Monday, September 03, 2007

Microsoft Company Meeting Ahoy!

Just some random events happening before the Company Meeting this Thursday (BEWARE Seattle drivers! Stay away from Safeco field!).

Are you, like, LisaB's BFF? Well, no. I think LisaB is losing momentum and getting caught up in a cult-of-personality not of her making (what will we have this year? Orange berets?). But she certainly is poised to flip the momentum she has built up and have big impact - as far as she can as the HR head - to the everyday Microsoftie.

Some of the items not shared in this week's BW online snippet with me (for sake of space and/or coherency):

  • A mention of the book Corporate Confidential and my praise of HR Generalist work hard to be on the employee's side.
  • A mention of the InsideMS blog meltdown and how all that super-valuable employee input didn't seem to play into the revised myMicrosoft benefits, questioning the whole reason for the blog to exist (served as prelude to the later comment on the meltdown).
  • A question about the review process where I rip the awful review tools a new one. (Interjection: I guess the tools [or HRIT] felt a disturbance in my karma because what happened recently? Screwed over by the performance tools. "No, Mr. Mini, I expect you to be the one with a new one ripped." Yep. Still hurts to sit.)
    • And I put the blame for this whole tool-based / god-awful workflow review process squarely on Ms. Brummel's shoulders.
  • An extended riff on the continued focus on individual excellence at the expense of considering team excellence. (Interjection: by the way, is there a reward this week at the Company Meeting for Best Microsoft Team?)
  • A list of things I believe LisaB and our corporate leaders need to focus on:
    1. A local commuter bus system would be great. I’d love to commute to work through some sort of morning and evening shuttle (one that had WiFi so that I could do email). Less cars on the packed roads of Redmond. Good thing.
    2. Bring back the 15% ESPP as it was. This was a dumb cost-saving move.
    3. Up the 401K matching contribution.
    4. Start implementing a culture change to support people working at home. Really. Not words. Actions. Put in remote offices in Seattle for people who want to live in Seattle but waste two hours a day in the commute.
    5. Drop intent-to-interview and permission-to-interview altogether and just let people interview internally (and make internal interviews more lightweight for job positions near what you’re currently doing).
    6. Aggressively recruit within the company first. We put it 100% on the employee’s shoulder to find a new position within the company. Dumb. We should have internal recruiters to help rebalance people vs. having them just give up the search and leave.
    7. Bring back the mid-year review to at least let the employees know their ranking. Making it an all or nothing once-a-year result is the reason for a lot of angst over compensation.

There is still plenty of room to improve. Some other feedback around the article includes this comment:

I am shocked, but I probably shouldn't be. Now MS has taken it's own problems (crappy morale, crummy hr) and spun them in true "Thank You for Smoking" style into a feel-good story about Lisa Brummel.

The BusinessWeek article is full of half-truths spun as cute anecdotes. Great storytelling, but makes it sound like the world is all rosy.

What about Sr. VPs who place their own system on the reviewmodel so they can effectively re-implement the stack ranking of old? What about the fact that ratings are still about tearing your team-mates down to make sure your review is good? What is she doing to improve trust of HR? What is this transparency she claims has made HR such a beloved part of Microsoft?

Again, great article for the masses... nice spin to turn it into a nice story for the shareholders out there. Why does it not seem like anything has happened here?

And this comment:

I was VERY disappointed with her lack of vision, short sightedness and in the end flat out cowardess for doing the right thing. I'm back in the non-fan camp.

I just don't have enough room to accommodate being ripped another for this comment:

Mini--you are a real sell-out in that interview, saying that employees on average are happy with Brummel. Have you forgotten the hundreds of posts and months of bitterness when people found out that she "got rid of the curve" by simply obscuring it? Aside from various trivialities like bringing back towels, she's done zip. The review system still has no means of rewarding people or groups for contributing to the bottom line (only for sucking up better than their teammates), it certainly doesn't provide a mechanism for holding executives accountable, and there's still the old-boys-club partner system.

If people are unhappy, then they won't go bug-eyed wild for Brummel when she presents (probably second only to Ballmer). Let's see this Thursday how popular she is. Again, I'm worried about the cult-of-personality here. Second to last:

Interesting to learn that Ballmer's incompetence is at the root of MS's personnel management troubles. Of course, by his own criteria, he should have gotten the axe many years ago. The company hasn't even matched the performance of the S&P 500 since he got the Big Chair.

Flying chairs and broken golf clubs? Found via the BW blogger Stephen Baker, Sun's Jim Grisanzio ponders:

"... When Ballmer floated the HR job in April, 2005, Brummel said: No way. But Ballmer wasn't about to take no for an answer. Picking up a traveling golf putter, the Microsoft chief started taking it apart as he barreled around Brummel's office, hammering home why she was the perfect candidate. [...] The two went back and forth, with Ballmer slapping Brummel's whiteboard for emphasis and Brummel parrying with: 'But I love doing products.' After more than two hours, Ballmer ended the meeting. By then the putter was in pieces. 'Sorry about the golf club,' he said. Brummel was deeply conflicted ...."

Deeply conflicted? I'll bet. My goodness. I'm just trying to imagine McNealy or Schwartz whipping into my office and breaking my golf club on my white board. I'd be deeply conflicted, too.

Office Space: not the movie, the future. If you're interested in one take on the future of Microsoft offices, read the comment that starts with the following:

On the topic of office space. This is the first time that I have seen Lisa mentioned as the one who came up with the idea of implementing the "open" space concept. If true, she should be terminated immediately based solely on that decision. If you haven't seen what "open" space looks like and are in the Seattle area, take an extended lunch and head to the new Lincoln Square offices in downtown Bellevue. 17th floor on up.

Heard and good rumors? Like this comment:

There's going to be a special reward announced. It has something to do with the number of years you've worked at Microsoft. Sort of a big "thank you" from Bill

I also wonder about some of the benefits mentioned in the BW article that I've never heard about before and if they are going to be announced this week (commuter bus, free lunch, etc. etc.). If not: awk-ward.

Compensation: talk about a way to start an interesting conversation about compensation! Just write a comment in as a Microsoft Partner that contains this:

I am a partner. I do not think I have been fully compensated. I am at least equal to two 67s on my team. I got both of them about 550K. My VP screwed me and gave me only 650K.

We give too much money to low levels. They are replaceble. But we anyway make them cross 100K. We compensate them above market and we get them in bunch. Superstars and partners are less compensated here. No surprise they join Google.

The kind of talent we get in opening positions are not worth 100K. They are no better than an average worker at mcdonalds.

My recommendation to fix the company is the same as mini. Cut the crap. Show a mcdonald to mcdonaldis employees. Money saved can go to the bottom line and raise the stock price. In this case superstars can get atleast some respectable compensation. My 450K stock are way below my market value. By cutting the crap these stocks will be worth at least double. My compensation then cross a million. I can say to google recruiters to look somewhere else. Google, please take half of my team.

I love it: "Google, please take half of my team." 'at'll learn 'em. That's followed by a comment later that ends with a kicker:

The rant by low level employees on this blog is not understandable. The goal of this blog is to get you fired. It is advocating to show you an exit gate.

So on this blog, if you accept Mini's statement then you are accepting that you are not needed. If you do not, then you should rant against Mini or at leats not post here.

Office Glass Ceiling: I don't have time to roll it up now, but a bunch of comments have been musing over the slowness of promotions in a number of teams, Office being the worse offender for slow promotions. What has your experience been with-respect-to slow groups, fast groups, or just-right groups?

Finally: whatever you do, don't watch this all the way through to the end. I warned ya.


97 comments:

Anonymous said...

"But she certainly is poised to flip the momentum she has built up and have big impact - as far as she can as the HR head - to the everyday Microsoftie."

What momentum? She had momentum building up with her listening tour. She gave it a good shot with MyMicrosoft 1.0 - but only because it whetted people's appetites for what might really change later. Then as we go through the first perf review under her much-trumpeted new system, we find that it's really not that different. Oh, and now we have Limited II to crush morale in novel ways heretofore only imagined or guessed at.

