and be one of the big fish"... And then insinuated that I would never be able to work in his organization again. Now thats looking out for the good of the company

TheKhalif said...

Microsoft's operating systems tagged along on popular hardware at the manufacturer's request (IBM).

That large base of hardware running Microsoft's operating systems attracted ISVs to write software for that platform.

That availability of software attracted people to the Microsoft platform.




This is what I was saying. The hardware was the attraction and MS just got the outsource contract. Anyone who doesn't realize that DirectX totally locekd up the OS space because it was as good as the cross-platform OpenGL didn't pay attention.

Anonymous said...

"I wrote: Like consumers are free to buy a different digital player than iPod vertical solution, consumers were always free to buy an entirely different operating system.

Somebody responded: Ever tried buying an x86 PC without Windows? Because of Microsoft's coercive business practices with its OEMs, you end up paying for Windows whether you want it or not."

Ever tried to buy an iPod without subsidizing the running of iTune? Ever tried to buy Apple computer without paying for Mac OS? Here my argument was a conuter argument to the claim that iPod/iTune bundling is not monopolistic abuse. A customer has to move to an entirely separate vertical solution to escape the bundling of iPod+iTune, simalrly a customer was always free to move to an entirely different vertical solution from x86+windows. For an example, customer could have bought Apple+Mac. The reason I was saying iPod+iTune is an abuse because it does not allow customers to do mix and match. Thereby, preventing the entry of new players and help Apple maintaining its monopolistic share of Digital music market.

There are two points to note here:

1. Apple+Mac was the main commercial competitor to Windows. Windows bundling however bad it was, was always more flexible than Apple+Mac.

2. Windows comes bundle with certain configuration. But one was always free to install other competing softwares. That's not true with iPod. There is no reason why iPod can't be used with Realplayer or Windows media player. (Note that 90% of the songs on most iPods are not purchased from iTune store. 50M iPod and 1B songs sold. 20 songs per iPod. Wherease on an average iPods have hundreds of songs.)

3. You could not even currently buy a different OS comveniently with a computer from OEM (even after DoJ has stopped Microsoft bundling OEM hardware with windows). Why? Because Microsoft was not the reason for consumer pain. The reason was and is that the other main competitor does not want to license its OS even after moving to intel platform. Dell has repeatedly said publically that they will ship Mac OS if Steve Jobs want. So if DoJ wants to enable x86 comes with a different OS, then DoJ must declare Apples bundling illegal. In that case, you would see that Apple and Windows competition would decrease the price of software to negligible and Dell shipping both OSes.

4.The only reason Microsoft has to face DoJ is because Microsoft is successful for its open behavior where the real culprit was a massive failure.

Drei said...

You are assuming your test does enough to evaluate what you're getting.[snip].

And you're just grasping.

Dude, don't let the bastards get you down. Polish again that resume and keep interviewing, I'm sure you'll find a team that will be pleased to have you.

Don't like their skin color? Hey, ask harder questions. They'll go away.

I hope you're not acusing me of what I think you do. As I'll explain to you for the last time, it gives me no pleasure to waste hours reading CVs, screening, interviewing just so I can toy with other people. In case you haven't noticed, the IT market is kinda hot these days. Out of 20 prospects, less than a quarter pass a tech screen and probably one can traverse a bloody linked list. I have a job to do, and if I don't, I suffer the consequences. So I can't afford stupid games or preferential treatment of candidates. I couldn't care less what you looked like; as long as I think you're going to be able to do the bloody work, you're going to get the positive nod. If you don't, you're not.

TheKhalif said...


4.The only reason Microsoft has to face DoJ is because Microsoft is successful for its open behavior where the real culprit was a massive failure.



WOW!!!!!!!!!

Drei said...

Get specific. Which ones? Notepad? Calc? Solitaire?

Yeah, those and charmap.

Microsoft's operating systems tagged along on popular hardware at the manufacturer's request (IBM).

That large base of hardware running Microsoft's operating systems attracted ISVs to write software for that platform.

That availability of software attracted people to the Microsoft platform.


So what you're saying is that from a business tool, the PC evolved into an all-around tool thanks only to apps not written by MS. The world's Quicken, Mozilla, Corel and Adobe apps were helping the growth of the consumer base, but MS apps such as IE, Money, Streets & Trips, MCE, WMP and Encarta/Student have had no impact whatsoever. :-) Dude...

The MS apps I've enumerated are clearly not money makers, but each one might have represented the tipping point for someone considering purchasing their first (or next) home PC. I know it happened to me, and I can't be that unique.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft likes H1B employees because they can legally pay them less than citizens or permanent residents.

Um... No. H1B employees by law have to be paid the prevailing wage of regular employees in the same position.

Anonymous said...

"Oh shit! They answered your questions accurately. No problem. Just tell everyone else they did poorly."

---

This happens all the time .. people who are being blacklisted get this all the time. It is a big "high-schoolish" game that occurs accross the board.

change recruiting ot a panel based forum ....

bring in a recorder .. see how it goes ...

Dateline undercover it would be well worth calling out these clowns and hold accountability for lawsuit for the current practices.

Anonymous said...

The world's Quicken, Mozilla, Corel and Adobe apps were helping the growth of the consumer base, but MS apps such as IE, Money, Streets & Trips, MCE, WMP and Encarta/Student have had no impact whatsoever.

I think if you examine your chronology your perception of who contributed to the success of Microsoft will clear up if you don't have too much company Koolaid in your eyes.

Most of the Microsoft products you mention were created as a direct result of acquistions of products from ISVs or from hiring those who developed similar applications for other organizations.

(1) Quicken came out long before Microsoft Money which was only developed in response to the DoJ stopping the sale of Intuit to Microsoft.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quicken

"Although by 1988 Quicken became a best-seller in its market, the company wasn't a major success until the advent of Windows 3.0 in early 1990s, when sales of Quicken grew explosively."

http://blogs.msdn.com/philipsu/archive/2004/07/01/170682.aspx

(2) Microsoft licensed the Mosaic source code from Spyglass, Inc. to develop Internet Explorer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyglass

Spyglass, Inc., was an internet software company (NASDAQ SPYG) based in Champaign, Illinois. The company founded in 1990, was an offshoot of the University of Illinois and created to commercialize and support technologies from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Prominent among these was the Mosaic browser, of which Spyglass licensed the technology and trademarks to develop their own Web browser. The source code of Spyglass Mosaic was licensed to Microsoft and became the basis for their Internet Explorer.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/WinHistoryIE.mspx

In July 1995, Microsoft released the Windows 95 operating system, which included built-in support for dial-up networking and TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), key technologies for connecting to the Internet. In response to the growing public interest in the Internet, Microsoft created an add-on to the operating system called Internet Explorer 1.0. When Windows 95 with Internet Explorer debuted, the Internet became much more accessible for many more people.

Internet Explorer technology originally shipped as the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Microsoft Plus! For Windows 95. Internet Explorer replaced the need for cumbersome, manual installation steps required by many of the existing shareware browsers.


