Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Niall Sez Microsoft is Too Big and Paralyzed

Well, allow me to be the last blog to shout into the echo chamber about Niall Kennedy... doing what? Oh yeah: Leaving Microsoft. Lots of high profile folks have been leaving Microsoft lately and I haven't been making a big show out of many of them, but for some reason, Niall's short-time at Microsoft got my attention.

Two interesting snippets, one from Niall's entry and one from the luscious Valleywag (I so wish we had a Seattle version of Valleywag):

(1) Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well.

(2) Wag: Microsoft seems friendly toward people returning after leaving for their own startups. I've seen a few people leave for other companies and return with no problem. Do you see yourself ever doing that?

Niall: Not really, but perhaps if the company was split up first and there was some new project I was excited about that could only be done at a company such as Microsoft.

Wag: Split up?

Niall: Splitting the company into desktop, server, online, and possibly gaming divisions. It's just too big.

(from: Exclusive: Niall Kennedy's Microsoft exit interview: He'd only rejoin if Microsoft split up )

Lots of echoes in the chamber rolled up at TechMeme. Rumblings of cut-backs and paralysis and Microsoft being the new IBM. I certainly agree with the desire for Microsoft to be a way smaller company (though I think every time I say that, or ring a bell, 100 more people get hired). I'm not bought into the split-up, except for the sobering benefit of cutting off the cash-cow money flow that allows an abundance of waste and bad decisions elsewhere in the company.

What does it mean to try to hire a superstar today or to grow into a superstar? Can superstars actually get things done at Microsoft? And does this show a revealing shift that all that Live stuff we yanked out of the plucky start.com as a grand, confusing rebranding effort is taking a moment to pause and figure life out? Did we wake up from the Live-demo-bender, rub our face and shake our head, and ask, "What the hell was I thinking?"

A compelling vision would be great right about now. And not a dorky wired-up clipboard that has seemed to have dematerialized. A vision around making money and doing things that, if I told people sucking on a Frappuccino about, they'd say, "Oooh, that's cool. When can I do that?" And if someone is talented and motivated to get things done, how do you unblock them to make it so?

Update: the initial bunch of comments don't weep for Niall and are pretty much summarized as "good riddance and Live is doing super-fine." Maybe more progress will be more exit-door seekers. One can hope.

Other notes:


149 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please tell Field Agent that the Microsoft in the Field blog should allow anonymous comments. There are tons of folks in the field talking about minimsft and wishing there was a forum more geared towards the field. I know (and agree) anonymous comments, blah, blah, blah. However, folks in the field want to talk but they are a little fickle. At least let it get a little momentum.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what your take on Niall leaving was going to be. Your response is surprising but then again it seems you are reading it with your own blinders on.

I don't see anywhere that Niall says he left because the company is 'too big' if anything he seems to be saying the opposite [at least about the problem space he was working on].

-- Dare

Who da'Punk said...

It's not so much blinders, Dare, as it is pink-slip colored glasses.

Y e a h.

True, Niall didn't say he left because Microsoft was too big. But he did say Microsoft is too big to consider returning.

So how that fits into the mix of things... well, I guess it's listed in the big negative column for Niall + Microsoft.

I'm sure there are many more sides to this. Niall's side, however, is the one with the spotlight. It sure would be great to have ongoing Live accomplishments snag that spotlight away.

Anonymous said...

"Pink slipped colored glasses"?

WTF does that mean? Did you get discovered/axed, just plain axed, leave on your own? Or am I missing some blogsphere nuance that only a Scoble-ite would get?

Anonymous said...

Who da F**K is Niall and why should I care that he is leaving MS after a few months? Why is this a high profile hire?

Nothing against the dude but Mini if you don't have any material to write, just chill. Stop promoting these near nobodies into somebodies please.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at how much hub-bub there is over this fellow Niall. In his career he has done what that is of note? Nothing? And, oh, if you look at Niall's resume you will see that he leaves most companies after about a year of employment so I dont consider this four months and then leave thing to be all that surprising. Statistically speaking he was only going to last another 8 months.

- MS Employee (agrees we should be leaner and is glad that Niall is doing his share to help :))

Anonymous said...

isn't it a bit early to be jumping ship after less than 3 months on the job? to my (admittedly uninformed) eye this looks awfully like running away from a big challenge...

Anonymous said...

Mini-Microsoft India

Mini: I hope you have the name trade marked. Pretty soon we will see Mini coming out with his own clothing line.

The folks in Redmond should have a Mini appreciation day where the fans can wear a t-shirt with the caption "I am Mini"

Anonymous said...

One of the things that amazes me about this whole thing is that Niall is not exactly a "superstar." I mean... we're not talking a Don Box, or a Jim Gray, or heck, even a Robert Scoble. We're talking about a semi-known blogger with a spotted history at a few random startups.

To put it bluntly: who cares?

The rest of this may turn a little bit into a bash on Niall, but since everyone is treating his departure like the Second Leaving of Scoble, it might be warranted.

I'll start off by saying that I like the guy as a person. I've met him a few times and I read his blog. He's certainly not stupid. In fact, he's a smart, well-intentioned guy with some great experience in the RSS space.

But, let's get something clear, the guy isn't neither a visionary nor a leader (and, since those two things are one of my defintions of a PM -- he wasn't that either). The few times I met him I left unimpressed. I've never learned anything from him, nor felt like he had some unique insight or some unique value. I always felt that his strengths where in being broad, but there wasn't much thought beneath the surface. Not sure who interviewed him, but really, he should have been put in some other role -- Tech Evangelist, Product Planner maybe, but not PM.

His vision for the WL Feed Platform is fine, but is both painfully obvious and derivative of our favourite competitor, but his ideas on how to execute on that vision are (were) sorely lacking.

Yes, Windows Live is undergoing a refocus'ing (somehow that's bad??). Lots of random crap that got started in the early "let's work on my GM/PUM/VPs pet project to grow his fiefdom" days will get thrown out (I hope). Do I want the WL Feed Platform to get thrown out? Not at all. In fact, I hope it still gets built.

But I gotta tell you, life for Windows Live'rs is going to get much more rigorous. Chris Jones (new VP of PM over in WL) is not the kind of person to focus on building science projects and pet projects. He did a great job of cutting stuff out of the Shell team when he joined (including some of my favorite features, I might add) to get them to focus on the core scenarios.

I expect that whatever Windows Live does better have a great vision and a great plan for execution. I have no doubt that Niall would have been completely unable to deliver on either a coherent vision or execution plan.

In my more cynical moods, I read his post as "they didn't simply give me whatever I wanted, so I quit."

Well, life's hard. VCs don't just give you money because you're good looking either (well, maybe they do, but VCs are into risk taking). Similarly, MS shouldn't get into the habit of funding people's pet projects that show little-to-no chance of ever shipping (and, for what it's worth, this isn't academic, I've read the WLFeed team's specs and planning docs).

In short, this is no great loss to Microsoft, except in PR terms.

Am I bitching? Yes. But only because I hate this spotlight that is being put on what is clearly a so-so PM with a popular blog that was unable (or perhaps simply unwilling) sell his vision.

Scoble was a bad loss. Gundotra was a bad loss. Heck, Dare (when he goes) will be a bad loss. Niall Kennedy? Not in the slightest.

At the end of the day, I wish him all the luck in the world. Maybe, as one commentator noted, the startup life is more suited for him (noting from his resume that his longest stint at any one company is about 14 months, I don't doubt that). I'm sure this whole "superstar" crap will draw VCs like bees to honey (I had another simile in mind, but that will do), so I'm sure he'll be rich and happy in short order (unlike most of us :).

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a wanker post and a wanker Niall was a bad, self serving hire by a junior MS loop. Goodbye schema boy, a self serving community of RSS will welcome you, but it 6 months you will be splitting hairs with the rest of them. Shareholders rejoice, this was a cheap out for a pseudo leader.

ventureless said...

I'm surprised someone with Niall's rapport/experience would have jumped in to joining Microsoft without vetting out what it means to take the "red pill". April wasn't that too long ago. *Nothing* gets done in 4 months, persistence can be a great attribute here.

2 cents: If you want to be happy, don't show up at Microsoft to build "cool" Web 2.0 apps (ie. giant RSS serving platform), it's a noble thing to do and there are great places to do it, but that just isn't what MS does (well) as much as half the company likes to think. Plus it's not what's gonna take us to the bank. IMHO there are reasons to be at MS; think deeply about them before you jump in.

Thanks for the pointer to the field blog, look forward to reading that.

Anonymous said...

Although VRML in Ajax does look tempting

Excuse me but... ha! haha! hahaha! If even top product managers TOO GOOD EVEN for MSN are making the rookie mistake of starting from technology and not from the user experience then god help us.

I left MSN after 3 months because it was such a joke, and that was years ago. I refered to it then as the lymph node system of MS, draining the diseased from other divisions. In this light the seperate campus actually makes some sense. You wouldn't want your leper colony in the midst of the relatively healthy.

Anonymous said...

quitter.

yeah "MSFT suxs, stock is low, my vp doesn't love me, my project is underfunded..."

good riddance. if you can't fix it, quit. i hope all the people who respond in the comments defending this guy also quit. you want a slim msft? push out the cruft, push out the coasters and let the weak of heart quit on their own.

buh bye.

historian said...

Mini, I think that you're ahead of your time. I think that you're right from everything I can see. Microsoft has done so much in its time, and has the potential to do so much more, too. In the end, though, Microsoft should look now at splitting off several divisions in order to maintain the proper balance between being bloated and nimble.

I recently took a lot more of an interest in Microsoft because I work for a software company, and they will soon be invading our territory. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyId=18&articleId=112574

I see our company as a prime target for acquisition, but right now, I view us as the cowering bunny and Microsoft as the hungry lion. I would support their idea to expand into software for car the automotive industry, but I wonder about Microsoft's ability to deliver, and whether the company is just putting off the inevitable and therefore simply making the coming shakeup worse.

That uncertainty combined with the uncertainty of the future of my small company does not put my mind at ease. I know that this part of Microsoft's business is not your particular area of interest, but where is Microsoft in general headed, and what do you think their strategy will be in this market?

Ray Myers said...

This all tells me Ray's a little too country and not enough rock & roll.

IMO, when anyone big associated with the word "Live" in their title, pulls up stakes, it's time to listen to the feedback.

