Monday, March 27, 2006

Passionate Microsofties

The most interesting perspective I've seen on the conversation carried on here at Mini-Microsoft, especially given the Vista 2007 tirade (how's that for an example of quality corporate blogging?), came today from Musings of a Merry Mad Monk in the post Microsoft, Your Slip Is Showing (Passion)... a snippet:

[...] Skewering the Microsoft leadership. Calling for heads to roll. Frustration. Disgust. Dark humor. Cynicism. Optimism. Pessimism. Rage. Love. Hate.

Another reason -- big reason -- why the Microsoft commenters are so passionate: They give a damn. Whatever else you may think about their comments, their Give-A-Damn meter is registering in the Green. Sure, it may seem like I've got it ass backwards and they're pegged out in the dreaded Red zone.

I'm sure a few are indeed red-zoning, but what I see mostly are folks who want to to be the best. They want their team to be the best. They are proud people. They are winners. They hate the thought of losing -- in any endeavor... to any person or thing.

The people who work for Microsoft are not only some of the best minds in the computer industry, they give a damn about what they do. That is a good thing.

The particular post is well worth the full read.

So don't get me confused with the hate-ridden Microsoft bashers of the world (of whom I've been greased over with over the past week... oy). I know Microsoft can turn it around and the incoming generation of Microsofties will get the company back on track and make it a lean, mean, efficient customer pleasing profit making machine. Because we want things done right. If Microsofties didn't care about doing a good job and making Microsoft as good as it can be - forget comparing Microsoft to other corporate beasts, I'm comparing Microsoft to the best Microsoft it's capable of being - Mini-Microsoft wouldn't be at almost 7,000 comments.

(Okay, okay, not all of those comments are from Microsofties or ex-Microsofties... but it's a good chunk.)

There are problems. I feel it important to shine a public light on them so that they can be addressed and prioritized higher than figuring out which business group's features can be innovatingly entangled into another business group's upcoming release... it's also sort of a yodel from one business group to another, "Yodel-lay-dee-hoooo! Automation is kicking out useless, time-consuming issues and I can't check-in my security comments without failing 20 feature tests! How now for you out there?"

And my one final dream is that the shareholders will start putting their collective foot down and demanding effective change.

As for my passion check: either

(a) I'm extremely passionate about Microsoft for doing this blogging intervention to put it back on track and live up to its potential, or...

(b) I'm one heck of a corporate psychological study.

I'm betting on passion.


Administrivia: I've really cranked up the bar for moderating comments. About one third are being thrown into the bit-bucket coz I'm just plain not interested in hosting your anti-Microsoft negativity. I'm one cranky blogger... who only has himself to blame for his predicament. I still feel bad for (most) every comment I decline to post because I know someone spent a lot of time typing that up.

Don't let this happen to you. Save yourself some time if you're not adding signal to help suss-out solutions to the problems Microsoft is facing. There are plenty of other places looking to party with your bad self.


134 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to see at least some of the developers standing up for what's going on at Microsoft.

I sit here as a third year Computer Science undergrad. In two years I have to decide what I'm going to do with my degree. I've spent the last couple years focusing on Microsoft technologies (.NET, DirectX, etc...) thinking that's where the market is going to stay. After reading about all these issues going on at Microsoft it worries me.

The largest project I've worked on are dwarfed by Windows, I know. But the more and more you build on top of NT, the rockier it gets.

You've got a great start on the Singularity project in R&D. Granted, I haven't seen it in action (c'mon Channel9!), and I know it's not even close to something usable, but it's an idea.

I'm sure the excellent engineers at Microsoft can come up with a compatiblilty module to put on top of the Singularity project.

Anonymous said...

Mini, I have been with this company for a while now and have had my fair share of all niters!
Not that I am complaining about it, but I have never been rewarded for it. Its either my GM or Director/PUM getting all the credit for the work myteam/I did.

Screw the credit but if you want the passion to come alive in the windows org, get a few things straight. (I hope either Brian Valentine or someone else with "balls" will read and act on this)

1. Get that startup culture back into windows. You got 6 months till we ship. As much as I hate to say this as a manager, get that midnight oil burning. We ship a damn OS once in 5 years, the best we can do is lose 6 months of something called as "life". Screw HR and there BS. DO WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE AND GET THIS SHIPPED!

2. Free lunch and dinner for everyone that works on Vista. Everday I leave work telling myself I will come back after dinner but never do. Why do I need to leave for dinner? Bring it to me! Get nannies, convert conf rooms into kids playgrounds, hire house cleaners ... Do what ever it takes to keep your employees at work and get stuff done. (If you calculate the bad press and stock value degradation caused by the slip, a million dollars spent on employee's doesnt seem that bad). Now is the worse time of all to cut cost of such things. And please bring back those weekly WIM's :)

3. Reward you performers. The Vista hero posters are nice ... They catch an eye everytime someone stops by my office. Do more of such things. Get the pride rolling!

4. Put those middle managers to some good use. What do I mean here? Have them order dinner, ABSORB MORE RANDMIZATIONs (Inturn have the leads write code and do more technical stuff than attending meetings and writing mails!), etc.

Windozer's still have a lot of passion in them. I am sick and tried of listening to how everything around here sucks and how morale is the lowest. This came up the other day and I asked a group of pretty capable folks why they did'nt do anything around it? Guess what the answer was? They all were waiting for the first step. All of them said they would work late nights and weekend to get this baby out of the door but wanted to see someone take that first step.

Well here's the chance! Show us that first step. Before you know it you'll have an army of microsoftie waiting to do the "right thing".

Anonymous said...

For those of us who have experienced Microsoft at its best, and pine for it, the great thing about this blog is the light it continues to shine on the issues facing the company; issues that are swept under the carpet internally.

What amazes and distresses me is the degree to which the passion we all have to make the best software in the world, and to remake Microsoft in its old hard core image, is thwarted internally.

While we take a guilty pleasure in seeing the bottom-of-the-barrel poll results which confirm our most cynical ideas about where we've gone as a company, the sad reality is that nothing seems to be happening to change the big issues that always come up (compensation, cross-team-communication, review system) and there is no evident way that we can affect any kind of change. We're left hoping for the best when the latest reshuffling (but sadly never axeing) happens and keeping our heads down trying to at the minimum do the right thing on our components.

I was mildly optimistic about the LisaB listening tour but it's almost April and the promised follow up with a plan hasn't happened. I'm still hopeful but the chances of anything substantive happening this review period appear to be waning.

It's tempting to tough it out through the Vista release with the hope that Sinofsky will work to dismantle the onerous processes that have practically strangled Vista and replace them with some old-school Microsoft approaches that focus on technical feature teams of pm, dev, and test being given a vision and running with it.

The problem is that this is what we keep doing year after year and instead of things getting better they only seem to get worse: more buearaucracy, more middle-managers spouting "innovation" and "synergy", more focus on automation (the opiate of the manager masses), more insulting raises, and on and on.

In the end we'll continue for at least awhile to fight for the customer and deliver the best possible software because that's what we care deeply about. But if we don't see real change soon, the demoralization and defections around us will eventually reach a tipping point and even the most dyed-in-the-wool Microsofties will throw in the towel. The real way to avert this is to clean house: do a mass layoff of the mediocre performers, push out the partners who haven't contributed to actually shipping anything for years, and the VPs who just aren't performing.

It's time to hold people accountable. If this Vista debacle goes by without clear accountability of those who perpetrated this mess (at all levels, IC through exec) then a lot of us who still believe will lose hope and either join the ranks of the disillusioned or move on to greener pastures. God help Microsoft if that happens.

Shachar Shemesh said...

Hey Mini,

I have a question for you. For some time now you have been claiming that MS can turn into a lean, mean, quality company.

When is the point where you would say "damn, that's just not going to happen"?

I'm not saying it won't. I really don't know the company well enough. Standing on the outside, it seems like everything MS does smells of "same old".

In other words, what is the advantage of a Microsoft turned lean and mean over any new company coming along and starting over (except the obvious advantage, which is that other companies have the MS monopoly to work against. Then again, it seems that this is precisely the same resisting force that stops MS from BECOMING lean and mean).

Shachar

Anonymous said...

On another post, you recommended that a young person turn down a full-time offer at Microsoft, and yet here you talk about "young Microsofties changing the company," could you please clarify?

How is the company going to better if the people it wants to hire do as you suggest and turn it down?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I don't work at MS but can someone tell me what Robert Scoble does for a living? All he seems to do is blog, blog, blog and get paid pretty well for it too! This is exactly the kind of fat that Mini is talking about!

KenP said...

I posted anon. and my post may have been one eliminated. I tried for a reasoned approach but my reasoned my be the next guys flame. I say this after having run a bbs back in the pre-net days and the flame wars are nothing new.

I've always had a love hate relationship with MS. I was a user of DOS 1.0...or at least I tried to be one. I became a self-taught DOS expert after getting a lot of help and using a lot of passion in the CP/M days where I was a member of one of the earliest computer clubs in the country-CACHE.

You cost me an account when the wife of the Doctor attended one of your Word 1.0 seminars and then we couldn't implement the non-working features they'd bought it for. So my mistrust of your early release product has a foundation.

So, I'd suggest not bit-bucketing your critics. Some of them may be contributing--whether you realize it or not.

I do think you could move the critics to another page where they can spout or suggest or whatever what is on their minds. MS has a long history of ignoring criticism and I don't want to see you make the same mistake. You seem like a nice guy and even nice guys learn more from their critics than friends.

James Summerlin said...

Mini,

Although I don't agree with your approach, I am thankful that you care enough about MS to demand that it move forward into the future. MS is truly a great company, in my not so humble opinion, with a great product.

You are coarse, but you do care.

As for the rest of you retards out there who only want to bash MS, keep in mind that you have been losing for years against a superior company with a superior product. As long as there are people like Mini who care about their company, you will continue to lose.

James

Who da'Punk said...

A note on this from Dare, rolling in a posting from Rory:

Your Passion Underwhelms Me

Sure, it's in the link section below, but come on, Dare + Rory = The Original Crazy Delicious! Must be called out!

Anonymous said...

I am one of those very senior GM types (L67) that came in to Microsoft just before the bubble burst as a GM and lasted five years before being run out with back-to-back 3.0 reviews. I have three successful startups under my belt and served at the VP level in two different public companies. WHile at Microsoft I shipped 6 products and generated seven patents, not to mention creating several very productive teams. My last 'manager' had no management experience but did have 13 years at Microsoft, so he 'knew how to get it done'. My ideas and his did not match, I lost. I left 16 months ago with my self-esteem in the toilet.

I have considered the idea of going back, the challenge is like no other. The reason I bring this up is that it identifies the issues that I believe Microsoft HAS to get over if it wants to recover:

1. It has to recognize that it needs outside people with deep startup and management experience and it has to be willing to let them work. This requires massive self-restraint on Microsoft's part to leave them alone and let them do what they do best without much meddling.

2. It means Microsoft has to go back to those they ran out because they couldn't adapt to the Microsoft model and get them to return. It means Microsoft has to admit to themselves that they need new fresh and talented blood. It means a touch of humility.

Would I be willing to go back? Actually, I would, odd as it sounds. Under the right circumstances, where I felt like I had an actual chance to do what I do without the burden of the 'inbred' influence, the challenge is very appealing.

Do I think Microsoft can get to this point where it would be attractive to people like me that have already been burned by the system? Hard to say, but that may be the root of the solution. There are a lot like me, extensive industry experience at the higher levels and five years of Microsoft experience that could be attracted back.

Can Microsoft rise to the challenge?

Phil said...

"Ok, I don't work at MS but can someone tell me what Robert Scoble does for a living? All he seems to do is blog, blog, blog and get paid pretty well for it too! This is exactly the kind of fat that Mini is talking about!"

Robert can probably answer this much better than I can. However, I’ll take a stab at it. Robert – if I screw something up here, please correct me!

Robert is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. An Evangelist's role can vary across the company. However, a high level definition of the position would be someone who spends their time connecting with customers to solve their problems. They educate customers on new Microsoft technologies and products being released. They also help customers integrate the new solutions into their existing systems.

Mini’s goal has always been to eliminate what he considers to be ineffectual middle management as well as consistent underperformers (career 3.0’s). Technical evangelists do not fit anywhere into that box (in my opinon).

From my experience they usually come from the technical field and are highly intelligent folks. Robert is one of the more vocal and public ones, but we have evangelists in various places around the world. Remember, Robert’s blog is not his day job. He is usually blogging well into the wee hours of the night. During the day, he’s out there in the field helping customers, interviewing Microsofties for Channel 9, and helping people within the company realize that we need to become more agile and connect more with customer demand.

My opinion is that you need these people in the company. You need experts in the field ready to engage our customers and let them know how Microsoft can solve their problems. Having someone highly technical there also allows them to get their hands dirty in the customer’s systems and really help them out instead of just pointing them to some information written by the marketing team.

Anonymous said...

Vista sounds like such a crapfest that I don't want to use it and I don't know how someone working on it could be passionate about it.

For the past few years it's been a constant barrage of news about how Vista has been delayed, cut down, reset, slipped, etc. This blog contains a million comments about unstable dependencies and how quality isn't where it needs to be.

And we're supposed to believe that a few extra weeks are going to polish this thing up and make it the Best OS Ever?

I would be more excited if somebody told me Windows was going to start from scratch with XP SP2 and do it right this time--i.e., no "re-integrating" all the Longhorn stuff that caused it to be reset in the first place.

If somebody tried to sell me a car with Vista's engineering track record, I would be scared to just sit in the front seat and play with the buttons.

Anonymous said...

>I sit here as a third year Computer Science undergrad. In two years I have to decide what I'm going to do with my degree. I've spent the last couple years focusing on Microsoft technologies (.NET, DirectX, etc...) thinking that's where the market is going to stay.

Meh. Even as a Microsoftie, I have to recommend a diversity of exposure for the benefit of your career. Knowledge of other technologies both allows you more choice in pursuing jobs as well as an understanding of a broader set of approaches to problems that you can use in the future.

Moreover, realize that Windows and its technologies will likely occupy the same niche as COBOL within your lifetime. So will MacOS and Unix (and a lot sooner too, unless I miss my guess). However, alogrithms and the other fundamentals of your trade never go out of style. Your time in college may be the last chance you will get to explore the full breadth of your chosen field at an institution designed solely for that purpose. Use it wisely.

After reading about all these issues going on at Microsoft it worries me.

Look at IBM. Nobody stays on top forever but, like IBM, I expect MS will be a key player for a long time to come.

The Nog said...

The fact is, the one person who most needs to acknowledge the issues raised on this blog won't do it. Ballmer is trying to put on a happy face for shareholders, and it's making the company look like it's in complacent denial. The conference call announcing the Vista delay seemed so matter-of-fact and breezy. You've got too many employees, and too many of them who are disgruntled and unhappy with the rankings system. Someone here brought up a good question. At what point do you acknowledge that things won't change?