(3) Encarta was created by purchasing rights to use the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Encarta

Microsoft initiated Encarta by purchasing non-exclusive rights to the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, incorporating it into its first edition in 1993 (Funk and Wagnalls continued to publish revised editions for several years independently of Encarta, but then ceased printing in the late 1990s).

(4) Mappoint is the result of improvements of several acquisitions.

http://www.activewin.com/reviews/software/apps/ms/mappoint/index.shtml

Microsoft created its geography unit after buying NextBase Ltd, the maker of the famous ‘Automap Road Atlas’ software and released its first mapping software in early 1995.

http://www.directionsmag.com/news.php?news_id=7

Microsoft's development partners for this product are Claritas and Geographic Data Technology. Geographic Data Technology provides street-level mapping data for the United States and boundary files down to the census tract level.

Claritas contributed MapPoint's demographic data package, which is still being developed. Data will include 1990 Census files, current and five-year population projections, household income, household size, number of households in an area, and several age categories. The included demographic data is limited by the fact that MapPoint 2000 will be distributed on a single CD. However, MapPoint users will have the option of purchasing expanded and updated demographic data at the Claritas Web site.

MapPoint is driven by a software engine that basically is an enhanced version of Microsoft's Expedia consumer mapping product.

(5) Microsoft Word was written by the people who worked on Xerox PARC's word processor Bravo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Word

Microsoft Word is a word processing application from Microsoft. It was originally written by Richard Brodie for IBM PCs running DOS in 1983.

Many concepts and ideas were brought from Bravo, the original GUI word processor developed at Xerox PARC, into Microsoft Word. Bravo's creator Charles Simonyi left PARC to work for Microsoft in 1981. Simonyi hired Brodie, who had worked with him on Bravo, away from PARC that summer.

Word's first general release was for MS-DOS computers on May 2, 1983. It was not well received, and sales lagged behind those of rival products such as WordPerfect.


etc.

Anonymous said...

"MS apps such as IE, Money, Streets & Trips, MCE, WMP and Encarta/Student have had no impact whatsoever. :-) Dude..."

Exactly my point. Microsoft provides a comprhensive solution and enable others to build on it and that's a winning formula. Microsoft is a platform company. There are other market segements Microsoft is trying to convert them into platforms. The only thing making the process slow is the short supply of employees. So we need a macro-microsoft not mini-microsoft. Any company with this wide an agenda needs a lot of resources (billions of dollars) and a lot of employees (many more than current 60K). Resources is not much of a issue but short supply of talented worker is.

Anonymous said...

Okay I am really getting frustrated by all these losers using MiniMsft to spike visits to their wretched blogs. Them and the riffed fellas are turning Mini's blog into a total Looserpallooza.

Khalif, do you ever find another job after MS? I doubt it, since it seems like you have lots of time on your hands. If only you'd spent that time on your own blog

Anonymous said...

Um... No. H1B employees by law have to be paid the prevailing wage of regular employees in the same position.

Well, it may be the law but a lot of employers don't do that, including Microsoft (at least when I was there).

You can do a search on Google to get all kinds of information this is happening.

Question: Are the H-1Bs paid the fair ``prevailing wage,'' as claimed by the industry?

There is a broad consensus that the H-1Bs are indeed exploited in terms of wages and working conditions. This was found in

* the study at UCLA, which found that the immigrant engineers were paid 33% less than comparable Americans

* the study at Cornell University, which found underpayment of H-1B programmers and engineers by 20-30%

* my study at UC Davis, finding that immigrant programmers and electrical engineers were paid 15-20% less than comparable Americans

* the report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which found that the computer-related H-1Bs were paid a median of $53,000 per year, far below the national median of $66,000 for this field

* the audit done by the Department of Labor, finding that 19% of the H-1Bs were not even paid the salaries promised by the employers on the visa application forms

* the report by the National Research Council, which found that ``H-1B workers requiring lower levels of IT skill received lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses, and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they did''

* articles in respected, pro-business publications such as Forbes Magazine (``Indian programmers working in the U.S. on temporary H-1B visas typically earn 25% to 30% less than their naturalized colleagues'') and the Wall Street Journal (``recruiting foreign talent is cheaper than hiring Americans''

* statements by the H-1Bs themselves, who have formed the national organization ISN (www.isn.org) with a goal of persuading Congress to reform the program


How to Underpay H-1B Workers

Anonymous said...

Okay I am really getting frustrated by all these losers using MiniMsft to spike visits to their wretched blogs. Them and the riffed fellas are turning Mini's blog into a total Looserpallooza.

Thanks for being hyper-vigilant. Maybe Mini can let you moderate his blog comments from here on out, since you have higher standards than the blog owner.

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

>> H1B employees by law have to be paid
>> the prevailing wage of regular
>> employees in the same position.

True, but you can horribly underlevel them, because they have no choice but to accept your offer when you hire them from abroad. Basically, they can stay in their country and work for peanuts, or they can come to Microsoft and work for peanuts.

I've seen very smart folks with M.Sc. degrees getting hired as L57 STE button-pushers (back when STEs were still around). Why STE? Because reqs were for STEs. Why L57? You're a smart fella, I'll let you use your own logic.

Then you can give them a shitty review and cite "communication issues" or something else non-tangible to keep them from going to another group for a couple of years. There's a whole bunch of things you can do to make H1B work for less than a sane US citizen/green card holder would accept, while still staying within the law.

The main issue here is that H1B coupled with "permission to interview" pretty much means indentured servitude. You can't leave the company (gotta leave the country in 10 days in this case) and you can't leave your group unless you get permission. So H1Bs are convenient. Some of them are pretty darn smart, too.

Anonymous said...

>> Khalif, do you ever find another job after MS?


This IS Khalif's day job - Posting trash on Mini-Microsoft. What a frickin nuisance! Khalif Dude, Get a life.

Anonymous said...

>> but I know MS. I worked there for five years and shipped 5 OS'.

Yo Khalif,
Now that you are no longer at MS, what is the point of hanging out on this blog? Take a break. Post crap on your own blog for a change. Stop irritating the hell out of everyone with your unsolicited insights and random off-topic posts.

Anonymous said...

I believe Windows Server creeped ahead of Linux for the first time recently so it is possible for Microsoft to make gains through competition instead of manipulation. They just happen to prefer manipulation.

2 points about the above :
1. Its not linux but Unix servers that are being talked about.
2. It is in revenue terms.
What this does not factor is the number of servers out there. So, this does not point out how many Intel/Amd + Linux solutions there are out there. Its not easy even to get these figures. Also the Linux servers are not just giving competition to microsoft , but also to other Unix companies. My friend has a startup - and all the servers they use ( email, cvs, gateways etc) are running Linux.

Here's the original article :
windows bumps unix

But here's something you may want to check :
Netcraft : Web server survey

I could not find the OS distribution but I got a feeling that most of those apache servers are running on linux. The LAMP combination is just so sweet.


