Monday, February 13, 2006

"Rarely does a bad attitude solve the problem."

The comment request seemed simple enough...

Mini could I make a humble request? What do you think of having one post solely dedicated to discussing the things we love about this company?

Yeah... but no.

Yet I would like to calibrate my outlook here (and I'm not talking about making that Outlook Beta1 actually run fast without my laptop's CPU melting into my desk and hard disk paging clear through time into next Tuesday). While I'm all out of Pollyanna flavored Kool-Aid, I do want to make a few things clear about my perspective.

All the way back from that Blast Off post (ah, yapping alone in the blogverse) to the Back to Basics post, I've done my best to make it clear that I love Microsoft and that I don't want to work any place else. Like most Microsofties, if there was someplace else I wanted to work, I most likely could get a job there (though I'd really have to ponder bopping an interviewer on the nose if they asked me something about resistance between a knight's move on an infinite plane of resistors... what, while bisecting all the of gas stations in the USA?). So I'm staying. And I'm rolling up my sleeves to make a difference at Microsoft. Daily. I enjoy what I do and I'm empowered to make a difference, mainly because I've decided I'm going to make a difference. Microsoft is that kind of place.

And here at Mini-Microsoft? Here I do point out the issues as I see them. Dudes and Dudettes, it takes less than three minutes to get your own blog, if you don't have one already. Want to extol to the world about the greatness of Microsoft (and it is great, don't get me wrong), type away! And by golly, if you direct link to one of my posts, it just happens to show up down at the bottom. That's a great way to provide any point / counterpoint you might ever want, free of my little moderating.

But as I continue pointing what I think are issues to be solved, I'm worried. Worried that we've all taken such great indulgence in pointing out all of the problems that no solution can ever work. You know, any solutions that come up are not going to solve the problems to everyone's enjoyment.

In most ways, I'd love to be in Lisa Brummel's shoes right now. She has such a fantastic problem solving opportunity in front of her... one that almost no one in the history of corporate culture has so grabbed by the horns and said, "I hear you, and I'm going to fix this." It makes my eyes dilate to just imagine having such a powerful and terrifying opportunity. She has the potential, working with the executive leadership, to transform employees' careers, and therefore Microsoft, into something explosive and far beyond what Microsoft is today.

But in a few minor ways, Ms. Brummel is the last person I'd want to be. In one sweeping move she kicked over Pandora's box, flung the Genie out of the bottle, and popped that dang cork out. Expectations, including mine, are so exceptionally high you've got to wonder how anyone, let alone everyone, are going to be satisfied with where it ends up.

And folks are going to complain.

I look at some of the comments posted here and I've really, really got to ask you: geez, why do you work at Microsoft? Now I know folks ask me that, but it's because I know these problems can be solved and the resultant Microsoft will be such a fantastic corporation that it will be worth all the risk of putting up a few web pages in public to say, "Eh, the executive leadership looks naked to me. And that mole on his butt might be cancerous. Better have it looked at."

I do feel these pages have resulted in galvanizing discussions and people have asked questions about topics that they either never knew (you'd be surprised how many team members [aka, individual contributors] didn't know about stack ranking, let alone the curve) or only knew scant bits about (I didn't know about gold stars and the bench until the conversation here brought it into the spotlight).

Back to the complaining, to the lack of positivity, to the feeling of disempowerment and general grumbling towards anything anyone does that affects you. Okay, I've got to admit a reason I've put the light on our problems, issues, reviews, and wage-compensation is to let you think about it and decide whether it's worth toughing it out in this Microsoft environment or if you think your good looks and hard, dedicated contributions would be better invested in a different company.

If folks looked at the issues and honestly decided to leave Microsoft to find a job elsewhere, great. That's a good move for them and fulfills my own little agenda for a smaller Microsoft, one bit of attrition at a time.

If potential hot job candidates read some things here and told their recruiter no thanks and that the whacky curve and the stack rank sounds like austere corporate career BDSM BS, great. Much better they didn't find out a year or two later into their Microsoft career.

I have faith that change will happen at Microsoft. Change is either going to happen because we have executive leadership that steps up and cleans house or because the village is destroyed when enough of the pure talent moves on and all that's left are the village idiots leading meetings and initiatives of excellence.

If you don't share my faith, if you don't believe change is going to happen, if you don't think there are any solutions, if you don't think there is a cause worth winning here, well, then, my friend, get the hell out. I really don't understand why you'd stay in such circumstances.

I finished reading Seth Godin's "The Big MOO" today. It has some interesting points I'd like to thread together here. Mainly for you to think about with respect to: if you're staying at Microsoft, why? And how are you going to be part of the solution to all the hard challenges we have ahead?

"Rarely does a bad attitude solve the problem." True dat. I don't have a bad attitude. I'm pissed off. Our CEO is puzzled how we reached a state where lots of folks are doubled or tripled up in their offices. There's a Think Week paper from Liddell discussing how Microsoft can grow to a 100,000 person company. The people doing all the hard work aren't even getting cost-of-living raises. So now, that doesn't give me a bad attitude. No, it gives me an incredibly motivated pissed off attitude to ask, "Why?" That's the 64-point-font question.

"Ignore the critics and embrace the criticism." I'd say that's LisaB in action right now. And like agile software development, the solution to the problem is to be iterative. Whatever might start as a solution by LisaB is not going to be The Solution but (hopefully) an iterative series of disruptive changes to throw off what doesn't work and refine down what it takes to have a great environment to do our work and be fairly compensated, while not having to stop and add up the numbers and ponder, "Why are all those partners getting showered with stock and money and not being held accountable in the least?"

Kanban. The story about kanban in The Big MOO is interesting, given that I'm thinking about accountability right now. Quickly: Japanese car manufacturers moved to only having one or so spare parts to replace defects discovered while putting cars together. If they ran out, the entire production line would be halted while a replacement was procured. Ends up no one wanted to be responsible for supplying defective parts to the car manufacturer that might stop the entire line and quality from suppliers shot through the roof. Simply because higher quality was expected of them and that they knew they'd be very obviously held accountable. It'd be much better for all of Microsoft to have obvious gates that stopped product development until the quality improved. Because, if we don't hold ourselves accountable, our users will.

And you know it's a damn different environment now. Sometimes it seems every pissed off person has a blog. Maybe you remember those Visual Studio 2005 posts I put out when users got a hold of the RTM bits and started posting, "Dang, sure crashes a lot. Dubya-tee-eff?" I still have people come by to share their latest frustrations with VS on those old posts. It doesn't matter how solid all those components are if there's one weak link in the IDE that crashes. It all comes down.

A service pack to fix all of this cannot come soon enough. What are we teaching our users? Wait until VS releases its first service pack before deploying. Just like Office. Just like Windows.

Are you embracing that criticism? How are you making things better? Are you holding everyone accountable?

So this post started with a call to focus on the things we all love about Microsoft. I love the fact that Microsoft has the potential to solve these problems. It's the source of Microsoft's solution, whether through true, hard leadership or full-blown crisis, that we currently have a chance to influence. We'll come to a solution. And I plan to be along for the ride, because I love this company.

Even when it pisses me off.

82 comments:

Steve Loughran said...

VS.net 2005 being overweight bugginess is not teaching users that apps have to be like this, it is teaching developers that its OK to ship to things in that state. Which sets an even worse example, as it lowers the quality of all apps on Windows. Indeed, those apps written by third parties that are often going to be worse -no QA, no memory profiling, just write it, ship it, be prepared for a timely SP.

Anonymous said...

Dude,

Your company's problem is crystal-clear to the entire world. Your upper management is incompetent. Instead of shipping your core products on a regular basis, they let them languish for five or six years between releases, while Ballmer goes apeshit over anyone else who's making a serious amount of money.