This part of the company has to move like a basketball team, not a "three yards and a cloud of dust" football team. Quick adjustments, change of defense, full court press, fast breaks, give it to the hot shooter, etc.

The "Feature Teams" you alluded to in your previous post, sounds like a good start. C'mon, Ray, get 'er done!

Anonymous said...

Two things don't feel right about this.

1. Bigger Microsoft
This guy complains Microsoft is too big, yet believes that his pet project needed more people working on it. If we had the resources I truly believe we could have tackled the number of users Hotmail, Messenger, Spaces, or even Internet Explorer might supply, and then ask for more by opening up the platform to the world.

2. Stock Price
The other humorous part is that he complains about the stock price, yet, when Microsoft re-organizes to put more resources behind Vista, Office, and Exchange, he complains. If you want the stock to go up, would you put resources towards adding RSS feed technology to a Web site with no clear monetization, or would you make sure that your operating system, productivity suite and mail server have the fit and finish you need.

Assuming what he says is true, I'm happy we chose to put resources behind Vista and Office and if this guy is sad his feature didn't have a full team working on it, then we're probably better off without him

Anonymous said...

"I'm not bought into the split-up, except for the sobering benefit of cutting off the cash-cow money flow that allows an abundance of waste and bad decisions elsewhere in the company."

Me neither, although the reason cited above might be the best justification possible.

Anonymous said...

"Who da F**K is Niall and why should I care that he is leaving MS after a few months? Why is this a high profile hire?"

Because he's extremely well known externally and having a high-profile guy leave MSFT after just 4 mths - and take a shot at the Live strategy on the way out - isn't exactly a stellar PR development for MSFT. But as Mini says, there have been a number of other visible departures lately as well. For example, the senior Office guy who went to Foldera.

Keeperplanet said...

One poster said, "This part of the company has to move like a basketball team. . ." (To this poster, I ask, are you sure you are playing basketball?)

and a different poster said "I refered to it then as the lymph node system of MS, draining the diseased from other divisions." (to this poster I say, at least get Firefox with its built in spell checker to spare us having to read DEV English syntax)

Which is it? My experience is it is MSN lymph node drainage, but that was 8 years ago. What is the makeup now? Any more competent? I hope Microsoft has figured out that it is in the business of selling framework software components/systems by the bazillion and not subscription services for Internet access "live" places where no one will go. Its not in your DNA to do that. Never has been. Changing the name does not fix the error in the original vision. Maybe you can make it work, maybe not--I hope you do if not for the diversity on the net. I like MSNBC.com; that works, but I get an uneasy feeling about Live, and well, MSN, I stay as far as possible from that.

solomonrex said...

The arrogance is absolutely astounding. An employee volutarily left, wasn't fired, and gave substantive reasons why.

That's not a positive development for any company. Claiming that he's whining without refuting his other claims is just stupid. That won't convince shareholders and stakeholders, let alone interviewees. There's a reason this is news, it fits a pattern.

Has Live had any real success on any metric? No, so I don't think you can dismiss anyone's criticism so easily. Especially this week, after the very public failure of Spaces and the very public marriage of Google and MySpace.

Anonymous said...

"I expect that whatever Windows Live does better have a great vision and a great plan for execution."

What a concept! Glad to see that maybe some business acumen will be applied to the Live efforts, though it makes me wonder how come that wasn't the case previously.

"Heck, Dare (when he goes) will be a bad loss"

LOL. I expected him to leave 6-12 mths ago.

Anonymous said...

Better believe it - Microsoft is doing pretty well. If you expect it to have growth spurts like Apple and Google do, you better leave the company and join one of them. Niall Kennedy was definitely no superstar. What would be devastating to the company is if Ray Ozzie decided to leave. Now that would be a horror.

Anonymous said...

I have two questions:

- Who is Niall Kennedy? I mean, WHO is this guy? Never heard of him before. What has he done to be such a great loss to the company?

- Was he working on something that will increase our profits?

In any case, I´m happy that we are prioritising shipping Vista, Office and Exchange over some RSS-sync toy.

Anonymous said...

>> if Ray Ozzie decided to leave. Now that would be a horror.

And Ray's positive contribution to Microsoft is....?

Anonymous said...

I hope Microsoft has figured out that it is in the business of selling framework software components/systems by the bazillion and not subscription services for Internet access "live" places where no one will go. Its not in your DNA to do that.

Its not in GE's DNA to sell financial services, build jet engines and create tv shows - yet they manage. Since integrated innovation didn't work, we'll do this instead.

Anonymous said...

Niall said in his outbound gripe that he didn't want to wait for Vista, Office and Exchange to ship before he could engage in a meaningful way on Live. What would the wait have cost him? Another few months? I think he got cold feet for some reason and did some scape-goating on his way out the door. I notice some people get really talkative on their way out :)

Anonymous said...

i was struck by the niall 'can't hire' lament and two posts previous 10,000 staff added. how is it that a company can lurch from excessive hires to freezes?

Anonymous said...

Mini has opened a new world to me, but I'm not always sure it's for the better - not because of what Mini says, but what the new world is.

Maybe I'm a troglodyte. Before I read Mini I'd never even heard of scoble and his what-was-it channel 9? We pay people to do that kind of stuff?

I've never heard of this Nial guy, either. I have no idea what either of them did for the company; and I don't understand the fuss about them leaving.

I don't see how either of these guys had any positive impact on the company; I will give them credit for self marketing though.

Brianv leaving (I sure hope he sticks around, but wouldn't be surprised if he didn't) - that is a big deal. That is a big loss. Nial? Scoble? These guys are the Milli Vanilli of 2006.

Keeperplanet said...

"What would be devastating to the company is if Ray Ozzie decided to leave."

I do not think Ray will leave your company. He strikes me as a someone up to the challenge of trying to solve this huge puzzle/problem called Microsoft. A real leader looks at all problems as opportunities and sticks to his guns till results flow out. That's Ozzie.

The segue from Mini's dev/pm blowout thread hangs heavy over this public departure of Niall. While I do not blame a person for their natural tendencies (Niall seems to be a natural at a) consolidating buzz and b) following his own dreams) but right now Microsoft needs all of you, PMs, Devs, and others to be leaders, if only in your own immediate war zone. Microsoft did take a huge 59 billion dollar drop in market cap between the time Niall started and left Microsoft. That is pretty sobering. It is probably caused more by lack of clarity of vision to the investor world more than anything. And yes I am well aware of the problem at hand, i.e., how to transition and build market value in a world that seems to able to port Microsoftesque apps to the net like butter on toast, leaving Microsoft to try to figure out how to respond. Remember, after Microsoft took the world of the PC era by storm from IBM, IBM is still around and making a ton of money. They know who they are. No problem with Vision. An Intel is busy focusing on its core business and selling off all the unrelated distractions.

Just as a drop off to suggest you all begin to look at things as a leader would, i.e., solutions based innovative and productive discussion with personal attacks reserved to the one on one face to face.

And just so you don't think I'm some in house 'toady monopolist' (thats a joke Mini) signature attached.

Anonymous said...

i was struck by the niall 'can't hire' lament and two posts previous 10,000 staff added. how is it that a company can lurch from excessive hires to freezes?

-----------
you do realize saying we have 10k open positions is a posturing ploy to give "wall stree" and the "board" a sense of "there is no ice berg laiden ahead .. trust us"

Anonymous said...

And Ray's positive contribution to Microsoft is....?

Groove -- which is part of Office 2007 somewhere.

Anonymous said...

The Feature Crew Disaster - OUCH!

I just couldn't resist when I saw the praise of the feature crew model. I am going to guess you are part of Office management. Talk to devs (and test, PM) in the trenches in Office and they will tell you that Feature Crew stuff did not work and was a royal pain. I somehow survived despite that.

To make matters worse now even DevDiv engineering excellence has jumped on this ill-conceived bandwagon without thinking and evaluating. If Orcas becomes a complete wreck or a Whidbey service-pack type of release, you can be sure that feature crews have played their part well. Of course, as Nero fiddled while Rome burned, the eng excellence folks are fiddling while devs (and test/PM) are screaming about the impending feature crew disaster. My heart goes out to my friends in DevDiv who are now being subjected to this cruel experiment. I am usually a libertarian but there ought to be a law against cruel and unusual punishment of feature crews - the crunch of final weeks is now there every month and the teams are burning out 14 months before the planned ship date.

Anonymous said...

"Its not in GE's DNA to sell financial services, build jet engines and create tv shows - yet they manage"

What IS in their DNA is to be #1 or #2 in any market they compete in, and if they aren't they'll sell the business or at worst just cut it.

Anonymous said...

Slim down MS Get rid of Engineering Excellence

Here is a way to slim down the beast without waiting for more Niall's to leave and make MS slimmer - just cut the EE departments run in various divisions. Most of them are out to invent new and additional processes and increase the bureaucracies. They are not building any products or supporting any customers and are generally not accountable to the rank and file that actually does the work.

Their numbers may not be large enough to achieve the target but their absence will be a massive productivity booster.

Anonymous said...

"Since integrated innovation didn't work, we'll do this instead."

Great. Whatever works well, like I said, I hope you can make it work.

I keep noting a lot of MS' 'better together' 'innovative integrated' products are in desperate need of individual attention to detail. Your company is so busy making it all work as one piece (something that the world admires I think), the finer details (that which is desperately needed by your customers) are quite rough around the edges. Thats why integrated innovation did not work. Detail.

For example, what happened to Frontpage? Is it still going to be a product or has it been abandoned in favor of something more confusing? Frontpage is a great product in need of very specific highly detailed attention to customer needs, graphic and creative capability, simplicity of java and whizzie functionality and use. I don't see it, which is why I will probably upgrade to Dreamweaver. I'm still using Frontpage 2000 because your innovative integration upgrades seemed to get lost in the ozone somewhere and the newer versions are just more of the same. No features worth buying, at least for me. Integrated yes. Innovative, no.

And Powerpoint. Can one do more creative individual work with the new version or is it just another fantastically innovative integration to lots of other products, providing the same old Powerpoint signature that has become the disdain of any creative resource?

I'm the customer, who each year looks at your offerings with a little more incredulity, hoping Microsoft will somehow figure out what I need, but never does.

Dave said...

hmm? split ups success stories?

* Palm - oh! that worked out for both sides, eh?

* AT&T (the 2nd split) ... hmm? Lucent is just doing great, and what is NCR up to?

