Monday, July 03, 2006

Bad Mini, Scoble's Exit, and Truthiness - Links

Holy crap, that last post really spiraled into some chaotic nasty sub-threads, mostly due to me slipping several times and hitting 'Publish' instead of 'Reject' and letting through some under-the-bar material.

I have no excuse.

The responses to that fire-fuel got so cross-threaded that it's hard to just delete my boo-boos. I'm taking a quick break between holiday beers just to put something (anything!) up to throw some cold water on this little blog.

Please, go enjoy life! I can tell you, post that comment-stream I'm going to kick up the quality bar a notch and stop letting the character assassination through... it doesn't feel right. But, you can always start your own blog to unleash your insight onto the world.

Meantime, just a few interesting things I've seen going on:

  • Scobleizer - Tech Geek Blogger » Your exit interview of me - how does Scoble find all the time to wrap up one job, go to a local geekfest, have parties, sell a house, buy a house, prep for a new job, visit here to post some pretty strong defense for his former group, and blog? This is a pretty good post-Microsoft entry regarding Scoble's point-of-view as he leaves. Good advice, and I'll be just as interested to hear what other advice Scoble has three months from now as our own little reality-distortion field fades and more distance reveals other insights. For instance, sounds like the bloom has already faded from the rose with respect to me...
  • The Rumors Are True Layoffs Hit Microsoft - well, there was at least truthiness to the rumors, but no outright divisional butt-kicking truth. There was an interesting amount of discussion generated around it, though.
  • Micro Persuasion Cuban Kills Blog Comments - Mr. Rubel notes Mark Cuban's defection from the comment feature. Well, for at least one post. First, thanks to the Google Blogger team for adding moderation to the commenting system here. I actually manage to use it correctly some times. But, if commenting and linking and pingbacks are part of the infrastructure to great blogs leading great conversations, they really have to be top notch. And commenting right now has plenty of room for innovations. I'd even add advertisements here if I could have an excellent commenting system.
  • The Blogging Journalist Who's Mini - Mr. Umrani... can you give me a weeeeee bit less attention? It's attention like this that makes me want to focus more time on building led-throwies than slapping up the occasional post here.

90 comments:

Robert Scoble said...

Most of my anti-anonymous rants aren't really aimed at you, but the real anonymous cowards who love to stab their coworkers in the back without revealing themselves.

Microsoft -- at this point in time -- needs REAL leadership. That requires risk-taking behavior from leaders who are willing to sign their names to things.

99% of what I see in comments lately here from anonymous people are just going to lead Microsoft down a death spiral and I don't think you want that, right Mini?

Robert Scoble said...

How do I do it all? I type fast. :-)

Anonymous said...

Mini

A quick query on headtrax ....
It does seem strange that we Microsoft have an equal number of Corp Vice Presidents to Product Unit Managers and 3 times that number of [Engineering] General Managers. What are all those General Managers and VPs doing besides collecting a large bonus and stock?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft -- at this point in time -- needs REAL leadership. That requires risk-taking behavior from leaders who are willing to sign their names to things.

What you say is true, but the question is "why will it get real leadership now, given that for the last 30 years it hasnt?"

SleekBlackMercedes said...

i got to know your blog through an IT magazine which was talking about an employee of Microsoft was lambasting the organization's management.

can't remember which magazine or which site.

i just wonder if any of the top brass from microsoft actually take notice or if they actually take some proactive action to solve all the issues facing the company?

Hustler
(www.thehustlerdiaries.blogspot.com)

Anonymous said...

Microsoft -- at this point in time -- needs REAL leadership. That requires risk-taking behavior from leaders who are willing to sign their names to things.

Utter rubbish. As a customer and investor the risks i'd rather see Microsoft executives take would be out in the field in product development and marketing rather than leaving their names on posts on a blog. There is far more value in the contents of the posts than there is in knowing exactly who is saying what - quite frankly for a 70K+ employee company - i don't really care if joe schmoe is feeling brave enough to sign his name on a post. We can all apply our inbuilt filters to ignore any vicious posts but on balance the purpose of this blog is more than served by having an open debate protected and facilitated by the anonymity.
Microsoft's death spiral has nothing to do with whether people speak their version of truth anonymously. In fact the wisdom of crowds theory suggests that such behaviour on average paints a true picture of reality and my perception is that this appears to be working in this instance.
Scoble's universe revolves around blog posting so it is natural he has this perspective but for most of us, this is a very useful way of getting insight into the company and this would only work on an anonymous medium. And it clearly has enough impact to make some changes.
Carry on Mini - ignore Scoble

Anonymous said...

Speaking of some of the swell stuff done by Scoble's old group, I just hopped over to on10.net to see what the "Valley babes" have been up to lately. The bad news is that they are as airheaded as ever, but the worse news is that according the homepage, 10 is now "a megaphone for the underdog enabling their voice to be heard."

We knew that grammar wasn't their strong suit, but aside from that, it now looks like the babes are after Mini's niche!

Anonymous said...

"Most of my anti-anonymous rants aren't really aimed at you, but the real anonymous cowards who love to stab their coworkers in the back without revealing themselves."

I don't think that's historically been the majority of the comments here and Mini has already taken responsibility for allowing some lesser quality ones to get past his filter recently. WRT anonymity, blogging (as I see it) is primarily about ideas not authors, and this site has the added concern of folks not wanting to jeapordize their jobs - so unsure why it apparently bothers you so much? WRT cowardice, as a former employee, the cowardice that was a lot more concerning to me wasn't postings on some anonymous message board, but colleagues who wouldn't speak up at meetings when bad ideas/strategy were being postulated or candid input sought on poor team members/managers. Finally, is it me or are we finally starting to see the real Scoble vision of MSFT slipping out in your comments here and the last post? If so, it's sounding a lot less positive than your parting post did. FWIW, I think you did a good job of what you were tasked with, but your recent posts here are beginning to detract from my otherwise high opinion of you. FWIW.

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

>There is far more value in the contents of the posts than there is in knowing exactly who is saying what

When you don't know who is posting the content here you are removing one of the main ways you can judge the credibility of what is said.

A good percentage of what's said here is total rubbish, by the way. Mini is being used by people who aren't even Microsoft employees for their own gain.

If I were a Google employee I'd be over here every night writing shit just to make Microsoft look bad to potential hires. Then, when I was interviewing that guy and they were comparing Microsoft to Google (or to other companies) I'd just say "well, you should go and read Mini and see just what that company is internally."

Me? Anyone who posts anonymously is a coward. I'll never post here without using my name. Yes, that leaves me open for attack but it's an attack by cowards so doesn't hurt.

But, I know I can't stop this behavior. Just don't delude yourself into thinking this is helping Microsoft get to a better place.

If anything it helped me make my decision to take a new job elsewhere. Which, I guess, is Mini's ultimate goal, but keep in mind that the smart ones always leave first.

I was talking with a Google employee, by the way, the other night. They have 200 employees in Kirkland and are rapidly hiring.

Anonymous said...

When you don't know who is posting the content here you are removing one of the main ways you can judge the credibility of what is said.

yet more rubbish. Are you suggesting that people should post their brief bio with their comments as obviously just the name is not going to mean anything to most people who read the blog and surely to "know" who is posting to judge credibility readers should have the life story ( along with last appraisal comments ) of every poster.

Anonymity = Cowardice ?
Could you be any less clued in ? In an inbred world where everyone knows everyone else and names mean jack this may make sense but some of us don't care if someone posts their name on a public internet site.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has been in a growth posture for its entire history. When you stop and think about it – that is one business process Microsoft does really well; manage growth. Nearly every corporate support system and policy has a growth posture or bias. HR, Security, Finance, PR, IT… all of them.

It hasn’t surprised me at all to see both the MSFT price and internal decisiveness stall. It’s also no real shocker to hear the rank and file anonymously complain as they watch some execs jump ship to retirement or competitors. This has been happening and accelerating since the first half of the 90’s. Anyone who worked there in the 80’s will tell you that.

Now that Microsoft is at the top of the corporate ballistics curve (or perhaps past it). It will learn how to manage its own reduction and weight-loss programs, and do that efficiently. The systems and policies that work well in a growth posture will have to change and will assume a growth opposed dynamic.

Think a bit about what it could mean if Microsoft gets “as good” at showing people the door as it does attracting new employees. How would that impact the company’s ability to ship and sell products, morale… the cafeteria?

Imagine HR and recruiting in a more “negative” posture. Imagine engineers being walked from their office to a “special room” by their manager, and arrive to find representatives from HR, Employee Relations and Security ready with an “exit package”. Imagine IT and related systems better staffed and trained to respond to user account terminations and security, than to meet the needs of product teams doing revenue producing work.