Google doesn't make an OS. BlackBerry doesn't make a word processor. Why in the HELL does MS's management think that they're your competition?

Frankly, unless your company has a near-death experience like Apple did, you're going to continue the slide into irrelevance. Pity, there was a time when MS shipped some things that were almost useable.

Anonymous said...

Having just read Mary Jo Foley, I urge you to name it the "Windows Live Love Solution" when you find it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I do beg to differ on one point you made. You said that your users will hold you accountable. I think that the history of Microsoft shows beyond a doubt that this simply not the case.

A handful of people complain when you blow it (again!), but most of the customers just use whatever Dell or HP put on their box, and complain to each other when they see the BSOD. They'll never go so far as to try to get their money back.

TheKhalif said...

Wow, first post. ANyway, I agree with you Mini. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED working in Windows but I was too far away from anything remotely resembling empowered to get things done right. Of course, I would hope that MS changes more than just employee-satisfaction.

I mean, if mgmt was smart they would realize that MS SHOULD NEVER EMPLOY 100,000 people. They would stop destorying markets liek browsers and allow companies to bid on things like WordPad or Calculator. They would provide APIs only like DirectX. They would invest in companies instead of buying them.

I really hope that efforts like yours can fix MS for the people who stayed because it is a great company.

I couldn't believe it when the source code was released. That is something that should have happened before. I mean it's not like a company can steal the code and use it for an OS.


As far as the good, I would say the best thing about MS is that you can be a part of millions of business transactions and make life easier for 100s of millions of users.

I love that when anyone uses USB or creates a USer Profile or a DFS link or runs System Restore, my hard work helped make it possible.

I loved that when I went to work, I could have 100+ machines dancing to my beat.

It's a shame that MS is in Redmond or I would have stayed. My problem was the weather as my job was so fulfilling that the BS wasn't impossible to deal with on it's own.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in your mission but with all the new buildings it doesn't look like MS is going for getting smaller.

Anonymous said...

"I love this company."

I don't think you can really love a company. Not to criticize your emotions, but a company is just a representation of the people who work there. So maybe you're saying you love the people of Microsoft? (You tell me, though.)

I like and respect many of the workers of Microsoft. So many smart people, but often not smart enough to spot a sinking ship. I don't like the executives of Microsoft. These people have no passion for software, few morals, and a huge capacity for denial. They do, however, have lovely lakeside mansions. That's probably their best quality.

The executives are taking the company down. I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure it's already too late. If you're an employee, there's not much you can do. I mean, we've all tried our hardest and failed a number of times, right? And if you're an executive, well, you probably don't care. With your pay check not rocking the boat (even though it's sinking) is probably the most likely course of action.

If you are by any chance an executive and you really want to make a difference, here's a hint: Office 12 and Vista absolutely suck. If they continue on their current course they will be a disaster for Microsoft. I shouldn't have to tell you why, but this blog has plenty of examples. Show me you care by noticing and doing something about it. Something big. If I could, I would. I try every day with partial success to make people see how our software and our approach toward software can be better. I like to think my personal code reflects that. But I don't have the top level power you have.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah... but no"

Why "no"? What is so wrong talking positive about the employer you love?

Anonymous said...

"The patient is very sick, but there is an ENORMOUS opportunity for improvement."

There are probably better things about Microsoft than its distance from being an efficient, productive company.

It seems everyone takes for granted that productive and efficient should be the goal for Microsoft. Perhaps the company destiny does not include that. It's too big, in the industry well past its innovative peak.

What about Microsoft as an institution like GM & Ford, with no clear reason to exist other than tradition? A great place to study Windows internals?

Microsoft University has a nice ring to it. Too bad the sport fields are going away.

Dave said...

Your attitude is fine! Anger is a rational response to perceived unfairness.

I used to work in an engineering group for a US Government contractor. We all banded together to perform the best we could under extraordinarily difficult conditions. One of my friends, now working in Kazakhstan, even had baseball hats printed that said WETSU (We Eat This Stuff Up).

We bitched loud and long about the obviously stupid stuff... and then we would go back to work and give it our best.

What happened? Our employer was thrown out at the end of the contract period. They weren't even allowed to offer a proposal for the new contract.

You can lead a manager to water...

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to start on this long post so I'll just rant about stuff. I feel the same as you Mini. Jaded and pissed about some of the things (lots of the things) we do as a company, but also VERY optimistic that we can turn it around. Will it take some culling of the deadwood, bad managers and resting vesters...yes. And I don't think that should stop at even junior execs...why? Because we have some execs that couldn't innovate their way out of a paper bag. Today's all hands meeting with Jeff Raikes made that clear when he basically stated (and I'll paraphrase) that "we think that this VOIP thing is going to be big and we're coming up with a strategy". That's right...wow...as he puts it "people spend a lot on PBX technology and we think there is a better way"...NO SHIT YOU MORON!!! After sitting for two hours and listening to what amounted to marketing fodder, I am convinced that Jeff needs a whole new spate of talent in his executives AND probably needs to be replaced himself. Not to mention how afraid of blogging we are as a company. Jeff says, "and --thing-- is confidential for those of you who like to blog"...but to tell you the truth...I wouldn't have known what to blog, it was all stupid.

Bottom line...love this post, love this company. But on LisaB we will have to see it actually happen and on the company itself, well, I'm trying to kick ass, but can't see anyway to get ahead or get this company to get out of its own way.

Anonymous said...

AHA! This post finally proves it. Mini-Microsoft is Steve Ballmer.

Read the tone of this post again, especially the last line. Then try to disprove it.

Perhaps it's Steve plus some executive assistants. Perhaps even plus LisaB too. But it's definitely got the mark of Steve on it.

And I don't actually think it would be a bad thing if it was, not at all.

Anonymous said...

0 comments in 12 hours? Is that because of the proxy troubles in Redmond today?
That said, did anyone attend the MBD all-hands today where LisaB hinted at getting rid of the curve?

Anonymous said...

Top 5 Reasons to Work at Microsoft in Redmond

Work from 9-5 with two hour lunch break

Enjoy the serenity of the beautiful pacific northwest while boosting your resume

Great HR department that upholds washington state law and sets an example of company values

Compassionate senior management backed up by a deep bench of (S)VPs and partners

Last but not the least - work for the worlds richest (wo)men. Be part of a mean profit making machine.

Anonymous said...

I think Gates neeeds to be back as CEO if you want to save this company. Ballmer is going to run it into the groound by the stupid mindless hiring he is doing.

Anonymous said...

That said, did anyone attend the MBD all-hands today where LisaB hinted at getting rid of the curve?

Is that for real?

Anonymous said...

If you are by any chance an executive and you really want to make a difference, here's a hint: Office 12 and Vista absolutely suck. If they continue on their current course they will be a disaster for Microsoft.

It doesn't matter how much Office 12 and Vista sucks.

Your favorite consulting firm will say wait for service pack one.

Businesses will eventually upgrade when you cut off support for the old version of Windows and Office.

Whatever executives that are employed at the time of the upgrade will take credit for the financial results and get promoted.

They'll give lame speeches spouting their "ideas" for the future. Everybody gets "high" on life right after they get promoted and assumes it is because they know something everyone else doesn't and they feel some compulsion to share that "knowledge" with everyone else.

The chaotic cycle of Microsoft's style of software development will begin again on new releases of Office and Windows.

Anonymous said...

They say perception is reality. I left Microsoft a year or so ago after being there five years as a GM. When I started at Microsoft, I too loved the company. I had the passion everyone speaks of so fondly.