Ever tried buying an x86 PC without Windows? Because of Microsoft's coercive business practices with its OEMs, you end up paying for Windows whether you want it or not. Dell recently offered a Windows-less desktop, but a savvy buyer would figure out that the same hardware with Windows cost $50 LESS than without.

Don't know about US, but in 3rd world countries the cost of a PC with Window and without windows used to be the same. There was no real competition as what other OS can someone afford ? Apple comps dont sell there till recently. Solaris and HPUX were server OS's which were too costly for anyone except some big companies and the govt. So, windows was the defacto OS.

However, now with the advent of internet, people are getting aware of the other OS's out there. 5 years back , no one really knew about another OS - they knew about different vendors for the PC ( IBM/HP/Compaq), but not about the OS. Now, most are migrating to using linux for different reasons - 1. less crashes and virsuse. 2. free. 3. Lots of college kids using Linux 4. Image of being rebellious against the establishments and the 'in thing'.

Anonymous said...

>This is clearly abusive monopolisitic behavior by Microsoft.

I recall that you turned on moderated comments to keep out the trolls, Who da' Punk, but the quality bar for moderation seems to be a bit lower of late. Is this a conscious decision on your part?

Anonymous said...

>There are other market segements Microsoft is trying to convert them into platforms...So we need a macro-microsoft not mini-microsoft.

So, instead of improving our poor execution in the market segments we're in, we should rush out and execute poorly in many new market segments?

Anonymous said...

I think if you examine your chronology your perception of who contributed to the success of Microsoft will clear up if you don't have too much company Koolaid in your eyes.

Most of the Microsoft products you mention were created as a direct result of acquistions of products from ISVs or from hiring those who developed similar applications for other organizations.


Thank you for the history lesson (snipped). However, I'm not sure how does it relate to my point. Your argument proves MS expands with acquisitions, instead of innovation. But regardless of the origin of some of its products, MS developed some popular applications and propelled them into ubiquity. IMHO, that encourages adoption. If you disagree with this simple point, perhaps you also disagree with the countless other examples in most any other discipline of economy. Not many innovate, and while that's important, taking a good idea into a market success is just as important. Your cell/phone/TV/car was probably not made by the company who invented the concept (although I agree that possibility exists).

Koolaid comes in different flavours, you know.

Anonymous said...

"So, instead of improving our poor execution in the market segments we're in, we should rush out and execute poorly in many new market segments?"

I am alrready arguing the assumption of "poor execution". I am claiming that Microsoft's vision and execution, though not ideal, are far superior to other large companies. Stock is not doing that bad if you compare it with other large tech companies like IBM, Intel and other. It is hard to grow revenues by the same multiplicative factor but by additive factor they are growing pretty well. Microsoft has resources and vision to win something big, and that's require slow and steady progress and not a sudden jump. Remember Microsoft is known as version 3.0 company. Version 1.0 is basically a beta to understand the technological detail. Version 2.0 is to understand the customers. And version 3.0 is to win them by providing what they want and at what price point.

TheKhalif said...

Khalif, do you ever find another job after MS? I doubt it, since it seems like you have lots of time on your hands. If only you'd spent that time on your own blog


I use this blog for my own reasons. You probably wouldn't understand what's on my blog.

Anonymous said...

There are other market segements Microsoft is trying to convert them into platforms...So we need a macro-microsoft not mini-microsoft.

I generally with this. My heart and gut are with mini. My idea is to strip it down, remove unneeded part, make it simpler, make it work better. But in reality Microsoft now makes a product for almost every letter of the alphabet. There must be over 10,000 individual product SKUs (variants.) Microsoft is placing long term platform bets in area where they have moderate expertise and they are necessarily backing these bets with staff and budget. Its not such a crazy idea. If a customer owns two or three core Microsoft products and we tell them that they can license some add-ons for a reasonable fee - and the add ons will play well with the core products - then the customer would be crazy to not at least consider it. Granted, if I were a customer starting a new business right now I would be building my business on the most stripped linux platform I could get away with, but all that the giant Fortune 1000 customers are thinking is: 'We just want it to work - we'll pay whatever we need to ...'

And I think that's why Microsoft is expanding ...

Who da'Punk said...

Wow, 130 comments so far. I have to admit, I climbed into the backseat on this post and pretty much tried seeing what it would perhaps be like to go back to an unmoderated state.

Mixed.

Some really good discussions, though some pretty friggin' off-topic. A little bit of non-iq venom. Some Anything But Microsoft / trolling slipping in.

I'm going to adjust the bar for the remainder of this post's life until the new post staggers forward. And I'll continue to expirement w/ the nearly unmoderated, but I acknowledge the desire to reduce the outright trolling comments and, for the frequent commenters out there, the need to encourage them to express their deep skills of expressions within their own space.

Mini.

Anonymous said...

I got the battery warning when I was writing that Microsoft give what customers want and what price point in version 3.0. I wanted to give the following two solid examples.

1. Xbox 360 vs PS3. It is clear that PS3 will be technologicaly superior to 360 whenever it will launch. PS3 is bundling two next generation technologies. Next generation gaming console (better graphics) and a next generation DVD player. It is going to cost $300 extra to make it. First, I like to point out that Toshiba next generation DVD player which is going to be launched in March is starting with $500 and likely to be in the ballpark of $300 by the time PS3 launch. So for a PS3 cost, one could have a next generation gaming console (360) plus a next generation dvd player. Sony has two choices to mitigate this extra $300 dollars cost of PS3. One, it transfers the cost to consumers. In that case, Sony is causing market inefficiency by pushing both the products to a person who wants only one (say next generation gaming console). Two, Sony itself bear the loss of extra $300. In that case, basically sony is giving away the next generation dvd functionality for free (cross-subsidization). If sony wants to give away its next generaion dvd technology for free then a better choice would be to give it for free where it will impact the most. That is in the current Sony DVD players, give the blue-ray capabilities for free. Bottom line - Xbox 360 is giving what consumer wants at this point at the right price point. It is easy to create a superior product if extra $300 are spent to create it. But is it the right economic decision?

2. Virtualearth is an example of where Microsoft technologically leaped ahead of its competitor. At the moment virtualearth is far superior than google-maps (comparison with googleearth is unfair because it is a 10MB plus download). This superiority is in terms of functionality, quality of images, ease of use, maps update speed, accuracy of pinpointing addresses and the accuracy of driving direction and local searches.

Anonymous said...

However, I'm not sure how does it relate to my point. Your argument proves MS expands with acquisitions, instead of innovation. But regardless of the origin of some of its products, MS developed some popular applications and propelled them into ubiquity. IMHO, that encourages adoption.

I think we basically disagree on whose applications contributed more to the adoption of Windows.

In my opinion, it was ISV applications that contributed more to the adoption of Windows which in many cases existed years before an equivalent Microsoft product and were directly incorporated into Microsoft products in many cases.

UNIX comes bundled with a lot of applications too but it was too expensive at the time, and its applications were too complicated for your average business user.

Anonymous said...

Here's a Google hater blog for those Microsoft employees who think Google isn't getting their fair share of critism.