Imagine P&L owners managing departments by using cost cuts as a primary tool. What happens to new-innovative programs in that climate? Imagine employees standing in the equivalent of a Russian breadline waiting for an approval, because internal controls now require approvals up to SteveB directs. Imagine employees too fearful (of their own jobs) to make waves or take ownership to solve a problem that falls outside of their job descriptions.

This describes what can happen to a company when it does a massive layoff (from personal experience).

Mini, as a stockholder, I hope you do get your wish for a leaner-meaner Microsoft and applaud your efforts at transparency. But, please take equal responsibility to guard against the “meaner” half of the equation becoming obtuse and callous.

P.S.
I left Microsoft in the late 90’s to form a startup after 10 years. It took payroll over 4 months to stop auto-deposit payments, despite twice monthly phone calls and emails. I assume that hole has been plugged.

Robert Scoble said...

>WRT anonymity, blogging (as I see it) is primarily about ideas not authors, and this site has the added concern of folks not wanting to jeapordize their jobs - so unsure why it apparently bothers you so much?

That's absolutely NOT true. Knowing who the author is is a HUGE part of the trust network that's been built on blogs. Anonymous bloggers are never as credible as ones who stick their names on things.

Why does it bother me? Cause Mini is being used by non-Microsoft employees to hurt Microsoft. I've learned that a lot of the posts here that you're reading aren't done by Microsoft employees.

Yet you are taking it on face value that everyone is being straight up with you here. They are not.

I didn't realize this until after I had left Microsoft (it's funny how people tell you stuff when you aren't a Microsoft employee anymore). I'm not willing to expose my source, though. But I believe him. I know who he is, where I don't know who you are or where you're coming from or whether, even, you are a Microsoft employee, customer, shareholder, or just someone who wants to hurt Microsoft (or, more personally, me).

I still own Microsoft stock so I still have a LITTLE vested interest in seeing Microsoft do well.

Anonymous said...

Wow, count me as another former Scoble backer who's seen the light after that last comment. Good riddance...

If I were a Google employee I'd be over here every night writing shit just to make Microsoft look bad to potential hires. Then, when I was interviewing that guy and they were comparing Microsoft to Google (or to other companies) I'd just say "well, you should go and read Mini and see just what that company is internally."

Funny, I see anti-MS claims challenged here all the time. People attempting to do what you claim stick out like sore thumbs.

Me? Anyone who posts anonymously is a coward. I'll never post here without using my name. Yes, that leaves me open for attack but it's an attack by cowards so doesn't hurt.

This coming from a guy whose public position essentially made him untouchable by management. If someone who is in very real danger of losing their job is a "coward" for posting anonymously, what does that make the guy who's wearing a bulletproof vest and still doesn't challenge anyone with that "coward" charge until he's left the company altogether?

(I'd say it makes you a "coward" but I can think of a few expletives and rodent comparisons that are more fitting).

But, I know I can't stop this behavior. Just don't delude yourself into thinking this is helping Microsoft get to a better place.

So I guess you made that post about Mini being a person who made a difference under duress?

It's amazing how quickly your attitude changed once your job description did.

If anything it helped me make my decision to take a new job elsewhere. Which, I guess, is Mini's ultimate goal, but keep in mind that the smart ones always leave first.

If you think leaving Microsoft halfway through 2006 is an example of someone leaving "first," then you've managed to insult your own intelligence (and objectivity) far more damningly than I'd care to waste the time doing.

You've got a great future in politics, Robert. You have all the prerequisites: a big mouth, a preference for bluster over fact, and an opinion that's up for bid.

Anonymous said...

Robert, here goes a free piece of advice in case you are brave enough to take it (knowing that comes from a coward anonymous contributor):
Apply Mini’s motto to your ego. Just like Microsoft, it’s got way too big.

Anonymous said...

"When you don't know who is posting the content here you are removing one of the main ways you can judge the credibility of what is said."

OK..we know who posted this as he signed his name. I'll leave it to you to judge the credibility of what is said:

DIVERSITY

"That’s why I stand up for minorities in our society so much. The majority often behaves like assholes toward minorities." SCOBLE BLOG/your-exit-interview-of-me-2 (Comment: yes, we so highly valued your prior blog posts and recent comments on the diversity threads about how women, minorities, and homosexuals are treated at Microsoft...wait...where are those posts and comments? Did you ever address issues about how people within MS were treated in your blog or anywhere? It's so easy to not post rather than to sign your name to someone that might have ACTUALLY made a difference. Where did you once make a stand to change anything regarding diversity at Microsoft?)

ARROGANCE:

"Name another Microsoft employee who isn't an executive who touched as many businesses and worked with so many developers and geeks." (Robert Scoble/vic-gundotra-goes-to-google-rif-comes/3:50pm)

"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." (Robert Scoble/vic-gundotra-goes-to-google-rif-comes/3:50pm)

"It's interesting that so many here have no freaking idea about the power of video." (Robert Scoble/vic-gundotra-goes-to-google-rif-comes/12:06am)

"Maybe this is why I didn't stay at Microsoft. You assume you know your customers so well. Sigh." (Robert Scoble/vic-gundotra-goes-to-google-rif-comes/12:10am)

"It'll make you feel good to attack me. After all, I'm no longer a Microsoft employee." (Robert Scoble/vic-gundotra-goes-to-google-rif-comes/12:10am)

I have friends all over the world in the tech industry. Did you miss that I had lunch with Sun Microsystems’ CEO the week before I quit? (Robert Scoble/bianca-cooking-in-my-kitchen (SCOBLE BLOG)/2:49pm)


NAME CALLING


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

"It's quite clear you guys have no idea about what you're talking about." (Robert Scoble/vic-gundotra-goes-to-google-rif-comes/12:06am)

TRUE FEELINGS FOR MICROSOFT

"I was talking with a Google employee, by the way, the other night. They have 200 employees in Kirkland and are rapidly hiring." (Robert Scoble/bad-mini-scobles-exit-and-truthiness/12:10am)

"but keep in mind that the smart ones always leave first" (Robert Scoble/bad-mini-scobles-exit-and-truthiness/12:10am)

I'm not so sure that people are going to like the real Robert scoble without the restrictions of Microsoft. The smart people will leave first from your feeds as well. Signing your name doesn't make you a hero...any more than anonymous comments on a blog are leading MS down the death spiral. MS execs have been doing a fine job of not being heros and leading MS into a death spiral by themselves.

Open Minded Employee

Inactivist said...

Knowing who the author is is a HUGE part of the trust network that's been built on blogs. Anonymous bloggers are never as credible as ones who stick their names on things.

By that standard, Mini has significantly less credibility than, say, you (Scoble) or me. We have no idea who the hell Mini is -- after all, he could be shilling for Google or some other company with a vested interest in wounding MSFT. And other people (include you, Scoble) asserting otherwise won't really help, because, ultimately, Mini's still anonymous, and we have to take the word of third parties -- or -- OMG! -- evaluate his posts based on their content and draw our own conclusions! Eeek!

I usually post anonymously not to hide from 'attack' - I stopped using my ID a while ago because of all the sniping commenters who think people who do use their ID and blog URL are just using Mini's popularity to promote their own blogs. Does that make me a coward? Perhaps. But I'm more interested in having people see my perspective without any suspicion that I am just promoting my "lame blog".

I've never engaged in any sniping (although I've taken a few semi-cheap shots at Microsoft's processes and business models, in an attempt to encourage debate or stimulate critical thought about those.)

And no, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Microsoft employee. Although I did interview eons ago, and was rejected for my inability to pass thru the puzzle-solving filters (it had to be that, since those are the only questions anyone aske me!). Translation: I'm not "smart" enough for Microsoft.

And no, I have no axe to grind, most people who know me know that I am waist-deep in MSFT technologies and products. In fact, I've been a MSFT supporter since the 80's. That's starting to change, recently, though -- other technologies are becoming pretty seductive, and MSFT is no longer commanding the same developer mind share it once did.

I go where the action is, and -- it's becoming obvious that the action is no longer in the MSFT camp.

-Mike

Anonymous said...

Scoble's universe revolves around blog posting so it is natural he has this perspective but for most of us, this is a very useful way of getting insight into the company and this would only work on an anonymous medium. And it clearly has enough impact to make some changes.

While I'm a Scoble-backer I have to admit that this blogger is more right. Until Mini came along, Microsoft thought their entire stack of management was super, and very well respected by employees. The reason they thought this is that detractors were tarred as traitors, whispering campaigns were started against them, and they were managed out. This summed up nicely with Ballmer's statement during the recent town hall: "if you're still using Google raise your hands." No, the first amendment is good for something, and nicely applied here.

Robert Scoble said...

>Wow, count me as another former Scoble backer who's seen the light after that last comment. Good riddance...

