Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Microsoft 2.0, Now With Less Bubba

Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft 2.0: Ms. Foley announced her upcoming book: Coming Soon Microsoft 2.0 the book. Wow, what great timing, corporation inflection-point-wise. I've been thinking about the book and how it will be in a position to get scads of attention because a lot of business people and techies will no doubt be wondering what a post-Gates Microsoft will be like.

I know, I know, Gates will still be (air quotes) involved. But come on.

Nothing makes a room more serious than to hear someone saying, "We're off to our BillG review." You immediately do a quick assessment: are they nervous? Do they look ready for a wave of f-bombs? Who next is going to inspire the level of deep, cover-every base preparation as BillG?

Anyway, I've been thinking about the book and how various people with various agendas will no doubt be plying Ms. Foley with their take of the post-Gates Microsoft. I certainly will! Our competitors are probably having a hard time trying to figure it out how to position it: should we push for making Microsoft look weak and unfocused and vulnerable? Nah, if we do that then it's hard to pull on that anti-trust nipple-ring. Dang.

How do you feel about post-Gates Microsoft? Is it an opportunity to break with the past and make a break-out move? Of course you should feel free to send any great insights Ms. Foley's way. I'm still thinking about it myself...

Swoon! I don't know what the IdeAgency is about, but it has our own VP McDreamy AlexGo kicking it off, so it's gotta be good. And it has cookies. Just when I thought life couldn't get better.

How did your real exit interview go, Bubba? Everyone at Microsoft who enjoys knowing about The Bench, Goldstars and other formerly shrouded rewards and programs should give a big farewell tip of the hat to now ex-Softie Bubba Murarka due to his Fall 2005 Thinkweek paper An Exit Interview which first mentioned these programs in a subversive way that elevated their discussion here and into HR's new headache. Bubba's starting his own gig... all while Scoble is wondering Why Doesn't Microsoft Get the Love?

Microsoft's Makeover: I like this post by Mr. Joe Wilcox - it reminds of the research days. Nice read: Microsoft Watch - Corporate - A Little More Blush Microsoft's Makeover.

Microsoft Extreme Makeover: has a post up regarding the most important issue to vote on in our proxy statement. A missing issue. Change, or more of the same? It's up to YOU.

Zuuuuuuune! Man, if we had released this Zune feature set a year ago, I would have bought two and be-bopped around the Apple store squirting songs between the two singing "ah-neener, neener, ah-neener-neener-neener!" A year later and left behind by the next generation iPods I'm wondering whether it's worth doing a bunch of WMV transcoding to get an Apple iPod Touch. Heaven forbid if iPods ever natively support WMV. That would be game over.

Last year the Zune group was the loudest of all the teams at the Company Meeting. I really don't remember hearing a peep out them this year... or now. More from Mr. Wilcox: Microsoft Watch - Games & Consumer - Zune Gets More Social.

(And actually... I don't think I'll be buying an iPod Touch. I like stuff I can hack and add to, like a smartphone, and I don't want to get a Touch just to have Apple [stepping up to match Sony's anti-consumer control-freakism] go and brick or wipe my Touch. So much spending cash in my pocket and no one doing their best to earn it... and my trust.)

Where'z Mah Bukket? So Facebook doesn't like alternative identities or personas for their users and I had my account disabled. I'm asking for reconsideration. I (of course) like Ms. Foley's post on the Mini-Microsoft / Facebook situation, plus her take on letting me stay on:

Shouldn't there be some kind of clause protecting Facebookers who shroud themselves with the cloak of anonymity so that they don't risk being fired? I was one of Mini's many Facebook friends and I was in favor of him being part of "the social."

Meanwhile, I have an email note saying that Facebook has received my appeal, but nothing moves fast if it doesn't make money so I'm still waiting to hear back officially as to whether the account will be restored. Sigh. I don't know if this is part of a Facebook sweep of alternative identities or if there's something more dumb going on... like if someone, perhaps as they handed over a load of cash, complained and a Facebook admin decided "thems be the rules!" and flipped me off. Literally and figuratively.

Along with flipping the boring bit to on and derailing Facebook from becoming an even more interesting post-blog place to grow social interaction.

Meanwhile, there should be a group (or two?) for you to join around saying, "Hey, uncool, Facebook," and kvetch with other exceptionally good looking folks like yourself:


98 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post. I would have a totally different take on Microsoft 2.0. My take (which I'm preparing a blog entry on) is that Microsoft is dead. There is no such thing anymore as a thing called "Microsoft". And the bottom line is that I know of quite a few people leaving as we speak, this place is done.

Speaking of departures...Tanya Clemons going to Pfizer and I hear that Susan Delbene also left. Maybe there is hope with execs leaving of some room near the top.

Rosyna said...

(And actually... I don't think I'll be buying an iPod Touch. I like stuff I can hack and add to, like a smartphone, and I don't want to get a Touch just to have Apple [stepping up to match Sony's anti-consumer control-freakism] go and brick or wipe my Touch. So much spending cash in my pocket and no one doing their best to earn it... and my trust.)

I am confused by this statement. You list things you can't even do on a Zune (in any capacity) as the reasons you won't buy an iPod touch. But if you can't do these things on a Zune, why would you try to do them on an iPod touch?

Shawn Oster said...

Zune: I think there is still a lot room to wiggle around with the Zune in the market. While the Touch is super-sexy it's 16GB limit makes it a rather silly media player. Plus the fact that you can't actually enter new calendar events? Ouch. Lastly a WiFi Store isn't all the neat considering it's still only the iTunes Store. Where is the ability to buy Amazon or emusic DRM-free tracks? On the other hand WiFi Syncing? That's the feature that has more real-world use. I sync new podcasts everyday yet I have a hankering to randomly browse the iTunes store while away from my computer... oh, maybe once in the last 3 months did I think that might be useful (I was thinking in context of "What if the Zune had a WiFi Marketplace" but you get the picture).

Oh, lastly, the fact that they ditched WMP and did their own software? *Doing the happy dance* WMP just wasn't a good fit.

Facebook: While I consider you a special case I still think they're right in their policy. I'd rather have a few people like yourself not on Facebook than open a loop-hole for others with less... comical and informative... motives. I know, sucks but it's a "the good of the many" sorta situation.

Ahh well, thanks for keeping the MSFT peephole open and flowing.

Phil said...

Mini - we (the zune team) were very loud at the company meeting. The entire team is extremely excited about the launch and have been working insanely hard and long hours this year.

Anonymous said...

Mini - You doing the puzzle hunt again this weekend? :)

Anonymous said...

As an outsider it's interesting to read this blog and see the way that even the smartest and most free-thinking Microsoft employees (a self-selecting group represented on this blog) are prone to what I think of as "the Microsoft disease": a way of thinking that is sound and internally consistent and intelligent but is nevertheless completely and utterly obsolete and wrong-headed.

I don't think Microsoft will ever succeed at consumer-level products and software, because you guys all think in terms of 1990s technology challenges and not the present day. (Which makes sense, because that was the Microsoft heyday.)