Please God, Just One More Bubble!

In the latest issue of Time magazine out this weekend, Eric Schmidt was quoted as saying:

"The company isn't run for the long-term value of our shareholders but for the long-term value of our end users."

Anonymous said...

The main issue here is that H1B coupled with "permission to interview" pretty much means indentured servitude. You can't leave the company (gotta leave the country in 10 days in this case) and you can't leave your group unless you get permission. So H1Bs are convenient. Some of them are pretty darn smart, too.


These days it is possible for someone on an H-1B to change employers.

H-1B Frequently Asked Questions

"An alien may change H-1B employers without affecting status, but the new H-1B employer must file a new Form I-129 petition for the alien before he or she begins working for the new employer."

The Nog said...

The Nog, your arguments in comparing windows and iPod are inconsistent. You use one set of argument to declare windows is an abusing monopoly and entirely a different set of argument to declare that iPod is not.

That's not true at all. iPods pretty much are a monopoly, and I've never said otherwise. But Apple isn't abusing that monopoly by leveraging their monopoly to sign deals with stores so that they face fines if they sell competing players.

1. Like consumers are free to buy a different digital player than iPod vertical solution, consumers were always free to buy an entirely different operating system.

Those who knew what they wanted could find OS/2 and buy it if they wanted, but the antitrust trial was about Microsoft taking advantage of their monopoly to prevent OEMs from shipping competing software pre-installed on their computers. If they did so, Microsoft would raise licensing fees, or worse, remove that OEM's Windows license altogether, which would be suicide. So OEMs were forced to comply and not ship competing software. This was declared illegal use of Microsoft's monopoly position by the courts.

2. Apple wants to control the experience for its consumers and that's it right. Windows wanted to control the experience for its consumers too. Then why should OEMs are allowed to install trash on the configuration which Microsoft believe is the best consumer behavior?

Microsoft doesn't get to decide what is "trash" on an OEM's pre-configured desktop. Those are competing products in a free market. Microsoft has no right to coerce OEMs into stifling it from the free market if OEMs want to sell it.

3. All the countries want people to have a mix and match choice. Windows OS with a different company's web browser and a different company's messenger and so on. Well, why not want people to have a different company's digital player and a different company's software?

People can freely buy a different digital player and use different software. Apple isn't using their dominance to strongarm retail stores so that they can't sell non-iPods.

4. Countries want Microsoft to release the interface information (API) of its products so that other companies could design product interacting with them. There is a company, let us assume, Sandisc, who wants to design a hardware which could interface with iTune. Sandisc feels that it is a hardware company and could design a better hardware for iTune than iPod. Why not force Apple to give the interface information (i.e., iTune DRM) so that a company which specializes in hardware design could design a better hardware. The argument you are using for Apple not to give interface information, you could use for Windows case too.

Music player software is quite a bit different from a computer operating system that runs on 98% of the world's computers. Even iTunes is running on Windows.

5. You can form the 4 from the other perspective too. Let us say that a company, RealNetwork thinks it is a software company and could design a better software than iTune for iPod than what Apple has done. RealNetwork needs iPod DRM and not licensing to it is anti-competitive because it is disallowing a company specializing in software to put the best software in the market.

All companies are anti-competitive in that they want to crush competitors. But Apple doesn't have to tell its competitors how to replace its own software. If Apple was abusing its monopoly position, or if iTunes was the dominant software used for every music player on the market (like how Windows runs nearly all computers), that would be different. But iTunes only works with iPod, and iPod only comes from Apple. It's just one player and software interface among hundreds of others that you're free to choose from. If you don't like iTunes and iPod tied together, don't buy it. If you like the iPod but don't like iTunes, that's tough, and just because those are the options doesn't make Apple an abusive monopoly.

Note that both 4. and 5. are feasible as demonstarted by playforsure model.

PlayForSure has, so far, been a flunk in the market compared to the iPod, so I don't know how feasible it really is.

So there is no inherent requirement. Infact the Apple does not have to change anything in its current iPod or iTune to enable 4. and 5., so your argument that Apple wants to control user experience of its vertical solution does not hold either.

I don't know what to tell you, then. This has been Apple's mindset with all its products. They make the hardware and the software that runs it. Apple tried the MacOS licensing and cloning thing in the 90s and nearly went bankrupt. It just didn't work.

Because people who choose iPod and iTune together will have the same user experience. The only reason Apple is doing this is to become a monopoly (if you say it is not) and abuse it (if you say it is).

Apple isn't abusing a monopoly if they tie their hardware and software together. You keep missing the point of the Microsoft antitrust trial, which was that Microsoft was using their monopoly position to prevent the shipping of competing products. This effectively killed any new competitors entering the market. As long as Apple isn't doing that--and there are plenty of competing players out there for sale, all selling music and signing up with competing services like Napster--your argument doesn't fly.

Furthermore, it's silly to complain about Apple keeping people tied to them when PlayForSure is about Microsoft trying to tie every music player to Windows and the WMA format. Microsoft supporting HD-DVD is an ill-fated effort to get some reliance on VC-1 going in the consumer movie format wars. They're free to do that, but it's odd to take a position against Apple and in favor of Microsoft in this discussion in lieu of aforementioned strategies.

6. You said that in early days Microsoft dirt and cheap OS was inferior and people were buying it because it was cheap. What's wrong in it? A product is as good as its price.

My point was only to explain how Microsoft achieved their position as the gateway to everyone's computers.

But in this case I like to open your eyes more. I grew up on dos, windows, Mac and solaris. DOS experience was a primitive technology. Let me compare the other three. Mac was the most useless of the three. It was a complete crap in front of the other two. In fact even Steve Jobs agreed because he threw the crap as soon as he took the charge of the company and that's why Apple lost.

Your opinion is your opinion, but there's just no comparison between C:\> and a bitmap-based GUI desktop, now the common standard of today. Adobe introduced Postscript-based printers after the Mac's release, and desktop publishing was born. Most of the music you hear today is digitally recorded in Pro Tools on a Mac. I wouldn't underestimate that little machine's contributions to history, no matter who you work for. Apple lost because Macs were priced to high by Sculley and others, and they didn't upgrade the model fast enough to take advantage of newer specs. But Macs found their niche and began to lead the industry in several areas.

I don't know what you're referring to with regards to Steve Jobs throwing away the Mac when he took charge of the company (he was co-founder and already in charge, and he loved the Mac so much it cost him his job).

8. In Windows case, Microsoft bundling was industry practice. Even the minnows like Apple were/are doing the same. But in iPod/iTune bundling it is not even an industry practice. No other company is doing this.

Nobody else tied their browser to the shell (a costly move in security terms). And don't be silly, lots of companies sell hardware with the software that runs it, and it's their perfect right to. You are really hung up on this iTunes thing. I guess we'll never come to an understanding.

Till now digital player is a simplistic technology, a single company could manage. But Microsoft is trying to make it is a platform technology where hundreds if not thousand of other could board. If Microsoft succeed then Apple would lose because it won't be possible for a single company to ace every aspect of the platform.