As for corporate blogging, Mini-MSFT's blog is the most real Microsoft blog out there. He's not paid to do this like Scoble, another marketing arm. He's not a lead manager posting to some project blog with an agenda of putting a positive light on things. He's a "normal" disgruntled Microsoft person, the only one dismissing the spin-heavy Dilbert-speak of the PR department and telling it like it is so the real issues can be discussed.

Anonymous said...

And my one final dream is that the shareholders will start putting their collective foot down and demanding effective change.

As a shareholder, that would be my dream too. However, the avg shareholder isn't in a position to do much except vote with their feet and exit the stock (as they've been doing in droves). Sure, you can withhold your vote once/year for exec officers and other tabled initiatives, or attend the shareholder meeting and have Ballmer shuck and jive if you ask a tough question (or bullshit not to mention AMAZE you by saying that MS doesn't view the stock price as a proxy for success and never really has - I shit you not). But beyond that, your voice is largely irrelevant and MS knows it (hence the below market dividend despite 3 years of market underperformance and the buyback that isn't a buyback). Even on the one-time, the largest payout in corporate history (and totally brain-dead), mgt didn't put it to the vote - they put the related employee compensation to the vote. For the record, I voted "no" to that and routinely withhold my vote for all execs officers since, as a group, they've clearly performed miserably (i.e. 6th worst performer in the DOW since 1998). But I understand that my actions there are more of a token protest. The only way shareholders will have a voice is if a major institutional shareholder or say Paul Allen gets pissed off enough about the miserable track record of performance, that they take a serious run at changing the leadership. Alternatively, a major breakdown in the stock and/or crisis in the company, might be sufficient to galvanize shareholders. But let's face it, a 50% drop in the stock and THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS of market underperformance (a total of 60% underperformance vs the market) hasn't been sufficient to do it. Neither has the ongoing Vista/Bus Sol/etc./etc. fuckups. So whatever will do it, is likely going to have to be REALLY REALLY bad. What's interesting is that Gates, as a shareholder of Six Flags, had no problem making his displeasure with mgt known. What's even more interesting is that over the past 3 years, Six Flags has outperformed MS by some 70%. Bottom line, I share your dream but it takes a shareholder with serious clout. In my dream, an institution and/or Allen comes in, wages a successful proxy battle and gets Gates & Ballmer removed. MS then brings in someone from the outside a la HP did with Hurd and/or brings back an ex-softie with vision from back when MS kicked butt. Silverberg, for example, comes to mind as someone who saw the future a whole lot more clearly than either Gates or Ballmer. But I'm sure there are others.

Anonymous said...

Shipping products gets people passionate in the software industry: "Hey, I did that". Spending 5 years shipping an OS that has features unceremoniously yanked out from it...well, they called that "Copland" at Apple, and now Microsoft is having their moment of extreme floundering. If you read the books about Apple at that time, you hear the same sort of thing- tanked corporate morale, thousands of wasted man hours on stuff that never shipped, executives that randomize the work the peons are doing and get grossly overpaid for their contributions without accountability, backstabbing, yadda yadda yadda.

I've always been a believer that it's never as good or bad as you think it is, and a fair amount of the negative hype the last few days has simply been piling on (60% of code a few months before shipping? Uh, no) without being reflective.

Note that Apple managed to get their heads screwed back on straight within a few years, and I'm pretty sure Microsoft will do the same. Heck, maybe you'll bring in Avie Tevanian and get some outside perspective from someone who's also shipped a widely praised, innovative operating system- I hear he's available...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said,

"1. Get that startup culture back into windows. You got 6 months till we ship. As much as I hate to say this as a manager, get that midnight oil burning. We ship a damn OS once in 5 years, the best we can do is lose 6 months of something called as "life". Screw HR and there BS. DO WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE AND GET THIS SHIPPED!"

Your lack of planning does not put a burden on me.

What it comes down to is responsibility. It was certainly possible to design a Vista that would have taken an honest 2 years to get shipped. That didn't happen. Who made the decisions that resulted in that not being that case?

Well, it wasn't the people that you are asking to give up 6 months of their life. It's not their fault that middle management and the execs made some epic mistakes.

Now, if you want to make it worth their while, then perhaps we can talk. How about giving all of vista management 0% bonus, 0% merit, and 0% stock. Because they're all getting 2.5s in my book. And take the resources and give them to the people who are actually going to have to clean up this mess?

Now, that would send a strong message. Chris Jones has already said he will forego a bonus. Where is the rest of Vista management stepping up? And why didn't they forego a bonus *last year* when it was obvious that things were so bad.

Anonymous said...

I was a little surprised to see your reaction to the Vista delay spectacle. How was this a surprise?

I guess we all like to be on the edge of technology, so I bought a new harddrive and installed the Vista beta 5803 (I think it was) on an Athlon64 3500+ with 1 GB of memory, and a reasonably fast nVidia graphics card.

My first impressions were good. Nice clean installer, relatively cool interface but then I started digging.

Although I have no idea how you work at MS, I was pretty sure that this would never ship in time. Several times the OS froze, Mediaplayer 10 wouldn't play HDTV samples, MP3 playback sounded weird, driver support seemed far from ready. And this was supposed to be pretty close to the deadline.

The transission to XP was rather slow in the corporate world. I think Vista will be even slower. There is simply no compelling reason to change (if there is - please let me know), Aero Glass sure as **** isn't a reason for upgrading the secretarys PC.

There is also a growing concern that Vista will be as unsafe as XP, except with a whole new set of security holes to think of.

It's difficult not to compare Vista to MacOSX. The OSX is the sleek, discreet Aston Martin, whereas Vista seems to be a pimped Toyota with giant chrome wheels, a monster rear spoiler, an oversized exhaust and giant turbo attached to an 1.8L 4-cylinder engine that breaks down ever so often. As it is driven by spotty teenagers, the music is way, waay too loud.

Regarding the reaction to the delay, I used get to the same conclusion as you guys. "We scream because we care!"

But be warned - that's the last phase before apathy.

Drei said...

A note on this from Dare, rolling in a posting from Rory:
Sure, it's in the link section below, but come on, Dare + Rory = The Original Crazy Delicious! Must be called out!


Color me unimpressed. To burst their babble, sorry, bubble, "passion" is too large of a concept to be dismissed in a few blogging lines.

However, I think we're dealing with different flavors of passion here. "Their" posts talk about the mere enthusiasm, misguided more often than not, of those seeking visibility (or just simply incapable of recognizing the sheer platitude of their "findings"). Without wanting to delve into another cross-discipline war, I find that type of enthusiasm to be specific to the PM role, evangelizer and their ilk.

What we're talking about here is the passion borne out of frustration of functioning below capacities. We want to rid ourselves of unnecessary process, so that we may actually do our jobs better. Thanks to this process, I am being underutilized far more than I am overwhelmed by the complexity of tasks I have been assigned. I feel very passionately about the stupidity of it, and that's the kind of "passion" I think Mini's post targets. Don't put me in the same category with the meeting pushers and the "wow, I got this cool idea, what if we wrap a class around an int" crowd.

Passion is a state of mind, not a behavioral trait. That would be exuberance.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Putting in my thoughts for a lot of the recent posts.

The 2007 launch
I don't know why this uproar of a few weeks of slippage ? Its like you guys never thought that it was possible. Working with the latest release of LH/Vista it was very apparent that the 2006 deadline was quite optimistic. To me, even the early 2007 deadline looks optimistic as the OS currently stands.

However, I don't think that most people who are not ardent followers of MILAP ( Microsoft Linux Apple - my coining ;-) ) will anyways be affected. My dad for one doesnt care if the new version of Windows comes out today or a few months later - he is happy with his current PC configuration ( he works in the Govt. and the PC is official). All he cares about is whether he can get the paperwork done using Office. Since his PC gives him the functionality he desiers, he is least bothered about the upgrade. Ditto for my sister.

For most of my other friends - its a sigh of relief - especially for people who are buying PCs right now - they don't have to wait and get one now - and probably upgrade a few years later down the line.

Either ways - Microsoft gains money which ever way.

Also looking at the way XP got into the mainstream market - it will take atleast 2 years for Vista to get into mainstream - when the Corporates will start updating their systems.

Vista
What do i say about this release ? I don't feel good about it at all. 512MB as minumum recommendation ? Comeon guys, if Softies are supposed to be so technologically good why can't they make the OS leaner and meaner ?? XP runs fine on my 256MB system - but for Vista I need to upgrade my system ?? Does Microsoft have a deal with hardware manufacturers to drive up sale ?? Guys, you are forgetting that everyone does not get the pays that you are getting. Everyone does want a PC now - but not everyone can afford cutting edge.

I guess it is because of the environment in the campus. Everyone assumes that everyone else has the best comps and wifi - real life is different.

In this way I feel that Microsoft is loosing touch with the end customers. Sure big corporates have the muscle to take the cost differences, but individuals and small shops cannot.

For myself - the decision to upgrade to Vista will be taken in due time. I have a dual boot XP/Fedora. The only reason for XP is games. And with the XBOX, maybe Microsoft is shooting its own foot - as many people using Windows dual boot system may just go out and get an XBOX.

Big deal you may say - MS makes money both ways. But its not so. Currently Windows and Office are the big money earners - xbox is not making so much money. So, overall this strategy may backfire.

One thought though does reccur in my mind ( I don't know the answer to it) is why the major rewrite in Vista ? Why is Microsoft not taking the XP kernel and just tweaking it , making it better and faster , adding better functionality to it - just like OS-X or Linux kernel ? Over the years these 2 OSes have become better? ( I don't know your answer , but I do hear my managers words "We do it our way because we are Microsoft". What arrogance ! )

Passion
I was in Microsoft for a very short duration ( suffice to say I felt stifled in there and took on another job rather than become venomous). I think a lot of people are passionate ... about the money and not the tech. Almost everywhere its talk about money and what to invest it in - rather than the cool technology. Granted not everyone can work on something cool - but atleast it can be discussed. Also the individualism was something beyond me ( until I got to know about the stack ranking and that put into perspective why people want to be seen as individuals, and also the managers promote it as such).

Microsoft is a huge corporation. I don't think it is going to fall apart just yet - they have too much momentum for that. But I do feel that they will become another IBM in a few years time frame.

Linux is gaining in popularity and usefulness for the non-geeks. A couple of years back my dad asked if he should use Linux, and I had told him no - but now I recommend it to him.

A few people talked about how great Microsoft is doing with backward compatibility - I wish you can explain to my dad why the screensaver 'dinoshred' which ran fine in Win3.1 cannot run now in his state of the art PC with XP in it? He dug out the CD (which is still working) with the screensaver and wanted me to get it to work on his comp as I had gotten into Microsoft - I felt really sad when I told him it wont work. (if someone knows how it can be done, please let me know - i know my dad would love it!)

I am not an ABM (Anything but Microsoft) guy. But I am also not from the camp of AALAM (Anything as long as Microsoft) guy - and this is the attitude I find in most of the people working in Microsoft.

However I do hold a grouse against Microsoft - that of non-conformance to standards. I have almost all throughout my career worked on open standards support - but it all gets broken when one starts to use Microsoft software ( IE vs FF debate for one). I also agree with an earlier comment on how Microsoft is about stifling innovation and not encouraging it by killing all competition. Microsoft currently sits on a huge mountain of patents and have a target this year for filing patents ( I was shocked when I got to know that there was a target for patent application this year. I used to think that it was something that was due to creativity and not statistics :( ). As a developer in a smaller company now, I feel the fear of what if microsoft sues us for some small reason ? Some of the patents are just absurd and should never have been given :(

However, I am really glad that Microsoft happened - and their slogan 'a PC on every desk' really did change the world.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for Microsoft and am sad that I don't any more. I was/am passionate about Microsoft and really wanted to work there for a long time but I found that passion is only sustainable when it is bidirectional. I wanted Microsoft to have passion for me and they did, at the beginning, but that passion slowly yielded to the massive weight of process and indifference.

It's difficult to feel passion to solve customer's problems when you know that to get there from here involves 63 steps, three trips to Siebel and as many Infopath forms. Microsoft is a big company with a lot to manage, I know, but it was a big company when I started and it was very different then.

Before, people did things because they knew it was the right thing to do for customers, for colleagues and for stakeholders. Things got done. Now, or when I was there a month or two ago, things get scheduled, discussed, planned, metric'd, etc. and eventually forgotten. Well, some gets done but not the same way or as much.

Why? Hell I don't know. It just evolved that way. There's a point there; if your organization is big enough to host it's own evolution, it's probably too big to respond quickly. Microsoft has definitely evolved and I didn't think it was for the better so I left. You've heard the story before; smaller company, more money, better this, better that, blah, blah, but I'm still sad that I didn't get to spend more time.

Sucks about the Vista and Office thing but it is what it is.

Thanks for the space to rant Mini, good job.

Anonymous said...

Free lunch and dinner for everyone that works on Vista. Everday I leave work telling myself I will come back after dinner but never do. Why do I need to leave for dinner? Bring it to me! Get nannies, convert conf rooms into kids playgrounds, hire house cleaners ... Do what ever it takes to keep your employees at work and get stuff done. (If you calculate the bad press and stock value degradation caused by the slip, a million dollars spent on employee's doesnt seem that bad). Now is the worse time of all to cut cost of such things. And please bring back those weekly WIM's :)

BrianV (and others) did this for Exchange back in the day.

He is probably wealthy enough to do it for Windows these days.

Maybe, in practical terms, Microsoft has gotten so big that it is just not cost effective to treat everyone with respect.

e.g. (perhaps someone who wants to count the Windows employees can chime in but you get the idea)

500 employees x 365 days x $8 = $1,460,000 for dinner for one year

Microsoft could certainly afford that even over the many years it has taken to write and rewrite Vista.

Considering Windows and Office make most of their revenue, it is surprising they don't have this relatively small expense compared to the billions of dollars they make every year.

On a project of the scale of Vista, respect is just not cost effective?

Anonymous said...

As for the rest of you retards out there who only want to bash MS, keep in mind that you have been losing for years against a superior company with a superior product. As long as there are people like Mini who care about their company, you will continue to lose.

Please don't confuse having a monopoly with the degree of talent you are attributing to yourself and the company you work for.

Microsoft has a superior monopoly.

A monopoly the government does not have a solution for is truly superior.

This is more a function of applications not being independent of the operating system they are written for.

The government does not have a solution to this problem and does not have the foresight to come up with one.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I don't work at MS but can someone tell me what Robert Scoble does for a living? All he seems to do is blog, blog, blog and get paid pretty well for it too! This is exactly the kind of fat that Mini is talking about!

He seems to be more of a PR person than anything else. It is a legitimate job.

BP/CMB said...