So one post is going to define what you think of me or whether you back me or not? Are you a Microsoft strategist? I sure hope you look at the totality of someone's work and don't throw it out cause they made one little mistake on the 15th page of a spec.

>Funny, I see anti-MS claims challenged here all the time. People attempting to do what you claim stick out like sore thumbs.

Funny. I saw someone take a very personal shot at Steve Cellini, a guy I know who is among Microsoft's hardest workers (you try running a conference someday with hundreds of speakers, thousands of attendees, and millions of dollars at stake).

>This coming from a guy whose public position essentially made him untouchable by management.

And how did I get untouchable (your words, not mine, everyone can be fired as Martin Taylor proved recently)? If I was, it was because I was PUBLIC with my name and my opinions. I was quoted in Time Magazine saying Microsoft should be split up. Something that Bill Gates vehemently disagrees with.

>If someone who is in very real danger of losing their job is a "coward" for posting anonymously, what does that make the guy who's wearing a bulletproof vest and still doesn't challenge anyone with that "coward" charge until he's left the company altogether?

I challenged the coward charge internally before I left. Mini served a purpose, yes. Getting management to see there's a problem. But now it's being used. My opinion changed.

So leaders can't change their opinions? That's really lame. The best leaders change their opinions when they receive new data that demonstrates their old opinions were wrong.

>So I guess you made that post about Mini being a person who made a difference under duress?

No. Mini made a difference. But now his blog is being used against Microsoft and against good people. By anonymous people who you have absolutely NO IDEA where they are coming from. At least you know who I am.

But, again, calling me names and saying I'm a great politician sure will make you feel better. But, how, exactly, is it making Microsoft a more customer-centric organization?

Hint, it's not. This blog is all about character assassination and gossip now. It used to be about improving a great company.

This will be my last post here, which I'm sure will make you greatly happy. But this blog isn't about improving Microsoft anymore so I don't want to participate anymore.

Have fun!

Who da'Punk said...

Okay, okay, hold on... things are getting heated again. I've got about six posts in the queue, including Mr. Scoble's "Goodbye I won't ever be commenting here again," comment.

So, please hold on to your "Grr, Scoble!" comments because he won't be following up, let alone perhaps reading them. You'd be much better served submitting your comments to his blog or writing your own blog entries and linking appropriately.

If you have today off, go out and enjoy it! I'll be back either much later tonight or tomorrow to let comments go through, but please be constructive if you can't be pleasant.

In the meantime, I'm certainly thinking about Scoble's parting strategic comments:

* The Mini-Microsoft blog's impact has come, been done, and is past.

* The blog serves now to harm Microsoft more than help it.

* The blog is, specifically, being used by the anti-Microsoft crowd and competitors to harm Microsoft.

All good points, and some, worth putting up a pivotal post about.

But not today. Go have fun.

Anonymous said...

Fellas, enough of the griping. It is sunny outside. The World Cup is on. There are fireworks displays everywhere. Go find something fun to do and that includes you Mini.

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

Ciao

Anonymous said...

Well, as a non MSFT:er i read all posts here (and on other forums) with great caution. I think most of blog/newsgroup/BBS readers that been around for a while do. Ofcourse some trolls are more obvious than others, but still...

I would say that the sign "Anonymous" even makes one more careful reading a post than if it's signed by name. What does a signed post tell you anyway? I mean, Scooble are well known, but if i sign my name on a post you wouldn't know me anyway (especially being non famous and non MSFT:ie).

Naturally, at some point, a post looses it's validity by being anonymous, but i still think, up to a point, constructive discussions can be held anonymously.

I wonder if the top execs at MS reads this blog anyway, and if they do, do they give a rats *ss?

I mean, for a company that have 70k+ employees and by the count of post's made here by "supposedly" MSFT:ers it seems that less than 1% of the MS employees is at all interested (in posting anyway).

To put the ultimate conspiracy theory at front: For all we know Mini could be a posing MSFT:er really working for Google posting distorted information mixed with real information delivered by MS insiders.

Anonymous said...

No need to publish this one - just feedback in case you're looking for an outside perspective as you review these questions.

* The Mini-Microsoft blog's impact has come, been done, and is past.

Totally disagree because it's completely unclear that MSFT is now on a self-sustaining path to renewed success/relevance. Maybe the beginnings of that are apparent (maybe not), but your voice is still relevant and worthwhile. I do agree that it's worth considering how the blog may need to change to remain effective (for example, an emphasis on constructive solutions not just problem identification).

* The blog serves now to harm Microsoft more than help it.

Again, disagree - although think you need to do a better job of filtering useless comments to ensure that's not the case (I know it's a pain).

* The blog is, specifically, being used by the anti-Microsoft crowd and competitors to harm Microsoft.

No question, which is why better filtering of the comments is essential. Case in point, this ABM pirate moron who just made it through your filter again. The way I see it, bad posts are like grafitti in public places or a broken window on a house - they invite more holliganism.

Anonymous said...

Scoble doesn't get it.

Microsoft has always been a frat made up of inner circles. Scoble might think that those who blog here are unhappy because they didn't make it into one of the circles; most could care less. What is demeaning, is to have the power of that structure brought against you for doing right and well and serving the best interests of the company. (In short, I'm referring to employees that may have been ranked down and excluded for political reasons.) If you read some off-color comments in this blog they may have their basis in something deeper.

Im my opinion, hiring Ray Ozzie was a great start. But I think he needs to do more quicker. He needs to bring in more managers from outside. Once hired, these managers need to lock arms and force the Tammany Hall element out of Microsoft. When the fat cats invite these new managers over to their (lavish multimillion dollar) homes, they should turn down the invite. If Robert can help bring in new blood then he is doing some good. Beyond that, its ridiculous for him to argue from the position of Bill and Steve's accepted frat brother. We're past that point ...

Anonymous said...

Scoble's universe revolves around blog posting so it is natural he has this perspective but for most of us, this is a very useful way of getting insight into the company and this would only work on an anonymous medium. And it clearly has enough impact to make some changes

That is an excellent point. Properly expressed annonymous opinion focuses on the message. Otherwise the antibodies will attack the messenger.

If there was a forum internally (to Microsoft) where people could express their opinions without fear of retribution, I think that would solve a lot of problems. Perhaps LisaB ought to look into that

Anonymous said...

"That's absolutely NOT true. Knowing who the author is is a HUGE part of the trust network that's been built on blogs. Anonymous bloggers are never as credible as ones who stick their names on things."

Yup, I guess that explains Mini's lack of popularity, notoriety and credibility.

"I've learned that a lot of the posts here that you're reading aren't done by Microsoft employees."

Duh. Most savvy readers understand that and factor it accordingly.

"I didn't realize this until after I had left Microsoft"

Then you were simply naive - don't assume everyone else is.

"where I don't know who you are or where you're coming from or whether, even, you are a Microsoft employee, customer, shareholder, or just someone who wants to hurt Microsoft (or, more personally, me)"

You knew Dan Rather and CBS - but that didn't ensure accuracy even though it likely led many to believe their reports. Similarly, I was kinda taken with Vic's blog posting on the company he loves - right up until he announced his departure to GOOG. Or your own, for that matter. Bottom line, knowing someone's identity and/or affiliation may serve as extra clues to assessing their message, but it's not a must have imo, cleary hasn't been an inhibitor for Mini's site, and can even result in its own problems (i.e. the CBS, Rather situation). Again, for ***me***, it's the message not the messenger.

Doug Mahugh said...

For another POV from Vic's former team, here's my Response to Robert Scoble

Anonymous said...

Not singling anyone out, but if there had been no way to anonymously post during the lengthy "stack ranking" discussion, is it likely the changes seen recently would have occurred at all?

Oh, and the irony of anonymous comments on a single blog possibly being used by some to further their non-MS interests, that's just rich. Does no one remember the word "astroturfing?"

Once enough people get PO'd at Microsoft - for whatever reason - plugging a hole on one blog is not going to stop the chatter. The discerning reader should be able to see when a howler is posted. The non-discerning reader has plenty of other anti-MS chat on the Net to occupy their reading time, anonymous or not, from real employees or not.

Anonymous said...

Quoting the great philosopher Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Anonymous said...

Mini,

If it means anything, I think you're serving a valuable purpose for fellow employees. Without your forum, there's no sanity check for individual observations. While I hate to fall back to ad-hominem, criticism of your role by a homunculus like Scoble isn't significant. He was hired as spokesmodel and departed as such for Web2Wonderland. His take on Microsoft is like an auto show booth babe commenting on GM engineering and production practices.

Best wishes on the 4th,
Someone who likes his ability to comment without comebacks.

