Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Microsoft FY06Q3 Results

Update: added discussion of the released financials. Plus Ballmer talking about firing people. And Intel's restructuring.

Another quarter, another check-in with FY06 for MSFT. So how is it looking?

Pre-discussion of the earning results:

Post-discussion earning results: Yee-ouch! Right in the kisser! You'd think we done good. Except for meeting expectations. And how does The Street treat those who come up short?

It slaps them with a 2.5.

Let's see, after hours check-in has us down over 6% to $25.59. Yes, the commenter who sold at $27 yesterday is looking pretty bright right tonight. So we did not meet expectations.

The webcast was pretty boring, until after just over an hour Rick Sherlund of Goldman Sachs probed quite deftly regarding how the numbers didn't seem to add up and that there had to be some kind of mystery project going on to represent a big chunk of extra expense. A two-point-four billion dollar mystery. Liddell was mum. Discussion:

Snippet in the InformationWeek link:

"The revenues looks good…but your expenses are more than $2.4 billion more than I estimated....There's something really big here. It sounds like you're building a Google or a Yahoo and Ray Ozzie has said this is really expensive. It looks like you're ramping up your online business and the decision is to take the benefits of next year's product cycle to gear up for a battle in the online market," said Rick Sherlund, partner with Goldman Sachs as he tried to suss out what was going on.

SQL server has been a knock-out winner. Xbox 360 has been a wonderful way to burn through cash.

General round-up:

Meanwhile, in the world, Mr. Ballmer goes and describes how everyone needs to fire as many people as Microsoft does (ar-roo? I'd like to see that!) and Intel slaps down a painful reality-check restructuring. I think Mr. Ballmer needs to be taking some advice vs. giving it. I know, I know... get Vista wrapped up and then whip-out the bitter medicine. Even Mr. Johnson is noting that Windows has more people than it needs. If you're in one of the groups that Kevin notes as being part of the redundant overhead (e.g., photos), you know it's time to start looking around before someone starts arranging the chairs and plays the arr-i-eff music.


In other going ons...

(1) Jamie has done it again over at Channel9 with C9Park: Browser Wars. Yes, I laughed pretty hard at Han Scoble but ever more at Princess LisaB.

(2) Mr. Scoble had an interesting post this week... what was it again... oh yes: How Microsoft can shut down Mini-Microsoft. When I first saw the title my mind raced wondering just what the heck kind of break Scoble had been on. Re-education with a head-mounted cage and a hungry rat? Then I read it and appreciated its forward looking optimism.

Yes, please: marginalize me! Nothing would make me happier than to put up the post titled My Work Here is Done. (Well, I guess that could have multiple meanings.) Basically, address the pillars that have become the foundation of this blog and not only can I go back to more date nights with my beloved Buttercup but also we all end up with an efficient Microsoft with well compensated and empowered employees along with delighted, happy shareholders, customers, and partners. Win. Win. Win. Win.

(3) DerekDB, a wonderful Ex-Microsoftie (bad attrition again), has landed a one-two punch with a couple of recent posts. In More Developers != More Features he discusses the mis-middle-management going ons with Longhon / Vista, including this snippet:

Vista isn't neutered and delayed because of any lack of people. It is a mess because of middle management. [...] At least at the time I left (6 months ago), I saw very little evidence that the management of these failed projects was getting any kind of a slap on the wrist. The problem is that in an org that large with that my dependencies, it was impossible to tell which team was actually mismanaged, and which team just was dragged down by the other mismanaged teams.

And while still running hot off of this, Visual Studio (perhaps in some sort of revenge) starts letting loose the grief upon Derek: VisualStudio ...oh my.... I've mentioned woes people have had with VS before (VS2005 specifically). Derek's thoughts here:

What developer wants to waste time with this crap? It is embarrassing (for Microsoft) that I've had such better experiences with Sun's JDK and Eclipse. Sure, VS is faster, but what good is faster, when it doesn't work?

How are the VS service packs coming, anyways? Anyone in VS-land willing to reach-out to Derek and pick him up as a buddy as we fix VS bugs and work towards Orcas? I think you'd have a wonderful time.

(4) Dare has a couple of interesting posts, too: New Features aren't Innovation and Our Org Chart is %@&$'d Up (sorry... prude here). Plus a goodbye to Gretchen (hmm, that one has some whispering in Scoble's ear).


312 comments:

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Anonymous said...

From our perspective, our developers are arrogant and not customer-focused. Customers frequently remind me that a bunch of Open-Souce amateurs are producing far more robust code in a timely fashion, than the developers with far-and-away the biggest development budget inthe world

In order for code and by extension the product to be customer focused, developers need solid market research to know what customers want.

Since sales meets with customers regularly, where are their recommendations on what customers want? I have never seen a feature request from a sales person in over a decade.

Paul Dietz said...

Google is complaining that Microsoft is doing the very thing they are doing.

So? Monopolies are prohibited by law (under threat of tripled damages) from doing many things that are perfectly legal and acceptable for other companies.

Anonymous said...

From our perspective, our developers are arrogant and not customer-focused. Customers frequently remind me that a bunch of Open-Souce amateurs are producing far more robust code in a timely fashion, than the developers with far-and-away the biggest development budget inthe world

Someone writes a spec about what to implement and a developer implements it.

If you do not like what is being implemented, talk to the PM's for the product you are complaining about and let them know that the requirements they include in their specs do not reflect what customers want in your opinion.

They, in turn, will tell you that they do not have time to visit every customer and would love to hear from market research and sales about what customers want.

In turn, market research will tell you that sales are in the best position to know what customers want because they meet with customers regularly.

What's sales excuse for not passing what customers want onto the rest of the company?

I am surprised the the sales CEO has not made more of an effort to have sales pass what customer's want onto the rest of the company?

What is Ballmer's excuse for not acting on this? He is, after all, in charge and in the best position to make this happen?

All his talk on being customer focused sounds like hot air when you look at what sales contributes to the development of the product - nothing.

Anonymous said...

So? Monopolies are prohibited by law (under threat of tripled damages) from doing many things that are perfectly legal and acceptable for other companies.

Microsoft has a monopoly position in its operating system not in its browser.

If the browser was not bundled with the operating system, there would not be a problem.

Anonymous said...

As far as Steve B's comments go, I agree, underperformers should be gone. We have constantly missed ship dates on all core products, underperformed as a stock for 8 years and only seem to get direction from where we think our competition is going.

I wonder if the people who have real power to make changes ever realize that they are the ones underperforming and hurting the rest of us.


For comments like that, they will tell you that you are being negative and are not a team player.

Then, they'll manage you out and hire someone who agrees with them.

They have to crash and burn before they'll get a clue. Ditto for shareholders.

Paul Dietz said...

If the browser was not bundled with the operating system, there would not be a problem.

Right. And if pigs had wings, we'd have to wear sturdy hats. The browser is bundled, hence Google's complaint.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen a feature request from a sales person in over a decade.

Because they are paid on a commission basis - not number of features they propose.

Anonymous said...

"Bullshit. There are lots of cool ideas coming out of MSR (Wallup, Slam, to name a couple). In the hands of less disfunctional company, some of these ideas would be generating dollars. Maybe not OS level dollars, but dollars nonetheless. And with some luck, you might just stumble across another cash cow."

There were way more cool ideas and tools to come out of PARC and Bell Labs, but like the work at MSR, they never generated any substantial revenue for the company (very early days of Bell Labs excluded.) A cool idea is not necessarily a practical one, nor one that can be successfully developed into something usable within the constraints of the host company. That's the problem with isolated research labs -- it's all about the cool ideas that you maybe can write a few papers about, but little else.

Anonymous said...