Whenever somebody else (Apple, Google, Nintendo, etc) succeeds, the Microsoft reaction (as evidenced here) is always completely myopic:

1) Somebody bitterly argues that the competitor (Apple, etc.) is somehow deluding or fooling consumers with "flashy marketing" or some such distraction, while the product in question

2) Somebody bitterly argues that the Microsoft product is "equivalent" or "superior" compared to the competitor, based (always) on the same two metrics: a) direct comparison of feature sets and specs, and b) a contrast in the user's freedom to alter, tweak or generally "mess around with" the product.

Even when Microsoft's products are superior (and they can be vastly superior to the competition) the same obsolete thinking applies. It's like talking to a Datona pit crew about cars. Those mechanics can't wait to pull the car apart and make it go faster. If you showed them a conventional consumer car they would scoff, because they don't care about air conditioning and cup-holders; they want to take the exhaust manifolds apart and rebuild them.

The "Microsoft disease" I'm describing is what makes posters here angrily point out that the Apple or Google product is "the same" or "worse" than the Microsoft equivalent, and that consumers don't see this because they're distracted by trivial matters (like Bill Gates' comment about 'colored plastic' being the only notable feature of the original iMac).

I remember a whole bunch of posters here angrily complaining that there was "nothing to" the iPhone because you could easily go find another smartphone with the same features list or even a better features list. Never mind that Apple had actually put Bill Gates' beloved blue-sky "surface computing" directly into the consumer space: that's just "the design." It's "pit-crew" thinking again, and it dates back to the days when anyone using a computer or a PDA or a cell phone was working in a highly regimented environment with "tech people" around them who made it all work. "There's something wrong with my computer/phone/PDA; I need to go find a tech to fix it." Pit-crew thinking again. If the consumer can operate it without our help, it must not be a very sophisticated device.

But the world has changed. As with every other technological advance in history, computers and digital technology have advanced to the point where the "tech middlemen" not only aren't neccesary but are actually shunned. You guys can't see this because you have an inherent contempt for machines that the average person can use: they must not be any good, and "real" technology is elsewhere.

Mini's comments about the Zune embody this completely. He wants to play his WMA files, and he "like[s] stuff [he] can hack and add to," so he won't get an iPod touch. Never mind the fact that WMA is easily the worst of all media formats; but, more importantly, Mini's "liking" is an example of exactly what gets in the way of Microsoft people thinking clearly. It's "pit-crew" thinking again, from the old days when a machine that a consumer could operate without help was correctly understood to be technologically inferior (racecar metaphor again). Today, the ordinary drivers are racing the fast cars and they don't want or need a pit crew. It's like you guys are standing there with power socket wrenches, staring at a top-of-the-line Lexus, and saying, "Why would anyone want this? You can't even easily replace the transmission!"

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs to decide which side of the Berlin Wall they want to be.

Once upon a time, they were the west side - the free side. IBM was the east side. The PC, DOS, and BASIC freed the computer world from slavery to the computer center. You could get your own machine and do whatever you wanted (provided you could program in BASIC). A bit later, DOS and the clones freed us from IBM entirely. And later still, the clones, DOS, and Windows saved us from the IBM's attempt to imprison us all over again, the PS/2.

Back then, Microsoft was growing based on giving users the freedom (and the tools) to do whatever they wanted.

But eventually Microsoft drifted over to the other side of the wall. They started trying to "leverage" their OS dominance into new markets. That is, they tried to force users to do what Microsoft wanted, not necessarily what the users wanted. Microsoft quit being the company of user freedom, and became the company of user lock-in.

So: Will Microsoft be the platform that people want to escape to, or will they be the platform that people want to escape from? Currently they are the platform that people want to escape from, because they are the platform that restricts freedom rather than gives it.

If Microsoft wants to be where the action is, they need to get back to giving people the freedom (and the tools) to do whatever they want.

By the way, the tools are important too - less than the freedom, but still very important. "Developers" isn't just a rant that Steve goes on when he didn't take his meds that morning. Developers are where applications come from, and develpers tend to go where it's easiest to get their work done. Tools that empower developers are critical. But while tools empower developers, it is still true that freedom empowers them even more.

Freedom, and tools. That's what Microsoft once was - and what it could be again.

MSS

Anonymous said...

Hi Mini,

There's an interesting contrast between your shout out to Ideaexchange and your lamenting the deep prep needed for a bulet-proof billg review.

One of the ideas that Jon Pincus has been championing is 'fast fail.' Ideaexchange is an implementation of that. Billg reviews are the precise opposite--work for months to ensure your idea is hard to shred, rather than work with people for months to improve it.

I think part of 2.0 should be faster, deeper, less defensive engagement with a whole slew of people.

Anonymous said...

Phil, that's a shame. You worked so hard all year and there was no one on the team to see that you're working on an unsellable turd. Better hire some folks who call a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

Regarding IdeaAgency, as is typical, most of the ideas that are coming out of the site are fluffy pet projects (like Microsoft Bob) that won't go anywhere. This is the problem with tech folks, they think something would be cool, so they assume everyone would want to use it. I've worked at two groups where the GM said that some technology would be the coolest thing ever and projected everyone would be using it within two years. In all instances, they were wrong. I suggest that people think less about re-inventing the wheel and more about making the wheel more efficient, then people (and ad money) will use it. What will probably happen though is the company will spend hundreds of millions on some 'cool' pet project that won't really impress anyone.

Anonymous said...

First, to the Zune guy. "Working insanely hard and long hours" unfortunately doesn't guarantee that you produce anything good. To me, the new Zune is even uglier than the original. The bottom half looks like two eyes and a giant gaping mouth.

And what's with the execs all wearing black shirts in their glam shots on the Zune Press page? They look like three self-absorbed posers and the combined effect is creepy and distasteful. But then they're execs, and I'm sure nobody would dare tell them that they look like caricatures of corporate know-nothings, especially that Stephensen guy. I know nothing about him at all, but his picture makes me giggle.

As for Bill going bye bye, if anything it should improve productivity. I was never directly involved in a "Bill review," but I was close enough to see what went on in preparation. Namely, four to five weeks of the "leadership" team in my org being devoted non-stop to preparing for the meeting, as opposed to actually doing something useful. "Preparing" meant tweaking a Powerpoint deck endlessly, word by word, while shivering in fear that Bill might turn his Emperor's Thumb downward and dispatch them all into unfunded hell. On one level it was sickening: that kind of groveling before the Almighty and cowering in fear of his thunderous rage. It also made me think that Gates, more than anything else he might be, is a big jerk.

On another level is was shocking to see the energy and effort that went into concocting something designed soley to placate one person. I only have experience with one small org, but if this went on across the company than the loss of productivity is quite simply stunning, and yet another great topic for the business schools of the future.

Anonymous said...

Why is a Mary Jo Foley book about MS of interest to anybody? She, along with most of the warm and fuzzily friendly "press" that "cover" Microsoft, has tended to be little more than a recycler of press releases, executive blustering and hard hitting "journalism" and "insights" that have tended to be hand-fed by the company itself.

She's still not as funny as the other Seattle-area columnist who described one of the pretty much periodic re-orgs as proof that "Bill was back in charge" just a few weeks before he announced his long, slow exit trajectory. That's the kind of clued-in, 733t insider insight people need to write...

Anonymous said...

Here's some great fodder you missed: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_mwbriefs_1004oct04,0,4825697.story

Anonymous said...