Then MyM 2.0? Uh, yeah. Total letdown. More of a "You've got to be kidding?" than anything else.

Add to that the hyping of her MSInside blog in which she cherrypicks a couple of comments occassionaly to slather with praise or to selectively answer (much rarer), and the mountains of constructive suggestions that she not only doesn't respond to but completely ignores - as in, pretends that no one is even making suggestions!

She had momentum, I'll grant you that. But she lost it a long, long time ago. She coulda been a contender. Now it'll have to be someone else (or no one at all perhaps).

Sure hope the Company Meeting has some spiffy dodad announcements to cast off some of the gloom, don't you? But I'm the one who will be at the HP movie (see previous comments), so I'll check in with y'all later to see what transpired at the big whoopdedoo.

Anonymous said...

I would really like to see a one-time extra vacation week, awarded as follows: all levels 67 and above take the same week off, no work of any sort allowed; the following week, all levels 66 and below take the week off, no work of any sort allowed.

Just to see what the actual impact would be...

Anonymous said...

I did an interview in Windows earlier this year. The way they were going, you'd think I was interviewing for a Technical Fellow spot. After blowing them away in the original loop, they added 3 more folks to the loop (after AA mind you). WTF? What does Lisa think about this kind of stuff?

Anyway they helped me make up my mind. Stay the 'F' out of Windows. Those made white guys are not about to go anywhere soon. If you thought the BrianV coup changed anything, you are kidding yourself. The many inner sanctums/country clubs in Windows are almost impossible to penetrate, worse if you are of the wrong pigmentation.

Anonymous said...

Re: Google, please take half of my team

From my experience to date, most of the partners in the company (GMs, VPs ...) are acting as if they are actually getting paid by Google - slowing down projects, randomizing processes etc ... - I wander what this specific partner would do without L60 developers writing code for his group

Anonymous said...

Drunken rant time: I don't give a rat's ass about what Brummel does. The MyMicrosoft crap, Starbucks, the towels, even the ESPP doesn't bother me. What I want is MS to be an industry leader again.

It's pretty damn clear that Office and Windows have hit their peaks; no significant growth can be expected there. The slow promotions, shared offices, etc. are just cost control measures and are going to remain in place forever. If there's any growth to be found it will be in online services and the consumer products (a la Xbox & Zune). Instead of the leadership of the current crop of incompetents, we need an innovation steamroller.

Run projects on a shoestring. Anybody that gets in the way of a plausible idea gets shown the door. You idea partially competes with an existing product? No problem, let the best one win. Whoever came up with an idea that takes off gets to be GM, regardless of prior level.

Sounds a bit like Google? Unlike Google, we are attached to OS expertise, database expertise, compiler and language expertise, HTTP server expertise, hardware expertise, and MS Research. If we can't win, we don't deserve to.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. The Windows clique hegemony is not unique. Ever tried to get a job in gaming? You may be a rock star PM or dev, but if you don't have "years of game studio experience"...forget it. I'm close to going out to get a few piercings, tattoos and try to get a gig over there. Bottom line is that we are no longer ONE COMPANY, we are a loose conglomeration of ramdom fiefdoms which may or may not play well together, but definitely have a ceiling for anyone wanting to move up, in or around.

Anonymous said...

Re: Google, please take half of my team

Google, please take this guy. He's clearly the type of partner we don't need around here, wearing blinders about the true value of the people and obviously in love with his own perceived value.

Anonymous said...

As a HR director, I like what Lisa Brumel has done. Not only has she increased HR headcount, she has created more partner positions at HR. She has provided career growth for senior leaders of HR.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. The Windows clique hegemony is not unique. Ever tried to get a job in gaming? You may be a rock star PM or dev, but if you don't have "years of game studio experience"...forget it. I'm close to going out to get a few piercings, tattoos and try to get a gig over there.

Remember, though - you're trying to get into a group which has been cutting corners for the last several years. They can now afford to demand such experience because due to their own RIFs they've created a significant local supply of unemployed people with that experience. And rather than being "outsiders" like yourself, many of those so unemployed still have buddies on the inside who are trying to get them back in and are willing to perhaps overweight the value of that experience in order to do so.

Anonymous said...

A person who worked under Scott McNealy of all people is complaining about CEO antics? What a laugh.

People in glass houses...

Anonymous said...

Re: Office Glass Ceiling- There is definitely a glass ceiling in this company. Especially for women. I personally have witness the passing of a promotion on my own wife. She got paid more than anyone on here team but was not 'promoted' purely because of this ceiling.

Anonymous said...

After reading thru this blog it simply reaffirms my belief in staying v-.

I have been contracting here at MS for the last year after leaving from MS FTE 2 years ago by a boss that sucked (jr. eng at best but very good a kissing ass) I have many times considered going back full time but I can't afford the paycut ... I pull 170k now ... if i go FTE your looking at 95k to 100k

Anonymous said...

We would anyone with a contrary opinion to the company line even attend the company meeting. It isn't a democracy. No one is going to ask, "All in favor of Lisa Brummel?"
I know the Mini is a company meeting fan, and there's no accounting for taste. The meeting has never been relevant to me, not in 10 years.

Anonymous said...

You people make me ill. You sound like 6 year olds complaining about how your new toy isn't as shiny as Joe's toy down the street. About 95% of the country would give their left arm to have just some of the benefits that you have. Do us all a favor, quit MS for a year and work a real job so you can see just how good you have it. You'll be running back to MS before the year is finished. Oh, btw I don't work for MS or your rival.

Anonymous said...

Well, it must be said that mini-Mini's bag was as large as anyone would have suspected, given big-Mini's willingness to go toe-to-toe with corrupt VPs and their sycophants in the great battle to save this company from itself.

Rock on, Minis!

Al said...

You know, I left Microsoft in May, 2006. I still read this blog and everything that gets posted here shows that I made the correct decision.

That isn't because Microsoft needs downsizing (though it obviously does) but simply that it is effectively a dinosaur company that doesn't perform. If you want to really affect any change on the world, other than pissing people off with a Vista upgrade, what is anyone at Microsoft really doing?

Compare that to what is going on at all the little startups or even Apple and Google. It is pretty clear that Microsoft is the past, not the future.

Anonymous said...

> "There's going to be a special reward announced. It has something to do with the number of years you've worked at Microsoft. Sort of a big 'thank you' from Bill"

Oh, please! Oh, please! Oh, please let it be a severance package!!!

Anonymous said...

re: the partner with the bad attitude comment... did I miss mini advocating the firing of 25% of low-level employees?

Anonymous said...

To the commentator who is asking when did Mini advocate firing low level employees.

You must be kidding me. The name of the blog "mini microsoft" is named after mini's desire to slim down the company. Its goal starts at "let's slim down microsoft".

You can't slim down a company if people leave voluntarily. That will be muscle part. The fat does not leave voluntarily. The fat must be fired.

The company can't be slimmed by firing partners. 1 percent of the workforce is partner.

Mini himself is a partner. He wrote things immediately after partner meetings. He is not advocating firing himself.

Anonymous said...

>"Finally: whatever you do, don't watch this all the way through to the end. I warned ya."

Watch out Mini, the moms of Redmond are after ya now. Might be a felony in Redmond.

http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0oGkyXPzd5Gx48AquhXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTE5dGUwN21yBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDNQRjb2xvA3NrMQR2dGlkA0Y5MTlfMTU3BGwDV1Mx/SIG=121q36rqk/EXP=1189093199/**http%3a//www.komotv.com/news/local/4636671.html

>"Heard and good rumors?"
I think Mary Jo is talking about Microsoft employees so desperate to maintain MS' monopoly and their $1million bonus they are stooping to bribery at the EU. Oh Microsoft, we hardly knew ye.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=693

Anonymous said...

so much for the zune and wifi, the apple announcement today shows how you use wifi *properly* on the device; not the half-assed and USELESS way we seem to have gone about it at MS.

just kill the zune.. now. one easy way of making microsoft leaner!