Ok,here is an example ... Standard Oil ... every one of the split off companies are doing great! ... The exception that proves the rule.

MS's problem is not size, but rather management of size and scale. Their mission statement is the problem (the unsaid one) ... "do everything possible to get people to buy Windows. If it won't get people to buy windows why bother?" The only exception I can think of is XBox. I see no windows tie in there. Oh! and maybe UltraTV though that seems to be a bust.

Anonymous said...

You should not undervalue Niall's exit. MSN/Windows Live has serious management problems. Having worked in MSN and other divisions, I can tell you that the quality of MSN leadership, from GM's downward, is far below that of other divisions in the company. It is a real problem that has to do with how MSN evolved over the past 10 years. (Long story).

Most of the management in MSN have been entrenched in the same position for the past 5 to 7 years. They have not matured or evolved much during this time. Most were only hired as FTE after the PermaTemp fallout. With little or no profitability there has been little or no accountability for these folks so far. As a manager in MSN, my management skills training requirements were nearly zero, compared to the extensive training sponsored in other divisions.

It is a really sad scene for most of us in MSN who are managers. The good news is that MSN is on the verge of a virtual collapse right now that will have little impact on the company's bottom line. So the in-progress integration with Windows leadership should soon bring in some real pro's who can fix things and clean house rather quickly.

Fixing MSN/Windows Live is going to be far easier than some of our bigger challenges. It's just a people and skills thing in MSN's case. Niall just did not want to wait around for the obvious issues to finally get addressed and actioned.

Anonymous said...

Google is starting to go thru the same growing pains that MSFT went thru the last 5 years.

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6104139.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed

Anonymous said...

"I have no idea what either of them did for the company; and I don't understand the fuss about them leaving.

I don't see how either of these guys had any positive impact on the company"

I don't know what either of them did for the company but I don't see how either had a positive impact? Not knowing the former would seem to logically exclude you from passing judgement on the latter.

Anonymous said...

>>Its not in GE's DNA to sell financial services, build jet engines and create tv shows - yet they manage.

>What IS in their DNA is to be #1 or #2 in any market they compete in, and if they aren't they'll sell the business or at worst just cut it.


But that wasn't in GE's DNA until Jack Welch. GE was around for decades before that (not sure how many, but several). And they got into a bunch of businesses and were also-rans in a number of them, and that was fine with GE. Then Welch started running the show, and changed the company's perspective on such things.

So companies can change their culture or philosophy or DNA or whatever. But it takes leadership at the top.

MSS

Ray Myers said...

“I do not think Ray will leave your company. He strikes me as a someone up to the challenge of trying to solve this huge puzzle/problem called Microsoft...”

So says Keeperplanet above. (BTW, Keeperplanet...practice what you preach re: personal attacks) Anyway, I digress.

Once, long ago, I would encourage my students in the Dale Carnegie Course by saying, “A problem well defined is a problem half solved.” Herein may lie Ray’s problem at Microsoft: His innovation skills may be directed ONLY TOWARD PRODUCTS AND NOT PEOPLE...and therefore, his problem isn’t well defined.

I’ve heard it said by sages that “...we are always doing what we need to learn the most.” IMO, Mr. Ozzie doesn’t need to learn product innovation; he’s shown his abilities there, with Lotus Notes. Perhaps where Ray could be the most helpful is to turn his creative and innovative skills towards organizing and motivating people.

The tools are all around him: Other companies experiences and procedures; non-partisan passionate consultants, motivators and corporate constructionists; an open and abundant universe. Hey (another sage), “When the student is ready, the teacher(s) arrives.” Didn’t he/she also say “at any one time, we are either learning or teaching.”

This is an opportunity for an innovative leader to learn more so that he may teach the largest software company on earth...how to behave...and prosper! What on earth could possibly stop that glorious mission?

jamie said...

Hi Mini - this doesnt involve this post/thread - but it's a link /topic i wish youd cover on your blog (WGA)

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=224305

Anonymous said...

As one of the strong no hires on Niall Kennedy's still recent interview loop, I urge everyone to ignore anything he says. Whether MSN/Live is in trouble or not, Niall's opinion is not going to be an accurate indicator.

What we're talking about is an extremely immature, junior fellow who doesn't have a handle on the industry or his own career. He is neither a thought leader, nor an executor - simply a networker with a short attention span. It was guaranteed he would have flailed in MSFT. I'm surprised he lasted 4 months.

Anonymous said...

Just checking in to see if the topic is still "infighting" and sure enough...
Meanwhile we customers still go on using previously released software and testing beta products/services of some very good ideas.
Damn shame that "Live" doesn't actually mean what it says. It's only that if you use it exclusively. It doesn't make my "products" live.
Immensely frustrating to phrase this in a politcally correct term.
Bitchin shame would be more correct.
Missed opportunity for you...
Still trying comprehend the situation there. Are you afraid of actually releasing products/services that work together quickly/timely because of lack of future "innovation" ideas, or is the us vs them mentality totally invaded Microsoft so that you have lost sight of competitors and customers?
Suspect that there is a 50-50 chance that both are happening at the same time.

Customer

c said...

On the subject of "too big and bloated", has anyone else gotten emails about this "managed Exchange folders" bullshit? They're going to automatically delete our email unless we drop it into a special "keep for one year" folder - and if you want it longer that one yet, you have to put it in a "non-work related" folder or "critical business impact" folder.

This makes me so furious, I'm actually incandescent with rage. Email is our lifeblood. How the fuck does this help us compete? Precisely which customers are we delighting while we babysit our inboxes to prevent losing 6-month old email? And what the crap do you do when your product cycle spans more than three years? The new policy makes it impossible to legitimately retain work-related documents older than three years.

And if you go read up on the policy, it doesn't apply to just email. It's any document, stored anywhere! I hope you never need to take a look at a three year old spec, design document, or TDS, because that's going to be a violation of company policy. Hope the guys working on EU documentation compliance keep this in mind - hey, maybe that's the new plan for Operation Stonewall...

Anonymous said...

Re: Engineering Excellence

Anything that has to label itself "excellent" usually isn't. If it's really excellent, it's usually self-evident.

Marketing crap. Geesh.

Keeperplanet said...

One poster said: "So companies can change their culture or philosophy or DNA or whatever. But it takes leadership at the top."

Yes, thats the ticket. Great observation. Changing a corporate culture is a devious and difficult practice. But it is the solution as you said.

Ray Myers said: "(BTW, Keeperplanet...practice what you preach re: personal attacks)"

I'm working on it. Old blogger habits die hard even for hypocrites.

Ray Myers also said (of Ray Ozzie): "His innovation skills may be directed ONLY TOWARD PRODUCTS AND NOT PEOPLE...and therefore, his problem isn’t well defined."

Good catch Ray. I do believe Ozzie's title is CTO. And, from outside, it looks a little like evolving clarification in top MS leadership too. It is a very very large step from CTO to wearing Gates' shoes.

Anonymous said...

You can now track the defections in real time:

http://msripcord.blogspot.com/

When will you pull the ripcord?

Anonymous said...

Because he's extremely well known externally and having a high-profile guy leave MSFT after just 4 mths - and take a shot at the Live strategy on the way out - isn't exactly a stellar PR development for MSFT.

Niall who? I think leaving a company after four months says way more about the employee than about the company he worked for. And the guy was working on a near-pointless hobbyist project. He belongs in open source, if anywhere. Microsoft was obviously the wrong fit for his talents.

Paulsc said...

Mini has opened a new world to me, but I'm not always sure it's for the better - not because of what Mini says, but what the new world is.

Maybe I'm a troglodyte. Before I read Mini I'd never even heard of scoble and his what-was-it channel 9? We pay people to do that kind of stuff?

I've never heard of this Nial guy, either. I have no idea what either of them did for the company; and I don't understand the fuss about them leaving.

I don't see how either of these guys had any positive impact on the company; I will give them credit for self marketing though.

Brianv leaving (I sure hope he sticks around, but wouldn't be surprised if he didn't) - that is a big deal. That is a big loss. Nial? Scoble? These guys are the Milli Vanilli of 2006.


This should be the defining comment on this thread. Who the hell ever heard of this Niall guy? Not me, and I've been using Microsoft software since the first and last Worldwide Altair convention in 1976. And Scoble? Who cares? I wish the guy well, and I guess he did a good job, but he was just one guy.

People leave Microsoft every day and it is still going strong. For every Niall, there are thousands of young, smart kids waiting to take his place. Most of the interns I meet are way smarter than me and bursting with seemingly boundless energy.

Nobody is indispensible and everyone can be replaced, even Mini. That's the way of the world.

Anonymous said...

>You can now track the defections in real time

Wow, shocker - people actually leave a company thats about 60,000 in size and growing.

I wish the people leaving all the best. If you're staying behind, then dig in , bust ass and lets turn this thing around.

Anonymous said...

Paulsc, you can continue living in your illusion and be a complete denial of how bureaucratic and worse Microsoft becomes in recent years. Maybe you are still in your honeymoon with Microsoft? Or too naïve to see things through? Or you have a perfect Microsoft manager mindset and are on track to further collapse this monopolist?

Anonymous said...

"push out the cruft, push out the coasters and let the weak of heart quit on their own."

put this on a t-shirt; i'd wear it everyday...

Dennis Howlett said...

Innovation requires an independent free thinking mind. Niall's one of those people. Clearly it didn't fit to the MSFT culture. So maybe that says more about MSFT than Niall. History will be the judge.

Anonymous said...

Yo Mini;

I know you don't hear much from LCA, but here's your shout out.

So, the new review system is here and guess what? It's the same as the old system. I've been told that Brad Smith is imposing a curve on "meeting expectations" and "exceeding expectations". So, even though I exceeded my committments by a ton, I got the "well....I wanted to give you and exceeds, but...."

So there you go. All of Brummell's big production of "this ain't your granddaddy's review model!" was just a bunch of crap. As usual, it's just lip service from corporate intended to placate the restless masses. But I did get a nice expensive color flyer in my mailbox yesterday about the Safeway grocery delivery service to my office. Huzzah.

Thanks for nothing, Lisa!

Paulsc said...

Well, Mr. Anonymous, if that is your real name, let me tell you that building the Performance Control Panel in DUI is not exactly my idea of a wonderful honeymoon. I work at Microsoft because they presented an economic opportunity worthy of my time, and I will continue to work there so long as the job is interesting and my contributions are aptly rewarded.

