Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Microsoft FY08Q1 Results

Updated: I added a couple of more links regarding FY08Q1 coverage. Hey, let's look at today's opening number- Holy Beejeezus! (pop-pop - socks flying off feet): we're above $36?!?! Dear Microsoft Leadership: walk the halls today. If this stays up there, enjoy the glow and celebration of newly motivated employees, and get a clue again about what a big difference that makes.


FY08Q1 ahoy! As always, my favorite post-analysis sites for the results:

Things are looking mighty sunny going into the quarterly results: Halo 3, Microsoft acquiescence to the EU, Facebook investment (and a "win" over Google there), new Live Search technology, a new Live Suite, reblessed by Goldman Sachs, etc etc. The only bad news is the love that's going to be lavished on Leopard in the meantime.

Update: From my preferred top three:

(1) MSFTextrememakeover Q1-08 Earnings - has a nice break-out of the positives and negatives.

(2) Microsoft Watch - Corporate - Microsoft Q1 2008 by the Numbers - Mr. Wilcox has a call-out of something I found interesting, too, regarding revenue from emerging markets:

In another turnabout, Microsoft is seeing some effect from its antipiracy efforts. The change is significant, as PC shipments to emerging markets exceed those for mature markets. Windows sales growth increased in Brazil, India and Russia, among other countries. Growth in Russia exceeded 100 percent. I should point out that in some of these countries, Brazil being best example, Microsoft works with local partners to offer sales alternatives, such as Windows PCs purchased on a subscription basis.

(3) Microsoft profit rises 23%, beating estimates from Mr. Bishop.

Additional coverage (added 10/26/2007):

Jay Greene at BusinessWeek: Microsoft Results Turn Heads - a very nice, encouraging read from start to finish. Start: Despite reliable growth, Microsoft's unsexy stock has often failed to attract jaded investors. Its spectacular first-quarter earnings have changed that. Finish: Investors didn't even flinch at the online business numbers. And that may just be the thing that ends the long fallow period for Microsoft's stock. And lots of goodness in the middle, like the following snippet:

"The only reason this thing has been trading where it has is because of the bad psychology," says Charles Di Bona, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., who has a price target for the stock at $37. "Maybe this is the catalyst where people start to take notice and stop being bored with the stock."

Microsoft’s Billion Vista Bump - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog Snippet: Nonetheless, a day after we marveled at the $15 billion value placed on the tiny business that is Facebook, this is a reminder that Microsoft, even if it is not so fashionable, has a business that makes real dollars and a lot of them.

Other interesting coverage:

"Growth stock." Nice to read that again.

My thoughts: all of this is great news. Late good news. But good news. The OS numbers are something we should have had coming in two years ago. The premium distinction looks like a good idea, confusing SKU backlash and all.

Here's my one and only ask to any powers in the universe: wherever Ballmer is, keep him away from any interviews or speeches for at least a week or so. Let us enjoy this time, this upswing, without him torpedoing the good news with some pessimistic warning.

The Q&A didn't hold much for me. There was a little bit of probing about SP1 and Liddell acknowledged that BigCos are waiting to deploy Vista based on the SP1, but I guess we don't care too much given that we have our money from them one way or another. No date for SP1 was provided (not that we don't know it already). There was a bit of pushing for OSB's date for profitability, too. Yeah. Right.

There was mention of our continued expense growth directly related to our headcount growth, but none of the analysts probed with respect to expense / headcount reduction. Guys!?!?!

And I think True Organic Margins has become some new financial reality distortion field for our numbers.


168 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Facebook investment (and a "win" over Google there)"

If that's what counts as a "win" for Microsoft, things must be even worse than they seem. And they seem terrible.

Anonymous said...

Someone commented the previous post the facebook deal is non-us advertising only. Where did you read that? I don't see it anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I don't see an investment in facebook as positive. Sounds more like Microsoft throwing money at something simply because google wants it.

Nathan T. Freeman said...

Did Microsoft "win" over Google?

http://www.lotus911.com/nathan/escape.nsf/d6plinks/NTFN-78BG4P

I struggle to see how paying $240 million for channel rights to a highly questionable per-click revenue stream is a win. Making that money back is predicated on a LOT of advertising clicks!

I mean, that's more than half of aQuative's entire revenue stream from last year. And I'm sure the channel exclusivity has an expiration date.

Anonymous said...

Here's a straight-forward opinion re: MSFT-Facebook

http://seekingalpha.com/article/51380-facebook-can-t-save-the-decline-of-microsoft

Anonymous said...

"Someone commented the previous post the facebook deal is non-us advertising only. Where did you read that? I don't see it anywhere."

From news: "Besides buying a stake in Palo Alto-based Facebook, Microsoft also will sell Internet ads for its Web site outside the United States, broadening a marketing relationship that began last year."

Anonymous said...

more than half of aQuative's entire revenue stream from last year

Facebook's estimate revenue for the entire year is only $150 million, and that includes US also. MS isn't going to make back that investment anytime soon, maybe only when Facebook goes IPO, but how much more can Facebook's value go up beyond $1.5Billion?

Also, a previous post said that Facebook's technology does not scale, something about the 5000 friends limit. In light of that, is this a smart move on MS part, or a desperate one?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "Non-US" advertising only. I heard that the Facebook deal is just not exclusive in the US, but that it is exclusive outside the US.

Anonymous said...

The facebook deal was great and exactly the right thing, and aligns with the strategy MS should take as I have posted about previously.
1.) we create a realationship that we do not need to own
2.) we blocked google
3.) we priced facebook out of google's market (well, anyones!)
4.) international, especially China, has much higher growth potential than domestic market
5.) and this made the stock go up more than xbox. and cost 10% of that diaster.
this totally rocks! I'm excited about it and I hate online. I do wish I would have waited until this week to sell some stock, though!

Anonymous said...

I just sold a bunch of shares at $35.43 in after-hours trading. I'm not complaining.

Could it last? Possibly, if we don't make any stupid mistakes (PR or otherwise). Will it last? Probably not. On the other hand, I'm starting to see some positive buzz around Server 2008, so perhaps the long, dark night of the soul is ending?

Anonymous said...

I am looking for pessimestic side of today's earnings and guidance. Where else can I go besides the all pessimist club called minimicrosoft.

Commentators please bring it on. I am here with a big hope.

Anonymous said...

Good for MS! Good for house prices around Redmond! Big profit means more hiring. More hiring means new employees need to buy houses around Redmond. That should help the housing market recover faster! Good all around.

Maybe MS should spend some of that dough to improve traffic around campus too! All those new buildings are screwing up my commute.

Anonymous said...

>2.) we blocked google

How exactly did Microsoft block google? Just curious how a 1.5% investment did that.

Anonymous said...

>And I think }True Organic Margins{ has become some new financial reality distortion field for our numbers.

Is that the same as 'low hanging fruit'?

Anonymous said...

I just sold a bunch of shares at $35.43 in after-hours trading. I'm not complaining.

Good gravy! If that isn't a typo, I'm floored. Can this actually be happening...???

(I know, I know - the real question is: can it last? I'm not holding my breath.)

Anonymous said...

come on - even the folks on mini have to be blown away. this was a truly amazing quarter. go msft!

Anonymous said...