I suspect nothing I say will pass your filter, but you might want to give some thought to what Eric Raymond has to say here:

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=280

I'll add that I've long had a fantasy that Microsoft AND Apple would eventually cede the base operating system work to Open Source efforts. There s HUGE value in letting standards bodies slowly grind out concepts that we all (mostly) agree on particularly for base-level tools like operating systems, and web browsers, TCP/IP and e-mail protocol handlers etc. Once this notion is REALY accepted by vendors, rather than just the fodder for PR campaigns, there is little value to be had from closed vendor written implementations.

The battleground for closed source solutions SHOULD be at a much higher level and it is not only better for users for there to be a level playing field for these high level solutions, but in the long run I think it is better for the vendors too.

People are fond of comparing Microsoft with IBM of old, but in my "good old days" I remember contributing, as a USER to the IBM code base for their mainframe system. Whole subsystems were developed by users and often found their way into future releases. IBM, even then, was far more open than Microsoft is, even now. This wasn't good-will or even a PR stunt on the part of IBM, it was simply an acknowledgment that they couldn't cover every possible "what if" on their own.

Part of a lean means customer pleasing machine at Microsoft, if such a thing is ever to exist, will have to be a more open interaction with customers, particularly at the foundations of the code-base. Users DO want to be involved in the "conversation", but not just blogging. Let us have the code, and then let's see what we can build together.

Anonymous said...

It's tough to work at Windows. Bring me dinner, clean my house, get me a nice bonus and a fresh pair of underware while I finish Vista. It's the final stretch!

Guys and Gals, I have news for you. It's tough to be in the field.

It's tough to tap dance in front of angry customers and partners because you are late.

It's tough to be the last one to know. We have to wake up early to read the news before our customers because they will ask and it is annoying to get caught with our pants down.

And we have to buy our own dinner, clean our own house and guess what?

No credibility -> No quota -> No bonus -> Very tight underware...

Robert Scoble said...

>can someone tell me what Robert Scoble does for a living?

My day job is http://channel9.msdn.com. I get paid less than $100,000 a year in salary.

In less than two years I’ve done more than 600 videos (most of which are about an hour long). I work 100 hours a week answering emails, doing blogs, doing videos, planning videos, giving talks (a lot of talks lately, speaking to Amazon tomorrow), being interviewed, traveling (15 cities, eight countries, in four months) and hosting geek dinners while helping out with a new video channel, on10.net, and helping out with a conference, Mix06. Oh, and all while trying to be a husband and a father too.

But, what am I paid to do? Evangelize Microsoft technologies. What does that mean? Well, help developers build software for our platforms. So, that's why I meet with so many developers all around the world and why I answer so much email. Email me, for instance, and say "I work at XXXXX and we are building an app for Vista and we need XXXXXXX help" and I'll get it for you.

It's this invisible work that takes the most time.

Speaking of which, Channel 9 just passed three million unique visitors last month. Microsoft is getting a pretty good deal out of me considering how much we pay on conferences and other events to get our technology in front of people.

Robert Scoble

###

Anonymous said...

I've been an MS shareholder for a long time (15+ years) and I still really don't want to see an MS OS on any machine I own - and almost everyone I know with a CS background feels likewise. Surely as a shareholder with a tech background I should like a product from a company that has rewarded me so well ?


Doesn't someone at MS care about user *happiness* ? Individual users are bleeding to Apple at an unprecedented rate - and they like it - go to an Apple store and watch.

What will happen the day some decent alternative to Windows gets past the OEM lockdown ? The day Dell sells OS X or starts supplying stripped Linux PCs to government and school offices ?

Is there still someone at MS who realizes that the minute that the users can choose they will walk ? It's not "anything but MS". It's the fact that OS X is really more pleasant for the desktop users, while free Un*x clones in the back office and servers have a real attraction for the big corp IT manager not least because they escape all licensing quibbles.

richard said...

Do I like Microsoft? As a whole, no. But it seems to be that a lot of people (Micro-bashers included) fail to make the subtle yet very very critical distinction between Microsoft as a company, and the Microsoft that is each and every employer there.

Microsoft's practices and software? Loathe and despise. But individual employees? There's no doubt that there is a tremendous amount of talent at Microsoft. I'm sure there're staff at Microsoft who are passionate and extremely ambitious, to the point where they want to tear their hair out over the fact that they're unable to do half the things they want to do, as a result of being part of the machinery of a monstrously bloated company.

Microsoft hater? I wouldn't call myself that. But I think the company is in severe need of a rebirthing, scrapping all the dead weight and turning itself into the lean, mean, profit-making, customer-pleasing, industry-loved software machine.

What's clear to me though is that Ballmer and Gates (among others) are driven solely by profit... they couldn't give a rat's rear that they're pushing garbage into the market, just as long as they can destroy competition SOMEHOW and keep the industry locked in.

Personally, I'd feel more satisfied if my company held a monopoly based purely on excellence, rather than just being the typical schoolyard bully. Hmmm lean and mean and makes excellent products? After using Windows for 15 years, I converted to Apple not six months ago. And I won't look back until Microsoft does what just about everyone wants it to do - die spectacularly and be resurrected as the software company that so many of it's staff what it to be.

Anonymous said...

What's even more interesting is that over the past 3 years, Six Flags has outperformed MS by some 70%.

Throw-up rides and roasted bean drinks have been beating integrated innovation for quite some time.

One Year Chart of PKS, SBUX, MSFT

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm really confused by what you mean by


"Yodel-lay-dee-hoooo! Automation is kicking out useless, time-consuming issues and I can't check-in my security comments without failing 20 feature tests! How now for you out there?"


Why would automation block comment check-ins?

Who da'Punk said...

Why would automation block comment check-ins?

Exactly.

Automation has bugs, too, and when a test goes bad or there's some other sporadic issue, lots of valid check-ins get held off (perhaps missing key integration points) while people figure out what's wrong.

The "no-op" check-ins usually reveal the offenders.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't someone at MS care about user *happiness* ? Individual users are bleeding to Apple at an unprecedented rate - and they like it - go to an Apple store and watch.

The products that do well at Microsoft are the ones where the product group has become expert at finding out what customers want through "dogfooding" the product internally and getting "early adopters" of the product to guide its development. Those groups also provide a clear communication channel for providing feedback.

Obviously, not every product at Microsoft uses that approach consistently.

Do you have one or more people on your team whose only job is to make sure the product group gets clear feedback from customers? Or, are they just working on it part time?

For example, outline the processes by which someone within Microsoft and someone outside of Microsoft report bugs in Vista and how do they track the progress of their reports?

How easy is it to make a report?

Do you get a rational explanation of why a bug was not fixed or do you just get someone pushing back by resolving the bug with some resolution other than fixed?

Do you just wait for the next build and see if it got fixed? In this case, do you know if it actually got fixed or if the bug shows up intermittently?

There are people at Microsoft that know how to fix the problem. Someone with the authority to do so has to take action and implement the solution.

Who da'Punk said...

On another post, you recommended that a young person turn down a full-time offer at Microsoft, and yet here you talk about "young Microsofties changing the company," could you please clarify?

I mean the Microsoftie-generation that came in during the midst of us being punished for our great monopolistic sins vs. being the generation responsible. They've seen how not to do things and the negative impact, vs. being able to explain it away and perhaps be prone to do it all over again.

I'm somewhere in between. I watched as IE became "The OS" and everyone wandered around correcting anyone that dare mention that IE was just an application. "It is the OS."

Dumb. And I'm ashamed I didn't speak up to that B.S.

The Nog said...

[Scoble] seems to be more of a PR person than anything else. It is a legitimate job.

But his site is not as raw and direct as Mini-MSFT. While Scoble calls for the firing of journalists who relay what their sources tell them, Mini-MSFT's comments section will have an actual guy from Windows tell you how it is. You get the feelings of real employees, customers, and anyone else affected by the huge company and platform that is Microsoft. You also get the anti-M$ people, but that's part of the fun, and part of the price, of Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Mini’s goal has always been to eliminate what he considers to be ineffectual middle management as well as consistent underperformers (career 3.0’s). Technical evangelists do not fit anywhere into that box (in my opinon).

You're right, Phil. Technical Evangelists fell straight from Heaven. They are even above L67 GMs and VPs and don't have to go through the review process and curve at all.

Man, what a sweet deal!

And do you REALLY think Scoble isn't getting paid to do this? Do you REALLY think that when review time comes, he isn't showing his manager all these blogs that "turn customer perception towards using MS's products"? Truth is, Scoble's job to a large part is blogging - he doesn't just "do it at night", he does it dring work hours, check out his posting times.

Mini on the other hand, if he tried to incorporate his blogging as trying to improve MS would probably get fired!

It is a Love / Hate Relationship said...

I was passionate for the first few years that I was at Microsoft.

I was almost rabidly anti-microsoft before becoming a blue-badge, I hated a lot of microsoft software while I was there, and I still can't believe how much of it has gaping quality problems.

I worked my way though college with tech support jobs, work-study computer lab assistant jobs, and information technology jobs. Through those experiences, I gained a deep empathy for the customer...yeah, that grad student who just had MS Word garble their thesis formatting for the hundreth time when they got to page number 27 ...the grad student who broke into tears and curled up in a fetal position because of the bug that fell on the War Room floor because it was deemed an "edge case" with a workaround. I had empathy for that customer.

The empathy made me very very passionate about software quality. I am still a very good tester. Devs joke that I torture their code, but I take my job very seriously because I have seen the pain and anguish that crappy software causes.

At Microsoft, in the Windows Division, prior to 2003, I would come to work and enter a state of flow where for me, time stopped and work just happened. Bugs were found, repro'ed, filed, and verified effortlessly without my noticing that time was even passing.

I LOVED testing in Windows. I was able to file (and see fixed) literally hundreds of real-world bugs that had been aflicting real-world users for more than a decade. It was great to get into the zone where I was in a state of flow.

Flow is productivity, it is what happens when all of the obsticles to getting your job done are removed.

When the devs complain about prefix/prefast/check-in barriers, they are talking about interruptions in their flow.

When the testers complain about WTT, they are talking about interruptions in their flow.

At some point, the process started getting in the way of the flow and work stopped happening and work started being work. People started mentioning that their productivity was dropping, but they didn't know why. The problem is that they were being interrupted by cross-group barriers and by process that kept getting in the way.

When I lost my flow, I should have left, but I didn't realize what had happened. My review scores dropped and I was eventually asked to leave.

I am still passionate about quality... I am just not in a position to help Microsoft improve it's quality...and I still detest much of Microsoft's software because so many quality problems still remain.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for providing positive input into Microsoft, but have to admit that, this blog, by hosting the good, bad and ugly about Microsoft has been the best thing to happen to the company in 5 years. I personally believe that this blog was the impetus for the 'listening tour'; and the 500+ response to the Vista blog the other day was one for the books (whether you agree with some all or none of the comments.) As well, I believe Microsoft management will benefit from more 'tough love' as dispatched through this blog. Positive change doesn't always evolve from positive comments. Per Microsoft management philosophy: sometimes a nice stick of wood works just as well.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone notice how http://nextmsft.blogspot.com/ suddenly has no new posts since Feb. 10?

Something tells me Vista brought him over to the other side! lol!

Anonymous said...

>It has to recognize that it needs outside people with deep startup and management experience and it has to be willing to let them work.

Care to back up that statement with some reasoning? A rowboat isn't like a aircraft carrier and a startup isn't like a mega-corporation. The skills involved in operating the two differ greatly.

Anonymous said...

Considering Windows and Office make most of their revenue, it is surprising they don't have this relatively small expense compared to the billions of dollars they make every year.

Any dollar spent on ICs in Office or Windows counts against profits; that's why teams that are pure cost-centers spend more on perks/compensation.

Anonymous said...

I've seen here some comments about happy life with OSX/Linux.

Just the little question to these guys. Are you ready to pay for your system yearly? Update the one (for some money) once-twice per year? Download tons of patches for the linux everyday (the fresh installed system needs several hunderd fresh MBs)?

Are you ready for incompatibility, introduced by apple - 3 really big changes in last 5 years: os9, osx, intel. Our customer still uses os9 and we have to support it because of the old software (probably, there is the new one - i'm not sure.). They just decided they will use it until the computers will be broken and than they gonna buy Windows PCs. Imho, Apple can produce only just funny toys like iPod - use it for sometime and throw away. If they will worry about compatibility and reusablity, they'll die immediately.

Same to Linux. Updates, updates, updates... But the features that had to work 5 years ago are implented only now (i'm talking about acpi).

Everybody talks about the modular system. I'm not really sure, how MS will make it (or will make it at all). How you will support it? How you will earn the money with that? Do you think the customers will happy to constantly update their PCs just to get it working? :))))

Gianni said...

Not a Microsoftie, but I feel by reading this blog and Scobleizer I get a pretty decent view of how things really are.

Do I feel more informed than by reading the standard-fare PC press crapfest ?

Yes and No.

Yes because I feel both you and Scoble trade in the Credibility Currency.
No because most of what I read about seems to be after the fact.

You both are sort of turning your blogs in newsgroups, where the value is more in the discussion than in the actual news. Remember Fucked Company ? Pud had gotten it right, it's interesting as long as the discussion is entertaining, but when it's not, there's nothing left.

Anonymous said...

>It has to recognize that it needs outside people with deep startup and management experience and it has to be willing to let them work.

Care to back up that statement with some reasoning? A rowboat isn't like a aircraft carrier and a startup isn't like a mega-corporation. The skills involved in operating the two differ greatly.


Well, the obvious would be that whatever Microsoft is doing now isn't working, so changing it to something that does work might make sense. But that is a pithy response, so I won't go there.

The ultimate goal of a startup (software startup) is to ship a bug-free product that is so compelling to the potential customer that they overlook the fact that you are a company of 15 or 20 people, the reward is worth the risk. To do that, your software has to be right. It has to directly address your customer's pain, it has to solve that pain and it has to do it in a simple but elegant way. When the customer sees your 10 minute demo, their reaction has to be 'WOW'. Otherwise, they simply won't buy. It is a very binary world.

Running a startup means making sure everyone is on task, focused on the challenge and driven to the result. To err is to die. Every thing you do in a startup has a huge impact on everything else, which means you are highly accountable for your work. When you get 20 or so people running in this mode, great things happen.

Now, think about the last Microsoft product you remember that gave you that 'WOW' reaction after seeing it. Win95 did this. The early Office did this. Since then? nothing comes to mind.

Think about a startup taking some of the current Microsoft offerings into a prospective customer to demo. CRM for example. Can you imagine the reaction from a potential customer to a startup demoing CRM? "GETOUTOFMYOFFICE' comes to mind. How about Vista? 'YOUGOTTABEKIDDINGME' is the likely reaction.

The best products are created by tightly focused and driven teams that have management who's sole job is to eliminate barriers. I created one of these teams while at Microsoft, and in 9 months the team of 25 created and shipped a product that so severly threatened its big brother 300 million dollar 500 person enterprise product that we were told we couldn't ship. Even though we were addressing the smorg, what we created worked better in 95% of the customer base that the clusterfuck product Microsoft currently offered (and still does).