The third-party strategy hasn't worked in the consumer electronics space, because vertical integration makes the experience seamless, where PlayForSure makes it a hodge-podge that may or may not work (I've heard horror stories), which is similar to the PC world itself. This platform strategy you refer to is Microsoft trying to steer digital media back to reliance on Windows technologies. Nobody's doing this stuff out of the goodness of their hearts, you know.

Steve Jobs always try to challenge Microsoft to manufacture its own digital player to fail Microsoft attempt to convert digital player into a platform.

I think he was, in his cocky way, pointing out that Microsoft is going to have to follow Apple's strategy if it wants to get anywhere, because Apple's strategy is what works in this market.

But I guess, as their success level showed Bill Gates is infinitely smarter than Steve Jobs. Even if Microsoft design its own digital player, Microsoft won't sell under its brand name but would let other make it and sell it. Sorry Steve Jobs.

Aaaand this is the part where I point out the X-Box, which contradicts your premise that Microsoft would never sell a media device under their own brand. Microsoft tried to pitch Windows and DirectX as a platform for console makers, who rejected it, so Microsoft's only option was to sell their own. It is now Microsoft's only option with media players as well, as PlaysForSure isn't doing much. Apple is so far ahead now that they're rumored to start selling feature films this Tuesday for iPods.

To sum up:
1.) Apple isn't preventing others from being able to sell music players.
2.) PlaysForSure isn't Microsoft trying to create a media platform for everybody out of the goodness of their hearts; it's Microsoft creating a platform that ties the technology to Windows. Everything Microsoft does is about protecting their platform, from X-Box (reaction to Sony marginalizing them in the growing console market) to PlaysForSure (reaction to Apple marginalizing them in the growing digital media market).

Anonymous said...

Here's a Google hater blog for those Microsoft employees who think Google isn't getting their fair share of critism.

Looks like someone who has no idea about what is happening is making a lot of noise to get other losers like him listen to him.

The Nog said...

Exactly my point. Microsoft provides a comprhensive solution and enable others to build on it and that's a winning formula. Microsoft is a platform company. There are other market segements Microsoft is trying to convert them into platforms. The only thing making the process slow is the short supply of employees.

This is where you're going to hit some disagreement with people, because the general consensus is that what's making the process slow is, well, getting hung up in process, and that comes with too much management and too many employees doing too many projects in response to too many markets. By attacking so many fronts at once, the company gives the impression it is lashing around to find a new successful market without any focus.

Microsoft should reduce headcount and keep the best of the best, kill money-bleeding projects, and focus on adapting the working ones. My impression is that top level management is very paranoid based on the current trends in the tech industry, and that something is going to come along and render Windows irrelevant overnight, so they're expanding and entering as many markets as possible to tie whatever they can to Windows technologies and keep the platform safe for another decade.

Anonymous said...

"These days it is possible for someone on an H-1B to change employers."

The problem is the use of the H1B as a stopgap measure to work around the slow-as-snails immigration system. Companies have to pretend they need temporary employees on H1B because they cannot get greencards processed in a timely fashion (6 months - 1 year). Note that we are not talking about increased immigration levels; in recent years it has not been possible to even use up all of the available greencard numbers.

The indentured servitude part comes in a few years after applying for a greencard. If you applied 3/4/5 years ago and now want to change jobs, you have to start all over again losing those many years you've already spent waiting in the queue.

Anonymous said...

>> An alien may change H-1B employers without affecting status,
>> but the new H-1B employer must file a new Form I-129 petition for
>> the alien before he or she begins working for the new employer.

No shit, Sherlock. You forgot that you'd have to restart Green Card process if you change jobs, though, which currently takes about 5 years to go through. Even after you get the green card you can't leave immediately because there's a chance that USCIS will revoke your green card for "fraud". They assume that if your employer sponsored your GC, you'll forever work for that employer. A year or so after getting the GC is the safe time for throwing in the towel, which many H1Bs do.

Anonymous said...

"But iTunes only works with iPod, and iPod only comes from Apple. It's just one player and software interface among hundreds of others that you're free to choose from. If you don't like iTunes and iPod tied together, don't buy it."

The Nog, I am not going to make Mini's blog more crowded on this but would try to point out the inconsitency in your above argument in as few words as possible. My argument is if windows was an abuse of monopoly then far worse is iPod+iTune. You are only stuck on one point that windows have the unfair licensing deal with OEMs because the price they pay is not only of using the Windows but also of not using other OSes. This is not in itself unfair if Windows did not have a huge market share. For an example costco have the same strategy. The supplier gives a price quote not only for selling costco its own product but also for costco not selling a competitors product. Shelf space on many retailers are sold on this basis too. I am not saying that this is okay for Windows to do. This may have been a monopolistic abuse. I am saying that this model stil had more flexibility than Apple+Mac. Because Apple+Mac was not even giving this small opportunity to OEM altogether. In case if Apple+Mac had gotten 95%+ market share it would have been in much bigger troube anti-trust trouble than Microsoft.

Keeping aside this point, DoJ, EU and South Korea punsihed Microsoft for two things. First, unnecessary bundling which raised the entry point for competing products unless they are on altogether different platform. Second, how Microsoft products interact with each other must be documented and licensed to others so that a company which is capable of designing just one logical component can do so.

Both these are currently true with iPod+iTune. You have to argue on these two points i.e., what is the difference between iPod+iTune and Windows on these two points. You are saying is that if some hardware company wants to create a different hardware for iTune than iPod then it can do for other minnows music sellers. Well, this was true in case of windows too. If you wanted to design some product for computers you could have designed for other minnows OSes. iPod+iTune combination raises the entry bar for other companies in a way which is not necessary for Apple to run its business. And that's the only place where governments are needed to interfere in an open market. The digital player market has three natural components.

1. DRM.
2. Music seller.
3. Hardware.

Unless there is a necessary need to bundle these three components together, it is an abusive monopoly. The Nog you have to argue here. You have to argue why this bundling is technologically necessary. Playforsure has shown that it is not. The argument that Playforsure market share is small is not valid because it is only a technological demonstration and it does not effect the experience of users who voluntarily choose Apples iTune and Apples iPod. You could also recall that Microsoft also tried to use the same argument.

As such whatever Microsoft did, whatever Apple is doing with iTune+ipod is not unlawful or illegal. But it becomes anti-competitive if a company with more than x% of market share does it. Practically this x is subjective but in principle this x is 51%. At that point goverments are needed to restore competition in the market. My claim is, because iPod+iTune market share is enough to call it a monopoly, unless Apple demonstrate why this bundling of three components is necessary, or else why unbundling these three components decrease the experience for those who voluntary choose Apple's solution, Apple's bundling of iPod+iTune is a monopoly.

Your arguments that customer could choose a entirely different vertical solution is not valid because customer may like one thing of Apple and another from another manufacturer. Or your argument that other companies entering the market can enter on a different vertical solution is not valid because the market share of any other vertical solution is less than 20%. Further, this argument is based on the goodness of the other vertical solution not on the intrinsic flexibility of iTune+iPod. Suppose Microsoft did the same with Playforsure instead of licensing it. How would Sandisk, Yahoo and others would enter the market?