I find Microsoft a fun and dynamic place to work and grow my skills and I'm not afraid of hard tasks during crunch time. The Windows Client Performance team kicks ass and I'm more than happy to be there. It's not perfect, but nothing in life is perfect.

And, I always have the guts to sign my actual name.

Does Microsoft have problems? Sure, it does. So does any large organization. Is there deadwood? You bet, and I occasionally have to deal with it by going around it, through it, or whatever it takes to get my job done.

As long as there are people with my mindset, Microsoft will never collapse. Naive? Hardly. My 50 years on the planet tell me that the naive one is you.

Ray Myers said...

Keeperplanet said: "It is a very very large step from CTO to wearing Gates' shoes."

I remember, as a kid, hating to wear bowling shoes worn by others. And so, your statement begs my analogy: "If I were Ray Ozzie, why would I want to wear Bill Gates' shoes?" Aren't they rather worn and scuffed from kicking others off his alley; an alley which has a groove worn into it making it more and more difficult to throw strikes? Besides, Bill's off in a new pair of Phil & Thropie 300's, those premium-geek-bowling-shoe-leather specials...that help him make the world a better place. We wish you well, Bill.

No, I would think Ray came on board for more than just to sail the ship straight for a few years (segue to the sailing analogy); or, to perhaps build a better keel so the Good Ship Microsoft can stay upright.

Seasoned captain that Ray is, he no longer wants to make a name; he wants to make a difference. He wants to be in the forefront of that group of men and women who take Microsoft from a bloated, top-heavy luxury liner to a sleek sailing vessel, all hands on deck.

If true, mein kapitan, then set sail now and begin your intrepid journey. We await your orders and shudder to think of the alternative to your captaincy – a 10 year mutiny-voyage-to-hell.

Doug Mahugh said...

I agree with the comment about Niall not thinking about what it means to come to work at Microsoft. I had my own business for 16 years, never more than 3 employees, so Microsoft's culture and the way things get done here is radically different from what I'm accustomed to. But I expected this, that's why I'm still here after 9 months. :-) There are many good reasons to work at Microsoft, but I don't think "feeling like you're in a nimble startup" is on the list. If that's what Niall expected in a company 60,000 strong, he was simply naive.

To the post about FrontPage: keep an open mind on that, I think you'll like what's going on there. I never cared for FrontPage in the past, even your beloved 2000 version, but now it has split into two more focused products: a version for customizing Sharepoint sites (Sharepoint Site Designer) and a version that's a solid HTML/CSS web-design tool (Expression Web Designer).

Anonymous said...

"Brianv leaving (I sure hope he sticks around, but wouldn't be surprised if he didn't) - that is a big deal. That is a big loss. Nial? Scoble? These guys are the Milli Vanilli of 2006."

This sort of arrogance is why our long term stock chart looks like hell. Brianv is half the problem at this company. That kind of cowboy machoism is exactly what makes our customers hate us. Customers don't want windows (do you hear me Brian?) They want solutions.

Scoble and Niall are losses to the company because they brought a new perspective to help us figure out this new world of technology. The days of Brianv are slowly coming to an end. Thank heavens.

Anonymous said...

>Slim down MS Get rid of Engineering Excellence

Meh. The various Engineering Excellence teams could be useful if they focus on enforcing basic software engineering discipline across the board instead of cooking up fancy schmancy experimental processes. Personally, I'd like to see mandatory unit testing, incorporation of testability features, integration of Dr. Watson or similar blackbox systems, and making the code analysis tools so brain-dead easy to use that even low level SDETs can use them.

There is just no bloody excuse for bugs anymore, not with the kind of resources we have at our disposal.

Anonymous said...

I find Microsoft a fun and dynamic place to work and grow my skills and I'm not afraid of hard tasks during crunch time.

Ditto here. 9 years and counting, this is the best environment for my soul. And as I told the recruiter pinging me for Google, I am addicted to Microsoft

Anonymous said...

To "c" regarding the new exchange B.S.

I seriously hope that is an optional program like the "managed workstation" initiative they have had for years where the entire computer is MSIT controlled and you're not even admin on your own box. (That is, of course, for self-hosting the scenario which our customers need to work well.)

If they roll out a general mandate like you describe on email there will be some serious internal revolts.

I still remember back when BrianV was harping on about keeping all sensitive mail deleted regularly (err.. "following the company email retention policy"), I ran into quite a few situations where there were people stupid enough to follow that to the letter and then get mails from them asking if I had a copy of some mail they had sent because their copy was deleted.

LCA may tell us otherwise, but I firmly believe the "policy" exists specifically as a defensive measure because of past court cases.

Adding to the confusion is a seemingly contradictory policy that you're NOT allowed to delete mail which you think might be required for discovery in any legal case.

In the meantime, gone is the benefit of being able to search your email archives for some useful tip you sent someone, or quickly scan for threads on some commitment you are writing about on your review.

I had been looking forward to their increasing the size of our mailboxes from 100mb to 500mb with the new version of Exchange, and now I am incredibly apprehensive.

-D

Anonymous said...

So, the new review system is here and guess what? It's the same as the old system. I've been told that Brad Smith is imposing a curve on "meeting expectations" and "exceeding expectations". So, even though I exceeded my committments by a ton, I got the "well....I wanted to give you and exceeds, but...."

Thanks for nothing, Lisa!

So *YOUR* VP decided to add a curve. I believe that Lisa clearly stated that different people would implement this in different ways. So how exactly is this her fault?

And isn't it a little too early for managers to be having these discussions? I've been told it's at least 2 weeks away.

Anonymous said...

"Brianv leaving (I sure hope he sticks around, but wouldn't be surprised if he didn't) - that is a big deal. That is a big loss. Nial? Scoble? These guys are the Milli Vanilli of 2006."

This sort of arrogance is why our long term stock chart looks like hell.


Look how easy it is to make the word "arrogance" mean anything? Don't like Scoble? Arrogant! Don't like some RSS hobbyist who quit after four friggin' months? Arrogant!

I also thought those guys brought nothing to the table beyond a knack for promoting themselves. I don't work at Msft, but hey--maybe I'm arrogant too! After all I yawn when someone mentions these two demi-gods.

"Arrogant" is right up there with "convicted monopolist", "Micro$oft", and "Windoze" as indications that the person writing it has no point whatsoever, just wants to push the magic button that always get him a pellet of predictable approval and scorn.

Anonymous said...

"If I were Ray Ozzie, why would I want to wear Bill Gates' shoes?"

Bill couldn't fill Ray's shoes, not the other way around. Bill Gates was a phenomenal business opportunist. With Ballmer at his side to bellow and crack the whip it was a killer combination. They owned driving the PC from practically day 1. That said, Gates wrote books but never really could figure out the Internet. And Ballmer minus Ozzie, at this point, would be painful to think about. There is one guy who is really moving the company forward at this point: Ozzie. I don't think Ballmer would argue with that.

Anonymous said...

You can now track the defections in real time:

http://msripcord.blogspot.com/

When will you pull the ripcord?


Come on dude, you've dedicated, what, 18 whole minutes to creating content for this "real time" tracking blog (based on your post times)? There are oodles of other rip-cord pullers you should be listing. Put in some effort or go home!

Wolfgang said...

"And if someone is talented and motivated to get things done, how do you unblock them to make it so?"
Mini - I see this as THE challenge for Microsoft. After I came to Redmond a few years ago, it took me more than a year getting my chain of command buying into a project I was proposing and then another year and a half in "incubation mode" before people were willing to trust in what were doing. I left Microsoft a few months ago and joined another of the top four software vendors. There I was able to propose and get approval for a similar project in less than 4 months. We are already executing against our plan. Had I been able to accomplish the same at Microsoft, I would not have left.

Anonymous said...

Mini, as you could see by the number of comments, Niall is nobody.

I wish Windows Live have better PM. I am a devoted user of Windows Live. All I can say is that Live PMs can't even copy properly. Somebody needs to have a lot of creativity to screw up the known feature. Look at Windows Live Mail, it is a copy of OWA. One big irritating factor is that it is a low quality copy of it. For an example, arrow keys won't work as shortcuts as they work in OWA. Initially link from calendar to mail application was missing. Double clicking to detach a pane as a separate window is missing. That's not only is more feature but also another opportunity to put ads. That is win, win and win situation. I do not know, why do not we immediately fire these PMs.

Look at Local.live.com. It is a feature rich site. Well, all the PM cared about is the advanced UI. True it even got the highest mark for it by PC world. But when it comes to useability then it sucks. It sucks big time. This PMs GM must be giving good bonus to him/her for the cool candy features. But this PM should be fired for overlooking the useability features. Sure if the PM had worked out the useability features firt and then introduced the cool candy feature then I do not mind giving the person a ten times more bonus. But as such they should show the person a slip which should be colored pink.


The fact is that because of these PMs, our developers end up spending time on useless and sometime irritating feature.

If a PM could leave voluntarily a job after four months. We should not hesitate firing a PM after two months either. Sometimes wrong hiring decisions are made. But they should be corrected as soon as realized. Any capital economy for its efficiency depends upon the freedom of hire and fire. Microsoft must use this freedom completely.

Nobody should wait whether rating turns out to be 2.5 three times in a row to get fired. For windows Live, as soon as one irrittating feature is discovered which is um-imagagintive and obviously a stupid feature, then the responsible person must be fired, even if the rating is exceed. Well, if it is the high-risk high-reward feature then we could keep the person.

Anonymous said...

to the dummies complaining about internal doc/email policy: STFU. do you ever do research before speaking? yeah yeah, i hate microsoft but i still work there fucking weenie. why don't you complain to the SEC or the 1,001 people who sue MS everyday? its b/c of them that these policies are in place, its the freaking GOVT and LAWYERS from other companies stupid. Get a freaking clue idiot.

Anonymous said...