Anonymous said...

Offtopic, but I think we've just seen the end of the Zune. Apple's new iPod Touch (iPhone sans phone) has iTunes over WiFi, the killer feature Zune should have had. Have a look at the guided tour.

Anonymous said...

OK, 2 days in the new open offices in Lincoln Square, and all I can say is "OMFG!". Not only can I hear every noise that the 6 people around me emit (including several that should never be heard in public), but I can also see everything they do and visa versa. If I wanted this level of intimacy with my co-workers I would have married them (or entered into a domestic partnership).

I fail to see/hear how this is going to make be a better Microsoft employee. I can certainly see how it can make me an ex-Microsoft employee, however, which makes me wonder if Mini is actually the one behind the idea...

Anonymous said...

But do the new iPods support "Plays For Sure"? :)

Anonymous said...

>>Offtopic, but I think we've just seen the end of the Zune. Apple's new iPod Touch (iPhone sans phone) has iTunes over WiFi, the killer feature Zune should have had. Have a look at the guided tour.

Well, the company meeting is tomorrow; wonder what Zune will be showing off? Honest to God - who the hell is responsible for the first Wi-Fi enabled media player NOT having the capability to download music from the Internet?

Apparently the security issues with Internet connectivity were deemed *too hard* to get right to enable this feature for the current iteration of Zune - evidently not too hard for Apple though.

Bye-bye Zune.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the zune guys will even have the balls to demo anything at the company meeting tomorrow. I can't imagine they'd come up with anything to blow away the new ipods. I hope they don't try some lame stunt like giving everyone free Zune's.

We often complain that we'd do a better job if we controlled the hardware and the software. Zune proves that this isn't always true.

One of our partners released a wifi player (not too long after Zune I think) that at least allowed you to connect to one online music service. I agree with the earlier post that the Zune guys had a retarded wifi implementation. The sharing thing, with the 3 free plays, was innovative. But NOT being able to download music directly to the Zune was just stupid.

Anonymous said...

Please remember to boo loudly tomorrow whenever Lisa talks about some new idea that sucks.

She hasn't done nearly as much for us as she apparently thinks she has.

Anonymous said...

From the official Zune blog @ www.zuneinsider.com...

"Oh, and this may come as a shock to folks, but today's Apple Computer announcement doesn't actually change any of our plans. Of course we watched with some degree of interest but our plans have been in motion for some time now. No announcements to make other than the fact that the Zune team remains committed to building a solid experience for users"

I have to say this seems totally wrongheaded. If your primary competitor releasing an entire array of products that take your one differentiating feature and make it look like an antiquated joke isn't cause for going back to the drawing board than I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

All you people whining about Lincoln Square.... You're upstairs from the best theater in Seattle. F--k the communal pig pen upstairs and just head to the movies and then go play some pool. You'll probably get the same review score.

Keeperplanet said...

>"just kill the zune.. now. one easy way of making microsoft leaner!"

Microsoft, its never too late than never. I.e., look at what Palm is doing with their ill conceived cloudbook (Folio Mobile Companion).
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/04/the-cloudbook-is-cancelled/
Know when to hold em and know when to fold em. Know how to listen to your customers, even if your customers are analysts and kids on the block.

What Apple did is nothing spectacular: they only recognized the inevitible that the iPod, like the iPhone is the new computing device, a UMPC in disguise.

Microsoft managements failure to understand trends and market direction in devices is astonishing. Silverlight rich media player including a Linux version is a good start.

Now you have to decide, (like last year) whether your are in the hardware business. Seems like not with the crap you currently offer, but heck, maybe your company meeting will reveal a new direction.

If you really are in that business, then know this. What is on the market today including all the new Apple offerings is just kid stuff compared to what the market will demand and receive in the next few years. What's your vision? I am sure surface computing has a great future, but I don't think the public is quite with you on this, despite a volley of poorly acted Star Wars films with 3D games rising off surface computers in the backdrop.

No, the future is going somewhere else. Can you see it?

Anonymous said...

Re: Cutting lower level employees

It always amazes me to no end some of the questions I see that come across our DLs. Really, you don't have any idea where to install .NET 3.5 from? Really, you don't have any idea what could be causing the error you are seeing - the one that *TELLS YOU IN THE ERROR WHAT THE PROBLEM IS*?

Maybe that's a sign that we need to fix things internally so that people can help themselves better (even if the most cursory of Live searches would have found the answer). Or maybe that just goes to support the notion that we have too much cruft doing too many crap things that just cause us to have inventory (read: waste) of software lying around.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to forward this link to the Zune team.

http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/48409524/m/168009617831?r=622005817831#622005817831

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 7:14:00 PM...

OK, 2 days in the new open offices in Lincoln Square, and all I can say is "OMFG!". Not only can I hear every noise that the 6 people around me emit (including several that should never be heard in public), but I can also see everything they do and visa versa. If I wanted this level of intimacy with my co-workers I would have married them (or entered into a domestic partnership).

Isn't this how Google does their office space? Maybe you should say:

If I wanted this level of intimacy with my co-workers I would have gone to work for Google.

Come on, Microsoft Management. Private offices is one of the last cool things your company has going for it. Don't blow it yet again.

Anonymous said...

2pm Thursday, Company meeting is almost over. So, Who's Drinking The CoolAid?

Anonymous said...

I am sure surface computing has a great future, but I don't think the public is quite with you on this, despite a volley of poorly acted Star Wars films with 3D games rising off surface computers in the backdrop.

No, the future is going somewhere else. Can you see it?


dude, the iPhone *is* surface computing. surface computing is one of the first steps away from keyboard and mouse that everyone needs to take, and so it's where the world is moving. apple's focus on mobile and microsoft's focus on commercial are both legit, it's the home environment that's going to be tricky.

Anonymous said...

Just got back from the Company Meeting. Stayed long enough to see the Halo 3 stuff (the only thing I am excited about) and left. I was surprised at a couple things.

- pleasantly at the "connect" shuttle bus, free no less.
- less at the Seattle touchdown space, 150 spots? Honestly, why even bother?
- amazed at how docile the crowd was, very little applause and just lackluster
- again...nothing to improve comp whatsoever. Hated that part.
- BillG...love the man, but wow, did he just ramble and ramble...I tuned out.
- shorter company meeting? Really?
- Ray Ozzie is a commie..."power to the people"? Wow.

Overall, I felt that it was a waste of a day. After watching some of the other demos...I was again struck by just how loose a conglomeration of products we have. With all the hype around cross teaming and taking dependencies, I still see competitive products everywhere. And nobody seems to care about the double/triple investments. And I think that I was probably the only person that "booed" when Ballmer announced the increase of over 12K employees this year.

I think what capped it off, again, were the paper airplanes. And as they rained down on me from above, I picked up one that landed near my feet and read the following handwritten text on the wing, "Help me, I'm being held against my will"...

Pretty much summed it up.

Anonymous said...

The sharing thing, with the 3 free plays, was innovative.

"Hey, check out this song - plug your earphones into my iPod for a second/let me pop my iPod into your speakerdock."

"Hey, let's build a clunkier player than the iPod. It won't Play for Sure, it won't work with WMP, and we won't bother making sure it works with Vista at launch. Let's spend a ton of engineering effort to enable it to share DRMed songs three times over wireless - and let's hobble the wireless so it doesn't do anything else."

Riiiiiight. Innovative.

(At least you didn't say super-innovative!)

Anonymous said...

I think what we learned about the Zune today is going to BLOW PEOPLE AWAY!!!!

But I don't want to leak confidential info, so I'm not going to post anything :)

Kudos to the Zune team for all of the great upcoming things they have in the pipeline!

Anonymous said...

It's probably hard to believe that I'm not trying to be malicious, but... you guys are so screwed.

Anonymous said...

Company Meeting Review:

Started off well but downhill from then on. One of the most boring company meetings.

Connector transportation is cool.

Presedential gaming session was totally unnecessary.

SteveB's speech was boring.

Like Ray's speech.