I then ran into my first 'professional Microsoft' PUM who was running a 300 person organization creating nothing. I called bullshit on his efforts, and had no idea what I was stepping into. This individual was hired into Microsoft from college (what I refer to as a 'Microsoft inbred') and had never experienced real life. I have three successful startups behind me, 8 rounds of VC money, VP of two different public companies. Guess who won the battles? Not me. I ended up working for someone with little mnagement experience, also a Microsoft inbred, and the rest is history. My background and experience, 7 patents filed at Micrsoft in five years, 5 ship-it awards and I get a 3.0 from a manager that had no clue.

Bitter? Me? Somewhat I guess. I left 250,000 worthless options on the table and the people that judged me are all still there.

So now the company I am running is starting to use CRM 3.0, and I am seeing the Microsoft world from the customer's eyes. CRM 3.0 is probably a classic example of the old Microsoft elevator controller joke that still circulates. It will do everything you want it to do, but it won't do anything out of the box. There is no support, I have a full-time person trying to figure out how to use it, and we keep running into absolutely odd engineering decisons (like tagging email subject lines with stuff that almost guarantees the email will get caught by all spam filters).

The customer's perception of Microsoft is that we will use this stuff up until the very moment something better is available. This isn't fostered by hate of Microsoft, anger, or any of the other seven deadly sins, just the fact that the software is garbage, doesn't work, isn't supported, buggy and causing companies lost productivity and money to fix and use.

To me, this is the thing Microsoft has to fix. From the software the customers have to use, it is clear there is no pride of ownership for the products Micrsoft creates. And that, my friends, is the kiss of death.

Anonymous said...

>AHA! This post finally proves it. Mini-Microsoft is Steve Ballmer.

Nope. I can't imagine Steve Ballmer knowing what BDSM is, much less using it in a post.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who want a special blog about how much you love Microsoft ... sit down, shut up and hang on.

Corporate reputations

The blog in the corporate machine
Feb 9th 2006 | CHICAGO
From The Economist print edition

Bloggers can be vicious, but they can also help companies avert disaster

THEY have always had their critics, but corporations are having an especially hard time making friends of late. Scandals at Enron and WorldCom destroyed thousands of employees' livelihoods, raised hackles about bosses' pay and cast doubt on the reliability of companies' accounts; labour groups and environmental activists are finding new ways to co-ordinate their attacks on business; and big companies such as McDonald's and Wal-Mart have found themselves the targets of scathing films. But those are just the enemies that companies can see. Even more troubling for many managers is dealing with their critics online—because, in the ether, they have little idea who the attackers are.

The spread of “social media” across the internet—such as online discussion groups, e-mailing lists and blogs—has brought forth a new breed of brand assassin, who can materialise from nowhere and savage a firm's reputation. Often the assault is warranted; sometimes it is not. But accuracy is not necessarily the issue. One of the main reasons that executives find bloggers so very challenging is because, unlike other “stakeholders”, they rarely belong to well-organised groups. That makes them harder to identify, appease and control.

---

Increasingly, companies are learning that the best defence against these attacks is to take blogs seriously and fix rapidly whatever problems they turn up.

http://economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5501039

Anonymous said...

So now the company I am running is starting to use CRM 3.0, and I am seeing the Microsoft world from the customer's eyes. CRM 3.0 is probably a classic example of the old Microsoft elevator controller joke that still circulates. It will do everything you want it to do, but it won't do anything out of the box. There is no support, I have a full-time person trying to figure out how to use it, and we keep running into absolutely odd engineering decisons (like tagging email subject lines with stuff that almost guarantees the email will get caught by all spam filters).


Why are you running CRM 3.0 if it is goofy?


If you do a search on Google for the following, you will find several open source CRM solutions supported by companies.

"commercial open source" crm

Anonymous said...

I then ran into my first 'professional Microsoft' PUM who was running a 300 person organization creating nothing. I called bullshit on his efforts, and had no idea what I was stepping into. This individual was hired into Microsoft from college (what I refer to as a 'Microsoft inbred') and had never experienced real life.

You have to remember, when HR gets stuck on finding candidates, GM's send out email asking employees to refer their friends to HR.

So, you get a lot of "buddies" at Microsoft plus the ones they make on the job.

If you don't know what relationships an employee or manager has at Microsoft with other managers, you're right you are stepping in it.

There are a fair number of people at Microsoft that have never shipped a product.

When you're just a cog in a big machine or you're higher up and can always blame the problem on someone else, you don't get put under the pressure that makes you figure out how to get the job done. A lot of the people that have worked at Microsoft a long time could not survive at a smaller company where they would have to produce a tangible product.

These people hang on to their jobs at Microsoft through whatever means necessary and go out of their way to eliminate those who would expose them.

They are more often found in "vague" professions where there is no tangible product.

Hence, the bloat in middle management.

Anonymous said...

In-bred old time msft vesters run the company (cronies). They lack inspiration and many lack any non-msft real world experience. They talk to us about Windows 95, the big bet on NT, and how they beat Lotus. Great.. Then they act like they invented the formula for that success (sorry that was Bill). But the current set of "partners" is lame.. They can't ship software anymore (or are not motivated to do so)..

Good new ideas get acquired from time to time and usually get screwed up.. but the good ones get away (e.g. google, skype, ebay..)..

There has not been a category win for Microsoft on steve's watch..

Without real leadership the tanker is headed for the reef.. Steveb is a failure by any measure..... It is time to do something decisive..

no arbitrary bug bar said...

Stopping the assembly line -

So, we need to make important things have visibility.

How do we put visibility on quality?

Maybe our ship-it awards should contain a footnote with the number of bugs that were not fixed.

Maybe the schedule should slip.

Maybe war teams should be chaired by someone from a division that reports straight to the Board of Directors with the authority to force teams to stop and fix the bugs.

Maybe we need to give sales groups and support groups the authority to drag the development group out to a customer site to see how horribly we screwed up.

Maybe sales groups and support groups could be given the authority to send a product back over the wall and tell the development team that the product won't work or can't be sold or will require too much support cost.

Maybe ship-parties should have a projection screen that scrolls through all of the bugs that were not fixed.

Maybe every postponed bug and won't fix bug needs to have a specific person's name on the decision and any customer repros will be forever listed on that person's review feedback.

Maybe after a product is shipped, new feature work on version + 1 should be blocked and the schedule should be on hold until the top 50% of postponed bugs are fixed.

...or maybe I should suggest these ideas to my lead so that I can be laughed out of his office because only BillG or SteveB have the level of authority to make any of this happen.

Anonymous said...

Man Mini, looks like you're letting a lot of the ABMers get through the comment filter. BTW, very good post. Totally agree with you about "change is either going to happen because we have executive leadership that steps up and cleans house or because the village is destroyed when enough of the pure talent moves on and all that's left are the village idiots leading meetings and initiatives of excellence" although not sure the village idiots aren't already in charge. Also agree strongly with the comments about quality gates. This BillG-inspired company mantra of ship something even if it's crappy and then gather feedback and improve is suicidal in this day and age. If version 1 isn't solid and doesn't provide an amazing customer experience, it shouldn't get shipped period. And if doing that takes more than 5 years, then MSFT needs to break itself into small teams who can actually deliver. MSFT needs to move to "undepromise and overdeliver" vs the current "way overpromise and way undeliver ethos".

The Nog said...

I think Gates neeeds to be back as CEO if you want to save this company. Ballmer is going to run it into the groound by the stupid mindless hiring he is doing.

I don't think Gates will ever do that. He stepped down after the antitrust fiasco. His performance on the stand was brutal.

Mitch said...

Re: Maybe you remember those Visual Studio 2005 posts I put out when users got a hold of the RTM bits and started posting, "Dang, sure crashes a lot. Dubya-tee-eff?" I still have people come by to share their latest frustrations with VS on those old posts. It doesn't matter how solid all those components are if there's one weak link in the IDE that crashes. It all comes down

I still don’t see what the issues are in VS2005. My staff and I have yet to run into a single crash. We have been using it everyday since it went RTM. Actually we have been using it since it was Beta.