Re: Facebook 5000 friends limit

This isn't a scalability thing at all. The system designers never envisioned that a normal person would have that many friends. The user limit is sky high. The friends limit is only reached by bloviating bloggers. How many of them are there and how much revenue to they bring Facebook? Both of these are very small numbers.

Anonymous said...

>"I'm starting to see some positive buzz around Server 2008, so perhaps the long, dark night of the soul is ending?"

I am sure all this stock excitement is generated by the positive results/analysts, but to me the most exciting thing I have heard from Microsoft in years is the idea of minwin/windows 7. That should have been Vista. And that little sleeper press sweep exposing Taut's gem a few days/weeks ago I think did more for MS soul than anything since Office 97. Simply because if it isn't cheap, fast and a positive UE, it's Ubuntu for me (et al) next time.

But heck, wha'd'iKnow? I'm just one of BG's monkey customers from the peanut gallery.

Anonymous said...

Good quarter but if you look at it deeply, Microsoft still makes a lot of money only on Windows and Office. Inspite of the blow out sale of halo 3, profit from gaming division was a disappointment(not revenue but profit). I think Vista had a lot of problems but at last after years it is making revenue. And we are slowly winning the server market. Those are the good things. I just wished MS just did the following

1. OS - Windows server and client
2. Office
3. Development tools- minimal Just Visual studio
4. Database - SQL
5. Some new focussed opputunity for growth (could be one of consumer devices -like ipod- online advertising or basically one of the new things). Don't focus on all. Focus on one but win it and then after winning it seek the next.

Dump the rest -like CRM yada yada and do dome real headcount reduction to just focus on the above. That will control the cost also.

Anonymous said...

>>2.) we blocked google
>
>How exactly did Microsoft block >google? Just curious how a 1.5% >investment did that.

what we paid for that 1.5% valued the company at around 15 billion if someone wanted to buy the whole thing. I suppose they could sell out for less if they wanted to ... but now they have a nice pile of cash to cover operations, and we have set up a wickedly high price to get a share of it. Google could throw a billion at them ... and only get ~4%. Smile, dammit, we're finally playing chess instead of checkers.

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't sell yet. experts predict the market will be solid thru the holidays. I'll take the ugly bet that this run will last us well into Dec.

Anonymous said...

15 comments in and no naysayers to bash Office, Vista and the Entertainment division?

Cat got all those tongues?

lol

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't sell yet. experts predict the market will be solid thru the holidays. I'll take the ugly bet that this run will last us well into Dec.

This stock will trade down to the $32 range in the next couple of weeks before going back up. The next few days will be a wild ride with the Fed expected to cut rates next week. If you don’t need the money, then I would not sell.

MSFT is finally on its way up. People are afraid to hold on to their short positions below $32 and the volatility will bring in a lot of traders which results in a lot of wild fluctuations. Don’t panic if you see the stock fall $2 - $3 in the next 2 weeks.

This is just my $0.02. As always, you do what you think is best for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Now that MS is a "growth" stock again, minimsft should say bye-bye. People won't care about downsizing anymore if their stock awards are making money. When people are making money, they complain less. So, any chance of downsizing has dropped dramatically. In fact, it would slow the attrition, hence maintaining the bloat.

So, Mini - your happiness has just caused your worst fears to happen - MS ain't going to slim down anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

"15 comments in and no naysayers to bash Office, Vista and the Entertainment division?

Cat got all those tongues?

lol"

Ok, I (or my wife) will bash Vista.

After seeing Vista on my laptop, and playing with it for about 20 minutes, my wife said that she would like her next computer to be a Mac. And I don't disagree with her. I plan on loading XP on my laptop over the weekend. I'll probably get more work done that way anyway.

Anonymous said...

"but none of the analysts probed with respect to expense / headcount reduction. Guys!?!?!"

It was such a strong report overall that nobody wanted to nitpick. Plus, margins did improve regardless and the double-digit top-line growth provided a ready excuse for the headcount increase (albeit that they may not be positively correlated). Online, the main weak spot, should be thankful they got a pass as they are tracking towards a further $800 million loss for the year.

Anonymous said...

>Cat got all those tongues?

Sorry, mini, I grabbed the wrong article heading:

But outside, the drumbeat goes on!
http://blogs.zdnet.com/carroll/?p=1762

How's that 35.12 stock therapy working out for ya?

Anonymous said...

"Now that MS is a "growth" stock again, minimsft should say bye-bye."

Get a grip. One great game doesn't a season make. It's encouraging, but let's see what the follow up looks like. I'm sure Mini would like nothing more than to walk away from this blog because the many real issues it has raised over the past few years have finally been successfully addressed. Strong quarterly results aside, the jury is still decidedly out on the latter.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the beginning of the Ballmer era. With Gates more or less gone, he is finally free to
run the company as he sees fit.

Watch for:

1. Cost-cutting in various long-term research groups--how many freaking online research divisions do they need? (Live Labs, anyone?) MSR probably as well, although Gates might actually fight him to the death on that one.

2. Paring back of the first-party Microsoft content sites (e.g., MSN Video, MSNBC, Money, Autos, Entertainment, etc etc etc.). Online doesn't need to chase every up-and-comer with an imitative site, all it needs is a credible search platform and solid ad platform--then it can sell ads on anybody's sites. And maybe a few services to compete with the iLife/iMac tie-ins on the Mac--those are now called "Windows Live." So bye bye MSN by 2010. FINALLY.

3. More licensing tricks to increase "revenue per socket"--Vista SKU division was only the beginning. Hey, if there's no cheaper alternative, why can't Microsoft raise prices?

4. Creation of a viable enterprise subscription business (Microsoft Online).

5. More consulting and services.

6. More aggressive cost-cutting in general. Shorter time window for experiments to show good numbers. If I worked in TV platforms, eHome (Media Center), Tablet, Ultramobile, BizTalk, or other formerly "strategic" divisions that have no products with real traction among users, I'd be worried.

7. More and larger investments and acquisitions. Probably including some stupid ones that don't pay off.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of stock buybacks:

I really really want to believe Liddell when he says the following:

"We expect EPS to grow very fast as well." Already growing faster than 20% this year, the bottom line will continue to benefit from operating margin expansion and share buybacks, Liddell added.

http://www.thestreet.com/s/microsoft-looks-mighty/newsanalysis/techsoftware/10386865_3.html

Is this just wishful thinking on my part? Any insights here? Management totally pulled back on buybacks this quarter.

Anonymous said...

I've been running Vista SP1 on a laptop and it is great. At least vastly better than plain Vista. I have yet to see the spinning donut on an explore window. However, I did a clean install, not sure if that makes a difference or not.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I (or my wife) will bash Vista.

Well, I built a new machine recently, with newer CPUs, 2G ram, a reasonably powerful video card, Vista runs like a charm. Maybe that is why PC sales increased, as Ballmer was betting on...

Anonymous said...

>>Get a grip. One great game doesn't a season make. It's encouraging, but let's see what the follow up looks like<<

You're moving goal posts. Wasn't last quarter very good too? I bet you said the same thing then as well.

Anonymous said...

"MSFT is finally on its way up."

Yeah, right, only until the next time the DOJ or EU decide to poke us in the eye or that rumored recession finally hits.

Anonymous said...

Dump the rest -like CRM yada yada and do dome real headcount reduction to just focus on the above. That will control the cost also.