In summary - Apple is among the most close company which harms consumers by not giving them proper choices. They justify this by their own arrogant behavior that Apple anyways does the best then why do we need another company anyways? Such arrogant behavior is already punished in one case by open markets and there is no reason why open market won't do the same.

Anonymous said...

"Wikipedia quote: After the market saw a flood of IBM PC clones in the mid-1980s, Microsoft used its new position, which it gained in part due to a contract from IBM, to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS.


Thekhalif wrote: This clearly says IBM contracted MS to provide DOS. I may not know everything but I know MS. I worked there for five years and shipped 5 OS'."

Thekhalif your argument is like following. I have a very inovative idea so when I build a company around it, it will be massively successful. Because my innovative idea puts me in a different world. Not true. Even after being in a new position, it requires a lot of hardwork, talent and luck to win so comprhensively. Different companies gain different market position for their past success. Unless you claim that Microsoft was in the favorable position by unfair means (like BillG uncle was IBM CEO) your argument does not hold. Wikipedia reflected this by saying "partly".

You could make your argument work, if you demonstrate that Microsoft somehow unfairly prevented others to enable their OSes to run on IBM clones. Many other companies voluntarily chose not to run their OSes on IBM clone. May be they underestimated the potential of a computer. They may have estimated that a computer is going to be an equipment for big businesses and therefore the price-point is not important. May be Microsoft vision was right, a pc on every desktop, and therefore Microsoft realized that a cheap PC is important even if it is a bit inferior than ideal.

Thekhalif, you may have the knowledge of Microsoft history. But you have to spend your brain cycles to analyze them.

The Nog said...

The Nog, I am not going to make Mini's blog more crowded on this but would try to point out the inconsitency in your above argument in as few words as possible. My argument is if windows was an abuse of monopoly then far worse is iPod+iTune.

Like I said, we'll never come to an agreement on this. Windows wasn't an abuse of monopoly; coercing OEMs so they wouldn't sell competing products was.

You are only stuck on one point that windows have the unfair licensing deal with OEMs because the price they pay is not only of using the Windows but also of not using other OSes. This is not in itself unfair if Windows did not have a huge market share. For an example costco have the same strategy. The supplier gives a price quote not only for selling costco its own product but also for costco not selling a competitors product. Shelf space on many retailers are sold on this basis too. I am not saying that this is okay for Windows to do. This may have been a monopolistic abuse. I am saying that this model stil had more flexibility than Apple+Mac.

I simply don't understand how you could believe this. One situation prevents consumers from having alternatives, and the other doesn't. You're free not to choose Apple+Mac and to use the other players for sale at my local Wal-mart. This wasn't the case when ordering a new computer in the 90s.

Because Apple+Mac was not even giving this small opportunity to OEM altogether. In case if Apple+Mac had gotten 95%+ market share it would have been in much bigger troube anti-trust trouble than Microsoft.

If Apple+Mac gets 95% marketshare, it's not an abuse as long as competitors are still allowed to introduce products on the market.

You have to argue on these two points i.e., what is the difference between iPod+iTune and Windows on these two points. You are saying is that if some hardware company wants to create a different hardware for iTune than iPod then it can do for other minnows music sellers. Well, this was true in case of windows too. If you wanted to design some product for computers you could have designed for other minnows OSes.

You're not getting it; the other platforms weren't allowed to compete on the market. iPod competitors are allowed to compete all they want with iPod.

iPod+iTune combination raises the entry bar for other companies in a way which is not necessary for Apple to run its business.

No, it doesn't! Anyone can introduce any player they want and sign a deal with someone like Napster. Nobody is coerced into running Apple's iPod+iTunes platform.

1. DRM.
2. Music seller.
3. Hardware.

Unless there is a necessary need to bundle these three components together, it is an abusive monopoly.


You haven't explained where the abuse is.

The Nog you have to argue here. You have to argue why this bundling is technologically necessary.

To provide the seamless experience for consumers. Just compare the iPod experience to any of the PlaysForSure competitors.

As such whatever Microsoft did, whatever Apple is doing with iTune+ipod is not unlawful or illegal. But it becomes anti-competitive if a company with more than x% of market share does it.

Only if that company is in some way abusing their monopoly to exert pressure on the market in a way that prevents competitors from having a chance. Hence the comparison to the 90s Windows OEM deals.

Your arguments that customer could choose a entirely different vertical solution is not valid because customer may like one thing of Apple and another from another manufacturer.

The customer can still choose an entirely different vertical solution. Whether or not they like one thing from someone and another thing from someone else is completely meaningless. Just because those are the choices doesn't make it a monopoly abuse.

Or your argument that other companies entering the market can enter on a different vertical solution is not valid because the market share of any other vertical solution is less than 20%.

That's not Apple's fault. Everybody starts at 0.

Further, this argument is based on the goodness of the other vertical solution not on the intrinsic flexibility of iTune+iPod. Suppose Microsoft did the same with Playforsure instead of licensing it. How would Sandisk, Yahoo and others would enter the market?

They'd introduce their own players and their own software and compete like everyone else.

In summary - Apple is among the most close company which harms consumers by not giving them proper choices.

You have yet to explain what choices are being removed here. Apple hasn't stopped anyone from buying a PlaysForSure player instead of an iPod. If a company comes with a better solution than Apple, then consumers will instead go to them. Free market and all that.

Anyway, I feel like we've pushed this debate as far as it can go now.

Drei said...

In summary - Apple is among the most close company which harms consumers by not giving them proper choices. They justify this by their own arrogant behavior that Apple anyways does the best then why do we need another company anyways? Such arrogant behavior is already punished in one case by open markets and there is no reason why open market won't do the same.

Hopefully this isn't just an off-remark.

Anonymous said...

The Nog wrote: Your opinion is your opinion, but there's just no comparison between C:\> and a bitmap-based GUI desktop, now the common standard of today.


My response: I was comparing windows, mac (pre-unix) and solaris. Not DOS and Mac. I do not know anybody,not even diehard mac users, who would argue the crappiness of pre-unix mac.

The Nog wrote: I don't know what you're referring to with regards to Steve Jobs throwing away the Mac when he took charge of the company

My response: I read an interview of Steve Jobs in a flight few years back. He said: the mac was not the best possible operating system so the first thing he did after rejoining the company is to throw away the whole code based. Took unix, which is the best known os and took 1000 apple engineers and wrote the gui on it. That's pretty much the new mac os is. He further said, he went to Adobe for Photo-shop but they decline to have a mac version. So they decided to implement the new ilife pacage. He said they went to Bill Gates for office on new mac and for his surprise Bill Gates too no time to support the new mac. He gave the huge credit to Bill gates for this support. I do not exactly remember which magazine the interview had. But if you are a steve jobs follower you may be able to find it. But one thing you may verify that this enture mac os is totally different code base then the last century's mac os.

