Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Should You Stay or Should You Go Now?

A comment from the last post asks a question that turned into such a long response on my part that I'll go ahead and post it:

why aren't you looking for a new exciting job in a lean and mini startup?

Fair question. First, I'm a very clumsy Pied Piping Mephistopheles in my attempts to get other people to leave. But, part of that is putting out what the reality of staying at Microsoft entails, and it's not pretty.

You're not going to get rich.

You're not going to be a L68+ Partner.

You're no longer going to succeed based on your merits alone.

Ouch, think that's uncool? Then my good-looking Brothers and Sisters, there are better places for you. Elsewhere.

I'm a corporate animal and this Microsoft environment, with its toxic pockets and issues, is a well known savage savanna to me and I'm able to succeed and be fulfilled, seeing the situation for what it is. And of course trying to change those things that I believe the other Microsofties can attempt to influence, given insight. The great potential for this change for the better is an exciting inspiration.

But I almost left recently. True. It was a situation where I didn't have to worry about sim-releasing in N-teen languages and ensuring that the Lords of IT were well and pleased. I could put out some cool features and IT-fanboys would suck-it-up and use whatever we made available to them and celebrate each newly released gizmo feature vs. crap all over the product and boo-hoo complain about all the compliance testing they had to do before moving to it. Tempting.

It did make me realize the accumulated shackles we haul around given the greater responsibility we have in creating World Class Software. No one else does it near the scope that Microsoft does. I don't know if we appreciate that deeply enough ourselves. Or appreciate it as a distinguishing, competitive feature. It certainly does not make you nimble and I've seen more than one feature killed due to localization and internationalization.

So, I stay because I still care. I care about making a difference for Microsoft products, and for carrying on the conversation here to see what other issues there are that should be brought out into the light and discussed, with the hopes of change for the better of Microsoft.

But Microsoft continues to bloat in size, the stock is flat, innovation is still somewhere out there, inspiring leadership is absent, executives seem to be flipping stock-grants, and efficiency and agility are still unrealized for many teams. The aircraft carrier hasn't turned very well yet, and the crew has become more and more dispassionate. I know my blue-badge clock is ticking and I hope I can make some difference before I head for the door and get to have fun writing EN-US Class Software.

All of us of deep software talent (and I'm putting myself in that group) are volunteers. We work where we work in a voluntarily sense because we enjoy it and it's the best place we can imagine for ourselves. We can pretty much get a job where-ever we want. Right now, for me, that's Microsoft. And there are changes happening. Slowly. But I think I've personally made the mistake of being anti-this and anti-that vs. being pro-this and pro-that. When you're anti-something and it gets attacked and then reduced, what takes its place? Whoops. Hadn't thought that one through. Maybe something worse than what was there. You've got to flip it around and be pro: pro-agility, pro-efficiency, pro-transparency, pro-compelling features, pro-iterative shipping, pro-stock growth, pro-meritocracy, pro pro pro.

I'm enjoying it while I can, and taking notes. I'm growing more in a business sense than a technical sense.

I can tell you this: I, like a lot of senior Microsofties, can't imagine staying for another year of flat stock growth. I'll have to be developing the bestest, funnest software in the world to live through another year of watching a stock price that meanders around like a fat, gassy contented cow from Carnation. I see this next year as the loyalty tipping point for Microsofties who have held on this long, hoping beyond hope for the shares to finally perform. If that doesn't happen, the office spacing problem around large of chunks of Microsoft will start to ease up without new buildings opening. And be wary of those who do stay, because you'll have to ask why.

So. You've had a chance to go through the MSPoll recently and perhaps consider how things are going for you. Why do you stay? Is it something beyond great benefits? What would compel you to stay for a long time, and what's on the verge of pushing you out the door?


175 comments:

FARfetched said...

I’ve often wondered the same thing myself (you care too much to put up with MS, why not leave). Thanks for the apologia.

As a non-softie, I’m in sort of an opposite position. The stock where I work is moving up (after spiking then getting whacked a couple months back), I have plenty of freedom, but I'm not enjoying the work as much as I used to. I have a few options, plus some owned-outright stock, but not enough to cash in and retire on by any means.

Frankly, I'm not sure why I stick it out. Probably because I wouldn't be able to find a place that would match (let alone beat) my current salary.

Anonymous said...

Build world class software, ship it to millions, delight each one, change the world, work with great people - the usual reasons :-)

dB. said...

There used to be a guy snoring in the office next to mine in Redwest-E (true story, swear). When is that going to piss you off enough Mini?

Anonymous said...

So you show your true colors. You are scared, full of self-doubt and don’t give a crap about anyone except yourself. You hope for Microsoft to shrink and to go back to the good old days where someone like yourself could easily get rich. That is a pipe dream. At a market cap of $270 billion, Microsoft has the third largest market cap in the US markets. That has more to do with the limited stock growth than anything else. For Microsoft to grow to a market cap of $1 Trillion or more it is going to have to go down a road never traveled before.

Company after company has tried slashing headcount. Sometimes it works for a while. Normally it leads to lower sales and a demoralized work force. Microsoft is building for the future. If you want to live in the past maybe you should leave. When success comes it is going to be too hard for you to accept.

Anonymous said...

Easy. As I said in the Poll (the only written comments I included), the reason I stay is that I have flexible working hours. I mean, *really* flexible. I don't mean that I'm not working. I just mean that within my (larger) group, and for my manager, there is zero nit-picking or clock-watching. You get your work done well, you do some (required now) "visibility" and "customer connection" stuff, and nobody is asking where you were at 9:30 on Tuesday or why you left at 4:30 on Friday.

That to me is worth its weight in gold. Which it better be, because I haven't had a pay raise that met the cost of living in many moons now.

Ok, the benefits (considering that the family depends on me for medical coverage) are worth a significant amount too, especially in the mental health arena. (And yes, I do need that since I've got golden handcuffs to the big beast!)

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is un-be-lievable. Mini sold out. Exactly 1.5 years after he peaked spectacularly in the BusinessWeek article, and his posts were burning with genuine, intelligent passion. Now, look at him. Completely desensitized.

MS management should get some credit for being kind of clever. Why waste time chasing mini around and use cunning tricks to expose him, or con him into revealing himself, and then humiliate and fire him. Just wait, ignore him, distract his audience with listening tours and inside blogs, and let him slowly burn out.

It's interesting to observe in real time the mechanism by which companies lose their 'souls', individual by individual. Usually we only get to see corpses lying around, like IBM, AT&T, GE, long after the process has ended. In the Galapagos islands it was discovered that some species undergo accelerated evolution and dramatically change their properties in a short time span. Usually evolution is an incredible slow process, so people flock to the Galapagos to see it happens fast. Maybe they should flock to Redmond. Or at least follow this blog.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll bite.

I've been struggling a LOT lately on why I'm staying. And it boils down to the fact that I've got some legal obligations to pay off and that's it. Every year on the MSPoll, I've been fairly cynical and negative, because I want to see us make change and figured that was the only way to make it happen. But when it came to the question about how long I was going to stay...I was very bullish. 5-10+ years was always my answer. Well, not this year. This year (my 8th MSPoll) was the first year that I put down that I'll only be here for 1-2 more years...basically when I have no more alimony. I can't take it anymore, and I fear that no matter how much we all try, the change is not coming. Ballmer doesn't seem to be leaving and the new execs are even worse. Kevin Turner is a nightmare, and I have direct evidence that customers hate him (as the French called him "toilet brush"), but that doesn't matter, he's here to drive down costs and will do so at the expense of everything we hold dear, including US.

I'm in Office. Going through the planning process for the next version. And sitting in these GPM meetings, watching the PROCESS that we've foisted on ourselves...and the PITTANCE that is the feature set for the next version of Office, which the leaders have forced us all into a tiny release cycle, plus the 64-bit tax. I just look at it and say...this is not the org, the model, and even worse the ARCHITECTURE that is going to take the next step in the information worker productivity market. We need to blow up the code and start over at this point. And I fear that the same is true of many products we have in addition to the org and leadership.

I'm really not seeing how we as a company can recover. MANY execs need to leave. Until I see a newly minted CVP that was taken from the ranks of those L65 or under (as in like some Senior PM gets a tap one day and BAM is a CVP overnight), I don't see that the company can take change seriously and we'll be in this nightmare for a while. For me, as soon as my legal obligation runs out...I'm done. I hate to say that, because I want to stay, I want to help the change, and I want to make that lifelong commitment to the company, but I don't see the company making the same commitment to me or people like me.

Who da'Punk said...

1. So you show your true colors. You are scared, full of self-doubt and don’t give a crap about anyone except yourself.

Oh, that's a low-wattage BS summary of what I wrote. Looks like you read into it what you wanted to get.

(And, uh, just who else am I supposed to be caring for besides me and my family? Am I the patron saint of some group that no one has told me about?)

2. This is un-be-lievable. Mini sold out. Exactly 1.5 years after he peaked spectacularly in the BusinessWeek article, and his posts were burning with genuine, intelligent passion. Now, look at him.

Another interpretation leaning towards a chosen conclusion. Oy, it pisses me off.

So, I let those two comments through because it's fair. Let loose any such matching criticisms on me in postings to your own blog.

I see nothing wrong in sharing that I had recently been tempted to leave Microsoft. Folks come and go all the time.

I'm not brainwashed.

I recommitted. I'm still doing cool work. And enjoying it.

But we'll all leave Microsoft one day. Something - a better job, an insufferable boss, something - will push us over the edge.

And if you're not happy with this post, well, you obviously haven't read any of my older posts. Boy oh boy, there's a wealth of disappointment waiting for you!

Be sure you read through those before judging too harshly.

Anonymous said...

MSPoll: "...desire to stay..?"

The the hope that the company will return to the leader that it once was.

At Microsoft I earn a comfortable living and enjoy great benefits. However, I know that every June there is a high probability that my job will be erased or that I will be pushed out in a re-org, despite performance or tenure. The fact that when I finally get pushed out I’ll have the Microsoft brand behind me brings enough peace-o-mind to keep me here year after year. I could go out and try to find the next Microsoft but my hopes that we will return to past greatness are just too strong. I want to be a part of that turn-around story and to reap the rewards. However, that hope diminishes every year, quarter, month, day when I continue to see us make the same mistakes and become even more like the companies that we worked so hard not to be for all of those years. I (and my family really) have given 10.2 great years to this company. I have drawn a line and on 1/1/08 I am going to take a big look around. Call it hope or insane loyalty, but I would love to stay at Microsoft forever. Unfortunately, I am not so sure that the Microsoft I am referring to even exists anymore. If on Jan 1st, I see more IBM’ers than real Microsofties and the same share price I see today, my hope will be fully extinguished as will my desire to stay.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Mini.

The bottom line is that we are entering a period of innovation (outside of MS) that is very similar to 1995. This is a great time to leave. For me, personally, that day is this June. If you are unfettered by family or financial obligations, you will kick yourself in the butt for not taking this chance.

In the meantime, I do my job, keep my head down, and meet with the team I've assembled to work on my startup and the investors I'm courting to fund it. I'm lucky, I've been here for a decade, been at startups prior to that, and have a very comfortable financial cushion. I'm ready to move on to a place where we can get things done and make forward progress. Sadly, the company I love, the company I sacrificed for, and the company I want desperately to believe in is no longer that place.

Good luck to all the 'Softies I leave behind. Even if I do lose faith in the company (and the redundant and useless management overhead therein), I will never lose faith in you.

Anonymous said...

OK I'll bite... what makes you stay? The people who still have the attitude of let's get it done and do it right. The pace of play; I must admit I am probably addicted to the fast and furious pace around here or more to the point that things are always coming from 17 different directions. Sure some things drop but making the decisions as to what is important/needs to be done and what doesn't (actually what can be addressed later) keeps ones thought process sharp. The freedom to run the business; sure there is always buyoff/guidance to get up the chain but if you are smart, respected and make sound arguments/decision there should be no problem.

What would make me stay longer? Considering I've been here 15+ years I think the thing that keeps me here is that there is always something new to learn. There is always something cool to work on; maybe it isn't earth shaking but I believe that it is making a difference to my customers and their lives/operation/business. And finally the thought that one day soon we will rise from the ashes and to be held in the esteem we once were.

What would make me leave? A shitty manager. Someone who is more interested in using my back as their step ladder up the ranks; instead of creating a well functioning team. Someone who trys to blame me for the failure and does not including their lack of leadership in their evaluation. However instead of leaving the company I'd go look for a job in another group (like I did the one and only time this happened to me) before I'd let someone drive me out. I'll leave on my own terms thank you.

Lastly, my MSPoll was pretty much Neither Agree/Disagree for most everything (esp the partner/exec section) except for my managers evaluation.

Oh and the benefits aren't too bad either ;)

B said...

Its been 7 months since I left MSFT, and I must say I was in the same position that many of you are feeling.

I was there for 4+ years and had received excellent reviews, promotions, and bonuses and met a TON of great people. However, I still complained the whole time about the dead weight, the wrong decisions, the lack of accountability, the 'thinking outside the box' gone way wrong, and pretty much all the same things I see lamented here. Every once in a while, I check in with MiniMsft, and although Ive never posted before, I really do identify with the "if its so bad, why dont you leave" question I oft received. After all, the most effective voting method is to vote with your feet. Every time I was asked, my standard answer was "After the next review period and I get my bonus, I'm going to look around. 1-2 years, tops." Most of my friends said the same thing. Those 1-2 years went by a couple times, and I really did feel a bit hypocritical since I criticized MS so much.

So, what was the eventual catalyst for my departure? I have to say that I originally didnt have the courage to really get up and go, and yes, it is hard to make such a big change. Ultimately for me it was an external factor--planning to move closer to home with my girlfriend in the next year, and deciding that I might as well see what else was out there before moving. I wouldn't be around for the review period, and I really did want some experience at a smaller company to help make a better job choice after I had moved. As another poster mentioned, if you're a star at MS, you can pretty much write your own ticket. So, now I was committed. No more excuses. And I have to say, once I made my decision to go (and not even looking at where yet), it wasn't so hard.

The last time I had to look for a job was 5 years ago, and boy did it seem different back then. This time around, I simply updated my resume, plopped it on monster, spent a few hours a night looking on craigslist, funded startups in the area, and the other NW major players like amazon and google. Easy. within a week or two, I had chosen a few companies and submitted my resume. The MS experience really does get you in the door. Along with a couple companies that solicited me from monster, I pretty much got interviews where I wanted them. From there, they ask when can I come in, and the poof, offers. Then it really sinks in that, yes, you can really change your career just like that.