Exactly, dump non-core crappy products such as CRM, etc. Those don't add much value to the company. They also promote people way faster than they should. I've been told that several of their "senior" people would be SDE 2 in other divisions.

Anonymous said...

I don't see an investment in facebook as positive. Sounds more like Microsoft throwing money at something simply because google wants it.

If you're applying for a job and can send a facebook link to a prospective employer - or if a prospective employer asks you if you have one of those - then you can see the potential value of Facebook. It represents you.

Anonymous said...

This quarter and the previous ones really shows the amazing franchise Windows and Office are. Yes Google is on its way to building a good one, Apple is building one on the iPod and now the iPhone, but man these 2 franchises are still amazing and will remain so for a few more years. If I were Ballmer, I would use this opportunity to make the cuts that we need to make and retarget the talent that the company has towards retooling the franchises and building couple of new ones. If MSIT kept an archive of this blog, there are lots of good ideas there on what to cut. With Google recruiting aggressively, it is tricky to make cuts especially when morale is down. We would lose our best talent. As morale improves with the stock price, this would be the right time to get rid of some fat and charge up and take the hill with the leaner meaner company.

Anonymous said...

"I'm starting to see some positive buzz around Server 2008, so perhaps the long, dark night of the soul is ending?"

You have obviously not been using the ignominious piece of crap. Try moving files around like I do all day long on Corpnet.

It has all the Explorer defects of its little brother Vista and professionals as a group are not as likely to drink the Kool-Aid as the consumers did. Incidently, I have yet to hear positive comments from "regular" non-MS people about Vista. Every single person I know who installed it has ever re-installed XP when they could, or is complaining about how bad the experience is.

Chris said...

You people just don't get it. This isn't about vista or management performance, the record profits are because of the exchange rate. 50% of their sales are non-USD so of course earnings would be up.

When the FED lowers rates next week, expect MS earnings (and hence also their stock price) to climb in line with the rapidly collapsing dollar. Honestly though, there'd be better money in selling your MSFT and buying euro.

Anonymous said...

>>>You have obviously not been using the ignominious piece of crap. Try moving files around like I do all day long on Corpnet.<<<

Interesting...I wonder why Toms Hardware gave it a good review then.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/10/25/windows_server_2008_reviewed/page19.html

In particular there was no mention of slow file transfers.

They must be shills.

Anonymous said...

I took the opportunity of the uptick to unload the majority of the options that I had left. I may be wrong, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that middle management has changed at all, and I don't see any long-term improvement until that happens.

I assume that there was a bunch of partner selling in all the shares that were traded.

Anonymous said...

"You people just don't get it. This isn't about vista or management performance, the record profits are because of the exchange rate. 50% of their sales are non-USD so of course earnings would be up."

put the crack pipe down and back slowly away...

uhhh... there are a lot of whackjob theories out there, but this one is just retarded.

Anonymous said...

>>>You people just don't get it. This isn't about vista or management performance, the record profits are because of the exchange rate. 50% of their sales are non-USD so of course earnings would be up.<<<

Looks like all those analysts missed this somehow.

Does the exchange rate fiasco also apply to Apple, Google etc?

Iain said...

>>> Anonymous said...
>"I'm starting to see some >positive buzz around Server 2008, >so perhaps the long, dark night >of the soul is ending?"
>
>You have obviously not been using >the ignominious piece of crap. >Try moving files around like I do >all day long on Corpnet.

I realise this is a futile request. Whoever said this, please contact me directly. I promise there will be no repercussions to your comment. I just want to know about bugs we can fix to make the product.

/iain mcdonald
p.s. I am using nearly every build & its not my experience of WS08 - but you may have some case that we just don't see.

Anonymous said...

"You're moving goal posts. Wasn't last quarter very good too? I bet you said the same thing then as well."

No, merely pointing out the obvious: one (or even two) good games don't make a season (or correct years of prior mistakes). And no, last quarter wasn't in the same league. The stock's reaction confirms it.

Anonymous said...

You have obviously not been using the ignominious piece of crap. Try moving files around like I do all day long on Corpnet.

Are you sure its Server 2008 and not Corpnet itself?

Corpnet network throughput sucks due to overloaded server disks and busy network - I often get throughput of 3-4MB/s which is ~25% of what you should see on a normal network.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"This isn't about vista or management performance, the record profits are because of the exchange rate. 50% of their sales are non-USD so of course earnings would be up."

Overstated. Forex gains were good for a 2% boost in revenue or approximately .02 of the .06 EPS beat. It may be a large part of the upwardly revised revenue and EPS guidance for the year (although stronger PC growth is likely equally responsible), but that's about it.

Anonymous said...

The great financial results are not good news. Instead, they are guaranteeing that things are not going to get better.

The fundamental problem is that Microsoft has way too much money. This means that those at the top can be rewarded with obscene amounts of cash. In turn, this creates an enormous incentive for people to try to climb to the top. And the "climb to the top" creates most of the politics, backstabbing, "managing up", avoiding of responsibility for mistakes, and all the other BS that makes Microsoft an ugly place to work.

If Microsoft was just getting by financially, it wouldn't have time for all the garbage. It would have to focus on what actually works to produce a product that customers care about. The politics and insane processes would have to go (or else the company would collapse).

So: great financial result, and what it means is that the garbage is not going to be cleaned up any time soon. If enough of the money trickles down to you to make putting up with the garbage worthwhile, great, take the money. But if you are hoping for a saner working environment, this quarter's results killed it.

MSS

Anonymous said...

The great financial results are not good news. Instead, they are guaranteeing that things are not going to get better

Amen!

Anonymous said...

Mini, I have to say that your commentators have talent!!

I am the commentator who challanged your pessimistic club to come up with some rant. The prize goes to...
.
.
.
MSS, a complete idiot.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the beginning of the Ballmer era ... Cost-cutting in various long-term research groups-- ... Paring back of the first-party Microsoft content sites ... Shorter time window for experiments to show good numbers.

The continued hiring binge proves that stuff is pure fantasy. MS is just going to keep hiring until things go south and then there will be the mother of all layoffs.

Anonymous said...

re:
>Overstated. Forex gains >were good for a 2% boost >in revenue or >approximately .02 of >the .06 EPS beat. It may >be a large part of the >upwardly revised >revenue .and EPS guidance >for the year (although >stronger PC growth is >likely equally >responsible), but that's >about it.

this also applies to some of your 401k investment options - if you've been in the overseas funds you have been doing pretty well, I think there is still some upside left, you should at least look.

Anonymous said...

The great financial results are not good news.

So, what are you saying? That MS should do badly instead of great in order to bring the day of reckoning so MS can start doing great? That's just plain looney.

Aside from that, this was a product launch quarter. Next quarter will be different.

Anonymous said...

MSS took the words right out of my keyboard. It reminds me of the old (pre-breakup) AT&T motto:

We don't care. We don't have to.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft announces Vaporware Platform

While some teams are hard at work wrapping up products like Windows Server and SQL, others are still trying to justify their existence.

Look at today's announcement from the Connected Systems Division about the "Oslo" platform: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/oct07/10-30OsloPR.mspx

Here's what we are promising:
- BizTalk Server '6'
- BizTalk Services '1'
- .NET Framework '4'
- Visual Studio '10'
- Repository for System Center '5'

Perhaps we should try to ship .NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 9(2008) first.

How many years is it going to take to build "a unified platform integrating services and modeling"?

