Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vic Gundotra Goes to Google, RIF Comes to Microsoft?

Looks like some late breaking news coming in via the comments:

Vic Gundotra is leaving, long before Office/Vista/Longhorn ship. Here's the article.

Guess now we know why he took the time to tell his team in their last all-hands all about how much he deserves the big bonus he's getting this summer.

Vic is going to Google, after taking a year off as part of his non-compete.

A prelude?

Some shuffling of the executive deck chairs today, but the iceberg hits tomorrow.

And:

Big reorg being announced tomorrow in DMD. Looks like it is happening elsewhere in the company as well...

Microsoft shuffles more executives http://news.com.com/Microsoft+shuffles+more+executives/2100-1022_3-6089338.html?tag=nefd.top

Lastly:

ok Mini, you're getting your wish. My org announced today a roughly 50% RIF. One group of 65 in the org is being cut to 36. My group of 12 is being reduced to 3. Management is being cut from 21 to 8 people.

Good for Microsoft? Nearly everyone in my group has a family at home they provide for. One just moved his expecting wife and daughter here from the midwest, and now he's hunting for a job again.

What do you tell them Mini?

I was thinking that same situation this morning while washing out my coffee cup. Can I talk the talk (or, type the type) and walk the walk? If my group was going through the same thing and I was the one delivering the news (versus the no doubt longed for irony of receiving the news), could I do so with solid eye contact?

Yes.

It gives me no pleasure. But this company needs to size down and sad stories will be plentiful with that. I hope the parting terms are reasonable and, if they are skilled enough to get hired by Microsoft and were a good hire, they find an excellent career elsewhere.

It sounds like some of the trees are being shaken hard. If your group is given RIF percentages, how do you think you'll fare? Is it time to start looking around now so that you're at least prepared and not part of a Puget Sound glut? Personally, I'm in it for the long, bitter haul. But my resume is always up to date. Just in case ironic justice comes to town.


202 comments:

1 – 200 of 202   Newer›   Newest»
Kingsley said...

It's true. Sometimes you put down for shit that doesn't work for you. And sometimes you stand up against shit that does work for you. But you can't tell anyone to not feel bad about it.

Anonymous said...

RIFs in this company do not and will not happen company wide. They will happen on a group by group basis. For those of you in underperforming groups that are incapable of shipping a decent product, be worried. For those of you in bloated groups that actually ship, you're probably safe. For those of you in lean, mean groups that ship products regularly and frequently, I would love to work for Google too :-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the guy who just moved out there, but there are these things called "contracts" which can stipulate the terms under which someone joins a company. Things like, if they fire you within X months of joining the company, they have to pay to move you back, etc.

Sam Sethi said...

In the past people left Unisys, DEC, IBM and other dinosaurs to join Microsoft. I used to work for MSFT in the very early days and resented the old "seasoned veterans" joining because they brought with them cultural sloth.

Google is now going through the same problem. The agile company that took the web by storm will not be slowed down by Microsoft's technological advancements but by "seasoned" industry veterans coming in and changing the companies culture.

As for people losing their jobs. Read "Bait and Switch" which shows how white-collar work is going to change dramatically in this century. Job security for life is gone and porfolio careers will be the norm.

Anonymous said...

Where else has this been reported in ?

Anonymous said...

I promised to bring you a present from Africa if you'd at least let me get there. But now I'm more afraid than ever that the position offered to me may not be there when its time to start.

I've made some big changes in my life to prepare for my move: quit my job, sold my house, sold my car, said cheers to my girlfriend (actually, this made for a sweet excuse).

Is this just the way the cookie crumbles or are you the reason why this is all happening?

I think a lot of people would like to think you are, but maybe you're just a small part of what was inevitable.

If I do manage to get my butt over there I think I will still bring you a present. I think that although pundits are saying that your site is showing how many disgruntled employees there are at MS, I believe this is not the case.

There are disgruntled employee's in every organisation. What your site is showing me though, is that there are a lot more dedicated and spirited employee's at MS than I ever imagined.

I can't wait to get there. And if this is no longer possible, I suppose I will finish off the almost empty tub of peanut butter on my desk (sold my fridge) and move on.

Anonymous said...

I'm a field peon who's just resigned for greener pastures. I actually love MS and working with such good people but need a change. I've been told the door will be open if I ever want to come back, so maybe I'm "bad attrition."

I see the reshuffles, RIFs etc. as long overdue changes MS has to go through. My only question is what kind of company comes out the far side: a lean, mean profitable machine focused on execution and excellence in its core business units -or- a growth obsessed has-been unable to face the reality of growing up and becoming a big, GE-ish "utility" company.

MS leaders need to realize what the market already has, that the growth investors have moved on and our "new" institutional investors want predictable revenues, reasonable dividends and steady incremental growth. No $2.4 billion spending surprises or chronic failures to deliver our flagship products on time.

The sooner senior leadership realizes this, the less painful the transition period will be. I think steveb is unwilling or unable to accept the facts. Him going would probably send the right signal to the Street to get our stock on the up again, as long as the RIFs and -effective- re-orgs continued apace. It might give us the breathing space to get back on track and get back to being what we should be...the best software company in the world, in terms of product and business culture.

paul said...

Mini leaves Microsoft to join a Web 2.0 chewing gum start-up!

Anonymous said...

ok Mini, you're getting your wish. My org announced today a roughly 50% RIF - You mean they are getting laid off or being moved to another unit within Microsoft? I can't believe Microsoft is laying off now...

FARfetched said...

Best of luck to all affected. Having been laid off a couple of times in my career, it's something I'd only wish on a manager.

Chris said...

I used to sit in a cube right across from Vic in the Washington, DC office back in the good old days (early 90's). Vic always loved to tell me he had never sold any Microsoft stock. Sheesh!

I left in Feb 2000, after 7 years, with no regrets. I could sense that things were about to collapse. Microsoft would be in better shape today if more people of my generation had gracefully exited rather than hanging on for one last drop of options. Greed is the downfall of us all.

I was in MS101 with Martin Taylor as well. I could tell stories but I won't get snarky.

Hell is indeed freezing over at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Its all very well saying you can walk the walk but what if it was you that was dumped - everyone (when talking about downsizing) assumes that they wont be one of the ones to go - guess what Mini, you are NOT indispensable - be careful what you wish for.....

Anonymous said...

Wait...mini washes his coffee cup?! That should make it easy to discover his real identity!

Anonymous said...

A few comments.

1) I just told my manager a few weeks ago that I am leaving the company after being employed almost 9 years. It did not come down to why I left, it was more of a why not?

2) It just hit me this week that we are "old tech". Steve already knew that. I guess that is why he said we employees do not watch the stock price. Not much point.

3) Despite all that, the recent significant events have me thinking that the company is finally going to turn the corner. The most dominate and successful nations and empires in history had to drive themselves into ruin before they realized their wrongs and total failures. Those collapsed nations with smart people reinvented themselves nearly overnight and became even more powerful in a short period of time. I do think the company has a bright future, but the next 2 or 3 years are gonna be painful. Mini is right. Downsize now or later. It is inevitable.

4) Steve Ballmer is history sooner than anyone thinks. We are seeing a classic case of justice against mediocre leadership. He has lost his grip in many areas and the beast is beginning to take control on its own. Costs must rise to compete with the unexpected threats. The unexpected costs require unexpected cuts or impacts, but the employee morale is already at a record low and requires increased spend. Ballmer is in a lose lose situation. The employees won't force him to leave but the press and the stock holders will. He will not see much of FY08, if any.

5) The company's successes over the last decade have not been because of the executive leadership. Success has happened despite of the leadership and can be attributed to smart employees who did good work despite the dysfunctional and abusive leadership. Most of us have at least 1 or 2 first hand experiences with this situation. As for the past 5 years, I believe the company has performed at a 3.0 level. It has not failed, rather produced results that meet the bottom of the performance bar. As a whole, the company met the minimum expectations for the opportunities that we had and the products that we produced. We could have done much much better with better leadership and a more current technical culture and awareness.

Anonymous said...

Job security for life is gone and porfolio careers will be the norm.

Yeah, there's this new book called "Reengineering the Corporation"....

Seriously, though, I feel sorry for the people who work for the same publicly traded company for 12+ years, unless they land on a gravy train like Microsoft in the '90s or have very senior roles. Remember what happened to that dude who was released from prison near the end of "The Shawshank Redemption"?

Anonymous said...

"It might give us the breathing space to get back on track and get back to being what we should be...the best software company in the world, in terms of product and business culture."

Good goal, and agree that none of this will occur with the current leadership in place.

Mary Jo Foley said...

You folks were right. Microsoft cut 214 of its U.S. salespeople today. Here's a story on it.

Anonymous said...

To the person posting the hard luck story of people with families getting laid off - you are naive (I would hazard to guess you're one of those peeps that's only ever worked for MS). In the real business world, downsizing non-profitable groups does actually happen independent of the financial commitments of the individuals.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, I hope Vic's family survived the bird flu.

I hear the munchkins over in DPE are walking with a new skip in their steps these days.

PantherFanz said...

So was any real money saved in this move? Yesterday 3 new VP's are named and today a net of 148 jobs are cut. Does 148 sales jobs account for enough money to pay the salaries and logistical needs (All Hands Calls, site visits, media production etc) of 3 VP's?

Anonymous said...

Meh...looks like the RIF affects salespeople and only around 200 will leave (with around 70 new jobs in sales) - http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1983770,00.asp. While I do have the attitude, "better them than me", it still sucks for them.

A large scale RIF throughout the company is precisely what Microsoft does not need right now. If this happens, the mass exodous to "insert your favorite MS competitor's name here" will only get worse (nothing boosts employee morale like layoffs).

Mini seems so focused on the current stock price he seems to have lost sight of the bigger picture. If you have fewer employees via layoffs, the ones that remain are wasting time wondering if they'll be next and sucking up to the right people to ensure they don't end up in the next round of cuts. In essence, the new workforce will be less productive and smaller. The only way this is a good thing for MS is if you're an investor looking to dump all of your MS stock after the short-lived share increase. Yeah...this is exactly what MS needs right now:|

Can anyone out there name any companies that have actually benefited long term from RIFs? The only people RIFs benefit are investors. Take Intel for example - in 2002 they cut a substantial number of jobs and lost a lot of market share to AMD as a result. Now, they're cutting jobs once again and will most likely lose more of the market as a result.

Anonymous said...

One group that needs a RIF is our field consulting organization. Specifically, all the Program Management in Redmond ('corporate') supporting MCS/Premier. These people make little impact to the delivery of consulting and support. In fact, they are a time drain on all of us. They are overhead and make our business very difficult. MCS is no longer the sexy place to be and has not been for a while. It's full of disconnected IBM dinosaurs and SI wannabe's.

Alyosha` said...

I still find it highly dubious that a companywide RIF is in the works. What we're seeing is just daily business ... some orgs grow, some orgs shrink, the people in those downsized orgs eventually get reshuffled to other projects. I can say for certain that my group (~150 FTE) still has a lot of open headcount and is recruiting very aggressively for the next 12 months.

Again I've got to reiterate that across-the-board RIF is drastic medicine for this company. A lot of good people get swept up in downsizing purges, and a suprising amount of deadwood would still remain (especially if the people in charge of the RIF *are* the deadwood).

Like times of war, RIFs can be a time of excitement. But they shouldn't be a time of jubilation. Rather, a RIF is something a company ought to do when all other avenues have been tried and failed.

A better first step for MSFT would be to stop hiring for rapid growth. We passed that phase of our corporate history. We have the people. We just need to use them effectively.

Anonymous said...

Nice. Office slips again and MSFT is letting go 5% of its US sales force. Could this company get any more fucked up? Meanwhile, partners will be giving themselves $1M's+/each in performance bonuses for doing such a first class job. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

First, WinFS gets talked up as recently at the PDC and then is killed. Now the Office 2007 test drive goes live and just DAYS later, comes the announcement that the product will slip again by at least 2 mths and maybe more (give the vague "early 2007"). Let's guess the next one: a further slip on Vista so that both it and Office aren't really available until March? Is anyone getting fired over this? Does anyone see the damage this is causing to MSFT's credibility with customers/partners and investors? MSFT has become a first-class cluster fuck.