Bigger is not better, but Microsoft has created an environment where the really big bets are rewarded, even when they fail. One of my peers, a PUM, had 300+ people working for two years on a highly flawed concept that had 0 chance of ever working. When it fell under its own weight, he stepped off the ship (leaving the huge mess behind) and went to the Vista team to screw up a major project there, which, by the way, still hasn't seen the light of day. Five fricking years, this individual has not done anything but build giant teams and chase wildly complex concepts that cannot ever succeed, and he is like the Eveready bunny, still ticking.

Running Microsoft like a startup eliminates this flacid waste. It creates products people actually want. It creates employees that are proud of what they do. It creates high energy and high morale.

A rowboat isn't an aircraft carrier. How true. The problem is that the employees on the aircraft carrier know that there is nothing they can do individually to affect the direction of the ship, so they stop trying. No matter how bad they screw up, the ship will not feel the effect, so they don't worry about failure. And, inversely, no matter how hard they work, the only person that is going to notice is their superior officer who has his own agenda, so they stop working hard. The aircraft carrier breeds apathy. Sound familiar?

On the rowboat, just shifting to scratch your ass makes the boat move, so you learn to be efficient in everything you do, and you realize that any little thing you can do to make the boat better is huge. You also quickly learn to expect the same behavior from the people you are sharing the boat with. And, if you don't all have the same agenda, the boat quickly sinks.

Microsoft desperately needs senior management that knows how to make row boats float. It has, as far as I can see, driven them all off in favor of people that can built giant teams of people who make the aircraft carrier look great from a distance.

The incubation groups in Office and in Mundie's organization were an attempt to create row boats again. Unfortunately, the aircraft carrier sr. management couldn't keep their hands out of the efforts and it all died.

I found Microsoft to be an exciting place to be, much as I suspect the first year on an aircraft carrier would be. My last three years were spent beating my head against my desk in frustration aa I found myself having to choose between the path to a great review, or the path to a successful project. I could do things the way my very junior manager felt things should be done and get the 4.0, or I could use my experience and do things my way and succeed with a poor review. My pride and integrity won out, I took a stand and lost to a superior inbred.

Solve this, and you solve Microsoft's biggest internal issue.

James Summerlin said...

Mini,

One recurring theme I am seeing here and on other blogs is that MS needs to do something with the $%@&* HR department. HR is a cancer. A cancer that grows in an organization until it crowds out useful work and replaces it with endless meetings, political correctness, and an attitude that is demeaning to others.

I'll never understand why so many otherwise great companies allow the undead horror of HR to infiltrate their organizations.

Anonymous said...

>One recurring theme I am seeing here and on other blogs is that MS needs to do something with the $%@&* HR department. HR is a cancer

Right on. We are hiring so called "HR Managers" to sit in every meeting the VP and GMs hold. They start at L62 and go to L66 based on how many years they sit in meetings. Most of their work is seasonal mostly at the annual review time for about a month or two.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that people at MSFT would feel much better about their work if they could see some upward action in the stock. Most won't admit this, but it is true. A lot of the morale and malaise issues go away or at least shrink a lot when people see their stock price rise. It's human nature.

A major failing at the company is actually the finance division and their misuse of the Windows/Office cash hoarde.

MSFT has been piling up money for years. It just sits there in a big pile getting moldy and rotten. It could be used to buy back our underperforming shares.

Yes, I know that is happening, but as with all things that are "happening" at MSFT, it's not happening nearly fast enough - and that's a real crime. Materially reduce the # of shares outstanding, and you increase the value of the remaining shares. It's first grade arithmetic, but the geniuses running the company can't get it.

The anti-trust stuff sure has messed badly with poor StevieB and BillyG. They don't act intelligently anymore and everyone suffers.

Sure, you can keep banging your head against a process wall. Or keep hoping that LisaB saves the day. Or keep futilely calling for the sacking of middle mgmt.

Or you can do something useful:

Everyone should lobby mgmt hard for faster and bigger stock repurchases. 1000 emails in Liddell's inbox might start to get the message across. It's the best way to quickly start improving life at MSFT.

Anonymous said...

"I found Microsoft to be an exciting place to be, much as I suspect the first year on an aircraft carrier would be. My last three years were spent beating my head against my desk in frustration aa I found myself having to choose between the path to a great review, or the path to a successful project. I could do things the way my very junior manager felt things should be done and get the 4.0, or I could use my experience and do things my way and succeed with a poor review."

Yup, that sounds right - except in my case it was still get 4.0's but be asked to leave for [gasp] commenting about what MS needed to do to improve. Comically, the latter made me a non-team player, even though the former wasn't possible to achieve w/o being adept at working with and motivating teams. But hey, that's the way MS is (or was) and you/I knew the stakes. In fact, in 5 years, I only ever saw 1 person leave for performance reasons but literally dozens leave for political ones - which was a large part of the problem. In any event, you make a lot of excellent points in this post. I agree with your critic that runnning MS takes a different skill set than running a startup (which btw is why I think Gates/Ballmer need to go - but suspect you acknowledge the difference as well). However, I completely agree with you that a lot of elements of the startup - innovation, "wow" products, cost control, empowerment, direct accountability, etc. are all things that MS has drifted away from especially in the larger product groups and it's showing in the results. Finally, I don't think it's possible to go back. I'm sure a lot of us who got gone for politics but still care about the company, privately share your interest but things don't work that way. Those that remain, need to fix the mess that in large part they've created (or helped create by keeping quiet while others took the bullet). And as we know, there's no shortage of new blood to assist them unless of course nothing's changed. But when I see folks like Dare openly criticizing policy or headcount, I know something is definitely different - or Dare has some really good pictures stashed away :-) That makes me cautiously optimistic. On the other hand, for you Mini, I suspect there'll be no forgiveness - just a public execution that would make even William Wallace [Braveheart] squeamish! But keep up the great work - you've been more of a catalyst for positive change than the entire leadership team combined. Kudos!

Anonymous said...

HR is a cancer. A cancer that grows in an organization until it crowds out useful work and replaces it with endless meetings, political correctness, and an attitude that is demeaning to others.

The job of HR is to protect the company from its employees. As if mega-corporations needed protection from us poor joes!

Althought I wouldn't agree that HR is a cancer, I must say that a lot of their work does not add much value. HR's input is extremely important for compensation and review processes as well as recruiting the next generation of employees to grow a company. They also serve as a valuable interface between the company's Legal division and the employees (this is where the protecting a company from its employees comes into practice!)

Anonymous said...

I've seen here some comments about happy life with OSX/Linux.

Just the little question to these guys. Are you ready to pay for your system yearly? Update the one (for some money) once-twice per year? Download tons of patches for the linux everyday (the fresh installed system needs several hunderd fresh MBs)?


Err... have you worked with the linux systems ??

Somepart of what you say is right, but not all.

The downloads are free. You don't need to pay for the downloads - and any decent system administrator can set up the newly installed systems so that they can download and install patches/updates on almost a daily basis ( I had my team set on weekly updates at 2AM). Of course you can pay for support if you want - in which case you can check the support prices for Linux (Redhat/Suse/Ubuntu) vis a vis Windows and let us know which is more economical ;-) . For me, Linux is the most economical solution :-)

About the MBs of downloads to make things work - you only need them for stuff that has some wierd patenting laws (like mp3 decoders need to be downloaded seperately). Buy in the world of iPods, its really not a big blocker. (You can rip anyways into ogg files).

Now, it depends on you whether you want an updated system every 6 months or every 5 years ;-) . Add to it the facts that :
1) No need to reboot the systems either after (a) updating or (b) after running it for a few days (my linux dev system had an uptime of 126days , and I shut it down to upgrade the RAM as everyone was using it as the default build system :-) ), while my WinXP system I used to reboot every monday or else it was become too slow.
2) No worry of viruses and worms.

So Mr. Little Question, its totally upto you whether you want a bullet proof system or would like to keep your fingers crossed everyday ! After the last couple of times of spyware and addware I have completely switched all my browsing and internet surfing to linux. It takes me more time and effort to redo my windows systems after a malware attack than to update my Linux systems.

Anonymous said...

Are you ready for incompatibility, introduced by apple - 3 really big changes in last 5 years: os9, osx, intel. Our customer still uses os9 and we have to support it because of the old software (probably, there is the new one - i'm not sure.). They just decided they will use it until the computers will be broken and than they gonna buy Windows PCs. Imho, Apple can produce only just funny toys like iPod - use it for sometime and throw away. If they will worry about compatibility and reusablity, they'll die immediately.


At this risk of moderation/offtopicness, this is kind of funny.

I have a Mac manufactured in 1995 that you can install OS X 10.4 onto (with the assistance of a 3rd party mod). The processor card's been updated to a G3/500 and it has newer video/USB/Firewire on the PCI bus, but it's still a machine made in 1995, using the same 50Mhz motherboard, etc.

Just TRY and install XP SP2 on a P90. Write back when you can get it working. You may be busy for a while.

To sort of tie this back in to the theme of the post, Microsoft certainly needs passion, but they also need realism, and not recognizing the strengths of the competition (or, in Apple's case, co-opetition, since in fact MS is one of Apple's largest ISVs as well as a manufacturer of a competing operating system), and lack of realism is just as deadly when it comes from MS-o-philes as when it comes from the Linux/Apple R00ls crowd. One of the things new Microsoftie generation that Mini talks about is that they've imbibed less of the Microsoft Kool-Aid- probably because they've lived through Melissa and Code Red as well as the DOJ crapfest. Customer pain makes you humble really quick.

The fact is that tere's nowhere NEAR the feeling of dread updating your OS to the next iteration of 10.x as there is on updating Windows (my policy is typically back up data and flatline the hard drive when it comes to Windows "upgrades"). Is Apple perfect? Hardly- software engineering is difficult and everyone makes mistakes. But something like 40-50% of the Mac's market was on 10.4 a YEAR after release. I'm pretty sure there are people in the Windows division who would sacrifice their kids to Moloch to get 40% Vista market penetration in a year (OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get my idea).

vruz said...

I think it's an indicative fact that the first link you find when you
search for the term "micro management"

is a microsoft.com article on micro-management for small business, entitled 8 ways micro-managers can cure themselves

what gives ?

TheKhalif said...

I'm somewhere in between. I watched as IE became "The OS" and everyone wandered around correcting anyone that dare mention that IE was just an application. "It is the OS."



That was the worst day of my Windows life. I couldn't believe when IE got integrated into W98 and W2K. It destroyed so many of my lab machines, I prayed for something like Firefox.

I guess I'm like a lot of EX'S who ended up here. I loved my work but hated the futility of my efforts to ACTUALLY TEST and AUTOMATE properly. It takes more than a few lines of code to make a successful test platform. Th eproblem is that you can't teach a person how to automate. They have to just "understand the necessities."

I'd like to hear from some WinDiv folks as to how many active test teams there are for the Home SKUs.

Anonymous said...

Ah... another day, another negative development (this time the EC concerns over Vista) another market underperformance and of course another negative media article. Unfortunately, as usual, this one is quite accurate and guess who's featured? Mini! Interesting question he poses about whether or not Gates read your site given his commitment to hear the bad news. Anyway, enjoy.

What's eating Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

Just as I was about to send Mini some delicious hot spicy teriyaki for cleaning house with this latest post, I discovered that the Mac/*nix Heads were still around just like a stubborn virus that will not go away. This is inspite of Mini's more 'draconian' moderation that has started turning the blog into a healthy addiction. They have devised new tricks for going through the cracks in the Mini-gate. They start with some harmless, candy coated intros about their former love for MS or many years of use of MS products. Then the turn is almost always the same. Microsoft broke their hearts and they went to Mac (or were forced to). Then the pitch is on. They discovered that Mac OS X is the best thing to happen to the world since Pamela Anderson in Barbwire. And then they deliver the hammer: Several of my (insert friends, faculty, students, neighbors, etc) have also discovered that using Mac keeps them forever young and more are switching everyday

Here are examples from the posts:

...My first impressions were good. Nice clean installer, relatively cool interface but then I started digging.....It's difficult not to compare Vista to MacOSX. The OSX is the sleek, discreet Aston Martin, whereas Vista seems to be a pimped Toyota with giant chrome wheels, a monster rear spoiler, an oversized exhaust and giant turbo attached to an 1.8L 4-cylinder engine that breaks down ever so often.

...I've been an MS shareholder for a long time (15+ years) and I still really don't want to see an MS OS on any machine I own - and almost everyone I know with a CS background feels likewise... It's the fact that OS X is really more pleasant for the desktop users, while free Un*x clones in the back office and servers have a real attraction for the big corp IT manager not least because they escape all licensing quibbles...

...After using Windows for 15 years, I converted to Apple not six months ago.....

...Individual users are bleeding to Apple at an unprecedented rate - and they like it - go to an Apple store and watch.....

Mac/*nix Heads, can you stop assailing us with how everybody and their mother-in-law are moving to Mac? We know already about these massive defections. Heck Apple just moved up another .0000000001% of the market to 4.0000000002%. Can we rest now?

Anonymous said...

Cringely has some theories on Vista this week...

Then: "I'm working on another story on Microsoft's (lack of) character that's far bigger and more disturbing than this and loaded with real facts. It might be ready for next week or may still need a bit more work, but it's coming soon. And it will be shocking."

Oh boy!

Anonymous said...

There are Apple fans in the world! Shocking, eh?

I work in Windows. I really wish that I knew people with as much love for Windows as OS X fans have. I just don't think they exist.

Even I have to admit that OS X is cool. And they ship often. And to deliver like that their engineers probably don't have to deal with the same deep hierarchy that we do at Microsoft. In many ways, OS X just makes me envious.

I'm no Apple apologist. I'm more worried about how to make Windows and Microsoft better. But maybe those Apple folks even have some lessons to teach us.

- Drew

Anonymous said...

Robert Scoble is an extremely cunning guy. His so called 100-hour workweek for a less than $100K salary seem quite incredulous. Investment bankers don't work that hard and they make a helluva lot more than $100K! So either Scoble just has this undying love for Microsoft that he would work for what amounts to less than $20/hour, or he has a hidden agenda.

His hidden agenda is his book, "Naked Conversations" - his "blogging for Microsoft" is nothing more than using Microsoft to further sales of his book. All his "traveling" on behalf of Microsoft is nothing more than to spread the word for his book and any other self-promotional tripe he has coming down the pipeline. And he does this all on OUR corporate dollar!

Anonymous said...

I work 100 hours a week answering emails, doing blogs, doing videos, planning videos, giving talks

Would you like a box of tissues? I have been on more deathmarches than I can remember working in WinDiv. The next 6 months aren't going to be any easier thanks to a management that favors marketing fat to software genius.

Speaking of which, Channel 9 just passed three million unique visitors last month.

And how many of these unique visitors actually ended up buying any MS software, thanks to your efforts? That's what your manager was measuring - the ROI on your existence within the company.