Anonymous said...

No shit, Sherlock. You forgot that you'd have to restart Green Card process if you change jobs, though, which currently takes about 5 years to go through. Even after you get the green card you can't leave immediately because there's a chance that USCIS will revoke your green card for "fraud". They assume that if your employer sponsored your GC, you'll forever work for that employer. A year or so after getting the GC is the safe time for throwing in the towel, which many H1Bs do.

Foreign Labor Certification is also a period of time that locks an employee into working for a particular employer.

The current backlog is 18 months.

Anonymous said...

I own an iPod nano and I fail to see how Apple "harmed" me. See, there are two choices in this world:

1. Shitty, poorly designed players from third parties + Microsoft software
2. Well designed, well thought out players from Apple + Apple software

You don't notice Microsoft software because it comes bundled. Just like you don't notice iTunes requirement on the Mac because it also comes bundled there. But if you want to "play for sure" your music on the Mac, you're SOL.

Anonymous said...

The Nog, I am not even going to refer to your email because I got it where you are stuck. You have not got why some actions are perfectly legal for small players to take but illegal for a big players. For an example, if you have manufacter an OS with 2% market share then you are allowed to have whatever pricing system you want. You could tell your buyers that if they do not buy xyz then you will give then 50% discount and so on. As I said this is already done in retail industry so Microsoft did not invent anything new. The problem was Microsoft had a huge market share.

The theory of capitalism (Nash equilibirum) requires that there is a perfect competition in the market. It remains valid until there is no player with more than 50% market share. As soon as there is a player with more than 50% market share then these theory breaks down. For an example, the market share is high because one thing is well done. The manufacturer of that thing could force other not-so-well-done things on consumers. People who could produce these other not-so-well-done things better than the monopolistic manufacturer in question do not have fair chance to compete in. Think like that if Ford has 20% market share then Ford is allowed to have their own exclusive standards of the tire size. But if Ford has 80% market share then Ford is not allowed to do so. Because that will push out tire manufacturers out of business or will not new entrants in the tire manufacturing. I hope you could see the flaw in the logic that a tire manufacturer could enter the market by first designing its own car.

So as a theoretical rule, if a company has more than 50% market share then the company should act as if it is more than one company. The other competitors should have all the competition choices as if this single company with 50% market share is like 50 companies with 1% market share. Surely in practice 50% is replaced by 70-80% and the governments do not demand perfect competition either. Further there are all kinds of subjective and political judgements.

Anonymous said...

That Fuc kedGoogle site had this totally hilarious comment:

Thousands of Ph.Ds and what does Google announce? A GeoCities ripoff called "Google Pages".

Just wanted to point it out since I had quite a laugh over that one.

Anonymous said...

Constructive critics anonymous:

In the spirit of really slimming down, why not get constructive and start talking about where the real "synergies" exist in our markets (sorry, it is the only word I could think of). How about a list of the top ten investment areas for FY07. In another post maybe we could explore which projects should be killed:

In no particular order here are 5 suggestions to kick it off:

1. Netdocs was almost a good idea. Brian stepped on toes and pissed off the office franchise but he was on to something. Live hosted services on the web displayed in a rich and dynamic interface (AJAX?) Maybe it was just a bit before its time. Lets make Live really cool

2. Voice.net was sort of thinking about maybe doing something like Skype. Lets get a real team on the real time opportunity.

3. XBOX is cool. Lets double or tripple down while Sony is screwing around with cell chips.

4. Commerce is happening on the web. Really happening. Biztalk or something like it could be run as a hosted platform for B2B and B2C services. Think "AmaBay".

5. A complete P2P and RSS media publishing infrastructure. Client ships in Live. Lets make it run on other platforms... all of them..

Anonymous said...

To get back to the topic - expansion - should MSFT get bigger or smaller?

My answer is - either get smaller or get better mid-level management.

MSFT has never had good management, because we've always expected front-line grunts to figure it all out without leaning on management for help. It works great for small groups. It doesn't work for WinDiv.

Because of this philosophy, we've created an entire company full of incompetent middle managmeent (incompetent even by normal expecations for middle management). They don't know how to manage because they never had to - the superstars working for them made it all come out okay. Promotions to management didn't have to be based on leadership talent - DevMgrs/GMPs/PUMs/GMs were irrelevant to team success. The 4.0 ICs made or broke the project.

Now the company is too big for even the best leaf-nodes to hold it together, but 90% of our management isn't able to pitch in and start earning it's keep. Adding bodies will just make it worse. Gasoline onto the fire.

Either we get smaller quick, or get new managmeent quick. Or crash and burn.

The Nog said...

I read an interview of Steve Jobs in a flight few years back. He said: the mac was not the best possible operating system so the first thing he did after rejoining the company is to throw away the whole code based.

Steve Jobs didn't suddenly decide to replace MacOS; Apple had been trying for over a decade to replace it and purchased NeXT (Steve's company) so they could use their OpenStep APIs as the basis for a new MacOS.

He further said, he went to Adobe for Photo-shop but they decline to have a mac version. So they decided to implement the new ilife pacage.

Photoshop has always had a Mac version. You're probably thinking of iMovie. Adobe wasn't interested in making a low-cost consumer version of Premiere.

But one thing you may verify that this enture mac os is totally different code base then the last century's mac os.

Everyone knows this. OS X replaced the old operating system line in 2001 just as Windows XP replaced the DOS-based 9x line. It's not a totally different code base since Carbon and many of the foundation APIs are ported from the Mac Toolbox.

I think everyone is glad Microsoft and Apple replaced their consumer operating systems.

Anonymous said...

Took unix, which is the best known os and took 1000 apple engineers and wrote the gui on it.

That's an oversimplification, and basically untrue: I doubt you're actually employed in software.

You have to remember that one of the great things about Mac OS 8+ was HFS, and that was expanded on, and built into HFS+. HFS+ is the main thing which differentiates OS X from being simply a 'desktop UNIX system' (drag and drop software intallation, anyone? Most experienced Windows users have run RegEdit, so oftem, they've forgotten what the phrase 'drag and drop' even means).

What Apple also did was come up with things like hot-zoning, and high speed swap space... All the kinds of things Vista was going to ship with, but now isn't. All the things which actually makes OS X so fast to work with, and so quick to boot up.

Most OS X users actually switch the eye candy off, after a short while of using it. What will Vista users be left with, that's actually new, after the eye candy has been turned off?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mini, I'd like to suggest you to make a post about how MS deals with internal vendors. I used to part a team of vendors managed by a FTE that does the same work an FTE does but without having whatever MS can possible give (career perspectives, bonus, be able to feel part of team, etc). What’s you point of view in the magic to reduce head count using vendors to make KPI looks better.

Anonymous said...

"Re: Internal Hiring. When I was a manager, I gave a key team member permission to interview four months after joining my team. He had reached a crisis of confidence, and wasn't sure the job he'd come into with me was the right fit."

Please clone yourself a dozen or so times and insert yourself all over Server&Tools. They need more managers with your kind of confidence. I no longer have a personal stake in that, as I'm at MSN now, but some friends are still back there.