Anonymous said...

Mini, the next time you provide us this type of interesting news, at least furnish us some Tim Bits and Horton's coffee.

customer said...

ZDNet commentary on Windows Genuine Advantage

Why are you spending time on things like WGA? Manufacturers in China will work-around it. Pirates will come up with hacks to get around it, and in the meantime it just pisses off a lot of current customers.

Another soon to be ex-customer

Anonymous said...

Just saw the mail announcing some of the first wave of Windows re-org. SteveSi is bringing a whole bunch of Office cronies with him to try to right the ship, and will be changing Windows from its feature-centric little fiefdoms into big chunks organized along disciplines (i.e. a PM org, a Dev org, a Test org).

Haven't waded through all the "gosh, it's so great to be here, ship Vista, go Windows" mail yet. So I don't know all the ramifications. But it looks like at least a couple significant people are being quietly marginalized and allowed to fade away, just as several other VPs and GMs have over the last few months.

Makes sense to announce all of this right before the holiday weekend, to try and get lost in the news cycles...

Anonymous said...

I think I can best express myself through a monologue by Jeff Golblum in Jurassic Park I:

"I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here: it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you're selling it, you want to sell it!"

Superstar!

Anonymous said...

MS is falling apart. I'm glad I left in April. There's no job security unless you work for yourself.

Edward said...

One way to address low morale after layoffs (or further downsizing) is with promotions and bigger titles. Promotions usually cost some money. Bigger titles often come for free and are often handed out readily after downsizing. (Left in '98 for grad school, company was okay.)

Anonymous said...

OK, what in the world does "RIF" mean?

Anonymous said...

"For those of you in lean, mean groups that ship products regularly and frequently, I would love to work for Google too :-)"

I'm pretty sure that Microsoft's own MacBU is much leaner and more efficient than Google. MacBU has 1/10th the employees that Windows Office has, yet ships a comparable product (not including Access and the enterprise stuff like SharePoint).

Anonymous said...

"I think steveb is unwilling or unable to accept the facts. Him going would probably send the right signal to the Street to get our stock on the up again, as long as the RIFs and -effective- re-orgs continued apace."

I really hate the idea of doing things just to please the Street. Microsoft is making more money each and every year. That's what a company is supposed to do. The market does whatever it does based on speculation rather than solid revenue performance.

You should watch "The Smartest Guys In The Room" DVD, the documentary on ENRON, and see just how screwed up The Street's prognostications really are, and why it's sheer idiocy to due things for the primary reason of pleasing The Street.

I agree with the above poster that says a wide-scale RIF would result in a brief spike in the stock price, benefitting only those that dump the stock during that brief spike. Afterwards, the company itself would start going down hill due to low morale (you guys talk about low morale, and advocate RIF as the cure?). You end up with, not only no real stock price improvement, but actual profit decrease as well.

BTW, there will NOT be a wide-scale RIF. When Bill was announcing his plans to move on, he said Microsoft hasd 60k employees, and SteveB *proudly* corrected him, saying there were over 70k. SteveB wouldn't be bragging about going over 70K employees if a RIF were in the works.

Anonymous said...

Ship Dates: We set them and we break them if we have to. Last time I checked, Miss Cleo was not working in Redmond. If your beef is Office slipped, Vista slipped, etc, go slip into your underoos, cover ya head and suck your thumb. You are a software engineering neophyte if dates are all you regard as 'success'.

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to. Nobody sets the dates for us.

Anonymous said...

It gives me no pleasure. But this company needs to size down and sad stories will be plentiful with that
-
Amen. KT is hiring six thousand people, Brumel is hiring another thousand generalists to sit in everyone's office and KJ is going to hire another three thousand.

Anonymous said...

MS is feeling more and more like some sort of dystopian society.

More and more people quietly disappear. Their offices are packed up, cleaned out and two new drones are left in their place.

No emails are sent. No acknolwedgements of hard work done.

For those of you in the field or outside the company thinking of coming here... the only advice I can give you is think about it.

I think everyone has a vision of what Microsoft in Redmond is really like. The reality is, that what you think it is, it probably isn't, or atleast it isn't anymore.

Just like in the Wizard of Oz, the wizard is incredibly impressive until you look behind the curtain, your morale makes a beeline for the crapper.

Ironically, Seattle is named the Emerald City.

Anonymous said...

MS is falling apart. I'm glad I left in April. There's no job security unless you work for yourself.

Nope, it's not falling apart. And honestly, there is no job security. Period. You may convince yourself otherwise, but that doesn't change the fact that tomorrow will come and all things you relied on gone... Whether you work for MS or yourself, doesn’t matter…

The fact that you've left MS is good for Microsoft too. We have so many opportunities inside, learning new technologies, working in almost every area (from core OS to games, from compilers to IP telephony), if you don't feel like fitting here - leave.

I worked for 3 years in one project, then changed the groups to work on something new that I was interested for a long time. I hope in 2-3 years we'll have more challenging projects, more areas to consider and I'll do my part to make it a better place, just as my co-workers do every day.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. Sinofsky comes to "straighten out" Windows. He's spent 3 versions shipping underwhelming incremental ware to protect a cash cow. And the moment Office takes a signficiant risk with features(O12), it slips like mad as well. What is it that Sinofsky is supposed to do for Windows again other than bring his Office cronies over?

Anonymous said...

Mini, of COURSE it would be easy for you to deliver the news that, "you're fired," and look them in the eye - that is so easy for a low-level management wanna-be like you. Where are the comments of how you, personally, have motivated somebody to exceed your low expectations? Did you ever go to a shareholder meeting and brow-beat executive management? Have you always worked at MSFT or do you have experience at other types of organisations, and if so doing what exactly? Running the business or being a peon? I would like to honor what you say here, your ideas and qualities for survival of our beloved MSFT, but I doubt that your message is anything more than a rampant complaint from a permanently disgruntled and unhappy bloke. Asking for a RIF is so 1970's it makes me wonder if you used to work in the auto industry!

Anonymous said...

I don't care if you are supporting all the orphans in Sudan, if you are RIF'd go find another job. Don't blame it on the review system, bad managers, Ballmer etc. Just go

-

RIF is good, RIF HR. MSFT HR department will be so much better without you.

Anonymous said...

SteveSi is bringing a whole bunch of Office cronies with him to try to right the ship, and will be changing Windows from its feature-centric little fiefdoms into big chunks organized along disciplines (i.e. a PM org, a Dev org, a Test org).

Huh? Windows re-orged into PM/Dev/Test silos a year or so ago. It was big news at the time. There were a couple exempt groups as I recall, but this sounds like the gist of the last big Windows re-org. So I don't think this makes sense.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what Vic's role was. I know he lived in Los Angeles and was a good talker. He came across like a politician. Not a very good one, if I remember right.

Anonymous said...

I heard a 'strong possiblilty' in the hallway today that VISTA won't ship till July '07. Is it true?

Anonymous said...

Blood-letting was popular medicine a couple of centuries ago, but from the current point of view, it does not have much sense. Hi blood pressure is not because there is too much blood. You are wrong, I think, with this idea of downsizing. MS needs splitting, not downsizing.

Anonymous said...

One group that is not being "RIF"ed is WinFS/SQL Server. They are able to rest on their laurels and continue to squander resources. Instead of building hardcore server stuff and catching up with Oracle/IBM, they are taking some choice turds from WinFS and putting them in client and server stacks.

At the same time, Paul and Peter issue decrees banning MBS apps from running on Oracle - effectively killing a majority of their business.

This blog often talks about broken windows but there are more bizarre (if smaller) jokes on campus.

BI apps is another joke. Years and years of toil by devs and nothing to show after 4+ years. Finally they at least bought Proclarity. 100s of FTEs over 4 years - that is what it takes to find out that they need to just buy a company. And no, there is no RIF there because Lewis has been anointed as the "high IQ guy" due to his credentials from Excel days.

Anonymous said...

Re:RIFs. Check out your VP's commitments (if they're online yet). Ours has a line specifically referring to attrition (don't want to give out too much here)

Anonymous said...

My understanding was that when your position is RIF'd you are given 6 weeks to find another job within MS. Is that true across the board? I also heard that you get severance on top of that.

My take is that if you are skilled and smart, then you'll just switch teams/products and that the only people who have to worry are the chronic 3.0s...err I mean the "chronic limiteds".

Can someone confirm if we still give employees who have been RIF'd over a month to find another internal job?

Also, what is the going severance packages? Depending on the amount, can I volunteer ;)

Anonymous said...

"The only people RIFs benefit are investors."

Right. MSFT should just continue on its ridiculous post 00 hiring binge, getting fatter, slower, less effective and less profitable while it faces increased threats from newer, faster, leaner competitors. And while it continues to struggle under the added weight of that strategic stupidity, investors (let's forget they're owners after all) should just STFU and continue losing money on MSFT so that employees can have job security and self-actualize. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

This may be little o.t. but what's the deal with MS using Linux and Apache to host their Office 2007 demos? Saw a story about that at www.kerika.com/blog.html

Anonymous said...

BI apps is another joke. Years and years of toil by devs and nothing to show after 4+ years. Finally they at least bought Proclarity.

There are many examples of Microsoft's glaring incompetence as a software company. Microsoft can't even develop its own software with its own software. Almost everything except the compiler is a 3rd party or internal-only tool because our commercial "enterprise edition" tools are not robust enough. Every acquisition Microsoft makes is an embarrassing admission that its "best and brightest" employees (read: managers) are unable to compete in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, SteveSi's "memo" to his troops about the re-orgs was so massive (30 pages or so) that the Exchange servers choked on it, and people ended up seeing his reports' followup mails first.

In other words, the guy who used to run Office sent out a long email with a massive attachment to thousands of developers and that email clogged up servers for hours on end.

An ironic omen, if you asked me!

Anonymous said...

BI apps is another joke. Years and years of toil by devs and nothing to show after 4+ years. Finally they at least bought Proclarity. 100s of FTEs over 4 years - that is what it takes to find out that they need to just buy a company. And no, there is no RIF there because Lewis has been anointed as the "high IQ guy" due to his credentials from Excel days.

I presume that you left the team over a year ago? The team has been rebranded a few times since then; and has undergone significant positive change. BI Apps was a complete circus of political debauchery in its early years. Over the past 1-2 years, the org has significantly changed for the better. While it is still dysfunctional, bloated, and politically charged, it stands a chance of shipping some powerful products in the next 18 months. This is due in no small part to the heroic efforts of a select few in the org who will probably never be rewarded or recognized for their continuous efforts.

Many of the biggest clowns from the BI circus have left the team in the past year, and some of the main events from the circus have been cancelled. Best of all, the "High IQ" clown will soon be re-purposed - replaced by execs whose teams can ship their products.

As for a RIF- BI Apps has been placed on a hiring freeze. Almost all of the originally budgeted headcount for FY 07 has been revoked. While not a true reduction in force, the trend is in the right direction.

If this is any indication of broader changes brewing in Redmond, I might consider adding MSFT back into my stock portfolio.

Anonymous said...

My understanding was that when your position is RIF'd you are given 6 weeks to find another job within MS. Is that true across the board? I also heard that you get severance on top of that.
As of a few years ago, yes you got 6 weeks and yes there was severance. You only get the severance pay if you end up leaving the company. It is based on some formula like X amount of severance pay for each 6 months of service. If you just want to walk, you can choose to take the severance + 6 wks pay + COBRA for 6 wks. However in some more recent RIFs, I heard that the riffees got handed some severance package and booted out the door (no 6 week deal).

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You are a software engineering neophyte if dates are all you regard as 'success'.

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to. Nobody sets the dates for us.


As a 20 year veteran of the software industry, I think this attitude simply reeks of arrogance and ignorance.