Anonymous said...

Yup, that sounds right - except in my case it was still get 4.0's but be asked to leave for [gasp] commenting about what MS needed to do to improve.

My case: 4.0 for two years running, gold star, BUT, no, we can't promote you cuz see, the Level you+1 has a requirement of "receptive to organizational change" and "you still have some development to do there."

So literally, they're telling me, screw your integrity and support stuff you believe in your gut is BAD JUJU, if you want that promo. THEY HAVE LITERALLY MADE DRINKING THE POLITICAL KOOL-AID AND ENCOURAGING FELLOW TEAMMATES TO DRINK THE POLITICAL KOOL-AID A REQUIREMENT FOR ADVANCEMENT IN MY ORG.

Anyone got an idea for how to make an end-run around that HR-wise or hierarchy-wise, or am I stuck with it until I switch groups? The problem is that they're tossing it under one of the competencies related to embracing change. Reality: I DO embrace positive change, just not DUMB change, and especially not DUMB change that I have already seen fail here on campus. They think it's gonna work better because the GM insisting on it has a different set of initials this time? I don't think so.

Yes, I did point out the (few) changes I actively supported, because I believed in them, while at the same time explaining why the other changes were harmful to the project and thus I could not support them. The kinds of changes they want staff to welcome with open arms are: staffing up with one new PM per dev, having new-to-the-job PM's make decisions that should be made by devs, bringing in architects to "fix" a bad design "by the dev team" which is in reality a bad design "by the lead PM who has the ear of mgmt and who wouldn't listen to the rest of the product team" etc. After all the PMs must have something to do, so they create task forces, attend meetings, decide what the devs should do, create PPT's and then hold MORE meetings to communicate these missives to devs; in some cases repeating mistakes we decided were mistakes and shifted away from FOUR YEARS AGO, not that anyone had even told us they were under discussion again, because these decisionmakers are completely new to our project and don't have historical experience with the product/features.

Anonymous said...

After the last couple of times of spyware and addware I have completely switched all my browsing and internet surfing to linux.

A person that can't keep spyware and adware off their Windows system isn't going to be able to keep spyware and adware off any OS they run. The only benefit the other OSes have in that regard is that nobody currently thinks they have enough marketshare to warrant any of that stuff.

Somebody coined a humorous term for this: security by irrelevance.

(Mini, may I ask that you raise your bar higher still? A person that considers uptime to be a measure of OS quality is unlikely have much worthwhile to say.)

Robert Scoble said...

>His hidden agenda is his book, "Naked Conversations" - his "blogging for Microsoft" is nothing more than using Microsoft to further sales of his book.

I'd be happy to share my royalty statements and profit statements with anyone who asks (and sales data is actually pretty public, if you want access to that). If you think I'm getting rich (or, even making enough this year to buy an HDTV off of the royalties) you are severely deluded. I seriously doubt I'll make ANY income off of the book this year and most of my advance went to my coauthor, Shel Israel, cause he needed the money and he did most of the heavy lifting on the book.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone should lobby mgmt hard for faster and bigger stock repurchases. 1000 emails in Liddell's inbox might start to get the message across. It's the best way to quickly start improving life at MSFT."

You're probably right that the stock's malaise is negatively impacting morale - it's adversely impacting perceptions of MS externally as well. But buybacks alone aren't going to do it. First of all, some $50B+ has been spent on buybacks since 00 and yet, all "money returned to shareholders" bullshit aside, shares + equivalents have NEVER gone down YOY. That's because over that period, every year more options were exercised than shares retired. In other words, $50B was hijacked from shareholders and used to pay insiders - the bulk of which likely went to many of the same morons responsible for the current mess. For the stock to perform, a number of items need to occur - most of them obvious:

1) Grow revenue and earnings faster (the current rate is anemic and doesn't justify even today's pathetic price)
2) Reduce costs (they're far higher on a relative basis than in 00 due to Ballmer's hiring binge and the "emerging" boat anchors, making MS less profitable)
3) Reduce the current, ridiculous over-capitalization by paying at least a market dividend and ideally one consistent with the [higher] DOW 30 avg (esp since MS has underperformed both each yr for the past three - a total 60% underperformance)
4) Continue large buybacks (to also reduce the over capiatalization) but make them real vs insider cash grabs and/or a slush fund to make the quarterly numbers (as appears to be the case recently)
5) Start executing instead of looking like the Keystone cops and when snr mgrs consistently fail to perform (Windows, Bus Sol, MSN, etc), fire them vs the current shuffle them off to some other corner of MS.
6) Get aggressive again instead of constantly playing catch up. Surprise the market positively for once (something that hasn't happened in 3+ years).
7) Reduce the number and amt of insider selling amongst senior execs. It's abusively high. If they don't believe in the company, why are they VPs/GMs in the first place and why should any non-insider investor buy in?
8) Reduce the headline risk - every freaking day brings another ten negative stories/developments and no investor wants/needs that.
9) Get MSR focused on technologies that could actually be marketable or send them back to academia and save the cash. Dancing feet? Are you kidding me?
10)Have Gates/Ballmer step down. Their too associated with MS's problems/deeds, too invested in protecting the past, have failed miserably over the past 5 years in taking MS to the next step and neither has been visionary enough to catch even current trends far less lead new ones. Plus, Ballmer's just not camera-ready nor does he instill confidence in the investor community.

p.s. and get the CFO to liven up his delivery a bit - it's currently like watching paint peel.

Anonymous said...

THEY HAVE LITERALLY MADE DRINKING THE POLITICAL KOOL-AID AND ENCOURAGING FELLOW TEAMMATES TO DRINK THE POLITICAL KOOL-AID A REQUIREMENT FOR ADVANCEMENT IN MY ORG.

Exactly. And that's why Gates, Ballmer and Co. need to be thrown back in the ring for a few more rounds of full-contact commentary. They just don't get it. Forget morality. Its wrong to make political gamesmanship the main criteria for promotion in Microsoft. Its pretty evident to all of us who the smart and prescient employees are. If these get passed up by mere toads and sychophants it injures the company doubly.

Robert Scoble said...

>That's what your manager was measuring - the ROI on your existence within the company.

What's the ROI of doing advertising? Hundreds of millions to convince users "we're a small company?"

What's the ROI of having Bill Gates speak at Mix06? A day of his time is worth more than almost a year of mine (just in interest payments).

What's the ROI of having PMs fly across the country and talk with Walt Mossberg?

What's the ROI of having a soccer field that costs more than my annual salary?

My bosses are VERY happy with my ROI, by the way. Why don't you ask them what I've done for the company? They'd be happy to tell you.

As for my book, I've been in more than 100 newspapers, on many TV stations and radio stations/networks around the world and I always represent Microsoft in the best light possible. If I didn't my ROI would be less than my salary and I'd be marched out the door.

My role is a very public one.

Oh, and regarding my trips. Did you know that Microsoft doesn't fund most of those? If I speak about my book the people who are asking me to speak pay my way or I pay my own way.

I guess you didn't cause you didn't ask.

When I went to the CES show, too, I stayed a night in the Hostel. You ever stay in a hostel when you travel on business and try to save Microsoft a few hundred bucks?

--Robert Scoble

Anonymous said...

When I went to the CES show, too, I stayed a night in the Hostel. You ever stay in a hostel when you travel on business and try to save Microsoft a few hundred bucks?

Very media savvy, Scoble. Kevin Turner should put you up as Employee of the Week for livin' life the Walmart way.

You see, unlike you, I have to sit my ass in a chair and chug out Vista code for 16 hrs a day...those PMs can fly all over the country with you for all I care - the more they're away, the more I get my job done.

Anonymous said...

The Brother Anon who said Your lack of planning does not put a burden on me hit the bullseye.

The people who have to clean up the mess don't believe they're getting paid enough to clean it up. 67th percentile, anyone?

The people who have to clean up the mess just don't believe they will get rewarded for it. That, friends and countrymen, is a real problem for Windows. The years of flat stock, meager raises, and a punitive review system, have people saying why bother?

If we all bust our asses and ship this thing, are there going to be more 4.0s? Yeah, right. Bigger bonus pool for L59-65? Um, no. BrianV said as much last fall. No money for raises or bonuses, but you can tell your grandkids you worked on Vista. He appealed to our pride. Worst. Motivational. Speech. Ever.

It was the saddest day of my career at Microsoft to see a good guy like Brian reduced to saying something that lame.

But it's fixable. Doctor Sinofsky, a little timely love for the front-line grunts might be a good prescription. Show people that the passion goes both ways again.

Anonymous said...

(Mini, may I ask that you raise your bar higher still? A person that considers uptime to be a measure of OS quality is unlikely have much worthwhile to say.)

I hearby reverse this statement upon you.

A person who considers uptime NOT to be a measure of OS quality (hello? stability?) probably should be shown the door.

Anonymous said...

Scoble - just please stop.

Anything you say is only troll food. We, all of us, already either like you or not. Nothing else matters. Please just stop. I, of course, encourage you to add to your own blog. That's your job, after all.

And to anti-Scoble folks: You're only adding noise. It's too bad that wasn't modded out already. More SIGNAL!

Whatever happened to a leaner, meaner, more fit Microsoft? I, for one, don't give an damn about our corporate bloggers or their detractors. Let's focus on MSFT.

- dcoop

Anonymous said...

(Mini, may I ask that you raise your bar higher still? A person that considers uptime to be a measure of OS quality is unlikely have much worthwhile to say.)

Can you tell me why ?

I work in Telecom developing carrier grade solutions . I would really be interested in knowing why OS uptime is not a measure of OS quality.

Anonymous said...

It's now been 7 business days since we first learned of the Vista delay (and since then the Office delay/decision to sim-ship)... and yet in lieu of Steve or Bill sending even the smallest of company-wide emails regarding the franchise products, all we get is "crickets".

The silence to me speaks volumes. Mini's title entry was about Passionate Microsofties... I'm one of those, but it's getting harder and harder....

Cheopys said...

(Mini, may I ask that you raise your bar higher still? A person that considers uptime to be a measure of OS quality is unlikely have much worthwhile to say.)

Hmm, I think we've found our Microsoft zealot.

Sorry but having to reboot my XP dev box "just because" it's been a few days since the last reboot isn't something I feel like overlooking. I wouldn't be so charitable even if Linux (and W2K) weren't able to stay up for months. But they are.

Uptime is a very good metric of quality.

The Nog said...

Just the little question to these guys. Are you ready to pay for your system yearly? Update the one (for some money) once-twice per year? Download tons of patches for the linux everyday (the fresh installed system needs several hunderd fresh MBs)?

This is little different from my job as admin of a Windows network. We pay for Windows all over again whenever we buy new machines (as we did last year), and I have to test and distribute every new patch.

If I pulled out my Windows XP install CD, there would be up to a gigabyte of downloads needed, including SP2. If I start from a slipstreamed SP2, there are still several hundred megabytes of updates to catch up with. All operating systems will require patches. I will say that updating something on our lone Ubuntu system is a quicker and less painful process than "Patch Tuesday."

Anonymous said...

The fact is that people at MSFT would feel much better about their work if they could see some upward action in the stock. Most won't admit this, but it is true. A lot of the morale and malaise issues go away or at least shrink a lot when people see their stock price rise. It's human nature.

A major failing at the company is actually the finance division and their misuse of the Windows/Office cash hoarde.

MSFT has been piling up money for years. It just sits there in a big pile getting moldy and rotten. It could be used to buy back our underperforming shares.


The Windows/Office cash hoarde would be bigger if Microsoft executives stopped giving themselves such large amounts of performance compensation.

They attribute the success of their monopoly to their abilities when, in fact, for most PC's sold, Microsoft is goind to make money anyway.

It would be better if Microsoft started paying its shareholders (owners) instead of just executives.

There is no incentive for Microsoft executives to make the stock price go up. Because of all the cash coming in (no matter what they do), they can afford to issue more shares and pay them to executives. The executives, in turn, can sell them and invest in a company with few problems and much better stock performance.

This is another area where HR is failing miserably. They like to think of themselves as executives too so they don't want to rock the boat.

HR works for the executives of Microsoft instead of all shareholders.

Anonymous said...

A person that considers uptime to be a measure of OS quality is unlikely have much worthwhile to say.

Two people (at least) have already responded to this, but neither said quite what I think needed to be said, namely, that OS downtime is a measure of lack of quality. Why did the guy brag about Linux being up 126 days? Because it's unusual in the Windows world! (It does happen, but not often, partly because Windows Update makes you reboot after too many of the patches.) So you want to shut this guy up? Make an OS where that kind of uptime isn't unusual, and he won't have anything to brag about.

Which brings me to a pattern I've noticed here a few times: "MS has problems, that's why we come to this blog, but anyone who says anything good about Apple or Linux must be a fanboy and should be moderated out of here". Um, hello? Can't you accept that a screwed-up company with screwed-up processes might produce a less-than-wonderful product? I grant you that talented people work at MS, but it sure sounds like your organization is holding you back more than helping you. Do you wonder, then, that other people might be able to outdo you?

The first part of fixing problems is to admit that they exist. The people here admit that there are problems in Microsoft's organization. Good. But there are problems in Microsoft's products, too. Can you admit that? Can you recognize that while OS X and Linux have problems too, they may be different problems? Problems that frustrate users less than Windows problems frustrate users? Can you recognize that other products might, just possibly, actually be better than Microsoft's, at least for some uses for some users? Can you consider the possibility that people could recognize some superiorities in non-MS products without being fanboys or trolls? Or do you prefer to keep your head in the sand?

MSS

Anonymous said...

i hope that in the not too distant future we will be in a place where mini can safely unmask him/herself and can receive the credit he/she's due.

credit for what remains to be seen. :)

this blog and the comments it generates are amazing. filter out the noise and it's the best place to get the pulse of the real microsoft from the employee, customer, and shareholder perspective. it is the best example of what a blog is good for that i have ever seen. congrats to mini for that. this is a great blog.

the problem is that i still don't see that any credible action will result from all this talk. are people going to do anything about the very real problems at the company, or is this blog just a place to vent some steam and then it's back to work? it seems that the only "action item" on everyone's agenda is to wait for senior management to magically change it's stripes and fix everything.

will this blog result in any of the changes that are so eloquently argued for by mini and numerous thoughtful contributors?

great, we have a blog. what is the next step?

Anonymous said...

Mac/*nix Heads, can you stop assailing us with how everybody and their mother-in-law are moving to Mac? We know already about these massive defections. Heck Apple just moved up another .0000000001% of the market to 4.0000000002%. Can we rest now?

No.

First off, as has already been pointed out, Microsoft makes money off of there being a Mac market. You've probably forgotten this, since Windows-flavored Kool-Aid is all they serve in the corporate cafeteria, but this money does help pay your salary and support your stock price (it helps obscure what a money sink XBox is, since their revenue gets lumped in with XBox).