Nothing makes a room more serious than to hear someone saying, "We're off to our BillG review." You immediately do a quick assessment: are they nervous? Do they look ready for a wave of f-bombs? Who next is going to inspire the level of deep, cover-every base preparation as BillG?

Hmm... I haven't found this to be true really in the last 5 years for anyone other than Partners or Principals bucking for Partner -- for so many of the rest of us, BillG is just a random figurehead with a history of treating people like crap and one of the required hurdles to jump through before Shit Gets Done, just like integrating crappy Passport into your web app or going through SWI.

Bill is brilliant but he's also now a last-generation dinosaur whose time in the sun has passed, and it's great that he's getting out now. It's been a long time since the dreaded bill review had the power to make me somber.

If only Steve would get the message and join him...

Some Guy said...

I found it extremely interesting that the new Zunes will play H.264 video. Not that I think they'll sell enough of them to even make Creative Labs nervous, let alone make a dent in the iPod market, but if the Empire is throwing in the towel on VC1, that's highly significant.

Anonymous said...

That cookie from the IdeaAgency is the only reward you will ever receive from them. Nobody with any idea worth a plugged nickel would ever waste their time with it. Every dime Microsoft spends on that program is a dime thrown down the toilet, and the GM of "Innovation" running the program is as trustworthy as a snake.

Anonymous said...

The iPod Touch certainly has a few issues, but that hasn't stopped it selling out everywhere. It's hard to get close to them in stores (for all the people), and that's if you can even find them.

Mini is right to criticise Apple for the lock-down on the iPhone. Ambrosia Software's Andrew Welch
noted the other day that they're locking down user space in the OS X iPhone environment. That's not good for anyone, least of all Apple.

Shawn criticises Apple for only using their own store from the iPod WiFi connection. That's no surprise surely, and no problem. This is the store that's sold literally billions of songs, the premier online music store. How can it be a negative to connect to the leader?

Phil notes how hard the Zune team have worked, and the new Zunes are great devices. It's just that Apple didn't sit on their laurels, and the new Zunes look lame and old next to the iPod Touch.

It's not enough to reach parity with Apple's devices. For the Zune to succeed it has to leapfrog Apple's iPods. There was a chance last year to do this with WiFi, but it was squandered and Apple actually implemented the WiFi-accessible online store feature first.

The new Zunes have nothing I can't get elsewhere. They're nice enough, but not compelling.

The question is now: what will Zune 3 bring that no-one else has, that makes the market sit up and take notice, that blows Apple out of the water?

(I apologise if this post sounded harsh, but the fact is that all the hours worked, all the effort put in was wasted judging by the 'averageness' of the end-product.)

Anonymous said...

Zune team: what have you been doing? Toshiba made the hardware obviously-- a long time ago. Did it take a committee long hours this year to decide on all the sparklies in the UI?

And for our next trick: Music playback. With sparklies. (Oh, and no more brown.)

You must be exhausted.

Anonymous said...

said that some technology would be the coolest thing ever and projected everyone would be using it within two years. In all instances, they were wrong.

The "Smart Display" is one example that comes to mind. WTF were they thinking.

Going further back... "pulling real mode" (but not really) out of Windows Millenium ("Windows Me" -- what an annoying name) so it would boot faster is another brilliant waste of time.

Sadly the people who came up with those silly ideas got "rah rah, good job!" pats on the back and promoted and the people who recognized the folly but were too timid to speak up eventually found the door.

God bless Microsoft and its frat-boy management mentality.

Anonymous said...

People wanting to follow AlexGo? Now that's funny. Some of us do remember him from the NetDocs days, after all, when he was full of himself on a much smaller scale.

Anonymous said...

re: the anonymous post that speaks about Tanya Clemons and Suzan Delbene leaving.

I don't know Suzan or her work (just that she was the exec sponsor for Women@Ms)..but I did attend a few round tables and presentations by Tanya. It's a real shame that we are losing someone of Tanya's caliber.

Tanya has a distinquished background and joined Microsoft to lead change in our dysfunctional culture. Based on her presentations, she thought there was quite a bit of improvement needed and she was working with Steve to do this. Listening to Tanya, I was buoyed by the thought that at last here was an executive that "got it". My hunch is that she finally tired of banging her head against the proverbial wall. (Companies, like people, have to want to change in order to change.)

It was great to see a female, especially an African-American female, in our upper ranks. And now she's gone. Nice...real nice

Can we have a little more diversity in the upper ranks, and make this a place where people like Tanya want to work for more than a few years? Personally, I'm tired of watching mandatory diversity videos and having it pushed from the bottom up.

Real leaders lead change from the top. Steve, Diversity starts with you and your extended directs. When are you hiring more females and underrepresented minorities?

Anonymous said...

What is "the bench?"

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini
What's your take on the latest resignations in HR? The CVP in charge of Talent is gone; so is the head of diversity, and the top HR GM for E&D. What's going on?

Keep up the awesome, thought-provoking work!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mini,

Todd Bishop just confirmed Bungie's going indy again. http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/123091.asp?source=rss

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Immediately before my "Berlin Wall" post is another post that appears to say the exact opposite. I don't think it does, though.

What the post before mine said is that, in the consumer space, people want stuff that just works. They don't want to have to fiddle with it, get maintenance done, etc. They want an appliance.

Appliances give less freedom, but not in the way that people in the consumer space care about. In a real way, they give more freedom - freedom from worrying about maintaining, fixing, and configuring a device. For this to work, the stock configuration of the device has to be what almost everybody wants.

What my post was saying is that people don't want to be pushed to go places just because it's in Microsoft's corporate interest that they go there.

Both posts basically say the same thing: Find out where people want to go, and help them go there. Don't try to use their desire to go to A as a means of making them actually go to B. Enable them to do what they want.

MSS

Anonymous said...

Goodbye Bungie, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I hope we recouped part of the billions of dollars we invested into them.

My guess is that we just let them go for a 15% stake in the company.

Great publicity for Halo, too. We couldn't have waited another month to announce this?

J said...

Microsoft to spin off 'Halo' division

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7555958&postID=2084181155327435227

Microsoft Corp. will spin off the creator of the blockbuster "Halo" video game trilogy but maintain a stake and close ties to the company.

Anonymous said...