Yes, shipping quality software is job number 1. But customers are also counting on you to ship on some reasonable schedule. We do this for the customers, remember?

The current situation, years late and less than promised, shows poor planning, a lack of discipline, and no accountability to employees or customers.

If you really want to change the way people view Microsoft, stop justifying your lack of success by saying "that's how we've always done it." Your mantra should be "build it better than promised, and ship it sooner than promised."

And going back to the argument that, if SB says there's 70k employees, then there can't be RIFs on the horizon. I thought you guys were smarter than that. If Microsoft execs are continually recanting pronouncements about ship dates, features, strategy, and so on, why should you believe anything else they say. Yes, it may be true today, but wait a week or two...

At this point some folks are probably thinking this guy's a disgruntled employee. Well, you're wrong. Perhaps perturbed and mystified, but not disgruntled. I like working here. I think, given our success so far, the potential (if we can collectively work out the kinks) is incredible. Great benefits, too.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

To the poster at 6:53 pm asking what a "RIF" is. RIF == Reduction in Force. It's commonly used in the Federal Government as a euphemism for layoffs.

Cheers,
Scott.
(Who wonders if Blogger will ever join the 1990s and implement threaded comments.)

Anonymous said...

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to. Nobody sets the dates for us.

You got to quit talking from your arse. If you have no idea when you plan to ship a product, then stop announcing shipping dates. Then, we as consumers and corporate clients can plan and budget accordingly. You are killing your OWN customer and shareholder base. The delay is not just a one time occurrence but this circus has been on going for years across several product lines with no real end in sight. This is not how you treat your shareholders and customers.

Don’t forget that MSFT is sitting on $8.9 billion of deferred revenue. When you take customers money and promise certain things, you better start delivering. You are destroying your own credibility thru this entire process.

Anonymous said...

What does accountability mean relative to product slips? From the tenor of the loudest in this crowd, my guess is the sentiment is that the managing VP should get the ax. Perhaps that's the problem -- we look at things too much in a binary way. Something either is the greatest thing ever (see some of the comments on Lisa and Kevin here) or sucks harder than anything imaginable (see some of the comments on others). That type of accountability just leads to ass-covering, scape-goating, and other snarky behavior.

Perhaps the better approach is to say that accountability means that we're going to honestly evaluate things and actually learn from some of the (sometimes) incredibly stupid things that we do. And then in a reasonably straightforward way say "wow, that didn't turn out the way that we planned because of XYZ. let's make sure that when we screw up in the future it's not because of XYZ." I think that we follow the form of this on its face, but everyone knows that the stated XYZ isn't the real deal.

Case in point -- when we missed earnings, Steve's company-wide email mentioned in passing that we made some mistakes that we're learning from. What where those? Not because I want to see a hanging, but because I want to know that we actually are getting better. Because I know that there were very senior-level discussions (and the obligatory PPT) on this topic -- a little sunshine for the the rest of us chickens would be nice. Just don't give us the grow-lights.

Still here.

Anonymous said...

“It was just March when Microsoft emphatically stated that Office 2007 would be on the October price list. Even at close range, they can’t forecast this stuff.”

Anonymous said...

The positions that were cut are SALES positions in the Enterprise (big customers) space. These are the people who compete against Oracle, etc. This is hands-on, hard-core solution selling to CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CTOs. The reasons given in the news are blatant lies. There is no "re-alignment of specialties", etc. The bottom line was cutting budget. The division grew sales beyond projections, but the “cost of sales” grew along with it. (go figure) - Since our sales org is now led by an ex-Wallmart exec, the obvious solution was to CUT SALES!

Some interesting bits: Our cost of sales in the enterprise space is *significantly below the rest of the industry.* - For every field rep we have in a district, Oracle has 2 - 3. For every dollar we spend on a sale, Oracle spends 2-4. Oracle has an inside sales force that is significantly larger than ours. Oracle eats our lunch regularly. This is just one example. Companies that compete in this space have very similar numbers. Welcome to the big-leagues, boys.

Oh, and there were NO positions "created" to relocate these people. More lies. This is not a re-org. They literally CUT 50% of the inside sales force.

This was done as a misguided attempt to suck up to analysts and “the street”. This is what happens when you stop running your company and let “analysts” dictate your actions in order to manipulate stock prices. Microsoft is wildly profitable, yet we have cuts in key areas? Being a public company is not all it’s cracked up to be. Hopefully the “street” and “analysts” will see how ridiculous and inexperienced this is, and call them on it.

Anonymous said...

"I really hate the idea of doing things just to please the Street. Microsoft is making more money each and every year. That's what a company is supposed to do. The market does whatever it does based on speculation rather than solid revenue performance."

When was the last time MSFT did ANYTHING that pleased the street? MSFT has continually dissapointed the street for years - which is why the stock has underperformed all major indexes since 2002. And btw, MSFT isn't making more money each and every year. 03 income, for example, was barely above 00 income - and 01 and 02 were actually below 00. Comparing 05 to 00, income is up ~30%, while revenue is up ~100%. In other words, MSFT has gotten far less profitable over that period, in large part due to the massive increase in headcount. Even on the revenue front, while MSFT has sold more every year, growth has been slowing over that entire period - albeit that it's accelerating slightly this year. Bottom line, read your own annual report and get informed.

Anonymous said...

I said: “Personally, I think MS ought to fold up tent and plow NTFS into a Linux Distro, sell it for $49 and you would be back in the race.”

I forgot to add: because you can do that with only twenty people. Think of the money you would save!

You said: “Uh oh, a Linux Eunuch just slipped in. How long & hard have you been trying to get past Mini's dump button?”

Actually, I was a Microsoft customer; I won't say how many seats. Never used Linux or thin clients or web apps or Macs. Always paid my dues so fine upstanding MS employees like you can piss on the company's customers. In the world of cosmic events, it will, in the end sift down to each of you suddenly finding out that there is fresh air outside and sunlight can be exhilarating.

BTW, looking at the products you are about to deliver (maybe, sometime, whenever), I wonder, as a former customer that is, if anybody at MS even gets it, or is the light from three trains heading for the spot where you are standing too bright. The three trains being, a)Google, b)Linux distros c)the architecture of Vista is still based on the original windows and office model, both of which are too expensive and too complex and not nearly as useful as they could have been, considering the investment. Notice I did not even bring up Apple.

If the current RIF is all you've got, well, the analysts are already all over that one.

Anonymous said...

Vic had posted a blog "In Defense of the Company I love" in April 2005 which has now mysteriously disappeared from his weblogs at http://vicgundotra.com

Still, it is interesting to read the bits from the "quoted version" on this blog

Anonymous said...

As a former employee of thirteen years, I think Microsoft is a victim of its own success. Without the benefit of competition forcing groups to be lean, mean, and creative, products like Windows and Office have stagnated. And let's face it, Microsoft has never been good at creating new markets from scratch.

Getting rid of Balmer or firing a few employees isn't going to fix these problems. The company needs to be split up. You can reorganize ("shuffle the deck chairs") all you like, but giving the same people new titles isn't going to do squat.

Anonymous said...

Taken To The Cleaners
I'm not in a part of the company that dresses up much (not a marketing flack or a VP or a lawyer) so the announcement of an incredible value offered by my company (dry cleaning) didn't make my little ears twitch.

But I recently had to go in front of customers, so I decided it would be great to try out this new service. Went to www.stadiumcleaners.com/microsoft to see the great prices and wonderful service we were offered.

Long story short, Stadium is willing to actually come to my house for free, pick up my cleaning, and return it for exactly the same great price that I'd pay for hauling my stinky socks to another building and leaving them at the coffee shop.

Is this an example of a great benefit? And more importantly, did we not negotiate for better prices from SC when giving them exclusive access to 25,000 potential customers on campus?

Or, perish the though, are they PAYING for the access, and we're getting the shaft once again?

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa...

Anonymous said...

What does accountability mean relative to product slips?

It means the people directly responsible for the slips are promoted and some ICs get told that if they clean up the mess caused by those responsible they might be ready for promotion to one level below their current contribution roughly three years from now.

Anonymous said...

Mini himself doesn't care about RIFs because he has job security precisely because he is Mini. Let's say that Mini underperformed (and we have no way of knowing this one way or the other), and was about to be RIF'ed. He could simply tell his superiours that he is Mini, and dare the company to risk the PR nightmare of firing Mini. I can see the headlines now: "Microsoft unjustly fires whistle blower" or some such nonsense. Microsoft would look "evil" by RIF'ing Mini, as the press would say he was fired as punishment for his Mini activities. So, rather than go through that, Microsoft would let an underperforming Mini stay on.

Anonymous said...

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to. Nobody sets the dates for us.

You've got to be kidding me. It takes Microsoft over 5 years to ship a full version update to Windows XP, with MULTIPLE slips, MULTIPLE feature cuts, and you don't see that perhaps the engineering process has run a bit amok, and instead parrot company propaganda?

Why announce or hint at a date if you don't have any certainty that you'll hit it? You enjoy leading people on?

Hint: if you consistently can't figure out how long the work will take for a software engineering project, you're in the weeds. Note that when Apple poured years down the Copland rathole, they were rapidly tanking the company. Ship dates represent engineering discipline and self-awareness- an ability to keep from bullshitting yourself as well as others. Not hitting them consistently means something's seriously, SERIOUSLY wrong.

Anonymous said...
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The Nog said...

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to.

And customers go elsewhere if they have to.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft used to be for "the best and the brightest". Now, if you work for Microsoft, you are by definition not "the best and the brightest". You're a masochistic fool at worst, at best someone just interested in a paycheck.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

W H O O P S!

I think Microsoft should fire everyone and make them reapply. What percentage would make it 50%? I think that's hopeful.

BTW, boo hoo on the sad RIF stories. People don't get randomly RIF'ed. They get six weeks to find a new job within the company. If they can't get rehired, they shouldn’t be there to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Mini -- you are so late to this party. You might have a bunch of new folks thinking you are some sort of guru, but most of us figured out how F*ed MS was 5 years ago. We are quietly milking the system and loving it. I’ve been coasting at Microsoft for years. They will never find me because I look good set against the other low achievers. I don’t care about a big bonus or moving up the ladder. I promise you I will NEVER be found by the system.

Anonymous said...

Add one more loss to bad attrition.

Decided today to leave the company.

You guys might considering paying people what they're worth.

Anonymous said...

You guys are kidding about RIF right? I see atleast 4 emails every week welcoming new hires. And going to careers site, hundreds of jobs in hundreds of teams.

Anonymous said...

So, VicG, Google-fighter, the guy who was supposed to architect our strategy against google, has jumped stakes and is now working for google? He must have come to the conclusion at some point that we can’t beat google. And if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. Google just launched a PayPal product. Will Microsoft follow suit? If we do, what does that make us – a technology company – or something else?

I think we need to do some hard thinking before we spend any more money or time here. Google could be dragging us out to the deep water and we don't even know it.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal about Vic. Note, I have not spoken with him about this, but I do know him fairly well and have worked with him (across organizations) in the past.

Vic is a man of great faith, in both his personal and professional life. He was in charge of our developer evangelism group in that he was responsible for building buzz and attention around Vista, particularly for developers. He is a master speaker and a master demoer (the person who compared him to a politician is probably accurate, though I liken his speaking style to more of a Baptist preacher). That said, I find his strategic thinking ability to be limited. I will admit, however, that on occasion he has surprised me with his insights.

He clearly did not need the money. He has been at Microsoft for quite some time, and I assume by his title that he was a partner. I have a hard time believing that this was a financial decision though, obviously, a man of his "stature" would probably be extraordinarily well compensated by Google, particularly if it involved him leaving Microsoft for a competitor.

What this leaves me with is the belief that Vic simply lost faith in Microsoft. He lost faith that we could accomplish big things again, that we could execute on the things we promise, and/or that we could be a force in the industry long-term.

