Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vic Gundotra Goes to Google, RIF Comes to Microsoft?

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

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

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

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

A prelude?

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


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

Microsoft shuffles more executives


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

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

What do you tell them Mini?

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


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

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

Saturday, June 24, 2006

WinFS is Dead, Hiring Stop, Another Missing VP, and Stack Ranking 2006 - Comments

Just a quick post to break away from the lascivious conclusions around why Mr. Taylor is an ex-Microsoftie. Seems as though the comments have gravitated to a consistent assumption, and if true, I think we're all glad to see such violations lead to termination vs. hand-slapping "don't do that again"-isms.

(1) Some interesting comments, starting off with a WinFS update:


Specifically, in the post What's in Store WinFS Update, Quentin Clark sort of says "WinFS is dead. Long live WinFS!" Aspects of WinFS are being rolled into other products, WinFS is going away, and that grand relational-filesystem is going back into ivory-tower incubation. Great. So how much money and cross-team integrated innovation randomization did we invest in WinFS?

Is this why Mark Zbikowski left Microsoft (for those that wonder why I keep bringing up MarkZ: he had been with the company for over 25 years. Only Bill and Steve have been at Microsoft longer. His departure: mmm, kind of big. The silence about it, internal and external, is weird, to me.)?

(2) A fun rumor (?):

Newest news at MSFT: Due to crappy stock price now the big bosses are talking about STOPPING ALL HIRING in FY07.. The non Business groups are already calling off interview loops for this. Of course there will be "Some exceptions" (we all know they will be in Vista).

Goodness knows we need that. How many times has Ballmer remarked lately that our hiring has exceeded our expectations? First: stop squeezing more and more new people into the offices. Second: rebalance needs internally (I hope easy internal transfers are still on LisaB's to-do list). Third: start aggressive downsizing, realizing for teams that have screwed up that it takes a lot less people to screw up, anyway.

(3) Someone wrote me asking about Corporate VP Robert Uhlaner. ¿Dónde Está? Not off the main VP pages. Not in our Outlook Global Address List. What was Mr. Uhlaner's responsibilities? Corporate Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Planning and Analysis. Oh. Well that explains it. Looking through our extensive VP list, there's a new corporate strategy VP. I've said it once. I've said it twice. #3: Dreamy. Sorry, Robert.

In the meantime, it's looking like I need to write a script to run every week during this time of change to find out whois disappearing from the VP ranks...

(4) Lastly: how's the new review system treating you? My team's stack rank is coming up this week and I've wandered the halls and buildings talking to various managers about their experience so far. Some are stressed out trying to figure how to distribute their budgets fairly and recognize their super achievers, plus roll that up and ensure it's inline with their group in general. Others are just happy they are not forced to draw a line the middle of a bunch of excellent people but can move the line down a few folks to a more natural divider. Others are bouncing up and down in their seats, quite happy that they've designated everyone in their group as "Exceeds! Outstanding!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Locked Doors, Martin Taylor, MarkZ, and Links

I parked my car, grabbed my stuff, and went to the usual entrance to my building. I waved my badge, waiting for the prompt click! that unlocks the door.

No click.


Wave. No click. Wave. No click. Wave. No click.

Okaaaay... I figured at that point a fifth attempt wasn't going to improve the chances of a click. 'It looks like,' I thought, 'I've got some serious 'splaining to do...'

I took a deep breath and headed for the high-traffic entrance. As long as you have something that looks like a blue badge you're going to get inside Microsoft, click or no click. As I walked towards my office, I took a peek around the corner. Men in black? Nope. Able to log-in? Yes. Email working? No! Oh wait, the wi-fi is off... okay, email working, yes. Greasy haired geek with a nervous tic? No. Whew, looks like I dodged one and went to work for another day.

Unlike Martin Taylor. What the heck happened? I have no idea. Perhaps a black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him and a tanned and serious Ken DiPietro threw open a back passenger door, grimly saying, "Get in. We have much to discuss." Poof. All I can say, without knowing what third rail Mr. Taylor might have danced on, someone is most likely going to do it again and not know how serious the implications are...

Another exit I didn't notice: Mark Zbikowski (MarkZ) has left Microsoft, too, as of June 9th, according to Wikipedia. People here in the comments noticed him missing from the GAL. Dynamic references to NTDEV\MarkZ have started 404'ing inside. Hmm... maybe our mini-mizing has finally started... in a silent, scary, horror-movie sort of way.