Anonymous said...


Google and some of the Web’s leading social networks are teaming up to take on the new kid on the block — Facebook.

An alliance of companies led by Google plans to begin introducing a common set of standards to allow software developers to write programs for Google’s social network, Orkut, as well as others, including LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning....Along with salesfore.com and oracle

Article from nytimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/31/technology/31google.html?ref=technology


Hmmm, as developers will we want to spend x amount of time and energy learning a new programming standard to develop for ONE closed off platform (Facebook)and bow down to Zuckerberg or will we want to use what we already know (html, Javascript, etc) and develop for multiple platforms.... Hmm, gee a tough call.

So it begs to be asked, did Microsoft really win in its "bidding war" for Facebook or did Google just not care b/c it had something under its sleeve already?

And did some 20ish y/o Zuckerberg outsmart all those "super" brainiacs in MS upper management and forced a valuation of $15 Billion for Facebook? ... that way when he has his IPO next year... it will be valued above $15 Billion and not just $1 Billion. Gee, what is going on with you guys? You let some smug kid right out of college pull a quick one over you.

And I agree MS had a great quarter but like the other guy said earlier... you had releases (Vista, Office, Halo)... what is going to happen next year with nothing coming out of the pipeline. Better dump those options while it is up at $35.

Anonymous said...

Facebook vs Google's OpenSocial....

Let the games begin....

Anonymous said...

>> The great financial results are not good news.

> So, what are you saying? That MS should do badly instead of great in order to bring the day of reckoning so MS can start doing great? That's just plain looney.

The great quarter is great - for the corporation. The employees are not the corporation, and their interests are not identical.

The employees have two main interests:
- getting paid well, and
- having a decent working environment.

The great quarter helps (maybe) with the "getting paid well" part. The "maybe" is there because the money is going to go to the partners much more than it is to the average worker, and because back in the day Microsoft gave a lot more in options than it currently does in stock grants. Still, it's a financial boost for all the employees, and that's good for them.

But the place where it's bad is the other part of what employees want, which is a decent working environment. This is the main issue that this blog is focused on. Sure, some time is spent on "more money", but much more is spent on insane managment practices, politics, backstabbing, the whole dysfunctional Microsoft culture. And that is where the good quarter is bad news, because as Anonymous said, Microsoft doesn't have to care. All this did on the "decent working environment" was make it a bit worse, because now there's even more money that partners will get, giving the politically inclined even more incentive to claw their way up to that level, no matter how much damage they do to the actual business processes of the company on their way.

That's why I say it's bad news. For the issues that this blog focuses on, it is bad news.

MSS

P.S. Things going bad financially is no guarantee that these issues get fixed. In fact, things can get even more dysfunctional in bad times.

But the point is, it's not going to get any better any time soon. Accept it or walk away.

At least, so it looks to me, an outsider.

Anonymous said...

Better dump those options while it is up at $35.

You had unexpired options?

I joined Microsoft not too long before the stock went into freefall.

Though I was awarded a few 10-year options, they're a rather small percentage of the total options I was granted. Those all expired under water. Actually, the last of them didn't expire too long ago. (The 7 year options.)

While it's nice to see Microsoft stock on the upswing, it really doesn't generate much new incentive to me. My stock grants won't change much. (shrug)

I try not to look at the stock and then all the options that expired under water (I believe all but one grant would've been above water now). It's just too frustrating to realize that you joined Microsoft too late for the 90's stock boom, and thanks to the stock being in the toilet for years, all of those options expiring leaves you missing even the benefit of a small upswing.

Sorry, some are so gung-ho that they're unhappy with anything other than unrealistic and unbridled optimism. I'll do what so many want to hear: "Go team! Yeah! Woooo! Way to go, Microsoft!!"

Sigh.

Anonymous said...


Dump the rest -like CRM yada yada and do dome real headcount reduction to just focus on the above. That will control the cost also.


and


Exactly, dump non-core crappy products such as CRM, etc


CRM is a profitable product.

This is also proof that these rumors about "it's faster to get a promotion at group X" are just rumors. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence...

I have worked in the Windows division and now work for CRM. I can assert that the professional level here and at Windows is the same, and that the career velocity is the same.

At the bottom feeder level like me, the number of nice people is the same here and there. But because the product is much smaller, here we have less management layers, so things run much faster.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Jon Pincus is leaving MS after 8 years...

Anonymous said...

Oh, whatever. Neither we or they can manufacture coolness on demand (Apple has the patents, lol). If Google builds their own Facebook clone, they have just as good a chance of flopping as we would.

Anonymous said...

Someone said:
>3. More licensing tricks to increase "revenue per socket" Hey, if there's no cheaper alternative, why can't Microsoft raise prices?

While I tend to believe that person was either a troll or just plain vacant above the shoulders, I feel the need to respond based on what was published today about the google PC to be sold at Walmart. The whole thing is less than $200 bucks (hardware software the whole shebang), runs on Ubuntu pre-installed with Googles of other g-goodies.

http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/005830.html

Microsoft will be forced to adopt a high end OS strategy and/or compete with a very simple but powerful low end offering.

While this is just a low end consumer machine, it speaks volumes about the future of computing, in which Microsoft with its Apple competitor Vista product line is is selling its cheapest software only for about the same price as the computer itself. It also says a lot about what is next on the horizon for Google and Linux, which will be commercial machines for similar low prices.

Apple targets the high end computing market: it looks like Google is getting into the mass produced low end in a big way.

Maybe that is why Goog stock was selling for $700 a share. Ouch!

weary said...

From my mid-level, +10 year perspective there are a few great points re: good results delaying positive management & cultural change.

The heavy sigh that the great financials caused me was due to the VALIDATION this delivers to all our misguided decision makers and their cheering syncophants.

The visionaries stood at the edge of the sea with their magic bones and ju ju being hailed by their followers, raised their hands and demanded the ocean come to them.

Then the tide came in.

Now leaders have 'facts' validating their greatness. Now logic will now only paint you as a non-believer and heretic & you can kiss career velocity goodbye if you don't get aboard this belief system.

In the meantime - I'll keep reconstituting the same materials into ppts and daydream of stock going to $45.

What the hell - PC & Server sales are strong and should be for some time to come & maybe it'll happen before the tide lowers and someone has to do something about all the flotsum it's left on the beach.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"That's why I say it's bad news. For the issues that this blog focuses on, it is bad news."

The Q's numbers and subsequent stock rise have definitely taken a lot of heat off the leadership team. But if management is smart, they'll understand it for what it is - a reprieve, not redemption - and get busy accordingly. If instead they decide it's proof they were right all along and little needs to change, well that'll likely manifest itself pretty quickly in both morale and future results. The competition isn't standing still, and customers, investors, and employees, all have other choices.

Anonymous said...

You had unexpired options?

Dude I've got thousands of 10-year options (from right before the switch to grants) that are well above water. The last of the 7-years expired, but these options are money in the bank (once I exercise).

The stock performance is giving me thousands more every day (on paper), which is pretty good for a commodotized (in MSFT's view) engineer as myself.

You must've exercised when they were worth a buck or two. O ye of little faith.

Anonymous said...

"Dude I've got thousands of 10-year options (from right before the switch to grants) that are well above water. ...

...You must've exercised when they were worth a buck or two. O ye of little faith."