Vic certainly has his supporters and detractors (and I personally have been in both camps). But the net effect of this move is negative for Microsoft. If you believe in Vic, you can think the negative is a result of losing a talented and motivational leader. If you don't believe in Vic, you can think the negative is a result of a final nail in the coffin that this company really has failed under its own weight. Regardless, don't be fooled: his departure is a big negative for Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

>>It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to. Nobody sets the dates for us.

>As a 20 year veteran of the software industry, I think this attitude simply reeks of arrogance and ignorance.

>The current situation, years late and less than promised, shows poor planning, a lack of discipline, and no accountability to employees or customers.

Son, apprarently something you didn't learn in those twenty years is any of the history of your trade. Making software isn't like slapping together a burger. Large engineering projects of any type are inherently difficult to control or provide estimates for. For software development, it's even harder as there's no physical manifestation to tell when things are obviously going astray. It *is*, as the original poster said, the nature of the business.

If we are missing the dates we promised, then axe the people who made the promise until there's no one foolish enough to promise. If marketing says they can't advertise without a release date, axe them too and find somebody with a little more creativity. Compromising man-centuries of engineering effort to meet a date that is ultimately arbitrary[1] is, in the words of our beloved chairman, "'... the stupidest f'ing thing I've ever heard!".

No code before its time!

[1] "Arbitrary" because slips are more or less routine across the industry apparently without much ill effect.

Anonymous said...

The best way to kill Google is to let them hire more MSFT execs.

Anonymous said...

Found, ironically, on the google cache:

http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:WZdwCGr78NQJ:vicgundotra.com/InDefenseOfTheCompanyILove.aspx

Anonymous said...

Oracle eats our lunch regularly. This is just one example.

Ha ha, Mini you were warned. The beasts have been unleashed. This is one unhappy (former?) sales guy.

Oracle has one product. Microsoft has zillions. If you cannot still compete in this uneven landscape, you don't deserve to be here. Sorry. I hear Walmart is hiring greeters

Anonymous said...

Vic had posted a blog "In Defense of the Company I love" in April 2005 which has now mysteriously disappeared from his weblogs at http://vicgundotra.com


He also scolded Scoble on the same site for standing up to Steveb on the topic of diversity. Good riddance. He isn't a Luckovsky or a Kai Fu Lee. Run along to Google, Vic - you have a silver tongue so it will take your peers awhile to figure out what they're NOT getting.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Vic leaving Microsoft to go to the company he was competing against is like the Pope going to Mecca and declaring Mohamed the one true prophet.

It's a serious, serious thing that's happened here. Maybe the general public doesn't pick up on it, but those of us in the industry do - and the result is not just brain drain, but lack of good new people.

That sad thing is with this much money in the bank and such a overwhelming market share, it hides alot of mediocrity.

Hopefully Vic's departure wakes up the people at the wheel, such that they realize "Houston, we have a problem"

Anonymous said...

Went to the Sinofsky Q&A:

Someone referenced Mini regarding RIFs to which Sinofsky was pretty clear that there wouldn't be RIFs in Windows. Also said that Mini is a "tough source to follow because he's usually wrong"

Anonymous said...

So here's the thing noones talking about.

Vic wanted Corp VP last year but didn't get it. Apparently, they offered it to him this year once the Google bomb dropped, but at that point they're only paying because they have to.

Scoble used to joke about his salary. I won't disclose it here, but you'd be surprised what it was if you knew. Surprisingly, he also left for a new opportunity, that has better rewards.

This company does not pay its evangelism top performers what they should. Period. End of story.

There was attrition in the evangelism field last year, and now you're seeing it happen at corp. I'm positive these two won't be the last to go in the next few months.

Kevin Johnson, if you're reading this, look into what you pay people in Evangelism. These aren't code monkeys, these people are your public face. In many cases, working with ISVs and Enterprises much more deeply than Vic or Scoble, and having a much more tangible impact.

Anonymous said...

Is a copy of SteveSi's "memo" posted some where?

Anonymous said...

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to.

And customers go elsewhere if they have to.


Yes the Nog. Yes

Anonymous said...

You are a software engineering neophyte if dates are all you regard as 'success'.

It is the nature of the business. Again we set the dates, we break them if we have to. Nobody sets the dates for us.

As a 20 year veteran of the software industry, I think this attitude simply reeks of arrogance and ignorance.


I see that the whining that goes on here has misled many of you into thinking MS is full of pansy p***ies. Nah, there are still plenty of folks with balls of steel and backbones of titanium who say it like it is. Arrogance Shmarrogance. Dates are what dates are. If you have never written code before, you will never understand the intricacies. This is not a VB "Hello World" thing we do. Our stuff runs on 200 million desktops and servers around the world. It's gotta be right. 'F' dates.

One thing I agree with some folks here is that MS habit of announcing dates is eff'd up. It may have struck fear into the competition in the days of vaporware but it is retarded these days. The business leaders don't get it, and don't even give themselves buffers incase an earthquake hits Seattle. But all that will soon change with the musical chairs rearrangement happening. The business types and sales people will move more and more to the corner why the tech folk who understand that 'shit happens' will take over.

And why should I be sad Vic is leaving when we and Mini have written pages about partners in the past? With all due respect (as they say in the Sopranos), I say good riddance to Vic, to the RIF'd sales people, to the next people in line, and to myself if I also end up on the chopping block.

If you are RIF'd, take your boohoos to folks that care.

SteveSi, Welcome!!

Anonymous said...

"Mini -- you are so late to this party. You might have a bunch of new folks thinking you are some sort of guru, but most of us figured out how F*ed MS was 5 years ago. We are quietly milking the system and loving it. I’ve been coasting at Microsoft for years. They will never find me because I look good set against the other low achievers. I don’t care about a big bonus or moving up the ladder. I promise you I will NEVER be found by the system."

It's painfully obvious when your technical contributions don't live up to your title. The funny thing is that the consistent top contributors in every group usually know who the bogus no-ops are. If only there was some way to leverage that data..

KevinB said...

I've been blasted by some for making negative comments about the products instead of offering positive suggestion, and for making adulatory comments about Apple's UI.

Well, today, one of the things hit me; I'm work in Office 2003 and whenever I want to open a new file in Word or Excel, I click "File..New" on the extreme left-hand side of the screen, and what happens?

An entirely new dialog box opens *ON THE EXTREME RIGHT-HAND OF THE SCREEN*.

So I have to ask: what type of people do you have designing this? At what point did they not realize it would have been faster/simpler for users to put the new dialog box *IMMEDIATELY UNDERNEATH* the old menu, so that mouse movement would be less?

I know this isn't a big huge thing, but it's symbolic of the type of detail that I find MS overlooks, and other vendors see.
Mini, I tell you now: this inattention to what makes your products easy and simple is just as much a boundary to your continued success as the bloated MS process.

BTW, I was directed to the video of the Microsoft iPod box vs. the Apple one by a friend. Props to the MS guys who have the b*lls to laugh at themselves. That's the kind of subversion MS needs to become an innovator instead of a follower.

James said...

"They will never find me because I look good set against the other low achievers. I don’t care about a big bonus or moving up the ladder. I promise you I will NEVER be found by the system."

You are a true American hero and I hope it takes them ten years to find you.

"Well, today, one of the things hit me; I'm work in Office 2003 and whenever I want to open a new file in Word or Excel, I click "File..New" on the extreme left-hand side of the screen, and what happens?
An entirely new dialog box opens *ON THE EXTREME RIGHT-HAND OF THE SCREEN*. "

Microsoft has more UI designers than any other organization in the world. A lot of them are talented folks, I know some of them. What Microsoft's UI strategy says to me is that they want usability but management doesn't want to listen to them because it would be too much work or because they just disagree with them. It takes a special organization to capitalize on talented designers, I don't know if there's any right now. Even Apple makes boneheaded UI decisions in the name of looking good.

The point is you hire these people because they're experts in their field, if you're not listening to them it's an organizational problem. If a designer walked down the hall and started criticizing a developer's code quality there'd be some repercussions real fast.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Is a copy of SteveSi's "memo" posted some where?

So what will happen? So you can post it on Minimsft? Sheesh. The post went to those who should get it. It is none of your business.

BTW the stuff is powerful. Great things are happening I tell you

Anonymous said...

Blood-letting was popular medicine a couple of centuries ago, but from the current point of view, it does not have much sense. Hi blood pressure is not because there is too much blood. ... MS needs splitting, not downsizing.
I've thought a little more about it. Obviously, spliting body into parts will not help either. What can help is a physical exercise. MS should run for a customer, not just sit in a cool place collecting money into a big pocket and eating all fast food it can hire. But MS is not a single body either. MS looks like several oversized siameeze twins artificially conjoined together. They can't run altogether definitely. They hardly can stay stright. If we split them, they will have their chance to lost weight by exercising a bit.

Anonymous said...

If he could legally have slave girl on a leash in his office, he would.
At least there is some energy in him. Even if this energly overflows a bit the recent impotent level of a political correctness. Looking at the others, I suspect, they just can't do anything even if they could have it legally. All they can is to sing their formal "super-excited" song.

Anonymous said...

I am lowly developer who has posted here on occasion. I am seriously thinking of joining a startup that is offering to pay me about 20% more than what MS does. There is a huge upside to the deal if we execute well. Of course, there is greater risk in the start up. Or is there? In a small start up, you have more control over the destiny of the company (in relative terms). At MS, you are employed "at will", and who knows when a higher-up decides you don't have a job anymore. As far as your job is concerned, maybe a start up isn’t such a risky proposition.

What else is it about the start up that appeals to me? In addition to the huge upside potential, I get the feeling that we will be working as a team, from the founders, down to the line developers. At MS, I don't feel that. Even my GM seems very distant to me, and he’s 5 or 6 levels below Bill! With the SPSA I don’t feel that we are sharing equitably in the spoils of war, and maybe that’s just the way it is. So be it.

It also frustrates me that there are people in my group who have been with the company a long time and belong to the old boy network. They are in the good graces of the boss and are untouchable. Never mind that they work maybe thirty hours a week when they feel particularly industrious (I am not exaggerating).

So what’s my point? I think MS’s problem is the big rift between the haves and the havenots. Unfortunately, I am in the latter group. And so I believe my decision will be to leave. My manager will miss me, but MS will not. Oh, and, Steve: employees do look at the stock price, and not just now and then. If the stock price were going up, it would be more difficult for me to leave.

I don’t love this company anymore.

Anonymous said...

"An entirely new dialog box opens *ON THE EXTREME RIGHT-HAND OF THE SCREEN*."

This is you in an alternate reality "Whenever I open this dialog box, *IT NEVER REMEMBERS WHERE IT WAS ON SCREEN THE LAST TIME I OPENED IT*."

Perhaps you and your alternate-universe buddy can get together and figure out how to make everyone happy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Why are so many allegedly front line ICs trying to defend slipping schedule? No - really. I'd like to know.

First, don't y'all realize that Windows revenue is tied to OEMs? That's where the bulk of the money comes from. Not from shrink-wrapped product, but from sales of new computers. Windows missed the Christmas sales season. That's really big news. It means a HUGE loss of income. Or maybe Vista doesn't matter because all of those boxes will ship with *some* version of Windows anyway. So which one do you want? Vista work is irrelevant because everyone uses some previous incarnation of Windows already or it makes a difference, but not enough to ship at Christmas? Either way I'm not so sure I like the answer, but I tend to think the former is both the ugliest answer and the correct one.

Second, the big schedule in the sky is way off not because you ICs suck but because every time the schedule gets bumped up the chain of command there are little lies about how much faster everything will happen. Your leads want you to do more in less time, so maybe you compress your (hitherto realistic) estimates. Then your lead is forced to overpromise to her/his manager. And so on. It's not unlike the way that everyone lies to Bill to try to make him happy, but I'm veering off topic.

Third, I'll just say it. Yeah. You suck. If you had any personal integrity or pride in your work or yourselves or if you looked out for what's best for the company you'd make those problems very well known or possibly even try to prevent them. Or you'd leave.

RIF away! Time to change chairs that aren't on deck, too.

Anonymous said...