In STB, my manager repeatedly refused me permission to interview after I signed on to an entry level position that had been originally shopped to me as an advanced one suitable for someone with 14 years of dev work on his resume. What I found when I arrived was an endless amount of dev gruntwork to the tune of 60 hour weeks, that was boring perf statistic coding which offered someone of my level no learning opportunities. If a dev org could be said to have an "accounting clerk" type job, I was in it. No surprise, I wanted out. No surprise, my manager knew it'd be hard to find anyone else to do this thankless work, and said no.

Reasons cited over the course of my 3 month quest to free myself of these shackles and move on to opportunity at MSN:
1. You haven't done your year yet. My reply: you misrepresented the position to me. Their reply: tough, you should have asked more questions during the interview process.
2. We're short of staff. My reply: I understand, but those other positions have been vacant since before I got here and as far as I know you haven't interviewed anyone. Their reply: tough, we can't help it. My reply: please don't make your ability to hire, MY problem. There aren't enough entry level L60 devs willing to take your unexciting jobs; you surely see that by now; one solution would be to recognize that this isn't the most exciting work or the best for a person's career and pay an L63 salary to someone willing to do it for a year.
3. (after TWO employees transferred to other jobs, and one left the company to get out of this dysfunctional group, dropping it to less than 50% staffing). We're short of staff. My reply: But you let THOSE devs leave. Their reply: They've been in their jobs for more than a year. My reply: So new hire retention is not a priority in this group? Their reply: Obviously not. (They basically dared me to leave.)
4. It's not the right time for the business, to let you leave now. My reply: I understand, and that is why I have committed all along to getting feature X through RI before I transfer. Their reply: No, we can't let you interview at all. (Loop back to short of staff).
5. We said you could leave when it's the right time for the business, and it still isn't. My reply, having given 4 months of my career to this den of no hope, after being tipped off by the grapevine: Then I guess someone will be accountable to BobMu for a diversity hire turning in their badge and leaving Microsoft, which I will be doing next week unless you let me interview this week. Their reply, after checking with management: GRRR GRRRR GRRRR go do your damn informational.

And yes, I got 3.0'd on my review, which occurred in the middle of that, despite working harder to succeed and churning out more lines of code than anyone else on my team. Within 12 months of changing groups: 4.5 review score in new group, gold star award, 2-level promotion by a division that recognized Server&Tools had hired me in at an inappropriate level. AND, perhaps most important, I go to work every day and feel challenged, which is the reason I joined MSFT.

If I hadn't wanted so strongly to join MSN, MSFT would have lost a great IC with the managerial conduct detailed above. Of all of it, I find the managerial attitude that my being surprised by a low-level grunt work position was MY fault for not asking enough questions about the job, most disgusting. I did ask questions, and was repeatedly told that the position offered much opportunity for technical growth; what was I to do, tell the manager in the interview, "I don't believe you"? Their use of this as an excuse comes across as, "HA HA, we fooled you, now we have you, and if you want to stay at Microsoft, you are stuck here, HA HA." The use of this kind of tactic to retain a skilled IC in a position far below his capabilities is just hideous.

I'd almost be happier if it was just a diversity issue, but it wasn't, because the people who left were male and female, caucasian and not. That entire team was screwed up by poor management.

When did things begin to get unscrewed there? When the lead was promoted to group manager, and someone more qualified to lead a team was put in his place. Yes, the Microsoft answer to managerial incompetence: reward them by moving them up to middle management where they'll do less to earn their (higher) salary and have less opportunity to directly harm the teams doing the work.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to also comment on the internal transfer process as well. Currently I am going through all the pains that are stated here about this process, and having to go through this right now, I am seriously also considering just leaving MS and find another job outside if things don't pan out here.

A short summary here so people don't get bored reading:

1) I did a few informationals, a lot of groups out there are sympathetic to the pains of internal transfers, and surprisingly they all offerred to informally interview me so that I know for sure I would get a hire before I ask for permission to interview.
2) I decided to go through an informal loop with one of the group, I passed the loop, and so I told my manager I want to get the 'official' permission to interview
3) Denied! Here starts the game that your current manager will play with you if they do not want you to leave:

a) They will immediately use the 'you are critical to the project' excuse. This is their first line of defense to keep you.
b) Note that all of your discussions will not be in writing of any kind, what they tell you will always be verbally spoken, but not written down
c) Some of the things I have been told by my manager are 'You need to be accountable and stay in the team until it ships', 'I have been good to you on this team and why are you leaving now' etc. etc.
d) Other upper management people may join in again and try various things to get you to stay.
e) At some point, your manager will most likely start a conversation alone the line of 'I need you to do XXXX before I can give you permission to interview'.
f) the XXXX part is either lots of things they want you to finish up that is never ending, or they will ask you to come up with a 'transition plan' first for them to review before they will let you leave.

etc. etc.

I finally got fed up and went and talked to my HR generalist about this. So, even though it's not very well documented in the hrweb:

1) You should not be asked to do a 'transition plan' BEFORE you are given permission to interview, this is something that happens AFTER you actually have a job offer!
2) The above mentioned tactics are aimed at stalling your time to leave and they are trying to scare and coerce you into staying.
3) The reason why none of them are written down or through email is because they are all bad hr practices.
4) If you are determined to leave, stick to that, and work with HR and your would-be new manager on resolving this situation
5) To keep you in the current group, your manager has to prove that you are 'critical' to shipping the product - this means, if you leave the product your group is trying to ship will fall apart. In MS there is hardly anyone who will fit that description in any group. No matter how important you think you are.

Some things you can do to safeguard yourself:

1) Ask for 'definite' dates - be precise and cut thru the ambiguity - what date will you definitely give me permission to interview? etc.
2) Keep everything in writing - even if all the discussions you are having with your managers are verbal, send follow up summaries in emails - and add a line to ask them to reply in email if they do not agree with any of the points.
3) if your manager is using the 'critical path' argument, you need to be careful. You do not want to 'disprove' him/her about how critical you are (else you will get dinged in the next review if you transition during midyear), but you also need to get yourself out of this argument. Try to say that you are 'critical' for a period of time, but you can transition your work to others in this time so after that you are no longer critical and can move on.

Anyways, I think I nearly have my situation resolved, but it is SURELY painful, and if it does not work out, I am not staying in this group, I am just going to leave MS anyways. There are a lot of HR things wrong in this company, this has got to be the #1 issue.

I just wanted to post this so that others who are considering changing groups in MS knows what they may be going up against, and have some defense against it. Hope some of you will find this useful.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is SPOT ON accurate. I went through the same nonsense. I too, started to look outside of MS, which is a shame because we work so damn hard to get into this company. Luckily, after several rounds of 1:1's with Senior Management, they saw that "No" was not an acceptable answer. My advice is to do exactly what is posted in this comment, and remember that you might have to work as hard to transfer as you did to get into the company, but like getting into MS, the transfer will hopefully be as rewarding.