It is now official: Bungie and Microsoft are splitting.

http://www.bungie.net/news/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=12834

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini, I liked your post, and I'm sad that you got kicked off Facebook. Thinking about Facebook, Myspace, and our own lame attempts to generate internal projects that can be profitable (yes, I'm talking about all these efforts, from the incubation teams in Office and elsewhere to the Ideaexchange and even Ad Astra. Yes. They are all lame. It's true! none of them will produce meaningful innovation) it occurs to me that we’d make a lot more money by making it easier for others to innovate by providing more tools that allow innovation along the axis of the latest trends. For example, if you look at Facebook and Myspace (and every other social networking site) it’s pretty obvious that there is a trend towards social network sites. It’s also impossible to pick a winner – I’m sure News is going to regret the Myspace deal, and Yahoo is actually lucky they could not buy Facebook (and we should not invest in Facebook unless there is a real clear, guaranteed payback). And we should avoid creating any new social network sites. But what we ought to do is look at this trend – social network sites – and figure out what it would mean to become the best platform for developing, hosting, and monetizing these things. I’d love to sell tools to people who want to make new social network sites. I’d love to make money from hosting these things. I’d love to make money from supporting advertising on them. “Microsoft provides the best platform and tools for creating, deploying, running, and profiting from, social networking sites.” I would not like to own one! There are other trendlines we can follow as well, mobile, etc. I think focusing on how to become the platform for others to innovate one, and then finding ways to participate in the success of the ones that take off, and still profit from the ones that fail, would do a lot more to further our cause by trend-chasing, which is what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years. Let’s trend-enable, not trend chase.
Another good example of what we could do here would be Xbox. Clearly the system software and development kit are great for xbox. The drag is the hardware. XNA promises to make development easier. We should build os and development kids for consoles – other consoles. And services for all consoles, like Live. This is where the money is at, we’ll never make money on the hardware. Follow the PC model from the old days, just do it in consoles. The Xbox play smacks of Apple, we see how profitable their PC business is, it’s small, until recently closed, and they barely stayed in business. The same will be true for xbox. Walled gardens die.
I remember the days of “developers, developers, developers, developers”, we need to get back to that place with the understanding that we made ourselves great by making them great, and that the platforms have changed, it isn’t just the PC. Creating and growing markets where others can flourish will win a lot more for us than trying to capture and control markets. I think maybe we don’t understand what made us great in the beginning, we assumed that the embrace and extend strategy was the secret to our success; I think it is likely that our success had more to do with creating the ecosystem than with owning it.

Anonymous said...

So the MS/Bungie split became official today:

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/techtracks/index.html#019306

John Dvorak hit the nail on the head yesterday, although he didn't think the then-rumored split would actually take place:

"I'm convinced that the way Microsoft is currently managed, this kind of isolationism is the only way a successful product can be developed at the company. This is largely due to a corporate culture based on micromanagement and meddling.

"One promising product line after another eventually gets touched by the meddlers, who manage to ruin the product over time."

Although Shane Kim attempted to put the usual positive spin on this, it really does show how badly the MGS folks have fumbled the ball. Bungie first wanted a separate location and later their full emancipation purely due to their friction with management (and no, I'm not taking Dvorak's word on that. I'm speaking from personal experience with MGS and firsthand accounts from Bungie folks I've spoken with).

Of course, I'm sure the beancounters at MGS, hell-bent on their mission of making sure FY08 is profitable, truly do see this as a win since they've just gotten all those Bungie employees off the payroll for three quarters of the fiscal year. Never mind the significant jump in cost that will now occur for everything that Bungie produces for MGS in the future, that's for the FY09 and later books to worry about.

When Dean Takahashi gets around to writing his inevitable book "Closing the Xbox" to describe the disbanding of MGS, I think this chapter will be titled "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul."

Anonymous said...

Would Zune exist if Apple hadn't made iPod?

When are MSFT going to make their own hardware, running windows (like Apple)?

When are MSFT entering the car industry?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what's the hype with Bubba.

I was unfortunate enough to work with this Bubba Murarka (his first name is actually Neil).

He was the typical creature from the group that gave us the "Three Degrees" product(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threedegrees). A group that had a bunch of dreams that could not be realized now or in 50 years. The group was a confetti throwing gig that went from nowhere to... nowhere. To the point that now you can only get information about it at wikipedia. No one is against dreams, but betting a whole product on the widespread usage of IPV6 surely would not take you anywhere.

Three Degrees most amazing deed were the group member's pictures and preferences in the product's web page. More confetti please! Imagine Office team publishing everyone's diaphanous pictures and preferred bars and night-clubs.

Bubba was a way-way-below-average-PM that came up with grandiose wordings about the future of the project, but could not devise a decent UI or even come up with a feature list. Just look at his blog and see if you can find anything remotely useful.

That's why when we see internal people whining about MS, we should take it with a grain of salt. Maybe, just maybe, the complaining person is just incompetent.

Bubba, please do not come back. Better yet, go work for Google.

Anonymous said...

This article nails it completely.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/microsoft-bosses-again-show-they/story.aspx?guid=%7B861065D6%2D3BAE%2D4F5C%2DBF1C%2DC4B7BDE76899%7D&siteid=yhoof

Microsoft just cant seem to handle companies they buy. There is an over eagerness to do things "the Microsoft way" whihc effectively means booting out the previous employees, jamming in a bunch of architects who conclude that the software they bought is crap and invest heavily in rewriting the same in a more crappy way. I had experienced this for myself when m company was acquired and left MS three yeras ago when my colleages were forced to seek jobs in other divisions. Glad to see that this is still continuing in Microsoft. Wonder how the aQuantive folks are feeling about right now

Anonymous said...

Although Shane Kim attempted to put the usual positive spin on this, it really does show how badly the MGS folks have fumbled the ball. Bungie first wanted a separate location and later their full emancipation purely due to their friction with management (and no, I'm not taking Dvorak's word on that. I'm speaking from personal experience with MGS and firsthand accounts from Bungie folks I've spoken with).

dude, you're a friggin' idiot -- bungie wanted to separate because they didn't get paid royalties like other developers for their BILLION DOLLAR PRODUCT.

if you were bungie and making microsoft salary for the biggest selling game franchise of all time, you would demand to split as well.

management friction? whatever. it's money baby.

Anonymous said...

"We should build os and development kids for consoles – other consoles."

Ha. Been there, done that, lost our (T-)shirt. Problem with that gig is that you're competing with the console manufacturer's own SDK and tools team and I don't need to tell you what happens when you horn in on someone else's turf, especially if they're Japanese as well as the only place to get a dev kit from.

A bit of trivia from a long forgotten project: If you read anything about our effort, you'll almost always see words to the effect that performance sucked but no source. Three guesses as to where that actually came from.

Anonymous said...

dude, you're a friggin' idiot -- bungie wanted to separate because they didn't get paid royalties like other developers for their BILLION DOLLAR PRODUCT.

If I ever get to the point where I'm calling people "idiots" I hope I realize before hitting "publish" that it means I'm probably losing the argument.

Bungie - specifically the handful of core people who created the Halo series - got paid plenty up front before a single game was sold, especially when you figure that they had one story and took three games to tell it. I can see how some of the lower rank and file would feel a little cheated when they're part of the only MGS unit that's made money and getting paid regular blue badge scale, but they're not the ones who'd be making the decision to go independent, are they?

Engage brain next time. And while you're at it, practice your capitalization.

Anonymous said...

We should build os and development kids for consoles – other consoles.

I have one word for you. Dreamcast. Look it up, son.

Anonymous said...

RE: New Zune launch. I think Idiot Toys said it best - "Even the background is black and white. This reminds us of grandma's funeral

Anonymous said...

The Bungie folks had the sweetest deal in all of Microsoft (if you don't believe me, ask around) and they still saw fit to walk away!

That is really incredible! When your peers are turning down a deal far sweeter than the one you've got, where does that leave you?

Wake up, Microsoft!

Anonymous said...

Bungie - specifically the handful of core people who created the Halo series - got paid plenty up front before a single game was sold, especially when you figure that they had one story and took three games to tell it.

you don't seem to understand how royalties work in the game industry.