Secondly, as had ALSO been pointed out, Microsoft ships an entire version of Office...to industry-wide acclaim and awards...with 200 people.

Hmm, what's the point of Mini's blog again? A leaner, meaner Microsoft? Oh, right...

Yes, I know, the MacBU uses some contributions from other teams in Office. But there's TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE in their org chart, dude, shipping Word/Excel/Powerpoint/an Outlook counterpart. There are a lot of other teams that should be shamed by that.

And you know what? The OS team at Apple, the counterpart to WinDiv? Less than 500 people. Contemplate that for a minute. Oh, and they managed to go from shipping betas to RTM of an OS that let them switch processor architectures in the space of 6 months. I know for a fact XP SP2 x64 took longer than THAT.

Yeah, you have to support more OEMs and hardware, etc, etc, blah blah blah. Here's a tissue. Apple's figured out what they needed to do to enforce engineering discipline, because if they didn't, they'd be out of business. Let's see if Microsoft can do that before they end up in the dire straights Apple was in circa 1995-1996.

So, I'd see if you can figure out what the Mac BU and Apple are doing right, instead of deriding Mac-heads. If it means being more aggressive in saying "No, we can't do that", or "No, we can't support every little legacy thing your heart desires, OEM- we'll extend QFE support on Windows 2K, XP and Vista, but we CANNOT make Vienna backwards-compatible to the beginning of time", or "OK, Mr 2.5 GM/PUM, you're history", or "We need to cut headcount in Windows"...then DO it.

Anonymous said...

According to this survey, users have a quite low opinion of Microsoft as compared with other computer and electronics brands:

www.sysadmin.it/eng/news/news.asp?id=348&titolo=Sony%20trounces%20Microsoft%20&%20Nintendo%20in%20brand%20trust%20survey

Anonymous said...

>Can you tell me why ?

I work in Telecom developing carrier grade solutions. I would really be interested in knowing why OS uptime is not a measure of OS quality.


I'd be delighted to. The anonymous poster was boasting of uptime as a measure of the quality of a desktop OS, where a few minutes of downtime is only a minor inconvenience but remaining updated with fixes for vulnerabilities is vital.

Operating in a telecom environment is a different situation entirely, and I do agree that uptime is crucial there, but, in some ways, it is easier to achieve as well.

Anonymous said...

The "Nix" post had a comment about a wide-dispersal email going out about folks staying away from Mini-Microsoft. The enemy.

This is probably a result of the executive offsite.

Here I thought they'd learn about a new, wonderful compensation model and be ramped up to start re-invigorating Microsofties with a sensible system.

Instead... shh... be vewwy quiet... I'm hunting Minis...

They've probably determined that all of their woes are because of Mini-Microsoft.

It will be interesting to see how this proceeds... enjoy that Red Hook, Mini. You might be crying in it sooner than later.

Anonymous said...

Nonsense. Lisa Brummel herself even admitted she reads Mini regularly. If anything, MS has a history of self-criticism and tolerance towards it.

And to all the people whining about how much they work, how little they get paid, how difficult it is to be a dev, a field agent, etc. Damn, if you hate your job so much, get another one! Bunch of whiners. One thing I definitely see here at MS is too many whiners. Maybe the key to the leaner MS is throwing all those people out and regaining all that lost productivity.

And to all the devs whining about PM's, you should report those PM's that only stand in your way and don't contribute, as they're obviously not doing their job. A real PM is not there to hold meetings and waste time. In my group, PM's really lead the technical design of our products, and most of them are highly regarded in their areas of expertise, with multiple books/patents/awards/conferences/standards under their belts. And they aren't even high level PM's either. Take a look at some of the worthwhile features in Vista, and chances are they were invented by PM's. I know of at least 2 major ones from Vista and Office. This is what a PM is, and what they should do. If you see otherwise, you should report them to your manager(s), instead of whining some more, and encouraging misled and counter-productive individualism.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please post that email about Mini. Thank you.

The Nog said...

great, we have a blog. what is the next step?

Start up www.savemicrosoft.com and send letters to all the shareholders. Study what happened at Disney to get Eisner booted and use it as a model. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know about review processes at other companies. Does anyone know about the review process at any of these companies:-

Apple
Oracle
Intel
IBM
HP
Sun Micro
Google
Yahoo
Ebay
Amazon
Real Networks

I do not think MSFT has one of the worst review systems. I do agree that the present system creates a poisonous atmosphere in many teams without much incentive to cooperate.

Anonymous said...

For all you unhappy people, here is what I can almost hear the management telling "low-level employees":

"We don't want to pay you more. If you think you are too smart for MSFT, go join Google or whoever.

We have two solid monopolies. The processes are in place. If you leave, we will replace you with a younger worker, who will cost less for us. (for pay and benefits). The H-1B visa quota has been increased recently. More immigrant labor available.

Programming has been made a little easier for teams that use C#. We don't think we need the smartest people at the IC level anyways.

Stock price: Who cares, when we, the management, gets lots of stock awards and not options."

------

Bottom line, if you are unhappy, leave. If you have to sell your home and move out of Seattle, do that. The weather around here is the worst anyways.

Anonymous said...

Why did the guy brag about Linux being up 126 days? Because it's unusual in the Windows world! (It does happen, but not often, partly because Windows Update makes you reboot after too many of the patches.)

Maybe it's just me, I'd rather tolerate a reboot now and then while I'm asleep than leave things unfixed just for the sake of uptime. Whatever floats your boat, though.

Which brings me to a pattern I've noticed here a few times: "MS has problems, that's why we come to this blog, but anyone who says anything good about Apple or Linux must be a fanboy and should be moderated out of here". Um, hello? Can't you accept that a screwed-up company with screwed-up processes might produce a less-than-wonderful product? I grant you that talented people work at MS, but it sure sounds like your organization is holding you back more than helping you. Do you wonder, then, that other people might be able to outdo you?

Sorry, Charlie, wrong number. I have no difficulty believing somebody can outdo MS. I'm also all too aware that screwed up processes make it harder to put out good products, because I live that every day. From my observation, most of my colleagues feel the same.

But most Linux and Apple postings here are just plain pointless. Often they show no understanding of business, computers, or really much of anything else. Say that Linux requires less man-hours to manage because of X, Y, and Z, and we'll have something to discuss. Say that "Linux doesn't need reboots because it has no bugs." and you're just wasting your time and ours. Say that things A, B and C in are easier to do in the OS X shell than the Windows desktop and there's room for debate. Say that "Me and my six buddies switched to Apple." and it's just another 39 bytes on a server somewhere.

Cheopys writes:
Uptime is a very good metric of quality.

No hire.

Anonymous said...

Start up www.savemicrosoft.com and send letters to all the shareholders. Study what happened at Disney to get Eisner booted and use it as a model. Seriously.


Interesting idea, so I thought about it this evening.

1. Identify sub-communities of supporters. Something like employees, stockholders, home customers, business/enterprise customers, external partners such as ISV's.
2. Craft individual campaigns to appeal to them, starting with groups most likely to strongly vocally support you (in Disney's case, the animation community; in our case, ??? maybe some really independently-minded and brave ISV's or fund managers?), and using that initial support to bolster your appeals to later groups
3. Connect people with technology (mini is already doing that for the "MS employee" parallel to the "Disney cast member" section; we would still need online communities for other sub-groups.
4. Find a message that resonates with the media and repeat it over and over again so that it gets lots of ink, and post links to online media articles so that those in supporter communities can see that the campaign is making progress and will continue to advocate for you.
5. Leverage the power of the proxy vote with everything you've got. DIS shareholders with more than a few hundred shares were somehow identified by the savedisney effort, and savedisney called them on multiple occasions and encouraged them to vote their proxy, and I think even offered folks assistance with filing their proxy vote. I was radically impressed by this, never having seen anything like it before, related to any of my other holdings.
6. Keep at it until the company gets worried and takes action.

Here are some differences:
(1) Disney is an emotional hook, as well as a cultural phenomenon, to many in the common populace. They associate Disney with their childhood, with "good things", etc. at a very core level. As such, tens of thousands of random people were willing to sign petitions, wear t-shirts, etc., to save a legacy that was positioned as extremely "at risk" (I believe, truthfully so). I don't believe "productivity" or even "coolness" will have the same hook to rally average folks to this cause. What else can we offer that is uniquely MSFT?

(2) This cause doesn't have a public leader, the likes of Roy Disney (who just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Walt Disney, and who knows how to use that to maximize his impact). This enables him to make use of the positive unconscious association many have with the name "Walt Disney," and inspire confidence in his statements that whatever he is proposing is best for the company. He had also been around the company for many years and has history on his side. I'm sure there are some at MSFT who qualify in terms of history, but not many, and who knows if any of them want the job? Best I can come up with is the occasionally-mentioned Brad Silverberg who got Win95 out the door and who had a fair number of rabid fans in and around Microsoft way back when. Slam that product all that you want for its flaws and the fact will remain that it was leaps and bounds ahead of anything else MS had ever done, from the UI and general consumer usability perspectives. WE NEED OUR ROY DISNEY OR STEVE JOBS to personify and ostensibly lead the campaign, and participate in leading the company after that. Who is it?

And here's a similarity:
(1) It's likely that many fund managers hold Microsoft. Many hold (held?) DIS, and the savedisney effort was able to convince at least a few of these folks who control a large number of shares that something had to be done.

And another:
(2) Eisner seemed good for the company in his early years. He really seemed to turn it around (my impression only). However, he then went into cash cow mode and started milking assets to keep things profitable in the short term when he had trouble creating new assets, even if milking those assets diluted their worth in the long term. It's one of those things that make one sit back and think, "hmmm, have I seen that happen anywhere else?".

(3) At DIS, creative decisions in recent years had to be cost-justified (earnings-per-share efforts, anyone?) and would simply not be approved by beancounters if there was any way at all to do it cheaper, even with a drop in quality. This of course further eroded the brand. Deja vu all over again. But are consumers as vocally unhappy with MSFT product quality as some folks have recently been about DIS product quality? I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

Mini make up your mind on what you want for this "Passionate Microsofties" post. I thought you wanted ideas? As many others have pointed out the "Porn is better on Mac/Linux" posts are getting in the way of good exchange between msfties.

It is your call but this is degenerating into another Mac v Linux, PM v Dev, when we are looking for ideas.

Even the king of the "ex-msft, I have all the time in the world for perpetual negative posting The Khalif had an idea kind of post here. Of course this is impossible for the rest of the club members Nog and Cheopys

I have an idea - when you get back from post break you can throw these people a bone with a "Why Microsoft Sucks Bad.." post. Then they can unleash their hatred and anger

Who da'Punk said...

Regarding the uptime debate:

Sorry, it's important and all to have a discussion about uptime and unexpected reboots but it is getting off-topic and turning into a small relgious debate (surprisingly).

Anonymous said...

MSFT is not a explosive growth company anymore. It is a mixed of value and growth. Use the cash to grow. Buy Intel for providing vertical experience just like Apple. I would have said buy Dell but that would raise anti-trust issues. Further it will alleniate other PC manufacturers. In Intel case even if it partially alleniate other chip manufacturer still it is a good tradeoff because Intel is 80 percent of chip market. There are several benefits of buying Intel. Intel is at a critical point itself and recently losing market share to AMD, though they have a long term prospect far better than AMD. Basically one could get Intel now at cheaper than its long term fair value. Another benefit, synergies of intel+windows will make the pc platform even cheaper. Could ignite the same kind of growth in emerging market as it happened in developed markets. One could dream a computer on every desktop of middle class families in emerging market. About 300 millions more PCs. One more benefit is that Intel has recently dreamed of becoming a platform company just like microsoft. Microsoft already has a good experience in this domain to realize intel dream. Geographical proximity of intel and microsoft is also a plus. But still my favorite benefit is vertical experience much better like apple. Who does everything except making chips. The chip and the OS are the two hardest part, in terms of development, of a computer. The synergy is going to be unbounded. The society will benefit a lot.

Anonymous said...

I hate to disappoint you Mac faithful people here, but according to this article, market share of mac has dropped off pretty bad since steve took over.

http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/business/columnists/mike_langberg/14191452.htm?source=rss&channel=siliconvalley_mike_langberg

Found the article on Digg.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know about review processes at other companies. Does anyone know about the review process at any of these companies:-

Apple
Oracle
Intel
IBM
HP
Sun Micro
Google
Yahoo
Ebay
Amazon
Real Networks


I don't think Google has a review system in place. I interviewed with them (didn't get the job) and my interviewer told me that Google was a place where managers are more like mentors and "gatherers of ideas" through that internal ideas pipeline that they have there - they apparently don't engage in the "yes you're good at this, you're bad at this" review process that goes on in most corporations.

Can a current Googler confirm this? How do you promote people if there's no review process in place?

TheKhalif said...

Even the king of the "ex-msft, I have all the time in the world for perpetual negative posting The Khalif had an idea kind of post here. Of course this is impossible for the rest of the club members Nog and Cheopys



Wow, am I popular. I always have ideas that MS can use and I'm sorry I can do "multitasking" well. I, as I have said before, have a vested interest in the success of MS because I have to program for the Windows platform. If it sucks or is not well-received what is the purpose of C# without GTK#?

At any rate we thank you for your comments. Why not demean me on my blog?

Anonymous said...

As said before, this management thingy reminds me of Commodore. Maybe you should read: "On The Edge - The spectacular rise and fall of Commodore".

http://www.commodorebook.com/view.php?content=book

If not for anything else,just to reflect on things.

Anonymous said...

Serious postmortem?

Some years ago, it was very useful to look at the postmortems of past projects and really think about what went wrong in those projects from an IC level to the CEO level.

The postmortem on XP was weak and 2003 was even less introspective.

Much of what is being mentioned here should really go into a Windows Division postmortem where each item in the postmortem becomes a public action item to address for a VP or Partner.

Further, since ship cycles are getting longer and longer, these postmortems need to happen at more frequent milestones.

Anonymous said...

In my group, PM's really lead the technical design of our products, and most of them are highly regarded in their areas of expertise, with multiple books/patents/awards/conferences/standards under their belts.

PMs tend to get patents just for putting the name on the spec that a dev told them to write after working out all the problems. Under our system, the people who spend the most time figuring out a solution often get the least recognition.

Anonymous said...

"hatred and anger"

--
Anger leads to hate
Hate leads to suffering
Suffering leads to PRODUCT SLIP.

Yoda
PM
Jedi Council

Anonymous said...

So this is a pretty weird experience for me. I don't want to fan the mac vs. windows vs. linux debate. I do want to put a little twist on it though.

Part of my obsession with Windows is that I wrote major pieces of it and always felt it was the best tool for the various "jobs" I used it for:

- as an in-house mail server, I found exchange super easy to get going and keep running
- as a file and print server, windows server is super useful and easy to run
- as a desktop for loading photos, managing finances, producing powerpoint slides windows excels
- as a laptop in the family room, windows is great because it provides you with choice

Basically, I felt that for many of the jobs I had, windows was always the best tool

Over the years, I had a few hiccups that brought me very close to throwing a machine in lake washington...