If you cannot still compete in this uneven landscape, you don't deserve to be here. Sorry. I hear Walmart is hiring greeters

-
MS will be better off when you and your department is RIF'd. Wouldnt it be great to see you in Walmart - I will drop you a nickel as tip.

Anonymous said...

"Our stuff runs on 200 million desktops and servers around the world. It's gotta be right. 'F' dates."

The arrogance, the arrogance, the arrogance. Wow. Where to start. I'll limit myself to a couple points that spring to mind: 1) software; and 2) leadership.

On software. Let's take an objective look at this for a moment. MS has built on stuff created by others first. Through shrewd leadership early on, the company was in the right place at the right time and became THE dominant software force for a long time. Then it got fat and happy.

I am probably a typical small user. I use MS software basically because it came with my computer. I do NOT find it all that user friendly. It has many flaws. It is hacked easily and often. I should NOT be highly skilled or trained (see Macs and Apple) to use my software on my computer. I should not have to use my computer to figure out how to use my computer - by this I reference help info provided via software instead of in a FREAKIN' BOOK I can pick up and reference while I'm trying to do a task.

There was a time when MS could tell customers "It's gonna be this way and you're gonna like it." Henry Ford also used to be able to say customers could have any color car they wanted so long as it was black. That day is passing if not already gone. As a customer, I want the dang thing to work simply and work right. MS software does NOT do this and is often a pain in the shorts to use.

If you want to miss shipping dates because you need to fix the product, fine, I understand. But the end result should then be flaw-free (or close) and easy to use. That has definitely not been the case with MS products. Instead, MS is missing shipping dates and then presenting flawed products. Think about that one for a second. Think customers like that?

2) On leadership. This Taylor fella sums it up for me. Here you have a guy who does not appear qualified for the job. He got where he was by snuggling up to Balmer on a BASKETBALL TEAM?!?!?! For that, he gets put in charge of a major operation at the company? My God! How screwed up is that? If that kind of thing is going on even with a fraction of MS upper management, it's no surprise that products are buggy and don't ship and morale is down.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If the stock price were going up, it would be more difficult for me to leave.

If you are happy with the work you do and it challenges you, then I would suggest sticking around for the next 2-3 years. Bad managers, office clicks and politics exist everywhere especially in large companies. If you can hang on for the next couple of years you will easily see the share price triple from today’s levels. The low share price is only a reflection on the company’s repeated madness to announce delivery dates it cannot keep.

There are a number of products that are scheduled to come out in 2007 and once Vista and Office ship sometime in 2007 or God forbid in 2008, the share price will easily go up an average of $1 / week. People may still hate MSFT, but they will buy the shares as long as it makes them money. There are not too many companies out there without any debt and make $1 billion in profits per month. Yeah, I know people say that Linux will take over, Google is the best etc. but they are no threat to MSFT for the next 2-3 years. On the other hand if I were Google with 60% of the search market, I would be very scared especially with a company like MSFT who have deep pockets and a 3 year time frame to catch up. Even if MSFT search share goes from 13% to 18% you will see the stock price go up.

MSFT is just laying the foundation to stay on top for the next 15-20 years. They should have got their act together much earlier, but at least they are moving in the right direction. I say all this not as an employee but as a long time investor.

Anonymous said...

Vic obviously lost his faith in Microsoft, but it's a big leap to assume that makes his departure a negative.

He's exactly the kind of person many of us feel should move on. In the last year, he became obsessed with attracting "attention" and "eyeballs" through things like Scoble's blog, Channel 9, and 10. He seemed to have lost sight of his true responsibility, which was evangelizing emerging technologies to leading-edge developers, not getting hobbyists excited about already-shipping products and interesting personalities.

He was out of touch with his market, as evidenced by his recurring contempt for MSDN and his inability to understand why Microsoft's most progressive partners spend considerably more time there than on Channel 9. To Vic, getting a lonely young geek excited about some cute girls on 10 was every bit as important (maybe more so, since it's easier to do) than getting a quality ISV to make a strategic bet on an emerging Microsoft technology. He had his fans, but among the developers Microsoft needs for our future success he was neither well-known nor respected.

The opportunity cost of Vic's lack of strategic vision for winning over developers was hurting the company every day, and now the healing can begin. The fact he lost his nerve and bailed out without finishing the job he started doesn't say as much about Microsoft as it does about him.

Anonymous said...

Vic's leaving is a serious thing, but only measured against the criteria of what's been considered important at Microsoft to this point. Vic was a very emotive guy. He loved to describe Microsoft's advances in wondrous etheral tones. He was totally putting himself in the user's shoes and thinking how orgasmically pleased the end user is going to be when they get their hands on this cool new technology. That's not a bad thing. What is bad is that virtually every single senior manager does the same thing. They talk about how the market is going to be blown away by one thing or another, and about how this thing or that thing presents an amazing opportunitiy to do this or that. The criteria for getting ahead at Microsoft is no longer critical thinking but an ability to espouse a joyous future for any given product or program while at the same time toadying up in a sufficient way to the managers above you. That was Vic's game and he was very very good at it. Unfortunately it is the game of every current leader at Microsoft. It doesn't matter where the ship is headed, all that matters is that all the ship's mates have a great attitude. When you try to approach the bridge and question the ship's direction you are summarily court martialed and sent below decks. So compared to the way we've done things, and for how long we've done them this way, Vic's leaving is a major blow. But really, in reality, Vic was mostly pom-poms. His probable hope was that the monopoly would kick in at some point and make all his under water options worth something. At this point, he's tossed in the towel. Whatever is going to happen here isn't going to happen fast and no sense wasting your youth at Microsoft when you can cash in on your credentials elsewhere. Unfortunately, Vic is leaving behind an entire squad of senior manager cheerleaders who are still waving pom poms and emoting and toadying up. Hopefully, they are taking a cue here. Hopefully they will pack up their gear - their flair, their whistles, streamers and tassles, etc. - and follow Vic out the door.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding me. It takes Microsoft over 5 years to ship a full version update to Windows XP, with MULTIPLE slips, MULTIPLE feature cuts, and you don't see that perhaps the engineering process has run a bit amok, and instead parrot company propaganda?

No, it takes Microsoft over 5 years to ship Server SP1, XP SP2, R2, TabletPC, MCE and then Vista. Longhorn\Vista got all the press but the Windows team was doing lots of stuff and shipping great s/w. It's a fair criticism to say they did too much and completely over-hyped Longhorn.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Mini:

As an intern at Microsoft this summer, I really enjoy this forum. I gained some insight & perspective prior to accepting my position. The airing of dirty laundry gives the content a level of authenticity (it's not laced with PR-speak).

But now I wonder how effective this site is being. Are Microsofties actually becoming better employees: inspired to make real, beneficial changes for the benefit of our customers? It seems to me that many of the comments here affect only a change in employee morale...and not in a good way.

I'd love to see you do a post on what you think the benefit of a forum like this is at this point and how it can best serve its stated mission. Perhaps you've wondered that yourself and that's why you've decided to, "...ride off into the sunset, or to at least a substantial hibernation."

I think this blog still has a role to play in improving the company, but an endless stream of bitching and moaning is doing nothing but making things worse.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I am not buying that Steve Ballmer does not care about the stock market. Instead, this seems to be the message that executives are sending out because they know that the stock is going to take a hammering if Windows/Office slip further. Kind of like how Hollywood superstars will downplay unsuccessful movies in which they acted – “I don’t care what the critics and movie sales say; I am proud of my work and know that I did the right thing.” Tell yourself that if it makes you feel better.

Additionally, while I kind of agree with the poster who said “I really hate the idea of doing things just to please the Street”, I think that Microsoft takes this to the extreme. Consider the SPSA. I think that, for the past 5 years (until the recent drop), Microsoft executives have tried to meet the minimum requirements to keep the stock price from tanking but not really tried to make it grow. It’s almost like the attitude is “how much profit do we have to obtain in order to continue our payouts under the SPSA and not negatively impact the stock price?” The mistake that Microsoft executives have made is that we’re not buying that anymore. Like my Mom used to say: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all the time. But, you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Anonymous said...

This sort of stuff just depresses the hell out of me after a reorg:

"In closing – I strongly believe that FY07 is going to be a breakthrough year for Microsoft, SMSG, SMS&P and with our Partners. Our challenge is to stay focused on providing continued business value to our customers and our partners. Microsoft's number one asset is, and will remain, our PEOPLE and whether you are an individual contributor or a manager at any level, your passion and drive is the real key to our success. -Kevin Turner

How many times have we heard this tripe and from how many VPs? Every year it's the same message - we sound like the Linux zealots "THIS year will be our big year! Forget all those other times I said it, this time it's DIFFERENT!" Can't we find ONE VP who can write a simple mail that says here is where we are doing well, here is where we are screwing up, here is how we think we can change it and why, and, finally, here are the rewards if we succeed and here are the punishments if we don't. Why is this so damn hard?

Anonymous said...

Everyone is talking about RIFs, and as an intern this is very disconcerting. I read somewhere in the comments that there is already allocated headcount for interns, but that does not allay my fears.

What percentage usually get offers and what percentage will it be this year?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Why are so many allegedly front line ICs trying to defend slipping schedule? No - really. I'd like to know.

Perhaps a parable is in order:

The scene: the inside of a middle-class home in Redmond, where a husband is speaking to a very pregnant wife.
"Dear, our child isn't born yet."
"Honey, I can't make him come out any faster."
"It's been nine months to the day since you got pregnant. The baptism was scheduled for tomorrow based on that estimate and there are a lot of people expecting a baby to be there."
"But..."
"Yes, bearing a healthy child is job number 1. But all of those people are also counting on you to give birth on some reasonable schedule. This truly shows poor planning, a lack of discipline, and no accountability to our families and friends."
"Honey..."
"Really, if you had any personal integrity or pride in your child or yourself or if you looked out for what's best for our family you'd have made this problem very well known or possibly even have tried to prevent it."

At which point the wife grabs his lower lip and pulls it over his forehead (which, alas, did not prevent her from getting a 2.5 on her next review.)

Do let us know when reality finally grabs your collective lower lips and pulls it over your foreheads, mmmkay?

fremont said...

To the lowley developer:

I left Microsoft a couple years ago for a startup.

There is only one person between me and the CEO. I regularly talk to the sales people, support, and my suggestions have made their way into the corporate strategy documents.

The communication and transparancy is liberating. Sure, we go through tough times, but it is a lot better than dealing with non-communicative GMs and random re-orgs.

The water is good out here.

Oh, and to the anti-linux microsoft-inbred, we are a MS development shop and 10% of our servers are linux because they work better.

Microsophist said...

Mini,

Shrinking the company is not the answer. Splitting it up is. Please, make a note of it.

Anonymous said...

Is a copy of SteveSi's "memo" posted some where?

No, because he's apparently a responsible employee and executive at Microsoft and thus he applied protective & restrictive usage policy to the document using this innovative product Microsoft created called Rights Management Services. No one feels like transcribing a 20 page memo into notepad to leak it. Amen.

Anonymous said...

"Even if MSFT search share goes from 13% to 18% you will see the stock price go up."

What if MSFT search share goes from 13% to 10%?

Anonymous said...

There are two things MS needs:
1. less meetings and more actual work from EVERYONE.
2. Less discussions on the petty points of great ideas. Genius is not defined by the way you voice your idea but the content of your idea.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Can anyone confirm what treatment RIF's are given? 6 weeks to find another internal job? Anyone know what the severance calculation is?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Please do NOT post Steven Sinofsky's memo here or anywhere on the internet! It is Microsoft confidential information.

I have often posted here on minimsft and I am sure Mini will agree with me when I say that we should not be posting sensitive information here or anywhere on Internet.

To the person who is contemplating moving to an startup company...I am sure that Microsoft (or any other big company) offers more job security (and benefits) than an startup company. I am sure about that and you should bear that in and if job security (or benefits) is your prime concern. Having said that, it is true that the rewards (and learning experience) are much more (if it succeeds) at a startup than at Microsoft.