I was shocked at how easy it was, and wondered why I did stay all that time. They say people move around a lot nowdays and now I understand why. Yes, I would miss a lot of my coworkers. Yes, I would miss the short commute. And yes, I would miss working for a company with basically unlimited resources. But all those things paled in comparison to the excitement and unknown of totally new opportunity. Its hard to describe exactly, but its similar to that feeling you get when you are dating a new person. You arent sure what it will be like, but you know it will be different, and you DO remember all the bad things about your ex.

Anyway, my new job is still exciting after 7 months, and I must say that the most frustrating thing is not having the resources, time, and money to GET what needs to be done, done. This was a very different problem then at MS, because there, I always felt the biggest problem I had was WHAT was going to be done. I've gone on long enough, but if others are in a similar spot that I was, I'd be happy to talk about what the process was like, the pros and cons, and whether or not things really are different outside those walls.

Anonymous said...

I'm a recent hire and I can tell you that I have no desire to stay for an extended period of time. Definitely one product cycle, maybe a little more than that.

Before I started work full time I was SUPER PASSIONATE about what I was going to be doing.
The last few months as an observer of the hugely mismanaged planning process has extinguished any and all hope I had for this company.

There is no vision. There is no support for doing the right thing.

Some good reviews and hopefully two promotions, and then I'm out - moving to a company that isn't on its way down.

Herman said...

Mini,

Those stinging comments targeted at you are precisely the reason why you should disable anonymous commenting. I hate it when people troll a blog and leave personal attacks that cannot be traced back to a source.

People, if you want to speak up, have the guts to identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

Mini, you refer to the flat stock price as something you wont tolerate. I wonder what kind of appreciation it would take to make you happy. I know in the levels where I am a typical grant would be something like 300 shares. That means ~$1100/year after taxes. Even if a miracle occurred and the stock doubled, it would only be about a 1% increase in compensation.

While it would be nice to have the street recognize our efforts, I just don't consider the stock price as something that impacts me personally. Can you explain why you do?

Microstiff said...

"And if you're not happy with this post, well, you obviously haven't read any of my older posts. Boy oh boy, there's a wealth of disappointment waiting for you!

Be sure you read through those before judging too harshly."


Sorry, Mini, but...their observations are my observations. Rather than US rereading YOUR previous posts, I suggest YOU reread this one.

You truly sound desensitized, demoralized and given over to the enemy.

You know, recently, I have stopped trying to change Microsoft; it's a lost cause. But, I continue to read your Blog because I want to hear the cries of the downtrodden and the solutions at hand.

Well, to me, you have stopped crying and solving. You have given in.

I will continue to read in the hopes that this was just one deviation, that you'll be back on track soon and that all will be forgiven. However, I am very close to deleting your bookmark.

Don't let us down. You are the only true, rallying voice. While others, including myself, have stopped the yelling, we still want to hear it.

Remember this: It is not so much the repentance of the abuser that is important but the voice of the abused speaking of the atrocities...that brings the healing. The king continues without clothing. Continue to describe him to us and how you feel about that!

Anonymous said...

Mini,

Your last post and this one remind me of some sage career advice I once received from a manager a long time ago -- "Don't wait until you dislike your current job before looking for your next job." So I took this to heart; I ALWAYS network and keep an eye out for other job opportunities. Long-term career planning is something I do monthly, a whiteboard analysis of the pros and cons. MSPoll is easy to fill out, because I have just reviewed the answers no more than a couple of weeks previously.

Regarding stay-or-go, some of us never joined for the stock when we signed up 10 years ago. I am one of those. Sure, it was going to be my cash cow. Am I bummed it did not come in? Yes. But I have the 401K for retirement. But I have an "easy come, easy go" attitude with respect to the stock...I work my butt off to make it go up, but that's all I can do. Nothing more. So I stay because I love my work, I have a great boss, my team is terrific, and I know I am making a difference for the customer. In the end, THAT is what motivates me. That's why I joined Microsoft, and that's why I am still here. When the day comes that I don't have those characteristics, then I will seriously consider looking elsewhere. I have already outlasted some poor managers, knowing that this aspect of the job changes often at Microsoft (like the weather). No reason to let a boss get in the way of a good career. But the nature of my work has continued to remain challenging, dynamic, important to the customer, and rewarding to me.

So, after this year and folks decide they have had enough of the meandering stock price...consider that many of those who remain are here because they love the work and believe in the cause. The stock was a windfall/added benefit, but never the driving factor. I've been here for some 10 years. I see myself here 10 years from now. Who knows what things will look like in 2017? All I know is that I will still have the same passion and drive (albeit at a slower pace). As long as I can wake up in the morning and feel that excitement as I turn on the shower and make the coffee, so long as that urgency calls me to get to work so I can get started on the interesting things of the day, I'll be churning and burning. No sign of that changing for me anytime soon...it's always been like that since I joined up. So as folks head out the door, I have a message for ya: "Don't turn off the lights when you go, some of us will still be here long after you depart. We wish you well, you will be missed (with a few notable exceptions), but we'll carry on."

What makes the company great, it's people, will never change.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone out there be willing to tell me the current L61 salary range? I'm an on-again-off-again FTE looking at going back, and I want to go in as high as I can and then not worry so much about annual raises. I'm in UA, and I'm not looking at any kind of fast track.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me! My name is Walid, and I am the one who posted the comment that lead to this post :) Thanks for the little insight and the comments provide more insight as well. I am not a Microsoftie by the way, but I do agree that a real flexible time is a big plus. By the way, the link at the top of the post is not correct. It should point to the Extreme post at http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2007/03/extreme-results.html

So should a non Microsoftie like me apply (regardless of the cramped spaces)? I think with flex time, and cool work the answer would still be yes. You do not get a chance to work on cool stuff that often. With small companies, the push for faster to market releases is even harder and it takes away any possibility for innovation.

Anonymous said...

I stay for now because I really like my managment and am given the flexiblity to run my business the way I want while also being held accountable for results (I'm a senior manager). I'll leave when the BS factor outweighs the fun part of working with a good group of management and employees....and unfortunately I believe that time will be in the next 1-2 years (which is what I put in MS Poll).I've been with MS 10+ years and am becoming increasingly appalled at the lip service being paid towards issues such as pay,diversity...blah blah blah. Example: How about walking the walk in terms of diversity? I am tired of having to watch mandatory videos focused at the front line, when executive leadership and our dear Board do not seem to hold themselves to the same bar. Look at the announcement of our newest board member (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003637478_msftboard27.html). To quote the article:
"Asked whether Microsoft's board, which now consists of nine men and one woman, was concerned about replacing female director Korologos with a man, the spokesperson said diversity is a consideration in recruiting directors.

"The board looks hard at a number of factors in selecting a board member, and selects the best candidate for the position, given the needs of the board at that time," the spokesperson said, adding that the criteria include a deep background in business disciplines relevant to the success of a large, public company; understanding of Microsoft's business and technology; a strong educational and professional background; and personal achievement. ""

Yeah guys.....Guess its hard to find a woman with those characteristics.
Geez.....

Anonymous said...

"So, I let those two comments through because it's fair. Let loose any such matching criticisms on me in postings to your own blog."

Well, you've got more spine than a bunch of other bloggers, including that MSFTextrememakever guy. I salute you.

Anonymous said...

What is the old saw about putting a frog into boiling water vs. slowly turning up the heat?

Like many old-timers at Microsoft I was passionate once. I worked long hours and I enjoyed that. Over the years bad managers have come and gone, bad projects have shipped, marketing has done ridiculous things. But through it all there was an underlying culture of excellence. There were pockets and people who didn't fit but the sense in the product teams I worked in was that we were always working to solve problems in the real world. We were fixing things.

That appears to be ebbing away. There are more pointless meetings. More pointless planning sessions. More developers sitting around paralyzed with doubt lest they code the wrong thing, more developers waiting around for either a spec or an architect to tell them what to do. We're squandering talent.

Personally I have had enough. I noticed I was spending more time as a character in Dilbert (specifically wandering around with a cup of coffee and chatting more than I was doing anything to move the world forward). I have become one of those people, the walking dead, the bearded "I remember when..." guys who once drove me nuts with their tales about how IBM used to be great, blah blah blah. So this year instead of answering "1-2 years" on my MSPoll I dusted off a resume and started networking. I don't know how long it will take to move on.

There are an awful lot of people around like me. They are comfortable and maybe that is the best possible thing for a mature, steady-state software company. If that's the right deal for you, enjoy, good luck. If it's not, stop griping and start working on your exit strategy.

Anonymous said...

I've been wrestling with this as well.

I'm on a team with a charter to do soemthing new and cool, working with a talented group of people that I like to work with. So, why am I wondering if I'll stay?

Well, we're on the "triad" system (separate dev/test/pm leads for each team), and our initial triad was at best, 50% functional. ICs with more talent and experience than triad members in every discipline. That has recently improved, but trying to get anything done in our team or our larger group has been an exercise in frustration. It's *totally* acceptable - even expected - to use the bland, inefficient approach that we've used the last 10 years to build new stuff. Nobody will lose review points for that. But, try to adopt something that will get you to market vastly earlier with a more compelling product, and all anybody can talk about is the risks.

It's that old disconnect between what we do and the $$$ we get from customers. *That's* why we're so risk-averse, so un-innovative, our results so blah - there's no downside to "stay the course".

I did my MS Poll, and I was harsh. My big comments were towards the execs, where I said that they need to tell the groups what their charters are and get the hell out of their way. There are plenty of ICs (and first-level leads, and a few managers) who would love the chance to delight customers.

One other comment about our malaise. I think that some groups have really drunk the "we're world class" kool-aid. I would be surprised if half of the devs on my team have ever read anything on the web about agile methodologies and thought about adopting them, much less any managers above them, who only know what they've heard from other managers.

In the past couple weeks, I've run into three or four things where I want to say, "How can you consider yourself a *professional* developer if you don't know anything about [x]?"

Anonymous said...

Re: stock price.

About a year ago Ballmer said that Microsoft would grow by one Procter&Gamble in 5 years. PG is about a 200B company, so adding that to the 280B MSFT market cap and dividing by 10B shares outstanding results in the projected stock price at around $48.

Does anyone believe MSFT will reach $48 in 4 years?

Anonymous said...

Why do I stay? Two reasons:

1) Benefits
2) Paycheck

It's easy to point at me and say that I am part of the problem, but I am the sole earner for my family and there are health issues in my family that are covered by our medical insurance. These are the kinds of issues that cause private health insurance to be unaffordable or even unobtainable, so here I am working for benefits. Most days, I don’t mind though because my work is still respected.

Someone else mentioned flexible work hours and that is a nice benefit as well. It really is nice to be able to leave early or stay late to work around my schedule. That may not sound like much, but those of you who have ever been told exactly when to be at work, when you can eat lunch, when you can go home, or spent your lunch hour in line at the bank will know how big this is.

My looming problem is that I just don’t have the passion that I used to. Back in the late 80’s, I worked for a large military electronics contractor where there were people that had been with the company longer than I had been alive. You know the kind, they never have anything nice to say about the company, yet they have to stay because they are waiting out retirement. They do the minimum amount of work needed to stay employed. I never wanted to be one of those people, yet now I am afraid that this is what I will become.

I have been an FTE for 13 years and I don’t work in product development. I am very good at what I do, but I work in a limited field that has very little employability outside of MS. My entire career has been as an individual contributor and my head has smacked hard against the glass ceiling. I’m smart enough to know that I would not make a good manager, especially if my motivation for becoming a manager is simply to further my career. At least if I screw up as an IC, I’m not screwing up five other people’s careers.

I really feel my next company change will actually be a career change, but the companies that offer the type of benefits we enjoy here at MS are few and far between. I often wonder if I could be happy working in the tool department at Home Depot.

Anonymous said...

So far, I echo the comments of the other anonymous exitor. The benefits of staying seem to outweigh those of leaving on paper, but I couldn't be happier with my decision to leave after 8 years. I'm working for a company now that is resource starved and there are so many right things to do that it's almost overwhelming. It's a much more exciting place to be than Live was, where the vision falls miserably short and the resources to acheive it sit wildly in excess.

For those volunteering their time like Mini, I say he is about a year short of the critical point. It has already happened. If you really are good at what you do, there are many companies to choose from and they all seem starved for good candidates. The hardest part is choosing between them.

BP/CMB said...

Not mentioned, but I wonder what part geography plays in the decision to stay for a while longer. The area around Redmond isn't exactly a desert, but it's not quite Silicon Valley either, so for many who want to leave MS I'd bet they have to decide first to leave a house, school district, recreational area, etc. that they have grown used to over a number of years.

I moved from the South to the Mid-Atlantic to jump-start my career when I was 20. I grew to like the variety of the area and view most other places as "nice place to visit, but don't want to live there". I passed up a number of job offers over the 30 years since just because I didn't want to move.

My guess is that if MS were headquartered in Silicon Valley there would have been a ton more attrition by now. Further corrections in the housing market (if it makes SF area Real Estate more affordable, could have a similar affect. Id be reluctant to move to any area at this point (NY, LA, SF) where the housing prices might well be stalled for the next 20 years.

Along those lines, there might be a number of recent graduates that would move to Redmond for the MS job alone, but they might be wondering if they want to be locked-in (oh there's the word again) to what is essentially a company town.

Anonymous said...

Mini
I have to tell you, what MSFT is suffering from mostly is growing up too fast. I haven’t been at MSFT too long, but, I can tell you the problems you point out exist in just about every other corporate environment. Compare MSFT to IBM, to Oracle, to Sun. Bloat, bad management, etc. Give Google a few more years and they will have the same issues. The only way I see avoiding this is to work at a small startup, then, if successful, you are the person people are complaining about. Only issue here is risk. If I were single, no problem, but with a family…..
Why do I stay? Fantastic benefits, flexible time, decent pay. Honestly, you will never realize how good our benefits are until you really have to use them and I hope you never do.
I am not sure how long I will stay, but for now it is a decent place to work and far better than some of my other gigs. If they cut the benefits, now that is a different story.

Anonymous said...

When I first got to MS ~5 years ago after 15 years in other sw companies, I was all excited, intrigued, and planned to stay for many years. Now, not so much.

The potential is here in many places all over the company to work with great people on interesting projects. But potential can't sustain me through all the mgmt nonsense here.