If I ever get to the point where I'm calling people "idiots" I hope I realize before hitting "publish" that it means I'm probably losing the argument.

you'd be wrong -- inflammatory language doesn't really have any bearing on the quality of your argument.

Engage brain next time. And while you're at it, practice your capitalization.

oh SNAP. lol.

Anonymous said...

> What's your take on the latest
> resignations in HR? The CVP in
> charge of Talent is gone; so is > the head of diversity, and the
> top HR GM for E&D. What's going > on?

Those VPs and GM were partners. Got their big payout and they're out of here. Those guys don't contribute much anyway. Happy coding !!!

Anonymous said...

Zune hmmm, Microsoft is talking about the market share of their ugly tool is great although it's the first year but I've never seen someone using zune... Zune zucked officially.

jessica said...

I want to see a new OS from the ground up before I say MS 2.0. Not a replacement to the windows line . . . just a second cutting edge os.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous dork who mentioned that Bungie left b/c they don't get royalties...you're wrong.

All FTE core Halo team memebers in Bungie have gotten royalties for the various Halos. Now, if you're one of the poor bastards who's an MS FTE from elsewhere in MGS and you're on loan to the Halo team, they end up working the same crazy hours and doing the same work...and they won't get jack shit for it.

No, Bungie got a good deal leaving. Many folks will see a pay raise, 401(k) will match dollar for dollar to the first 6 percent whereas MS only matches 50 cents on the dollar to the first 6 percent, they get 4 weeks of vacation a year, the entire Thanksgiving week and Christmas week off, and let's not forget...royalties. Now that a big fat layer of overhead (in the form of MS as a whole, and ineffectual higher MGS management specifically) has been removed, it wouldn't surprise me if everybody's piece of the royalty pie ended up getting a little bigger moving forward.

MS got their ROI though. We bought Bungie back when they were nobodys and were still wasting their time on Mac game development (for all 136 Mac gamers that are out there), and they were cheap. MUCH cheaper than Rare. And they ended up being MUCH more profitable. I think we picked them up for < $25 million?

Halo 1 alone made that a good purchase, but then add the blockbuster sales of Halo 2 on top of that and now Halo 3? Oh yeah, MS has made PLENTY of cash. We've definitely gotten our money's worth.

Hell, outside of BAO (where Flight Sim came from) Bungie is probably the only financially smart pick-up MGS has made. Rare won't earn out at the current rate they're going, Digital Anvil was a total bust and pure Chris Roberts wankery, FASA was progressively reduced to total irrelevance and then ground into nothing, and Ensemble has yet to show that they have any more tricks up their sleeve (the jury's still out on Halo Wars) besides trying to re-make Age of Empires again and again and again and again and again and again without realizing the RTS genre as they know it is dead.

Bungie has the right idea. I would be happy to see this outcome become more commonplace through the company. We're too damn big and always in danger of crushing outselves under our own weight.

Shareholder Doe said...

Got my proxy statement today, and voted against the entire board.

Feels good to do something positive for Microsoft today.

If you are a shareholder, please review the proxy statement, consider the issues, and vote. I don't care which way you vote, just please don't throw away your opportunity to express in a very direct and real way what you think about how the board and executive management are doing their jobs.

Yes, most of the individual shareholders reading Mini hold too few shares to make much difference, but collectively we can begin to rock the boat.

Please vote your proxies.

Anonymous said...

What's your take on the latest resignations in HR? The CVP in charge of Talent is gone; so is the head of diversity, and the top HR GM for E&D. What's going on?

>
Good news for share holders. If we can get rid of another thousand of useless HR ilk, MSFT will be better off.

Anonymous said...

The Bungie folks had the sweetest deal in all of Microsoft (if you don't believe me, ask around) and they still saw fit to walk away!

That is really incredible! When your peers are turning down a deal far sweeter than the one you've got, where does that leave you?


You're missing the point -- the Bungie folks might have had the sweetest deal in all Microsoft, but they had a crappy deal compared to other game developers. This has zero to do with Microsoft and everything to do with Bungie wanting a bigger piece of their own billion dollar pie.

Remember, this is a group of people who have largely worked together for years, and who used to be independent. Microsoft was good for getting Halo 1 off the ground, but now they're all thiking that they deserve a bigger chunk.

It's no different than the Office team deciding that since their product sells a gazillion units that they deserve to have a bigger share of the profits. The difference is that Bungie had the balls to stand up and say that they wanted to leave the fold.

Anonymous said...

All FTE core Halo team memebers in Bungie have gotten royalties for the various Halos.

WRONG. We give the Bungie team a larger than average bonus when they ship a Halo game, but they don't get royalties.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that people think less about re-inventing the wheel and more about making the wheel more efficient, then people (and ad money) will use it.

Also, if you focus on efficiency, reinvention will come as a by-product of that. Or so it appears to be the case with Japanese automakers. Likewise, for large companies to operate and feel like small companies, the internal processes have to constantly be reworked.

Anonymous said...

I want to see a new OS from the ground up before I say MS 2.0. Not a replacement to the windows line . . . just a second cutting edge os.
Nice thought, but can't happen without causing a TON of backward compatibility issues. I'm no architect, but if these guys could do it over a period of time...why can't we?

Anonymous said...

Historical footnote - Bungie started in Mac game development, but their later titles (Oni, Myth, Myth II) were all PC/Mac.

Anonymous said...


WRONG. We give the Bungie team a larger than average bonus when they ship a Halo game, but they don't get royalties.


Well then that's news to several folks I know on the Halo team. They've never said "larger than average bonus" once insofar as the money is concerned that they receive after shipping a Halo title, but they HAVE said "royalties" many times when referring to that money. And for some rank & file over there it may only equal a "larger than average bonus", but to the folks I know over there it is a lot more sizeable than that.


So either somebody over there isn't calling a spade a spade, or different people are being told different things.

Anonymous said...

>> We give the Bungie team

That is why you get to use the past tense with the verb "give" now when referring to Bungie.

Anonymous said...

BTW, the rant is from here:

http://techreport.com/discussions.x/13303

Anonymous said...

"...if these guys could do it over a period of time...why can't we?"

You'd think we would have already given that the creator of Mach has been heading MSR for over 15 years.

Anonymous said...

if these guys could do it over a period of time...why can't we?

Because it would require organized, disciplined thinking and behavior across the entire company, with each "fiefdom" cooperating transparently with the others (not to mention testing and bugtracking pipelines that actually work the way they're supposed to.)

In other words, go find another company to do it. Microsoft can't.

Anonymous said...

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,137988-page,10-c,electronics/article.html

Ouch! I think the award should go to flash version of Zune 2, though.

Anonymous said...

Well whoda, your enthusiasm for Zuuuuneee!$?? seems overbounding. I do congratulate Microsoft in refining the copy of the copy, and my guess is that as the giant flywheel of MS Marketing kicks in at Walmart, there will finally be some sales. But is it enough? Time will tell.

I love this photo
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/images/press/2007/10-02ZuneNextGenIMAGE%20_lg.jpg
from this Microsoft press release
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/oct07/10-02ZuneNextGenPR.mspx

The never tiring smiling Bill Gates and an amazingly subdued J. Allard holding the new copies of the copies of the iPod. Bill's strategy is outlined as 'because office succeeded, Zune Social will too. I'm working on trying to follow the analogy Bill. Especially at a time when even the iPod bores the crap out of me, and especially with its social tie in to Apple. I suppose a kid has not become a kid until the kid has their very own iPod. Such is the power of social peer pressure.