As a shareholder, I'm really getting tired of all the petty sniping here between dev and test, between dev and the field, between MSR and dev, between the profitable divisions vs the non-profitable ones, etc. etc. Wake the fuck up - there's more than enough blame to go around. You're like some dysfunctional sports team that's too busy attacking each other to focus on beating your opponents. So instead of venting your spleen at some other group, why not take a long hard look at your own division and what it could be doing better to improve MS's overall situation? Also, the real problem is a senior/middle management team that is providing poor strategies, leadership and oversight on execution. If that part was working properly, any real grievances and productivity issues between groups would be getting solved and pronto. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ballmer/Gates and many of the other senior managers either have to go, or have a serious epiphany that MS's problems can't be solved by simply throwing money around and instead need some tough love.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sinofsky came by SVC this week to speak to Live folks. Tried to tell us that Google's products aren't innovative and that Microsoft's problem is we're just too darn profitable.


While I agree that assuming we have no competition is a recipe for disaster I have yet to be convinced Google is innovative. I think they term innovation has fallen far from where it used to be. Lets take a look at Google's innovation.

Gmail - wow a web mail client with more storage space, super innovative.

Google Earth - TerraServer 2005

GBase - E-bay with a G, maybe they can call it GBay

Google Pay - Wow a paypal alternative, again the innovation is so thick I can hardly see

Sketchup - hahahaha, okay apart from a clever name what is innovative here again?

I believe Google's search was innovative, 5 years ago. Now it is just commodity, they barely do any better of a job than MSN Search or Yahoo and the distinction is fading fast. Why do you think Google is desperately searching for alternative revenue streams? They realize once search becomes a commodity then no one (other than nerds) will give a shit what search engine they use, they want the results they don't give a shit in general who serves them up. Also as people become better able to distinguish paid results from other results I foresee click throughs dropping, as they already are. People don’t like ads they put up with them as long as they have to. I think Tivo has shown us given the choice no one wants to see ads. As soon as people become more aware of plug-ins that filter ads and stop clicking on them Google’s revenues will take a nose dive. I don’t believe they have the secret sauce in the advertising world any more so than any other advertiser. All they did is discovered a LESS obnoxious way to advertise, and users prefer it because ultimately they hate ads.

As for Google's complaint about IE it is completely without merit. Look at our requirements under the monopoly ruling and tell me which one the IE move violates? Not one, exactly. Also we were declared a monopoly in the OS space not the browser space. Sure bundling IE with the OS gives it a competitive advantage but we are barred from forbidding OEM's from changing the installed browser or from not allowing end users to switch it, and thus we are not abusing any monopoly power. If you want to yell "monopoly" you have to look at the actual ruling, what we were found guilty of and what remedies where applied. If the situation at hand doesn't meet those criteria then mentioning that we are a monopoly (in the OS space) doesn't really mean much except it helps get you attention. Time will tell if Google's claim has any merit (do we see the AG circling? No? That's what I thought).

Anonymous said...

"As far as Steve B's comments go, I agree, underperformers should be gone. We have constantly missed ship dates on all core products, underperformed as a stock for 8 years and only seem to get direction from where we think our competition is going."

No, that can't be. Why, Steve said we've kicked ass and taken prisoners all during the past 5 years and will eclipse that moving forward [sarcasm].

Joe B said...

As an outside observer, Microsoft technology user, and overall fan of Microsoft, I have to say that it seems like your overwhelming complaints may be a sign of even worse corporate rot than you claim. If the bad feelings and bad attitide throughout the Mini comments are as widespread within your workforce as they are here, then I think every one of you is part of the problem. You need to do more than complain - you need to actively work to improve your company.

Don't just complain. Take some small positive step.

A first suggestion: could every Microsoft commenter include a statement about what they will do to try to improve the situation? Don't just say "I don't like this" or "this is a problem", also say "here's a small step I can and WILL take to improve the environment". Be a part of the solution. Try something; make a change; take a risk. Is there really any downside there?

So please, complainers, include a specific positive change YOU will try. If you won't do that, then please don't post your negative rant at all. If you can't think of anything positive to propose, any positive difference you can make, then I'd ask you to think harder. And "management should XYZ" doesn't count; what can YOU do bring that XYZ a small step closer?

I don't have the answers to your problems, but many of you think you do, so find a way to start executing on the better path.

On the product-ship side, I think you have another two unavoidably painful years in front of you. The truth is you need to start taking small positive steps today to impact that third year. If you're not taking positive steps today, I think you can plan on many more painful years. Each one of you will earn your own small slice of the credit either way.

Anonymous said...

$23.78...

And the "sell in May and go away" crowd hasn't even spoken yet.

Anonymous said...

I left MS in March after only a short time on the inside...but it was far more than enough to understand that people spend more time and energy playing the internal game, creating their personal networks and planning their next move internally than they do on results.......

one small positive step just might be, for once, to admit that everything isn't "super" and "fantastic" and that are real issues to solve...not sugar coat...

Problem is...you'll be branded as "negative" and not a "team player"...This dishonesty is eating Microsoft from the core.

Anonymous said...

I have a question to people who says that what google do is not innovation.

What do you think Microsoft has done that was innovation ?

(I don't work for MS. This is not a Troll, I'm really curious about you guy's conception of what is innovation and what isn't.)

Anonymous said...

Well, I can thank Mr. Ballmer for helping me realize I'm not gay.

I definately did not enjoy that royal ass-fucking on the stock.

Anonymous said...

You're like some dysfunctional sports team that's too busy attacking each other to focus on beating your opponents.

Welcome to the world of rank and yank endorsed by senior Microsoft management.

Knock the other guy down and you move up.

According to Steve Ballmer, there's nothing wrong with that system so stop being so negative about us being so negative.

Anonymous said...

I have a question to people who says that what google do is not innovation.

What do you think Microsoft has done that was innovation ?

(I don't work for MS. This is not a Troll, I'm really curious about you guy's conception of what is innovation and what isn't.)


You make the inaccurate assumption that if I, a Microsoft employee, claim Google isn't innovating that I somehow am claiming we, Microsoft, are. I don't think Microsoft has really, truly "innovated" in a LONG time, and that is one of our problems. To innovate you must be willing to risk failure, you must be willing to say "listen, I know this is how everyone does it now days but is it the best way? Can we make it better/easier?" If the answer to that latter question is yes then we need to do that. Otherwise we are simply left copying the innovation from other platforms and either not modifying it at all or modifying it in a not that exciting way. Don't mistake my statement "Google isn't all that innovative" with the statement "Microsoft is innovative", because one does not follow from the other. One simple example of this is tabbed browsing, how long did it take to get that into IE as something other than a toolbar bolt in? I am not saying tabbed browsing is OMG innovative, because it really isn't all that much more than a logical extension of tabbing in other spaces, like VS. However I think enough people amongst our consumer base would have liked that functionality much sooner, but we drug our feet almost like we were too proud to admit that we hadn't thought of it first. All I am saying (and I am not pointing fingers at IE that is just the example that came to mind, but there are more than enough examples from most every product group in MS including the one I am part of) is that while Google isn't innovating in my mind (which is good for Microsoft) we aren't either (which is bad for Microsoft).

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

Anonymous said...

You need to do more than complain - you need to actively work to improve your company

No, YOU (the shareholders) need to "actively work" and blah-blah-blah to improve the company. This is YOUR company. The employees are simply knowledge workers who are in the business of selling their skills to the highest bidder.

Over the last 5 years, management has done everything to detach the employees from having a stake in the company success. We were told that we don't own it - the shareholders do. So guess what? There is no free lunch. Either share the wealth if you want the employees to care, or deal with what you own yourselves.

Expect more games and politics rather than focus on results from the employees. Expect share price to continue going down. If you don't like it, take it up with the executive management and not ordinary workers who post on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Problem is...you'll be branded as "negative" and not a "team player"...This dishonesty is eating Microsoft from the core.

These are exact words I heard from my manager after I said we have a problem.

The Nog said...

Google is complaining that Microsoft is doing the very thing they are doing.

Google isn't in the same position Microsoft is in, and they fully support Firefox also asking the user which engine to use on initial setup the way they want IE7 to.

If I was Google, I'd be complaining too. I have the #1 search engine after years of work, and now some upstart company with a monopoly on OEM pre-installations is trying to butt in with their little-used search engine by setting it as default in the #1 dominant browser.