Sheesh, what bull! Within the last year, and last 6 months, people lost thousands of shares that were underwater by just a buck or less. People DID have faith, it just wasn't returned.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news for Microsofties from the US, and some relief for those from Europe. Why? Dollar is much, much cheaper now than a few months ago, so after converting the present MSFT quote of 37 USD to euro or any other European currency in fact we don't get much more than from 29 USD a year ago. Or: we don't loose as much as a month ago. Good to know that MSFT revenues come mostly from outside of US.

Anonymous said...

You must've exercised when they were worth a buck or two. O ye of little faith.

Nah, I have a small amount of 10-year sets. However, compared to the collection of 7-year options that I had accumulated mostly before the .com bubble burst, they're a tiny fraction.

Sorry, I still believe that I showed tremendous faith in not dumping all of my shares when the option-buyout happened. I believe that I showed faith when I stayed with the company year after year (and I'm not a spring chicken: I have many employers under my belt. I know what other options I have in this business), believing that the stock would crest those options before they expired.

I'm glad you're cheery, but from my perspective being happy about still having some 10-year grants that are worth $X doesn't make up for the ~$n*X that vanished into the thin air of stock option reality.

My point still stands, I believe: The stock gain sounds good, but the bottom line is that it is little incentive, and for those people who joined after Bill got rid of options altogether (and only hold Grants), it isn't even a question.

I'm not attacking Microsoft; I'm not attacking improving stock performance (guarding and improving shareholder value is what corporate management is supposed to do). I'm only claiming that the improving stock price is not, in fact, a motivator for most employees.

Anonymous said...

Remember that target stock grant values for each level are now expressed in dollar cash value. Since each share is worth more today, expect to receive fewer shares next time around (the investment value remains the same, of course).

Anonymous said...

The investment value always was the same, it just wasn't shared with you. I was originally concerned about this move, thinking along these same lines, but I've come to the conclusion that it was just another clumsy management move. Now that it's transparent, you can see for yourself that you have no incentive for the stock to go up under the stock grant system.

The wealth generated by employee plans was always about the numbers. A $1 move for a level 61 option recipient meant $1000-2,000. That same person is looking at more like $300-400 now with the equivalent stock grant.

However, the move to grants does have some merit. At least you do get something when the stock is stagnant. You get the dividends, which can buy you a latte 4 times a year, and you get the value of the stock. The option program gave you nothing as long as the stock was stagnant. However, once it went up, you were looking at a nice bonus.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who ever counted on stock options to rake in loads of cash is a fool. Options are just a glorified lottery ticket and that goes double for a company already as huge as MS.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who ever counted on stock options to rake in loads of cash is a fool.

Does that affect the question of whether the rising stock price is an incentive to employees?

Anonymous said...

I'm the "ye of little faith" poster. A few replies:

I have a small amount of 10-year sets. However, compared to the collection of 7-year options ... they're a tiny fraction.... I still believe that I showed tremendous faith ... faith ... more faith ... believing that the stock would crest those options before they expired.

I see, my misunderstanding. Yea, I held alot of faith that turned up nothing also. Somewhat a gamble since I could have turned them over for about a dollar at max performance.

Within the last year, and last 6 months, people lost thousands of shares that were underwater by just a buck or less. People DID have faith, it just wasn't returned.

Yea, my hire options expired literally pennies underwater. Earlier this year I could've gotten a few hundred for them, which is not worth it considering what they were sold to me as.

after converting the present MSFT quote of 37 USD to euro or any other European currency in fact we don't get much more than from 29 USD a year ago.

I'll have to make sure and not do my grocery shopping in Europe now!

Anonymous said...

I just watched a great lecture by Ricardo Semler and he's got some pretty innovative ideas regarding management and running a company. Just wondering what others thought?

http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/308/ (long, but fascinating)

Here's a brief bio:
For nearly 25 years, Ricardo Semler, CEO of Brazil-based Semco, has let his employees set their own hours, wages, even choose their own IT. The result: increased productivity, long-term loyalty and phenomenal growth. Can his radical approach work for you?
http://www.cioinsight.com/article2/0,1397,1569009,00.asp

Anonymous said...

Sigh-in spite of you and MSFTextrememakeover, Mini, my desire to do something great at MSFT continues to burn white-hot.

But first, I have to get the Blue Badge, which is no small feat. The Careers website sucks (it's just as bad as Office.Live.com); neither of them works half the time. Isn't anybody embarrassed by Job Agents that crash or the daily job notifications that are anything but daily?

The other Blue Badge impediment is age: it appears recruiters aren't allowed to call anybody who's experienced enough to have actually done something productive, like help customers make money. Oh, needing an H1B seems to be a good way to get a call (or at least an e-mail froma recruiter). Yes, I have pretty good qualifications (MBA, IBM, PMP), and yes, I can easily get a terrific job in Seattle, and yes, I'm playing the world's smallest violin, but it looks like Microsoft could use some fresh blood in the middle, as well as upper, levels of management. Unfortunately for me, I like a challenge and I'm way too determined to give up on what would be a huge kick. But maybe these issues are the mineshaft canary that's not chirping any more.

Here's my attitude: FYINV ("...I'm not vested"): I have something to prove and if you're in my way you're going to get hurt. One thing about being a "experienced": you don't suffer fools. I don't go ad hominem like BillG (no employee on the planet deserves to be bullied by the richest man in the world) but I do run a tight ship: my team knows what I expect and they by-God deliver.

My faith has wavered over the last few days, but I've on the road. Maybe my own bed will get me reinvigorated to make a difference in and for MSFT.

Peace out, brother!

Anonymous said...

When I joined I could have either negotiaited the salary or the number of stock options. I choose to negotiate the number of stock options which they doubled. All that long, I felt silly to do so. But now I can excercise all my options and recoup all the benefit I lost by not negotiating the salary.

If you are interested in knowing the number of options I have, here is a math quiz. Before the $3 dividend the number of options I had was a round number. After the $3 dividend the number of options I have has all the same digits. How many options do I have?

Anonymous said...

The only cure for MartinTayor-itis is a KenDipetio-otomy. Bye-Bye Stuart Scott - You have made life hell for a number of women in your org, and we're all glad you are gone.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Matthews (I'm not making this up) has rewarded Microsoft incredible live search engine with world class humor--keep it up Jeff.

http://jeffmatthewsisnotmakingthisup.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-build-igloo.html

Reading the blog to the end, you will find:
"My personal favorite came in the “Related Searches” box, where Microsoft graciously provided many extraneous results that its "best engineers" had somehow decided would useful to me after I'd figured out “How to Tie a Bow Tie.”

What Microsoft offered, and I am not making this up, was as follows:

Related searches: “How to Build An Igloo”

Hey, you never know when you’re gonna need to build an igloo after a night on the town."

Maybe a better solution to improving Microsoft than slimming down would be to just shut the company down for thirty days, give 100% pink slips and `reboot' with a select few projects and development teams. It couldn't get any worse than it is.

Stock's at 37!!!! oooooohh. chortle.

Anonymous said...

Following on the "How to build an Igloo" meme:

Daylight Savings Time started on a different day this year. On the day in question, all my Macs switched and my XP machines did not. They were one hour behind.

I double-clicked on the time next to the tray on the toolbar (bottom right of screen) to bring up "Date and Time Preferences." I reset the "Internet Time" option, using both available servers. No dice.