Now, any big company has issues. Lots of them. But some companies handle said issues better. And the way that employees are being treated is in decline here at the Redmond ranch IMHO with the former Wal-Mart hatchet guy.

I'll stay as long as it is *convenient* for me, my goals, and my family. But I have lost that passion piece and can't cut through the BS to get it back. And, no, I can't blindly accept the kool-aid...I'm too old for that BS too.

Show me leaders I can *respect* based on their results, their team's results, and their great skill. Show me technology that is truly innovative instead of merely derivative.

I'm hopeful because I'd rather be excited by my work than not and I see the potential everywhere here, but man does not live by potential alone (sic). I have a new group now and we'll see how that shakes out.

Some may say, "Well, buddy, if you're not passionate, you don't belong here."

To which I will say, "Give me leaders and products and an environment that ignite my passion and respect and belief (like I have experienced many times in my career). MS says that its bar is high in hiring (not sure I really believe that); mine is higher still for MS's management teams and their performance."

One of my mentors once told me that a poor performance review, a firing, lack of passion for the work, and low morale are (typically) management failures. I agree.

At some point, management needs to take responsibility for the morale and other nonsense here and not push it to employees with crap like "Limited" or cutting benefits. I arrived a passionate successful senior manager...now, not so much. And I know that I am not the only one like me here.

Call me disillusioned and hopeful (and likely too naive) that I can be passionate here about something other than stepping up that ladder. I'll own my piece. MS?

Anonymous said...

And if you're not happy with this post, well, you obviously haven't read any of my older posts. Boy oh boy, there's a wealth of disappointment waiting for you!

I think is is many of your past comments I'm disappointed in. You believe the way to fix Mircosoft is by shrinking it. I believe that is a road that will lead to a terrible and hated company. A breakup might produce some hot companies, but a shrinking company is never a good place to work. You need to study some business history ...

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"I see this next year as the loyalty tipping point for Microsofties who have held on this long, hoping beyond hope for the shares to finally perform."

Several institutional money managers have expressed a similar sentiment. So it could be the tipping point in a lot of ways. And being realistic, for the stock to perform earnings are going to have to accelerate or the P/E multiple increase. The former requires Vista/Office adoption to take off. The latter requires either a general market rally, or sentiment towards MSFT specifically to improve. Nathan Weinberg recently commented that "Microsoft is at the cusp of something spectacular or an awful and dissapointing backslide". Let's hope it's the former.

Anonymous said...

>> read anything on the web about agile methodologies and thought about adopting them

You say it like it's a bad thing. Here's all you need to know about agile methodologies:

http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2006/10/egomania-itself.html

Scroll down to "Making Chili" and read it. I'll probably print this and hang the printout on the wall.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid Microsoft doesn't have a bright future. It still have some smart people, but personal interests of every employee (GMs, Architects, PUMs, PMs, Devs, partners and non-parters ARE TOTALLY DISCONNECTED from the business interests of the company.

This is not an isolated cases - this is becoming MS culture. Company with such a culture is doomed to fail.

It's only a matter of time :-)

Anonymous said...

Show me leaders I can *respect* based on their results, their team's results, and their great skill. Show me technology that is truly innovative instead of merely derivative.

Does this count? Look here too.

No, seriously. I'm trying to decide.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone believe MSFT will reach $48 in 4 years?"

It could hit $40 this year alone!

Anonymous said...

As a long time field Softie, I stay for a lot of the same reasons. The pay is not that bad. The benefits are great. My management is competent to good. The politics are manageable.

There are two really key factors that keep me here and somewhat content.

One is the flexibility of the job. I spend a lot more time at customers than I do at the Microsoft office. As long as I get my job done, I can make my own schedule. I could get the same flexibility in most sales jobs, but our stuff is pretty easy to sell. It helps that my boss and I don't live in the same city, so I seldom see her (she's actually a pretty good boss, but I like long-distance relationships).

The biggest reason I stay is that Microsoft is a far better place to work than any other large company in the area. In some ways, it's a "we suck less" statement. However, mostly, I think it's the reality that most workplaces are filled with people that would rather be somewhere else.

So, when I leave, it will be for a small company, a startup, or to start my own business again. There is a lot more risk in those ventures than there is in my job at Microsoft, and I likely won't make as much money, especially initially. The benefits will certainly be less attractive.

So, until things suck enough, I, and many like me will stay. I think HR is counting on that. Once enough people vote with their feet, things will get better, but only enough better to manage the attrition. I think that's the reality of working for a 70K+ person company.

I do agree that we are at a cross roads. I expect to see a lot of my friends leave this summer / fall - several left last fall. I may very well be one of them this time. Our golden handcuffs are June 30 for bonus and commission and August or September for stock grants. If you're a L63+, and have been here a while, your stock grant is meaningful enough to get you to stay, especially since sales guys don't work that much in the summer (all of our customers are on vacation, we just finished a huge Q4 push, MGX, training, vacation, etc.).

Vista Rocks
... or is like a rock

We were discussing Vista in the office last week and one of our reps was talking about the problems that one of our large accounts was having with printer drivers - or lack thereof. One of the guys responsible for Vista sales adamantly stated, then argued, that the lack of printer drivers was "not our fault". It is HP's fault. It is Lexmark's fault.

My response to that is a) I'm sure there was someone in the thousands of people strong Vista team with the responsibility to ensure good printer driver support for Vista at RTM. Whoever you are, you screwed up big time and should be fired. And b) it's refreshing to see that lack of accountability extends beyond Mecca ... Another example of why this mediocre company ships mediocre products years late. It's not "our" fault, it's "their" fault.

Later in the week, we were having perf problems with a custom application on Vista. We ran the same app on a brand new Vista laptop loaded with 2 GB ram and the latest Core 2 duo processor and a 2 year old laptop with 1 GB ram running XP. One was 20% - 30% faster than the other based on side by side click tests. Let me know if you need a hint to figure out which one was the fastest ... but it's not "our" fault.

30+
The stock?

No, the count of field sales people I know that if they had a choice would still be running XP. It's tough to sell that which sucks. Hopefully SP1 will fix most of the driver and perf issues.

At least one cow still has milk ...
As bad as Vista is, Office 2007, on the other hand, is very well received. Yes, there is a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you don't want to go back.

In all fairness, I like the Vista interface and don't like to go back to XP. However, XP is a much faster and more stable choice, so I run Office 2007 on XP whenever I get the chance.

nff

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is at the cusp of something spectacular or an awful and dissapointing backslide

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I was on campus this week. I work in the field. It seems like most people who post comments here are redmond engineering only - because we had the top 300-400 business side people from around the world in the mscc - and it appears nobody here is even aware of that.

Let me share some thoughts without disclosing anything material.

1. Kevin Turner is driving a new and badly needed culture of accountability and freedom into our sales org. I think Microsoft has far, far better sales discipline now than in the past and i think that will be reflected in our results. that is a big, big positive.

2. Google: a big focus. I feel better about this now - much, much better. I saw the CVP across every major ORG stand side by side and articulate a strategy that covered more than just their shipping products. long way to go, but there is the focus.

3. I think there are some real sour grapes among those "old guard" that are not fitting in right now. When Ballmer came in to speak, most of the room gave him a standing "o". I sat behind one svp and a cvp that used to be a svp. They sat back with their arms crossed with an obvious attitude problem. Its pretty clear that there is a major transition in the slt.

Do i feel more positive? for sure - i think there is better discipline and renewed sense of purpose. Clearly competing with GOOG will be the focus point of reinvigorating the culture at MS.

Is it a big company - yeah, more so than ever. That was inescapable.

A humorous side note: it is a little scary how incestuous it is in redmond. Every one ends up sounding the same. For example, if you hear someone talking about developing consumer "muscles" or how things are going to "land" in the field or about how they are "super excited" - please tell them to go on a vacation and talk to some real people.

Anonymous said...

I would be surprised if half of the devs on my team have ever read anything on the web about agile methodologies and thought about adopting them,

Sounds like another PM who read some rah rah website about "agile" and wants to impose this on the dev team.

Go work in live.com or MSN, agile is everywhere. Every dev hates it, it kills productivity, it leads to endless meetings and most importantly, it absolves PMs of any up front thinking. Look at the wonderful, robust set of technologies they've built with agile. Not.

Anonymous said...

#2: "Delight each one"? Have you talked to customers lately?

Anonymous said...

I really feel my next company change will actually be a career change, but the companies that offer the type of benefits we enjoy here at MS are few and far between. I often wonder if I could be happy working in the tool department at Home Depot.

It is both sad and strange how close to home this particular post has hit. So what about all of us, financially obligated and wearing the golden handcuffs, who are pretty much unable to take serious risks? Has the mighty empire made us into the the all obedient unfortunate drones? Or are there real possibilities that would allow us to continue supporting our families and yet find work that is both more useful for the world and more enjoyable to us?

For instance, I am wondering if all the "experience" of supporting a large corporate behemoth like MS would actually be at all useful on the outside. Who would hire a person that knows how who manage "process" or beat the offshore teams into submission, or schmooze with the middle management in an elevator? Oh yeah, let’s get you to a whiteboard interview and have you solve some ridiculous linked list problem from a 20 year old textbook... Or maybe they would hire me solely on the basis of my enjoyable personality?

Forget it. I will be better off leaching the money and benefits as long as I can, and go back to consultant/vendor/contingent staff later in hopes of being able to afford life on the West Coast.

Anonymous said...

I continue to read this blog and usually can see two type of comments. One are those coming from new recruits, disappointed on some sort of promise they got somewhere or at confronting the fact that the image they had of the company thru its brand and history is broken. The other are old timers like me or you mini, that have a sort of midlife crisis. Why is so difficult to accept aging?
I see people sort of apologizing just for saying that are staying for paycheck and benefits. Isn't that wrong?
MS has grown fat and old. The industry has changed. The online revolution has brought complete new business models that others invented. So what? Why are we aiming so high? Is really that bad to work 35 hrs a week and spend time with your family? Is really that bad to let others do the "cool stuff" that we did in the 90s while we serve a large mature market that continues to maintain the developed world economy? Why are we so obsessed to win on everything as opposed to just play for playing again sake?
I have some reasons while i am staying. I get to work with people that I get to like and have fun with. Even if it's only by mocking the executives we interact with on a weekly basis, including our managers. I have the chance once a year to give something back and the company automatically makes it double. They even pay for my volunteer time if i decide to do something like that. I don't know many companies that do something like this. In fact i don't know any. I go to work in jeans every day and shave once a week. I don't clock in or out. If I have to stay home to run some errands i just send an email. If i have to leave early, i just do.
A good while back, in a different ms location, I used to go to the pub with my colleagues after work every friday for a few pints. Then we stopped doing it. I remember asking why to one of those colleagues. He looked at me a bit puzzled and said: we've grown older, that's all. Is it so bad?

Anonymous said...

I see this next year as the loyalty tipping point for Microsofties who have held on this long, hoping beyond hope for the shares to finally perform.

We shot our "product pipeline"... volley... to no effect and now there's no reason for the stock to go up within the next 3+ years. Live is losing market share, Zune is a dud, and it's not clear if XBox will ever dig itself out of its hole. Why wait an entire year for something that just won't happen?

As for why the stock price is important, let's say you've been using ESPP as your savings vehicle. Saving 10% of a $75k salary for the last 5 years results in $37k of MSFT stock. (Whether or not this is a good financial strategy is up for debate but I know many people who do exactly this.) If the stock doubles, that's an extra $37k for our hypothetical employee. Hardly chump change.

Anonymous said...

>Why do you stay?

Not much call for senior QA folks out there. Junior either.

hugh macleod said...

Hola... I've just started working for Microsoft. Heh.

Full story here: http://www.gapingvoid.com/bluemonster

Anonymous said...

> You believe the way to fix Mircosoft is by shrinking it. I believe that is a road that will lead to a terrible and hated company. A breakup might produce some hot companies, but a shrinking company is never a good place to work. You need to study some business history ...

I think this is a valid point, and the way it was put helped me clarify Mini's point, which is also valid: The way to destroy Microsoft is to let it continue in its current bloated state, or worse yet, let it grow even more bloated.

But the problem with bloat isn't just bloat. It's bureaucracy, political infighting, and all the other stuff that people complain about here.

Unfortunately, if you shrink Microsoft, what you're going to have left is the wrong people, and what you're going to lose is the right people (unless the shrinking is driven by very clueful people).

I don't see the clue-driven shrinking happening. The only option left is that Microsoft becomes increasingly broken, whether it grows or shrinks. Not pretty, but that's how it looks to me.

Disclaimer: I don't work at Microsoft. (However, I'm looking to leave my current job because I'm drowning in paperwork, and I just want to code. So I can kind of empathize with a lot of what I read here.)

MSS

Anonymous said...

> Go work in live.com or MSN, agile is everywhere. Every dev hates it, it kills productivity, it leads to endless meetings...

Um, if your "agile" methodology is leading to endless meetings, you're not doing agile. You're doing some bureaucratic thing and labeling it agile.

Agile methodologies have problems, even when properly done, but endless meetings isn't one of them.

MSS

Anonymous said...

I'm a L63 developer and I work at Microsoft because there is simply no other company out there that can give me the same colossally broad view of software development. At the moment, I work in COSD and I absolutely love the perspective I get on the OS. My components are pretty low-level, so I get to interact with the hardware (the bits 'n bytes view of software) all the way up to Trident and AJAX apps. Amazing! This company has its fingers in so many pies, that I can work on anything from filesystem drivers all the way up to search engine optimisation and everything in between.

I've been here 6 years and still have every ounce as much enthusiasm as I had for making software as I did when I learnt Z80 as a kid, when I learnt C on my Amiga, when I used Linux for a decade and when I started using Windows after starting here. For me, and for the type of software I love creating, there is no more exciting company to work for. My current manager is a star (as an IC, a terrific dev), my group is successful and chock-full of smart people, hundreds of millions of customers use my code, I consider myself extremely well paid and I can work at home when I need to.

The company has gone downhill in many, many ways over the last 5-10 years, I can see that. But as long as I get to write cool software, learn new stuff every day, have fun and please my customers, then I'm happy here.

Anonymous said...