For all of Microsoft's talk about "developers, developers, developers," the company sure does a lot to hurt developers who have a product in a market that Microsoft wants. Internet Explorer on Windows is the #1 browser used for Google, and Windows is the #1 OS used for iTunes/iPod, yet Microsoft wants to take out both products because they've decided it's not enough that those products are running on Windows.

Microsoft has a monopoly position in its operating system not in its browser.

You've got to be joking. IE is the dominant browser on the Internet, for better or worse.

Anonymous said...

Memo to all execs: please unlock my shareholder value as follows:

for every share of MSFT:

1 Share of "The Windows OS company"
1 Share of "The Office Apps company"
1 SHare of "The XBOX Company"

My guess is that these are worth $50-$60 in pieces vs. $23 balled up in an unmanageable knot. So let's get moving Mr. Ballmer and give the US Goverment what they wanted 8 or so years ago.

Anonymous said...


Microsoft has a monopoly position in its operating system not in its browser.

You've got to be joking. IE is the dominant browser on the Internet, for better or worse.


Dominant != monopoly. Google is the dominant search engine on the internet do they have a monopoly? Learn the difference between the two terms before making unfounded accusations.

Anonymous said...

Since IE has been mentioned a lot here. Just curios, who's decision was it to make IE part of the OS? Was it a technical or a marketing decision?

As so many MS employees seems to be upset by the delay of Vista for companies. Which company acctually jumps and installs a brand new OS just released? As long as they not just running MS software all over i don't get it.

We just migrates/upgrades when it's absolutely neccessary. New software cost a lot of money and new software often break things. Often serious testing is needed between different software, hardware and drivers.

What benefits us better of using Vista than continue using XP/2000 for the next couple of years? Does our software execute faster? Does it use our old hardware better? Is the support better?

I just can't belive that any company of size jumps directly to migration as Vista is released.

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky bashing Google? Christ almighty, that sums up the problem right there. Sinofsky is the twerp standing in the corner at a party telling people that his digital watch is better than their analog watches because it has a stopwatch feature. NOBODY CARES. The world is passing him by and he doesn't know why. PEOPLE LIKE SIMPLE THINGS THAT WORK WELL AND LOOK NICE. This is a fundamental principle that everybody gets except for Microsoft, and until the execs at Microsoft start to understand, the company will continue to produce software that customers just don't like, want, or care about.

Anonymous said...

Anyone watching the stock price today? We're now in the $23 neighborhood.

Anyone seen Jarhead?

Welcome to the suck.

Dread Pirate Robert said...

Did anyone read this article in Marketwatch? Maybe it has something to do with the stock...

Anonymous said...

I just read the Dvorak problem.

I think the problem lies in the issue raised earlier about splitting up the company.

Apple focus' on consumers and creative types. They're hip, they're sexy.

We're a more complex beast, we're like the GE that Balmer loves.

We were better perceived (and valued) when we were a much simpler company. We had an OS, we had some great business tools in Office, and then there were those server products that people didn't give much credit. On the desktop we ruled.

Now we're on the desktop, palmtop, mobile phone, tablet pc, home server, branch server, data center, living room, etc.

We sell OS, word processing and office utilities, integration tools, databases, medium size business offerings, enterprise service offerings, developer tools, video games, educational software, instant messaging software, web portals, search engines, etc. ,etc.

Even if we do all of this well, people can't get their heads around us. We do too much stuff.

People think Apple, they think typically one of 3 things - Ipod, the apple logo on a piece of pretty hardware, or an Imac. Simple. Simple. Simple.

Splitting the company into things people can get there heads around will

(a) make it more clear to people what it is they are buying / betting on
(b) increase stockholder/employee happiness - we're worth way more separate than as a single entity
(c) force accountability for loser divisions
(d) force accountability in general - fewer layers to hide behind.
(e) we have a number of fiefdoms today, where there's no incentive to work together (blame the curve, blame egos, whatever). If you've got separate entities and integration will drive up your respective stock price, you have more incentive (sad but true)

C'mon, man, you know you want it.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so Ballmer is ousted/resigns.

Now what?

There are still 11 billion shares out there and flat to declining share value dragging down profits every year.

Linux/open source continues to explode across the computing world. The direct assault on it has been a failure. How is Microsoft going to coexist in this new computing world.

The Xbox 360 is still the worst selling console since the ill-fated 3DO of a decade ago. Hopefully whatever grownup takes charge will pull the plug on the fiasco and focus the company's efforts on Vista gaming.

You can't attract new talent with stock gains anymore. How are you going to make Microsoft an attractive place to work again?

Anonymous said...

So let's play fantasy software industry. You get to pick an outsider to replace Ballmer with Gates relegated to a figurehead/advisor role. Who do you bring in and why? What does he do to bring the Sinofskys, Valentines, Rudders, etc. into line.

goleta said...

Maybe there should be a new topic about who should replace Ballmer? Best insider and best outsider?

MSDecade said...

Since IE has been mentioned a lot here. Just curios, who's decision was it to make IE part of the OS? Was it a technical or a marketing decision?

There are some good books on the history, one of which is "How the Web was Won". I can answer from the technical side at least -- it was a technical decision and a very natural outgrowth of the technical environment. The whole point of the OS is to provide APIs that enable application functionality, and it was obviously evident that applications (both MS and ISV) wanted to exploit HTTP and HTML. Thus, for HTTP support, WININET was born, for HTML support, MSHTML exposed its APIs, for OLE integration, a new type of moniker support was needed (URL Monikers -- URLMON). In addition, for AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy and other online services, as well as applications that wanted to embed browser function, we created the WebBrowser control (contained in SHDOCVW -- Shell DocObject Viewer).

So it was very much a natural and logical thing, considering the rich set of APIs exposed.

Anonymous said...

Memo to all execs: please unlock my shareholder value as follows:

for every share of MSFT:

1 Share of "The Windows OS company"
1 Share of "The Office Apps company"
1 SHare of "The XBOX Company"

My guess is that these are worth $50-$60 in pieces vs. $23 balled up in an unmanageable knot. So let's get moving Mr. Ballmer and give the US Goverment what they wanted 8 or so years ago.


I would rather have the following

1 share OS/Office Company A
1 share OS/Office Company B
1 share Microsoft (what's left)

Paul Dietz said...

As for Google's complaint about IE it is completely without merit. Look at our requirements under the monopoly ruling and tell me which one the IE move violates? Not one, exactly. Also we were declared a monopoly in the OS space not the browser space.

These comments are at best obtuse, at worst deliberately mendacious.

The consent decree does not provide Microsoft a 'get out of jail free' card for any future violations of the antitrust laws. It describes the actions necessary to resolve that suit, but does not prevent suits from other entities on that or other issues. Indeed, by having on record that MS does have a monopoly on the desktop, it lowers the bar for other plaintiffs.

As for that last sentence: it's through the monopoly on the OS space that Microsoft, via bundling IE and setting the default search site, is (in the eyes of Google, as I understand it) illegally using a monopoly in one market to penetrate another.

(I work for neither Microsoft nor Google.)

Anonymous said...

Several years ago Cisco’s CFO approached John Chambers (CEO) with an idea to upgrade their entire financial system. It was going to be very expensive, but well worth it in the long run. John Chambers after thinking about it agreed to move ahead with the idea, but on one condition. If the plan failed or if there were cost overruns, the CFO would be fired. Accountability is something what seems to be lacking at MSFT. The implementation was a huge success and they are now able to close their books within hours which normally take days if not weeks for other companies.

I listened in during MSFT's last conference call and was greatly disappointed with the CFO’s performance. He was ill prepared to answer the very basic questions asked by analysts. No company, no matter how profitable they are can get away with reporting higher expenditures for the upcoming FY and give no details. The standard answer was that more details would be forthcoming during the July 27 analysts meeting where they would present their new plan/vision.

The arrogance is what has ticked off the investment community. There was a massive dumping of shares over the last few days and they have decided that they will make their money on MSFT shares by shorting the stock. MSFT has set aside $6.5 billion in stock buybacks during the second half of the year. I hope they change plans and start buying now which will make the shorts cover resulting in the price moving upwards and providing a steady base.