Just so you do not think I am some Microsoft fanatic, I am also thinking of leaving Microsoft...

Anonymous said...

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WA_Obit_Weiland.html

Friday, June 30, 2006 · Last updated 12:37 p.m. PT

Microsoft pioneer, benefactor dies at 53

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- Ric Weiland, one of the first five Microsoft Corp. employees and a major local philanthropist, has died.

He was 53 when he committed suicide June 24, the King County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday. Friends said he suffered from depression and died at his Seattle home.

Weiland went to high school with Microsoft co-founder and good friend Paul Allen. Allen and Bill Gates hired him in 1975, the same year they founded Microsoft in Albuquerque, N.M.

Weiland moved with Microsoft to the Seattle area in 1979. After a stint at Harvard Business School, he rejoined Microsoft in 1982 and worked as the project leader for Microsoft Works, the company's second-tier word processing and spreadsheet software.

Weiland was a lead programmer and developer for the company's BASIC and COBOL systems, two of the first personal computing interfaces.

"Ric was certainly a key contributor to Microsoft's early success and was a brilliant programmer," Allen said in a statement Thursday. "I have many fond memories of Ric and all the things we did together, and I will miss him."

After leaving Microsoft in 1988, Weiland dedicated most of his time to philanthropy.

He donated tens of millions of dollars to a number of local charities, including the Pride Foundation, the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, United Way of King County and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He was an influential member of the gay community.

Weiland was a member of the Pride Foundation's board of directors from 1997 to 2002 and helped the foundation persuade General Electric Co. to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, said Audrey Haberman, the foundation's executive director.

"He never wanted any special recognition for his giving," Haberman said. "He loved the idea of helping other people. He had sort of a tremendous compassion in his life."

Weiland was a regular contributor to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance from the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and had increased his donations in the past few years, said Executive Director Tina Podlodowski, who worked with Weiland at Microsoft from 1984 to 1988.

Weiland also gave to his undergraduate alma mater, Stanford University; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; the American Foundation for AIDS Research; and the National Audubon Society.

Survivors include Weiland's partner, Mike Schaefer; nieces Emily Smelser and Heidi Kupitz; nephews Fred Smelser and Henry Smelser; and grand-nephew Josiah Kupitz.

Anonymous said...

No, it takes Microsoft over 5 years to ship Server SP1, XP SP2, R2, TabletPC, MCE and then Vista.

Let 'em hear it Bro. Everybody and their mother-in-law has joined the Vista bashing. Slip, slip, slip is all we hear. If only they knew that this same strong group has been pumping out good products in these 5 years. You didn't even include all the System Center management products

Next time someone talks about "Windows & slips" to your hearing, if you can get away with it, give them a really hard face thumping.

Anonymous said...

The best way to kill Google is to let them hire more MSFT execs.

Karma Police, arrest this man! He's leaking trade secrets!

Anonymous said...

What if MSFT search share goes from 13% to 10%?

It won't matter because MSFT has already announced that MSN is operating at a loss and it will take another 3-5 years to be as good as Google. I have to applaud Steveb for finally giving us a honest timeline unlike Vista.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This company does not pay its evangelism top performers what they should. Period. End of story.

These aren't code monkeys, these people are your public face.

Speaking as a customer,I'd agree here. One of the nice things about IBM and Oracle is once I establish a relationsip with someone and they understand my business, they don't leave 3 months later (via attrition or promotion)

Maybe that's why IBM gets 10x more than MS in my budget.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Gee, guys, ease up. Higher management leaving will never have any impact on the company - except maybe a marginally positive one. Because we hire smart people, the folks one to two levels from the actual product are always the best informed to make decisions about its future. Anybody who's more than three levels removed has lost touch and will in practice negatively impact the product whenever they try to meddle (and I'd bet every single one of you can come up with two examples for initiatives that sounded great and logical on paper but didn't and couldn't ever work because of the way things get done in the real world). If all GMs, VPs and Partners were hit by a very large bus tomorrow, Microsoft would live on just fine.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Service packs now count as great products?

Anonymous said...

I would say that Gates' departure, and Vic's departure and Scoble's departure are indicative. I would say that Google has turned the corner on us and that Google, and not Windows, will become the platform of the future. That said, there are many of us here that love Microsoft and are going to stick it for better or worse. All I can say to the people stepping down or leaving (sans Scoble) is that if we had done a better job of innovating vs. talking about innovating, been more judicious in the way we wielded our monopoly vs. using it as a club, then the landscape might be different now. In a horserace between MSN Search and Google the outcome is uncertain because we can't strong-arm the industry to adopt our solution (which is our known MO). There are lots of employees at Microsoft that never liked that means of doing business, and as you can guess, most of us never made it into management. However, we are still here and we still like our chances. If we could get some guidance at the senior level (Mr. Ozzie, are you listening?) then I think we can do a re-set on the company so that the foundation is predicated more on truth and excellence (technical excellence would be good) and not just on ‘excitement about the future’.

Who da'Punk said...

Service packs now count as great products?

For XP SP2, yes. To call this a "service pack" is to belittle what it truly is. We should have called it something far more dramatic and important to represent the stop everything! moment that happened to recreate XP and put in security measures that match the modern world's risks.

The ball was dropped not only in the promotion of this product but also in the distribution. All that effort, and then XP SP2 was basically told to slip out through the bit-dribbler back door and not make any noise vs. being heavily promoted and distributed.

We really should have heralded this accomplishment at the time. Shipping XP SP2 is what I see as a proud turning point for XP and Windows.

(crickets.)

Yes, really.

Administrivia: in my rush to get outside and enjoy this wonderful Northwest summer, I've slipped a few times on my moderator responsibilities, pressing "Publish" when I meant "Reject" and not realizing this until the next batch of twenty or so comments came in quoting stuff I goofed up and let through vs. bouncing.

Sorry.

To all thirty of you.

Anonymous said...

Say what you like about sanjayp, for some (probably misbegotten reason) I like the guy. He is one VP that you could call up with a problem and provided you articulated the problem clearly he would try to offer some valuable insight. Most VP would say: 'why are you calling me. You should be asking this question of your peers.' If Sanjay winds up at Google next year then you'll know I was taken in. Personally, I hope he sticks around.

Anonymous said...

I think Ray Ozzie should turn over the rocks in the org that Vic left behind. He should talk to the people who left that org and find out why they left. And he should talk to the folks that interact with that org, both in and out of Microsoft, and get a 360 view of what they think. Could be time for change.

Anonymous said...

>On a side note, I've been in Redmond a few times and found myself in 18. I've passed him in the hall a few times, and noticed he never makes eye contact (always averts his eyes). Nothing to do with job qualifications, I guess, but weird. Anyone else notice this?

Some cultures consider extended eye contact to be rude or even aggressive.

Anonymous said...

Management departures mean nothing for two reasons

1. The job they occupied is left as is in the org and management's ranks are still as bloated as ever

2. The people replacing the departing managers are of the same mold.

What we need is a complete re-org, from top to bottom with a flattening of the hierarchy. More people "in the trenches", writing code and looking for bugs as opposed to sitting in meetings.

We also need specific measurable goals for managers of all levels that are strongly tied to the results of the company. I'm tired of reading management commitements like "build a culturally diverse organization". MSFT is not in the business of building organizations, it is in the business of building software. Goals should be more along the lines of "ship product/feature by MM-DD-YYYY". And we need financial rewards directly tied to the success of those commitements.

What we're seeing now with the upcoming partners stock bonanza is a bunch of people who believe they deserve money, no matter what. They've proven that they'll change the rules if needed to justify their inflated level of compensation.

Finally, managers, let your ICs run loose! All you have to tell them is "improve this feature" or "solve this problem" and you'll be amazed at the results. I've seen this happen happen in my own org. Put a few devs, testers, and a PM together, and let go. Just ask for regular status, sit in the specs and tests reviews purely as an observer, and you'll be suprized at what a few individuals who are not bogged down by process can achieve.

Anonymous said...

"If we could get some guidance at the senior level (Mr. Ozzie, are you listening?) then I think we can do a re-set on the company so that the foundation is predicated more on truth and excellence"

Course a reset would mean more years of weak to poor stock performance, got the stomach for it?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Developer evangelism is key to Microsoft's future. If developers don't continue to embrace and extend (sorry, but it fits here) the platforms we build, we'll coast to a stop after the money runs out. And everyone at Microsoft deserves quality support from DPE on getting the right message out, to the right people, at the right time. We need shrewd strategic thinking about our value proposition for developers, not the rah-rah pom-pom girl mentality others have described above.

Evangelism shouldn't be an area where junkets, short hours (even by MS standards), and competitive self-promotion rule the day, it should be a part of the company where true passion for software development (not software products) is the norm. Some of the most strategically important messages we have for developers are pretty boring outside of their specific domain, and we need DPE leadership that is equally passionate about how we deliver those boring messages as they are about the flashy fun stuff.

Vic's departure could be a blessing, but the window for meaningful change is closing fast. Sanjay, you have the opportunity to prove your critics wrong. What better time to clean house than right now, after a high-profile defection? Why wait?

Anonymous said...

I think Ray Ozzie should turn over the rocks in the org that Vic left behind. He should talk to the people who left that org and find out why they left.

Having skip level 1:1 or small group discussions is generally good advice for middle management on up to find out what is going on. Some parts of Microsoft used to do this but I dont see that happening much. These days, at least in our corner, everybody is managing upwards or sideways in the name of "managing your own career".

In some companies when certain number of people leave within some short interval there are serious questions asked, but at microsoft permission to interview is held back and no body questions such things.

I think the permission to interview policy should be abolished and anybody should be free to interview within the company as they please and only the start date should be upto the manager (within lmits, e.g. max of 2 months from the offer). This should distill the importance of good management at various ranks in the company, and will lead to real transparency and accountability.

Anonymous said...

Here's one for diversity - DPE needs to change its name and job titles. The word evangelize has specific religious undertones that will not help Microsoft's case in certain countries.

Anonymous said...

Evangelism shouldn't be an area where junkets, short hours (even by MS standards), and competitive self-promotion rule the day,.

A couple of comments from someone who's engaged with Vic's team.

You're dead on with the junkets. Several people raised red flags about this - inside and out, early and often. I personally cited it on my MSPoll. It is shameful how a certain manager used program dollars to go on free vacations and eat at the best restaurants, while claiming it was in the interest of company. It would be very interesting to see someone try and justify the costs.

On the hours.. Yes and no, this depends on the individual. I know alot of people on that team travel and/or work from home. Any questions on who works and who doesn't check MS Communicator.

On the competitive self-promotion. From what I've heard, this stuff is *enforced* from the top down, and you literally will get dinged if you don't do it. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

it should be a part of the company where true passion for software development
Rephrase this to true passion for helping customers solve real problems with the power of our platform, and I'm with you, brother.

There are pockets of it here and there on that team. One thing any one who's worked with them will tell you - there's a total lack of consistency across the 'rhythms' at corp. I thought the purpose of having an Enterprise "Program" was that there was something, oh, I don't know, "programmatic" about it.

Anonymous said...

junkets

I think Ray Ozzie should turn over the rocks in the org that Vic left behind. He should talk to the people who left that org and find out why they left.

There's a certain junket loving manager who had 2 of her 5 direct reports - the star performers, from what I hear - leave because they were disgusted.

The last guy to go, very much wanted to talk to HR and the GM about what was going on, but noone wanted to hear it.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

And in other news, Top executives resign after Airbus delays. Forgeard, Humbert step down in an effort to revive investors' confidence. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13673239

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've posted to MM, but I wanted to respond to the anonymous individual who said:
"On top of that, Steve Cellini, the A**HOLE chosen to replace Vic, is the guy who PROHIBITS Microsoft subs do local PDCs. Vic, Steve and half that crooked organization have a single goal: push their careers forward."

You're way off beam here, and I suspect you've only got fleeting knowledge of the individuals concerned, coupled with a grudge of some kind. Remember, these are real human beings you're talking about here; they don't always make the right decision, but equally they don't deserve anywhere near this level of vitriol.