Most of us old timers joined Microsoft because it was happening place. We could be creative, innovate and take risk. There was plenty of energy. That’s gone by and large and the only incentive left is benefits and pay. Smooching with the boss seems to be the easiest way to get that. GM’s are free to promote and reward anyone without accountability. Check out

http://minimsftcrf.blogspot.com/2007/03/bret-clark-holy-smokes-new-comment-on.html

For people who care for more than just the benefits, there are plenty of opportunities outside Microsoft. Google seems to be favorite destination now-a-days for such people. MarkL, Vic Gandotra, Kai-Foo Lee and a host of other guys – all had it good in terms of benefits but it wasn’t enough.

Anonymous said...

>Why do you stay?

why does anyone stay anywhere? like most people i have friends all over the tech industry, from tiny startups to google to IBM to academia and everywhere in between. guess what? the vast majority bitch about how awful their environments are, with maybe brief periods of happiness where there's a magical convergence of good people who are all on the same page working toward the same goals and not in immediate danger of going under.

i have a number of friends who experience euphoria for the first year or two after leaving microsoft only to then listen to them talk about how pschotic startups are and how they have no organizational protection from their new crazy boss who's harassing them and how they can't stand the atmosphere and are always living in fear of their VC partners etc. etc. etc... and in the next breath they still say how much better their lives are than when they were at MS.

O RLY? i'd say like anywhere else, you seek out the cool people at MS and stick with them, and if you're lucky you'll get a few years of cool before things go south and you need to look for cool again somewhere else in the company. and then it's time to move, *just like anywhere else*.

yes, microsoft sucks. but there are parts of it that don't suck so much for moments in time, and it's your job as THE COOLEST PERSON EVER to stay quick and nimble and go where the cool is, and leave the uncool to the corporate tools.


TOO COOL FOR TOOLS! heh. i suppose you can take that however you want. :D

Anonymous said...

RE: "So what about all of us, financially obligated and wearing the golden handcuffs, who are pretty much unable to take serious risks?"

Oh, Waaahhh. Cry me a river.

Wake up and grow a set, for cryin' out loud. When you value your sanity and zest for life and your work more than the big boat, late model german car and big house on the hill, then shedding the golden handcuffs will be no problem at all.

But moping around the office because you're too burned out (lazy, complacent, whatever) to leave is nobody's fault but your own. Don't go blamin' the golden handcuffs.

How you live your life is a direct reflection of your life's priorities.

If you'd rather sit there and flip through your MSFT stock option spreadsheets and portfolio projections instead of do something that gets your blood pumping and makes you want to get out of bed early in the morning, then the problem isn't golden handcuffs, it's leaden motivation.

Been there, done that, and know (and have used) all the excuses. What you need is to kick yourself in the backside and put the fire back in your life.

For all my zero-tolerance bravado, I really sympathize with this situation. But sympathy is the last thing you need. You need a renewed desire to do what you do day-in and day-out.

Change jobs, change wives (husbands), change something, but don't just sit there and moan.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Waaahhh. Cry me a river.

Agreed. And it was my post. However, it’s not the German car or a Mc Mansion on a hill. Rather I was empathizing with the earlier poster's comment regarding medical expenses. So your approach, albeit valid, is not applicable to every life situation. And, of course, we all hold keys to our handcuffs. The losses and trade-offs, however, are not always material. Hence keeping the handcuffs may be justified. Not complaining, simply stating the obvious.

Anonymous said...

Why I stay: found a great team which was desperate for devs and needed new leaders. Worked my ass off, went from 59 IC to 63 lead in 3.5 years. Money is great. Prospects are great.

Why I might leave: MS is getting old. People lack passion and ability to take risks. Most of the people on my team have kids and huge mortgages now. As a lead I have been actively encouraged by people up to VP level to toe-the-line on everything. Our new products will be widely used but not revolutionary. And I'm still young enough to want to change the world.

Anonymous said...

If I had the Green Card, I would go immediately.

Microsoft is the worst place in terms of "organization" (better would be none at all), huge waste of resources (killing the brains of the world is the biggest Microsoft's crime), overblown "management" structure...

Just remember your MYCD when your half-brained manager assessed your analytical problem solving at the lowest level. So sad and ridiculous.

Has this company created something really new and important in the last five years? Something exciting? Something to be proud of?

OK, salary and medical benefits may be good, but binding as they are, they only provoke the desire to leave and be free.

If I am not proud of my company, then it is only logical I am already looking somewhere else, planning the right moment to quit.

Microsoft has exceeded the critical mass after which there's no return. Too many people, too much "diversity", lack of vision and roadmap, failure to provide useful solutions quickly, total ignorance of our users needs, spoilt by too much cash and lack of accountability...

Anonymous said...

Why I stay?

b/c you can write emails with wrong punctuation, sentence fragments and get-to-the-point tone, which is cool. most understand that you're not being unpleasant - there's just more important things to do than to worry about polished, pr-style bs. try that shite at other fortune 100s...

b/c you can roll into work looking like you slept under a bridge (we've all had those mornings) and no one bats an eye, that's cool.

b/c when you stop for a second and compare down, you realize that you're in the top 1% in the world in terms of earnings and standard of living. be grateful.

b/c you have a lot more decision-making power than you think you do. most managers probably just don't want to get bogged down in your stuff. make decisions, take a risk now and then, get stuff done, be happy.

b/c you're a small part of something that has enhanced the lives of > 1 billion people. that's cool. it's not like you're working for philip morris people, come on!

b/c of flex hours. yeah, we've covered that in other posts, but it really is a good thing. 8 am meetings? screw that! 7 pm? done!

b/c espps are cool. every three months... "oh, yeah, i forgot about that money. cha ching!"

b/c you feel like royalty when your co-pay is $0.

b/c of the proclub. even if you never go, you know you can if you want to. that's cool.

b/c you can give your friends office and windows and other cool software for a pittance. remember before you worked for MS, you had friends at MS, but you always felt a bit shy about asking for software? Now the tables are turned. surprise your non-softie buddies. drop them a copy of vista or something, b/c they're probably uncomfortabl to ask, just as you were 3,5,7 years ago. your buds are customers too - make 'em happy.

b/c the atmosphere is like perpetual college campus (granted with a relative male / female imbalance). But hey, they pays us to go to class. brilliant!

the more you stress about stuff, the more you damage your rep. perception is huge. relax a bit at work, have fun. we're not paramedics, we're not soldiers. it's not "deadliest catch." it's just software.

Anonymous said...

I'm another guy with a wife, kids and a mortgage. But Microsoft announced last year that it's not a stable place for me.

You see, I'm not old (yet), but I'm not young any more either. If I want to have a decent retirement, I'll need to earn it over the next ten years. I joined MSFT just late enough to miss the real stock bonanza. I cashed in a few options before they went under water, but not enough to retire on.

I'm at a high enough level were promotions are few and far between. Once you get past L63/64, promotions slow down. There just aren't that many openings for L65-67 (and of course, we know how exclusive the Partner club is, and I'm quite certain that I'm not MSFT Partner material - thank God). Once you get to past L64, the competion for the next promotion get's really rough.

Of course I think I'm special. I'm damn special. If you believe in IQ tests, I'm literally a genius. In my 20 year career, I've never had a technical challenge I couldn't solve. As a manager, I've been consistently outstanding. I have a depth of knowledge about Software Engineering (including "new" things like Agile) that lets me steer the team away from many, many mistakes. I'm very good.

But so are my colleagues. The other Dev Leads in my group are just as good as me. Hell, it's one of the reasons I came to Microsoft a decade ago, to get away from situations where there were only one or two of us who know what we were doing. Now, ironically, it's why I have to leave.

My manager made it really clear to me that the Limited II time-in-level clock doesn't stop until you make Partner. I have four peers right now, and of the five of us, I expect only two or three will get the next promotion before being Kimmed by HRs new rules. I know my peers, and they are all great contributors. There's not a one I wouldn't hire if I started my own company. I don't want to compete against these guys - I want to work with them to build great stuff. But that's not in the cards at Microsoft.

I've already seen this competition start screwing up the work being done in the PM org, with people pushing features way beyond when they should have been cut because a desperately needed Limited-II-avoidance-promo was riding on it. If it impacts the Dev org, we're screwed.

Of course, we're screwed anyway. Within the next five years, half my peer group will be out of the company, by the company's own desire. It's what the company seems to want. It's stupid and makes no senes, but there you are.

Anonymous said...

I see a LOT of negative vibes, and quite a few me-me-mes. It reflects the sorry state of followers. If you want a change, make a change. Don't wait for me to clean up your little world and get you to where you want to be.

Herb "Not my fault" Hoover

Anonymous said...

This is a great time to leave. For me, personally, that day is this June.

Wait till July. If you are at MS through June you will be eligible for the bonus for the fiscal year, which ends June 30. I left in July last year and was given a reasonable bonus in September (they mail a check), just as good as I would have expected had I not left.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the question of "stay or go" isn't really a question of "if" at MSFT, it's "when."

MSFT really isn't set up for "career" people (in anything but the Machiavellian sense) for the "rank and file." When being a steady performer gets you a "Limited" rating, you don't have to be too bright to figure out that that's not the type of behavior they want.

For me, I see opportunity in chaos so I'll stick around for a while. I have my own "career development plan" that my job at MSFT is supporting quite nicely. But my work at MSFT is just a part of a larger picture.

When your life IS MSFT and MSFT is your life, then leaving is a traumatic, life-changing decision. When MSFT is just a piece in a bigger picture, when it's time to leave, you'll know it and there won't be any doubt or angst in the decision.

If you see your job as something you work for rather than something that works for you, then you're setting yourself up for a big disappointment.

Now, some of the younger (and older) folks who know no other world than MSFT might think of that sort of talk as heresy, but, especially in the tech world, it's reality.

Pragmatism does not contradict passion. I am VERY passionate about my job, but it's not in that frenetic, "let's try a hundred different things and see what sticks" sort of passion. Rather it's the more thoughtful, "Hmmm. Let's figure out what will work and then apply 110% of our effort into that" sort of passion.

In places where actions are rewarded, the latter works very well. In places where simply motion is rewarded, the latter sort of passion is not recognized. Both environments exist at Microsoft so the key to personal and professional survival is to find the one that fits your personality.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a softie, but I have to tell you that you guys sound like great guys, but you are very confused about how institutionalized you have become.

Most of us that own our own companies would NEVER consider hiring an MSFT employee, so consider that before you go to sleep tonight comfortable that you could get a job anywhere.

Second, the money you make is TERRIBLE. Sorry to be so blunt, but since you all talk about the partner program all the time, I am assuming you know that partners make over US$1MM per year - MINIMUM. You are making 15% of that.

Sorry to be so blunt, and I really do enjoy reading y'all's gripe session each weekend. I really do think you are all nice people, but you are totally institutionalized. You have no idea what the world outside MS is like. Sorry, and good luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is Dead

Anonymous said...

MSFT $40 this year? No way.

$32 this year? Achievable.

In a few more weeks, you'll see a rock solid number from MSFT in their quarterly earnings. Before that, they will be 1-2 more upgrades from some "analysts".

Anonymous said...

The way to be happy in your team or group is to find out whose ass to kiss. There is one person - and since it is Microsoft it is probably a guy - whose ass, if you start kissing it, can make your life much easier and happier than if you dig in and don't kiss it. Potential reasons for not kissing that ass are: a) that person is a complete moron (albeit a well connected one.) b) you're not going to be in this group long so no sense in puckering up. c) you're stupid enough to belive that if you don't kiss that ass that you are going to have as fun and rewarding experience at Microsoft than if you don't. Only b) is a valid reason for not putting on kneepads (keep the pads though, you'll need them for your next group.)

If what I've said is odious and disgusting, then I couldn't agree more. However, its the way things work at Microsoft and if you want to be here and happy then play the game. I'm sure there are better opportunities out there, and places where humanity is valued. I personally think its weird that WA state has a female governor and two female senators and Microsoft's claim to equality is the grotesque, ballmer-esque (and in my opinion ineffective) figure of lisab. If you're going to stay at Microsoft don't think to hard about where you work. Just remove as many obstacles as possible from your own path and keep punching the clock. Most of the people I know that have left Microsoft for "something better" have returned within 5 years. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

"Most of us that own our own companies would NEVER consider hiring an MSFT employee, so consider that before you go to sleep tonight comfortable that you could get a job anywhere."

This is very sad but true. Back in 2001 I did some serious job hunting while working at Microsoft and I had no problem getting interviews and job offers. I was too insecure at the time to leave my benefits so nothing happened. By 2005 I realized my big mistake and went back into job hunting assuming it would be no problem. As usual I immediately started landing interviews, but they turned out to be brutal. I found that the industry has changed so much in what they need that I couldn't even speak the same lingo. I found that Microsoft is in it's own happy bubble thinking they are the world while the world is moving on without them.
Since then I've started my own company. I've forgotten how good it feels to take real risks and be in an environment where you can use your skills to the fullest. I'm at the point now where I'm going to need to hire more people and I'll gladly interview people from Microsoft and give them the full benefit of the doubt, but I'm pretty sure there will be others that will be a much better match.

There is a big difference hearing someone say "I can go get another job any time I want." and those that say "I have job offers." (and I don't mean interview offers).

Anonymous said...

Why I stay?

b/c you can write emails with wrong punctuation, sentence fragments and get-to-the-point tone, which is cool. most understand that you're not being unpleasant - there's just more important things to do than to worry about polished, pr-style bs. try that shite at other fortune 100s...


I agree with most of your points, except this first one. Certainly, no one will get on your case about poorly composed emails, but if you want to be taken seriously, spend the extra seconds it takes to present your message in a bit more polished fashion. Just take a look at all the grief LisaB gets on her blog because of spelling and grammatical errors.

Anonymous said...

A person who says "I can go get another job any time I want." is generally delusional at best and an idiot at worst. Of course there are always exceptions. However, it is silly to generalize about the entire MS FTE staff as being otherwise unemployable. It all comes down to what you are, what you do (and did prior to working for MS) and how much you are willing to change your life's routine.

Nobody said that working for MS gives you a carte blanche during the interview process. For exactly the same reasons jobs transfers within MS are generally as brutal as any external interview. Since the company has grown so vast and impersonal, few are willing to give you any credit when you want to change groups and/or disciplines. Being able to prove it is always difficult.

I also resent the generalization that some make about any single group of people working for any single employer. This smacks of racism. We can all do better than that.

Anonymous said...

If you are in certain parts of Kevin Turner's world, the decision of whether to stay or go is going to be made for you very soon. He is going on a cost cutting jihad that would make Sam Walton proud, and that includes drastic reductions in some long-standing groups. Frankly, I'm OK with the reductions...of course as long as they don't affect me.

Adam Barr said...