The only person who can fire SB is Bill Gates and that is not going to happen. That would be an admission on BG’s part that they don’t know what they are doing. It’s like asking Bush to fire Rumsfeld; it’s not going to happen

Anonymous said...

Who should replace Ballmer? Me, I should = insider. Been at the company six years between product group, field and product marketing in the middle. It all needs fixing. And....I'd do it for 1/10th the price.

Anonymous said...

Vista Beta 2 schedule for release on May 22. Can anyone confirm?


http://microsoft.blognewschannel.com

Anonymous said...

"The only person who can fire SB is Bill Gates and that is not going to happen. That would be an admission on BG’s part that they don’t know what they are doing. It’s like asking Bush to fire Rumsfeld; it’s not going to happen"

Actually, technically speaking the BOD could fire Ballmer. But agree it's unlikely. So at this rate, looks like Bill will get his wish shortly:

Gates Doesn't Want to Be Richest Man

Anonymous said...

Saw an excellent presentation by Greg Gianforte (CEO and Founder of RightNow)about growing a business with almost no money. Among his reasons for bootstrapping a business (versus making huge upfront investments with other people's money):

- Build your business on a legitimate, real-world value proposition
- Initiate the critical sales learning process sooner, not later
- Don't waste money, make it
- Accelerate time to market and time to profitability
- Be less likely to make big, fatal, financial mistakes
- Force yourself into unconventional thinking

Recognizing the differences between a start-up and a company the size of MS, I still think there's a HUGE message there for Microsoft. Instead of thinking and acting like a bootstrapping org, access to all that [shareholder] cash and ongoing [shareholder] income is resulting in too many poorly conceived, poorly executed "investments" with either no chance of profitability and/or no chance of profitability in any reasonable timeframe (forget Wall Street's quarterly focus - I'm talking not even in decades). MSN comes directly to mind. Ten years, something like $10B spent, and it's still a distant also ran - exactly where it began. Worse, it's losing ground - as current revenue/user, search marketshare and advertising revenue growth all clearly underscore. To me, this is the real message behind the recent selloff. Beyond the shock and awe of the bombshell that was dropped and irritation with the [unacceptable] decision to provide no details, the real issue is that investors don't trust current management to invest that $2.4B productively. In effect, it's a major, direct vote of non-confidence in Ballmer/Gates and the rest of the leadership team. And with MSN, MBS, H&E, MS TV, Mobile, etc., there's clearly enough of a track record to support being atleast suspicious. Maybe an investment style closer to that being espoused by Gianforte, is one way to start rebuilding credibility? At a minimum, it would ensure that poor investments which can't fund their onging requirements fail early, rather than going on for decades and consuming $10B's and untold management time that could better be invested elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"I listened in during MSFT's last conference call and was greatly disappointed with the CFO’s performance. He was ill prepared to answer the very basic questions asked by analysts."

Agree that Liddell didn't do anything to inspire confidence but in fairness, no amount of lipstick was going to camouflage that pig and it seemed pretty obvious that the decision not to provide details came from above. So ultimate blame here imo lies directly with Ballmer and Gates. They know you don't surprise the street and especially not with negative news. And they knew during the quarter that they were significantly upping investment and planning on continuing that into next year. That should have been communicated earlier to lessen the blow and Ballmer/Gates should have been front and center answering questions. Instead, and as per usual lately when there's bad news, they're MIA - on the CC and subsequently. What a fine example of personal leadership and accountability.

Anonymous said...

".....Gates conceded that the company has made mistakes, including in some cases picking the wrong people to lead certain efforts."

http://news.com.com/Gates+Microsoft+will+keep+Google+honest/2100-1014_3-6068383.html

Anonymous said...

MSFT is a strong buy at these levels. Drop in stock price is a good thing for new share holders. It will reduce the cost of dilution through stock options.

Anonymous said...

"MSFT is a strong buy at these levels. Drop in stock price is a good thing for new share holders. It will reduce the cost of dilution through stock options"

What is your investment horizon? 1, 2, 5, 10 yrs?

Anonymous said...

As a shareholder, I'm really getting tired of all the petty sniping here between dev and test, between dev and the field, between MSR and dev, between the profitable divisions vs the non-profitable ones, etc. etc. Wake the fuck up - there's more than enough blame to go around. You're like some dysfunctional sports team that's too busy attacking each other to focus on beating your opponents.

Maybe you don't realize that apart from the open source zealots who sometimes hide and post as MSfties, the MS posters on this blog are about 20 - 30 people exchange posts, funnies, untruths and insults among themselves. To the uninitiated, the anonymous nature of the post make the conversation to appear to be of critical mass.

If Mini should institute a way of registering, getting a handle, and validating email addresses before posting, you will easily unmask the characters.

But I must admit, reading the blogs makes me feel very good about myself and Microsoft. Reading the comments of the dregs (not everyone here is a dreg - save your bullets) make realize that I deserve all the good things that Microsoft has showered on me over the years

Anonymous said...

The decision to put IE into the shell (and not as a separate browser) was made in part because it tied the user and the browser together in the shell. The API stuff you mention may have been the logical way to do it - but the decision to do so was done in part to tie IE to Windows so they couldn't be separated.

When technical geeks pointed out that IE was, in fact, not essential to the shell, people like Alchin and Vegte made noises about how "Well, you'd lose online help if you didn't have IE!"

I don't know about you, but when I heard that excuse back in the mid 90s, I realized that fundamentally dishonest people were in charge.

We were supposed to believe that?

Anonymous said...

".....Gates conceded that the company has made mistakes, including in some cases picking the wrong people to lead certain efforts."

Yeah right, the emperor has no clothes and no sense of shame either. This is classic Microsoft, a boss telling his boss: "hey it is not my fault, my employee screwed up, not me". The trick is how to get that job where you push accontability downwards and rewards upwards. That is the culture

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Microsoft hasn't changed its name yet. I thought Ballmer would have used that move again by now. Go Steve change the company name and when asked what has happened to the stock, tell them the stock of your new company has never dropped 11% or being flat for years.
Vista didn't slip either, Longhorn did.

Anonymous said...

What is your investment horizon? 1, 2, 5, 10 yrs?

--

2 years. You should buy when others are selling.

Anonymous said...

Hm, I didn't think execs were allowed to invest in a company that they are doing business with....

Mobicore - Corporate Info

Anonymous said...

What is your investment horizon? 1, 2, 5, 10 yrs?

--

2 years. You should buy when others are selling.


"Long term" means something different to a billionaire that hangs out with Warren Buffett.

You've got a longer wait than 2 years if you want to make money off of Microsoft stock.

The wait is much closer to 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you don't realize that apart from the open source zealots who sometimes hide and post as MSfties, the MS posters on this blog are about 20 - 30 people exchange posts, funnies, untruths and insults among themselves. To the uninitiated, the anonymous nature of the post make the conversation to appear to be of critical mass.

If Mini should institute a way of registering, getting a handle, and validating email addresses before posting, you will easily unmask the characters.


If you claim to know how many people are posting on this blog, why would we need to register as a "Microsoft offender" under your regime?

Anonymous said...

Four unpopular points:

1) This thread is disappointing. It has unnecessary profanity, too many purely negative rants and no enough substance. What started earlier in the tread as criticism aimed at the executive team, turned at one point to hatred. They are people, just like you. They have successes and failures, just like you. They are not perfect. Neither are you. And unlike you, they built this company from scratch and provided us with a place to work at. I’d say overall a good place since most of you seem to come back from more.

2) The dev, test and pm bashing is disgraceful. It takes all three to ship a product and those people work with you every day. I don’t understand how you can develop such animosity to the people you work with daily. If you can’t stand them (dev, test, pm) just get up and go somewhere else (different group or different company). Why fester and be so negative. How will that improve your work life? Just doesn’t make sense that you show up to work with people you dislike so much and think so little of.

3) Sales vs. PG vs. MSR vs. Marketing vs. misc. Grow up. A successful company needs diversified skills and professions. Don’t be petty and downplay the importance of the other. This type of negativity builds nothing and shows immaturity on both sides. Selling is hard. Writing good quality code is hard. Testing end to end scenarios is hard. Writing a detailed design spec is hard. Going to market is hard. Supporting the software is hard. If you really want to understand the other side, go spend a day and see what they do for a living. That would help you build some more respect and understanding.