Would have liked more exciting video fillers.

Anonymous said...

Meeting Comments:

1. Lisa was the first to speak. I would have guessed that Steve would have been first.
2. The meeting was supposed to be brief but went on *way* too long.
3. Ray's talk was interesting, but in a "keynote" sort of way, not a company meeting sort of way. It felt like he was giving a presentation at TechEd or something.
4. The choice awards were a waste of time. It was either an entire team who got an award (is the *entire* team really all deserving of an award?) or in one case, it was given to someone who already has roomfuls of (rightfully deserved) awards -- dave.
5. The big surprise was the Live search (I think that's who) team's presentation -- they seem to be doing some real innovation, innovation that will likely provide real competition in the online space. (No, I don't work for Live, and have been pretty cynical about Live in the past). Color me impressed here, and possibly the high point of the meeting.
6. It was good to see Bill there, but his talk went on way too long.
7. Did Steve's talk get anyone energized?
8. The Surface demo was nice, however, the whole time I was thinking that how is it that Apple can put all that shit into their phone and iPod for consumers, and we're stuck with some insanely priced piece of research?
9. The Live desktop stuff looks like the stuff that shipped in Vista with several bugs added. It's never a good sign when company meeting demos don't work.
10. Biggest disappointment was the xbox stuff. Hey! We've decided to expand our market! We have stuff for everyone (translation: we finally figured out that no one's paying a premium for a game system in which 90% of the games are rated M). So what do they have in store? Viva Pinata, Bee Movie and Crash Bandicoot? I can't imagine those not being found in the WalMart discount rack a month after they release. Meanwhile, Nintendo continues to release killer Wii titles.
11. No free lunches announced.
12. Lame blankets given out.
13. Big news: bus service for selected congested areas.

Yawn.

Anonymous said...

The review process, ANY review process, depends on the honesty and integrity of those implementing it. Unfortunately, many corporate climbers are still using it to further their own careers at the expense of the company. The challenge is not to overhaul the system, its to somehow police it. A fairly impossible task given our size.

MSFT is NOT an innovator, its a giant, slow moving sloth, and until this is accepted and recognized by management, the decline will continue. This is not a failure of engineering. A bunch of L60s can't cause this.

This is a failure of planning, of program management, of adherence to the schedule above all that else that consistently cranks out mediocre products. On time though! How much backslapping and congratulations was there for the Zune and how quickly they produced a product? Who even knows what possibly great features they sacrificed for the schedule. Its on time, yes, but its an on time piece of crap.

Every product group at MSFT is paying for the sins of the Windows group and their much publicized delays. Delays are a dirty word. Substandard, uninteresting, safe products are the result. No one wants to stick out their neck for anything, lest they blow the schedule. Is it any wonder we consistently under-deliver intersting features.

Anonymous said...

Bill seemed bored. Demos were the same ones from all year. Highlight was Ozzie, I do like him and what he has to say.

Worst. Meeting. Ever.

Anonymous said...

"I think what we learned about the Zune today is going to BLOW PEOPLE AWAY!!!!

But I don't want to leak confidential info, so I'm not going to post anything :)

Kudos to the Zune team for all of the great upcoming things. they have in the pipeline!"


I hope the devices they have in the pipeline are better than the new iPod Touch and Nano. Wireless Store, ultra slim (as thin or thinner than the new nano), web browser, touch interface, etc... after all Apple has proven time and again that it's the hardware device that sells and not the software (iTunes sucks but iPods still sell).

Anonymous said...

I think I'm the only guy but I actually was riveted by SteveB's speech because it wasn't the usual rah-rah, everything is wonderful BS. Despite being too long, he pretty much touched on every current MS failure, at least as much could without it making the evening news: Vista, Zune, Xbox, etc. (That was a warning shot for those groups if ever there was one.) He was also reasonably upfront about the reasons for pursuing consumer devices like Xbox and Zune.

I'm not convinced the overall strategy is right but he's far from the deaf and dumb imcompetent that you people say he is.

Anonymous said...

"Please remember to boo loudly tomorrow whenever Lisa talks about some new idea that sucks."

Another awesome showing this year: no black armbands, no boos, no paper bags. Not even from the courageous fellow above. LOL

Change comes from people who step to the forefront and make it happen, not from a bunch of yellow-bellies whispering in the shadows.

Anonymous said...

I think what we learned about the Zune today is going to BLOW PEOPLE AWAY!!!!

But I don't want to leak confidential info, so I'm not going to post anything :)

Kudos to the Zune team for all of the great upcoming things they have in the pipeline!


We must have been at different company meetings...I'm also not going to leak anything confidential...But here is what I experienced at the meeting: Almost all the execs told us about "the great things coming from Zune" but never elaborated. The one time when we get the guy who might have been able to give us some info, he is holding something that from where I was sitting looked just like the original one (though he alluded to it being something new). So unless Steve announced something in the last half of his speach (or something came after him), then there wasn't anything new about Zune mentioned (except hype about how good Zune will be).

Anonymous said...

My biggest let-down during the company meeting: That I couldn't post to minimsft from my mobile phone. The "Publish your Comment" button doesn't do anything on WM5.

My next biggest let-downs? Well, it started at 10AM when that awful band was playing WAY TO LOUD and continued through Steve's speach.

The up side? The roast beef sandwhich wasn't to bad. I'd have preferred a different bread, but it wasn't bad.

Anonymous said...

There's going to be a special reward announced.

OK, I admit it, I left a little early (though some of the lower sections were nearly empty when I left)...There was no 'special reward announced' by anyone though the start of Steve's speach. OK, LisaB mentioned the bus service, but I heard that on the radio while driving in; so it wasn't an "announcement" of any sort. Oh, and speaking of the "Bus Routes", the "Routes" consisted only of a couple of push-pins on their map with no lines connecting them...What sort of "Route" is a single point? What sort of parking will be available at the endpoint of the routes (and any stops between the start and campuses)? Except for the "14 coaches and mini-busses", their bus strategy seemed a bit 'half baked'. :( Though at least Mini got mentioned by LisaB (even if it was only to refer to the short busses, probably the same ones already used for the inter-campus shuttles).

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I'm reallllly glad I didn't spend the day getting to, sitting at, and getting back the Co. Meeting. That Harry Potter movie was pretty entertaining. Especially, it sounds like, in comparison to the "competition."

Anonymous said...

The SoftGrid demo was cool. The rest made me fight to stay awake.

Anonymous said...

Keeperplanet wrote:
"Microsoft, its never too late than never. I.e., look at what Palm is doing with their ill conceived cloudbook (Folio Mobile Companion). Know when to hold em and know when to fold em. Know how to listen to your customers, even if your customers are analysts and kids on the block.
...
'Now you have to decide, (like last year) whether your are in the hardware business. Seems like not with the crap you currently offer, but heck, maybe your company meeting will reveal a new direction."


Translation:
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”

I see Keeperplanet is from the Homer Simpson school of business management.

Anonymous said...

Observations from the meeting:

- White boys & girls execs only. No colored person at the podium even the few Indians that have managed to smash through the marble ceiling.

- Nobody with an accent spoke (the Irish twang does not count). I thought I was watching an episode of Seinfeld, whose New York had no single black person or other minority group.

- The speakers weren't representative of the people that build the softwares.

- Too boring. I won't attend next year's meeting

- Ray Ozzie is a rockstar. His content and presentation had the whole audience listening with rapt attention. Hitch yourself to his SaaS wagon.

- Zune snippet. Total heartbreaker in looks

- Pls stop singing the praises of execs who are volunteers and board members of non-profits. Even those execs would wonder why the announcements

- Awards? Total BS. That's why nobody voted.

- How come Audio sucked in Safeco until Ray took the floor?

- Food sucked real bad.

- It was not killing cold. Thank heavens

My takeaway?
- I am never going to break through that glass ceiling. I know it. I give up.
- Someday Ray's gonna take the reins (if somebody doesn't out-muscle him)
- The natives are very restless

Anonymous said...