Aside from SharePoint and custom ASP.NET apps in C# that we build, we also have WinFX loaded, Cider, DSL Toolkit and Sparkle. All running and working together with a few hiccups here and there – expected as these are CTP releases. We are also running and developing on Vista 5270 with just a few more hiccups.

In my opinion, some of these technologies are incredibly advanced. DSL Toolkit and XAML for example – how can anyone say these are not innovative technologies?

With respect to Kanban – the issue is that software development is trial and error at best. It is not a predictable and repeatable process. We have yet to industrialize software development like other industries have. Software Factories is another innovation at Microsoft that holds the promise of industrializing the software development process. But yet, I see few companies, including Microsoft embrace this type of product development approach. Why is that?

Dennis Howlett said...

I really do like that elephant story - can you imagine Ballmer in the 1-mile position and laughing that loud? Somehow I casn't see it - but I could if it was Ray Ozzie.

Anonymous said...

Accountability begins at the top.
This means that Gates, Ballmer, Raikes, and other old-timers need to "move on". These group VPs, senior VPs, division Presidents, etc. have been unable to even develop much less execute a credible growth strategy. LisaB will not ever be successful in the real task. A real Board of Directors would have acted years ago to clean this house of its old codgers and moss-backs.
Silicon Valley Product Manager

Anonymous said...

Your company's problem is crystal-clear to the entire world. Your upper management is incompetent. Instead of shipping your core products on a regular basis, they let them languish for five or six years between releases

Yep.. This is the problem alright. Not only at the top.. It goes through the ranks.. bad behavior and failed projects are rewarded with promotions and huge option packages.

The networking group is a perfect example.. the manager has failed to deliver anything but buggy, me-too software for years and years. Even networking on an Apple is easier and safer than on your PC. Compare setting up WiFi, finding a printer (bonjour), or configuring your VPN on a PC and on a Mac and you will know what I am talking about.

Sure Vista is going to be better.. It only took 6 years..

Over the years he has been a borderline performer.. complained a lot, and threatened often that he might go work for Cisco (best thing that could ever happen to msft).. so over time he got promoted to GM. But he just kept failing to come up with anything meaningful (crap ideas like going after Cisco with steelhead..). Blamed others.. lost teams, key employees, and then promoted to VP.

Now he just tortures us all with his HUGE ego, sh*t attitude, and abrasive behavior. What gives?

Microsophist said...

"I love Microsoft and that I don't want to work any place else."

Really? I can see why someone might love a company they founded or that is actively making them very rich. Unless you are Bill Gates or a partner, your love seems, well, ummm, just a little pathetic.

There are rational reasons to stay at MSFT - aversion to risk, stability, health benefits, etc. There are rational reasons to leave - bigger up$ide, more responsibility, less politics, etc. But don't sell your career short by convincing yourself it's about love.

Microsoft certainly doesn't love you, or anyone else for that matter.

Yours truly,
Microsophist

Anonymous said...

Over the years he has been a borderline performer.. complained a lot, and threatened often that he might go work for Cisco (best thing that could ever happen to msft).. so over time he got promoted to GM. But he just kept failing to come up with anything meaningful (crap ideas like going after Cisco with steelhead..). Blamed others.. lost teams, key employees, and then promoted to VP.

Now he just tortures us all with his HUGE ego, sh*t attitude, and abrasive behavior. What gives?


If you get rid of the assumption that he is playing fair to get promoted, there are several possibilities - 1) he has a relationship with someone higher up that makes it easier for him to advance, 2) he's got something on someone, 3) he delivers product that can be sold even if it is crap, etc.

You would have to know what he did in the past, who he worked with, etc. to come up with an idea of why he is still around if he is as bad as you say he is.

Anonymous said...

Software Factories is another innovation at Microsoft that holds the promise of industrializing the software development process. But yet, I see few companies, including Microsoft embrace this type of product development approach. Why is that?

They just started untangling components in Vista.

Microsoft Sharpens Its Software Factory Vision

As software factories co-author and Microsoft software architect Jack Greenfield initially told eWEEK over the summer, software factories use tools such as Microsoft's Visual Studio Team System, DSLs, patterns frameworks and guidance to build applications for specific industries or markets. However, the software factory approach is still somewhat futuristic and fits well with Rashid's talk on the future of programming.

Larry goes to Layer Court

One of the major initiatives that was ramped up with the Longhorn Windows Vista reset was the architectural layering initiative. The project had existed for quite some time, but with the reset, the layering team got serious.

What they've done is really quite remarkable. They wrote tools that perform static analysis of the windows binaries and they work out the architectural and engineering dependencies between various system components.

Anonymous said...

Maybe war teams should be chaired by someone from a division that reports straight to the Board of Directors with the authority to force teams to stop and fix the bugs.

How do you distinguish between politics and an actual quality problem if you don't have the technical expertise to make that decision?

How many people on the board of directors would understand a technical explanation of why there is a quality problem? They do not have a means of identifying who they should be listening to.

Microsoft PressPass – Microsoft Board of Directors

Anonymous said...

With respect to Kanban – the issue is that software development is trial and error at best. It is not a predictable and repeatable process. We have yet to industrialize software development like other industries have.

To anyone who has been through the Microsoft development cycle for several products/releases, it is very predictable.

1) New senior management comes in and hires as many friends as possible.

2) To show how much better they are than the previous management, they say they're going to ship a new release of the product in one year where every previous release in the history of the product has taken at least three years.

3) After many false starts on the project requiring friends to be replaced with other friends until a friend can get the job done, the specifications are written ... by development because PM is off at some conference somewhere. Don't worry they'll put their name on it when they get back.

4) Managers assign tasks that can be cut to people they want to cut. Other tasks are given to the loyal followers of their personality cult.

5) The scope of the project is scaled back as the new management slowly discovers why it takes so long to develop software. Maybe if you tell the 'puter you have an MBA it will go faster.

6) Everybody settles down to actually working after reality bites the new managers in the ass.

7) Management is safe because it will be years before most businesses even consider upgrading even after the product is released so they'll have plenty of time for service pack one to fix any oversights.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to give sales groups and support groups the authority to drag the development group out to a customer site to see how horribly we screwed up.

Hey, where's program management in all of this?

Oh, probably at a conference in Italy somewhere riding scooters around the city yelling "Ciao!". Either that or shopping for a new blue shirt and khaki pants.

They're the ones that are supposed to be representing customers during the development process.

Anonymous said...

So, we need to make important things have visibility.

How do we put visibility on quality?


They're making billions of dollars shipping products using their existing processes.

Why would they want to change?

It would be interesting to see reasons why they would take you up on your suggestions or anyone else's for that matter.

If you want to have any hope of convincing someone to change what they are doing, you should have a good reason why they would want to do it.

Anonymous said...


Maybe after a product is shipped, new feature work on version + 1 should be blocked and the schedule should be on hold until the top 50% of postponed bugs are fixed.


They're doing this over in DevDiv as part of MQ.

Anonymous said...

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.

So, if you want to see LisaB in action and what she's been talking about, there you go.

Anonymous said...

"Accountability begins at the top.
This means that Gates, Ballmer, Raikes, and other old-timers need to "move on". These group VPs, senior VPs, division Presidents, etc. have been unable to even develop much less execute a credible growth strategy. LisaB will not ever be successful in the real task. A real Board of Directors would have acted years ago to clean this house of its old codgers and moss-backs."