4) There isn’t an enemy. This isn’t war. why the hate? It is work. Keep it in context and try to walk in the other person shoes before putting them down with petty remarks.

Anonymous said...

1) This thread is disappointing. It has unnecessary profanity, too many purely negative rants and no enough substance.

Don't bother responding to the losers and pathetic souls who attack everyone in MS here. The underachievers (those 20 - 30 posters from MS somebody mentioned above), the fired and suicidal (those "I used to work in MS" posters...) and the ABM (Anything but Microsoft) Eunuchs.

Microsoft is the best place to work in the world. Period. If you don't like it, hit the door before your perpetual 3.0 will do it for you.

Anonymous said...

"The wait is much closer to 10 years."

Are you counting the 7yrs or so since '99 or is it 10 years from this point on?

joe said...

You should buy when others are selling.

You should never try to catch a falling knife.

Anonymous said...


These comments are at best obtuse, at worst deliberately mendacious.

The consent decree does not provide Microsoft a 'get out of jail free' card for any future violations of the antitrust laws. It describes the actions necessary to resolve that suit, but does not prevent suits from other entities on that or other issues. Indeed, by having on record that MS does have a monopoly on the desktop, it lowers the bar for other plaintiffs.


Yet Google isn't pursuing legal recourse, it is just complaining loudly to everyone it can about how we are a monopoly and how we are unfairly making our own product default to MSN Search instead of Google. If Google wants to make a real case about this, file some formal complaint with the AG then I say they should. If they just want to spout off bullshit in the media because they have a platform then they are just being foolish.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft is the best place to work in the world. Period. If you don't like it, hit the door before your perpetual 3.0 will do it for you."

Wow! How's the Ikea furniture holding up from the recent college move? Or is it even too early for furniture? Anyone who says this is either (1) extremely immature in the workplace or (2) a definitive "Yes-Man" that any corporation is worse off having around.

"Yes-Man" do yourself a favor and stay off the blogs, out of meetings, away from the water coolers. Those with original ideas are too busy sharing problems and possible solutions to hear your empty cheers and false motivation. "Go team!"

Anonymous said...

MS the greatest place to work? you are joking, right? Clearly this was written by someone that doesn't have much industry experience. MS isn't bad, but it has a ton of faults. There really are better places with way less road blocks.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft is the best place to work in the world. Period. If you don't like it, hit the door before your perpetual 3.0 will do it for you."

Interesting sentiment. Given the obvious performance problems (Vista, MBS, MSN, Search, Advertising, recent earnings guidance, etc) is it really smart to assume that everyone with a concern is a perpetual 3.0 and/or lobby them to leave? Would the company be better off if everyone remaining thought everything was simply super? Do you suggest the same course of action for shareholders who - god forbid - express frustration and point to the destruction of $300B in shareholder value, the 6th (lower now) worst performance in the DOW 30 since 1998, 3 successive years of market underperformance, etc? As a shareholder, I'm glad you're happy at MS. I hope the majority of employees are - it's good for productivity. But trying to stop voices of dissent given the numerous current problems, is not in the company's best interests. Ballmer's "the future is so bright I've got to wear sunglasses" is sounding increasingly hollow. Employees and investors can deal with issues - every company has them. What they can't deal with is a management team that seems to be in total denial.

Anonymous said...

".....Gates conceded that the company has made mistakes, including in some cases picking the wrong people to lead certain efforts."

Yes, the choices for Chairman, CEO and Chief Technology Architect are clearly suspect. Then there's the head of Windows, MBS, every previous head of MSN and another 50+ SVP/VP/GMs...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, disappointing thread...Here is my perspective.
1)..They are people, just like you. They have successes and failures, just like you.

My failures are not tolerated like theirs. They are not like me and that's part of the problem. They don't level with rank and file workers.

And unlike you, they built this company from scratch and provided us with a place to work at.

...In the process destroying many companies (not quite legally, it turned out) where we could have worked instead.

You know, Saddam Hussein also build a company (country) and provided many people a place to work. So your point is shut up and be grateful for what you have?

2) The dev, test and pm bashing is disgraceful.

That I agree with completely and cannot relate to.

3) Sales vs. PG vs. MSR vs. Marketing vs. misc. Grow up. A successful company needs diversified skills and professions.

Yeah, and also needs skilled janitors, cafeteria workers, building maintenance, security, etc. You're missing the point. Every company needs to find its specialty, its main expertise area and concentrate on it. Last time I checked, Microsoft was a software company. Don't you think we've lost focus on building new software products? (note: not selling or marketing them)

4)Why the hate?
Because Bill and Steve run this company not caring what anyone else thinks. It's only natural for pent-up disagreements to surface somewhere, since they are not tolerated inside the company.

...try to walk in the other person shoes...
That's good advice. I wish Bill and Steve take it up in relation to worker bees in the trenches.

Anonymous said...

1. There are a lot of calls for constructive criticism here. I doubt that 99% of Microsoft's employees could have an impact on the company regardless of what they said or did. This is one of the problems with the company. As nice as it would be for this blog be a catalyst for change, it's pretty clear to me that it just gives frustrated employees an opportunity to vent (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I used to work in a group where development was so divorced from PM that you would have had to go up 4 levels of management hierarchy to have an impact on how your features were designed. Even dev managers with 15 years experience had no control over the product. They were just scheduling and bug goal monkeys. How is your average employee supposed to have an impact in that kind of situation?

2. It isn't necessary to have a dev, tester, and PM to implement a feature. That's Microsoft koolaid, and you're chugging it. (Maybe you're a PM or tester?) A good developer can design, implement, and test a feature on his own. When I was interviewing with other companies, they all pushed their low PM:dev ratios. I was given numbers between 1:3 and 1:10. Nowhere near 1:1. The implication being that if you work for these other (large, well known, successful) companies, you can actually have some influence on the product you're developing.

3. If you think that only a few people are posting comments here and they're all underperforming whiners, you have not been reading this blog for very long. There are a lot of posters here with unique stories. Many of them claim to have very high review averages and many of them claim to be successful leads, managers, and even partners. Many claim to have happily quit the company recently. Of course, anybody can claim anything anonymously. Maybe only a few people are making up a bunch of different stories. How much faith do you have in Occam's razor?

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft is the best place to work in the world. Period. If you don't like it, hit the door before your perpetual 3.0 will do it for you."

Wow! How's the Ikea furniture holding up from the recent college move? Or is it even too early for furniture? Anyone who says this is either (1) extremely immature in the workplace or (2) a definitive "Yes-Man" that any corporation is worse off having around.


or 3) - another middle manager passing .ppt files from upper level to lower level for $150K/year. Yep, for you Microsoft is the best place in the world!

Anonymous said...

I don't get all the anti-Bill, anti-Steve rhetoric flying around.

Bill and Steve have built Microsoft into what it is, and they deserve a ton of credit for it. Take a step back and look at the big picture - Microsoft is one of the most profitable companies on the planet and continues to rake in money by the truckload full - and a lot more every quarter.

By the same token Bill and Steve deserve a lot of the blame for the problems we're struggling through, which frankly boil down to two issues:

1. nothing has replaced the stock as far as being a financial incentive for employees to put in the extra hours

2. people are not held accountable for their screw-ups

But...look at the cool stuff we're building - our software quality is going WAY UP. I dont' understand why people don't see that.

Compare:
XP SP2 vs XP
Server 2003 vs 2000 Server
Exchange 2000 vs Exchange 2003
Office 2003 vs Office XP

We've gotten serious about security, done a HUGE quality push, and are building awesome new technology.

So the stock is in the toilet - what else is new?

I hope we fire all the dead wood (that means 90% of the whiners who post here), give the top performers a decent raise for once, overhaul the completely broken review system, and take on some huge new challenges.

If we do that, the parking lots will start to fill up earlier and empty out later. But despite the current apathy at the company, we're still doing really cool shit.