Anonymous said...

grass is never greener but it is clear that all this change is causing strife with msoftiees and non-msoftees alike ...

Robert -- it is best to leave well enough alone ... hero or goat live you life as you want to judge yourself.

I don't always agree with your views and motives but again it was your and still is your choice.

I may return to the company (I left after 8 years 2 years ago) but not in the short term.

peace

Jordan said...

"Anonymity" is not binary. On political websites and others, posters use each others' usernames as markers to gauge those people and their opinions across time. This makes for a "masquerade ball" approach to debate in which the identities are concealed but the specificity of the people is preserved; you can argue with "this person" or "that person" and have a consistent, developing image of whom you're arguing with.

Blogsites with numbered anonymous comments grope towards this by using the numbers as identity markers: "Anonymous #58: Great point!" (Etc.)

Any discussion of the pros and cons of blog-poster anonymity (for example, the benefits of judging untracable comments based solely on their content vs. objecting to the implicit"cowardice" of that arrangement) should acknowledge the interim position: known usernames, set up through a login system to avoid duplication and name-phreaking or whatever you call it.

Mini-Edit said...

(edited version - Mini.)

I cant believe this...
Chris Jones to run Windows Live Experience Program Management

http://www.liveside.net/comments.php?shownews=325

(Good news to share as part of the Sinofsky rework, but I whacked off the commentary that was just a smidge beyond what I want to accept today...)

Anonymous said...

I try to stay out of your MS internal political stuff, unless of course it becomes an overbearing humorous temptation.

However, RS, if I may provide a little advice: While I myself have used a flame thrower a few times on corporate exit, it has never ever yielded anything of value. In fact it has prevented me from doing many things I would like to do.

To all the Miniites, you never know when you might need to work for an old employer again. Trust me I know this from experience. Poverty and destititution are closer than you think in the America of today (maybe not for Scoble) but for a lot of older Americans (50ish), the more experience you have, the less valuable you are and the less employable you are. It just works that way in a culture that worships youth.

Anonymous said...

* The Mini-Microsoft blog's impact has come, been done, and is past.

* The blog serves now to harm Microsoft more than help it.

* The blog is, specifically, being used by the anti-Microsoft crowd and competitors to harm Microsoft.


Mini, if ever you were in doubt about the amount of good or bad that can happen through minimsft blog, I hope those have now evaporated. Although unelected by us and sometimes your posts are fluff:), your blog has provided an avenue for exchanges that were hitherto impossible.

Do not let this go to waste. Several times the site has jumped the shark with the unchecked or poorly checked comments but several times it has managed to come back to relevancy. Like Scoble or not, there is some truth in his remarks above. While I don't believe the era of Mini is over, I doubt my MS is being helped by some of the things you let through on a consistent basis.

You've published a letter from an exec with dates that a group was making a trip to Florida, you've let through posts with names (unknown externally) and unsubstantiated accusations. Not to mention the ABM posts or the ever present Apple this and that.

But is Mini a bad guy? No. You want to give everybody a chance. And you want to be a gentleman about it - no injection of your own bias through edits etc. But yesterday I saw something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime:

Mini-Edit said...
(edited version - Mini.)


See you can do it and you should do it more often. Many times great posts have a sentence or more that crosses the line. Whack the lines off with a (..snip snip by Mini). It is your blog.

Some folks say it is easy to spot an ABM or empty-headed post etc but the number of responses to those types of post indicate that not everyone can spot the difference.

Having said all that, I know you still have a full time job at MS. So if you can only review posts once a week, so be it. You don't owe any one to have somethin new every morning and evening.

Ciao..

Who da'Punk said...

First, a comment I added to the previous thread:

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.

Who da'Punk said...

Second:

Looks like Dare has put up his opinion on the Scoble comments here:
Robert Scoble on the Harm Caused by Mini-Microsoft

(Note: after I let the queue through, Robert's and other comments appeared before my "Hold on!" comment.)

I hear people. I agree. My comment triage is important and I've let too much trash through, especially over the long weekend. Mea culpa one more time. Some of those comments pointed to by Dare, well, I wouldn't feel good bouncing.

I'd like to hear what people think. You can't please everyone. But I can, and will, endeavor to keep the nastiness out from here on.

Inactivist said...

If there was a forum internally (to Microsoft) where people could express their opinions without fear of retribution, I think that would solve a lot of problems. Perhaps LisaB ought to look into that

While that's fine idea, I doubt a company with MSFT's deep pockets could affort to host a forum that would (might) lead to defamatory statements being made against employees - imagine the liability - the company legal counsel would squash it pronto.

attention.xml said...

There is only one reason I can see Scoble so radically changing his stand on the Mini-Microsoft blog: Microsoft is about to do something really bad to Mini.

And everyone will go to Scoble to say, "Robert, what do you think about this horrible move? You're such a Mini fan!" and Scoble will say that it's a good idea and that the blog should be taken down and here's why: "Anonymous… blah… coward… blah… manipulated… blah…"

Scoble's in a very different place now and, as an external partner, if he wants to continue to have access and influence, he gets to play a very different game with Microsoft.

Without Scoble, the one and only major defender in the court of public opinion is gone. Good job, Mini!

Anonymous said...

Big facilities push- more bodies coming...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/05/realestate/05sqft.html?ex=1309752000&en=5404b402b15dba93&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Microsophist said...

"Most of my anti-anonymous rants aren't really aimed at you, but the real anonymous cowards who love to stab their coworkers in the back without revealing themselves."

With all due respect, Robert, most of stuff coming from the non-anonymous MSFT blogs looks, smells, and tastes like BS. Once you sign your name to your blog, it inevitably becomes a self promotion tool. That doesn't make for very interesting reading, in my opinion.

The anonymous blogger, on the other hand, isn't doing it for credit, to name drop, to kiss ass, or to sell stuff.

I stopped subscribing to your blog a long time ago, but I'll still read Mini as long as its around.

Anonymous said...

"The bottom line is that I agree with Robert that in its current incarnation Mini-Microsoft does more harm to Microsoft than good. If anything, it does point out the need for a better internal forums for frank and open discussion but I definitely think it's time is past."

Completely disagree. I'm an ex-employee and current shareholder. My experience then and now is that unfortunately, in more cases than not, MSFT's leadership responds to pressure vs proactively doing the right thing. When that pressure doesn't exist or can be easily ignored, MSFT often makes no course correction at all. We see this competitively, legally, internally and wrt customers/partners and especially shareholders. Dare's right that some unfortunate comments have made it through the filter and included "character assassination, racism, sexism, fear mongering, unfounded allegations of sexual misconduct, information leaking" etc, but that's not a whole lot different than many conversations over coffee at MSFT locations worldwide - or most other companies for that matter (regretably). More importantly, in my experience, comments like that have overwhlemingly been the exception vs the rule. Again as a shareholder, I think your site has done more than ANY to foster questioning of current management by both internal and external stakeholders and that's a GREAT thing given their penchant for ignoring the numerous and very obvious current concerns. When we get CONCRETE signs that senior leadership is willing and able to make the difficult course corrections (including changing the dysfunctional corporate culture) w/o external pressure, then your site's contribution may no longer be needed. Until then, I hope you'll keep at it and ignore the naysayers.

Microsophist said...

"I'm not willing to expose my source, though. But I believe him."

So let me get this straight, Robert. You claim that MSFT is being harmed by anonymous posts, and as evidence of this, you cite an anonymous source?

Wow, that's really amusing! You should do more comedy.

Anonymous said...

"Yet you are taking it on face value that everyone is being straight up with you here. They are not."

Non-softie here; I sure hope the people to which you refer are not any of those "do no evil" types up the road.

RS, I think it is almost actionable of you not to reveal the source of a person who is doing serious damage to the company you left. That kind of behaviour should be nipped immediately.

BTW, if I was an exec at MS I would be turning over rocks and considering mass terminations just to get Mini off the public nets because of the potential damage the blog could do/has done, mostly in the arena of trade secrets.

BUT as a non-softie, I am thankful to have a place to go to vent my frustrations, concerns and problems with the company as we all know customer service or the infamous managers@microsoft.com are both black holes into which your complaints and ideas are lost forever. At least here, if Microsoft doesn't fix it, the competition, who also sees the issue will.

Anonymous said...

Mini, this comment is for you. A lot of people want you to stop what you are doing. And it just so happens that it is really easy to destroy a semi open forum or comments section by posting lots and lots of immature comments and personal attacks. I think most of us know you do not want to censor comments. But we do understand if you filter out all the "you are stupid" "that exec is an idiot" comments.

The trend that I have seen in recent weeks leads me to believe that some folks out there want to discredit your site with flagrant posts. I say, force them to talk like adults by filtering out all the kids stuff.