"Arrogant" is right up there with "convicted monopolist", "Micro$oft", and "Windoze" as indications that the person writing it has no point whatsoever

Actually, I would separate the word "arrogant" from the others. When you are "selected" by Microsoft it is understood that you are joining an exclusive club that others only wish they could get into. I've seen this distinction turn people who are otherwise pedestrian, and even mediocre, into monsters "with attitude." They begin lording it over new hires, over contractors, over others whom they believe have received lower review scores than them, etc. And that's almost acceptable when kept internal. But too frequently this spills out into the customer/partner arena and provides that community "one more reason" to not go with Microsoft. If you're running in front (i.e. you have a monopoly), arrogance can have whatever quality you give it. After all, you are the unimpeachable leader. Today, that station is slipping away. Today, we want the community to use our products side-by-side with the competitors and make rationale decisions based in fact and quality of product. Anything that creeps in to somehow thwart that rational decision-making can only be considered bad. Why lose the deal because you somehow offended the customer by insulting or neglecting them based on some former preeminence that Microsoft "used to" have. I would keep it above-board and humble in all parts of your work life treating your peers as though they were customers. Nevermind that distiction about being "one of the few, the proud". Leave it for the Marines.

Ray Myers said...

The First Bite of the Elephant

Now that I’ve “arrogantly” suggested who to follow – Ray Ozzie – and who must lead – you must, Ray; you’re the only “creator with clout” – I would like to talk about “what” to do next (when, why and where are all self-evident). I would like to call this step “The First Bite of the Elephant”. Why? Because lining up 60,000 employees to do good and love what they do is seemingly …a herculean task. Seemingly.

Some of you may not have experienced what I am about to suggest: “that the evidence of any action taken in the name of “good” or “love” will always be its successful completion or the uncovering of the good or evil action that thwarted it.” This is also known to some as the “sunlight test” – bringing the truth out into the sunlight so, for example, you can see the emperor’s clothing or the elephant in the room.

A side benefit of doing good is this: “Do good and you’ll feel good; you’ll not question your motives nor fear the motives of others; you’ll not question yourself nor your motives. Good or Love or Truth just is. Taking the action sets you free to pursue other good, loving or truthful actions.”

Ready to put you finger down your throat? Therapeutic mumbo jumbo? Pollyanna wishful thinking? Naïve blather? Not if it works. In fact, it’s working right now. I am writing this to you to do good. I have a sense of love which I am putting to paper. I have no hidden agendas, no feelings of anger or disappointment towards others at Microsoft. I simply want what’s “good.” (If my definition of good does not meet the “universe’s criteria” for good, I will be notified in return, usually in the form of a human being’s loving or not-so-loving-but-with-a-loving-outcome action). I’ll not pursue the proof of this statement as it gets into one’s spirituality, which can bring resistance. Suffice it to say, a belief in a higher being is helpful but not mandatory, since it goes without saying that the higher being believes in you. Stay with me; we’re almost done.

Others have discovered this “Do Good and You’ll Always Be Right” philosophy. You know who, don’t you? Cover your eyes. Have someone whisper this answer to you. Google. “Don’t do Evil” is their mantra and they thrive because of it (and other factors). Now, Microsofties, I give you a better mantra: “Do Good.” Why is this better? Because it is proactive, not reactive; therefore, it can be implemented with ease rather than mentally running through a list of criteria to decide if what we’re doing is evil (and thus, looking to somehow beat the “evil rap”).
Home stretch. We’re rounding the bend.

Why should the definition of corporate good be any different than personal good? Because being a good person working for an evil company – even if evil in one division, section or cubicle – doesn’t cut it. It cuts into our moral fabric, our good souls.

Finish Line: Corporate Policy # 1 – Don’t Lie to Others; Be Scrupulously Honest with Yourself.

Cool down period: In other words, always “do good.” We don’t have to be perfect, here: By not lying to others, we have some “wiggle room” by being silent. You decide. It gets easier and easier.

Into the barn: As I read and reread this, I have concern that I am pontificating or behaving arrogantly. The answer to that comes back: “I am trying to do good, here. Press on.”

Anonymous said...

On linkedin (at least at this very moment) Niall describes his job at Microsoft as "Product Lead, Windows Live RSS platform" and not Program Manager. Interesting considering he has no reports.

Anonymous said...

August 11 was my last day at Microsoft. I'm relieved to be leaving Redmond after 12 years of service. In 12 years I've seen this place gather rust and rot. Luckily, I made it to the partner level by kissing my VP's ass (WEMD) and helped fund my cottage in Tuscany, which btw was ready on July 31. To everyone who wanted a leaner Microsoft, I just contributed to your cause. Thanks for the millions and wish the best to you all who decided to stick around with this rotten aircraft carrier. World's a much better place outside Redmond. To all my ex-WEMD colleagues, you were right. The VP and his cronies are tyrants ruling by fear and intimidation like the Russian mafia.

Anonymous said...

I think that the consensus is that Niall shouldn't let the door hit him on the backside on the way out.

I met him a while back. It was outside Microsoft in a casual setting and he didn't know I was a Microsoftie. He introduced himself as something like Mr. RSS of Microsoft, like he was leading the charge around everything related to RSS at Microsoft.

Even if I did think he was that dude, or that we had that kind of dude, how the hell did he expect to accomplish that mission in CA? Of course, I don't even know why we need the SVC anymore - seems like the folks there would be woefully underpaid and able to take on grander challenges right now. Why don't they all pull Niall's? Or is this the best gig they can comfortably manage?

Anyway. Niall == No Loss, probably a gain with one less remote randomizer. But be careful hiring high-profile people. They sure can get news coverage as they burn the bridge on the way out.

Maybe that door should hit him.

Anonymous said...

>The First Bite of the Elephant...

tl;dr, plus extra points off for being unintelligible.

Anonymous said...

I find it disturbing how so many of you are willing to frag someone who just simply decided to do something else. He didn't burn any bridges that I can see. Read his blogs. The bridge burning is being created. It really looks from here more like the ABM crowd doing an end around run. And I'm no MS employee either.

C'mon, get a life people.

Anonymous said...

Mini - If you "encourage thoughtful comments" on the dev vs test vs pm thread, then you should probably allow people to post comments on that topic :)

c said...

To "c" regarding the new exchange B.S.

I seriously hope that is an optional program like the "managed workstation" initiative they have had for years where the entire computer is MSIT controlled and you're not even admin on your own box.


It's not optional. It's being rolled out now to Exchange dogfood users. You'll be seeing it in a few months. Archive what you can now - they're making your .PST file read-only so you can never archive again.

If they roll out a general mandate like you describe on email there will be some serious internal revolts. [...] I ran into quite a few situations where there were people stupid enough to follow that to the letter and then get mails from them asking if I had a copy of some mail they had sent because their copy was deleted.

Exactly - and I'm hoping for some actual internal discussion. Right now it's a "this is how your email is going to work" mandate, without even a bald-face lie explaining how this won't make your life worse.

LCA may tell us otherwise, but I firmly believe the "policy" exists specifically as a defensive measure because of past court cases.

Of course. But it cuts both ways - how many lameass patent cases are we going to use because the prior art we want to cite was discussed in email years ago that didn't survive retention?

In the meantime, gone is the benefit of being able to search your email archives for some useful tip you sent someone, or quickly scan for threads on some commitment you are writing about on your review.

A lot happens on the >6 months schedule, or >12 months. That conversation you had with your lead last June about this year's goals? The kick-off mails for your current project? That welcome-to-the-team email with all the useful links? The month-long email chain where you diagnosed some rare crash you're now seeing again? All gone.

Oh, and the "Sent Items" folder has a six-month retention too, so unless you're manually archiving out of that one you're screwed, because you can't even move it under one of the managed folders.

Needless to say, this competitive disadvantage is not one shared by our competition.

And in response to the fine contributor with a potty-mouth as foul as mine:
yeah yeah, i hate microsoft but i still work there
I don't, actually. And that's why this really bothers me - it's a waste of my working time, it's going to bite us in the ass, and we're expected to watch helplessly as the train approaches. It would be much easier to ignore this and move on if I didn't care about seeing Microsoft do a good job. We are going to lose our email history, and you know what they say about those who forget the mistakes of the past...

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing something I've never seen before at Microsoft, and that is positive changes are being made to products without the usual annoucement. Forever, Microsoft liked to say thay they "underpromised and overdelivered." What a load of crap. Microsoft would actually pre-announce and celebrate a product or incremental change to a product that would be late and short of functionality. Today, I'm see changes to MSN Spaces and other Live properties that are unannouced and actually seem to be improvements. I laud the thinking behind that. Mouths shut, minds working. Quite a concept.

Anonymous said...

Come on dude, you've dedicated, what, 18 whole minutes to creating content for this "real time" tracking blog (based on your post times)? There are oodles of other rip-cord pullers you should be listing. Put in some effort or go home!

--

I agree, many of these folks QUIT already ... where is marcL and other clearly high visible people?

ALso you have duplicates :-)

Anonymous said...

Forget about getting anything changed in the email retention policy. LCA "provided input" to the specs for Outlook 2007 waaay back in 2003. I raised the alarm in the Office division then, and nobody cared, nobody wanted to raise a ruckus because it was so far off in the future. This has been in the works for a looong time and a personal effort of Brad Smith, and it's a done deal, and there ain't no going back. Get used to it, or...have fun storming the castle.

Anonymous said...

Just to throw some ideas :-)
Mini, I think you might want to consider starting a new post on what's the worst product in MS. My candidates are MSN Search & IE 7.
MSN Search: I think it's going on the wrong direction.
IE 7: crab...

Anonymous said...

If you can demonstrate a clear business need to keep the email, then you can keep it. Otherwise, you should've already been deleting it. What's the problem with this policy?

We've already been screwed by several emails in court. I can't believe nobody saw this coming. The company policy is VERY clear, and it's much shorter than the policy being discussed here. Please try to provide some constructive feedback on this new change instead of just bitching about it.

Ray Myers said...

O.K., I'll be brief. For change to come it has to come from the "bottom up"; top down will not happen.

Bottom up requires a path. The first rule is be honest with yourself and others.

Next, think like the customer; question every task through the customer's eyes. Ask family, friends and others what they'd like out of Microsoft.

Next, you're feeling good and customer oriented with no place to go. Here comes the most important step. Act like a customer. Request attention and results. If not forthcoming, ask to speak to another supervisor. Wal-Mart promotes this behavior and it works well...very well.

Recap: 1. Truth 2. Ask Customer 3. Be Customer.

What's the worst that can happen? You'll get fired. So? Do you want to work in a company where you're not listened to? No.

If you do, then wait for the fall (not the season).

What's the best that can happen? Grass roots, cubicle-by-cubicle, department-by-department metamorphasis from fat grub to beeeeooootiful Butterfly!

And you will "Do Good" (Beats "Don't be Evil" by a mile!)

Anonymous said...

"My candidates [for worst product at Microsoft] are MSN Search & IE 7."