As for all you whiners bitching about the stock price - deal with it.

silentandnowhappy said...

When I come in to work at Microsoft, I feel like people are saying, "When you see something wrong, don't rock the boat. Otherwise you will distract us from taking the most direct path to hell."

Anonymous said...

(I hope we fire all the dead wood (that means 90% of the whiners who post here), give the top performers a decent raise for once, overhaul the completely broken review system, and take on some huge new challenges. )

And we then go hire more dead wood than we threw out, and then mini has a heart attack and then we can end this blog and live happily every after. And the tooth fairy will leave a 4.0 under your pillow one night...

Microsophist said...

Compare these snapshots of the MSN and Google homepages from 2001 (note - some of the pics are missing):

http://web.archive.org/web/20010105175600/http://www.msn.com/

http://web.archive.org/web/20010119175000/http://www.google.com/

The MSN approach? Throw as much crap at the customer as will fit on the screen, then add a bunch more crap to make them scroll. The page is so dense that no information can possibly escape its gravitational pull. Viewing this page makes me want to stab my eyes out with a fork.

Google's approach? Help the customer quickly find what they're looking for.

If you look at the sites today, the story hasn't changed a bit . Of course, in the meantime MSN burned money on dozens of costly redesigns, always with the same overwhelming result. You could code up the changes to Google in a couple of minutes.

Gee, I wonder who is going to win the search war?

Anonymous said...

"As for all you whiners bitching about the stock price - deal with it."

I'll take "Things Ballmer deleted from his last email before hitting SEND" for a thousand, Alex.

Anonymous said...

"The MSN approach? Throw as much crap at the customer as will fit on the screen, then add a bunch more crap to make them scroll. ...
Google's approach? Help the customer quickly find what they're looking for."

I think you are comparing apple with oranges. One is a portal business and the other is a search business. I suggest you compare:

www.google.com with search.msn.com.

And now tell me who has a cooler design.

I hate reading comments like yours. I am sure you realized this but still needlessly want to flame Microsoft on a blog loved by Microsofties. You may want to rename yourself from Microsophist to Microhatist or Googlejackist.

Anonymous said...

Continuing with the previous comment on comparing www.google.com and search.msn.com.

Do not forget to notice that Google does not have a privacy policy on its webpage where search.msn.com shows you upfront.

Question: Do I consent with Google's privacy policy when a link to it is not even displayed on their page. I do not visit any other google's page and nor it is required to use Google's service. Any lawyer here?

Anonymous said...

>What is your investment horizon? >1, 2, 5, 10 yrs?
>--
>2 years. You should buy when >others are selling.

The bet now is very simple. If Vista ships on schedule (early 2007), stock will at least give you 10-15% from today's close - $23.

This is just 8 months away. The rule of investment is really simple, if there's fear in a stock, you know it has hit the bottom. Besides, there are speculators that dump stocks to depress the stock for them to rebuy.

This just happens to GM 4-5 months ago. Unlike GM, MSFT is still making heaps of $$$.

Paul Dietz said...

If Google wants to make a real case about this, file some formal complaint with the AG then I say they should.

Antitrust law contains provisions for civil suits. There is no need for Google to involve the AG for that.

I view Google's statements as a shot across the bow. The message seems to be 'if you attempt to dominate this field, and do so with illegal actions, we will take you to court, and with our damages tripled the cost would be very painful even for you.'

(Neither a MS or Google employee.)

Aragon said...

If Mini should institute a way of registering, getting a handle, and validating email addresses before posting, you will easily unmask the characters.

There is an easier way. You can create a blogger account with your real identity and use that to post here. Or do what scooble does and atleast post with your name... but no... you want others to be non-anonymous and still post anonymously. Why ??


But I must admit, reading the blogs makes me feel very good about myself and Microsoft. Reading the comments of the dregs (not everyone here is a dreg - save your bullets) make realize that I deserve all the good things that Microsoft has showered on me over the years

Would be interesting to know the good things that Microsoft has showered on you over the years !

Oh, and I am posting with a psuedonym rather than my own name, but that is better than posting anonymously!

On another note :
Guys, I don't care about Vista being late. In fact I pray every year that Vista is even later than it is now, as i just don't want to upgrade my OS (and spend my money not only on the OS but also on a forced upgrade to my Machine !... I am no Bill Gates!). Everything works fine for me as it is now - with all the games and graphics cards being supported on WinXP - so why upgrade!

And I don't understand why Microsoft ( and the rest of the world ) see Google as a threat to them . The business were totally different. I guess it all started with Google poaching on Microsoft employees, and now it is a personal vendetta for the big bosses in Microsoft to see Google Grovelling at their feet - how cheap !

Anonymous said...

I hope we fire all the dead wood (that means 90% of the whiners who post here), give the top performers a decent raise for once, overhaul the completely broken review system, and take on some huge new challenges.

Believe me, there is a tempest blowing and several non-performers are going to bite the dust come August-ish

Of course they will all end up at Minimsft with more vitriolic "I used to work for MS" posts.

Yes MS made of mistake of extending offers to deadwoods during the dotcom days when resources were scarce. These stuffed dolls couldn't make a headway in the system (blame the review model all you want but you can't get a 4.5 if you don't deserve it). Now we are paying the price for lowering our standards - with these posters.

All 20 - 30 of you better start looking for other jobs while you can still say you work for MS.

Brian said...

Microsophist sure lives up to his name. I switched to Live.com recently because I was fed up with being lectured to use Firefox every time I started a browser window--and from the same company that whines like a little girl that they aren't the default choice in IE (like they are in Firefox, Opera, Safari...).

By the way, someone explain to me: since Google was NEVER the default in IE, how does this situation injure them?

{crickets}

Btw this weblog is a fun little game now of figuring out who are the disgruntled former-MS malcontents, the goading Slashdot wankers, the "it's all good" pro-MS smoke blowers, and the small handful of people who seem to want to fix MS.

Anonymous said...

"I view Google's statements as a shot across the bow. The message seems to be 'if you attempt to dominate this field, and do so with illegal actions, we will take you to court, and with our damages tripled the cost would be very painful even for you.'"

Yeah GOOG's real concerned about legalities. Why, just look how much effort they've put into detailing and stopping click fraud. Give me a break. It takes all of one second to switch the default search provider in IE. By whining about this, GOOG imo just looks petty (btw, I use GOOG primarily). You might also want to keep in mind that that "monopoly" decision was reached in part by negating AAPL entirely as a competitor and omitting Linux because it didn't pose a credible threat - oops. You want to defend that reasoning just 5 years later?

Anonymous said...

"As for all you whiners bitching about the stock price - deal with it."

You may have noticed lately that a lot of shareholders are dealing with it by dumping the stock. Keep up that attitude of indifference though - it goes well with your senior leadership and is what's guaranteed to take this stock into the teens. Here's a wake up call for you: shareholders own the company and do so to earn a return - not to underwrite MS's excesses or to provide you with a place of employment. Most intelligent employees and competent management teams realize that and understand that one of the company's core mandates is to drive shareholder value.

Microsophist said...

"I hate reading comments like yours. I am sure you realized this but still needlessly want to flame Microsoft on a blog loved by Microsofties."

Admittedly, as a recent shareholder, I don't exactly love MSFT right now. But my comment about MSR's good ideas being ignored, and the comparison between MSN and Google's home page are genuine pieces of feedback for my former employer. Sorry if the phrasing sounds harsh, but its nothing compared to what you might hear in an exec review with, say, Eric Rudder.

BTW - thanks for the link to search.msn.com, it's a definite improvement. The next step is to give it a unique identity and domain name.

Anonymous said...

>or 3) - another middle manager passing .ppt files from upper level to lower level for $150K/year. Yep, for you Microsoft is the best place in the world!

Middle management is the worst job at Microsoft. The pay is not good and you get it from both the top and bottom. The bottom has more options and the top are all partners.

HR is the best job at Microsoft period. I suggest we move all middle management to HR.

ChessPlayingAustrian said...

MSN is f***ed up. Here's my anecdote:

I was just at the Scientific American website enjoying a nice science article. After I was finished reading, I noticed there was an advertisement for video.msn.com. It promised a funny video, so I clicked...