For instance, have any of you ever had a dc running exchange experience a hardware failure? Recovery in this situation is VERY difficult and VERY frustrating.

My first transition away from 100% windows was the purchase of a snap server, a NAS in a box which runs multiple mirrored drives. This thing is priced right, offers great data protection, does one thing and does it very well. Instead of running a windows file server to store all of the photos and documents in my home, I now "manage" a SnapServer. It is the right tool for the job. I don't have to worry about patch tuesday anymore, dc or registry "corruption", etc. With the SnapServer, it just runs. I think it is the right tool for the job, and it is infinitely easier to manage than an equivalent windows server.

Yesterday at work, I needed to build a little tool that we could use to probe the overall health and operation of a service. I could have written this in any number of languages including Java, C#, etc. I choose Python because I felt that it was the right tool for the job.

For a lot of the code I write, I edit on Windows (because I like visual slick), but edit files stored on a linux backbone. I do all my builds on linux and run all my code on linux. I code in java, javascript, python, and c++. This seems to be the right toolset for the kind of work that I do. A lot of my friends prefer the linux environment on their desktop and for engineers, writing code, I think this is a great choice. The virtual desktop support and shell scripting environment is awesome for engineers. If all that I did was write code, I would be on a linux desktop because its the right tool for this job. Unfortunately, in addition to cranking code, I probably produce a deck 2-3 times each month, and when producing decks, I like to use a fair amount or artwork. I like to embelish screen shots, produce annotated block diagrams, etc. I use a mix of visio, photoshop and powerpoint and because of these tools, that I feel are world class, I like what the windows desktop offers. I use a windows desktop in my professional life because its the right tool for the job.

Two years ago my son asked for a mac. He explained to me how cool that mac was, how well it worked with itunes, how it did everything he needed to do and in his opinion was world class. His life revolves around music, blogging, myspace, im, email, writing papers for school, photos, internet browsing. If you look at this set of use cases its very hard to argue that windows is a superior tool vs. the mac. For the web related scenarios, I feel that Windows with IE is arguably worse than a Mac/Safari or Mac/Firefox combo, and only Windows/Firefox is on par with the Mac solution. For the desktop applications, IM is equivalent (remember he is a kid so he uses AOL IM), Word on the Mac blows away Word on the PC, but for a high school student, you could argue that they are virtually equivalent. Itunes just feels better on a Mac. For photos, out of the box, the Mac is just plain better. Better than Vista? Who knows, but certainly better than Windows. Now for a high school student, the Mac just keeps getting better. With Garage Band, he makes his own ringtones, with the movie/dvd stuff he creates short films... The iLife series is good stuff. Not useless utilities like cardfile. I really think that for my son, the Mac is the right tool for the job. It provides all the functionality that he needs and offers a superior out of the box experience.

The family room pc/laptop. Lets talk for a minute about the typical family room shared laptop... This machine is used to access email for all the family members as well as many guests visiting the house. This machine is used to browse the internet, chat with friends on im, etc. Occasionally, it is used to finish writing a paper, but really its primarily a recreational computer used as a communication tool and as a browsing tool. This kind of machine gets very heavy use. It MUST be durable and it MUST be safe. In my personal opinion, the Windows environment is NOT approriate for this use case. Windows, especially with IE, is NOT a safe environment. Windows machines in this kind of environment become littered with malware, registry rot, random IE add-ons, etc. I know many of you out there will blame this on us poor users, BUT I think this is a cop out. It is virtually impossible to keep a Windows/IE environment safe and clean in a casual use shared environment. I am sure Vista is going to offer increased protection and robustness in this area so if thats your reply, you are just re-enforcing my point... That Windows/IE is so bad and dangerous in a shared, casual use environment, that Microsoft spend 5+ years and billions of dollars to address the issue head on, and for the cost of a new pc, you can get the benefit :)

But seriously, forget who you work for and look at this objectively... In this internet centric use case, Mac/Safari or Mac/FF offers a superior experience to Windows/IE. For this application, I strongly believe that Mac is a superior tool to Windows. Of course this is looking at things in a mode where we are sort of comparing apples to oranges. When you look at the mac environment, you are looking at the complete package. One that includes both the hardware and the software. The Mac environment is the right tool, BUT only if the Mac computer itself offers the right combination of price, features, and form factors. If you are looking at a standard issue MacBook Pro vs. a Dell, or Thinkpad X series, or Thinkpad T4x, etc. I personally think that the Mac laptops are superior. I think the fit/finish of the Mac is superior, the seamless integration of the various componets, the battery life, the keyboard quality. Really, and I honestly think this way, the only reason to go Windows if you are looking at machines like tis is if you insist on a trackpoint based mouse. If this is what you need, then get a thinkpad t4x and run Windows/FF. Otherwise, I think the Mac tool is the right tool for the job.

This internet wave has impacted everyone a little bit differently. Microsoft has struggled to both embrace it and fight it. What is happening though is that more and more of our time is spent using web based applications and resources. We need stable and reliable platforms to run our browsers, we need investments in these core pieces of software. They are the front doors to much of what we do with our computers. For many, the right tool for the job, the right computing environment is the environment that offers the superior browser experience and I firmly believe that for these people, they will find that the Mac/Safari or Mac/FF experience superior to Windows.

The title of this post is passionate microsofties, and I feel that I have strayed a bit? Sort of, but not really...

There was a time, long ago, when Microsoft was threatened by the internet and really had no software to speak of in this space. Bill mobilized the army, invested heavily, crushed the competition, was convicted by the federal government, etc. Microsoft invented IE and quickly dominated this space. There was no one left. Microsoft ownded this space by default. But, after winning this war and obliterating the competition, Microsoft failed to comprehend the shift to web centric life styles. They failed to understand that this wasn't a fad, and that instead, the bulk of someones time in front of a computer would be spent through the lense of a browser, interacting with web based applications. Instead of focusing on this use case, they let in languish and reverted back to monopoly preservation. They focused on trying to draw developers back to their PC platform through .NET, direct x, winfs, etc. I am not discounting asp.net, indigo, etc. Just not spending the time to discuss this set of net related activities.

The real focus at Microsoft was working hard to draw people to "the rich client" experience. Microsoft could have instead focused on the network centric rich client, an environment where they enriched the AJAX environment, took a leadership role in the various protocols, schemas, and interaction models that define how this current generation of applications adds value to our increasingly connected lives. Instead, they saw this as a threat to the relevency of the desktop and since they owned this space, letting it languish would hopefully mean that the status quo would be preserved. While I don't think this will turn out to be a fatal mistake, it was a stupid move and I think it has opened the door for others.

Instead of looking at the mac vs. windows vs. linux argument they way we have been in this blog. I think instead, it would be great for all of us to look at what our ideal toolset would consist of, and honestly loot at which environment offers the best tool for the job.

For me, this means:

- Windows based domain controller
- linux based NAS appliance
- linux based Firewall appliance
- Mac, shared use family PC
- Mac, primary PC for high school and college kids
- Windows based small form factor PC to run dedicated software used to interact with computerized sewing machine and to download home automation/lighting programming
- Windows desktop editing/authoring environment at work
- Linux computing at work to run, build, manage, and deploy my code
- Print servers run by HP net-direct print servers
- Hosted Domain Gmail

So for me, to summarize:
- Windows server, as long as you run dual dc's is a reasonable domain controller/account management environment
- PC's for certain content creation tasks and when specialized PC based client software is the ONLY option
- Mac for all web centric, and typical duty authoring environments
- Linux/Proprietary OS based appliences whenever possible
- Google hosted email

This is the right toolset for me and my family, and I strongly feel that this is the right toolset for a large number of businesses throughout the world. It IS NOT the answer for everyone though so do your homework and look at your needs objectively. Don't dismiss Mac/Linux as niche solutions for fanatics only. These are very viable solutions for a huge and relevant set of use cases.

-a former microsoftie, now working at a competitor

Anonymous said...

>>>"...As much as I hate to say this as a manager..."

Have you considered joining one of our competitors? With the likes of you defecting, taking their “raw” talent of cheap yet lame leadership with them, our stock may even go up.

You can donate six moths of your life to the charity of your choice but don’t sign mine up.

If you want to do some minimal good, fix some bugs (if you know how) on the way out. Given your “statements and ideas” I’m sure your team would be happy to show you the way out and promptly close the door after you go eat dinner while leaving them to slave away at hard work.

Waiting for someone to take the first step... Talk about 0 leadership...

Anonymous said...

As a Microsoft employee I am incredibly dissapointed by the actions and strategy our executive leadership is taking this company. I'm am also finding our leadership more and more untrustworthy and dishonest. Apparently, our customers feel the same way.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060330-6491.html

Anonymous said...

I just started in COSD as an SDE, and I can tell you that after 14-16 hour days during the week and 6 hours on Saturday I go home completly wiped out, with no energy at all.

Devs working on Vista are earning every frigging dollar they are paid, and then some. And the head of our division works almost as hard as the devs, and certainly harder than the PMs. The testers are working their asses off as well. Even the bizdev guys are busting ass. The PMs, even though they go home at 7pm or so, are working pretty hard.

All you bashers out there can kiss it.

Anonymous said...

In a story related to Microsoft destroying another market, they mention when Microsoft is shipping the second release of Vista - 2009.

Either that, or they mean the server version of Vista is shipping in 2009.

Microsoft Makes Virtual Server R2 Free

"A year ago, it said it would fold a hypervisor--software that manages virtual machines--into release 2 of the upcoming Longhorn Windows Server, which is expected around 2009."

Anonymous said...

You want to know what's wrong with Microsoft? The insane need to compete with everyone.

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1945069,00.asp?kc=ewnws040306dtx1k0000599

I cannot figure out why Microsoft feels the need to compete with everyone in every market. Especially now that they are giving away Virtual Server for free… What’s the point? Why do they care whose virtualization product we use? Either way we end up buying a lot more OS licenses from them… Virtualization in general makes Microsoft more money because another VM instance is fairly cheap compared to buying a whole other physical server. We end up with MORE Microsoft Windows licenses than we would if we had to buy yet another physical machine each time we wanted another development server.



Right now, they are paying real money to programmers to work on Virtual Server which they give away for free, and for what? What possible business plan is there for this product that generates ZERO revenues? Why not let other third-party vendors (VMware, Xen, etc.) fight over the virtualization marketplace, while Microsoft can concentrate on selling more OS licenses (which actually DOES make the company money).

Anonymous said...

VMWare / Xen hypervisors are a grave risk to Windows monopoly on consumer desktop. Imagine if Dell decided to ship desktops with VMWare pre-installed running Windows in one VM, SUSE in another, perhaps Apple OX X in third.

All of the sudden, consumers don't have to choose either-or, and with time many will realize that Windows is not all that necesary to get the job done.

Giving Virtual Server away makes sense - it's slow, resource hungry and already requires Windows license for the host OS.

Giving away a good hypervisor - I just don't see this happening, unless the (unrealistic and misguided) goal is to handicap every other guest OS. Sort of like the AARD story.

Anonymous said...

What about the MS Poll?

Given LisaB's "talking and ignoring tour" and overall exec disconnect, is there even a point in filling it out? What else is there to say that has not been said and ignored in previous polls?

Isn't it better to just not fill it out and send a message that way?

It will tell our "leadership" to
sell crazy somewhere else, as they are all STOCK-ed up

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed reading your comments. took me the whole day to finish.
----------------------------
safecutt says

TheKhalif said...

Devs working on Vista are earning every frigging dollar they are paid, and then some. And the head of our division works almost as hard as the devs, and certainly harder than the PMs. The testers are working their asses off as well. Even the bizdev guys are busting ass. The PMs, even though they go home at 7pm or so, are working pretty hard.



I don't think anyone doubts that MS devs work hard but since mgmt is layering process on top of process most devs are not working SMART.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think anyone doubts that MS devs work hard but since mgmt is layering process on top of process most devs are not working SMART." - TheKhalif

I don't think this is a fair statement. The organization is not working smart. Assigning that to the devs when the devs are (essentially) being forbidden to work smart seems a bit unfair.

The "Disney" approach: First actual workable idea for doing something about it that I've heard yet. It will take a lot of work, though. Mini isn't going to do it by himself. Not by a long shot...

MSS

Anonymous said...

"What about the MS Poll?

Given LisaB's "talking and ignoring tour" and overall exec disconnect, is there even a point in filling it out? What else is there to say that has not been said and ignored in previous polls?"


MSPOLL "issues" are not ignored. They are assessed in terms of the cost of addressing them v. not addressing them.

Bear in mind that losing apparently valuable employees may still be a viable business alternative to, for example, giving an annual cost-of-living adjustment. Only if there is a perceived impact to the bottom line will anything be done to rectify ANY issue. For everything else it's managers at various levels expressing concern about the "could do betters", and setting up town hall meetings as a safety valve. In fairness, I think that many managers do listen and are genuinely concerned, but they can't do anything because they don't have the power to make any meaningful changes.

To the folks out there posting "it's not fair" comments - you're right! It's not! But why do you expect it would be? The only REAL power anyone in our line of work has is to walk, and worse, swell the ranks of the competition. This is terribly blunt, but true: if your skills are other than very hard to replace, then you're a commodity, and throughout the ages that's been a weak position for an employee to be in.

No company, MS or elsewhere cares about "fair" beyond the level needed for public relations (Life/Work balance), or to attract new hires (health plan).

Steve says "I love this company!" because he wants you to do so as well - then you'll do extra work for nothing!! (Arguably, he probably does love it - it's made him quite comfortable, thank you.) But for everyone else, its BS - it sure won't love you back, and its a cruel shock for those that find out the hard way. It's hard to change your viewpoint in this way - particularly if you have no external experience to serve as a comparison - but it's realistic. Enjoy what you do, be happy with the business arrangement that "You Inc." has with MS, or walk.

Anonymous said...

To the responder that said we should be able to keep our machines clean and malware free ourselves, that its not that hard, that any "moron" should be able to do this.

Please explain:

Microsoft Says Recovery from Malware Becoming Impossible
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.—In a rare discussion about the severity of the Windows malware scourge, a Microsoft security official said businesses should consider investing in an automated process to wipe hard drives and reinstall operating systems as a practical way to recover from malware infestation.

Windows is a dangerous and destructive environment for virtually all home users and small businesses. I can not imagine my real estate agents being able to build an automated process to wipe their hard drives and reinstall the OS. Can you? What about your barber, gardener, pre-school teachers, etc.

Is Vista going to one and for all end this madness? If not, I wonder what can justify all the billions MS spent on its development.

Anonymous said...

As so much passion seems to be sapped by the highly subjective review process, I thought I'd throw the following in.
Many professions require candidates for promotion to pass tests, and/or publish papers that enhance the body of knowledge within their profession, or both.