Agree. MSFT's execution had been ridiculously bad and it's inability to have ANY breakout successes despite being one of the largest and most profitable companies out there, is testament to massive group think at the top. Worse, as you suggest, there's little/no accountability. Indeed, you're far more likely to get gone at MSFT because you fail to suck up to your boss or make some other political faux pas versus failing miserably in your mandate. The latter will always get reformulated as a "learning" opportunity providing your political credits are in order. IMO, the Board should send Gates/Ballmer/Raikes packing and asap. That'll send a massive message to the thousands of underling slackers (including most of the partners) that this isn't the typical reorg where everyone just moves their chair. Then appoint someone from the outside. Maybe bring back Silverberg since the passage of time has shown that he had a clearer view that Gates on where the industry was going and what MSFT needed to do.

Anonymous said...

A bunch of Y'all seem to think quality is determined by how many bugs get punted by the "bug bar." Nope. It's determined during the design and implementation phase. By the time you've reached "code complete" your quality is 80% set in stone. You either have a product with a bunch of bugs that can be fixed, or a nearly hopeless mess that will take all your energy just to squeeze it out the door.

The comments about management and PM wasting the early part of the project is spot on. This is the cause of our quality problems. The people who are supposed to define the product and high-level design sit around with their thumbs up their butts doing nothing useful. Eventually, it's "time to start coding" even though there's no plan. The dev team has to pick up the slack, but by then it's so late, there's no time to do it right, because management can't admit it screwed up and restart the timeline. So dev designs the product on the fly, with PM cramming in more and more features all along the way, and quality is doomed.

Now we face another problem. We have huge chunks of poor quallity code that just can't be fixed - it needs to be replaced. But management hates that, and every time a dev says "we need to rewrite this mess" they're stigmatized and given a bad review score. And two years later, after heroic amounts of work, the quality is only marginally better and the worst bugs were punted again because, surprise, they require a major re-write to fix, and it's too late for that.

Until we replace our PUM/GM level with people who understand software design and the importance of architecture, we will continue to have terrible quality problems. But we keep promiting PMs to those jobs instead of Devs, and PMs only understand "features."

Now, does that mean I have a bad attitude, or am I just pissed off?

Anonymous said...

"You would have to know what he did in the past, who he worked with, etc. to come up with an idea of why he is still around if he is as bad as you say he is."

Ok jawad like anyone who would know the real dirt is not here (left ms or have left your team to greener pastures) or would actually play that kind of politics ... its typically career ending

Anonymous said...

I joined this company about 8 years ago thinking I was going to be a part of something worthwhile. I even accepted a pay cut because I was sure like past employees the "Golden Handcuffs" would pay off.

Things were great the first couple of years, I loved being a part of the MS culture and well the options at the time more than made up for the lack of salary and long hours and political BS. I learned so much and had a blast doing it!

but... after many years of salary compression, incompetent managers, watching the people that couldn't even pass a tech screen get hired anyway just to fill a spot while my teammates and I had to take up the slack I have decided MS sees no value in a long term dedicated employee so I put my notice in.

No I am not dead weight, there isn't a year that I have been here that I did not get a top contributor award from my group. Problem is all of this hard work, long hours and ridiculous amounts of stress still only amounted to at most 2-3% in salary bumps and comments from my manager telling me he had no control over what I got but always promising next time would be better.

For those of you sticking around to tuff it out good for you, I hope things turn out great. I on the other hand will be done with this company before the end of the month.

I of course will keep watching mini to see how the fight goes and who knows, maybe in a year or two if things have improved I will come back for that salary and level increase the person replacing me will for sure get being an outside candidate.

Goodbye Microsoft

Anonymous said...

Man, wouldn't it be great to have a leader like Jobs. The guy is an a-hole but he obviously uses and cares about the products he sells. It's not clear that Ballmer knows how to turn on a computer, and I don't know what the other execs do besides send out long and pointless e-mails about strategy or vision every couple years.

Anonymous said...

"So now the company I am running is starting to use CRM 3.0, and I am seeing the Microsoft world from the customer's eyes."

Hey, welcome to the club! There are a lot of us out there (small business in our case) who run our business daily using the most up to date Office versions.
CRM 3.0? try BCM v2. As well, throw in SBA 2006 sp2. Challenge for sure.
But...
We are lucky to have used the products thru the previous beta cycle and the current alpha cycle for developement of new versions.
As well...
Suggestions for improvement that I have personally submitted /wanted have been implemented.
Also...
The Team we are working with is very responsive to their customers suggestions and are doing a helluva job. Everyone that we have or are corresponding with have been (and are) very responsive to any submissions made. Thank You! We very much appreciate the opportunity to contribute.
As a customer with no coding experience and a business totally unrelated, I am very pleased to see Mini's topic for discussion this time.

Customer

Anonymous said...

Blamed others.. lost teams, key employees, and then promoted to VP.

Now he just tortures us all with his HUGE ego, sh*t attitude, and abrasive behavior. What gives?

If you get rid of the assumption that he is playing fair to get promoted, there are several possibilities - 1) he has a relationship with someone higher up that makes it easier for him to advance, 2) he's got something on someone, 3) he delivers product that can be sold even if it is crap, etc.

> He is an engineer. He has delivered when mattered. Has the intellectual horse power and passion. They gave a HR person from home depot to go fix his weakness. The HR person made things worse and played more political games like home depot. Kick the home depot HR out and replace with a more decent person.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you how I know that SteveB doesn't care about employees or even listen to the rank and file or even worse read their mail. I have a friend (no, not me, I really do) that is still in a group that I used to be in. Well every year he gets really drunk at MGB and rips off a mail to SteveB showing not only his pithy wit, but also his disdain for company management, his cynicism as well as a peppering of colorful adjectives. In reading these mails, I marvel at how he doesn't lose his job on the spot for sending them to the CEO no less. And to date...he is 100% on getting a response from SteveB within 24 hours. And they all sound like a variation on his last response, "Great stuff, keep up the good work".

Steve doesn't listen or care. Here's a man with billions in the bank. Would you care? Bill and Steve would love to think that the company would miss them in any number of measurable ways. What egos...the answer is NOOOOO we would not miss you and the market would reward our stock if you left....please do us a favor.

Anonymous said...

I left the company about a year ago after 9 years in Dev and PM to work with a buddy (also former MSFT) who has a small MS certified partner SI shop. Shortly after I left I recieved a letter from LCA that was very nasty. They basically threatened to sue me if I disclosed any trade secrets or tried to recruit anyone. I left on great terms, satisfied that I had fulfilled my duties and made a difference at the company. When I left I had a warm place in my heart for MSFT..

Once I only had good things to say about the company -- Now I am pretty pissed..

I have not heard anything further about the letter. I called the dork who signed it but he never returned my call..

Has anyone else had this happen to them when they leave?

Anonymous said...

He is an engineer. He has delivered when mattered. Has the intellectual horse power and passion. They gave a HR person from home depot to go fix his weakness.

OH BOY not again -- its the Microsoft honored "sure he is a little rough around the edges but he wrote some great code back in the day" excuse. If I hear it once more I will just PUKE..

This is why we are here today (reading this and trying to figure out if there is any hope)..

Trying to fix him is pathetic, I agree. Mostly because the underlying assumptions about his continued value are broken. The company needs to have a team that is empowered to invent with management that can guide and support.

At most he has delivered the bare uninspired minimum.

Meanwhile his "weakness" has a huge cost to the company. He destroys initiative.

How about a shred of managerial competence? Is that too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

The HR person made things worse and played more political games like home depot. Kick the home depot HR out and replace with a more decent person.

-----------

AMEN to that ... Bye Terri ... the indians are starting to surround your wagon. Can we come help you pack?

While Jawad has management flaws, he does not have the strongest supporting cast underhim. They are strong at being incompentent. NIS, NetXP, bizdev (mahmood?) geezus

Nice job Alexandru ...

Anonymous said...