As a member of the IE7 team, I say "bring it on." :)

The ViewMaster! said...

Aloha! Mini! ;-)

I Believe That, Niall Might Actually Be On To Something...

...As I'm UnHappy To Report 2 U That, MSN, Now Windows Live Spaces Has Sadly, ...Turned Into A "Dog"! :-(

Re: The Space Craft

(Windows Live Spaces: Paralyzing/Freezing/Crashing Browsers/Computers Since August 1st, 2006!)

Which, Unless Something Is DONE Quickly To Correct The Situtation WILL (Even Though A Small Part of Microsoft) IMPACT ALL Of MICROSOFT, VERY NEGATIVELY!!!

Is Windows Live Populated w/a Bunch of "Script Kiddies" Or, Something???

Please STOP This JavaScript (Script Kiddie) Nonsense, NOW & Return To Making GREAT Software!

O.K.!

Mahalo!

;-)

Anonymous said...

So, the new review system is here and guess what? It's the same as the old system. I've been told that Brad Smith is imposing a curve on "meeting expectations" and "exceeding expectations". So, even though I exceeded my committments by a ton, I got the "well....I wanted to give you and exceeds, but...."

Thanks for nothing, Lisa!



Curve exists in most places both for commitments & contribution rankings - however this is being done under the guise of 'differentiated rewards' and 'normalizing weak commitments'. Both are popularity contests.

My bet is most people will not see a marked difference in their pay checks come Sept 15.

Anonymous said...

If you can demonstrate a clear business need to keep the email, then you can keep it. Otherwise, you should've already been deleting it. What's the problem with this policy?

Let me give you some examples of what's wrong with it:

1. I have many years of interview loop results. I have gone back to them to dig out results for people who have tried to come back to MSFT or my group. I've also used it to post-mortem attrition by evaluating hires that shouldn't have been. Retention policy says, "Adios!"

2. I work on products with 3-5 years' delivery time (yeah, yeah, yeah). We do design in the beginning and need to refer to an email conversation on a feature long after the conversation occurred. Retention policy says, "Tschuss!"

3. Microsoft announces the "Ship It" award, but the executive who sends the mail accidentally and publically calls it the "Shit It" award. No one believes me, so I whip out the email but... retention policy says, "Sayonara!"

4. Finally, email is where our ideas are exchanged, where decisions are made, and where corporate memory is stored. Who in their right mind would infect the organization with alzheimers? Oh yeah, the lawyers. The ones not shipping products. Click.

c said...

If you can demonstrate a clear business need to keep the email, then you can keep it. Otherwise, you should've already been deleting it. What's the problem with this policy?

Because I can't see the future. I don't know what random piece of mail I'm going to need seven months from now. I admit, I'm having a hard time offering constructive feedback on a policy that I think should be obliterated.

Pay attention to it sometime - whenever you look at any older email, reflect on it for a moment. When you received this email, did you have any idea that you would need it in the future now? How many times have you been saved by a random piece of old mail? The "FYI how I fixed the auth server" mail from your dev, notes from a meeting you're ambushed about at review time, UI mockups from a project that you're resurrecting... none of these seem that important at the time, but someday they might be crucial.

We'll never be an agile ass-kicking Wall Street darling if we're so petrified with fear that we delete our history.

The "we'll get sued if they find our old email" argument has always seemed pretty sketchy to me on at least two fronts. First, that sort of email is likely to be considered business-important or business-critical and thus retained. Second, it's illegal to destroy documentation, and it seems like pure sophistry to try to dodge future legal challenges by deleting the present. "We made it our policy to shred ALL our documents" smacks of pure contempt, and I feel like it's going to backfire rather messily when tested in an actual court case.

Anonymous said...

The "manager" in program manager sucked Niall.

I am happy that we are losing him as a PM. All he had is a belief that feed syndication is going to be a big thing. This is not a unique belief. A tons of bloggers have this belief. In realty, these bloggers know the uses of syndication feed. But not all of them including Niall are capable of implementing them. This is like, I belive in hydrogen cell technology so should be given a GM job in GM :)

What else could he do to make this belief come true? Nothing. He had pretty much no technical knowledge. He considered himself a GM and wanted to hire people who could implement his belief. In Microsoft developers are hired by developer lead/manager and upchain. He never understood that a program manager is an individual contributor. An individual contributor has to contribute individually initially in career to be given a responsibility of a real manager.

The hard fact in life for him is that even in a start-up, he might have a title of founder or CEO, he will be required to contribute at an individual level. The world is full of Nialls. People who dream but are quite incapable of realizing them. I really feel sorry about Niall. I wish him good luck that he either should turn out to be luck or eventually get a job which allow him to use (and not create syndication) feeds for his bread and butter.

He could have taken the role of Robert Scoble and joined channel9. Given the skill set of Niall that would have been a great job for him. I agree it won't make him millions. But then he does not deserve it any more than numerous other PMs in manager. I think he was among the bottom 5 percent of all the PMs. He could have been a good envagelist though. I am happy that he is leaving PM job at Microsoft. But I could have been happier that if he could started a more relevant job at Microsoft. Companies like Microsoft could make a good use of Niall's talent. A start-up (self founded or other's founded) have no use of Niall's talent.

Anonymous said...

>>>>>>>>> I've been told that Brad Smith is imposing a curve on "meeting expectations" and "exceeding expectations".<<<<<<<<<<<


A curve is a mathematical fact just like say pythagoras theorem. Whenever you have a right angled triangle it will satisfy the pythagoras theorem. Whenever you have a fixed sum of money to distribute, you will have a curve!

If you do not fix the some of money to be distrbuted then the stock plummet. This is more undesirable than having a curve.

So the only choice is where to put the curve. On the ratings or on the commitments. At group level, division level or at the whole company level? People who criticize the curve should propose where to put the curve. If they can't proposal a new curve placment then they should stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

If I understand the law correctly, as it has worked in the courtroom, if you have a bunch of incriminating e-mails, and you destroy them because they're incriminating, the court and/or jury is entitled to assume the worst about the e-mails - that they incriminate you. I mean, why else did you destroy them?

But if you have a company policy that "we destroy all emails after 3 months", and the incriminating emails get destroyed, then the court can't assume anything, because that's just how you do things.

Note well: I am not a lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

By the way, don't blame the emails for biting you in court. Blame Microsoft's actions for biting you in court. The emails were just the proof. You want to have less trouble in court? Change the corporate behavior, not the email retention policy.

MSS

Anonymous said...

1. I have many years of interview loop results. I have gone back to them to dig out results for people who have tried to come back to MSFT or my group. I've also used it to post-mortem attrition by evaluating hires that shouldn't have been. Retention policy says, "Adios!"

This should be stored in the interview loop tool and not in your inbox. Granted, the tool hasn't been around forever, but everything for the past year should be there. This doesn't do the company any good if it only sits around in your inbox where no one else can read it.

2. I work on products with 3-5 years' delivery time (yeah, yeah, yeah). We do design in the beginning and need to refer to an email conversation on a feature long after the conversation occurred. Retention policy says, "Tschuss!"

Ever work on a product when you've wondered why a particular feature was implemented or the reasoning behind the way it was implemented? Ever ask someone and they say "I don't know... they no longer work in this group". That is what is wrong with storing that type of information in e-mail. It lives with you and it shouldn't.

3. Microsoft announces the "Ship It" award, but the executive who sends the mail accidentally and publically calls it the "Shit It" award. No one believes me, so I whip out the email but... retention policy says, "Sayonara!"

Umm - You win here.

4. Finally, email is where our ideas are exchanged, where decisions are made, and where corporate memory is stored. Who in their right mind would infect the organization with alzheimers? Oh yeah, the lawyers. The ones not shipping products. Click.

Ideas and decisions should be documented outside of email. It doesn't do us any good if it just sits in your inbox and none of us to can tell why the decision was made or even see what the idea was.

Overall, my point is that most of the things people want to preserve in their mailbox shouldn't live in their mailbox. Most of it should live somewhere else. Sure, there are always going to be things you want to keep to yourself - but these are usually not the type of examples people have been listing.

Anonymous said...

Be the Butterfly!

Anonymous said...

"As a member of the IE7 team, I say "bring it on." :)"

IE7 is a big improvement - although FWIW the current need to delete and reinstall to upgrade through the betas has pooched my machine twice now (another reason it should be a standalone app and not an integral part of the Windows shell).

Microstiff said...

I like this guy "c". He makes a lot of sense, just like "Charles". Are they one in the same?

Anyway, email woes. As Donnie Imus would say, "you can't make this stuff up!"

Corporate Paranoia. Which top gun signs off on this stuff or, need I ask?

On the one hand we have Brad Smith's 12 Steps to Recovery Program promising to play nicely. On the other hand, "crank up the shredders, and close the curtains" Corporate Paranoia AND Schizophrenia!

And this isn't coming from the rank and file, this is the boys who should know better. The MBA's.

How you gonna "Be the Butterfly" when Thorazine is needed first?

Anonymous said...

The email retention policy is the best thing for us. You never know if the email in your inbox is the silver bullet or the smoking gun.

If you want to preserve something for later (e.g., policy statement, decision, whatever), grow up and write it up in a documented fashion rather than thinking there is special mojo in someone's off the cuff email response (which they probably wrote while sitting in an unrelated meeting while on their SmartPhone).

Finally, if nothing else, the email retention policy enforcement curbs the email CYA culture that seems from my vantage point to be growing. That's probably a longer topic to pick up one of these days.

-- Lurking LCA'er

Anonymous said...

2. I work on products with 3-5 years' delivery time (yeah, yeah, yeah). We do design in the beginning and need to refer to an email conversation on a feature long after the conversation occurred. Retention policy says, "Tschuss!"

Um, Shouldn't "design" discussions be in a "design" spec? No one creates a perfect spec right out of the gate. These docs should be updated as the project continues so EVERYONE has a common reference point. But I get the suspicion that design docs at Microsoft are more of an annoyance?

c said...

No, I only post here as "c", though I'm sure I had a few anon posts a long time ago. And thank you for the praise.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think that Ray Myers should get his own blog, so we don't have to be bothered reading it anymore?

Mini - until that happens, please redirect his posts to the CRF.

Anonymous said...

How many times have you been saved by a random piece of old mail?