Other going ons:

  • Awakening Microsoft by Jason Kirby touches on the Microsoft stock price. Are employees motivated by the stock price? Do you pay attention to it? Do you wish it would go up vs. staying flat or, as of late, plunging? Duh? Will employees speak with one voice soon to say (perhaps even wear buttons to the Company Meeting): It's the stock price, stupid. Can the financial investors and employees team up to convince executive leadership to start making moves to raise the shares and commit to a plan that will succeed at that?
  • Microsoft Declares Quarterly Dividend Financial News - Yahoo! Finance - one approach to improve the stock price and investor confidence that we've heard over and over: a consistently bigger dividend than nine whole pennies.
  • The Seattle Times Business & Technology Microsoft will stay the course - hey, chops to Brier Dudley for interviewing Ballmer and Gates and actually bringing up the issues discussed here, vs. throwing softball lifestyle questions. Kudos, Brier. Somehow I've missed Brier's blog - I'm a subscriber now.
  • Ballmer ain't goin' nowhere! - Jun. 19, 2006 - hmm, do we need to start taking bets on departure dates? I really had no clue how deeply connected BillG and SteveB are until I sat in on the Town Hall where BillG explained his decision to move on in 2008. That internal video of them going off to play and goof-off during work is beginning to make more sense to me...
  • Microsoft Developer Unloads On The Vista Process - was listed on Wednesday's internal Microsoft Daily News summary email. Praise be to Phil- oh wait, let me check to make sure the post is still there... yes, it is. Okay. Praise be to Philip!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bill Gates Will Retire. One Day. Kinda.

(What the? This is the third post in a week? Aren't I supposed to be on extended sabbatical? Mini-Microsoft, I wish I knew how to quit you.)

Right now, I'm feeling all nostalgic. It is the beginning of an end of an era, indeed. So long, Classic Microsoft. Hello, emerging Next Generation Microsoft. And I think it's a good thing, but, boy, when Gates got choked up on stage today thinking about not seeing Steve everyday my lip starting quivering, too, and my eyes got a bit misty. That little devil popped up on my shoulder, muttering, "I suddenly feel guilty for all those bad things I encouraged you and your commenters to say..."

Microsoft has indeed come a long way. I'm working at Microsoft today simply because one day, back in the early 1980s, I bought a TRS-80 with Microsoft Basic (basically, though it was also called a Dragon) and immediately dropped my nascent creative career path and started instead making pixels do things. Without Microsoft and Gates I'd have had a very different life. And I've had a blast in my life so far.

One of my thoughts before the Town Hall meeting: we're going to need a Bill Gates action figure for those future program reviews, one that has the recorded line, "That's the stupidest f'ing thing I've ever heard!"

Change is great. Change allows for opportunity and realignment and breaking up the fiefdoms and the silos. It sounds like everyone is singing a mea-culpa tune over Vista and focusing on the need for agility. Are you a cool hunter? Hunting for agility and being a streamline champion is the new hotness right now.

I think the world will be a better place for Mr. Gates - er, Bill - focusing on his foundation. And Microsoft is ready to re-invent itself. Hopefully with less people. I did my best to make sure I didn't groan as Mr. Ballm- Steve corrected Bill saying that we're not in the 60,000s for employees, we've gone over 70,000! Oy! And I don't know who in the world they are hiring so easily. It must be MBAs, because I can't find qualified software engineers who know a pointer from a hole in the ground. Anyway.

I have hope that opportunities abound for Microsoft to resurge. And for that stock price to start moving up (though I expect a summer of stock spanking, both from the Financial Analysts Meeting and the shareholders meeting). I just wish amidst all of this change that we could go on a the 20/20 plan for employment size.



Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Other Mini-Like Sites and The Broken Windows Theory - Links

Some of the Mini-Microsoft-like sites I've noticed recently (are there more)?

MSFTextrememakeover at - posts so far:

Mini-Microsoft France at - posts so far (hmm, I could have swore there were two posts...):

Nothing really new from what was looking like an encouraging blog a while back: Next Microsoft.