Problem is all of this hard work, long hours and ridiculous amounts of stress still only amounted to at most 2-3% in salary bumps and comments from my manager telling me he had no control over what I got but always promising next time would be better.

That's what you call over the rainbow cost management. If you keep chasing rainbows, you believe you'll get the prize .... next time.

They can't afford or won't spend the money to pay everyone what they are worth so they reward a certain percentage of employees; just enough to give most people hope that next time someone will reward them for their hard work.

The best way to get a raise is to change companies.

If they don't offer you more when you tell them you're leaving, then they really don't care whether you go or stay.

That is when you find out if the company you love loves you back. Do you want to know?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure someone in finance could give a more accurate representation of employee costs but you will still understand the point I am making.

The Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2005 was 4.9%.

If you look at the income statement for Microsoft", payroll and employee benefits is in the $6.2 billion Research and Development costs.

Increase the Research and Development costs just by COLA of 4.9% and you roughly add another $300 million in employee related costs for 61000 employees.

If you don't have a curve controlling employee compensation and you reward everyone doing equally good work, can Microsoft afford to do that?

If they get rid of the curve, will it really be gone or will it just be redefined as something else?

Another way they can control costs is by controlling how many people get promoted. Are you not getting promoted because you don't deserve it or because they are controlling costs?

Employee evaluations will still not be a transparent process. You will still have to take their word for how well you did.

Whatever they come up with next, if you are not one of the lucky few they deem worthy of an increase in compensation, you're still better off seeing what offer you can get at another company. It is the only reality check you have.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have a curve controlling employee compensation and you reward everyone doing equally good work, can Microsoft afford to do that?

As has been mentioned before, a huge chunk of the money we spend on salaries and bonuses goes to Partners and VPs. The company has decided on a salary structure that pays top dollar for executives and marginal dollars for front line worker-bees.

If we were Target or Sears, where front-line worker-bees are easily replaced cogs, that might make sense. But in our industry, front-line worker-bees and the knowledge they have are the primary asset of the company. Setting up this kind of salary structure is suicide.

Not for the execs, they're set for life already. But the Board is failing the shareholders badly.

Anonymous said...

Shortly after I left I recieved a letter from LCA that was very nasty. They basically threatened to sue me if I disclosed any trade secrets or tried to recruit anyone.

When I asked to see my personnel records, an employee right in Washington State, they gave my attorney the run around for weeks until he had repeatedly made the point that they would be breaking the law if they did not show me my personnel records.

The best way to get an answer to why you got the letter is to get an attorney and have them ask why you got the letter. You will get an answer eventually.

Did you do something silly like join the Microsoft Alumni Association so they could keep tabs on you? Or, did your employer, because he is also a former Microsoft employee, take advantage of the health insurance coverage through the MSA. That way, they could see that two former Microsoft employees ended up in the same company.

It sounds like they are worried about losing talented employees. Maybe the rate at which they are leaving is accelerating to the point where they are sending out letters like that.

Anonymous said...

OH BOY not again -- its the Microsoft honored "sure he is a little rough around the edges but he wrote some great code back in the day" excuse. If I hear it once more I will just PUKE..

---

I concur ... RAS was not the best code or solution ever put forth .... it took them forever to generalize network setup, provisioning and management and in Vista it is still not integrated.

Anonymous said...

>>If they don't offer you more when you tell them you're leaving, then they really don't care whether you go or stay.
>>That is when you find out if the company you love loves you back. Do you want to know?

Actually that will piss me off even more-If I am worth it, they should give me what I deserve without asking-else they should not give me irrespective of whether I am leaving or not.

But sadly in reality the opposite happens- I was putting in 12-14 hrs a day 6 days a week for more than 6 months and 12 hrs 5 days a week for an year-My test manager never thought to reward me-Then I said i want to interview with another group-He delayed it by more than 6 months and finally when i said I have a job and I am moving out to another team, then he offered me a lead postion and a promotion if I stay in the same team-I did not- It is pathetic management not to reward people until they give the news that they are moving out-If he had thought of rewarding me before, I would have stayed in the group.

Anonymous said...

"Has anyone else had this happen to them when they leave?"

No, all I got was a HR person that never responded when I asked for a copy of the non-compete agreement so I could make sure that I wasn't going to be in violation when I started my next job.

Anonymous said...

More praise for the colossally pathetic job Ballmer's doing:

Lacking identity, Microsoft stock crawls along

TheKhalif said...

They can't afford or won't spend the money to pay everyone what they are worth so they reward a certain percentage of employees; just enough to give most people hope that next time someone will reward them for their hard work.


That's not a good excuse. MS pockets $1 billion a month. If the average salary per month(dev\test\pm) is $5000\month then MS could drop half the month's profits(every 3 months) and pay out an extra $1000 to 500,000 employees.

Anonymous said...

That's not a good excuse. MS pockets $1 billion a month. If the average salary per month(dev\test\pm) is $5000\month then MS could drop half the month's profits(every 3 months) and pay out an extra $1000 to 500,000 employees.

An extra $2 billion in employee compensation would represent about 16% of their net income.

It depends upon whether they see talented employees as an investment that will generate a lot more income or as simply an expense that can be minimized by off-shoring and replacing more highly paid employees with new graduates.

Given their plans to expand the campus and increase head count, I do not believe they will increase employee compensation by much. It would interfere with their expansion plans.

Anonymous said...

He delayed it by more than 6 months and finally when i said I have a job and I am moving out to another team, then he offered me a lead postion and a promotion if I stay in the same team-I did not- It is pathetic management not to reward people until they give the news that they are moving out-If he had thought of rewarding me before, I would have stayed in the group.

If they can get away with not giving you a raise or a promotion, they will do it because it improves their balance sheet.

If you complain, they'll evaluate whether giving you a raise or a promotion is worth it in their estimation or if hiring a new graduate for less money makes more sense to them or if getting an internal transfer that will work for the same salary makes sense.

Depending upon what they say in response to your request for a raise or a promotion, you find out whether you're a "cog" or someone they think is vital to their success.

The whole "next time" ploy may work a few times before someone either accepts being a "cog" or they discover that they can't meet their goals with the company.

If you just need a paycheck, then "cog" it is. In that case, the job of postal carrier has much better hours.

Anonymous said...

Not for the execs, they're set for life already. But the Board is failing the shareholders badly.

How many of the Board of Directors understand the software business well enough to know why the way things currently are is hurting the company?

They see the income statement and everything looks good to them.

They'll let things slide until they have to do something about it. Because, before that event occurs, they won't even realize there is a problem.

They got a small taste of it with Vista but that's under "control" now.

Anonymous said...

I concur ... RAS was not the best code or solution ever put forth .... it took them forever to generalize network setup, provisioning and management and in Vista it is still not integrated.

> It is a hard problem. The person in question is a hands on leader that runs a very lean team. There are very few PMs in this group that talk rubbish. Compare this to the shell/IE team. This VP hasn't made the same business mistakes as the IE VP who abandoned IE only to restart the project once firefox started firing.

There people complaining against him are lazy bums who got forced to work or people with axe to grind.

Anonymous said...

When I asked to see my personnel records, an employee right in Washington State, they gave my attorney the run around for weeks until he had repeatedly made the point that they would be breaking the law if they did not show me my personnel records.

--

I had the same experience.

My Hr person (the wonderful Home Depot HR rep in NDT) acted like there was no such record or employee profile. After 2 weeks of run-around I did get it ... interestingly items in there were inconsistent with items I took/received when I resigned (e.g. document dates were off by 2 months).

Terri Ebert does need to be fired.

I get contacted all the time now from recruiters from MS (would you ever consider coming back) and its like you don't want the truth on why I wont come back.

I did go through 2 interview loops with groups which seemed healthy and I knew some of the members (we went back for years) and I was over qualified for the positoin. The interviews were cut short with the "fill in some bs" response. My buddy was not even allowed to be in the loop and subsequently told me that HR/Recruiting forced the loop short.