I toggled the "Daylight Savings Time" switch on the other pane of the same window. No dice.

Then I hit "Start"/"Help and Support" and typed "Daylight Savings Time" in the "Search" field. I got:

"Suggested Topics (0 results)"
"Full-text Search Matches (0 results)"

The accompanying text suggested that I "check my spelling."

However there were 15 results in the "Microsoft Knowledge Base." The first hit was "FIX: time() Function Overcompensates for Daylight Savings Time."

The second hit, "Daylight Saving Time Not Advancing," looked promising, but was instead a lengthy essay about a bug affecting "a very small number of computers running Windows NT" (not Windows XP).

The third hit was "Windows NT Boot Process Hangs Because of Daylight Saving Time Manipulation."

From there it all got more obscure, and I was still reeling from the fact that typing "Daylight Savings Time" Got me zero Suggested Topics and zero Full-text Search Matches.

Then I gave up. Someone said, "Why don't you just manually dial the time backwards?" I explained that, given what I'd learned in the last ten minutes about the machine's difficulties dealing with time stamps, I decided to leave it alone.

Meanwhile, My networked Macs were instantly correcting the erroneous timestamps of files from my XP box as they traveled into the Mac environment (fixing all "Date Created" and "Date Saved" timestamps).

Do I even need to compose a summary statement? This is the software company that gives me dialog boxes that say, "Click Here to find out information about how to adjust settings to prevent this message from appearing again" (rather than giving me a frigging seleted checkbox right there saying "Display this message in the future").

Anonymous said...

enjoy the rise MSFTee's, with Kevin Turner at nipping at BillG's bootstraps the success will be short lived. Turner's crazy rants (see we own enterprise search comments... huh?) and the fact that he would rather be CIO than COO (should have applied for that job in the first place instead of trumping up bogus accusations to remove Scott and take the role yourself... not happened yet, but it will. Duh!) Don't cross Turner, he handles things the "good ol boy" way! Yeeee-haw!!!!.

The otlook is not good, not good at all! Turner is firing (read: making go away) any exec that doesn't see things his way... sorry, is this Microsoft or Wal-Mart? Hey Kevin, if things are so great at Wal-Mart, why are you at Microsoft?

Mr. Turner, you got what you wanted by ousting Scott... so when do you announce your new title as CIO or dual role as CIO and COO, or is you master plan to take on every C level role you can... just call me Sir K Turner "The C".
What do you think, investors are stupid? C'mon, you just cashed out big, take that , pay out, pay off, pay-ola, whatever, buy the fam a compound back in Arkansas and go start Turn-Mart. I am sure the good ol boys you "dealt with at Sams Club" would love to help you start the next general store.
Look at Robbie Bach, you and the other execs are in Turner's scope sight. Be vewwy, vewwy qwiet!

Anonymous said...

>"enjoy the rise MSFTee's, with Kevin Turner at nipping at BillG's bootstraps the success will be short lived."

I'm not a softie, and definitely not a fan of Turner, but I would be willing to bet that the stock goes up with every top tier partner that gets the ax. You could probably put all the names in a hat, pick three, fire them and watch the stock go up.

Sit an do nothing but the sos and it will continue to stay in the trading range it was in for years.

It is pretty certain the outside sees Microsoft as a stagnant me-too company. Something has to change, and that can't happen with old blood.

Anonymous said...

Stuart Scott ousted? Please enlighten, I haven't heard anything about this. What happened? What's going on? Is it official?

Anonymous said...

>On the day in question, all my Macs switched and my XP machines did not.

Since the half-dozzen XP and Server machines I have all switched just fine and the "DST Help and Support Center" is the second hit on microsoft.com's search, I suspect your problem lies somewhere between your chair and your keyboard.

>Do I even need to compose a summary statement?

Yes, you do. May I suggest starting with an apology?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you do. May I suggest starting with an apology?

1) I want you to explain in exact detail what I did wrong. I then want you to tell me how my behavior deviates from the behavior of anyone using XP (since I listed my steps in order).

2) To whom am I "apologizing"? Did I single anyone out? Did I attack anyone except in the broad sense of complaining about the behavior of the software?

3) Let's assume for purposes of argument that you're correct and I made some error (for example, not performing every single Service Pack upgrade or failing to recognize the initials "DST" as representing "Daylight Savings Time" even though a search for the string "Daylight Savings Time" came up empty). Even in this remote contingency, by what stretch of the imagination is any of this (e.g. the bad experience and the subsequent complaint) my fault, as in, some transgression for which I must apologize?

What convoluted view of the world translates "customer cannot solve simple problem using logical steps, and presents narrative of such steps as complaint" into "customer has done something wrong and must now apologize?"

Anonymous said...

I have 25k options at $21.

When the stock hits $41, I make 500k. That's when I will cash out and retire.

Thank you MSFT !!!

Anonymous said...

have 25k options at $21.

When the stock hits $41, I make 500k. That's when I will cash out and retire.

Thank you MSFT !!!


Don't forget taxes.

Anonymous said...

>Let's assume for purposes of argument that you're correct and I made some error (for example, not performing every single Service Pack upgrade or failing to recognize the initials "DST" as representing "Daylight Savings Time" even though a search for the string "Daylight Savings Time" came up empty).

The full title of the second entry for a search for the term "daylight savings time" on microsoft.com is "Daylight Saving Time Help and Support Center". I merely abbreviated it to DST because I didn't feel like typing out the whole thing. In fact, of the 7,460 results that appear for the search "daylight savings time", three of the first six are likely to lead you to help.

Aside from your combative tone, the fact that you didn't even bother to follow up on the advice offered to you tells me you're more interested in trolling than actually getting any assistance.

>I want you to explain in exact detail what I did wrong.

There are a variety of technical support options open to you. This blog is not one of them. May I suggest that you approach them with more humility than you have shown here.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget taxes, or that MSFT won't hit $41.

keeperplanet said...

A while back on this thread, I brought up the gPC being touted by Everex, running Linux. The ZDnet reporter had said Ubuntu, turns out is is gOS Linux customized for Everex, which looks like a google product but is not, and Google's involvement is just a google toolbar.

But I have been watching the under $500 market for a while with the though that eventually, unless the OS is nearly free, the higher end OS manufacturers like Apple and Microsoft are going to be have serious trouble competing in this space.

I noted Asus has the Eee notebook for about $450, running Linux, promising a Windows version this year. And Everex is working on a $300 notebook using gOS. And then there is the OLPC thing. All curious. Apple tried with the mini flop. Apple seems as hamstrung as Microsoft at offering low end products. Just can't get there. I don't know if anybody has been noticing, but Apple is in serious difficulty over repeated heat issues, this time on its new iMac line. To much hardware in too small a space means problems.

I suspect if Microsoft got serious about it they would offer something so terrible, nobody would want it, or they could just release 7 for $30 and save the company. Are you reading this Kevin?

It all leads back the the open source model being the probable long term winner here, simply because both Apple and Microsoft cannot sustain their large top heavy orgs this way.

The wild card is Google, is busy with its new social networking thing. Too busy to notice the revolution in computing? These computers ultimately will be the $200 internet appliance everybody was talking about pre-bubble burst then forgot.

Anonymous said...

Daylight Savings Time:
www.microsoft.com/dst

The same place it was in April when the first change to the US DST hit...