Question to the person who wrote "I found that the industry has changed so much in what they need that I couldn't even speak the same lingo." I had blogged about this a while ago, wondering how employable I was after a long time at Microsoft, and the response was "Not to worry, you could get hired in a second." But I think that response was mostly from inside Microsoft, so I'm curious what the world outside is like.

Keep in mind when I came to Microsoft and started working on, say, networking, I knew nothing about networking. But I could code and debug so specific knowledge was not the issue. Is there something fundamentally different about coding outside of Microsoft? Or is it just that everything is (as an example) done with AJAX and companies don't want to bother hiring somebody who hasn't coded that way, just because there are enough available people out there who do?

(And it's not that I'm thinking of leaving Microsoft...but for various reasons I am interested in what skills are in demand in the industry.)

Thanks.

- adam

Anonymous said...

An MSFT degree isn't worth what it once was. The VPs & partners in Windows and Office will never find another job outside the bubble that pays as well. They are stuck convincing ICs to work for them and keep the wagon wheels turning in a light-rail world.

If you find the MSFT pay & benefits too hard to give up, at least prepare your career for the end of MSFT. Take positions in teams delivering highly scalable internet services or doing mobile phone work. Take the time to learn skills that have relevancy beyond MSFT on MSFT's dime.

Even if MSN or Search fails, the skills you learn have value in the real world. If your contributions help MSN win, all the better for everyone.

XBOX & Zune aren't bad second choices - device software could we useful elsewhere - and could also be fun.

Avoid Windows, Live Experiences (since it's mostly windows client apps), and Office like the plague. Despite all the reorgs, new VPs, and promises of better plans & 2 year releases, no one outside MSFT respects the skillset gained from time in those teams.

Anonymous said...

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

- 7 year ex-msft who laugh at myself at the lost opportunities by staying at MS by hope and FUD.

Anonymous said...

There are actually a number of interesting teams internally. I respect people who work hard on search to catch up with Google. Another one is a very interesting team at Microsoft Research that introduced a new IP Telephony product called Response Point. They are very different from most research groups (they ship!). These teams are the hope of MS's future, not the established Office and Windows dead woods...

Anonymous said...

to adam b about what's different: at a company I was at last year before joing msft, we hired 2 des, 1 qa, and a pm in the space of a few months for a big project. There were quite a few ms resumes coming in, but none of them made it to interview. The dev director explained it by saying that he was extra careful with MS resumes, because their experience tended to be very specific and impractical. He didn't want people who would spend too much time on minor details and not be able to formulate complete solutions. I can see that more now, after a year. He stayed away from people who spent more thana year or two on one thing, and that was probably right.

It's not coding that's different, it's having a practical sense of what to code, and right-sizing a solution.

(I had a post on this, but it must have been too negative, badly written, or even less insightful. oh well)

Anonymous said...

My response to that is a) I'm sure there was someone in the thousands of people strong Vista team with the responsibility to ensure good printer driver support for Vista at RTM. Whoever you are, you screwed up big time and should be fired.

Instead of anonymous bitching here, how about you try to track that person down internally and work with them? Find out which model printers your customers need drivers for, and I'm sure you can find out when/if they will be released.

As for your assertion that this person should be fired, that's just silly. HP was late with their drivers. HP had support for many printers in the box, and since RTM has provided support for many others. I saw an article discussing their printer drivers recently and I think they said they're supporting 250 different models on Vista. That's a lot of driver packages to develop and test.

Anonymous said...

I don't know of a single Microsoft dev who has had any problem finding another job, including myself. Everybody I know has gotten offers from every single company they interviewed with, except for a handful of people who failed the Google interview. Of course, devs only make up approx. 10% of the company (oddly enough) so the statement that Microsoft experience doesn't give you a free meal ticket may still hold true in general.

Adam Barr said...

Me again. Someone above wrote "Go work in live.com or MSN, agile is everywhere. Every dev hates it, it kills productivity, it leads to endless meetings and most importantly, it absolves PMs of any up front thinking. Look at the wonderful, robust set of technologies they've built with agile. Not." and someone else replied "Um, if your 'agile' methodology is leading to endless meetings, you're not doing agile. You're doing some bureaucratic thing and labeling it agile."

I'm curious about what is going on also. As the second poster pointed out, agile should be about FEWER things that detract from productivity, and engineers should feel MORE empowered in an agile environment. Part of this is that when any process is mandated from above, people a) don't like it and b) blame problems on it. But if you read Steve Yegge's blogs about agile, what he describes at Google has the feel of what agile SHOULD be like (understanding that agile is not any one thing). So what is the story? If you work in a team at Microsoft and you feel "agile", for some meaning of the word, is making things worse, I'd like to hear about it...you can post it here, or post an anonymous comment on my blog (I'll write a post about agile soon), email me at work, etc.

Thanks.

- adam

Anonymous said...

>"so the statement that Microsoft experience doesn't give you a free meal ticket may still hold true in general."

I've been holding back on responding to these and the previous Mini 'A Whole Lotta Movin' On!' issues about H1B and Gates' desire to open things up here or in India.

I am a non softie tech professional person (not in IT directly) who recently had a position where I was asked to interview a recruit from India (could have been anywhere for that matter) for a new position opening up. He was a recent grad from a well known Southern California tech university in need of a sponsor so he could stay here in the US.

I looked at his skill set which was typical for a persn just out of school needing a couple of years experience to be truly productive, and I listened to the other team members who seemed to be unwilling to look at the actual deliverable skills from this person and instead were actually deferring to the reputation of talented Indian engineers.

They ended up hiring the person after firing me and I am aware that they were paying him about half of what I was making. The difference was about 29 years experience between the two of us. I did recommend a no hire simply because certain software application skills which would take a few years to garner were missing completely and the individual could have easily developed these skills while in school using his student status to purchase software almost for free. To me it showed a sincere lack of initiative.

I noted three months after being let go that the company was again looking for someone to fill that position and had let the Indian engineer go as I expected they would.

Yes, I am still looking for work at 55 years old and trust me when I tell you I am very competent and not at all stymied into being obsolete.

The moral of the story? How many would you like to hear?

Anonymous said...

to the person who wrote "I don't know of a single Microsoft dev who has had any problem finding another job, including myself. Everybody I know has gotten offers from every single company they interviewed with, except for a handful of people who failed the Google interview. Of course, devs only make up approx. 10% of the company (oddly enough) so the statement that Microsoft experience doesn't give you a free meal ticket may still hold true in general."

well, some companies in the local area are very politically driven (yes all things in corp america spin that way) but i know cases where relationships with people who still work at MS can still come to haunt you.

A guy uses to work at MS .. now works at amazone .. his wife works at HR in COSD ...

a different guy who used to work at COSD wanted to leeave MS after a # of years .. good employee but had a few "negative colleagues" who didn't care for him much.

So he interviewed at amazon ...

the first guy asked why he wanted to leave .. guy two gave real reasons but what ended up happening is guy 1 called his wife .. they got ahold of some of his "former colleagues" who back stabbed him to google.

enough said...

Anonymous said...

I've interviewed around over the past little while, and have made the following observations.

1) MSFT credentials will get you in the door, but then you are on your own. Since you obviously survived your MSFT interview, your odds are better than average.

2) Many of the smaller places are usually looking for specific skills rather than smart people. This is shortsighted, imo, but this is how many are run. I aced a set of interviews at one place, but since I wasn't that familiar with C++ exceptions, no hire. Their dev manager was big on them, and that was that. MSFT groups (and no, not all of them, but the better ones) hire for smarts.

3) You can almost always get a GOOG interview. But don't bother if you have any gray hair on your head, because if you're not in your early 20s, they are almost always not interested. If you want to sit for a few hours getting silly questions from a random stream of 20 year olds who think working 60 hours a week is good life/balance, be my guest.

4) MSFT salaries are not as bad as you think. I've turned down a few offers because they would have been a wash financially, or a slight loss.

5) If you are going to leave, wait until the bonus check is in your bank account. Once you're gone, no matter what they tell you, they have no obligation to pay it.

Anonymous said...

They ended up hiring the person after firing me and I am aware that they were paying him about half of what I was making.

This sounds like outright age discrimination. The fact that a H1B worker was hired instead is not necessarily a causal factor as a younger American worker would have done just as well.

http://www.aarp.org/money/careers/jobloss/a2004-04-28-agediscrimination.html

Anonymous said...

I've interviewed around over the past little while, and have made the following observations.

You lost your credibility given your bogus statements on 3) GOOG interview and 5) bonus check.

Anonymous said...

>>As for your assertion that this person should be fired, that's just silly. HP was late with their drivers. HP had support for many printers in the box, and since RTM has provided support for many others. I saw an article discussing their printer drivers recently and I think they said they're supporting 250 different models on Vista. That's a lot of driver packages to develop and test.

This is pretty much the way most Windows teams work. They announce "big bold goals", write powerpoint slideware with their commitments on meeting them, collect their partner bonuses, and finally come out with a huge list of excuses why they couldnt make their goals. Complex ecosystem, lots of vista changes, too little time. Every one of these "challenges" was known when they made their goals and collected their partner bonuses.

This happened with the performance team, printer team, drivers team, app compat etc etc etc. Windows 7 leaders are no different.

This is why you dont hire MSFT employees - they have been groomed to work the Microsoft BS system - they dont know how to make realistic commitments and deliver real results.

Anonymous said...

Did someone put a muzzle on SteveB? The stock has been trending upward again since the last time he tried to "reassure analysts" and dropped because of it. Maybe Bill or someone has finally realized that if we want the stock to perform, we put a muzzle on Steve and keep him away from analysts.

I'm not complaining that it is approaching $29 again, just shocked that he hasn't opened his big mouth again and caused it to drop. The trends seem to be that every time he talks, we lose between $0.25 & $0.50, and the more days in a row he talks, the more days we lose at least that amount.

Just think how much the stock would go up if it were announced that Steve & his cronies were stepping down. Ray couldn't do any worse than Steve has, and with Steve & his buds out of the way, he'd have a decent chance of succeeding.

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, if you shrink Microsoft, what you're going to have left is the wrong people, and what you're going to lose is the right people (unless the shrinking is driven by very clueful people).
"

This is very true. When a company is shrinking all the employees go into a panic. The competent employees try to do their jobs better or leave before they are fired. The political employees, on the other hand, unite together and persuade the higher ups to fire the competent ones. I have seen this pattern at many companies, and I am quite sure this is how it would go at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Of course, devs only make up approx. 10% of the company (oddly enough) so the statement that Microsoft experience doesn't give you a free meal ticket may still hold true in general.

Time for a wake up call, testers. Forget the BS that the EE guys are feeding you about high level testers because QA just isn't a particularly valuable job outside of MS. If you plan to be able to leave then either jump to development if you've got what it takes or get competitive and start loading up on all the internal courses you can stand plus whatever external training & certifications you can pry the money loose for. If you're worth what you're being paid you know where everything you need is already.

Anonymous said...

b/c you can give your friends office and windows and other cool software for a pittance

Well you can continue shopping at the MS store after you quit. Just sign up for the alumni program for a modest annual membership fee.

I think the bottom line of that post is that if you enjoy small niceties, there are many to be found at Microsoft. It's just a question of what you choose to focus on.

If OTOH you are hoping to get rich, sidestep big-company politics, or build a broad skill set that is portable, don't let the little things (or the bad big things) hold you back.

Anonymous said...

regarding printer drivers:

This is why you dont hire MSFT employees - they have been groomed to work the Microsoft BS system - they dont know how to make realistic commitments and deliver real results.

Sounds like you're making the assumption that the MS employee lied.

Seems much more likely to me that some partner company had their dev schedule slip. You think we'd understand something like that, since it's happened to us a few times.

Anonymous said...

You lost your credibility given your bogus statements on 3) GOOG interview and 5) bonus check.


Sure, they seem to pay out bonus checks now, but there is nothing stopping them from changing this policy without notice, and after you leave. If you have a reasonable expectation of getting one, coast for a few months and collect it, or make it a key part of your negotiations for your next position. And don't forget any upcoming stock grants too.

As for the GOOG interview, I firmly believe there is age discrimination in their hiring practices. Sure, they hire older folks, but it's damned rare, it's the Lukovskys of the world they'll make exceptions for. If you're just a bit older and wiser than the early 20 something Python script kiddies they have conducting interviews, your odds of getting in are damned low. Not just me, several others I know all in their late 30s/early 40s, folks who could code circles around anyone, all got no hires. I wouldn't waste my time pursuing it because I realized quickly I wouldn't want to work there anyway.

Anonymous said...

Well, I did not read the whole list of comments, just the original posting, so my remarks might be somewhat redundant...

I work in a very similar environment to Mini, and I enjoy it. We also create world-class software that is mission-critical for many customers, and accordingly we also have lots and lots of processes and process steps, as well as QA, internationalisation, translation, extensibility... the works. And while this would put off many people, I also agree with Mini that we play in a league of our own. (BTW, there were rumours about a merger with Microsoft some years ago...)

If you read, for example, literature on patterns, in my field (enterprise systems) there are not many that cover what I have to do as an architect on a day-to-day basis. Even Martin Fowler does not address the stuff I have to solve. It is scary, bewildering, intoxicating and fascinating (sorry for potentially not picking the right terms - English is not my first language).

We have to put up with a lot because we carry responsibility for our customers' success, so we should better accept it and focus on the world of creating high-class, mission-critical software systems, which is more rewarding than many seem to acknowledge.

Life at a company like Microsoft (mine :-) is great! I hope it is the same at MS.

Anonymous said...

>> Did someone put a muzzle on SteveB? The stock has been trending upward again... <<

Not to worry. Stock options don't expire for another week or so, so he's got plenty of time to tumble it.

Anonymous said...

Go work in live.com or MSN, agile is everywhere. Every dev hates it, it kills productivity, it leads to endless meetings and most importantly, it absolves PMs of any up front thinking. Look at the wonderful, robust set of technologies they've built with agile. Not.

I can't speak for those areas of the company, but in another, I see 'Agile' thrown about as a term regularly when the speaker apparently doesn't know what it means. There are those who've taken one aspect of one Agile Development Practice and then label their actions 'Agile'.

Anonymous said...

Goldman Sachs takes Microsoft off "Elite List"

Anonymous said...

NEver heard of the "Americas Conviction Buy" list. Also, MSFT made it to the list in June 06 only. Not like its been there for a long time.

Anonymous said...