>>Every product group at MSFT is paying for the sins of the Windows group and their much publicized delays. Delays are a dirty word. Substandard, uninteresting, safe products are the result. No one wants to stick out their neck for anything, lest they blow the schedule. Is it any wonder we consistently under-deliver intersting features.

Many teams just have too many people (e.g. former PIX team, though their appalling attrition is taking care of this), and possibly worse, too many layers of accountability.

Everyone is sooo anxious that the product has their hallmark on it come review time, that we wind up with unimaginative, tame "me too" crap. Risks are not taken.

So if I were king: Leaner teams, less layers, bold goals, every team member has crucial impact on the end product, almost to the point that the product will fail if an individual doesn't deliver.

Company meeting: nice yarn Ray, but what's the plan? We've been hearing software + services for what, 6 - 7 years now? What's the plan? What does "there" look like, and what's the route?

Anonymous said...

The company meeting was positive.

Highlights for me:
Getting to touch Bill Gates. I tried to high five but it didn't go right. My teammates asked if I felt any different, and the answer is yes. Bill defined Microsoft because he had a crazy and simple dream and made it come true.

Search really impressed me. Selberg's people really did a good job, they're on the right path.

I thought Balmer's speach at the end was great. Be Bold. Be compassionate. He avoided saying be a mini microsoft. But that's what I infered him saying. He said that he doesn't know what Robotics is going to produce, but its going to be big. He's right. He says he doesn't know what the killer app will be that we'll have before Google.

I know what that killer app will be. And I also know what the big thing will be that will emerge out of Robotics. And I have a vision just like Bill's. And I know that I have to do it all on my own at first until I can demo the future to enough people high up. But Balmer's speech inspired me to be Bold, take chances, follow my vision, but to follow the companies vision. And I know I'm going to change the world. But can I do it at Microsoft?

Can someone tell me where to take my new ideas? My manager doesn't even want to talk about my inventions because they're not part of our business yet. They're too futuristic. Even though I have a clear and simple dream just like Bill had. Its too perfect. And its incredible. I see it unfold in my mind and I'll go to any lengths to make it happen, unfortunately that may mean leaving Microsoft.

The video of the guy in his future home and future car was interesting, but it bothers me how much they have it wrong (or the very important things they have left out, but we should keep some parts of the future secret until we ship!).

Mini, is there a secure way, an intranet site, some sort of process for pitching my invention? If there isn't, then I see no way that Microsoft can remain relevant and innovative once the top dreamers like Bill are gone. If there was a way for people to show off their inventions internally, I think it could be huge! Otherwise, I have to leave eventually to pursue my dream. My success is much more likely at Microsoft (although i won't get the ownership, but a dream shouldn't be owned.)

I could open source my software, and hope that eventually someone internally higher up would hear about it.

Did anyone else notice Balmer's references to Mini? He said that everone should become a 'mini-microsoft'. I think he caught himself before saying it and said a 'tiny-microsoft'.

Anonymous said...

Weep for Zune.Just weep for zune. Look at what it could have been:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/10/engadgets-relaunch-giveaways-another-zune-and-last-weeks-des/

Anonymous said...

For me, the meeting started out really well. I enjoyed the JibJab-ish little video.

About the time the demos started, though, I faultered. Who are all these Shiny Slick Willies we hired, anyway?

And whoever that Eric dude is that ChrisJo verbally railed at during his photo-demo flame-out, well, wouldn't want to be him.

All the speakers could have used a big dose of brevity. Bill and Ray, especially. I think 2/3 of the people had left by the time Ballmer got on stage.

I can't say I've come out of this Company Meeting knowing anything I didn't already know coming in. And that's a shame. And a big ole waste of money.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm the only guy but I actually was riveted by SteveB's speech because it wasn't the usual rah-rah, everything is wonderful BS. Despite being too long, he pretty much touched on every current MS failure, at least as much could without it making the evening news: Vista, Zune, Xbox, etc. (That was a warning shot for those groups if ever there was one.) He was also reasonably upfront about the reasons for pursuing consumer devices like Xbox and Zune.

The good thing is that Microsoft is owning up to its weaknesses. Microsoft hasn't shot itself in the foot like IBM did by ceding DOS licensing to Microsoft way back when. Microsoft hasn't made any real fatal errors. Across the board all the pieces are there. There are competitive or semi-competitive offerings across all lines. Its too bad that there isn't a fountain of youth. It would be nice, at this point, to give any employee over the age of 30 at Microsoft a good soak. You've really been working hard and believe it or not it shows. The only thing missing, maybe, is hte fire in the belly. There is a ton to be passionate and excited about. Look at the company with new eyes. There is a lot to be excited about.

Anonymous said...

"Can someone tell me where to take my new ideas?"

You can start posting your idea to http://msideas/
Or submit it as a thinkweek paper
http://thinkweek/ (maybe next year, it seems that this year's submission ended on August 24th)
Or maybe talk about it with your manager's manager.

Anonymous said...

Can't even deliver the company meeting on time. The executives obviously didn't take the schedule seriously. It was late by 50%; 6 hours rather than the scheduled 4.

Next year, they should make the meeting a bit more transparent. They should publish the schedule beforehand so we can give bad reviews to those that abuse their time slots.

Some interesting stuff, but each of the speakers could have made their points in about half the time. The demos were particularly bad as there was no good motivation for each. Had no clue what was going on with the Dynamics app.

Those who didn't stick around missed Steve B getting all choked up when he said this was Bill's last company meeting. Somehow Bill fended off the big bear hug.

Anonymous said...

>> The roast beef sandwhich wasn't to bad. I'd have preferred a different bread, but it wasn't bad.

You've got to be kidding - that was the worst roast beef sandwich I've had at any company meeting!
And how I wish that was the low point of my company meeting.

The exec bus ride thing was ridiculus.
The exec video game thing, even more ridiculus.
When will these stupid execs learn that we serfs are really not impressed by them and don't give a rats ass about them? I never see or hear kevin or robbie or jeff enough for them to have any meaning in my little life. Old time videos of Bill, Steve or even Valentine doing stupid stuff was funny because I have/had some respect for them and what they've done and it was funny to see them humanised in funny ways. No one has any respect for no-name execs like the 3 presidents and the walmart dolt and watching them act like 5 year olds on stage isn't going to distract me from the real problems this company faces.

Anonymous said...

What did I like about the meeting?
- The free bus rides, even if it means little to me.
- Ballmer's honest speech and company scorecard. We needed that more than a rah-rah dance.
- The new Live Search. It rocks!
- Ozzie's keynote. I hope this sends some groups scrambling to figure out their Live strategy.
- The awards: It's good to see rank-and-file employees (other than Cutler) recognised in front of the company.

What did I hate?
- The food. It sucked. I should have tried the pizza.
- 12,800 new hires. So much for mini.
- The lack of major product demos. No demos of VS/SQL/Windows 2008 or even Halo 3 even though they're all close to release.
- The Zune. Or lack thereof.
- Bad demos: The aweful demo of Dynamics, which made no sense to most people. The aweful 'data in the cloud' demo with the broken laptop and bad voice-over. The lackluster WM 6.1 demos. The live photo thing demo which didn't work. The surface demo which everyone has seen on youtube!
- Debra Crapaty: 'nuff said. Please don't ever put her on stage again!

Anonymous said...

White boys & girls execs only. No colored person at the podium

Uff. Why bring up race. If you think that having the "right" skin color is going to solve all your problems and get you promoted to VP, I know 50,000 white male employees you should talk to...

Anonymous said...

I can't say I've come out of this Company Meeting knowing anything I didn't already know coming in. And that's a shame. And a big ole waste of money.

Which is par for the course. Employees are pretty much the last to be told anything. Remember last year's meeting when they "unveiled" Dreamscene, told us how secret it was, then we found out they had intentionally leaked it to the press? Thanks for making me not believe you, MS. :( Often times, we're just another public to be spun to.

Anonymous said...