This article by Eric Sadun says it pretty well:
http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/mac/2006/10/17/microsoft-zune.html
i.e., the music player is NOT a social object. (I say it is more of a status symbol for kids and adults who are music lovers.

But that look on Allard's face is quite haunting. Reminds me of this stanza from Thomas Hardy's poem The Dead Man Walking:
"I am but a shape that stands here,
A pulseless mould,
A pale past picture, screening
Ashes gone cold."
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-dead-man-walking/

Note to Zune design team:
Be very very careful when designing objects to insure that they do not have any graphic or physical elements that connote parts of the body, animals, bugs or negative associations with past popular icons. And whatever you do, don't sell a version that has the two buttons above the navigation disk on the zune as being black with the disk black also. Mickey Mouse suddenly jumps out at you.

Note to Zune management: be sure to review all designs to not have above mentioned features BEFORE tooling and release to press.

Note to Bill Gates:
Do your company a favor: Let Go.

Sincerely, good luck with the new products.

Anonymous said...

if you were bungie and making microsoft salary for the biggest selling game franchise of all time, you would demand to split as well.

Halo isn't even close to the biggest selling game franchise of all time and all 3 titles combined might start approaching sales sales of things like Super Mario Brothers [40.3 million] or Pokemon R/G [24 million].

It's going to be interesting to see what Bungie does now, since they were basically given blank checks and hard deadlines for their last 3 games being in control of their own destinies might not be the best thing as far as actually shipping goes. I'm sure publishers [including Microsoft] are stumbling over each other to get to them but before Halo they had never released a game in less than a year after they promised it would be out.

J said...

iPhone closed? Guess you didn't read this:

Reports: Apple Set to Open Up the iPhone (Within Limits)
http://apple20.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2007/10/05/reports-apple-set-to-open-up-the-iphone-with-limits/?source=yahoo_quote


According to Nettles, Apple is seeking to replicate the development model T-Mobile pioneered with its Sidekick, where developers who have applications the company thinks its customers might want and can demonstrate that they are compatible and don’t interfere with other apps are given the keys to the kingdom and allowed to distribute them through T-Mobile’s integrated payment system. Apple has reportedly hired some people from Danger (the company that built the SidekickOS) to help design the architecture of its own software testing and distribution system.

This jibes with Carl Howe’s advice to would-be iPhone developers, posted yesterday on the Blackfriars’ Marketing blog:

Wait for the Leopard Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard release later this month before you write off the iPhone platform. Apple hasn’t shipped an SDK [software developers kit] yet, not because Apple is evil, but because the iPhone is a Leopard device. (link)

Anonymous said...

Phil and the Zune team:

As many others have said, Zune needs to leapfrog iPod's technology and ot just play catch up in order to be a serous player in this space.

Despite having some key leading features initially such as wi-fi capabilities, the original zune was crippled by not taking advantage of wi-fi in any serious way.

Hint: If you want zune wi-fi to be taken seriously, offer wifi based phone calls without requiring a cellular service through the use of Skype, Vonage etc.

Sure, some of the Windows smartphone partners will complain but that move would up the ante considerably.

Anonymous said...

The Bungie team HAD a profit sharing arrangement with MS that was negotiated during the acquisition back in the day. The "royalties" that are spoken of are part and parcel with the profit sharing arrangement. The Bungie team had nothing to complain about as far as money goes - the real problem was the constant attempts by MS management to inject themselves into the process and control it.

Anonymous said...

The "Smart Display" is one example that comes to mind. WTF were they thinking.

Going further back... "pulling real mode" (but not really) out of Windows Millenium


Funny - both of those projects were run by the same person...(now a partner, of course)

some guy said...

"Would Zune exist if Apple hadn't made iPod?"

Of course not.

In other news, Windows wouldn't exist if Apple hadn't shipped the Mac.

Anonymous said...

"the creator of Mach has been heading MSR for over 15 years."

MSR is not, and has never been a product development group. Its purpose is to take people off the market who might come up with competitive products.

Some Guy said...

"either somebody over there isn't calling a spade a spade, or different people are being told different things"

Or one or both of you are anonymously making it up as you go along?

Some Guy said...

"I found it extremely interesting that the new Zunes will play H.264 video."

Oops, turns out that they don't. The Zune software will transcode from H.264 to WMA. Thrillsville.

Anonymous said...

"...if these guys could do it over a period of time...why can't we?"

You'd think we would have already given that the creator of Mach has been heading MSR for over 15 years.


"heading MSR". Like anything gets shipped from that group.

Anonymous said...

The iPhone is really an incredible achievement and it will take Microsoft years to catch up, if it ever does.

However, there are many glaring problems with the iPhone that have opened up a niche that Microsoft can exploit:

* Its memory and battery are not removable
* It isn't sold unlocked
* It doesn't have GPS
* It's a closed platform
* It has a non-traditional form factor and input method that many people may not like

Microsoft needs to focus on making a killer combo smartphone music/video player. Make it a small candybar or flip phone, but with a slick design, strong brand, good screen, and full-size stereo audio connector. Give it some good media player software for a change. Make it take regular SD cards so memory is cheap and upgradeable. Sell an unlocked version for $300.

Microsoft could sell a billion of these if they started now and worked hard and stuck with the vision. Of course it will never happen because of the political infighting that would take place between Smartphone and Zune and Media Player. And the final product would be full of laughable compromises anyway. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

>> Like anything gets shipped from that group

Ever used SQL, XBox, Windows Media Player, MS Word or Live Search? There's quite a bit of MSR in there. Just because your group isn't high tech enough to use the stuff coming out of MSR doesn't mean that "nothing gets shipped" from there.

Anonymous said...

>> Its memory and battery are not removable

That's a feature

>> It isn't sold unlocked

Apple likes their profit margins. We should, too.

>> It doesn't have GPS

That's unfortunate, but even phones with GPS require you to pay a monhtly fee for mapping service. Let's put it this way for business-challenged, in the bizarro world cell operators live in you can't have GPS and Google Maps at the same time, for free. Apple chose Google maps. This was the right choice considering the circumstances.

>> It's a closed platform

That's about to change, I believe. Wait till Leopard comes out, they'll release an SDK after that.

>> It has a non-traditional form factor and input method that many people may not like

That's also a feature. You get used to its input within two weeks. After that other phones look old and tired.

And finally:

>> Sell an unlocked version for $300

Yeah, that's right. Let's use an XBox business model. Spend $400 per unit it and sell it for $300. Seeing how everyone focuses only on revenues, there should be no problem with that.

Anonymous said...

>"Mickey Mouse suddenly jumps out at you."

"OOOhhh nooooooo they be takin my bucket!"

And the winner for two incredible unbelievable bozo flips set to true in a row set to true goes to (drum roll please). . .

Microsoft Entertainment and Devices, the creators of Zune.