The competent employees try to do their jobs better or leave before they are fired. The political employees, on the other hand, unite together and persuade the higher ups to fire the competent ones.

Nicely put. Nowhere is this more prevalent than at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Ray couldn't do any worse than Steve has, and with Steve & his buds out of the way, he'd have a decent chance of succeeding.

I used to think so as well. Until I found out Ray was a big backer of Second Life. He is a wizard and belongs where all MS wizards convene - in MS Research.

Anonymous said...

Guys,

I've got to say, that unless you want to be stuck at Microsoft for the rest of your career, you really should be bailing out right now. Having MS on your resume has gone from being a positive to neutral in the last year, and in another year it will be almost as bad as being an Arthur Andersen or Enron alumn. GET OUT before you get tainted with the chair-tosser's failures.

Anonymous said...

>Most of us that own our own companies would NEVER consider hiring an MSFT employee, so consider that before you go to sleep tonight comfortable that you could get a job anywhere.
...
>I've got to say, that unless you want to be stuck at Microsoft for the rest of your career, you really should be bailing out right now.

Same person.

Kevin Goldsmith said...

With all the desire to see MS right-size, it must be killing you when MS announces that it is acquiring property for another 4,000 employees in Bellevue and still expanding on campus.

I'm constantly amazed about how many good MS developers feel the same way you do Mini. A lot of them are scared because they've been at MSFT for so long, they don't know (or remember) what it is like out there in the real world. I left MS 3 years ago for the second time because I was tired of feeling like another cog-in-the-machine and I've never been happier. There is a lot of jobs around Seattle for good techies: Adobe in Fremont is hiring (my team even!), Google can't seem to hire enough MS devs, Amazon is still hiring or start your own company, the venture market is bouncing back. There is too much opportunity around to stick it out and hope that MS decides to start valuing people over process again...

Anonymous said...

>> "Should You Stay or Should You Go Now?"

I can only surmise that the reason for Microsoft woes is that your management / partners are unable or unwilling to do the right thing, or they don't know what the right thing is. Stop whining, mini, and get to work.

Even if you fixed everything today, it might not help because there is such a legacy of old world thinking, it might not help.

For those execs and partners reading this, here is your ten step plan to restarting a reasonable future:

1. First and foremost, Microsoft must turn into a customer driven company. This would mean rewriting the basic vision to be based on the thesis that you should give your customers what they want, give them what they need and the collective wants and needs of your customers are absolutes.

2. Understand that there is a new price point model for anything and everything you do. Its a global market and markets like China, Europe and South America have drawn down the ability of the North American market to sustain your existing pricing structure. In other words, its all on par now and customers are now unable or unwilling to pay anything close to what you are asking for your products.

3. Get it through your thickness that XBox division is an aberration to your business model. Not only do the Redmondites not understand the market, but neither do the California teams. To take that division to its logical conclusion would require you to create another Apple, which competes with your existing customers. You can't have it both ways. Either get in in a big way or get out of the business of building hardware.

4. There is no way in Heaven or on Earth that increasing headcount will solve your problems. Nuf said.

5. Stop bitching about MSR and stop attempting to make it into an applied research group. All your other divisions should already be doing applied research. MSR should be moved as far from Redmond as possible so that it can do its job. Put somebody in there who knows the difference between applied and pure research who is a true inventor, not a researcher. Create a separate group within each division to implement applied research either from MSR or elsewhere.

6. Shut down MSN, and really really think long and hard about whether or not you can ever make money in Google's live turf. I am not saying don't compete, but the task at hand is way over your current management's heads, so if you are going to go there, you will have to do it somewhere other than Redmond.

7. Realize once and for all that Microsoft can actually continue to sell operating systems and make money at it, but not the same way you have been doing it for 28 years. Using the customer driven model, a much much faster, smaller, more modular, and more customizable product product is needed, and probably as a piece of firmware, not on a DVD or download, and probably as a commodity, not as a leveraging tool. The OS needed today does not look anything at all like Vista, in fact quite the opposite.

8. Make a concerted and committed effort to eliminate leveraged marketing from the company. This is the reason for all your problems at the moment, because it a)causes internal criminal behavior and b)it really pisses your customers off, including governments who are inclined to slap you with either monopoly charges or by passing laws banning said behavior.

9. Totally revamp your legal division by a) firing all the lawyers, really. b) rehire a new set of lawyers tasked with things like fighting for your customers, filing constitutional challenges against the MCA, RIAA and others, defending the rights of your customers to be able to use and view purchased media without being treated like a criminal.

10. Completely revamp your security policy with the following sentence adhered to or products do not get sold: "No product will ever be released if it provides a negative user experience." If a paying customer is hindered or penalized by Microsoft efforts to secure our products or curtail piracy, then that not only Microsoft's fault (not the customer's) it is also the reason for falling sales a

Anonymous said...

Go work in live.com or MSN, agile is everywhere. Every dev hates it, it kills productivity, it leads to endless meetings and most importantly, it absolves PMs of any up front thinking. Look at the wonderful, robust set of technologies they've built with agile. Not.

I can't speak for those areas of the company, but in another, I see 'Agile' thrown about as a term regularly when the speaker apparently doesn't know what it means. There are those who've taken one aspect of one Agile Development Practice and then label their actions 'Agile'.

the problem here isn't the use, non-use or mis-use of agile -- the problem is that you have a bunch of people who can't ship to begin with desperately trying to save themselves by latching on to another panacea miracle system.

software development is a damn ART, as anyone who does it well knows. if you know how to build and ship software, you will always do a ninja combination of waterfall elements, agile elements and other basic common sense stuff, and you'll do it based on the needs of the project. you'll focus on building strong teams with good communication across disciplines, you'll focus on eliminating needless process while keeping beneficial process, and you'll stone to death the first person who starts talking about features as "stories".

agile has plenty of good ideas, just like waterfall has plenty of good ideas... but slavish devotion to either one with the hope that it's going to be your new savior will only lead to heartache. i'm a fantastic program manager and i work with fantastic developers and testers, and we use our brains and experience to do the right thing regardless of what a system tells us we should do.

elite teams that know how to ship shit have always been a rare breed either at MS or anywhere else, and agile hasn't done a single thing to change that. the best advice anyone can give you is to get a lot of experience, learn from your mistakes and improve each time. if you have the talent and the magic then you'll be able to accomplish great things without slavish devotion to any system. :P

Anonymous said...

Mini,
through my five years career at MSFT this blog has been pretty much my safety blanket. It helped me realize sanity was still there to be found, made me come to terms with who I am (and who I am not) and -most relevantly- helped me walk the line between gratitude for a company that picked me from the street in the middle of a recession, and anger at the way we worked and behaved. So as an ex-developer (IBM) ex consultant (BCG) and -as of six months- ex-MSFT (marketing) there are three points I would like to share with you and the friends I left behind.
1) You are not immune to the law of demand and supply. To date MSFT on a resume was pretty much a guarantee you were the one chosing to leave. I doubt that will remain true.
2) Superman does not exist. Steve B's (or his replacement's) task can be compared to performing brain surgery while wearing gloves. 30+ pair of gloves. One for each year we went through without having to re-adjust to reality (aka: the world where you can't define success as "once adjusted most customers don't hate the new Office interface that much"). The world where you get fired not for introducing but for thinking of products like Spot, Zune and the like (how many more years before tablet PCs will take off and conquer the world?). Given that, and having seen survivors at big blue, if you do stay make sure you get REAL chummy with your mgmt chain and they are REAL close to the areas of the business that are still profitable.
3) MSFT is an idea, not a company. Just like the Black Pearl was not a pirate ship but freedom, MSFT is -was- passion for technology. Dirty, 1.0 (don't get me started on IBM vs. MSFT SW :-)) get-the-job-done, in-your-face technology. Don't lose that. Wherever the wind may carry you that's what this company should have left you with. Best of luck Mini.

Anonymous said...

through my five years career at MSFT this blog has been pretty much my safety blanket.

Without question, Mini Microsoft is the best thing to come out of Microsoft in the last 5 years. When it comes to things I'm proud of regarding my Microsoft employement, Mini Microsoft is at the top of the list. No kidding. When I joined Microsoft the Emporer thought he had new clothes, and we, the subjects, had to pretend they were the finest clothes ever. With that advent of Mini, that precept was taken out in the backyard, hung over the line, and beat like a rug. Welcome sweet reality. Its painful and its challenging, and its often not pretty to look at, but it is reality, and that beats a "big lie" any day.

Anonymous said...

errata:

>If a paying customer is hindered or penalized by Microsoft efforts to secure our products or curtail piracy, then that not only Microsoft's fault (not the customer's) it is also the reason for falling sales a

should read:

If a paying customer is hindered or penalized by Microsoft efforts to secure or curtail piracy, then that is not only Microsoft's fault (and not the customer's fault), it is also the reason for falling sales and stock prices.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm leaving. There are several interrelated reasons, but the best summation is really the latest post on InsideMS. My translation of LisaB: "We, the execs, realize that you, the peons, don't trust us any more. What are you peons going to do so that you'll start trusting us again?"

As for the possible troll who keeps saying having MSFT on your resume is a declining value, he's exaggerating about the Enron bit, but I feel like the underlying point is true. There is less and less value to what I am learning at Microsoft. Worse, I am developing bad habits in the toxic environment. If I stayed another three years, I'm not sure I'd be employable anywhere. Time to move on. I'll remember the good days.

Anonymous said...

Well, I did it. I quit.

It's been seven years, and I've had a lot of the same misgivings about leaving as other people who comment here: the safety net of benefits, salary, the cachet of working for MS (such as it was), great projects, great people. All that.

But I reached my own tipping point after the most recent Windows reorg. In theory, the triad system seemed like a good plan. In practice, however, it has been a disaster. Although a great amount of lip service has been paid to the idea of streamlining software development, the amount of bureaucracy and process instituted is staggering. Yet, at the same time, there is a movement afoot to eliminate the people who deal with process so everyone else can write code, or test, or plan, or whatever it is they do.

My manager's commitments even include a lovely line about managing out 10% of his team by August. I don't think he'll have to - about 15 or so people left before me, and more are desperately looking to get out from under this mess.

My biggest question is this: does Steven Sinofsky know how disastrous this is, or are his mangers just telling him what he wants to hear (and what will keep their jobs safe)?

Anonymous said...

MSFT $40 this year? No way.

$32 this year? Achievable.

In a few more weeks, you'll see a rock solid number from MSFT in their quarterly earnings. Before that, they will be 1-2 more upgrades from some "analysts".


Only if Ballmer manages to keep his mouth shut. Only if there are no other "surprises".

Bets?

Anonymous said...

Response to Wednesday, April 11, 2007 3:39:00 PM:

What's with the MSN-hate? MSN makes money, it's the Live.com experiment that is losing money hand over fist.

Remember - MSN is for all intents and purposes a publishing house - if MSFT decides to spin it off, fine, but it is one of the better portals out there and is not intended to compete with Google (and on the flip side, Google isn't intended to compete with MSN).

Anonymous said...

If you were looking for a cool place to work outside Microsoft how would you go about finding it.
A workplace where there is less politics and more focus on working together to create an amazing product which will "wow" customers.

I am looking for suggestions apart from
1. posting resume on job websites
2. applying online to different companies
3. asking around among friends for open positions.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Here's one explanation for a lot of the traffic on mini and insidems:

"And watch out: There is no more toxic colleague than a thwarted narcissist, with his rage and sense of victimization."

From the article quoted above.

jamie said...

http://c9park.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/googlepark-attrition/

Anonymous said...

Mini (and others who have left the company),

You know what would really help the rest of us who want to leave Microsoft (well, atleast me)?

Please let us know which companies are hiring! Let us know what startups are there in Seattle area! Let us know who more pays more than Microsoft! Give us pointers on how to find good jobs (other than asking us to post our resumes on monster.com or dice.com)! Well, you get the idea...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: http://c9park.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/googlepark-attrition/

ROTFLMAO. Do make sure you read all the way to the bottom... right corner.

Props.

Anonymous said...

From Conan O'Brien's Harvard commencement speech 2002:

I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I'm as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.

So, that's what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over.


If you don't like MS anymore, dont be afraid to leave the comfort of MS.

Anonymous said...

Notes from the user base:

How to recognize a troll:

This spring I have awoken every morning to the sound of a kitten meowing outside my window. It's sooo kute, golly. But I know its a raven because I can hear before and after a kind of snickering sound that gives me a sense of a sarcastic joker who thrives on getting a rise from stupid creatures, or my two dogs (who love to chase cats for sport, but never never respond to the raven).

How to know cash flow panic when you see it:

'As time passes, pressure to move to Vista mounts'
http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=386
(dang, ya'know, that picture of her looks a bit like the Samuel J. Gopher from Winnie the Poo. Not flattering at all Mary Jo.)

Understanding the true Microsoft Business Strategy:

As a user, I am 100% convinced that Vista, DRM, pricing structure, disconnect between Vista Ready
and Vista Capable, blah bla blah bla blah, is a veiled expression by Microsoft founders to regain total control of Microsoft stock by driving stock down in value. Such a scenario has so many zen-like
intersections of value for Bill and Balm that I have lost count. But mostly that making software and saving mankind are boring as hell and I want to do something else now with all 'my' money...now.

Attempting Altruism to your Advantage (and failing enthusiastically):

Wow, Zune, Live, MSN, WGA, Ozzie, Bob

Anonymous said...

Give us pointers on how to find good jobs (other than asking us to post our resumes on monster.com or dice.com)!

You're an adult. Finding a job should not require hand-holding. Put a little thought and effort into it. It's not like there's a lack of resources out there.

Anonymous said...

In my case a good linkedin profile did the trick.

Anonymous said...

http://c9park.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/googlepark-attrition/

kept getting this page from google search:

"Your search - http://c9park.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/googlepark-attrition - did not match any documents.

Suggestions:

* Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
* Try different keywords.
* Try more general keywords."


Such are the dangers of a corporation with the ability to censor search, just like in Nazi China man. Dang.

I finally found another reference using yahoo search and it worked ok.

Once there, it is the funniest thing I have read in a while, but I was always more affected by pictures, you know, like in comic books.

I especially like the wizard of MS who says "what is this that stands before me!"

Anonymous said...

This article was an interesting comparison of corporate "personalities." Interestingly, although not surprisingly, the corporate personalities mirror the CEO's personalities.

Why Google isn't the next Microsoft
http://money.cnn.com/2007/04/11/magazines/business2/google_defense.biz2/index.htm?postversion=2007041215

Anonymous said...