The vast majority of us (who actually read lots of blogs every day) appreciate what you are doing. Not everyone realizes yet that this site is going to help mold the future of the company and maybe even bring it into the 21st century as far as how the tech world and how employees gather information and share thoughts and mature debate.

Please edit out the random trolls and potential planned posts that seem to be geared to distracting from and discrediting the mini focus.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/05/realestate/05sqft.html?ex=1309752000&en=5404b402b15dba93&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

The company plans to hire 4,000 to 5,000 new employees this year, more than half of whom will be located in the United States. (Microsoft would not say how many people it expects to hire in Redmond.)

If they hire 2 - 2.5k people in Redmond (and it would make sense, after all why spend $1B to expand the campus otherwise), we can forget about the RIF

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Microsophist and the ex-Msft poster. The only way to get Msft to (re)act is to pressure them. I include my team in that camp - you need a sledgehammer or a "fire" to get things done.

Scoble and Dare have done ZILCH to effect any sort of effective change. They are bloggers who promote either themselves (scoble) or attempt to make stuff they work on more interesting than it should be (Dare). (BTW Dare, auth and Web APIs is stuff which after working in WebData one would think you have some insight into - guess that is still "hard" for you. You and your Infospace-recycled GM think the stuff you're putting out is the cat's whiskers - its not).

Bottom line - Mini has provided a forum which provided and CONTINUES to provide a platform for valuable feedback to Msft mgmt (refer LisaB efforts). Signing your name to crap such as scripted channel9 interviews can be done by a half-decent weatherman able to wield a microphone. Being honest AND effecting change is WAY more useful than saying "I'm XYZ and here is the legal-team approved content".

Note, this is not Msft-bashing by any means. Improving the company by any means necessary (which I TOTALLY would like to see) should be the end-goal. Mini - kudos for showing the power of true anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft -- at this point in time -- needs REAL leadership. That requires risk-taking behavior from leaders who are willing to sign their names to things.

Scoble: Since you are no longer an employee, why don’t you post the names of Microsoft people who are not providing REAL leadership? I think it is more cowardly of you to say that the company needs more REAL leadership and not identifying the people who don’t provide it.

Anonymous said...

It is breathtakingly arrogant for someone as high profile as Scoble to call people cowards for posting anonymously. If he were fired for his posts on a blog, it would be all over the news.

The same is not true for virtually all rank and file employees at Microsoft. Post the wrong opinion, and you could be gone. Maybe not immediately, but all of a sudden, all of your reviews are bad, and you can't get a transfer to anyone's team.

This blog is awesome simply because it IS anonymous, and people can post without fear of retalliation. Given the cloistered and clannish atmosphere at Microsoft, this is not cowardice or paranoia. It's common sense.

Anonymous said...

If I were a Google employee I'd be over here every night writing shit just to make Microsoft look bad to potential hires.

If the new hires are dumb enough to believe that everything written here is the gospel then let them head over to Google.

What is the next selling point, that Google’s share is at $400 and Microsoft’s is at $23? Guess what new hires – your stock options and strike price are priced on the date of hire. Who do you think has a better chance of seeing their stock price go up 200% – 300% over the next 2-3 years? The answer is Microsoft.

The days of back dating stock options are over and that was only done for upper management. The process of back dating stock options was illegal then and is still illegal today.

Anonymous said...

Mini,

No need to post this, but along the vein of returning mini-msft to a more productive thread, I think it would be very useful to explore the issue of splitting the company into 3-5 smaller and more competitive companies. This is another vehicle for getting to the mini Microsoft you started this blog asking for, and I personally believe it is the only avenue back to health for Microsoft.

Believe me, the dead-wood would be running around like earwigs under a rock if this were done correctly. The Microsoft inbreds would be standing in the harsh light of peer evaluation as decisions were made regarding who went where, or if they went at all.

Harsh, but it would create 3-5 very competitive and fun companies to work for, it would re-invigorate the Redmond funk and it would solve a whole raft of otherwise unsolvable problems.

Thoughts?

Charles said...

The issue is not will Microsoft be criticized fairly or unfairly (the market will do so whether Microsoft likes it or not), but will Microsoft yet begin to pay attention to any critcism? Is Microsoft (and the readership here) mature and sophisticated enough to separate the wheat from the chaff and take away some badly ignored lessons?

Will Microsoft continue to "manage" itself in a vacuum or will it finally address the longstanding problems pointed out
explicitly by its customers, investors, users, employees and (implicitly as well) its competitors?

Blogs serve a valuable purpose both to evangelize a companies technologies and products as well as provide feedback. To
argue that public criticism is damaging presumes the criticisms are wrong and/or will not be heeded regardless.

Neither anonymity nor identity matter much as the key issue in all venues is credibility. Credibility is not established by an identity nor lost with anonymity but is the outcome of products and services delivering results as advertised. It doesn't matter how well Scoble or Gundotra or whomever evangelize Microsoft if the products don't ship or don't perform (or are immediately obsoleted by the next half-baked "cool" technology). Likewise it won't matter much if no evangelism is done if products consistently exceed expectation, are readily adopted, and take market share. Take a look at your competitors like Oracle and IBM. Though imperfect they readily surpass Microsoft in product quality and customer support and business performance. They plan well and execute well. There are reasons for that and it isn't rocket science.

Microsoft has been a slow train wreck for well over a decade and only the lack of cost-effective, practical alternatives on the desktop has kept the train moving. But that may well be coming to an end if Microsoft doesn't "get it" soon about how analyze a market, identify what customers want, need, and will buy (decidedly different from what is "cooL") and then architect the product and infrastructure so engineering can feedback to marketing what is feasible and then deliver and support what marketing has planned a viable business around. Alternatives are emerging.

The "good news" is Microsoft is a well entrenched product and customers are loathe to incurr the cost and effort to replace it. The "bad news" is the costs of doing nothing are large and escalating and forcing them into exactly that dilemma. Microsoft used to be part of everyones solution but has become part of everyones problem - legally, contractually, financially, technically, and operationally.

But shutting out criticism and feedback is precisely what has brought Microsoft to this point.

Anonymous said...

Is Mini bad for Microsoft?

I don't know. It's probably bad for one type of Microsoft, the one this shareholder does not appreciate.

Is Mini good for MS employees? Emphatic yes - this blog has information not available anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

…I think it would be very useful to explore the issue of splitting the company into 3-5 smaller and more competitive companies.

One of MSFT’s business models have been to use money from profitable units to fund unprofitable units until the competitors cry uncle or until the business unit can stand on its own – similar to what Xbox might be able to accomplish in 1-2 years.

If MSFT is broken down into smaller companies, who will buy shares of a company which is bleeding money in R&D without seeing any real returns. This is why the street was strongly opposed to the build out of Moogle since they didn’t believe MSFT would see any substantial returns after investing $2 billion. In return, MSFT was able to ignore the street since they had billions to dollars coming in from other business units. Sun Microsystems tried a similar strategy of spending billions of dollars on R&D trying to come up with the next big product. As a result their share price was stuck in the $2 - $3 range for years while their cash on hand was dwindling down. Finally the CEO had to give up on the strategy.

Now, investment bankers will always tell you to break the company since they earn millions of dollars in fees from consulting and underwriting the shares of the new companies. Then, 5 years later they will say that the breakup was a wrong idea and push the company to merge resulting in more fees for them. This is what is happening with Cendant right now. CEOs and Board of Directors always go along since they benefit immediately from such activities, maybe escape with their golden parachute, but in the long run it does not help the shareholder.

One of the good things about BillG and SteveB being billionaires is that $10-$20 million in personal profit probably does not appeal to them. They don’t need a golden parachute or need to make a quick buck and move onto the next company.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine if more key figures leave Microsoft that it will only intensify the scrutiny on this blog. Casting about for villains will become an important activity, Mini, and this blog may be identified as a key culprit. There is good blogging etiquette and as we all know there are ways to call someone an SOB without actually calling them an SOB. Commenters can show more tact, or put more thought into their posts. The objective in the end is to make Microsoft a better, more positive, more productive place to work. That can't happen if we're pouring sugar in the gas tank. Mini can help by rejecting obviously offensive or malicious posts - or remove any that prove contentious after the fact. You'll know 'em when you see 'em. If commenters are determined to air a rejected post they can 'fix' the offensive parts and re-post. I hope I haven't stamped the life out of the blog with these recommendations.

Who da'Punk said...

BTW, if I was an exec at MS I would be turning over rocks and considering mass terminations just to get Mini off the public nets because of the potential damage the blog could do/has done, mostly in the arena of trade secrets.

?. What trade secrets in particular are you thinking about?

Anonymous said...

Instead of splitting up the company, maybe each group should be thought of as an isolated company.