In particular, I wanted to set the record straight about Steve Cellini. I don't know a single person in his team who doesn't have the utmost respect for him. He's utterly spin-free, extremely conscientious, very technically deep, and I've seen him put his own neck on the line for the benefit of the company and our customers in a way that very few others ever have. If there's one positive thing to come from Vic's departure, it's that we have someone like Steve to replace him.

I'm all for a free and frank exchange, but I can't stand back and see one of the good guys receive such unwarranted vitriol.

Anonymous said...

On the bright side, Vista is looking on track to RTM in October. Nearly all of the RC1 bugs are fixed as of Friday June 30th and from here until October its ship-stoppers and Beta 2 fixers only. I do not see another slip when I peer into the crystal ball... I'm a developer on Vista and love what I'm seeing with each new build - can't wait to dogfood RC1!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Checked this thread after a movie tonight, and was blown away by some of what I read. I check out the blog from time to time, and can tell you it's awfully weird when this stuff hits close to home.

I'm in what was VicGs group, and while I won't respond to most of the comments here (not big on talking about family issues in the public square, as it were), I will comment on the one post about hours.

Speaking solely for myself, I'm on the road *alot*. Meeting with customers, presenting, etc.

When I'm not on the road, I'm often starting my day at 6 or 7am with conference calls to customers on the East Coast or in Europe. So at 6pm, I've already logged 12 hours and have eaten lunch at my desk. I then go home and usually put in a couple more hours from the house.

As someone pointed out in an earlier post, if you think someone's a slacker, check Communicator or send them an email to check for sure.

Anonymous said...

I hope the RIF effort is just starting. The organization is just too fat, some of the excess fat are posting messages here.

These are the same idiots who are buying big houses and big SUV's.

You have no one to blame but yourself when the RIF time comes.

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Anonymous said...

I wanted to set the record straight about Steve Cellini. I don't know a single person in his team who doesn't have the utmost respect for him.

And if you were at the last all hands, noone uses Google either, right?

Anonymous said...

The word evangelize has specific religious undertones that will not help Microsoft's case in certain countries.

In certain parts of the world Evangelist is swapped out for Advisor in the title.

The name sounds cool to a VP, but let's be serious, customers don't get it. More to the point, alot of them are uncomfortable with the term, as you point out. Make everyone an advisor or a consultant.

Anonymous said...

Ok.. there's alot of talk about 'spoiled technical evangelists' Is this because they have to play the game and/or get comfortable doing it?

Why not do this - why not rotate top performers from the field for 2-3 year gigs in corp?

Make it worth their while (i.e. no pay cuts), let them contribute real world experience, and then rotate them out to execute on new engagements and do peer leadership.

To make it doable, buy a few houses (so people from less affluent geos can consider a move), make them corporate housing, and you're in business.

A side benefit is that it's got the same intended effect as term limits for politicians. If you're only there for 2-3 years, it limits cronyism and increases focus on doing what's right.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"We really should have heralded this accomplishment at the time. Shipping XP SP2 is what I see as a proud turning point for XP and Windows."

Hopefully it was a turning point, and as a user, it's a much improved OS. But unsure you could have heralded any more than you already did. Let's recall that Trustworthy Computing up to that time had been more lip service than actual product improvement. It's only when worms/viruses started exploding in customer's face and threatening MSFT's revenues that we got the serious effort of SP2. Given that, it was always going to be viewed as remedial vs praise-worthy - at least by customers. I also don't have much empathy for the "but look what we did ship" argument expressed by others here. For balance and accuracy, there's some value in pointing out the various Windows releases that did get completed over the past 5 years. But at the end of the day, Vista was the focal point and hyped beyond all belief. So when you fail to deliver it - repeatedly - you've got to expect to take a huge credibility hit. Turning that around, isn't about making excuses. It's about learning from the mistakes and ensuring it never happens again. Most importantly, if the Widnows team want to reverse the [now] negative perception, you need to start underpromising and overdelivering -it's as simple and difficult as that.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"These are the same idiots who are buying big houses and big SUV's."

Sounds like you're jealous.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Stewart/index.php?p=49&tag=nl.e550

Link to ZD Net article about your new
leader. Should be encouraging to all you young pups who are thinking about leaving Microsoft.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/web2explorer/index.php?p=225&tag=nl.e550

Link to ZDNet blog on Wired 40 list. Ms is 37. Google 1. Should be adequate incentive to make sure Ozzie gets his way, including cross platform compatibility.

The Pirate Anti-Troll.

Inactivist said...

Somewhat OT, interesting blog entry on killing creativity. (Hint: bureaucratic butt-covering is a big part of the process.)

How to Kill Creativity

Anonymous said...

"Some cultures consider extended eye contact to be rude or even aggressive."

And others consider it to be a sign of honesty, integrity, and forthrightness. The opposite of evasiveness.

TheKhalif said...

On a side note, I've been in Redmond a few times and found myself in 18. I've passed him in the hall a few times, and noticed he never makes eye contact (always averts his eyes). Nothing to do with job qualifications, I guess, but weird. Anyone else notice this?


Sounds like Lord Bill. Never saw him speak to an employee around Bldg 43.

Robert Scoble said...

I'm seeing a bunch of shit aimed at Steve Cellini. This is totally misplaced and since I don't work any longer with any of the people involved I'm not unafraid to say what I think. If this kind of thinking is what you think will get Microsoft to be a more customer centric company you guys deserve to get beat in the marketplace. I really hope what I'm reading is actually being written by jerks outside the company than within.

Steve Cellini is one of the most upstanding people I've ever met. Period. And he gets shit done. And he signs his name to his opinion. Unlike all you cowards.

Unbelieveable.

Robert Scoble said...

>In many cases, working with ISVs and Enterprises much more deeply than Vic or Scoble, and having a much more tangible impact.

Heheh, what's funny is I've worked with top executives at Sun, Boeing, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Target, GM, Ford, L'Oreal, and am speaking with Nestle on Monday on behalf of Microsoft (without getting compensated, no less).

Name another Microsoft employee who isn't an executive who touched as many businesses and worked with so many developers and geeks.

Oh, and on top of all that, I kept a blog that was the most visible corporate blog in the world, wrote a book, and shipped 700 videos on Channel 9.

Folks in the evangelism department work very hard. I know I used to pull quite a few late nighters and would often find Adam Kinney and others in the office at 2 a.m.

Seems there's a lot of jealousy about what we did. But Channel 9 just got 4.3-million unique visitors last month. Do you have a group that's only two years old that reaches as many?

Robert Scoble said...

>If anyone did a cost benefit analysis of PDC, it would be clear that the money would be best spent with field initiatives. Same goes for MIX. Those events look good for MS stupid VPs, but they are totally ineffective, if you think Microsoft is a GLOBAL company and 5,000 people go to PDC.

That comment is PARTICULARLY CLUELESS.

Mix got Microsoft a HUGE amount of respect on the street. Mike Arrington on Saturday (after I left Microsoft so he wasn't pulling my leg) told me that it was a great event. He writes the very influential TechCrunch. He has thousands of readers every month.

If you think that spending more in the field will get better results you just are totally smoking crack. Most of the developers doing cool stuff (and building gigantic businesses like eBay, Yahoo, Google, Cisco, Apple, etc) are within 60 miles of San Francisco, or hired by people who work within 60 miles of San Francisco. Which is why I'm moving back down there.

Go back to how you learned I was leaving Microsoft. I talked with 15 people. 15!!! And no mainstream press, but they all were bloggers. The guy who broke my story was a guy I never even met.

It's not how big your audience is. It's how influential it is that matters.

The fact that you don't get this makes me wonder about how you got hired at Microsoft with its supposedly "superior" interview process.

Spending money on events is BY FAR the best way to scale out your business and get a great ROI.

I don't see anyone calling for Apple to stop doing its events and start spending more money in field initiatives.

But all this doesn't matter. Evangelism at Microsoft will either rise or fall with the quality of its technology. Evangelism can't squeeze blood out of rocks. If you don't have awesome new stuff to talk about it doesn't matter if you have great evangelists.

Conversely, if you have a hot product like an Xbox or an iPod any idiot can see success.

Don't be too willing to blame or credit the evangelists with failure of success of Microsoft. That's misplaced and will always make you unsatisfied. The reason DEC isn't here today (or Novell or Borland or Rand or Tandem or any other great tech company that isn't great anymore) isn't cause they didn't have great evangelists.

--Robert Scoble

Anonymous said...

> As for people losing their jobs. > Read "Bait and Switch" which shows how white-collar work is going to change dramatically in this century. Job security for life is gone and porfolio careers > will be the norm.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805076069/sr=8-1/qid=1151973100/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-4256846-2675025?ie=UTF8

This is a book modelled after a 20-20 style hidden camera expose about someone in their 50s trying to find a pr / event planner job and I hardly think she is qualified to make broad sweeping predictions about the economic well being of the next few decades based on that trivial body of mis-guided research.

Anonymous said...

Was Steve Cellini forced to put together PDCs or did he step up to the task? Who was vying with him to take ownership of the first PDC that he did (I think a couple of years ago?) There is something to be said for stepping up to the plate. Again, I don't know him well, he seemed like a pretty rational person the few times I met him - perhaps he's gone mad with power.

Is the reason we don't do more events in specific global geographies because we don't want to spread our subject matter experts thin? I think given a choice between putting our architects on planes we would want them heads down at HQ. My two cents worth.

Anonymous said...

Heheh, what's funny is I've worked with top executives at Sun, Boeing, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Target, GM, Ford, L'Oreal, and am speaking with Nestle on Monday on behalf of Microsoft (without getting compensated, no less).

With all do respect, there are key differences in the types of engagement, Robert.

The type of engagement you do, and Channel 9 do, provide transparency. This is a PR function.

We in the field evangelisms teams impact key decision makers to adopt our technology. We drive early adoption, we have depth relationships that make us trusted advisors. This is not PR, this translates directly to revenue and better products (through their feedback).

You and channel 9 help(ed) dispel the Evil Empire myth, and did a fantastic job. That being said, I find it very doubtful than any ISV or an Enterprise customer went with Microsoft because of Robert Scoble or the Scobleizer blog.

Both roles serve their purpose, but let's be candid about what the realities are.

Anonymous said...

If anyone did a cost benefit analysis of PDC, it would be clear that the money would be best spent with field initiatives.

The problem is this. There is no financial accountability in certain parts of the company.

You could give two people a task, and someone could do it for $50k and someone would want to do it for $500k. What's the incentive to do it for $50k? Nada.

Kevin Turner - here's an idea. Offer the people running these events a $25,000 bonus if they can cut the cost by $50k or more from last years numbers. Encourage fiscal responsibility.

And while we're talking about financial responsibility, look at the travel expenditures of managers. When is travel justified for the business, and when is it a subsidized weekend in San Francisco or a few nights in Paris.

Sanjay, someone said it earlier - with Vic leaving, you have a free pass and a golden opportunity to show leadership by cleaning house in DPE. Will you lead us or let us down?

Anonymous said...

perhaps he's gone mad with power.

Outside of PDC, does anyone really have that much interaction with Steve to fairly call him an a**hole or some kind of Napoleon?

I've not always had a positive experience working with him, but I think anonymity is encouraging people to be a little over the top.

On the field PDC thing, I think there's some validity to the frustration.

The conflict seems to be corp saying "if you do it locally, without the pomp, circumstance, and funding it will deflate the value of what PDC means."

Our response is "My customer isn't going to spend a day and a half going to Los Angeles, and a day and a half coming back. Help me do my job and deliver some of those session locally."

The answer, I think would be simple. Record the PDC sessions (which we do), and do two things with them. Give the non-Americas field copies of the DVDs to give to influentials, and get the content from the PDC, plus the demos to the local field.

You don't need to call it a PDC, you can call it "PDC in a Box", establish a PDC series that takes place once per month, etc.