Take 10 seconds and build a .pst file on your local box. paranoid about losing it? then send the .pst someplace secure once in awhile. No big deal.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog/archive/2006/08/09/692520.aspx

I guess it's nice that recruiting wants to discourage people from working here, too...

c said...

Ever work on a product when you've wondered why a particular feature was implemented or the reasoning behind the way it was implemented? Ever ask someone and they say "I don't know... they no longer work in this group". That is what is wrong with storing that type of information in e-mail. It lives with you and it shouldn't.

Some of that information belongs in the spec, you're absolutely right. But it's not viable to suggest that the full conversation should be appended to the spec, and how much of the actual data and conversation gets lost trying to distill it into the spec? How much of an extra burden does that place on PMs? And finally, are we seriously going to update all of our existing specs before we lose our email next month or are we just waving our hands here? And even in this limited scope we've got a see-the-future problem: you do not know, now, what you're going to need seven months from now.

Ideas and decisions should be documented outside of email. It doesn't do us any good if it just sits in your inbox and none of us to can tell why the decision was made or even see what the idea was.

Overall, my point is that most of the things people want to preserve in their mailbox shouldn't live in their mailbox. Most of it should live somewhere else. Sure, there are always going to be things you want to keep to yourself - but these are usually not the type of examples people have been listing.

Document retention policy does not exist solely for email. Email is simply the first place the policy is being mechanically implemented. So even if I waste my time documenting every idea and decision on, um, a sharepoint site, policy will still mandate deletion at the same time. At least email does it for me - violations of the policy can result in termination: http://lcaweb/Records+Management/FTE/Document+Retention.htm

So, while I agree with you that we should be taking the time to summarize some of our email into non-email forms, that solution adds another permanent productivity tax, has a huge migration cost, is lossy, and still runs afoul of the document retention policies.

c said...

Take 10 seconds and build a .pst file on your local box. paranoid about losing it? then send the .pst someplace secure once in awhile. No big deal.

You can't. As part of the email management program your existing .PST files become read-only, and Outlook will block you from creating new ones.

Trevmonster said...

c said "You can't. As part of the email management program your existing .PST files become read-only, and Outlook will block you from creating new ones."



If you are really paranoid, create an Exchange server rule in Outlook 2007 to forward all mail (where you are To and CC) to a non-Microsoft address. Preferably a POP3 account with web access and loads of storage space. That way, you can archive all of your mail and not worry about .pst's or retention policies, etc.

Of course, it defeats the whole legal reasoning aspect of the policies and could get your ass fired but, well, paranoia is a powerful force.

Anonymous said...

I wish that the email policy forces everyone to switch to plain text.

There is way too much fluff formatted in rtf that fills up my 100MB inbox.

Alyosha` said...

To Lurking LCAer: we can agree that old email can be both a liability or an asset. The question is -- is it MORE a liability than an asset, or vice versa? And I think the problem is that, whereas the liabilities of old documents are very visible (you can always point to embarassing emails that show up in court), the liability of throwing away old documents is not as visible.

Let me ballpark it for you. Let's say that, as a result of applying a document retention policy, the average MSFT employee spends 5% more time searching for old information that used to be in their archives, or that they spend 5% time managing information and trying to guess which documents they need for the future. Whatever. Let's also say MSFT has 70k employees, each of which cost, let's be conservative, 100k full burdened a year. Multiply that out and your document retention policy is costing the company $350 million a year.

Now I could be off by a factor of two in either direction; that's not the point. The point is that document rentention isn't "free". Really, information is the lifeblood of this company, so it predictably costs a lot to literally shred 95% of the information we have on hand every six months.

My question to you, and to your corporate masters is ... is document retention gonna save us $350 million a year in legal fees, or do you guys have a little "email CYA culture" of your own going for you?

LCA's response of "well, just save the email you want to keep in the special folders" is a bit naive. I want to keep all my documents. Why can't I? I have a business justification to keep it all: because I, like so many other people have mentioned, cannot predict which email queries I need to run seven months out from now. 99.9% of my very useful email shouldn't be kept hostage because LCA's got the heebie-jeebies about 0.1% of it.

Anonymous said...

If you are really paranoid, create an Exchange server rule in Outlook 2007 to forward all mail (where you are To and CC) to a non-Microsoft address. Preferably a POP3 account with web access and loads of storage space. That way, you can archive all of your mail and not worry about .pst's or retention policies, etc.

Of course, it defeats the whole legal reasoning aspect of the policies and could get your ass fired but, well, paranoia is a powerful force.


In general, don't do things that will get you fired. You may have to suck it up on the lost mail. I remember Scoble saying something about all the great email he had to leave behind when he departed. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Here is a question that needs to be asked: Which employees does the forced email pruging protect the most? I am thinking that it mostly protects executives who may not want a record of decisions they made and employees who are participating in questionable or shady practices.

Sure, LCA would like for us to limit Microsoft’s exposure to lawsuits. However, I think the more honest solution would be to archive everything and instead strive for transparency and accountability. Not that this has happened, but I personally would not want to be in a situation where my manager or someone else at the company might have sent me something via email that I couldn't later use as evidence if it turned out to be something shady. I would want a record of what actions I took and what actions the other person took, with Microsoft taking the appropriate response to the actions the other person took.

I think that what LCA is proposing is a typical LCA solution – bury the evidence and just try to keep the damages to a minimum, with no regard for what is ethically right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

Finally, if nothing else, the email retention policy enforcement curbs the email CYA culture that seems from my vantage point to be growing. That's probably a longer topic to pick up one of these days.

---------

this is a good point, fix the CYA problem and you dont have to use gestappo methods like this

Anonymous said...

Actually, since MS is still under antitrust scrutiny by the courts, you'd think this email retention policy would amount to obstruction of justice.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, since MS is still under antitrust scrutiny by the courts, you'd think this email retention policy would amount to obstruction of justice."

Actually you are right. Email is a huge problem for executives engaged in borderline monopoly practices. Of course, Microsoft does not look at it as borderline monopoly practices, but from the outside it can be interpreted as leveraging advantage, like with the DOJ case. Email is the paper trail and it is a lose lose for Microsoft if they continue down that path.

Better to chose win win, keep the email, lift the hammer from employees, trust them to do the right thing. Remove management practices that wreak of that which has focused governmental scrutiny on Microsoft.

Unlikely it will change though. A little like asking Balmer fire himself (no offense Mr. Balmer, but times have changed).

Anonymous said...

This email retention policy may be the last straw for me (hell, I might even get fired for holding on to stuff). What was LCA smoking when they came up with this? How on earth do I know what emails and/or documents (code snippets, experiments, data) I need two years from today? I can think of multiple occasions EVERY WEEK that I refer to stuff older than 3 years - and this stuff keeps changing. This is the most asinine idea yet, not to mention the illegality of destroying what could be construed to be evidence.

Yeah yeah, the stuff about "hold on to it if you think it is required for legal stuff" is another LCA CYA. In fact, this whole charade is a CYA, just as the deal with making line managers own the review curves. It is management pushing corporate responsibility down to the leaf nodes instead of with them, where it belongs. Employee sues Microsoft? Blame it on manager mishandling review. Competitor sues Microsoft? Blame employee for shredding documents.

I can't believe our world class legal team can only come up with such pathetic ideas.

Anonymous said...

All right guys, this may be off topic slightly, but I am going to think aloud, and invite you guys to help me figure this one out:

I am comparing a dev/tester in Microsoft to a sr. sales analyst in in a leading shipping company:
1. Microsoft is in Redmond. Other company is in Memphis.
2. Microsoft pay and bonus is alright, but do you guys want to know the stellar pay rasises and bonuses they get there - average of 5 to 8 % pay raise, and bonuses of 15%.
3. The base pay of these folks is way way higher than us, and dont forget cost of living in memphis is dirt cheap compared to Seattle.
4. These guys get perks like air tickets discounts, even on overseas trips!
5. Work hours are 8 to 5 tops, with lunch, coffee breaks.
6. Lets focus on the nature of the job ---which now begs the question - why are we so poorly paid?!! also why on earth are they so highly paid!

Anonymous said...

If you are really paranoid, create an Exchange server rule in Outlook 2007 to forward all mail (where you are To and CC) to a non-Microsoft address. Preferably a POP3 account with web access and loads of storage space.

You mean, Gmail? :-)

Anonymous said...

All right guys, this may be off topic slightly, but I am going to think aloud, and invite you guys to help me figure this one out:...

It all depends on whether or not you want to work in an IT department where you are not viewed upon as directly contributing to the core business. I am currently in that situation (very highly paid as a programmer in the financial industry) but we are constantly reminded of how we are in a support role and we must find ways to recoup our costs. I know the money sounds attractive but I'm actually going the other way: I'm taking a cut and deciding that I want to be in the software industry. Right now, money is not my top priority, although long term it obviously has to be.

Anonymous said...

I am comparing a dev/tester in Microsoft to a sr. sales analyst in in a leading shipping company:

For my next comparison, I'll compare a tomato with an automobile.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft-speak: "We've already been screwed by several emails in court."

Translation into ordinary English: "Several times we did something illegal and got punished in court because of emails"

Anonymous said...

left Microsoft a few months ago and joined another of the top four software vendors. There I was able to propose and get approval for a similar project in less than 4 months.

I've never heard of anyone bragging about the "top 4". Top 3, yes. But you would have said that if you were at the Top 3. But you didn't, which means you are at #4: symantec.

Don't get it twisted, son; you took a tremendous step down by going from msft to symc. The two companies are not even in the same class. At a place like symantec, if it took only 4 months to get a new product idea pushed through, it was either because there was so much turnover during that time they had to so something, or the people you pitched it to did not have any idea what you were talking about. Either way, not anything to brag about.

Don't you dare compare Microsoft against symantec! It's akin to comparing a fine, aged wine to a raisin.

Lazlo said...

Anonymous, hazarding a few totally uneducated guesses on your job-comparison question:

Base pay: A "Sr. Sales Analyst" at this "leading shipping company" (initials: F-E-D-E-X) is probably higher up the chain than the average "Senior" developer at Microsoft. They may also generate more revenue per person than our theoretical MS dev, and in a sales role it's easier to see the connection between the work they do and the revenue they bring in. Developers on huge projects like Windows are like ants, from management's perspective there's zillions of them, they all look the same and most of them can be easily replaced. Bringing in a huge contract is more clearly attributable to an individual's skill as a salesperson -- management is less likely to assume that anyone else could have done the same thing.