I worked in Windows on some very discrete features for 5 years and I never had a clue what it cost our team to produce those features, how many users deployed those features, or how many more sales were made because we had those features. Those numbers could have been generated, but nobody took the time to do it.

Now I work at a startup where we would be out of money if we stopped selling for 6 months. Now, I know how much we spend each month for R&D, Sales, Support, etc. and how much income we get.

Microsoft might not need to be reduced to a mini-size, but it needs to think mini.

You have so much money that you can spend a lot of time slowly sinking. By the time you notice that you are sinking, the activity that is causing you to sink is so entrenched that you can't even recongize that it is the cause of your problems.

Then again, I don't work there anymore so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

Well, obviously our inability to ship products on time is a trade secret. That, and the secret to maintaining a low-but-not-catastrophic share price over low periods of time.

Anonymous said...

The Mini-Microsoft blog's impact has come, been done, and is past...

Well...

I suppose I can't say whether this blog's impact is done or not, but I do know the need for a blog like this is still around. We've had a few changes, in the right direction, but they are baby steps. Comp is still too low, we still don't factor team success into our comp, and we still have large pockets of poor leadership and wasted manpower.

If we follow up the changes we just had with more in the same direction, we might get the ship turned around. But those changes weren't easy for the Execs to make, and if they don't continue to feel pressure, they won't want to make round two. And we need round two. It wasn't really about the towels, you know.

Scoble lost a whole bunch of credibility in my eyes with this comment:

I've learned that a lot of the posts here that you're reading aren't done by Microsoft employees...
I didn't realize this until after I had left Microsoft...


Holy Crap. The fake-softies are way easier to spot than that. If Scoble didn't realize they were here until just now, he wasn't really paying attention. Or, he just decided to use a little hyperbole to spin the discussion his way. In either case, I'm no longer giving him any credibility on the issue, despite the fact he signs his name.

Anonymous said...

Scoble lost a whole bunch of credibility in my eyes ...

In the space of a few lines I think Robert defended Microsoft, then stated that the smart ones are the first to leave, and then did a recruiting spot for Google in Kirkland. It was an odd couple of days. Robert rules though. I hope he drops in for a cameo from time to time. I know he's proud of all the hard work he did at Microsoft (for probably nominal pay) and I enjoy hearing him pipe up about it from time to time. He earned his good reputation in the industry.

Anonymous said...

Here is a must read for MSFties who think the grass is greener elsewhere. Also for those ABM crowd that always remind us about how Google is going to render MS extinct.

BusinessWeek did a total deconstruction of Google and their basket of products. Read, learn and comment:

GOOGLE: So Much Fanfare, So Little Hits.

Anonymous said...

The way to resolve the debate of the merits/demerits of anonymous posting is to go back to first principles and to consider the point(s) of this blog.
If an objective is to make Microsoft better by actual actionable items, then anonymous posting does not matter and serves the same purpose as attaching an identity to a post.

The reason? Those in power to make a difference (LisaB?) who happen to read the blog will automatically ignore those items that don't happen to be true and posted anonymously and filter them away as noise. However, complaints that have an objective point and are posted anonymously will be considered on their merits because everyone who *really* works here knows its true. Therefore, ignoring
the comment, because its anonymous, is illogical because employees can attest to its veracity and are able to contemplate the argument presented based on the content of the message itself. Moreover, upper management knows that impactful messages resonate strongly with the masses *despite* their anonymity (the discussion about stack rank is a representative example). As such, these anonymous discussions can certainly form the seeds of revolution. Ignore actual employees who post incorrectly because of their error; these are typically corrected later on by another employee and as such, the former's anonymous (incorrect) message has no impact.

Second, do not confuse *identity* and *trust*. Knowing the former impies nothing about the latter. Deanonymizing posts reveals *identity*, but says nothing about the *trust* held by others about is person's opinions (reputation). This is a well known concept in trust networks.

Anonymous said...

I realize today...

There is so much pessimism
Problems are looked through magnifying glasses

There are problems
Because MS is of such a scale, the problems might be different and unique than what other companies have ever faced.

Are there constructive solutions that offer growth while retaining our uniqueness and variety

Are there solutions that inspire, motivate and channel energies of each softie towards creating great software products

Ranting and yelling at the top of your voice for RIFs and massive downsizing, to me, appears to be avoiding the problem rather than facing it and solving it. The solutions I see here are brimming with negativity.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini,

I am just one of the posters / readers here and a 9 year 65 level Microsoftie. From my POV you have and continue to do more harm than good for this company.

Like you I love this company and knowing it well know that only some external pressure makes this beast we love work.

Agree with you on getting better with the filtering....but PLEASE DO NOT STOP your work it is NOT PAST.

Anonymous said...

Mini, one thing I would dearly love to know is how a "REAL leader" (TM) can emerge if the environment is as geared against risk-taking as PhilipSu indicates in Broken Windows Theory.
http://blogs.msdn.com/philipsu/archive/2006/06/14/631438.aspx

In that sort of situation, where nobody, but nobody, absolutely nobody, is willing to make a risky decision and put their work, their team, their code on the line, anonymity is the only way you can break out of those ever-decreasing circles.

And, Mini, I just realized... Scoble has said he knows someone who has told him that a good many of your readers' posts aren't Microsofties. Paranoia rulz okay, right?! Who else might be able to read your readers' IP addresses? Is he saying he knows who you are? Is he saying he could out you tomorrow if he so desired? Or is he saying that management know who you are?

As usual, I know nothing ...

Yours Eponymously
Epon

Anonymous said...

Instead of splitting up the company, maybe each group should be thought of as an isolated company.

It appears that is what SteveB is doing by creating three separate units with each unit having their own leader. Soon they will be help accountable for cost overruns etc., but the company will still operate under the Microsoft name and only float one stock. It will almost be like General Motors but not as messed up since every unit won’t be offering a similar product.

I believe that by Ozzie moving the company towards webification and adcenter, Microsoft will start offering all of their Office products for free. In return the customers will have to put up with advertisements. If you don’t want to see ads, then you will have to pay for a license which almost all corporate customers will go for. In addition with MSFT cracking down on piracy with WGA, people can’t complain that MSFT is a billion dollar monopoly forcing poor people to buy their products. Now everyone will have the option of using MSFT products for free while the company makes their money from ads. Ad companies love it since they get to target their audience.

There is an article in today’s papers about AOL providing all of its services for free to anyone with high speed internet connection and they hope to make their money thru ads. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6091033.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed

Anonymous said...

assume the criticism is wrong
You make a good point. While some of the comments may be rough, the reality is that they typically come from a very real place.

I think what you'll find is that criticism is sharpest and loudest - not from those looking to complain, but from those who have tried to go through the proper channels only to be ignored.

The culture in Redmond is designed so you focus on 'managing your own career' vs 'do what's right for the company'. This causes an inherent conflict, as the system is designed such that people are inclined to compete against one another vs. focus on teaming and making waves threatens your career.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap. The fake-softies are way easier to spot than that. If Scoble didn't realize they were here until just now, he wasn't really paying attention. Or, he just decided to use a little hyperbole to spin the discussion his way. In either case, I'm no longer giving him any credibility on the issue, despite the fact he signs his name.

--
of course he knows .. any good PR person or politician knows FUD as they are usually the ones speeling it out ...

Anonymous said...

Scoble is definitely good attrition. His own words here have damned him--particularly the bits about how horrible anonymous comments are and then his turning around and using unnamed sources as a trump card in his "proof" of how this weblog has failed (who didn't know that anti-Microsoft hijinx goes on here?). Did Scobe lecture his source about remaining anonymous, too? What a hypocrite.

(I commented about this on his site, guess what--brave Robert Scoble took the post, which had a name, down immediately. There was no vulgarity, no name-calling, just quoting his words back to him and challenging him on them. Too much for Scoble to take.)

As a non-Microsoftie I've always seen Scoble as primarily a self-promoter and been baffled by his popularity (unless it is with PHBs). Just look at his site. Little that is newsworthy and practically nothing of interest to a technical audience. Most of it is about how cool he is or what cool people he hangs with. The man lives to name drop. He has zero insight into anything beyond how to make clueless execs beg to hire/meet with him.

Microsophist said...

"I think it would be very useful to explore the issue of splitting the company into 3-5 smaller and more competitive companies."

I agree. MSFT has been carrying around the monopoly crutch for so long, and it's gotten too big to move. Splitting the company up is the only way to return it to its former success.

I would never come back to work for MSFT, but I would for a MSFT spinoff.

Anonymous said...

Mini, if you're going to block the "manager X is the devil" posts, you should also block the "manager X is the messiah" posts as well. They're just as biased, and in my view they are even more annoying.