For those of us who didn't make it in until 11:30 despite getting on the bus just after 9:30, what happened in the first half hour? Feel free to post internal details on Inside MS instead of here, but please post them somehwere. Hundreds of us, maybe even 1000 or more, missed the beginning of the meeting due to our choice to rely on MS busses.

Regarding those busses, many of which were all-but-parked on the overpass leading to Safeco for the better part of an hour, why wasn't someone monitoring the progress of individual busses and "helping along" those that were particularly deficient? Our driver made a bad lane choice and we watched a couple dozen busses streamed past us in other lanes, over the course of 45 minutes plus, with our driver refusing to budge until (at 11:05) he finally realized he'd better get proactive and changed lanes into the slower of the two better lanes.

Along similar lines, why weren't half the busses directed to turn off onto I5 South, take the next exit and flip around and come back from the uncongested south on surface streets, or turn off at Rainier and take the surface streets from there? By the time we got to that overpass, it was already a parking lot; surely it was possible to know that BEFORE the bus passed its last chance to avoid sitting there.

As seen in the meeting demos, it's not like we don't have the technology to detect traffic issues and reroute.

Another idea might be just to work on minimizing those who drive to the meeting across the lake, by offering incentives to people for taking the bus (a week of lunch coupons maybe? It'd have to be something at least that good for enough folks to give up the convenience).

Anonymous said...

Maybe that Eric dude will point out to Chrisjo that in order to complete the photo importing action, he needed to check the boxes next to the groups of photos he defined. Which is retarded UI design, but it's not like the software had a bug. It was user error. Chrisjo came off looking a little silly. "Why can't I complete the operation? Eric?" When in fact he hadn't checked some check boxes. If I were that Eric dude, I would be embarrassed for Chrisjo, who came off looking like an air head.

Anonymous said...

I was extremely impressed with the changes in Search. Now can we get some marketing people to actually publicize the fact that we have a great service?

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"I'm not convinced the overall strategy is right but he's far from the deaf and dumb imcompetent that you people say he is."

I'm intrigued now by what he said and how he characterized these particular failures. WRT him personally, I wouldn't call him dumb or incompetent. On the contrary, I think he's a smart, capable guy. But that doesn't ensure your success as CEO, and the track record of MSFT under his leadership isn't pretty on numerous critical dimensions - the ones he noted being but a fraction.

Anonymous said...

Not a bad company meeting overall.

Highlights: Completely agree that Ballmer's speech was excellent. He has commitment, passion, and honesty. After his speech I believe we are investing in the right areas. The problem is in winning those areas. Ballmer was strightforward about how we are trying to win, and who we need to win against, and his report cards gave me faith that at least at his level, there is no reality distortion. The solution is NOT giving up. Ray's speech was intriguing, but I'm not yet sure what changes in our strategy will result from his "web-with-you-in-control".

Lowlights: Completely embarrasing Windows Mobile demos - crappy non-smooth animation and transitions, lame touch interactions, still waaayyyy behind. Same with the Zune non-demo. Xbox presentation recycled video from E3. Why didn't we have a live Rock Band demo? Live desktop demo that didn't work, and no substantive improvements to our lameish iPhoto competitor. Embarrasing awards. Plus I agree that it was too long and not enough videos.

All of the execs except Ballmer and Ozzie seemed a little like ra-ra plastic automatons. But Ballmer and to a lesser extent Ray made the meeting worthwhile, and I'll go back to work with a renewed purpose and clearer picture of our strategy.

Anonymous said...

I remember some years ago while I still worked at MS. Instead of going to the company meeting, I got permission from the lab test manager and bought food from Chili's, beer, and even an expensive bottle of Scotch for our orange badges in the lab (all on my nickel - no reimbursement). We had a little lunch time party in one of the conference rooms. These were folks that worked hard and upon which I shuffled a lot of drudgery, so it was nice to give them something back. Best way to spend the company meeting day that I could think of.

Anonymous said...

Another awesome showing this year: no black armbands, no boos, no paper bags. Not even from the courageous fellow above. LOL

OK, I wouldn't have commented except for the 'LOL'.

You've either been sheltered by a friendly VP while at Microsoft, or you've never attempted change of any meaningful sort. People begin to grumble not when they want change but won't engage in it, but when they attempt change and those in power slap down all attempts.

Anonymous said...

As seen in the meeting demos, it's not like we don't have the technology to detect traffic issues and reroute.

Unbelievable. Are you actually under the impression that Microsoft owns and operates the coach services? Or even oversees them?

Keeperplanet said...

>"Translation:
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”

I see Keeperplanet is from the Homer Simpson school of business management."


doh!

I'm framing that comment in the window of my box of donuts.

>"dude, the iPhone *is* surface computing. surface computing is one of the first steps away from keyboard and mouse that everyone needs to take, and so it's where the world is moving. apple's focus on mobile and microsoft's focus on commercial are both legit, it's the home environment that's going to be tricky."

Dude, Then why aren't you selling surface computers by the kazillion to mom and pop and joe sixpack and every engineer on the planet using $299 umpc's as computing hardware, bundled with a $39.95 30" clear overlay pigtailed into a the display it comes with and plugged into the umpc? All told manufacturing cost should be less than an xbox for the hardware plus the cost of the display.

While you are at it, bundle in software that really works with voice, provide a hand worn i/o device that works without having to touch any surfaces with a ten (virtual) button (one for each finger) mouse from a comfortable viewing distance to the vertical display.

Also, provide an enclosure for the display-umpc combo that tilts up so you can use it with a straight back after you are tired of hunching over the display. Once you get the usability and ergonomics to a usable level, then see if you can sell them. Report back here with the numbers and we will know if you have a product. Which if you have your marketing and design correctly tuned you probably would.

The display should be an OLED widescreen--not a square--that can be adjusted in the booth or desk area to fit the spread and the nature of the human eye (e.g. not on a flat surface, but a parabolic or spherical one).

The problem is all about I/O and not about surfaces, which I predict will disappear once a successful io device is developed. The display will be changing, probably morphing into something completely different anyway in the next few years--making all your expensive surface computers obsolete.

By the way, using your definition of surface computer, the 5 3/4 in rack mount Fluke 1720a Instrument controller I did the industrial design on 29 years ago that had a touch screen and was a (bubble memory) computer (circa 1978) would fit into your definition.

Finally, please, take a refresher course in human factors 101 to understand why a flat fixed horizontal surface is really a dumb idea.

Anonymous said...

I thought Balmer's speach at the end was great. Be Bold....

I know what that killer app will be...Balmer's speech inspired me to be Bold, take chances, follow my vision...

Can someone tell me where to take my new ideas? My manager doesn't even want to talk about my inventions...


Let me guess, first time you heard a MS exec speak in person? I used to have the same reaction. I'd listen to Bill, or Steve, or Alchin, or Valentine, or ChrisJo, or some other VP, and come away from the meeting thinking "Awesome! I'm totally in sync with what our leaders want! I can't wait to get back to work!"

A few days later, a week at most, and I'd realize my boss, and his boss, and everyone between me and the exec I'd just heard speak, didn't get the memo. They were off on their own agenda, and it had nothing to do with what execs were telling me.

That's the MS problem. No matter how smart Bill or Steve or Ray is (and they are all very smart), they're just not able to manage the people who work for them. They have no idea how to tell, just to pull a name out of a hat, JawadK to stop playing TurfWars and start delivering world-class networking. They talk about technology, and vision, but lack the people managment skills to execute on any of that. "Vision" without the management skills to make the vision happen is just day-dreaming.

Nothing's changed in ten years, and nothing will change until the company decides that people management matters, and matters a whole lot.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has attended about 8-9 company meetings over the last 12 years...

Ray Ozzie was great.

Although he was polite about it he made it clear that change is in the air and we better be prepared for it. If I were leading a product unit or a large development organization I’d walk away thinking I better be prepared to re-think the processes and practices I use to develop software at Microsoft.