>> more focus on working together to create an
>> amazing product which will "wow" customers

First you need to enter a detox for a month or two. Your blood kool-aid content is too high as of right now. Your goal should be not to "create amazing product" or "wow customers". That's Microsoft BS-speak created by higher ups to justify their bonuses. Your goal should be to get a job working on stuff that you think is interesting, and if the customers benefit in the process of you doing this job - so much the better. Because like it or not, you're more likely to please someone out there doing something you love.

M said...


>>Mini (and others who have left the company),

You know what would really help the rest of us who want to leave Microsoft (well, atleast me)?

Please let us know which companies are hiring! Let us know what startups are there in Seattle area

----------
on a related note ...... does anyone have suggestions on starting a startup ?

(Btw I'm a dev manager who has been in Microsoft for too long)


For one individual, finding/creating a good product idea and searching for potential customers and developing/shipping the product may or may not be a viable option. Alternately, working on one client-specific project may be a a more viable option (with more guaranteed revenue stream, but limited scope)

Does anyone have comments on starting a new business (either by starting with one confirmed customer or by starting with a generic-product-idea, but no confirmed customers)

Anonymous said...

We did the comparative salary review in the industry. HR and Finance has decided on 2% raise for regular employees and 10% raise for partners.

Anonymous said...

Today we lost yet another piece of the Internet to Google.

Great job Steve for letting them get DoubleClick. Soon all we will be left with is a bunch of useless client software and gridlock traffic from here to friggin Tacoma.

Mike said...

I'm not a softie but I'm posing this to all the Microsoft guys posting here. When you all talk about your pay are you generally making 90-100k+? Just wondering what is considered "bad pay".

Anonymous said...

You're an adult. Finding a job should not require hand-holding. Put a little thought and effort into it. It's not like there's a lack of resources out there.


You, my friend, will have a lot of problems finding a job when the time comes to it. Go ahead, live in your cocoon for now! And lets see how much of an 'adult' you are when your job is shipped to India or China in the months to come...

Anonymous said...

Your goal should be to get a job working on stuff that you think is interesting, and if the customers benefit in the process of you doing this job - so much the better.

Also your goal should be subordinately to get all those around you to stop passing the buck. There is a preponderance of MS employees who refuse to take responsibility for tough decisions. I'm amazed at the number of threads with F500 customers on them that simply die because every MS employee is waiting for the other to pick up the issue (“its not my job”.) It feels like we are involved in a cross-division company-wide "race to the bottom". This is a terrible time to be hiring 4000 new head. I’m totally convinced all will need to be laid off in 5 years or less. Much better to tackle quality control than throw more gas on the fire.

Anonymous said...

Today we lost yet another piece of the Internet to Google.

Google might be overpaying for Doubleclick in the same way they overpaid for YouTube. Unfortunately, we are not beneficiaries. Collateral business seems to be going to Yahoo. (Viacom, upset about pirated YouTube content, inked a deal with Yahoo.) Its becoming a "Valley" thing.

Anonymous said...

>on a related note ...... does anyone have suggestions on starting a startup ?

Keeperplanet was looking for VC funding a couple of blogs back . . . I think he is working on consumer hardware with software integration to be powered by some unique web 2.0 integrations. You will have to search mini for a contact link.

Anonymous said...

You, my friend, will have a lot of problems finding a job when the time comes to it. Go ahead, live in your cocoon for now! And lets see how much of an 'adult' you are when your job is shipped to India or China in the months to come...

Not really. I quit Microsoft a while ago and had half a dozen job offers within 2 weeks of quitting. If you passed the Microsoft dev interview, almost any other technical interview will be pretty easy. If your Microsoft interview was about designing or testing a soda machine, though, maybe you should be worried about India and China.

Anonymous said...


I'm not a softie but I'm posing this to all the Microsoft guys posting here. When you all talk about your pay are you generally making 90-100k+? Just wondering what is considered "bad pay".


I'm a SDE II, and base salary is $90K. I think my comp ratio is around 97% or so. With the annual bonus, rolling stock grants (not much), and ESPP, I broke into the six figures last year, and will probably again do so this year.

Add the incredible benefits and various discount programs we have (prime, other partner discounts if you take advantage), not to mention the flexible working hours, I'd say I have it pretty good here.

There's honestly nothing that I want that I don't have right now. Sure, it'd be nice to make $150+ and drive a 911 Turbo, but I don't think that'll make me any happier than I'm now. so I'm thankful in that regard. Sure, I may get another measly 2% raise and 6% bonus this year, but it's all relative. When all is said and done, I make more than twice the average salary in the Puget Sound region, so it's all good.

Anonymous said...

> Today we lost yet another piece of the Internet to Google.

GOOG paid $3BB in hard cash (not overvalued stock) for Double Click. This was a terrible price. Double Click was originally taken private by people who wanted an exit strategy and are not bringing rich talent into GOOG. Additionally, MSN is already way ahead of GOOG on display ads - which is what double click is about.

MSFT may have its problems but being wasteful doing deals is not one of them. GOOG likely overpaid for doubleclick because of Steve's work.

Anonymous said...

does anyone have suggestions on starting a startup ?

Multimedia and mobile space are currently hot areas. Convergence of multimedia and mobile would be a good idea too. Generally, you need a strong programmer and one good marketing guy in the beginning. Then you can hire more programmers as you get funding.

On a related note, does anyone have a list of startups in and around Seattle area? Searching on Google returns a bunch of old blogs and not very useful results.

Anonymous said...

Go work in live.com or MSN, agile is everywhere. Every dev hates it, it kills productivity, it leads to endless meetings and most importantly, it absolves PMs of any up front thinking. Look at the wonderful, robust set of technologies they've built with agile. Not.

Yo Dev, I am a PM and if I ever run into you out on the town I'll buy you a drink. If I hear "we don't need to worry about that yet." from another one of my PM peers, I am going to lose it completely.

Me no likey agile-flavored kool aid....

Anonymous said...

Re: Does anyone have comments on starting a new business...

Well, you could start by studying business, management, accounting and marketing, for example. You could learn how to find and appeal to customers, deal with their flaky and transient interest, deal with their unwillingness or reluctance to pay for what you deliver.

Little things like that.

Or find someone who already knows how to do all that and work with/for them. You might need to convince them why you're worth what you think you're worth and, of course, get them to pay you that.

Not to burst any future entrepeneur's bubble, but working for yourself is a lot harder than working for even the ugliest and nastiest manager. It can also be a lot more rewarding and fun, if you like doing things for yourself.

But, it's not for everyone, and if you need someone to tell you how to get started, I'd say you failed before you even started. Most entrepeneurs don't need to ask, they just go looking for it. They don't sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do or where to go.

If you need that sort of direction, stay employed and enjoy your steady paycheck and benefits.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, lots of negative comments in these blogs about Microsoft, it must be a horrible place to work.

Well about 30% of the comments are positive to neutral.
Seems about 25% are from people outside of Microsoft, some used to work there though.
Well at about half of the messages are just replies to others …
Must posters say 80% seemed to have posted in past mini-blogs ….

5 years, maybe 500 messages a month …

60,000 messages
* 20% new each month
* 50% are not repeats
* 75% from inside Microsoft
* 70% negitive
3150

3150 / 75000 (?) employees is 4.2% ….

Considering the estimates are probably very conservative … WOW Microsoft must be a great place to work if that is all the complaining that goes on!!!

Anonymous said...

benefits. i stay because of the benefits. i used to think i stayed because of the cool technology. then it became passion. then it all sort of fizzled when cool technology and passion didn't get you anywhere. now you have to follow new policies and procedures, get a purchase order, have a risk assessment done, just to take a dump. seriously, if we were a hospital, all of our patients would be dead.

Anonymous said...

Considering the estimates are probably very conservative … WOW Microsoft must be a great place to work if that is all the complaining that goes on!!!


You're right. And last year, MS dropped from 5 to 50 on Fortune's Best Companies to Work For. Things are looking up.

Anonymous said...

"..if you need someone to tell you how to get started, I'd say you failed before you even started. Most entrepeneurs don't need to ask, they just go looking for it. They don't sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do or where to go."

You can study all you want but the best way to start a business is to "just do it". You'll learn things along the way and they'll be real and they apply to your situations. A lot of people spend a lot of time reading business books on starting a business and it's a waste of time. And also, I'm sure you don't have a lot of ideas now because you're so busy at work to think about anything else. Quit your job and then you'll suddenly realize the world is huge out there. Ideas will start coming to you.

btw, I was a dev lead. I quit last year to start my business and I've been very happy.

Anonymous said...

3150 / 75000 (?) employees is 4.2% ….

WOW Microsoft must be a great place to work if that is all the complaining that goes on!!!


Not true...That is all the complaining you hear about on Mini. There are thousands who read Mini and complain but dont post on Mini. And then are thousands who dont read Mini (and dont post on Mini) and complain.

Anonymous said...

>> Considering the estimates are probably very conservative …


Your estimate is not conservative - it's stupid. Consider that 80% of Microsoft have no idea this blog exists, 50% are afrait to post and 40% don't give a shit and come there for a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

"I also resent the generalization that some make about any single group of people working for any single employer. This smacks of racism. We can all do better than that."

In general I agree with your post but I think you mean, this smacks of 'stereotyping' or 'bigotry'.

Anonymous said...

3150 / 75000 (?) employees is 4.2% ….

WOW Microsoft must be a great place to work if that is all the complaining that goes on!!!


Most of the blog posters seem to be redmond based and sometimes you have folks from US field. There is a very small spatterring of international. Therefore, your set is not 75K its more like 30K. 3150/30000 is nearly 10%. Combine this with folks who don't know this blog exists, those who don't comment but read and sympathize all the same.....and not to forget those who post on InsideMS. You have a HUGE dissat going on. WAKE UP - YOU HR KLUTZ!

Anonymous said...

I stay because Microsoft is processing my green card.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous@11:09PM:

Uhm, can you please provide some more details? Otherwise, most readers will probably assume you are a troll. HR deciding to provide vastly different percentage merit pools for "normals" and partners is something that should be leaked to the public (or at least to other employees) as quickly and as convincingly as possible. HR setting the merit pool at less than inflation for any level is a pay cut and is just not acceptable!

Anonymous said...

"Consider that 80% of Microsoft have no idea this blog exists"

I think 80% is very high. Almost everyone in Redmond knows about this blog. Plus, there are very few discussions in the US field (both Sales and Services from VP's on down) that don't reference Mini. I'd say that about 90%+ of US employees are very aware of this blog and you could assume about 25% of those outside of the US. A safer statement would be that 80% of Microsoft has no idea about InsideMS.

Cheers...

Anonymous said...


Re: Does anyone have comments on starting a new business...

Well, you could start by studying business, management, accounting and marketing, for example. You could learn how to find and appeal to customers, deal with their flaky and transient interest, deal with their unwillingness or reluctance to pay for what you deliver.

Little things like that.

Or find someone who already knows how to do all that and work with/for them. You might need to convince them why you're worth what you think you're worth and, of course, get them to pay you that.

Not to burst any future entrepeneur's bubble, but working for yourself is a lot harder than working for even the ugliest and nastiest manager. It can also be a lot more rewarding and fun, if you like doing things for yourself.

But, it's not for everyone, and if you need someone to tell you how to get started, I'd say you failed before you even started. Most entrepeneurs don't need to ask, they just go looking for it. They don't sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do or where to go.

If you need that sort of direction, stay employed and enjoy your steady paycheck and benefits.


You've got a huge problem if you assume that asking for comments and discussion on startups indicates a failure.

You also have a reading comprehension problem if you assume that the post indicated "waiting for someone to tell them what to do or where to go"

Anonymous said...

And in the meanwhile, Apple scores another home run:

http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/
http://www.apple.com/finalcutserver/

God, it feels good to own AAPL these days.

Anonymous said...

GOOG paid $3BB in hard cash (not overvalued stock) for Double Click. This was a terrible price. Double Click was originally taken private by people who wanted an exit strategy and are not bringing rich talent into GOOG. Additionally, MSN is already way ahead of GOOG on display ads - which is what double click is about. MSFT may have its problems but being wasteful doing deals is not one of them. GOOG likely overpaid for doubleclick because of Steve's work.


... and Steve's so proud of the good job he did that now we're trying to block the deal on an anti-trust basis ... dude WAKE UP

The said...

Doubleclick is a bad pickup.

Youtube is like the Hotmail pickup. Neither good or bad.

Hotmail was a better product before they sold out.

Anonymous said...

Please let us know which companies are hiring! Let us know what startups are there in Seattle area!

Uh...no. Please use monster.com. Don't let this place fill up for spam for people that want to poach
MS employees.

Great job Steve for letting them get DoubleClick.

A week or so ago, the rumor was that it we had bid it up to $2 billion. The final sale was $3.2 billion (seriously? BILLION?? Are they playing with monopoly money or something?). HELL YEAH they're overpaying. 30 or 40 more crappy deals like this and we'll put google out of business!!

Anonymous said...

"30 or 40 more crappy deals like this and we'll put google out of business!!"

You almost made me spit, I started to laugh so unexpectedly. Do you guys not see it in your own culture-- that MS thrives as a conscientious follower? MS has a number of its own ideas, but its bread and butter is taking others' ideas, retooling them, and crushing the competition through business acumen, not technological prowess.

YOU GUYS ARE SO TOTALLY NOT GOING TO CRUSH GOOGLE. While your execs pilfer away your lead, others are changing the game. MS is not looked at a cool brand. This is the consequence of aligning with the pocket protector demographic. Someone there knows this-- Zune and Xbox are trying to break the mold. A la Dr. Phil: how's that workin' for ya'? Yes, it's a pile of cash. But where's the joy? The beauty of what tech has to offer? The sort of pushing the edge that makes people want to rally around you because you bring the future into reach?

I say this not to flame, but because it's shocking as an outsider what you don't see or maybe don't want to see. You guys have talent up the wazoo, but its implementation is basically tech geek codus interuptus. Cute girl, lots of potential, parents on vacation, and you're worried that the neighbor kid got a better ten speed.

Google is not your biggest competitor. It's your leaders' determination not to me outmoded.

Anonymous said...

"HELL YEAH they're overpaying. 30 or 40 more crappy deals like this and we'll put google out of business!!"

Interesting comment. Wonder why the leadership (thru head lawyer Brad Smith) is protesting this proposed aquisition as an antitrust concern. You would think that the leadership would be elated and encourage the acquisition!