Anonymous said...

When the stock hits $41, I make 500k. That's when I will cash out and retire.

Thank you MSFT !!!



>> Don't forget taxes.

Who can retire on $500k?

Anonymous said...

When the stock hits $41, I make 500k. That's when I will cash out and retire.

...and don't forget to convert it to Euros while the dollar is still worth something

Anonymous said...

article and snippet from the nytimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/technology/05cnd-gphone.html?hp

"John O’Rourke, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile business, said he was skeptical about the ease with which Google will be able to become a major force in the smartphone market. He pointed out that it had taken Microsoft more than half a decade to get to the stage where the company now does business with 160 mobile operators in 55 countries around the world."

Yes it has taken MS more than 5 years to get to where you are but that is because Microsoft is Microsoft and Google is not. It took Google all of 3 years to have a market cap of $225 Billion, how long did MS take?

Anonymous said...

"The only cure for MartinTayor-itis is a KenDipetio-otomy. Bye-Bye Stuart Scott - You have made life hell for a number of women in your org, and we're all glad you are gone."

Always glad to hear when this happens. Those people give the rest of us who try to play fair and work well with female peers a bad name. Ladies, some of us aren't stuck in the 1950's. And it's not only some men who make it difficult for women here. In UA, where there are numerous women in management, these have caused the departure of 4 out of 6 female staff on our team in the past year. It's The Devil Wears Prada transplanted to tech.

LisaB, take note: men make up the majority of the team, but during the same time period only one man left. Contrary to what might be popular mythology here, the women left because of the team and management conditions unfavorable to women, not because they wanted to go home and be stay-at-home mothers.

The only way one of the remaining ladies stays safe is by keeping her head down, staying out of the spotlight and apologizing periodically for existing. The other stays safe by being married to one of the manager's pets on the team.

Two completely left the company. The other two were ambitious and single, and ran screaming to other teams after they escalated their requests to transfer several levels. Yeah, you read that right. Even in the days of supposedly not needing permission, there are multiple creative ways for managers to make it difficult for a person to interview and transfer.

Anonymous said...

SERIOUSLY.....

Stuart Scott...I missed the news, someone please PLEASE post what's going on here....PLEEEEZZZZ. I'm VERY interested, but past the allusions here, have no idea what's going on.

DO TELL!!!!!

Anonymous said...

RE: Stuart Scott.
News went public just today.
Editor's Note, Nov. 5, 2007 - Stuart Scott’s employment at Microsoft ended in early November 2007.

How thorough, they even updated the page title :-)
"(Former) Corporate Vice President and CIO"

Anonymous said...

From the exec bio page:

> Scott lives with his wife and seven children in Washington

Holy crap, I can understand two or three, but SEVEN?

Anonymous said...

>"John O’Rourke, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile business, said he was skeptical about the ease with which Google will be able to become a major force in the smart phone market."

This is an interesting quote. It is all about strategy. Its the strategy that drives a product definition and ends up causing a company to invest billions toward a goal.

While all the naysayers can tout the example of Google's success v Microsoft's demise, it does not quite fit the reality model being formed before us. It is more like google's 21st Century strategy vs a repetition of Microsoft's strategy that ended up generating years and years of antitrust lawsuits. In other words, the strategy of Google to serve the customer, open the floodgates to corporate cooperation instead of corporate coercion and instill the altruistic open source model across the globe will allow Google to triumph because of its model of providing services to customers paid for by advertisers. I think the idea is for everybody to make money, not just Google (or insert 'Microsoft').

It is this strategic philosophy that is driving Google stock into the stratos (strategic pun intended) while Microsoft's `share nothing, take no prisoners' strategy is choking suffocating it's cap growth potential regardless of its current monopoly in the OS marketplace. It is absolutely amazing to watch the two companies in this light.

Here is an link to the recently announced open handset alliance.

http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/oha_overview.html

and the point is that it is not just Google, its a global consortium of companies willing to sigh on to the idea of making a better handset by interacting and cooperating, something Microsoft is trying to feign, but just can't quite let go of that old monopoly DNA.

Anonymous said...

From the exec bio page:

> Scott lives with his wife and seven children in Washington


Holy crap, I can understand two or three, but SEVEN?

What, he never struck you as a "Keep 'em barefoot and pregnant" kind of guy?

Anonymous said...

Its the strategy that drives a product definition and ends up causing a company to invest billions toward a goal...

While the heady glow of Android and the gPhone's success is sweet, we would appreciate some restraint. Even the most ardent sycophant* should have the decency to wait for a product from this consortium to at least reach market before celebrating victory.

Of course, we're not completely unreasonable; we do understand that waiting for these gPhones to demonstrably be a roaring success is completely out of the question.

* over the age of twelve, anyway

Anonymous said...

Scott lives with his wife and seven children in Washington

Holy crap, I can understand two or three, but SEVEN?


Another interesting tidbit:

He spends his free time with his family, coaching sports teams, leading youth groups, and playing golf.

Anonymous said...

>* over the age of twelve, anyway


AT Last! A response, a kernal of a discussion, albeit only one response that is not some nine year old whining about how a family man who probably is not from the provincial capitol of Microsoft up there in the great Northwest.

I was beginning to wonder if you softies ever talk about anything other than driving false witness against others, your stock options, your pathetic leadership or other whimpers that go bump in the night.

I don't work for Google, Slashdot or Microsoft, but I think we all know that Google is as yet an idea, mostly, that somehow has garnered such value as to stagger the imagination. And its product so far is mostly an intellectual one that gives the user a sense of a better understanding even if it is just through a search. How long the brand value will keep rising is anybody's guess. But something significant is going on and it seems quite real to me, even if, in the end it is just about hope for a better world where Microsoft is just another company, COMPETING on an even footing, like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, clue the rest of us in. What was this Stuart Scott guy up to? And are there going to be lawsuits?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else quitting InsideMS after Ms. B's recent denouncement of all the peons who hoped for (how DARE they?!) measured, thoughtful responses to suggestions and concerns?

Or maybe the rest of y'all left months ago. If so, you should at least check out the 80,000 recruiters post 'cause that guy actually seems to care about what people said in response to his post...and gave feedback. I can only guess that he's a lot more secure than Ms. B because she seems to take any and all posts, unless they are outright boot-lickers, to be PERSONAL ATTACKS on HER. How'd she get to be where she is without learning to sort the wheat from the chaff, and without alienating everyone who says something she doesn't want to hear? (La la la la).

Sure, she's shaking things up, and in some ways, it's been a good thing. It's been a NECESSARY thing because morale was in the toilet.

But she can't have a bit of compassion and do a bit of actual active listening? It's not listening if you yell at the folks who are trying to help you understand what's going on in the trenches. Makes the trenches-folks just go back to bitching in the hallways instead of bothering to post. Maybe that's what she really wants? Then she can claim that InsideMS was a roaring success because of the "reduced number of complaints over n months" or something.

I try to care, I really do. But that kind of response from people who pretend to ASK for feedback makes me stop trying. Reminds me of a boss I had not so long ago. Never, never, never working for that flaming idiot again. The comparison is not favorable, Ms. B, in case you couldn't guess.

Anonymous said...

>>When the stock hits $41, I make >>500k. That's when I will cash >>out and retire.

>>Thank you MSFT !!!