I think Ray’s message on the democratizing and empowering aspects of the PC and connected devices is cool. He was making a big point. Maybe I’m a child of the 60’s like Ray because I buy into the idea of the PC and computing in general as being about personal empowerment. That remains the same. But the original Microsoft vision of a PC on every DESKTOP running Microsoft software is shifting to a vision of putting the power of personal computing within reach of everyone on the planet – regardless of the device they’re using. That’s cool. I think the idea of building service-enabled software that gives you the control and power of local processing/storage etc is much more compelling than the alternative. The alternative? Google as the ultimate mainframe with users connecting to it via dumb terminals (aka the Web browser).

Overall Ray seems to be getting more comfortable. He'll never be the cheerleader type (thank god) but neither is/was Billg. Leave the cheerleading to Ballmer and Kevin Johnson.

The demos were fine. Sure, it's hard to make a demo of Dynamics exciting but the work they're doing is very cool. The Windows Live stuff is still underwhelming but I see progress. I think the vision is right. Search is starting to look promising. I see us starting to do what we do best…trying different things, not giving up…tenacity. I don’t expect Microsoft to overtake Google in search anytime soon. It might be a very long time. But it will happen eventually.

Billg was Billg. Smart, funny grins, amazing guy. A bit boring b/c I've heard variations on the speech dozens of times.

Steveb was sort of screwed by being last and he spoke WAY too long. Too many asides about his god daughter etc. But I liked his forthrightness about where we're doing well and where we aren't. The scorecard was pretty honest. He didn't paint an overly rosey picture which is classic Microsoft self-criticism. It's funny how the outside world doesn't really see that side of the company.

Overall my take away is that, yes, we are a huge company which provides some challenges in terms of "agility" etc but that we have the right vision. Maybe I've had too much cool-ade but I believe that our best of both words approach - local software (client or server) complemented by web services is the right approch. I don't want to live in a world where Google becomes the equivalent of the mainframe and I'm just using Google via a dumb terminal (the browser). Maybe I'm a "commie" too like Ray Ozzie but I see the PC and PC-connected devices as democratizing and empowering. Power to the people sounds good to me.

To all the bitchers and moaners, I think you're a noisy minority. Most of the people I saw at the meeting enjoyed themselves and seemed to get something out of it. If you're there for the food you're wasting your time. If your only interest in attending is to see if Billg hands you some "free" money then you're wasting your time.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the few that say to the many "go out in the real world to work and see just how good MSFT does treat you".

Yes, I am field based and we do not get 95% of the little perks the campus locations get; yet that is OK with me. I have worked with some of our competitors and overall MSFT benefits are awesome.

Yes, I do believe that all the campus based people deserve private offices! Things in the field are different and it takes a certain type of person to be able to handle being a field employee. We may not get the campus perks, but we get the ability to create our own destiny at MSFT. As a field based employee you are really like an independant but with all the safety and power of MSFT behind you. WE can make our career or break it and that decision is with us majority of the time.

Lisa B took on a HUGE task two years ago and has made progress that her presedessors did not. Changing a company this size does take time and she is listening. No the "curve" was not disolved, but improvement was made. No we did not get rid of 100% need to notify manager for interviewing in other positions, but we do not need permission, just notification afer you get an offer to interview if you have been in your role a while: improvement here. I will not list all the things and no I have not been drinking the cool-aid, but compared to most other companies - MSFT offers a lot and Lisa listens and is making change happen.

I am sorry it is frustrating for those of you stuck on campus sharing space and dealing with the politics on a regular bases. For those of that are older (over 32), have significant others, children, or other life things; MSFT gives us security in Health Insurance, vacation, ability to reinvent ourselfs every couple years, and chance to follow our passions.

Anonymous said...

For everyone posting about the food.... are you kidding me? You were in downtown seattle! Go spend $10 and get some awesome food and bring it in and make everyone around you green with envy.

Free lunches are not expected to be glorious.. hence free.

Myself I picked up some Krispy Kremes for breakfast w/ Starbucks. Then around 1pm I brought out the big guns: Pecos bar-b-que (both of which were just down the street).

Man, posting about free food... geesh.

Anonymous said...

Ray Ozzie's talk was good. And to the person who called him a Commie... yes, his political comments were tacky and ill-considered. But I'm not going to be like the crazy Seahawks fans who are boycotting Hasselbeck because of his politics. I don't share Ozzie's political views, but I respect the man and his vision. He should think about the fact that this is a diverse company, though, before he gives a talk like that again.

Short form: He has the vision. He's the right guy to succeed Bill in that role. He just needs to grow into it more.

Anonymous said...

Uff. Why bring up race. If you think that having the "right" skin color is going to solve all your problems and get you promoted to VP, I know 50,000 white male employees you should talk to...

this is the stupidest, most white-male centric embarassing comment EVER.

dude -- if you have 100 executives, all of which are white males (just for the sake of argument so you can understand what a douche you're being) -- and you have then a whole bunch of mixed ethnicities and genders under them -- THE WHITE MEN STILL WIN. yes, even if you as a white man don't get called up to sit with the kings, the fact is that YOU ARE STILL THE ONLY GENDER AND RACE WITH EVEN A SHOT AT THE BRASS RING. everyone else is shut-out by virtue of things they can't control, whereas you are only shut-out because you're an asshat who doesn't know how to suck-up the right way.

and this is why, when you're a white man, you keep your mouth shut when someone is discriminated against due to their gender or race or sexual orientation or religion. because you can always learn how to play the game with the other white men, but i can't ever stop being a jew, or an indian, or a woman or a guy with a husband.

Anonymous said...

Maps.live.com sucks when it can't give you the right vital information!

Just try finding "Seattle Children's Hospital" !

It'll lead you to Seattle Children's Theatre instead!

Try it on Google maps and it gives you the right info every time!

That's why I don't use live.com anymore.

jamie said...

ZOON!

http://www.channel9.ca/9toons/blog_comment.asp?bi=107&m=9&y=2007&d=&s=category

;)

Anonymous said...

I'm seriously worried about our company, even more so after the company meeting. In the group I work in the obsession with not slipping led to a really inferior quality last release (Office 12...it had more bugs on release than the betas of Office 11). Not with 14 we're doing the same thing...24 weeks total 'coding' for a 3 year release folks...rest of the time is spent 'trying' to get the damn thing working!
We have become complacent as a company, I'm a 10+ year vet and I was around when Windows 95 launched...we were FAR different then. It's funny looking around at some of my colleagues, rewards come for avoiding risk and sucking up to your managers, this has led to many of the senior people in Office being some of the least inspiring folks in the company. Why is our stock price flat? Because the company is flat, we hire tons of new graduates every year...no real world experience and happy just to climb the ladder without making any ripples. We NEED incubators (no not Office Live Labs...stupid subMSR idea that one!), we NEED to be looking out at more than the next release - we have 5 year business plans but not feature plans for products. All of our desktop products (well, the VAST majority) are based on a platform which we now advise customers not to use (Win32)...and we have NO plans to change. All in all I have sold all of my MSFT stock in recent weeks and am looking to move on from this moribund company. Sorry...but there's nothing I see on the horizon to invigorate things here.

EricD said...

I'm the Eric dude who Chris "railed" against in the demo. :-)

It was actually pretty funny, I thought. As the GPM of the team who built the Photo Gallery, I thought it was totally fair for him to give me a hard time when he hit a snag. It's true that it wasn't a bug per se - when you import stuff we are "smart" and don't import it again. This is most noticeable in demo scenarios where you've already imported before, but the wording of the wizard could be way clearer. It's tripped me up in demos too!

Anyway, I thought it was hilarious. My only regret is that I'm probably destined to be "white courtesy phone guy" for the rest of my career.

Anonymous said...

So Mini, what was your thoughts about the Company Meeting???

Anonymous said...

The Seattle Times article at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/microsoft/2003872782_microsoft07.html includes a link to the bus routes: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/2007/09/06/2003872901.pdf

Yet, the picture doesn't show a stop at the SAMM campus by either of the routes that are near it. Was this the idea?

Anonymous said...