Happened on the second one too, it was killed before it started.

Lisa - fix this ... fix your recruiting ... fix your hr org .. stop the games ... good employees will come back if you fix the blacklisting and relative marking games.

Anonymous said...

>OH BOY not again -- its the Microsoft honored "sure he is a little rough around the edges but he wrote some great code back in the day" excuse. If I hear it once more I will just PUKE..

He has filed for a wireless patent with Microsoft Research a few months back. People are mad at him as he got rid of some high level PM types who werent doing anything.

Anonymous said...

You see where I'm going here? This is Microsoft...Microsoft! There is an appeal with most employees whether they want to admit it or not, that keeps them coming back for more. Like a drug. It's Microsoft. Not only is it just so cool to be a part of it, we really BELIEVE the magic..some maybe a little less than others but mostly we still have those stars in our eyes. We believe that we've "arrived" because we're here and we want so badly to believe we can regain the magic of the good ole days.

I see what you’re saying – its basically fool’s gold. Microsoft will regain its footing, products will sell, the stock price will move again. But for you as an individual (not an employee but an individual) how many weeks-months-years is the appropriate time to give your life over to Microsoft? I don’t care how golden KJ becomes, the MS culture is pervasive and consuming. We find spare time to blog, but that doesn’t mean that are minds, even in our spare time, aren’t wrapped leech-like around work issues. To give up that many intellectual cycles to work – to a ‘corporate vision’ - isn't normal or healthy. Some of you are barely hanging onto your jobs – fearful that if you lose them you will lose all the status and cache that comes with working at Microsoft. Let it go. Ride the horse as long as its fun, but when it stops being fun, let it go.

Anonymous said...

>My Hr person (the wonderful Home Depot HR rep in NDT) acted like there was no such record or employee profile. After 2 weeks of run-around I did get it ... interestingly items in there were inconsistent with items I took/received when I resigned (e.g. document dates were off by 2 months).
--

Looks like your documents were edited after they gave you a copy. Your HR rep can sure do that to you.

TheKhalif said...

That's not a good excuse. MS pockets $1 billion a month. If the average salary per month(dev\test\pm) is $5000\month then MS could drop half the month's profits(every 3 months) and pay out an extra $1000 to 500,000 employees.

An extra $2 billion in employee compensation would represent about 16% of their net income.

It depends upon whether they see talented employees as an investment that will generate a lot more income or as simply an expense that can be minimized by off-shoring and replacing more highly paid employees with new graduates.

Given their plans to expand the campus and increase head count, I do not believe they will increase employee compensation by much. It would interfere with their expansion plans.



That was just a small example. If you notice it added up to 500,000 employees, there are probably only 15-30,000 people in dev\test\pm. To give a "we appreciate you" gift would cost a mere $30,000,000. It could be every 6 months for $60,000,000\year.

The point is that MS makes more than enough to reward the people who don't know their kids' names because they spend all their time making money for the executive team.

I hate to say good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Mini you should be made a partner or corporate VP asap. You have taken a very significant risk to show a true picture in the product teams. Your work has the potential to save Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

The company has decided on a salary structure that pays top dollar for executives and marginal dollars for front line worker-bees.

There are so many more worker-bees than executives that even giving them a cost of living adjustment every year amounts to a lot of money.

Did you get at least a 4.9% raise last year for the increase in cost of living?

If they increase salaries to market rates because the stock is not performing, the amount in employee payroll costs will go up a significant amount.

If you also get rid of the curve and assume that Microsoft hires smart people, there would be a lot more people getting bonuses and stock grants every year as well as promotions.

If you then look at the rate of revenue growth and the plans for an increase in head count, it doesn't seem like that is going to happen to me.

Who da'Punk said...

Hey there, Jawad and Terri fans!

I'm going to have to up the bar a bit regarding posts focused on those two favorites. It seems as though there is a lot to share, and that resentment might warrant a post or two of their own on your own blog.

If you do so, I'd be happy to link to it.

Take care,
Mini.

Anonymous said...

"That's not a good excuse. MS pockets $1 billion a month. If the average salary per month(dev\test\pm) is $5000\month then MS could drop half the month's profits(every 3 months) and pay out an extra $1000 to 500,000 employees."

1. There are not 500,000 employees but only 60,000.
2. $1,000 dollars are not even peanuts and are not going to decrease a single comment on this blog.
3. $1,000 are peanuts even in a developing country like India. But they may still appreciate it.
4. Getting an extra bonus without a proportional increase in revenue is a bad deal for employees too (and of course it is a bad-deal for share-holders.) Why? Because though extra bonus is a small portion of revenue, it could be a bigger portion of profit and even bigger portion of profit growth. We will see a corresponding decrease in the value of whatever miniscule number of stocks we have.
5. In a capital economy it is generally a bad idea to give more than market rate. It is clear that Microsoft does give at market rate. Otherwise there would be a massive resigning, which it is not. True Microsoft gives salary at 65 percentile but then microsoft hires at 65 perentile too. We all who are still working at 65 percentile rate probably are 65 percentile in terms of quality. Otherwise we by now must have resigned. The bad part is that this aspect we do not realize and start a blog like mini and start putting comments on such blogs.

Repeat after me. We are engineers of 65th percentile quality.

Anonymous said...

The point is that MS makes more than enough to reward the people who don't know their kids' names because they spend all their time making money for the executive team.

You would be cutting them a lot of slack if you settled for an extra $1000 per year.

That would not cover an increase in the cost of living which a lot of people aren't getting now.

It is a lot like taking it out of your salary and then giving you a "gift" out of what was taken away.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, Jawad and Terri fans....

Thanks Mini, you read my mind. I have been reading this blog for a long time and I can swear this is still the same guy who was fired from NDT that is depositing a thousand similar posts per second castigating these two. This has been going on for several months now.

Like several people have pointed out, "Dude you were fired, go learn another trade".

...did go through 2 interview loops with groups which seemed healthy and I knew some of the members (we went back for years) and I was over qualified for the positoin. The interviews were cut short with the "fill in some bs" response. My buddy was not even allowed to be in the loop and subsequently told me that HR/Recruiting forced the loop short.

Happened on the second one too, it was killed before it started.


If you were any good you would have found other positions within the company but as you report here, 2 loops that involved you were cut short. An internal candidate must absolutely stink for a loop to be cut short. And No, HR doesn't recommend a loop to be cut short. The pile of "No Hires" from the interviewers do the job.

MS has not lost anything with your firing, from what I can deduce. We want to get rid of fat, and I think your firing was a good decision. If you disagree, post your name (afterall you no longer work at MS and can't be fired again) and I will thoroughly investigate your complaints against Jawad and Terri.

paraviya said...

To your comment that Microsoft engineers are at the 65th percentile, so the "free market" principles are perfectly at work -

I have seen bright young men joining this company, working hard, developing some amazing feature-sets. A couple of years pass and these kids learn to make decisions - they understand that writing software is 1% of the puzzle. What to write, why to write, what is the cost of everything you write - they start asking these questions. Sometimes these kids get together with like minded kids and they realize the collosal stupidity and malevolent destructiveness of Microsoft.

Once they realize this, they are on the "out". This is how "Corporate Confidential" applies to the Microsoft world. Sometimes these kids leave and become much happier and succesful outside. The others get sidelined, frustrated and broken of spirit. Judging by the effect this company has had on some of my close friends, I can only extrapolate the massive social cost to which Microsoft needs to be held accountable. It is a levithian of insatiable appetite that feeds off young blood, a giant spider that sucks so much talent (life blood), squeezes the life and throws out the carcass.