For our managers in particular, far more rigorous vetting is needed to weed out the inappropriate ("no-one else wanted to do it"), the opportunistic, and the plain incompetent.

Perhaps this sounds radical, but considering how utterly arbitrary are the conditions by which one is currently deemed ready for promotion - particularly to a management role - I don't see how it could be worse.

Benefits:

1. Taking a chunk of the barrier to promotion away from the highly subjective auspices of an individual manager
2. Leveling the playing field across the company by NOT relying on locally-administered quality gates for promotion (and CSPs are still this...)
3. Providing ongoing incentive to learn and grow - weed out the "rest and vest"
4. Providing incentive for individuals to submit their thoughts and ideas in the form of papers (peer reviewed at the macro level, perhaps)
5. Provide a higher quality of manager, whose effectiveness has been probed BEFORE they are given the role. The current requirement for training, and the depth of the training itself is a joke - managers can be in the role for a year or more before they get any formal training, for what that few days is worth

Drawbacks:

1. Administration of the above
2. Lack of flexibility. (That said, particularly for manager candidates the current barriers to entry are plainly insufficient, so we have numerous inappropriate managers squandering the talent pool)

Not everyone favors formal tests, and not everyone has the same facility with communication skills. To both points: I say tough.

First, if you're ready for promotion (IC or manager), you'll have know problem demonstrating it. Secondly, if you can't communicate effectively, then you're definitely not a candidate for promotion.

Anonymous said...

What about the MS Poll?

The MS Poll affects Microsoft executives' OHI numbers. You won't get anything except relatively softball questions in the MS Poll.

There's no way to verify what executives say are the results.

Given how 'anonymous' a survey that you fill out while logged into your account is, it is difficult to say whether the results reflect the actual attitude of Microsoft employees or if many look at it as another opportunity to show what a loyal employee they are by filling out the answers the management wants to hear.

A good way to improve your OHI score is to get rid of people who are unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
Take all the time you need to relax and recharge.

I for one really appreciate all that you are doing here. As a person who posted positive, constructive information about Microsoft on Slashdot in the past, I know what type of fanatical and bizzare submissions you have been dealing with. It is wise to take a break.

Keep up the good work.
Microsoft needs more people like you.


Sincerely,
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

PMs tend to get patents just for putting the name on the spec that a dev told them to write after working out all the problems. Under our system, the people who spend the most time figuring out a solution often get the least recognition.

WTF, they obviously suck then, and you should listen to what I said in my first post, and report them. You're allowing them to step all over you, and that, I would say, is your fault. In my team everyone gets the credit they deserve, and every position contributes more than enough to be justified "under our system." It seems like you're in the wrong team, and you should do something about it, but please stop generalizing. I'm a dev and I have many patents under my belt as well, some shared with PM's, some not, but I reckon some of the most important work my team's done, including some industry-wide adopted standard technologies, have been developed solely by some of our PM's, involving years of work and thousands of pages of standard drafts and technical publications.

Anonymous said...

I still haven't figured out the Windows / Mac connection. I know that we spend a lot of time collecting and testing drivers that go boxed-set into Windows. Once Windows is loaded on a Mac, and the system is rebooted and brought up under OSX, does OSX get to take advantage of the drivers that shipped with Windows? Is so, having Windows on board might be adding a great deal of functionality to OSX while saving Apple a lot of cycles (test) and money into the deal. Hope not.

Anonymous said...

No company, MS or elsewhere cares about "fair" beyond the level needed for public relations (Life/Work balance), or to attract new hires (health plan).

Just go to http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2005/12/confidential-mercurial-comments.html#c113479706721642227

You'll see MarkL comment gloriously on how Google engineers work about 18 hrs a day. Quality of life here at MS is way better than at Google.

How many of those engineers are really passionate vs. appearingn to be "lazy" if they work only 8 hrs a day?

Anonymous said...

Drew,

To answer your question about the hierarchy at Apple, let's consider a typical group of developers, like the guys who work on Safari.

They have a first-line manager who's responsible for Safari and WebKit as well as Apple's efforts on KHTML. He reports to a director. The director is responsible for Safari, and (IIRC) three other projects of a similar scope.

The director reports to a VP named Scott Forstal who is responsible for what they call the "platform experience" group. Cocoa, Carbon, WebKit, Speech, Accessibility, Mail all belong to Forstal. His peers are the VPs who handle CoreOS, DevTools, and Graphics & Media (that is, GL, Quartz, and Quicktime).

Those VPs report to the Senior VP, Bertrand Serlet. Bertrand is responsible for OS X in its entirety. He is not responsible for the apps like Final Cut or the iTunes Music store.

All of the senior VPs nominally report to Oppenheimer (the CFO,) only because Steve Jobs doesn't like to do reviews.

So for your average coder on the WebKit, there are four levels of managers before Steve Jobs. Over in the hardware world you tend to have more people per manager and fewer management layers. Most of the people on iPod, for example, are only two levels away from Tony Fadell.

All in all, for a Fortune-100 company, I'd have to say that Apple's got the tightest management organization I've ever seen. There isn't a lot of dead wood there, and what little there is doesn't last long in Engineering.

Anonymous said...

Once Windows is loaded on a Mac, and the system is rebooted and brought up under OSX, does OSX get to take advantage of the drivers that shipped with Windows?

Why would Apple use Windows drivers? Device drivers and software is a big part of the Windows problem. Apple only has an extremely limited subset of hardware to optimise their code against, anyway: that's their big advantage.

SleekBlackMercedes said...

This is an interesting site indeed.

Years ago, when I was doing my MBA in Singapore - Microsoft was the subject of our study and it mentioned in a few journals that Microsoft was the company for creativity, innovation and the fact that they allowed employees to dress casually, bring pets like dogs to work; kinda showed that Microsoft is the company of the future...

G. Petrovic said...

Cool blog

Anonymous said...

Just got back from a presentation given by Chris Jones.

Frankly I was impressed both with the work on Vista and by Jones himself -> he was very open about the missteps in the Longhorn/Vista project and took personal responsibility for them. He also handled some very tough questions quite well, and commented that he reads this blog often and that a "lot of what Mini says is true" but that the comment section is mostly "ranting."

Anonymous said...

I can not imagine my real estate agents being able to build an automated process to wipe their hard drives and reinstall the OS. Can you? What about your barber, gardener, pre-school teachers, etc.

Is Vista going to one and for all end this madness? If not, I wonder what can justify all the billions MS spent on its development.


You can use Virtual PC. It is still not easy enough for your mom but it is easier than having to flip through all the CDs and reinstall everything once a week.

Save the clean install of Windows, Office, etc. in a Virtual PC on a USB hard drive and restore it when needed. You will still need to backup your application files and restore them onto the clean Virtual PC.

Anonymous said...

He also handled some very tough questions quite well, and commented that he reads this blog often and that a "lot of what Mini says is true" but that the comment section is mostly "ranting."

Executive comments about this blog are mostly ranting too.

Instead of just fake "listening", they should try fake "comprehension" and, if that doesn't work, try the real thing - treating people with respect.

Anonymous said...

How is it that everyone knows their level? I just started and my recruiter told me that my level was a "guarded secret" known only by my manager and HR. Looking at the leaked chart, I can narrow my level down to one of 3. But everyone here seems to know their level.

Anonymous said...

All Chris Jones does last eight years is he takes responsibility and explains.

I wish he would also deliver something useful.

Anonymous said...

Mini - Any thoughts on the Microsoft recruiter who is leaving? What's your take on that?

http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog/archive/2006/04/11/573455.aspx

Anonymous said...

"I just started and my recruiter told me that my level was a "guarded secret" known only by my manager and HR."

go to hrweb

Anonymous said...

How is it that everyone knows their level? I just started and my recruiter told me that my level was a "guarded secret" known only by my manager and HR.

Mmmmm, transparency. :-) Your level isn't a secret, guarded or otherwise. Go ask your manager. I'm not at MSFT anymore, but I'd bet if you poked around http://hrweb long enough, your level would pop up on one of those pages.

Anonymous said...

Slashdot pointed out this article on CNN Money about the management rating system at HCL in India.

http://money.cnn.com/2006/04/13/magazines/fortune/fastforward_fortune/index.htm

Here's a relevant quote:

Every employee rates their boss, their boss' boss, and any three other company managers they choose, on 18 questions using a 1-5 scale. Such 360-degree evaluations are not uncommon, but at HCL all results are posted online for every employee to see. That's un-heard-of!


Imagine how refreshing it would be to be able to do that at Microsoft!

Who da'Punk said...

Mini - Any thoughts on the Microsoft recruiter who is leaving? What's your take on that?

I think it's too bad for Microsoft that Gretchen's leaving Microsoft. I loved her post about having it up to here (hand next to the top of my neck) with petulant hiring managers. And she was always cool about the conversation here at Mini-Microsoft.

She's okay in my book. And I wish her all the success. And I'd love to hear any insight she has about issues and problems that Microsoft has to overcome to be a success.

On a non-personal-sticking-to-the-message-kind-of-level: great, one less Microsoftie, and it was a super recruiter bringing in new Microsofties!

Anonymous said...

Not knowing anything about MS, may I suggest really cheap travel packages as a perk? Like take off on Friday at noon and get back Sunday night. Travel to and from the airport, airfare, lodging, food and tips all included. Like the MS Cabo weekend. You get picked up at MS at noon, get a flight out, stay in a hotel with an all-you-can-eat buffet for each meal, etc., and then get dropped off at home by Shuttle Express Sunday night, and the whole thing is say $200. MS could have a whole bunch of adventures available like seeing the running of the bulls, or a shuttle launch, or a solar eclipse somewhere, or a World Cup match, all sorts of stuff you can do without really taking your vacation time, and super cheap, and with an itinerary and all-inclusive package that would let even the most stay-at-home type get out and live a bit. Heck, you could throw in the use of some gadget that works like OnStar, so the timid could have 24/7 support from a sort of personal concierge.
Superbowl trips. World Series trips. A famous opera guy at some Roman ruins, one night only. MSofties becoming jet-setting scene makers. For cheap.
Is this a good idea?

crunchie said...

Hi Mini,
Been following for a long time and decided to share. I spent 8 years (half in the field, half in Redmond) before finally leaving. Didn't really have much of a choice after having fought my VP, GM, and 2 directors for over 2 years and refusing to do their bidding (ok, that last part was partly stupidity, partly ego, but mostly principle).

The VP shut me up because I showed him in gory detail how we were gonna have our lunches eaten. My GM told me "you need to tone this down" when I built a presentation with specific data about how we're getting our butts kicked. My director told me "you're too honest, you can't be like that here". My second director tells me I can't present "important information" to other managers without going through him. After about 2 years of fighting and refusing to do their bidding, no other option. Of course, everything I told them came true but none of that matters. The rest of the team's gone too (at least the ones that did real work).

I wonder if Bill & Steve know they're being fed stories at reviews and meetings.

I wonder if they know how much time is spent preparing for each and every meeting with them to ensure everyone is singing to the same tune.

I wonder if they know that managers place 80% importance in presenting up the chain and waving self declared victories than doing what's right for the field/customers/partners and actually executing rather than just talking.

I wonder if they know about conversations that go "him? that's ok, he's har***d MBA, we'll take care of him. The other guy? Soon as we get rid of him, we'll be fine"

I wonder if they know of leads, GPMs, Directors, GMs and VPs that move from one group/subsidiary to another after "stuffing" them just enough to create a strong appearance then bailing before sh** hits the fan.

I wonder if they only care about who talks the most and loudest rather than who really knows and prefers to get work done than gab.

I wonder if honesty, accountability, self critical, openess and just plain integrity are still part of the MS vocabulary.

All the fresh towels in the world won't mean a thing if the ones who are fanatical about making MS great are losing faith in the company's core. What good is a pretty facade if you've got root rot?

Anonymous said...

Damn true!!

Hey guys,

just wanted to tell you that I have seen my life in Microsoft like in a flashback by reading your comments.

In EMEA the situation is not that different, women are if possible even in a worst situation, and in spite of the "Women at MS" initiative, I saw all girls in my team leaving one by one because not able to perform like men, with "pregnancy" issues :-) or not able to perform at the proper level in comparison with men.

Oh yes, nobody will told me that in face, but... rumors from the cafeteria and friends, they did, and mobbing.... is that something you can think of if you get costantly 3.0 in review and they tell you you have to thank because your manager fought against the 2.5?!

SAD, SAD, SAD

Manager's feedback, MS POLL, never worked out, my manager is still there even though all of us had written almost in agreement that he had nothing to do with the Microsoft values and Microsoft vision, or simply put the Microsoft company interests.

I have seen talented people quitting because mortified, coming in Microsoft with an explosive passion, and leaving after realizing nothing is so different, just the managers' friend see the light :-S

Increasing utilisation to their friends and cutting on the other numbers... what a shame.

Another sad point is we had to write anonymously here, because our MS POLLs did not work, and seemed to be another mechanism for managers to show up as brilliant and successful they are.

They are not!

A virtual leader, one of my managers, during an off-site harassed me gently asking if he could come in my room with a bottle of wine, and it happened in public, but... obviously he was joking, and nobody cared at him, just me.

He shutted down his mouth when I replied I had spoken with my manager if he did not stop, my manager turned to be his wife... Conflicts, oh yes, try to imagine you have a wife as your manager.

FINAL POINT:

I HAD BEEN REALLY PROUD TO BE PART OF IT, AS FRUSTRATED I HAD BEEN WHEN I DECIDED TO QUIT.

Thanks for giving me a chance to let somebody know, Microsoft is a big company but there is a lot of work to do,

PLEASE FIRE THOSE MANAGERS, PLEASE VERIFY THEIR TALENTS, PLEASE MAKE THEM KNOW THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING A BIG COMPANY OR A BIG DAMAGE, PLEASE DONT LET THEM PUT DOWN ON TALENTED PEOPLE.

Demo said...

I'm a 'softie and I love it here. I've never worked anywhere with so many plusses and no visible minuses. Excellent work environment, free food, leaders who lead, supervisors who are bigger code geeks than I am, and the list just keeps growing to my continued amazement.

As a corporation, it will change, and it will try to make money. People gripe about the Evil Empire but I see that as a side effect of being a MegaCorporation. A lot of that "Evil" is lawyer-based. I don't see it on the job. Everyone here is sweet as pie.

America has some problems and any corporation is going to have to deal with that exactly in the same ways that they deal with doing business in China or Japan.

Is there a monopoly? That shouldn't be possible in a real free market economy. Unfortunately, America is a captive market economy. Not the same.

I see the people around me working hard, loving what they do, and putting every effort into good code. I understand the haters, but they are wrong to hate the company when it's our Congress that makes the laws. It's not too late to run out and buy your very own Senator... if Linux was incorporated I'm sure it would own as many Senators as any other huge company.

I've found my career path here, doubled my income, and I'm actually happy at work. You can't beat me up no matter what you say because I'm still smiling.

Thanks Bill.