"A few days later, a week at most, and I'd realize my boss, and his boss, and everyone between me and the exec I'd just heard speak, didn't get the memo. "

thanks for the reply. I feel that way today. Yesterday I was fired up and saw the vision, but today, the shock and horror that I am the only one. The other developers don't care, the managers don't care, no one cares.

Our application is about to explode, it was down for a good part of the morning. Everyone wants to do the minimum amount of work they have to do. With so much education, and experience, are these people really what Balmer was talking about?

No body cares about the customer. We have the unique experience of sitting right next to our customer support. And it breaks my heart to hear their pain as our application errors and slows to a crawl.

But just because the rest of my team and the managers could care less about the customers, that they won't move an inch to remove the customers pain, doesn't mean that negates what Balmer said. It just means that I have to do it alone. and I have to be a mini-microsoft, I have to be like the developers I looked up to and I know are still in here somewhere.

And maybe they'll send out a memo before all the people who care about the customer leave?

I was severly punished last year for caring and doing all I could for the customer, I got the lowest rating and outperformed all the seniors on my team. And the same will happen this year, but that won't stop me from doing exactly what Balmer said in his speech.

I'll be the best SDE I can be. I only make 70k and never finished a degree, but I have pride.

Anonymous said...

dude -- if you have 100 executives, all of which are white males (just for the sake of argument so you can understand what a douche you're being) -- and you have then a whole bunch of mixed ethnicities and genders under them

What I find douchy is throwing around some off-the-cuff remarks that amount to vague accusations of racism, presumably directed at white males.

Executives, for the most part, have a certain level of seniority. So the executive team is not going to reflect the gender/race composition TODAY so much as 20+ years ago. My feeling is that, for whatever reason, the company was not as diverse back then, so it's perfectly normal to have white men running the company, without resorting to racism as an explanation or assuming that the trend will continue.

Anonymous said...

>>Maybe that Eric dude will point out to Chrisjo that in order to complete the photo importing action, he needed to check the boxes next to the groups of photos he defined. Which is retarded UI design, but it's not like the software had a bug. It was user error. Chrisjo came off looking a little silly. "Why can't I complete the operation? Eric?" When in fact he hadn't checked some check boxes. If I were that Eric dude, I would be embarrassed for Chrisjo, who came off looking like an air head.

This happened by design because Chris had already imported the images, probably in a walk-through prior to the demo.

The checkboxes are checked when the app detects that the images have NOT already been imported from the camera.

If the images HAVE already been imported the checkboxes are unchecked, and the app reports "no images to import" (although the images still are actually on the camera).

The message should be "there are no images to import that you haven't already got on your system, and no, I haven't deleted them from your camera so don't worry".

The sad thing is that this was a known issue, but blown off by the "we know better" gang in the DMX(?) team.

Neo Man said...

Good ...

Search demo
Scorecard

The bad and I'm pretty shocked no-one seemed to notice!

The Revenue Bar Chart. The numbers were correct, but the last too bars were not drawn to the correct scale. The 2006 one was a little too low and the 2007 bar was too high. Why did they do that? It is a great story without that!

Anonymous said...

"I'm not convinced the overall strategy is right but he's far from the deaf and dumb imcompetent that you people say he is."

I say if you separate Ballmer from Gates he becomes an entirely different guy. Those two played off each other. They were like those two guys in high school that were pretty nice when you talked to them apart, but when they got together they acted kind of mean and creepy. Ballmer is a lot more sensitive than people give him credit for. If you give him the latitude he will win you back over. These have been frustrating times for him as well.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was fired up and saw the vision, but today, the shock and horror that I am the only one.

Six words: Get the hell out of there. The problem with being the only living person in a place full of zombies is that the zombies hate you for reminding them of what it was like to still have a soul and will beat you up for it. Go someplace else where caring for the customer is still valued, even if it's outside of MS.

If you stay there too long, you'll wind up just like them.

Anonymous said...

No body cares about the customer. We have the unique experience of sitting right next to our customer support. And it breaks my heart to hear their pain as our application errors and slows to a crawl.

But just because the rest of my team and the managers could care less about the customers, that they won't move an inch to remove the customers pain, doesn't mean that negates what Balmer said. It just means that I have to do it alone. and I have to be a mini-microsoft, I have to be like the developers I looked up to and I know are still in here somewhere...

I'll be the best SDE I can be. I only make 70k and never finished a degree, but I have pride.


As an employee who has been in PSS my entire career at Microsoft (since the early 90's) let me say I'm glad there are still some of you out there and Thanks!

Anonymous said...

More thoughts and observations:

- Total waste of time. Meeting geared towards..er..gearheads, not many of us media/client service types.

- Most of the info could have been shared via webcast or other video medium. A company meeting with 20K people gathered should be programmed to engage the crowd. Didn't happen.

- Bill Gates has the worst posture in all humanity. He looks like Mr. Burns up there with his shoulders slumped.

- Halo ad was the highlight of the company meeting. It showed creativity not before demonstrated by microsoft. Give that ad agency more business!

- The biggest collection of nerds ever gathered in one place (no offence).

- Aquantive folks told me they were just plain confused (should I clap now?).

- Lunches crappy - cookies yummy.

- What...no free stuff?

- The Brasilian people manager winner was smoking HOT.

- Were those giant rubber bands holding up the support wires connected to the roof? Who put them there?

- What was up with the twin rotor helicopter passing over 3 or 4 times?

- No exec, notwithstanding their egos, can out talk the airhorn of a passing train...bow to the train!

- When Balmer started running around like a freak, I left. Same crap, different day.


Microsoft is dead. Long live Microsoft. Move over dev culture, make way for the client service culture...no politics, no turfwars, just getting shit done for clients. Get rid of the execs who are so A-type that they can only think of trouncing the competition, not helping clients. Green good, Red bad.

Trust me, you'll love it.

Who da'Punk said...

My apologies: I let a comment through discussing race at Microsoft, and a follow-up or two. Bad idea.

I'm putting the kibosh on that thread of discussion and CRF'ing anything else that comes in related to it.

Want to continue the discussion? Well, easy enough to start your own thread somewhere else. It's just not going in a productive direction and I have this lurking suspicion that we're not going to solve race and equality here...

Anonymous said...

Ozzie gets it, many of you just don't see it yet. All this talk of "power to the people" and about his child of the 60s worry about "the man" are all about Google. Google is collecting data, gathering dirt on everything and everyone, and sooner or later, people are going to wake up to this. Ray's been around, he sees them for what they are, and he's going to be building services with their foibles in mind. When little Sergey and Larry finally get called on what they really are, Ray will be ready with online stuff that won't invade your privacy and won't leave people wondering who owns their stuff anymore.

The four idiot MBAs don't matter, let them play silly video games for the world to see - in fact, encourage them to do so to keep them away from important things. They are all administrators lacking any vision. Ozzie, OTOH, understands what this is really about, and Ballmer might be a bit off his rocker, but he believes in Ozzie. We're going to do very well, but it will take some time.

Anonymous said...

Ozzie gets it, many of you just don't see it yet. All this talk of "power to the people" and about his child of the 60s worry about "the man" are all about Google. Google is collecting data, gathering dirt on everything and everyone, and sooner or later, people are going to wake up to this. Ray's been around, he sees them for what they are, and he's going to be building services with their foibles in mind. When little Sergey and Larry finally get called on what they really are, Ray will be ready with online stuff that won't invade your privacy and won't leave people wondering who owns their stuff anymore.

You are square on, philosophically. I think that there are technical and business challenges in implementation, but if we can get it, we may be golden.

One potential wrinkle: I've seen reports that Gen Y and later make an assumption of no privacy and don't rate privacy as a priority. Something may have really changed societally with respect to privacy, that those of us over the age of 25 can't even conceptualize. If this is true, then our approach won't succeed.

Anonymous said...

As an Office P, I can confirm we control who gets promoted to 65+ by typically requiring at least 12 years with the company (if not, a lot of questions are asked). This makes sense given the high compensation levels granted to Principals and higher. Other divisions are aligning their criteria as well (MSN was an offender but are aligning).