Perks: Well yeah, they're basically one of the largest airlines in the world, so it's no surprise they get air travel-related perks.

Work hours: Expecting more than 40 hours a week would make them more vulnerable to a unionization push, which is the last thing they want. There's no credible threat of unionization in the software business.

So why are they so highly paid? Because the people who sign their paychecks think they're worth it. The people who sign your paycheck think you're worth less. Think they're wrong? Find a better-paying job and prove it to them. :-)

Anonymous said...

Mini, I am the same person who asked the questions about Microsoft's tender offer, which you featured on your blog posting on July 20th.

So the answers to the questions are revealed today. The tender offer in some sense a failure and in some sense a success. Failure, because Microsoft failed to buy the required number of stocks within the price range. So now Microsoft would be able to withdraw fewer stocks for the remaining $16.8 billion.

But on the positive side, this tender offer shows that the investors are more bullish about the stock then the market price shows. Otherwise people would have just tendered their stock.

One question now arises: typically "bullish investors" is a sign that the stock is over priced. Do people on this blog believe that the stock is over-priced?

Sometimes the expression of confidence by one raises the confidence of others too. This buy back offer showed me the confidence of the 99% of the investors who did not tender their stocks. Should I also feel more confident?

Anonymous said...

6. Lets focus on the nature of the job ---which now begs the question - why are we so poorly paid?!! also why on earth are they so highly paid!

Lol, and I remember reading just a few years ago Ballmer saying that there was no reason that a software engineer got paid more than $50k.

Anonymous said...

You mean, Gmail? :-)

On the topic of email, I have both windowslivemail and gmail accounts. I'm agnostic and would/will use either. Right now, livemail seems a little slow to me (beta) and also I'm vexed that I have to click twice to open a piece of email in livemail. The good thing is there are links in "live" that you can click to leave feedback on topics like the one above. I appreciate that. I hope the comments are read and lead to improvement.

Anonymous said...

Vista post-mortem

I know the body's not even cold, but I think some introspection could help avoid cascading trainwrecks down the line. Specifically, what processes/groups should be reoriented, realigned, or removed in order to make V+1 good?

I'll start:

* Basics. No unfunded mandates -- if you want a basic, give the groups headcount budget. None of this "it's only 2 lines of code" crap -- if it's that simple, then you should write a tool to automate and save us the spam.

* RC/Beta smushing. A Beta isn't a Beta unless it is in escrow for 6 weeks, and after it's been out for 8 weeks, there's another 8 weeks to fix bugs before locking down on the next milestone. An RC that doesn't provide room for feedback is not an RC, it's a waste of time.

* WinClient/Shell. Please, rein them in. The last thing we need is reinventing experiences N-fold with each release. They could keep 100 devs busy for 5 years just fixing the >L3 bugs punted from Vista. There are too many clowns obsessed with eye candy and too few serious devs with the freedom to build a good foundation for MS apps and ISVs.

* Process monkeys. Call the zoo. Fix this bug: How many project managers does it take to ship a release? Actual result: More. Expected result: Less.



-MiniD

Anonymous said...

Multiply that out and your document retention policy is costing the company $350 million a year.

Microsoft has paid over $1B in fines (to the EU alone) in the last year as a direct result of random crap in email taken out of context.

Anonymous said...

I am comparing a dev/tester in Microsoft to a sr. sales analyst in in a leading shipping company: bleh bleh bleh wah wah wah..

So why are you still in Redmond and not in Memphis? I get it, you love the rain, and the perpetually overcast skies.

Sheesh, ever heard of comparing apples to oranges? Puhleeze!!! You are making Niall look like Einstein

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the bonus rates are higher this year?
Hrweb says that the rates for L60-L64 are 0-20%

Anonymous said...

Don't get it twisted, son; you took a tremendous step down by going from msft to symc.

To add to the discomfort, I hear Microsoft OneCare (shrinkwrapped antivirus product) is flying off the shelves taking share directly from Symantec. Its dangerous to dance with a giant, even a convicted one.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has paid over $1B in fines (to the EU alone) in the last year as a direct result of random crap in email taken out of context

Are you implying that without these emails EU wouldn't have fined Microsoft $1B?

Nobody believes that. Regardless, the solution is NOT to ban email or enforce a 90 days rentention policy, the solution is to comply with EU regulation and law.

Anonymous said...

MiniD -

how can you start talking about a post mortem when it hasn't shipped?

Unless it has gone to manufacturing, which would be surprising considering it's only mid-August. Just a couple weeks ago we had McLaws, Scoble, and Thurrott all saying the same thing - let it bake longer. I can't imagine that Vista has "gone gold" in its current state.

So, my theory is that it has not yet "gone gold" and the idea of having a post mortem is, much like predictions of the actual ship date for the product, premature.

Anonymous said...

MiniD

Perhaps a W2k3-R2 post-mortem would be more appropriate. At least it has shipped.

Anonymous said...

how can you start talking about a post mortem when it hasn't shipped?

At this point, for many people working on the project, Vista is done. Within a week or two, "many" will turn to "most" and we'll switch to interrupt-drive mode -- fixing only those few bugs that pass a certain bar. This part of the game we know all too well, and I don't think there are too many different ways to play it. Triage. Fix. Triage. Fix. Triage. Fix. Release. Drink.

But it's the earlier parts, prior to the home stretch, where things went wrong, and where we need to apply some retrospection. Especially because we're already progressing through various of those stages for Vista SP1, Vista +1, LH Server, LH Server R2, etc., all of which are not yet as screwed up as Vista, but have every potential to be so.

-MiniD

Anonymous said...

I am comparing a dev/tester in Microsoft to a sr. sales analyst in in a leading shipping company

You can bring programmers from India/China by the planeload. You can't get Sr.Sales Analysts like that. That might explain the pay difference.

No wonder Ballmer believes Software Engineers should not be paid more than 50K.

Anonymous said...

The bonus rates, at least as long as I've been here (4 years), have always been 0-20% for lvl 60-64. Of course the catch was that you had to get a 4.5 to get the high end. Maybe other teams work differently (I hear Office is particularly stingy) but the payouts for my last few reviews were.
score 3.5: bonus 5%, raise 2%
score 4: bonus 10%, raise 3%
score 4.5: bonus 20%, raise 4%


At any rate, your GM (or similar) should be able to provide you with expected numbers for your group on demand.

Anonymous said...

Adcenter has lot of open positions. Does any one know how good is the team? Any reccomendations?

Anonymous said...

>>Did anyone else notice that the bonus rates are higher this year?
>>Hrweb says that the rates for L60-L64 are 0-20%

bonus range for 60-64 were 0-20% last year as well. I know it first hand.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the bonus rates are higher this year?
Hrweb says that the rates for L60-L64 are 0-20%


That's no change. Target 10%, max 20%.

Anonymous said...

Are you implying that without these emails EU wouldn't have fined Microsoft $1B?

I'm not implying it, I'm stating it outright. The only "evidence" of anticompetative behavior presented was a handful of random emails from dumbasses who had nothing to do with the decision making process.

Go back to trolling on Slashdot.

Anonymous said...

How much is this
"sr. sales analyst in in a leading shipping company" paying?

Sales job always pay more because of commissions.

Anonymous said...

Adcenter has lot of open positions. Does any one know how good is the team? Any reccomendations?

--------

avoid ... less you like SQL based projects and work would like to work annika (most people do not)

Anonymous said...

Good thing Scoble left Microsoft. He has completely lost touch with his recent series of posts on the definition of "blog".
http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/08/20/the-elephant-in-the-kitchen/

Anonymous said...

To add to the discomfort, I hear Microsoft OneCare (shrinkwrapped antivirus product) is flying off the shelves taking share directly from Symantec. Its dangerous to dance with a giant, even a convicted one.

This is truly wishful thinking. WIth AOL's recent announcement that anti-virus and updates are now free, this market is dead as far as a revenue generator. Symantec and McAfee are scrambling to redefine themselves while Microsoft, as usual, is a good two steps behind.

Anonymous said...

I hear Office is particularly stingy

Correct:

4.5: 10% bonus, 4% raise.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, at 9:17 PM:

Repeat after me word by word. Truth. Always. Comes. Out.

My dad told me this when I was 5 years old. So far this has proven true in every single case, whether I wanted it or not. Yes, sometimes it takes more time, but the end result is always the same.

Retention policy or not, EU won't get off our chest until we comply with local laws.

Me? I'll be saving all the important "CYA" emails to my thumb drive or iPod or printing them out. When management fucks things up, I'd like to have *something* to divert the stream of blame to where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

"Niall Sez Microsoft is Too Big and Paralyzed" (and too greedy)

From Wired's article,

'Screwed for Sure'

http://wired.com/news/columns/listeningpost/0,71621-0.html?tw=wn_index_3

""Forget all that for a moment. The real story right now is the fate of Microsoft's partners -- companies that naively built products around the company's "PlaysForSure" Windows Media DRM. It's a fair guess that all of these companies are now screwed.

MSEurope1 said...

Can we have a new front page topic please.
How about the recent rise in the stock price and the low takeup of the dutch auction. Looks like most investors belive the stock was worth more than the max $24.75 offered.
I'm hopeful and confident that when Vista ships and the EU case is finally resolved that the stock will recover somewhat
(but I'm still shocked it I look at the price graph for the past 5 years)

One of the occasional MS Europe comment posters

Anonymous said...

problem is even if this is really an apples to automobiles comparison of sales and development/testing, it does go to say that Microsoft employees especially in some division are not well paid. products rake in good growth and cash, however the lower end folks level 59-60 who work very hard doing dirty labor almost see no benifit.

folks, what is the average pay raise and bonus percentages this year? is there a larger percentage for promos?

Anonymous said...

The bonus rates, at least as long as I've been here (4 years), have always been 0-20% for lvl 60-64. Of course the catch was that you had to get a 4.5 to get the high end

I guess this depends on the org and the role. In the field, 20% is the target, equating to a 4.0. In sales roles, 30-40% is the target. In services in the field a 4.5 last FY was looking at a 40-55% bonus.

Anonymous said...

I've heard some interesting items that indicate that some areas of the business division (Office and MBS) don't want the transparency of standardized titles in the address book.

It seems that some people are still protecting their "boys" club and don't like the idea of any employee knowing their level.

If those people are reading this, please remember that this kind of tactics do nothing for your employee morale' and only lead to additional distrust of your so called leadership.