Anonymous said...

>> Wonder why the leadership (thru head lawyer Brad Smith) is protesting this proposed aquisition as an antitrust concern.

Because GOOG would then be out of the bidding. And MSFT could buy it for $2BB or perhaps less. Either way - (goog pays too much or msft gets it for its price) - it is a winning strategy for MSFT.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why the leadership (thru head lawyer Brad Smith) is protesting this proposed aquisition as an antitrust concern.

Why not? Sun and Oracle spread enough money around to get that crap to stick to MS and it was about as justified. Seems reasonable for Google's competitors to take a spin at the wheel.

Now someone would only figure out what the equivalent of OpenOffice to drop on on a few of the other guys is, then we'd be rocking.

Anonymous said...

YOU GUYS ARE SO TOTALLY NOT GOING TO CRUSH GOOGLE.

According to steveb we are going to crush Google. Let's roll the tape ...

At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google." ....

Anonymous said...

I'm going to fucking kill Google." ....

And then Steve hires the wizardly Ray to set technical direction and blow us all away with his clever billion dollar innovations...

And then, Ray writes a memo...

And then NO CODE gets written to deliver on Ray's vision...

Bottom line. To Steve, this is a game of spin and deception. He does not get that the ONLY thing that matters in this war that he is waging is CODE. Steve doesn't know what code looks like, what it smells like, what its like to design and build it. None of the people around Steve know what this stuff is either.

Google is a company run by engineers. They have incredible infrastructure deployed world wide. The write code all day long, and they update their massive data centers with new builds on a daily basis. You can not fight this agility with old school tactics.

If Microsoft wants to get in this game it needs to adopt some of the internal agility thats present within Google. Throwing temper tantrums and cussing the CEOs of other companies is not a winning formula. The ONLY way to win is to get in the game and code your way to dominance.

Given that Steve has surrounded himself with "visionaries" like Ray I don't see this happening. Ray would need to lead by example. He would need to dust off his editor, and as we used to say in the old days, "shit code". He would have to produce brilliant algorithms and deploy his code on a daily basis and show the entire world that Microsoft is "in the game". Through daily updates, he would send a strong message that backwards momentum has stopped and everything Microsoft touches from here on out gets better on a DAILY basis.

You guys on the inside have the tools to know whats going on. IS Ray "shitting code?" OR is Ray "shitting powerpoint?" There is a huge difference, BUT it's not something that someone like Steve and his yes-men would understand. Do us a favor and run this command...

sd changes ... | grep rayo | wc -l

If the answer is 500 or higher than Google should be scared to death.

So, "Should You Stay or Should You Go Now?"

For me, I left ~2.5 years ago...

Anonymous said...

Mini - wake up, its time for a new post!! Lots of stuff has happened since your last post...MSFT has risen up to 28.60...and thats speaking volumes!

Anonymous said...

And then Steve hires the wizardly Ray to set technical direction and blow us all away with his clever billion dollar innovations...
...
Google is a company run by engineers. They have incredible infrastructure deployed world wide. The write code all day long, and they update their massive data centers with new builds on a daily basis. You can not fight this agility with old school tactics.

If Microsoft wants to get in this game it needs to adopt some of the internal agility thats present within Google. Throwing temper tantrums and cussing the CEOs of other companies is not a winning formula. The ONLY way to win is to get in the game and code your way to dominance.

...
Through daily updates, he would send a strong message that backwards momentum has stopped and everything Microsoft touches from here on out gets better on a DAILY basis.
...


Hey markl, (it is obviously you) I agree about Steve/Ray, BUT...

Don't project your Windows career on ANY software project. There are some products that require long engineering process to ensure quality first and agility second. I'm in the Server division and we can't put something out every day. The cost of an error is so much greater than in a search engine or email program that it is prohibitive. We have to put numerous CTP releases before RTM, because if customers lose their data they will never buy from us again (but happily pay 2-3x the price to Oracle or IBM).

Then there is XBox...although profit is missing, it may realize.

My point is that Microsoft today is more than Windows and not everything can be converted to a Web service. I agree that Ray looks unlikely to turn Windows and Office around...but it's not an immediate death to Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

There are some products that require long engineering process to ensure quality first and agility second. I'm in the Server division and we can't put something out every day.

I think you are missing a key point in the comment from 4/18@8:00pm...

This comment has absolutely NOTHING to do with Microsoft's tactics in their Monopoly Operating System business. In this space, Microsoft sets the rules. The long running CTP programs, the multi-year development cycles, the strong arming of OEM's, etc. are all key elements in the engineering and release processes associated with this class of commercial software. The cost of entering this war is extremely high and we see very few entrants. No one will argue with you that maintaining your Monopoly is something that you do extremely well and that you know more about what it takes to maintain this Monopoly than any other company (or government).

I read this comment as being all about Microsoft's war with Google. In this war, Google, and the general "software as a service" model sets the rules. In this war things move very quickly, companies must be very agile, etc. Mr. Ballmer can not fight and win this war with powerpoint, temper tantrums, market manipulation, blantantly ignoring court rulings, etc.

If Mr. Ballmer is serious about this war he needs to fight it using the techniques that others in this space use. As the poster points out, agile code that is incrementally improved and deployed on a daily basis is one of the many costs of entry.

As you point out this is exactly opposite the approach Mr. Ballmer needs to take in order to preserve his Windows and Office Monopoly.

Something to ponder...

If preserving the Windows and Office Monopoly requires one software development and delivery model, and engaging in a costly war with Google requires a model that is exactly opposite, does Microsoft posess the engineering skills, mindset, and leadership team thats capable of excelling under both models?

If I was going to bet on this, I would bet that the answer is NO. In fact, if we turned the tables and asked if Google could sucessfully wage a war with Microsoft on it's terms, I would bet against Google for the very same reasons that I'd bet against Microsoft.

-not markl

Anonymous said...

Wonder why the leadership (thru head lawyer Brad Smith) is protesting this proposed aquisition as an antitrust concern.

Because who knows more about the antitrust laws than our own legal department?

Anonymous said...

If that really is markl, it would be interesting to know exactly what brilliant and innovative code he's shipped at google so far.

Surely we should be looking at it right now, seeing as it ships so often.

Where can I find it? Anyone?

Hello?

SKC

Anonymous said...

sd changes ... | grep rayo | wc -l

Except that Ray's alias is rozzie, IIRC (I left last year).

Anonymous said...

I think you are missing a key point in the comment from 4/18@8:00pm...

This comment has absolutely NOTHING to do with Microsoft's tactics in their Monopoly Operating System business. In this space, Microsoft sets the rules. The long running CTP programs, the multi-year development cycles, the strong arming of OEM's, etc. are all key elements in the engineering and release processes associated with this class of commercial software. The cost of entering this war is extremely high and we see very few entrants. No one will argue with you that maintaining your Monopoly is something that you do extremely well and that you know more about what it takes to maintain this Monopoly than any other company (or government).

I read this comment as being all about Microsoft's war with Google. In this war, Google, and the general "software as a service" model sets the rules. In this war things move very quickly, companies must be very agile, etc. Mr. Ballmer can not fight and win this war with powerpoint, temper tantrums, market manipulation, blantantly ignoring court rulings, etc.
...


I think you're missing my point. I wasn't talking about Monopoly Operating Systems, as I specifically said. Our Server business does NOT have a monopoly in its industry! In fact, from slides and research that I've seen we're not even at 10% of addressable market (in terms of $$$s). Think about it in the context of STB division approaching Windows/Office in revenue already (at only 10% of the market).

My point (to reiterate) is that the software pie is so much greater than either web services like search, or client apps like Windows and Office.

I read markl's comment as competing with Google on the bottom line, not on market share in search. So while I don't see us beating Google in its own game (with Ballmer at the helm, at least), Microsoft will continue to grow its top and bottom lines.

Anonymous said...

Forget the BS that the EE guys are feeding you about high level testers because QA just isn't a particularly valuable job outside of MS.

If we're thinking of the same EE guys, I didn't see BS...ok - at least not from the EE IC. I spent some time talking to the IC from EE (sorry for the purposeful ambiguity), and his combination of passion and knowledge...and especially his honesty was inspiring enough for me.

Which, of course leads me exactly back to answering Mini's question (which actually emphasizes your point above).

I stay at MS because there are very few other companies in the world I can go to and contribute as a senior tester. I'm fascinated by the problems that test could potentially solve and despite all of the BS mentioned elsewhere in this blog, it's worth it to me to stick around and try to contribute.

Anonymous said...

I read this comment as being all about Microsoft's war with Google. In this war, Google, and the general "software as a service" model sets the rules. In this war things move very quickly, companies must be very agile, etc. Mr. Ballmer can not fight and win this war with powerpoint, temper tantrums, market manipulation, blantantly ignoring court rulings, etc.

There's really no excuse for Microsoft to be in this war at all. It's an embarrassing failure that hurts our reputation and lowers the stock price.

Steveb made enough noise about "software as a service" that it changed how Microsoft is measured as a company, and according to the new measurement, we suck.

We need to get off this Google/Yahoo/Sony/Apple-copying bender and focus on our neglected core business, which is making client software: OSs, office suites, IDEs, and databases that people like and want to spend money on. We are leaving billions on the table here by confusing everybody and churning out crap that nobody wants to pay for.

Anonymous said...

Blah blah Google blah agility blah blah blah SaaS blah coding blah genuis engineers.

Horseshit. You people read too many Business 2.0 articles.

GOOG is making a lot of advertising money. But they the only company making significant bucks from this so-called new Web 2.0 in the cloud whatever paradigm. Salesforce.com is a blip on Microsoft's radar. YHOO is in the tank. AOL is so desperate they're considering buying MSN (according to the Journal--please, do it!!)

I for one am glad that Ballmer's paying lip service to this nonsense while making sure Ozzie and his "deep thinkers" (Amitabh, etc.) are off in a corner where they can't spend too much money or do too much harm.

Talk to me when Google gets a business other than advertising. Or when another "cloud" company shows up with something other than water vapor on their financial report.

That said, I'm sure GOOG is a funner place to work--their rapid growth in one business can fund a lot of nice meals and vanity projects.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft makes the list of companies that are in both Fortune 1000 and in the best-companies-to-work-for list.

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0704/gallery.f100_employers.fortune/4.html

Is the average salary of a developer at Msft really 118K?

Anonymous said...

Yes, MarkL ships "code" http://googleajaxsearchapi.blogspot.com/2007/04/announcing-google-ajax-feed-api.html

Unfortunately, the apis also bring all the complexity, backward compat, and versioning problems Windows has been plagued with to the web. Except now, when Mark changes an api, everyone is expected to fix their stuff in a month. I'm sure he'll soon be inventing QFEs and Service Packs to consolidate api updates.

Anonymous said...

>Steveb made enough noise about "software as a service" that it changed how Microsoft is measured as a company, and according to the new measurement, we suck.

Dang, I'm still trying to get through the old stuff, you know, XP etc. etc. This user says it s. . . too.

And another PM said this:
>"Blah blah Google blah agility blah blah blah SaaS blah coding blah genuis engineers."

It just gets funner and funner--best post this topic award.

Ok, Mini needs substance to keep from being CRFed: Labels help nada. I like the Apple design philosophy--`we just try to keep the form out of the way so it does not distract from the user experience', or something like that. do you think you can do that?

Anonymous said...

>>QA just isn't a particularly valuable job outside of MS.
>there are very few other companies in the world I can go to and contribute as a senior tester.


I really don't see the difference between the two statements.

Mark Lucovsky, Software Engineer said...

remind me again how i got pegged as the author of these random troll posts?

it is enjoyable reading, but jeeze get a life. you guys are both right. shipping high quality client side software is very different than shipping software as a service. lets just leave it at that and get back to work.

-markl

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of questions for the ex-MSFTies out there:

I'm sure most of you left for various reasons that, in one way or another, led to the feeling 'I've had enough'.

I'm sure that the next offer was better and paid X% more and/or had great stock prospects adding Y to the deal. What is X? Was it the stock prospects alone? Or both? I think I've landed a great offer - great people, leader in the technology and the X sounds very nice, stock prospects look good. But I don't quite know if it is as nice as it should be for a typical jump from MS. I would appreciate if you could help me out.

Anonymous said...

I faced this question 3 months ago, after 9 years with MSFT.

Result - I left.

I came to MSFT with purpose, dedication, and passion. I wanted to contribute towards the innovation of great software that would have an impact. I put my heart and soul into it. After v1, MSFT gave-up and conceeded market leadership in that space to a competitor.

Many (different) project releases later, I left feeling beaten-down and cynical about MSFT real ability to innovate or excite customers.

I worked with many great, talented people. I miss them. I worked for a few excellent leaders. I miss them. I don't miss all the "this is a super-exciting" blah-blah-blah cheerleading about bogus, boring features that are off-target with customer needs. I don't miss the demotivation of the performance review process.

Leaving was the right choice for me. I'm 40+, but too young to allow my talents, time and passion to be wasted on the MSFT "assembly line".

ps - kept my ProClub membership...

Anonymous said...

Not to preach to the choir, but this downgrade today contained the following rationale (from http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/newsanalysis/ratings/10353711.html):

Software giant Microsoft (MSFT - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) has been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's profits increased 65.6% in the third quarter of fiscal 2007 compared to the same quarter a year ago, thanks to sales of the company's latest operating system software Vista.

However, a jump in operating income due to higher revenue has been partially offset by increased headcount-related costs and advertising and marketing expenses associated with new product launches. Revenue from the entertainment and devices segment went down 21.4% over the past fiscal year because of decreased Xbox 360 sales. Microsoft had been rated a buy since September 2006.


First time I've seen headcount included in a downgrade analysis for us... :-(

Anonymous said...

Man, it's not just Microsoft with the problem. Yeah, I'm a softie, have been one for going on 6 years. Typing that makes me feel old :) I work hard, deliver results, run a kick ass team, and try to shield newbies from coporate BS. It's working for someone else in general that bothers me. Why spend your time and talent making somone else's dreams and financial rewards come true? We're just hampsters running on a wheel. All coporations, not just Microsoft. Work for yourself if you're truly passionate about making the life you dream.

Anonymous said...

I'm a long time softie and am at my limit with this place. In more than 12 years I've never interviewed outside the company but now I'm ready to look for greener pastures. But I've been too loyal and don't even have good recruiter contacts. Does anyone have any recommendations for good tech recruiters who specialize in senior marketing positions?

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