Other interesting links:

  • Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - There Goes the Down Payment on My First House - pictures are worth a thousand words, or in this case: billions upon billions of shareholder dollars.
  • Microsoft Monitor Microsoft Blogs - Joe Wilcox musing over Microsoft blogging in the upcoming post-Scoble era. It's interesting that Mr. Wilcox has flipped the bit on Brian Jones' blog from personal technology blog to controlled corporate mouth-piece.
  • Plugged in A kinder, gentler Microsoft - Financial News - Yahoo! Finance - "I have a confession to make: I like the new Microsoft." this is where I have to give leadership credit for not getting in the way as individuals and groups take the initiative to rebuild positive relationships with doubtful developers, spurned partners, and leery customers.
  • Windows Vista Buggy, Testers Say - Financial News - Yahoo! Finance - so many issues, so little time. Personally, I'm resigned to Vista slipping again and invigorated leaders pontificating that it's okay to slip because we won't ship sh*t. You know, about two years ago that reasoning held. Everything today is a clustered-coupling and the senior leadership hiding behind that reasoning are the ones that need to take their SPSA grant and scoot out the exit.
  • Broken Windows Theory by philipsu - reposted back on MSDN. Just to be clear: it was down for editing, not due to pressure from The Man, according to the author. Thanks for letting me know.
  • Old now: Broken Windows Theory philipsu - Google Search - from here you can look into the Google cache and find the yanked essay about Vista and the culture around its woes. Very nicely written and now 404 from The World As Best As I Remember It. You can also read it if you add the blog's feed to your BlogLines subscription. Philip, perhaps you and Dare can talk about dealing with internal grief for your blog posts.

My favorite snippet from that last one:

When a vice president in Windows asks you whether your team will ship on time, they might well have asked you whether they look fat in their new Armani suit. The answer to the question is deeply meaningful to them. It’s certainly true in some sense that they genuinely want to know. But in a very important other sense, in a sense that you’ll come to regret night after night if you get it wrong, there’s really only one answer you can give.

(Updated: the post Broken Windows Theory is back.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

So Long Scoble and Thanks For All the Links!

So long, Microsoft-infused Scobelizer! All the best. The amount of attention that this blog managed to conjure up was in no small part due to Scoble and his generous linking and discussion.

But I guess I better watch myself... I can't go and wag my finger when cornered by the blue-badge yanking, code-decoding geek-squad. I can no longer lecture them, "Uh, uh, uh no-firie! Or you lose Scoble in the deal!"

It will be interesting to see where the future of Microsoft blogging goes now. There's a certain amount of openness and honesty and vulnerability in the best writing, let alone blogging, that you just can't fake, and those that try are going to get ripped to shreds. Anyway, I learned a-lot about writing and a great deal about managing a balanced conversation thanks to Mr. Scoble. Thanks, Robert. I look forward to talking with you someday. Again.

In other news... MSFT at $21.71! Telling people I work at Microsoft used to lead to glowing investment stories and smiles, and then later troubled caution and mutters about, "Well, that Mr. Gates ain't no dummy." Now it leads to people lecturing me about dividends and Microsoft not able to figure out on its own if it's growth or value or whatever and them wondering just who the heck in charge. When grandfatherly Joe-the-Retired-Teacher you meet one weekend is calling for the CEO's head, you know we've used up all our credits and results are demanded soon, not six years or ten years from now.

(Psst. For best results: drop the company employee size by 10%.)

(Updated: fixed crazy syntax.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vista, PDF, and The Microsoft Code - Links

Things over the past week that landed on my "hmm..." radar:

Vista / Office:

PDF-me not:

Mr. Brian Jones put up two posts describing the feature removal of PDF generation support within Office 2007. All I can say to this feature pull-out: Machiavelli claps. Well done. That's the kind of Microsoft aikido moves I can appreciate.

The Microsoft Code:

I don't know where Mr. Adam Barr is going with his serialized story placing The DaVinci Code within a Microsoft setting, but I like it, I like it! Mr. Barr, any chance (sheepishly tracing an arc with my toes in the dirt) I could have a cameo? 8-) Perhaps one where Scoble finally ensures he's packing heat and not a banana:


Mini-Microsoft Mr. Ballmer on the Defense - Links : in general, folks aren't too happy with Mr. Ballmer's presentation. Especially that part where Ballmer states that the stock price doesn't fit into the morale and motivation of Microsofties.