On the other hand: Assume for the moment that the problems start with the leadership. (Pretty safe assumption.) How can you talk about the problems without saying what leadership is doing wrong? Specifically, if Ballmer is really the problem, how can your posters say things that are meaningful about the problem without making posts that are critical of Ballmer? And how can you talk about replacing him with someone else without some talk about whether that someone else is qualified to run the whole show?

Yes, there's a difference between legitimate criticism of a manager's performance, and a personal attack. But that line is greyer than we would like sometimes. And there's a difference also between saying that a manager has performed well, and the kind of blatant hero-worship we've seen posted here a few times. Again, though, it can get grey rather than black and white.

So your filtering job is, unfortunately, likely to become a pain...

MSS

Anonymous said...

What could the annonymous source of Scoble's omnipotent knowledge possibly be?

"Someone with access to blogspot's webserver access logs" is about the only thing I can come up with. It's the only way you could actually know. So, now Robert is down in The Valley, he's talking to the guys at Google. Or he's claiming to.

In fact, he could be claiming that A) Google have someone employed, full time, to pour over the Minimsft blog's access logs, working out the IP addresses of everyone who has ever hit "send", on here, and extrapolate backwards, from that, to how many of those IP addresses lie within easy commuting distance of Redmond, or any of MSFT's sub-offices B) that Scoble now knows this guy.

Face it, that's about the only way he could actually know what he's claiming to know (from someone that he's apparently got to know since leaving MSFT for The Valley).

Charles said...

The culture in Redmond is designed so you focus on 'managing your own career' vs 'do what's right for the company'. This causes an inherent conflict, as the system is designed such that people are inclined to compete against one another vs. focus on teaming and making waves threatens your career.

Yes.

Microsoft's management org, while comprised of reasonably intelligent people, they're also reasonably inexperienced at actually managing (and avoiding or fixing) problems. The higher up the org chart (and I gather it's a rather steep slope) the more severe that lack of experience. Experience is not the same as having the title nor showing up for work.

Consider the diversity in resumes. Some people actually have, say, 20 years experience succeeding in progressively different and difficult jobs, while others repeat the same job several times - more like 2 years of experience 10 times.

Consider also the problem of nepotism wherein the wealthy patriarch of the family business installs his children in key positions and gives them an unending revenue stream for their respective divisions. They're never under the cost of failure; they don't learn from their mistakes because the unending cashflows from the parent company covers up their mistakes. They can be "vice president" for decades and never learn a thing about executive oversight of real business operations.

You have elements of both at Microsoft. Executives and managers who have little real-world operational experience obscured for years by the cashflow from the windows product line. Internally they compare their performances amongst themselves and congratulate each other on how "bright" they all are. Externally, their performances are compared against real-world standards and found seriously lacking but that message never penetrates the walls of the Redmond echo chamber.

There are similar problems in the technical ranks. "Vista" is not the first operating system ever written nor SQL Server the first RDBMS. Other engineering orgs have forgotten more about software development than Microsoft has apparantly learned. There are smart ways, and dumb ways, to architect complex software and infrastructure.

Microsoft is not breaking new ground on any of these fronts. It's just falling through thin ice having ignored the signs left by those who have been down these roads many times before.

Anonymous said...

"The solutions I see here are brimming with negativity."

Then lead by example and start adding some positive ones.

Anonymous said...

"If MSFT is broken down into smaller companies, who will buy shares of a company which is bleeding money in R&D without seeing any real returns. This is why the street was strongly opposed to the build out of Moogle since they didn’t believe MSFT would see any substantial returns after investing $2 billion. In return, MSFT was able to ignore the street since they had billions to dollars coming in from other business units."

You raise a number of valid concerns. However, I think the street freaked about Moogle specifically because MSFT's past track record of "big bet" investments is so poor. Had the latter been stellar, the street would still have been concerned, but less so. There is something to be said for not being a slave to Wall Streets' often very short-sighted focus, but MSFT has gone to the other end of the spectrum, spending $B's (over in some cases decades) for (as yet) no return. One thing seperate listings would do, is enforce discipline and force these entities to execute and make their case to investors or receive no funding. Instead, most have screwed up repeatedly, costing more and further pushing out the ETA for a possible future return. Today, a strong case can be made that at the recent stock price, ALL of MSFT's multi-year, multi-$B big bets are currently valued at ZERO by the market. That's an untenable situation when you're detracting substantially from current earnings (and therefore stock price) to build businesses which the street perceives as having no value. At the least, Ballmer et al need to do a much better job articulating exactly how, when and to what magnitude, those businesses are going to pay off. But so far, the party line is just trust us/have patience. That's getting really old.

Anonymous said...

Re Scoble's anon complaints: If one does a search of a blog name, one can usually find all the blogs still on the net by that person. Very revealing. No thanks. I've gotten to the point of anon or nothing.

Second item;
"?. What trade secrets in particular are you thinking about?".

Mini, re-read the last ten posts or so . In there you will find someones intuitive remarks about what Balmer is doing with Microsoft. Subtle, but if correct, such information has strategic value. This blog is chock full of that kind of info that your competition may not have thought of, thus the justification for my comments. Personally, I think it can only do good to mislead the competition on purpose, and therefore give another reason for shutting down the blog.

Anonymous said...

FYI. Just read Google Release that the Director of Sales of our public sector Defense business in Microsoft's Washington DC office is jumping ship to head Google's Federal Office.

Anonymous said...

If MSFT is broken down into smaller companies, who will buy shares of a company which is bleeding money in R&D without seeing any real returns

Well, are you implying that it isn't possible to create highly competitive products without spending billions on R&D? Startups do it all the time. One might argue they do it faster and better.

In addition, the Office and Windows compaanies would still be generating tons of cash, just without the massive overhead and burden, leaving them, perhaps, free to inovate.

The Server company would also be profitable, although this would require they be smarter about who they keep and who goes. Controlling costs and remaining profitable is a healthy thing.

The Gaming company might struggle, but perhaps gets a war chest of money in the split to sustain life and force them into a more reasonable model.

The Research company licenses technology and becomes a think tank.

The Floor Sweepings company gets everything else, maybe including the Microsoft Inbreds, and can quietly dissolve in a wave of highly ineffective brownian-motion activity followed by a plethora of arm-waving and spec writing activities, hand wringing and management reorgs. Hell, if you can get it all into one company, you might be able to sell tickets to the show...

Anonymous said...

BusinessWeek did a total deconstruction of Google and their basket of products. Read, learn and comment:


Yeah... Reading that article, Google sounds like the beginning of the "big bubble" that bursted in the late 90 early 2000.

Seems they wan't to be all over the place, spending like crazy, but without the like of MSFT:s cash cows to back it up.

Let's see how long that lasts...

Anonymous said...

"I am become Death, the destroyer of Worlds!" is Oppenheimer's quote when the first a-bomb test exploded in New Mexico in 1945. This should be Mini's also.

Like Oppenheimer, self reflected guilt leaves a taste of self indulgent wallowing.

My guides to Mini are:
(1) we shouldnt be worrying about anonymous posts. Private balloting has been at the core of true and useful discourses for centuries.
(2) how can Mini advocate a "leaner and meaner MSFT" without somebody creating a list of those who stay and those who go. LisaB certainly isnt going to do that alone; esp when exec management is involved.
(3) largely the readers and contributors of this blog are those who have strong opinions about MSFT and who have inside information. No teenager in Ohio is thinking "Geez, do I play around with MySpace, or do I rant on Mini's blog." A company that is 30 years old with over 50,000 current employees has a history and a current wake that is pretty damn big. Only those who care read and comment. I am OK with Mini editing out the obvious spam of pyramid schemes from alleged 3rd world nations, but to actively edit and delete comments is censorship that undermines the intrinsic core value of the blog. The value of this blog is that it highlights the true issues and emotions around the topic of MSFT. Mini can editorialize in his blog, but editing comments is crossing the line. (4) On a purely tactical level, Mini can more actively manage the conversation by posting "early and often". It is only when a post languishes that potential off-topic comments creep in. Editing is not the way to direct the conversation. That is regarded by all as heavy handed, clumsy, and ineffective. In all reality, when sharks are stirred up and swarming, you either provide chum or they will hit the first target. And finally (5), "If you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" or "Be careful what you ask for, you may receive it."

In closing I encourage Mini to buck-up with a strong spine and dont wallow in self induced anixiety, but rather bask in the glory of achieving a real force of change that was the real Mission.

If you buckle now, you'll be showing that you dont have the chops to really handle this task (all the stuff that MSFT HR/OD types teach at those offsites in North Bend) and ceding the discussion and outcome to the regeime that is daily reading the blog, maybe with WagEd adding a comment here and there to undermine the blog's impact. No! Steel to the task. Turn the ship into the wind, don't run from it!