[Rule #4 is "Don't Flip The Bozo Bit". Bozo the clown was a figure of fun, someone certainly not to be taken seriously. McCarthy's advice was that everyone has something to contribute--it's easy and tempting, when someone ticks you off or is mistaken (or both), to simply disregard all their input in future by setting the "bozo flag" to TRUE for that person. But by taking that lazy way out, you poison team interactions and cannot avail yourself of help from the "bozo" ever again.]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozo_bit

Anonymous said...

The iPhone is really an incredible achievement and it will take Microsoft years to catch up, if it ever does.

Probably Not, Have you seen Zune 2.0


However, there are many glaring problems with the iPhone that have opened up a niche that Microsoft can exploit:


* Its memory and battery are not removable

Not yet, but does it really matter

* It isn't sold unlocked

There are ways to get around it and this problem is only due to AT&T. Once Google buys itself a large spectrum of the wireless airwaves being auctioned off early next year... it will be a whole new ball-game

* It doesn't have GPS

Not Yet

* It's a closed platform

it is semi-closed. Sometimes life isn't fair

* It has a non-traditional form factor and input method that many people may not like

Buddy, the "non-traditional" form factor is what makes it stand out. And the keyboard is better then any out in the market. I am sure those Apple geeks are hard at work right now improve it and everything else that is the IPhone

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on MSR's lack of contribution to products on MSR. The attitude towards MSR by product teams is also partly to blame. It takes two to be dysfunctional.

I don't remember complete product plans coming out of MSR (which isn't their job), but I do recall some excellent advice to the media teams that fell on deaf ears. Those teams would rather stick their heads in the sand and make the next Zune rather than repair fundamental flaws.

Anonymous said...

Regarding exit interviews, your boss and perhaps a few folks above them are the only people who care why you are leaving. Your "true" exit interview is when your boss asks you why you are leaving, or when their boss and his boss come to ask you why you're leaving and ask if you would stay, like they did to me. In that situation, I urge you to tell them whatever you planned to say in your exit interview because this is it.

I say this because my HR exit interview was conducted by an HR person who didn't even ask why I was leaving after over 10 years. I was one of the Gold Star people and had lots of level promotions and excellent reviews during my whole career. All they did was collect my badge. The meeting lasted barely 5 minutes. No probing questions, nothing. Just a friendly reminder that I signed an NDA as part of my employment.

However, about 3 months after leaving, I received an Exit Survey invite in snail mail that points to a survey Web site. Interesting, but pretty impersonal and implies that my response is not very important.

All I have to say is to carefully check your illusions about the world.

keeperplanet said...

>"However, there are many glaring problems with the iPhone that have opened up a niche that Microsoft can exploit. . ."

None of which are advantages as Apple is busy trying to address the glare. No, the `glaring' opportunities which Microsoft are so bright that Microsoft is blinded by the glare of its own form of business practice, e.g., assuming customers want things you build without asking first.

I am speaking of Apple's continued and obvious failure to serve its customers in favor of the same old monopoly practices that Microsoft is so well known for. Apple has been sued dozens of times over the iPhone. It started with the battery issues, then it went to the price cut issues sticking it to millions of early adopters for $200 extra, and the latest is a big one, in California, limiting use of a phone to one company is illegal.

No, Steve Jobs is tripping over his own arrogance on these issues. THAT is a real opening to an aggressive competent innovative and customer focused competitor. Oops. No takers?

Anonymous said...

re:
>However, there are many glaring >problems with the iPhone that >have opened up a niche that .Microsoft can exploit:
>
>* Its memory and battery are not >removable
>* It isn't sold unlocked
>* It doesn't have GPS
>* It's a closed platform
>* It has a non-traditional form >factor and input method that many >people may not

don't worry about removable battery, there are better embedded battery technologies available, like those from Altair Nanotechnologies (wow, I wish our stock would do what their stock did today). The other points are good, but I think the hardware team won't get their heads out of the commodity technology box. If we made a bunch of portable stuff with batteries that could be recharged practically forever we'd win a lot of fans, more than we'll get from some 'clever' portable UI. There is still a lot of room for improvement in the basics, like batteries. A simple but key differentiation.

Anonymous said...

>> Its memory and battery are not removable
That's a feature


A feature for Apple, certainly. If the iPhone took SD cards, 8gb would only cost a customer $30 more than 4gb (not $100), and he'd be able to upgrade to 16gb next year for $60 instead of buying an entirely new device.

>> It doesn't have GPS
Let's put it this way for business-challenged, in the bizarro world cell operators live in you can't have GPS and Google Maps at the same time, for free.


I never said anything about Google maps. There are plenty of nav systems and nav programs out there that do not use Google maps. Come to think of it, maybe all of them.

>> Sell an unlocked version for $300
Yeah, that's right. Let's use an XBox business model. Spend $400 per unit it and sell it for $300.


Where in the world are you getting $400? The 4gb iPhone BOM is $245 according to iSuppli and what I'm proposing is almost certainly much cheaper.

Anonymous said...

"THAT is a real opening to an aggressive competent innovative and customer focused competitor. Oops. No takers?"

Well, GOOG is said to be working on it. Have to get back to you on that.

The MSFT emperor's new clothes said...

Mini,

After reading your blog for a few years I have been inspired to do a bit of my own bloging. Hopefully I will get a few people discussing how to improve MSFT as well. I am focusing on my pet peeve, poor mgmt. I hope it can be a forum where other MSFTies can expose poor mgmt and try to improve their situation by exposing bad practices. http://tmsftenc.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

None of which are advantages as Apple is busy trying to address the glare. No, the `glaring' opportunities which Microsoft are so bright that Microsoft is blinded by the glare of its own form of business practice, e.g., assuming customers want things you build without asking first.

I have tried very hard but I cannot figure out what this means. Can anybody help?

Anonymous said...

Regarding exit interviews, it is true that your "exit interview" with the HR rep. is nothing more than a quick review of what happens when you leave regarding things like ESPP, 401(k), stock awards/options, reminder of the NDA, and turning in your badge, prime card, and parking pass. The HR rep does not get into the reasons behind why you're leaving.

However, long before the HR "exit interview" I did receive a survey on an internal server that asked about why I was leaving, what I planned to do, and what Microsoft could do better. Plus my second and third level managers talked to me as well. My first level manager simply threatened me and warned me not to bring him down lest he would blacklist me at Microsoft and "pull out the big guns". What a colossal waste of space that guy was... and he's still "managing" at Microsoft in spite of the fact that I informed his superiors of the threats he made. He was just asked to move elsewhere in the company.

In many ways I am sorry I am not at the company anymore but in many more ways I am relieved to not have to deal with the gigantic egos and the abusive personnel practices.

I'm not saying that other companies are better but I do think Microsoft will chew you up and spit you out at its convenience.

Anonymous said...

"McDreamy?" Seriously, seriously.

Anonymous said...


After reading your blog for a few years I have been inspired to do a bit of my own bloging. Hopefully I will get a few people discussing how to improve MSFT as well. I am focusing on my pet peeve, poor mgmt. I hope it can be a forum where other MSFTies can expose poor mgmt and try to improve their situation by exposing bad practices. http://tmsftenc.blogspot.com/


If you continue to insist on registered (i.e., non-anonymous) comments, you probably won't get many. I'd tell you this on your own blog, but ... I'd have to register there to do that (and therefore lose anonymity). Uhhhh, no thanks.