Is this hard to understand? From wherein springs this wanton appetite, and for what cause? Look no further than what young motivated people have done outside the company. Microsoft does what it does best - crushing competition - by preventing it in the first place. As the age-old adage goes, prevention is indeed better than the cure.

But all is not lost. Some unique individuals at MS will sharpen their minds - like the knife that sharpens on a rough stone - they will mold themseleves new, refusing to be crushed under a giant iron fist. They will bring the world the beauty of their creation. They will be the lillies of innovation rising out of the political sludge of the back-stabbing swamp.

So are you in? Are you one of those who really want to leave your mark in the world - or prefer to live in the murky sludge of relative safety? Are you the young boy who tells Achilles that he'd never fight the giant, or are you the one that replies "that is why nobody will remember you" and then goes off to kill that savage?

The sooner you decide - the sonner we'll all see a better world for us, our children, the world. I wish you courage to make that happen.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini,

How about a discussion focused on strategy and new business oppty. There is a lot of griping here about reviews and bad managers. Back in the good old days we had bad managers and crappy HR practices but we had lots of growth and fun new business opportunities. People did not seem to notice when there were competitors and new markets to win.

Some ideas:

Devices: phones, MP3 players, gameboy, PSP

VoIP: a real Skype competitor

An online commerce platform (think ebay v2)

RSS based media platform (think iTunes v2)

Lets start looking outward and forward and not so much inward and backward..

Anonymous said...

"Thanks Mini, you read my mind. I have been reading this blog for a long time and I can swear this is still the same guy who was fired from NDT that is depositing a thousand similar posts per second castigating these two. This has been going on for several months now."


** There have been a few people who have been removed or left networking (and Windows in general). Instead of trying to protect those "in control" and casting the various posters as some inept / disgruntled set of individual/individuals accept the fact there are multiple posters (some of whom were riffed, some who were fired and some of whom resigned) those of which are clearly sounding off here on the issues and people causing the havoc.

This is a public posting so agree to read or disagree to read, it is your choice. Keep redirecting all you want if you feel that "protects" Microsoft (but readers will make their own decisions here).

Jawad has a glass house accept it.

"If you were any good you would have found other positions within the company but as you report here, 2 loops that involved you were cut short. An internal candidate must absolutely stink for a loop to be cut short."

** again you minimize the various posters trying to raise the light of issues here. HR does get involved, maybe you don't consider recruiting a non-part of HR. In my case, i have witnessed and have evidence of this (but I guess you really didn't read the post).

i had a loop cancelled before it started. The feedback the manager gave me was HR told them not to bring me in.

Since personal files have been adjusted to "protect" microsoft, why would you think the ability to remark any feedback as "no hire" is not possible.


"MS has not lost anything with your firing, from what I can deduce."

** I think you got me confused, I resigned as I didn't see the "we are going to set you up because we don't like you" before it was too late for transfer.

"We want to get rid of fat, and I think your firing was a good decision. If you disagree, post your name (afterall you no longer work at MS and can't be fired again) and I will thoroughly investigate your complaints against Jawad and Terri. "

** Again, I think you have me confused with someone else, I personally resigned ... I am still working at Microsoft but not a full time capacity.

Leave your name / contact and I will get ahold of you.

Anonymous said...

"we keep running into absolutely odd engineering decisons (like tagging email subject lines with stuff that almost guarantees the email will get caught by all spam filters)"

Actually, you don't have to use tracking tokens in 3.0. You can disable the feature altogether. You can also configure tracking tokens to look the way you want (ex: "your order #245745" or "amazon ref-499"). Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hey, where's program management in all of this?

...

They're the ones that are supposed to be representing customers during the development process.


This is a common view but is wrong. That is product managements job. Program Management is responsible for managing the project schedule and feature set as well as communicating status to all stakeholders. Most teams don't have any product managers and it somehow gets assigned to PM's. This usually makes them bad PM's for accepting this additional role which they are unlikely qualified for.

Anonymous said...

Program Management should be on the hook for "customer empathy" during the design process.

I buy that Product Management has the primary relationship with the Market and its demands for features, functionality, etc.

But, there are countless decisions made by Prog. Mgmt. as they design the implementation of Prod. Mgmt's. requirements. Many of these decisions have the ability to impact customer satisfaction.

Prod. Mgmt. will give you user profiles. Prog. Mgmt. should give you user "use" scenarios and I consider that a primary function of their job.

9 years @ MSFT, former manager of managers, currently an IC by choice...ymmv.

Anonymous said...

I love Microsoft, but I absolutely hate my manager! Just like the other blogger who threw in the towel, I am just about ready to leave my dream of making it big in Microsoft - and I will attribute all that to my very incompetent manager. He has no experience managing people before, was hired by Microsoft from college (a 100% inbred!!), has never seen the outside world and he is a GPM of of a product where he does not have the slightest clue or background on any of the technologies we use. Such incompetency!! I've been in Microsoft just about six years and I've had a great manager before I decided to move to this new group. I loved the prodcut but I now realize that my manager is making it impossible for me to work. That, was the biggest mistake I made. Now I realize that your manager can really make or break your future in Microsoft. This guy who should not be a manager has no leadership skills, no vision, and is not even strategic. He is great at micromanaging (insecure managers have to micromanage to prove they are in control). My stress level has gone up 500% since moving in this new team and this new manager. At the same time, my confidence and self-esteem have taken a severe beating. Being near 40 years of age, having experience starting and selling my own company, being a consultant for many years, with a number of patents and awards from customers and with a variety of other experience - this guy (my manager) still treats me and the team as if I know nothing. Giving him feedback is like declaring open war with him. He takes things personally and it is just about impossible for me to deal with him. Another month and I really want out of here. I don't think at 40 I can take any more of this BS and being treated like an inmate!!

It is managers like him that really make this company a hell hole.

Lutz said...

Hi there

Interesting story I am reading here as former MS FTE (MSN Germany, not really Microsoft!).

I see most of the problems that you see quite the same way and would like to say that if you raise the look over to other MS departments, especially in Europe, you'll see even more of those - as I call them - stock option cadavers. People that have only one goal: staying with Microsoft as long as possible by simply burning employees that they should manage, motivate and enable to bring in the best possible work based upon their talents.

I would call myself a talented, team oriented, focussed employee with very good skills in my working field. I am not so wrong with my point of view, I can easily recognize that by looking on the list of companies that want to hire me (yes, THEY want ME!). But that didn't help me at all back then when I started working for Microsoft's MSN department in Germany in september 2000. I never managed to reach a higher review rating than 3 - no matter what I did in the following 2.5 years. I know the words so well "I would rate you 3.5 or 4 but I can't, I am sorry!". It is obviouse that the system eats it's own kids even more outside of MS Campus.

Yes, I am disappointed that I had to leave this company end of 2002 because my work was not needed anymore (done by a cooperations partner then). But I can still say that I see great potential for Microsoft if they only start quick enough to get rid of those who just care for their benefits, merrit increase and stock option programs and get back to where MS ones started: Hiring and encouraging talents, keeping them happy by reviewing and rewarding their work and move those who are only glued on their seats out of the door!

Best regards - keep the good work up - Lutz

Anonymous said...

On leaving Microsoft - I left the MSN/WL division a couple of months ago with an overwhelming sense of relief that the long nightmare was over. What drove me out was the stunning lack of confidence anyone had about our future, the frightening lack of interest in our end user (have you tried to use maps from Live Search?), the pointless monthly revamps of the organization (unhappy people being shifted into undefined unrealistic roles), the continuous turnover of senior management, the dreadful collective arrogance of senior execs (Ballmer being the case in point).
Most classic memory I have is of pointing out to my GM that I had 11 'priorities', more than any sane person could cope with. Instead of helping me truly prioritize among these she merely added 5 more to the pile.
Desperately sad.