Returning to JRobert Oppenheimer for one last lesson, his mistake was that he wasn't able to shape the nature of national discussion very effectively by leading and moderating relevant to the times. He became viewed as weak, whiny, ineffective, and eventually untrustworthy.

You have Thor's tool,dont blow it.

So be proud of "become Death, the destoyer of worlds". It is from this that new worlds are built.

Respectfully, Anonymous

Anonymous said...

""""BusinessWeek did a total deconstruction of Google and their basket of products. Read, learn and comment:

Yeah... Reading that article, Google sounds like the beginning of the "big bubble" that bursted in the late 90 early 2000.

Seems they wan't to be all over the place, spending like crazy, but without the like of MSFT:s cash cows to back it up.

Let's see how long that lasts...""""

Except that the current market is very different. Very diverse. And pretty stable. Tech is not new. Neither is our reaction to it.

Anonymous said...

"Someone with access to blogspot's webserver access logs" is about the only thing I can come up with. It's the only way you could actually know. So, now Robert is down in The Valley, he's talking to the guys at Google. Or he's claiming to.

Or he could just know people who post here who don't work for Microsoft. He's not the only person I've heard say that Ex-Microsoft employees who work at a certain competitor that "does no evil" often post here. My source is also anonymous but I have no reason to doubt her word.

-- Dare

keeperplanet said...

"Well, are you implying that it isn't possible to create highly competitive products without spending billions on R&D? Startups do it all the time. One might argue they do it faster and better."

Yup. Disruptive technology. It's a way of life for the new Century. Something I know a lot about. Here is my self serving link re disruptive technology.
http://headstuf.com/headstuf/process2.htm

The problem with disruptive tech embracers is they are usually without adequate capital to accomplish their leveling ideas and no one trusts them because they are so devoid of success. I would know, being in that mode for the last six years or so (from my 30 year old trailer, next to the barn here, I can see the cows in the field and my dogs play in the nearby pond) Google somehow has found the money but is inept to implement it for anything but search. Lots of useless ideas (widgits anyone--I call em whizzies, had em on my site since java was invented. no umpff. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

In fact, he could be claiming that A) Google have someone employed, full time, to pour over the Minimsft blog's access logs, working out the IP addresses of everyone who has ever hit "send", on here, and extrapolate backwards, from that, to how many of those IP addresses lie within easy commuting distance of Redmond, or any of MSFT's sub-offices B) that Scoble now knows this guy.

I agree this is the most likely scenario. It also makes Google look creepy as hell if they actually have a guy spying on someone's weblog traffic.

Hey, Mini, maybe Google's Blogspot isn't neutral territory.

Of course, until Scoble clarifies who his brave, anonymous source is, we can only speculate, but perhaps that was an objective too.

Anonymous said...

Scoble leaves for good from Microsoft and mini.... Mini bowing out for a while for personal reasons... Name calling... Slips of the 'Accept' comment button... The comments self imploding from the original premise of a smaller Microsoft to attacks and hatred... Where is all this going? Its only a matter of time before the original goodness of this blog moves to hatred and obscurity. Its all an excuse to allow Mini who I believe is Scoble to stop this blog as the insider info will be gone.

Anonymous said...

"Its all an excuse to allow Mini who I believe is Scoble to stop this blog as the insider info will be gone."

I had the same thought, for different reasons (some interesting but innacurate jabs into my identity that could only come from a multiposter who has access to the google/poster stats) but Scoble likes what he sees in the mirror so I am sure he will figure out a way to keep it going. Nothing negative intended. Yer a great guy RS.

Anonymous said...

I agree this is the most likely scenario.

Well, as the poster, who raised this speculation, I must say that I find it somewhat unlikely.

It is very unlikely that many blogger blogs have their server activity-logging turned on, at all.

Certainly, the ability to turn it on, and the ability to drill down into the data, therein, and extrapolate the type of information, I outlined, from it, is exactly the kind of thing that I (if I was running blogger - which I'm not ;)), would specify as a prerequisite, before I even tried to offer the service. You'd have to have that kind of ability. It doesn't make Google look creepy - it's just sensible business, given the amount of traffic going through Blogspot's blogs, and the likelihood that "Joe Random Blogger" might suddenly start using his or her blog to post the instructions for making a bomb... or the specs for the PS3... or the future plans of Airbus's Asian Business Strategy, for instance... or whatever... You'd need to be able to switch on the logging on a blog at a moment's notice, for any one of those or similar reasons.

However, as we all know, until you turn on server logging, there's no data to mine. Minimsft is about as vanilla a version of Blogger, as you could come across: it probably sits on some Debian box, somewhere, rubbing shoulders with a thousand other blogs, just like it.

So has it's had it's logging turned on? Perhaps/probably. How long ago was it turned on? Who knows? Does anyone actively monitor it? Who knows - but if Scoble's right, why would they ;)?

If Scoble's right, then someone has already done all this, and has used the kind of detailed (I mean really detailed: we're not talking "Webtrends", here ;)) analysis of IPs in the logs, against geographical data, and user activity, to work out who is actually commenting on here.

They've all done that, and come to the conclusion that it's actually true, and the only people posting on here are 30 disgruntled idiots from Live, a low-level guy from the Xbox team, someone in marketing at Reading, UK, and the output from tail -f /dev/slashdot.... At which point, they promptly turned logging back off again and went back to monitoring their adsense traffic, instead :).

We thought we were making a difference, but all we were doing was putting bytes onto a server, somewhere. To coin a phrase: "So long, and thanks for all the angst" or (for all tyhe slashdotters, reading these words), "I sent all my comments to the null device, and al I got was this lousy T-Shirt/towel!"

Personally, I think Scoble is busily trying to maintain his relevance, since relevance is his main asset. He doesn't want to turn up at Podtech and get given a cubicle and a copy of Visual Studio, after all!

Anonymous said...

"Hey, Mini, maybe Google's Blogspot isn't neutral territory."

Well, even in case Google does scan the logs, and use the information, one could still post and comment anonymously. Simply use TOR (tor.eff.org). Even if Mini was to use a blogging client (I hope he doesn't, as this could be discovered) he could pretty much hide.

Mini, keep up blogging. I am not with MS, and never have been (yet), but it is not totally impossible that your and my companies merge (that is, we are bought by MS). Therefore I am very much interested in the internal workings in Redmond.

And screw Scoble. I took him off my RSS reader after the inconsistent and annoying comments here.

KevinB said...

First, I'm not a M-softie, I'm a user. My desire isn't to destroy MS; it's to get it to change to a company that releases more secure, more usable products and that competes on the value it provides, as opposed to using its market power to shut out other companies.

I'm one of the few people who worked with a Xerox Star system in the early 80's, so please understand how frustrated I was with MS sales people who literally sneered at GUI's as 'toys'. They really believed they had achieved their success due to the greatness of their products, and not due to IBM's huge leverage. That was followed by all the anti-competitive activity of the 90's, (for which you have been duly spanked). MS had to be taken down a peg or two before it could re-think itself.

I think the value of Mini's work is to rid MS of that over-arching arrogance, instill a little humility, and then maybe you'll become a customer-centric organization.

To that end, I don't think SteveB's forming 3 business units is the right strategy. I've worked for a quasi-monopoly (cellular) for an owner who did the same thing. His theory was by establishing 'barons' internally, they would act as checks and balances on each other that the absence of a true competitive market provided. That ended up creating fiefdoms, enormous time wasted in political activity ('hmm, if you help John, that'll piss off Ed, and we may need his help to launch bla-bla-bla'), and ultimately, severe underperformance compared to our only other competitor. I hated working there, and I suspect many of you won't like that model either.

At any rate, reading this blog is an education in business management over and above MS's particular problems. For that alone, I offer up my congratulations to Mini, and wish him continued good health.

Anonymous said...

Whether you liked him or not, Robert Scoble did manage to help push Channel 9 out there and did alot of good PR work for Microsoft. Personally, I thought he was a bit too preachy, and was buying into his own hype towards the end.

I think it will be interesting to map Scobles career over the next 12 - 24 months.

Realistically, today we're just starting to scratch the surface on blogging/podcasting/vlogging.

When this RSS revolution hits the masses with Outlook 12 and other new applications, he'll be living only in the archives on the Channel 9 servers.

Sure, he may be doing a fair bit over at PodTech by then, but so what? There's no brand there. At all.

When this starts hitting mainstream, all the traditional media outlets and production companies are going to hit it full-force.

While he may be getting options at this startup, if he truly thought long term, he would have gone to one of the major networks or studios.

If he'd done that, he'd have been able to make some serious bank and be in California (which was key for personal reasons).

On the course he's going, I think he's relegated himself to a footnote in internet history.