Anonymous said...

>> HR "exit interview"?

I left recently and was told by my hr contact that most of the HR dept will be closed for that day. No exit interview for me :-). Even though I have worked there for 8 years.

And this was 9/14, their busiest day of the year. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

>> The 4gb iPhone BOM is $245

And Windows Vista BOM is $1.50. What's your point again?

Keeperplanet said...

>"I have tried very hard but I cannot figure out what this means. Can anybody help?"

What I am saying (gotta stop posting late night) is that Microsoft is handed opportunities to compete with Apple's iPod lines, their music store, their iPhone products etc. etc. every time Apple makes a product. Apple as a company is built on totally locked down closed hardware in everything they do and they are running into the same kinds of customer and governmental resistance that Microsoft has run into for years.

But because Microsoft managers are so focused on long-term obsolete strategies within MED, there are glaring blind spots in marketing and feature opportunities that are not being addressed.

Those opportunities are that people are waking up to the disadvantages of a closed system. Customers are realizing (and governments too through legislation and court challenges) that buying a song from iTunes is a disadvantage because it has to be illegally translated to mp3 to survive the likely prospects of using alternative players in the future.

Extending that to the strategy of Social Zune is an extraordinarily risky one that ignores the reality that a music player is a personal product and not a social one, and it fails to drive sales by making the product universally compatible with competitor products. It also assumes I am going to post a list of my songs on the Zune Social website, or my kids or my kids friends. Not.

Or the strategy assumes I am going to squirt songs to all the other Zune friends I have? Not.

The one great feature (if it works fast and efficiently) would be wireless home network sync. But you forgot to make it sync with XP, MS Mobile, Symbian, Linux, or Mac OSX. Just one of those, Symbian would create a huge advantage and drive sales giving Microsoft a true iPhone killer feature, providing a means to place songs on one's cell phone from either a Zune or from your notebook. But then that would be problematic with 2% market share mobile os, and the need would be only for the software and not for the Zune device.

Apple and Microsoft have a right to do whatever they want in terms of product and services offerings providing they are legal, but don't be surprised when your customers and desired customers just say no. The more of a lock you create, in song formats, devices or song source sites, the more your customers will resist.

The old Field of Dreams edict `build it and they will come' does not work here. It has to be `build what they want and they will come'. From a managerial standpoint, I would add "leverage expanded usage on a universal level, not on a closed system forcing or driving unlikely customer loyalty."

Keeperplanet said...

>"Well, GOOG is said to be working on it. Have to get back to you on that."

You must be talking about the New York Times article about the GPhone OS designed to take on Microsoft Mobile OS. The blogs are buzzing about it this week.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/business/media/08googlephone.html?ex=1349582400&en=23d7207189758dca&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

I find it odd that Google is after Microsoft on this as Microsoft's mobile OS market share is quite low, somewhere around 2%.

J said...

Maybe all MS GMs and above should have a sex change operation.

http://valleywag.com/tech/transitions/microsofts-sex-change-309008.php

"Wallent believes the stereotype of Microsoft management -- the table-pounding, chest-thumping, loudest-voice-wins culture usually caricatured as sweaty, chair-throwing, white-boy-dancing CEO Steve Ballmer -- is a thing of the past. What's prized now is a mellower meritocracy, where the best ideas bubble up to the top through managerial encouragement and support. He says the best compliment he's gotten from his charges recently is being called "Coach," one of the most nurturing labels one can put on a man."

Anonymous said...

"Oops. No takers?"

Actually, yes, I'll bite. Moving things along in terms of real change has never been at the hands of consumers. Consumers graze and feed. Hence "consumer."

If a large group of people changes things, it's generally only because they have ideas that are radically different than the grazers. So, revolutionaries are not grazers. Revolutionaries lead grazers to new pastures to graze.

Giving grazers what they want represents a great business model. It does not, however, represent a leadership position in finding to fields to graze from.

Apple doe snot seek to feed everyone, nor do they pretend to. It's not that complicated really. MS and Apple are really playing different games.

And for the later poster who can't figure out the MS building things before they're needed analogy-- there isn't enough time to explain, I think. It's all around. Perhaps feature creep is a thing for you to think about.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the art of delaying projects is in the Seattle water

http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90778/6280639.html

Boeing announces delay of 787 just four weeks after the CEO said that there wont be any delays. Hope the 787 does not turn out to be another Vista.

Keeperplanet said...

>"Moving things along in terms of real change has never been at the hands of consumers. Consumers graze and feed. Hence "consumer."

Is that from the Bovine School of Business Management? Where does one get a BSBM, exactly? Just curious.

You must be correct though, look what happened to Gateway, so bold as to use the cow as a logo.

I love this blog site. Moo.

The MSFT emperor's new clothes said...

http://tmsftenc.blogspot.com/

If you continue to insist on registered (i.e., non-anonymous) comments, you probably won't get many. I'd tell you this on your own blog, but ... I'd have to register there to do that (and therefore lose anonymity). Uhhhh, no thanks.

Sorry I'm new to the blogger.com tools. Anonymous is allowed now, feel free to fire away.

Anonymous said...

Wallent believes...

Oh, puh-leeeze. I worked for this guy. "Coach" is about the last label he would get, except from some ass-kissing ladder-climber.

He is - like many in his position at Microsoft - pretty good as a technologist, but lacking the interpersonal skills to be an effective leader. Or coach.

Honestly, the biggest thing missing in the Windows org over Vista was somebody with the, er, balls (or ovaries) to make a decision and drive execution across the org. All this "bubble up" crap comes from GMs and VPs without enough leadership skills to lead their teams. All they can do is hope something bubbles up.

Vista was a directionless mess with no coordination and no leadership. For example, UAC was an idea that "bubbled up", and it was a good idea. But without someone in a leadership position who could drive it competently across the org boundaries, it ended up poorly implemented, a pain in the ass for users, and the butt of very funny Apple ads. Vista would've been a lot better off if someone had been pounding a table and saying "we can't ship like this!"

It's a perfect symbol of the lack of skills with the GM/VP world that Wallent confuses leadership with mere table pounding.

I don't mean to pick on Wallent. He's not a terrible guy, but he is so wrong on this. And he's a symptom of what's wrong with MSFT management.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is hope with execs leaving of some room near the top.
Speaking of execs at the top, heres some "advice" from our very own SVP of marketing, Mich Mathews - "Say there's a meeting going on, and you're having a really hard time making your point. If you have a cup, lean forward over that conference table, place that cup in the middle of the table and put your hand down. It's amazing how it works. People look to see what you have to say..". Not very good advice if you ask me...

Anonymous said...

> Apple doe snot...

Best typo ever?

MSS

Anonymous said...

What's prized now is a mellower meritocracy, where the best ideas bubble up to the top through managerial encouragement and support.


I understand some great ideas bubbled up from HR in that org.

Anonymous said...

"His reputation as a thoughtful manager, he says, will matter more than his gender. "

Michael Wallent better hope not..

Unless "fly-off-the-handle" has recently been made a synonym for "thoughtful", then he might want to rethink his statement.

His operation is his personal business...only he knows what will truly make him happy. On the professional side, I think that I saw more raw arrogance and anger displayed by him while in his org than any other single manager.