Did I get to see a video? No. Instead I got a page telling me, "To use this product, you need to install free software" and "This product requires Microsoft© Internet Explorer 6, Microsoft© Media Player 10, and Macromedia Flash 6. To download these free software applications, click the links below and follow the on-screen instructions."

You tell me what I was most likely to do next, follow the instructions, or just leave?

Anonymous said...

WRT this Google thing, some of you don't seem to 'get it'.

It's not that people necessarily love Google, hate MSFT, or even doubt MSFT's ability to eventually kill Google with a better search. It's just that people don't want to see MSFT then do, with search, what it did with the browser.

(And stop saying "That's all past history: move on"... We can only judge the company by its past actions, and quite frankly, a lot of it's past actions _stank_, on every level. If you can't see that, then quite frankly, it's you, who's the crank, and not the idiots sniping from the sidelines.)

Anonymous said...

"If you can't see that, then quite frankly, it's you, who's the crank, and not the idiots sniping from the sidelines."

This site is meant to be for people who want to see the company improve - not folks who can't forgive the past and/or for whatever reason have dedicated themselves to the ABM movement. Go back to the YHOO MS message board where you can rant all day about MS's past injustices - you'll be among friends and won't pollute this board with your drivel.

Anonymous said...

I just had a weird thought regarding the frequently maligned, "process." You know, it's just like everything else from Microsoft - rev 1.0 sucks, rev 2.0 will suck less, and rev 3.0 will most likely be pretty good. When the, "process," reaches the pretty good level, I bet it's going to be an enviable system. At least one can only hope...

TheKhalif said...

All I can say is:

A rich man recognizes not anonymity.

Anonymous said...

There is one good thing about the declining stock price, assuming it stays there (it will). The next ESPP will be nicely priced...and come September when the next grants vest, your taxable income will be quite a bit less.

(I'm looking HARD for a silver lining, every little bit helps)

Anonymous said...

Go back to the YHOO MS message board where you can rant all day about MS's past injustices

I wasn't actually "ranting about past injustices": you're just being touchy, kidda (I wonder why).

In any case, what's wrong with bringing up the past? The past forms a sizeable portion of your present problems.

What I meant was, 'we don't want to see MSFT win the search wars and then just let search stagnate for another X-many years'. That is what happened with the browser.

But let's think: maybe the browser was perfect, all these years? Did it not need any improvements? No, of course it did: the Windows version still doesn't have features the IE-for-Mac team implemented, years ago! IE 6.0 has become the 'Netscape 4.x' of modern web-design, and behind this truth lies the deeper injury, from your point of view: your company is becoming perceived as 'holding the industry back'.

Maybe you imagine that this is because of "vile conspirators", like me, spreading this evil meme around on my Yahoo messageboards (who knows what you imagine), but regardless, it's a meme that spreads on the basis of your company's past form.

And if there was a clear strategy behind this 'winning the search wars' business - other than the let's pick a fight in a bar mentality, which seems so prevalent in many areas of Redmond - it might be different, but past form suggests that it isn't. Past form suggests it's all about gung-ho Purists, like you, proving how big your willies are.

However, if you think that's "just me being negative", then, by all means, give me my 2.5 and I'll go off and leave you to your group hug - if you think that's what Mini wants this place for. It sure won't make you into 4.0 material, but know it'll make you feel better.

Ranma said...

Here's an item I came across which seemed relavent to this discussion. In summary, the article talks about how Apple added more software engineers (adding 120 or so to the original 20-30) to help push out a piece of software more quickly and raise quality (similar to Vista's situation on a much smaller scale).

While the software made it's date (or close to it), adding more engineers seems to have actually bogged down the project in a phenomenom the article calls the "missing man month" (this is a new term to me but I'm a violinist and video hobbyist, not an engineer) although there were complaints about very bad leadership (also a parallel to Vista?).

In the end, the added engineers were returned to their areas while the engineering manager was fired from the company and the project manager fired from the project (and then left the company). No engineers were fired. The original core engineers continue to work on improving the project.

Here's the link:
http://daringfireball.net/2006/05/more_aperture_dirt

Maybe I'm drawing the wrong conclusions but there seems to be Vista seems to be in the same boat but on a larger scale.

Also, I've noted many posts stating that Microsoft should delay Vista further, if necessary, to assure quality.

But, doesn't Microsoft have to release at least Something by the end of the year in order to meet their "Software Assurance" agreements, regardless of the state it's in?

What happens if they don't meet the agreement?

Anonymous said...

The phrase you're looking for, my violinist, friend, is "Mythical man month" - the fanciful idea that a developer/tester/whatever is just like a COM component, somewhere, that can be plugged in and be relied upon to do x amount of work in y amount of time. It was a phrase coined within Microsoft, and still holds water - just as does the Petronius quotation still does.

Just look at Moody's book about Sendak: the problem is not new, it's endemic, only this time, the symptoms are worse. The problem is your history. Until you acknowledge that, it's like talking to an alcoholic that won't reform: an alcoholic that's prone to barroom brawling and calling other peoplemotherfuckers.

//sigh

(Sometimes, when I read what MSFT employees write, I think that, somewhere, there's a really marginal Linux distribution, that's missing it's usebase! How can you lot breath, with all that testosterone in the air?)

Anonymous said...

As someone else asked in a recent comment, what is a Partner, what level is that (if its realted to a level), how do you get to be one, and why are their rewards so much higher (eg what are the SPSA grants ?)

As a 'low-level' European MS employee but 10-year MS veteran, I'd not heard of them before.
The highest technical grades we have in Europe are in the 61-62 region, and the country managers are probably only in the mid-high sixties [guess]

Keep up the lively articles and comments. Its interesting reading, even if it is often a bit too negative and whinging.

One day I write up what the employee mood is over here in Europe (basicically its ok, and better than it seems to be in Redmond, but we have a lot of similar concerns)

Anonymous said...

The phrase you're looking for, my violinist, friend, is "Mythical man month" - the fanciful idea that a developer/tester/whatever is just like a COM component, somewhere, that can be plugged in and be relied upon to do x amount of work in y amount of time. It was a phrase coined within Microsoft

It is a phrase coined within IBM by Fred Brooks while developing OS/360. And it means just the opposite: "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." Look up "The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering" on Amazon (published in 1975, before MS).

For the first time I agree with the internal MS zealot who posted here. If you just want to slap Microsoft at any opportunity without knowing anything, get the hell out of here!!

Anonymous said...

As someone else asked in a recent comment, what is a Partner, what level is that (if its realted to a level), how do you get to be one, and why are their rewards so much higher (eg what are the SPSA grants ?)

A partner is someone L68 and up. Lookup "Career Stage Profiles" on hrweb where it is clearly indicated. As to how to get to be one, I don't know since I'm not a partner :). Maybe one of them can clarify. As I understand, you had to start a long time ago and take advantage of the early rapid growth to build your career. Now you sorta need to replace a partner to become a partner (I hope someone can refute this speculation).

MSDecade said...

The decision to put IE into the shell ... was made in part because it tied the user and the browser together in the shell. The API stuff you mention may have been the logical way to do it - but the decision to do so was done in part to tie IE to Windows so they couldn't be separated.

... people like Allchin and Veghte made noises about how "Well, you'd lose online help if you didn't have IE!"

I don't know about you, but when I heard that excuse back in the mid 90s, I realized that fundamentally dishonest people were in charge.


It has the benefit of being true. A couple of things were happening at the time:

• The old .HLP format was reaching capacity limits. HTML was a better format without capacity constraints, so the help content was being changed over to HTML Help.
• Smart UI people were looking at the differences between shell UI (single-click to select, double-click to invoke) and web UI (hyperlinks, single-click to invoke) and felt that the user experience should be more seamless when going from one to the other. Also that the Internet should be a portion of the shell namespace, just as Network Neighborhood was.

So again, speaking from my technical perspective, the integration of shell UI with web UI was done with the customer experience in mind, and the Help comment was true.