Rather than just say "No", why don't we all just get along and figure out how to do it.

As someone once told me "there's always money for good ideas at Microsoft."

Anonymous said...

Mix got Microsoft a HUGE amount of respect on the street. Mike Arrington on Saturday (after I left Microsoft so he wasn't pulling my leg) told me that it was a great event. He writes the very influential TechCrunch. He has thousands of readers every month.

This is indicative of the problem at hand. Who is TechCrunch influential to?

Robert mentions L'oreal and Nestle. Do they read TechCrunch? Is that their barometer for the industry? Of course it isn't.

The reality is that there is sort of a digerati out there, and it's an incestuous group of media and web 2.0 gadflys that want to make names for themselves, and pump each other up.

They're cool. They're hip. They're the next big thing. They're the beatniks of the digital era.

But do they buy anything? Do they convince anyone to buy anything? Does what they say sway people?

Outside of mobile devices and gadgets (where the early adopters hang out on these sites), Microsoft investments here not really worth it in the big picture with the people that matter - customers and ISVs.

They're interesting fare - say Entertainment Weekly compared to the Economist. Something I'm happy to read on a plane or on a toilet, but not something that really impacts my viewpoint on the big decisions in my life or how I view the world. This is where evangelism comes in - the PSAs, AEs,DEs, and ISV DEs - outside the spotlight, but on the front line and making it happen.

Sorry, Robert, I appreciate what you did for the company. But I think you're too close to this (Mix/digerati), to be able to tell the forest from the trees.

Anonymous said...

If you think that spending more in the field will get better results you just are totally smoking crack. Most of the developers doing cool stuff (and building gigantic businesses like eBay, Yahoo, Google, Cisco, Apple, etc) are within 60 miles of San Francisco, or hired by people who work within 60 miles of San Francisco. Which is why I'm moving back down there.


Glad you said that after you turned in your blue badge, Robert.

In one paragraph, you've insulted nearly all of our Enterprise customers.

You know them, right? They're the ones who buy the licenses for Office, Windows, Server, etc. The ones that gave us enough cash in the bank to afford to do novel things like Channel 9.

There's lots of cool stuff going on outside of San Francisco and the valley, it's just being done by people who use sofware to run their business', who use our software to gain an edge in the marketplace, to revolutionize their industries, and do amazing new things.

Outside of gnomedex and mix and techcrunch and wherever your little magic web hippie bus takes you, our software is changing the world. It may not be with shiny buttons, rotating 3-d boxes, or with RSS feeds, but it's changing the world.

Your problem, Robert, is that you bought into your own hype, and live in some surreal web 2.0 reality.

At the end of the day, you're a guy who had a blog, a good idea, and a sponsor with alot of money and clout. Make hay while the making is good, you're about 5 blog entries away from a MS True Hollywood Story.

Anonymous said...

"This is a book modelled after a 20-20 style hidden camera expose about someone in their 50s trying to find a pr / event planner job and I hardly think she is qualified to make broad sweeping predictions about the economic well being of the next few decades based on that trivial body of mis-guided research."
Surely your not a Microsoft employee or you have very much to learn.
No matter when this was written.
No matter your age.
No matter your expertise.
You must
Stay up to date in your education.
Stay ahead (from learning and colaborating with) your peers.

Have a far reaching goal then strive to achieve this on a daily basis.
Surely somewhere there is a fellow employee to emulate in your own fashion???

Customer

Robert Scoble said...

>The type of engagement you do, and Channel 9 do, provide transparency. This is a PR function.

That's bull. When I was in London, England, I met an entire development team who said they chose to do WPF work because of our videos.

It's interesting that so many here have no freaking idea about the power of video.

By the way, why am I speaking to Nestle on Monday? They asked for me. Why is that? An enterprise outside of "Web 2.0 hype" asking for a stupid evangelist who has quit his job?

Do some research before attacking. It's quite clear you guys have no idea about what you're talking about.

Robert Scoble said...

>Robert mentions L'oreal and Nestle. Do they read TechCrunch? Is that their barometer for the industry? Of course it isn't.

Yes, actually, IT executives at both of those companies say they follow TechCrunch and other blogs.

Your posts here demonstrate again you have no freaking clue.

Maybe this is why I didn't stay at Microsoft. You assume you know your customers so well. Sigh.

Robert Scoble said...

>Your problem, Robert, is that you bought into your own hype, and live in some surreal web 2.0 reality.

Yeah, and Google and Apple aren't kicking Microsoft's ass.

Good luck with that attitude. It's causing you to miss what your customers actually want and need.

It'll make you feel good to attack me. After all, I'm no longer a Microsoft employee.

But it won't make your stock go up. It won't make the best college kids want to work for you. It won't keep the best employees around.

Let me know how this all works out for you.

Anonymous said...

"Both roles serve their purpose, but let's be candid about what the realities are."

Good post. Marketing as you suggest is important in the overall mix, but it doesn't normally close business. The latter requires sales. Marketing people often get confused by this; sales people with actual specific quotas that will result in their termination if not met, rarely do.

Anonymous said...

"Outside of gnomedex and mix and techcrunch and wherever your little magic web hippie bus takes you, our software is changing the world. It may not be with shiny buttons, rotating 3-d boxes, or with RSS feeds, but it's changing the world."

OK, the "hippie bus" may have been over the top, but generally agree with your entire post here. A very silly comment on Robert's part.

Anonymous said...

"Let me know how this all works out for you."

Arrogant, chidish and gratuitous. You did a good job while you were here Robert. Don't blow it now - walk away with class.

Robert Scoble said...

>Arrogant, chidish and gratuitous. You did a good job while you were here Robert. Don't blow it now - walk away with class.

Translation: don't get into the mud pit arguing with people who don't even have enough balls to sign their names to their opinions.

Good advice. I'll take it.

It might have been childish, arrogant, and all that, but it came from the heart. If those of you who are Microsoft employees think anonymous ranting is helping Microsoft think again.

Well, I do listen to good advice when given. Have a great day, I'm staying out of here from now on.

Anonymous said...

Fellas, enough griping. It is sunny outside. The World Cup is on. There are fireworks displays everywhere. Go do something enjoyable. And that includes you Mini.

Let this space chill out for a while. A long while...

Ciao

Anonymous said...

"Yes, actually, IT executives at both of those companies say they follow TechCrunch and other blogs."

There's a difference between being something that someone reads vs. something that drives opinion and sales.

While I wouldn't have used the Entertainment Weekly vs. Economist analogy, the previous poster was in the right ballpark.

Who da'Punk said...

Mini here: I just did a small act of contrition to clean up some of the more unfortunate comments; in some cases, I deleted the whole thread. In others, I deleted the negative root but left some of the positive reactions.

Let me know if there's a particular comment I missed and why.

I think my commenting bar just got way, way higher with respect to (1) personal attacks, and (2) anti-Microsoft sentiment. Please take that into consideration.

Anonymous said...

To the person who was concerned about the families of the people who were laid off. I quit ms a little over a year ago (after 5 and a half years, and one of the better decisions of my life) and braced myself for a very difficult time finding a job in the supposedly sluggish software industry. I was recruited left and right without even trying. (I even had to cut my vacation overseas short to accommodate an anxious recruiter’s idea of what she saw as a very delayed start date.) I now work 40hrs a week, with awesome co-workers and my first truly good manager. I make the same salary (I sold myself short there, I would have gotten a little more had I realized my value and asked for it.) with good benefits. (Yes, co-pays, but really does $15 per visit make that large of a difference in overall compensation? The rest of the benefits are nearly identical to Microsoft’s. And in some was actually better..)

Those who were laid off will be just fine. :)

Anonymous said...

To the person who left MS after 5 years: Are you an SDE, test, PM, ?

Anonymous said...

I now work 40hrs a week, with awesome co-workers and my first truly good manager.

Mind telling us the name of the company you work for?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and Google and Apple aren't kicking Microsoft's ass.

Google is kicking our ass in search and Apple is kicking our ass in marketing. I won't say hardware design, because we don't produce a media player.

I used to be concerned about that much more than I am now. You know why? Microsoft has alot of smart people and alot of money. If this is an arms race, we can fight, and fight, and fight forever. It's not a question of whether we'll win, it's a question of when.

You know where I heard this from? From the guy who this thread is about, Vic.

Perhaps he left to send a message to upper management 'in defense of the company [he] love[d]' to quote one of his more famous blog entries.

Marc said...

Is this really the right use for Mini? In respect of full disclosure, I'm part of what was Vic's group, but I think the thread here has really devolved. Even with Mini cleaning up the thread, it's bad.

Mini became 'famous' because he highlighted issues that a large number of people across the company didn't necessarily agree with, i.e. "the curve" and felt powerless to change as individuals.

To turn the wheel of change on something like the curve, takes more than one person or one group and I think the blog served a forcing function there - it provided a megaphone for the message, "Hey. We have a problem here. We love working here, but could you just fix this thing? It's really not good for a number of reasons." that amplified the issue such that it was addressed.

This particular thread started off with a fair topic. "Vic Gundotra, head of evangelism, leaves Microsoft for Google. Discuss."

But what happened is it devolved into personal attacks on him, his replacement (Steve), and other people in the group.

Please.

This stuff isn't even remotely in the same category as the curve and has no business here. It's something you can discuss with your manager in your 1:1, or with your skip level manager.

This is stuff that doesn't need to be aired in the public square and it does noone any good by putting it out there. It's defocusing for the people on the team, it doesn't create an incentive for people to join the team, and for people who were looking to go outside the group they now are associated with this.

Charles said...

Google is kicking our ass in search and Apple is kicking our ass in marketing. I won't say hardware design, because we don't produce a media player.

Further, competitors in other key markets (e.g. Oracle in DBMS and business management applications) continue to lead by wide margins, and Microsoft is being left behind in new technologies (e.g. VMware in virtualization).

I used to be concerned about that much more than I am now. You know why? Microsoft has alot of smart people and alot of money. If this is an arms race, we can fight, and fight, and fight forever. It's not a question of whether we'll win, it's a question of when.

You know where I heard this from? From the guy who this thread is about, Vic.


That is an incredibly naive analysis, to put it charitably. It is not a question of how large a warchest one has, but rather the ability to convert that warchest into market capturing products and services at a profit and in a time frame that matters to customers and partners.

a) Customers who might buy what Microsoft theoretically could develop won't wait forever. Customers need solutions now. They have business requirements and competition too.

b) Microsoft's competitors are not standing still either. They continue to innovate, improve, and (most importantly) ship efficient, cost-effective, and needed products.

c) Microsoft investors care very much about expenditures to overcome competitors' market positions. Profitability over the near and long term is as important as customer acceptance. Customers will not buy or make long-term strategic commitments to unprofitable technologies because of the uncertainty embroiling an unprofitable product line. That is the uncertainty not only of the product line being cancelled (at a loss), but the liklihood of price increases along the way to mitigate what otherwise was a losing R&D investment.

d) Nor is there any reassurance that money in the bank won't be misspent, misallocated, or otherwise become unavailable to fuel on-again/off-again development efforts.

So, actually, it is very much a question of whether Microsoft could (or will) win soon enough, and money in the bank is no indicator of likely success - as the repeated inability to ship Vista so amply demonstrates. All those smart people need to get out of each others way, and even though you've got it, spending more money (on what? yet more people or more process?) does not bode well.

(in the interest of disclosure, I am not nor have been a Microsoft employee)

Anonymous said...

I worked with Vic. He is articulate, intelligent, and is a consumate sales person that has the hearts and minds of his internal MS developer followers. His decision to leave to Google is also a good thing for MS and its investors. He was an expert at rallying internal exec. attention on his efforts and building empires and at the same time I don't think any of his effort resulted in the single sales of a box of Windows. He is part of the legacy of MS that may or may not have done something good in the good ole days but since the time I met him in 00 he was an internal politician at best. I have hired his people who felt betrayed by his false represenation of what success looked in his group like and the corresponding rewards. Vic did what was good for Vic and nothing more.

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