P.S. Reading some recent posts, it may be time to turn comment moderation back on. :(

Ranma7 said...

"For the first time I agree with the internal MS zealot who posted here. If you just want to slap Microsoft at any opportunity without knowing anything, get the hell out of here!!"

My apologies. I unintentionally misquoted the article. As to slapping Microsoft, I don't see how it was any more "against" Microsoft than Apple since they both seemed to have the same problem. Any offense was not meant to be given. I won't bother you further but return to occasional reading.

Again, my apologies.

Anonymous said...

You can have HTML help without integrating a browser into the OS. I call BS.

Anonymous said...

"We will invest as much on this online opportunity as any of the other bigger players in the market," Mr. Ballmer told about 700 advertising executives.

Further to my post about Greg Gianforte thoughts on why bootstrapping your org is superior. This comment above is exactly where MS is making a mistake. MSN generates 1/3 the revenue per head of YHOO, and GOOG will earn more this year than MSN's entire revenue. But Steve (who somehow managed to actually graduate Harvard), isn't going to let that stop him. Rather than figure out creative ways to grow share on a much more limited budget - which is what any standalone competitor would have to do - he's just going to throw as much cash at it as both of his much larger and much more profitable competitors in the hopes that something sticks. It's the business equivalent of a hail mary pass and business as usual for MSN. Ridiculous. At least now, the guy from ASK.com ( who actually managed to do on a limited budget what MSN couldn't do on an asinine budget - grow search share) will have a role. Let's hope he brings some creativity to how the cash gets spent in order to maximize effectiveness and results.

MSDecade said...

You can have HTML help without integrating a browser into the OS.

Yes, you can. Interesting, isn't it, how two seemingly contradictory statements can both be true. Because it's also true that removing IE, in the manner being discussed at the time, would have meant removing the HTML renderer used to render HTML help. Therefore, Allchin's and Veghte's statement is also true.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap, Mini. You should figure out a way to monetize comments, especially when the MS exec's fuck up as badly as they did last week. You could retire and be one of the ex'es who seem to frequent this blog.

Frivolity aside, it is apparent that Ballmer's days are numbered. It is no longer considered a CLM to talk about him being asked to "spend more time with his family". If I had screwed up as much as he has over the last 5 years, I wouldn't have lasted 1 year, let alone 5. He was good when he was running the sales org. That's what he's good at, and is what he should return to.

Anonymous said...

"What I meant was, 'we don't want to see MSFT win the search wars and then just let search stagnate for another X-many years'. "

Why do you ABM zealots always preface things with "we" as if you speak for everyone? It's your opinion - you're entitled. But that's all it is. And dwelling on the past isn't hugely useful. Things change. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

I have an job offer from Microsoft IDC.

Thanks for all the comments here. I will join a startup instead.

Anonymous said...

RE: So at this rate, looks like Bill will get his wish shortly: "Gates Doesn't Want to Be Richest Man"

I have a better option for Bill Gates to solve that pesky little "World's Richest Man" problem. (Hey! Just noticed upon typing that this should be person to not be sexist.) Bill, you could give some of your Microsoft shares to your employees to make up for the paltry raises Balmer has given us the past few years. Not asking for a handout, but something tied to performance so that employees actually have an incentive to care whether Vista ships or not. Oh, but alas, there is a flaw to my logic. If your employees do awesome work, the company succeeds, and the stock price goes back up, then you just won't be able to get rid of that "World's Richest Person" stigma will you? Such a vicious circle!

Confusion Master said...

I have an job offer from Microsoft IDC.

Thanks for all the comments here. I will join a startup instead.


I would still suggest you to think about joining for a few months ( more than 6 months else you have to pay back the hidden expenses (reloc expenses etc)) as it will give good addition to your resume. Even though this blog does bring out what is wrong - MS is still a star company from the outside.

I left in 3 months (more lucrative and interesting work in startup) - that's when i got to know about the hidden things - "oh it was there on HR web". And when asked why not in the offer letter "Microsoft does not provide it in the offer". Needless to say, this left a bad taste in my mouth.

Work is mostly bugfixing in IDC. But there are a few groups into development - so you should also check out what exactly you are getting into if you plan to join.

As often mentioned in this blog - the facilities and benefits are really good.

Hope I have confused you enough !

Anonymous said...

"If your employees do awesome work, the company succeeds, and the stock price goes back up, then you just won't be able to get rid of that "World's Richest Person" stigma will you? Such a vicious circle!"

If you and the rest of the company ever succeed in driving the stock price again, I suspect most shareholders will happily underwrite further compensation increases - I know I will. As it is, shares are flat over 8 years, down > 50% since 00 and have effectively gone nowhere for the past 3 - underperforming the market by some 60% in the process. During that time, on top of $10B's in direct comp charges and some $40B in indirect option comp, shareholders have underwritten more than $10B in special (read additional) comp changes including at least two pay increases specifically due to the reduced value of options, the options trade in program, the $3 grant adjustment to make up for any hit from the dumbass $3 one-time (for which we got to take a $5 drop in price), etc, etc. So if you're looking for more compensation, maybe you should ask your senior managment for some of theirs - god knows the total MS compensation is one of the highest in the industry (see above). Because if you come back to shareholders looking for us to underwrite even more charges, we might just decide that, as owners, the real solution is a new management team and employees who understand that if we're not seeing any return, then they're lucky to still have a job far less get bonuses. And of course the door is always open for those who think they can get a better deal elsewhere...

Anonymous said...


it will give good addition to your resume


In some circles, yes. In others, it could be viewed as a liability.

Anonymous said...

Why do you ABM zealots always preface things with "we" as if you speak for everyone? It's your opinion - you're entitled. But that's all it is. And dwelling on the past isn't hugely useful. Things change. Deal with it.

Why do you company Yes men always label someone who doesn't agree with your everything Microsoft view an ABM zealot?

Working for a company that wastes so many people's abilities isn't hugely useful either. That's the present. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

So has anyone else noticed the recent spate of acquisitions by MSFT of various companies? Everyone from Proclarity to Massive to whatever that mapping company was. Are we seeing a change of strategy or a full on admission that we just aren't capable of doing ground up dev anymore and just plan on using cash to acquire folks?

Aragon said...

Microsoft invests $1.1 Billion into MSN search .

Check the article for figures from Yahoo and Google also. Stevie seems to think that putting in more money will automatically make the software better. Mebbe he knows something I dont ?

Anonymous said...

The highest technical grades we have in Europe are in the 61-62 region, and the country managers are probably only in the mid-high sixties

Bear in mind that field grades are 2 above their counterpart in corp. Therefore a L61 in a sub, is a L63 in corp.

In terms of the alleged level ceiling for a technical job - this depends on the size of the sub. For smaller countries, with less headcount, L61 could be as far as you get as a technical IC. OTOH, in the bigger European countries I know MCS and TS people at L64. This is the same as a GM of a smaller country...

write up what the employee mood is over here in Europe (basicically its ok, and better than it seems to be in Redmond

I concur. I work in Europe, and to me 90% of the comment gripes read like they're being written by someone from a totally different company (perhaps it is...)

Anonymous said...

WE WANT THE OTHER STEVE!

Anonymous said...

The Microsoft Stragedy of attempting to build proprietary extensions onto every standard has succeeded in tying PC vendors and users to Win xx products for some time.
The FY06Q3 fallout says to me that the OS landscape is about the change with VIRTUALIZATION.
1/ Mac OS X moved from PowerPC to Intel processors
2/ Boot Camp bought Windows XP to the Apple machines for the first time.
3/ Developer OS X hard disk images (i.e. Deadmoo) now widely bittorrented run on most recent PCs. Show a functional UI and the underpinning of the better security (root password popups before changes)
4/ Further virtualization is coming from GOOG collaboration tools like the Calendar, Word processing and Earth.
5/ Virtualization was spec'ed into Vista but dropped.

Is Apple readying an announcement of OS X with virtualization to coincide with a Vista launch? With great security and open source code base...It all looks like there is more to the FY06Q3 drop off than 2 cents below analyst expecations.

Pills said...

Vista got a bad product, I hope Windows7 will be better

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