>> Don't forget taxes.
>>Who can retire on $500k?

Remember 500k is just options, worth nothing much 1-2 years ago. Totally extra cash for me.

With 500k more I can buy a house in cash if I want. I can retire in Mexico City if I want. I can travel around the world for 2 years. I can buy a sail boat if I think global warming is real.

Anonymous said...

Scandal brewing? I was taking a look at the latest executive dumping and what do I see?

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=MSFT

Our fearless leader Lisa Brummel unloading options at $29.98...thinking to myself, "that's weirdly familiar" I went to https://stock and lo and behold, I HAD $29.98 options which expired in April

it was the Ballmer grant which is after the dive - so what gives? Brummel is the ONLY one selling these options - did partners get non expiring options now worthwhile, while the rank and file got squat?

Talk about another slap in the face to the peons, the same week Brummel pats herself on the back for doing nothing with InsideMS - she unloads 180K options which expired for the working folk

What happened to transparency? How come the execs got unexpiring options?

Anonymous said...

To those of you dreaming of cashing your just-expired options, let me make it clear -

Had your options not expired, the stock wouldn't have seen the sudden spike it did. In some sense, your options were what was holding the stock back. I am not making a judgment call here - merely stating a fact as I see it.

Anonymous said...

10 year options, instead of 7 year options were granted. another "perk"

"Our fearless leader Lisa Brummel unloading options at $29.98...thinking to myself, "that's weirdly familiar" I went to https://stock and lo and behold, I HAD $29.98 options which expired in April"

Anonymous said...


Holy crap, I can understand two or three, but SEVEN?


I dunno. He kinda looks Mormon to me.....

P.S. This wasn't an ad hom attack but a statement of factual observation that Mormons generally have big families.

P.P.S. Provided, of course, that he's Mormon.... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Microsoft chief information exec fired

"Stuart Scott's employment with Microsoft was terminated after an investigation for violation of company policies," said Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos, reading from a company statement Tuesday.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071106/ap_on_hi_te/microsoft_cio_fired;_ylt=ApfKOInLdwLPGZRJVO2Tnb273MMF

Anonymous said...

"Stuart Scott's employment with Microsoft was terminated..."

Mini... was this you?

Anonymous said...

http://valleywag.com/tech/stuart-scott/

"He and a VP-level direct report both recently took "emergency family leave," says a tipster. But the family leave was a ruse, our tipster claims, meant to cover up the fact that the two were having an affair"

Fired for having an affair with a subordinate. Very Martin Taylor indeed.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone else quitting InsideMS after Ms. B's recent denouncement of all the peons who hoped for measured, thoughtful responses to suggestions and concerns?"

Not me. Since most of the chatter was just thinly disguised versions of "I want more money" and "stop sticking the loser label on us losers", Lisa's "I can't respond to everything you guys say, let alone do it" seems like a pretty reasonable response.

I'm happy to see you guys come here and air your petty gripes. Maybe it will lull our competition into complancency.

Anonymous said...

"...because morale was in the toilet."

Oh, yeah, by the way, when are you going to stop lying?

Anonymous said...

May I suggest that you approach them with more humility than you have shown here.

(I'm not the OP)

These responses are obnoxious. This is typical IT suspenders-and-beard contempt for any "user" who is not a techno-wizard also. Get out of your parents' basement, go take a few deep breaths, and try to recall that "customers" need to "use" your "products" (and that that use pays your paychecks), not lectured smugly about which Microsoft search engine sucks the least.

Personally, I have despaired of the various MS search engines many a time (learning slowly to not even go there...) and have found again and again that Google even does a better job of finding articles on MSDN or other MS properties than Live search, Microsoft.com search, and so on.

So - you gonna deny that too, with some mealy-mouthed garbage about how it's obviously my fault that Google finds as results #1+ MSDN forum postings on the many problems with, say, ClickOnce whereas MSDN search, uh, doesn't... with the same exact search string?

Timezone settings in XP *are* less obvious than they could be. If the OP had all his Microsoft updates applied, this should have "just worked"... no excuses, no BS. Help him/her (e.g. with a link, knowing this isn't a tech support forum) or STFU.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Search...except for the political PMs, everybody in COSD uses Google to search. The devs in particular use it to search our own MSDN documentation. Devs typically could care less about what is politic, they only care about what works. Google works better than anything else. Tell a dev he has to use Live and he'll tell you to shove it up your ***.

Anonymous said...

>So - you gonna deny that too, with some mealy-mouthed garbage

Nope. I prefer Google myself.

However, for a person who had a problem that:

1) automatically assumed it was some global Windows problem instead of a problem with his system
2) didn't do the most basic search for help (the DST site comes up on the first page for any search engine for any reasonable search)
3) came here to write a tirade about it instead of seeking technical support

I do wonder why you even bothered to defend him.

Anonymous said...

Fired for having an affair with a subordinate. Very Martin Taylor indeed.

Uh...no, sounds like fired for claiming "emergency family leave" when the two were off cavorting. I don't think affairs qualify as violating company policy. But lying about why you're gone - that qualifies.

Whatever the guy was up to apparently wasn't provable enough to get him fired. But hey, if you're going to be arrogantly careless, you just might get canned. Amazing, but true.

Anonymous said...

I'm the OP on the Daylight Savings Time issue.

My purpose in posting my original comment was not to garner "tech support," nor was it to accuse anyone of any specific failure regarding this issue. I was trying to make a more general point about counterintuitive and badly-designed functionality in Windows. My final sentence (about the absurd "Click Here to find out information about how to adjust settings to prevent this message from appearing again" message that one gets in lieu of a simple "Don't show this again" checkbox) should have made this clear.

Even if another poster had demonstrated somehow that the DST behavior was my "fault" I believe my argument about the underlying, endemic problem would still stand.

The Service Packs correct this behavior; I get it. But my annoyance at this situation (and my sympathy for less facile Windows users who won't understand this) doesn't mean that I don't understand this. "You didn't install the service packs, stupid" is not the correct way to deal with someone struggling with software, or someone picking out an example from an easily-identifiable (and, really, indisputable) trend in the software.

I didn't post because I needed "help." I posted because I can't spend an hour in Windows without stumbling across counterintuitive, opaque or inconveniently obscure behavior. The failure of the help system to provide meaningful help in most situations is something that any Microsoft employee should (albeit grudgingly) acknowledge.

Being lectured and scolded for raising the issue (and being characterized as stupid) demonstrates that the attitudes underlying the bad software design here have not changed in the least.

Anonymous said...

...about the absurd "Click Here to find out information about how to adjust settings to prevent this message from appearing again" message that one gets in lieu of a simple "Don't show this again" checkbox)...

Someone from Windows correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that there are multiple ways you can "adjust the settings" so that's why you're taken to the place where those settings live. It doesn't just prevent *that* message from appearing again, but all messages "like" that one won't appear. Trying to convey lots of information in one little dialog doesn't actually result in users getting more informed. They just gloss right over it. This way at least you know where to go to "adjust" the situation, and once you're there, you can read all about it. IF you want to change things. If you don't, then you can just skip the whole sentence.

Now, did you just gloss over all of that verbiage? That's what most people reading dialogs (and Help) do. Makes it hard to catch their attention long enough to let them know what they should do and when they should do it. Yeah, the interfaces should be cleaner and more intuitive. But blaming the dialogs/Help isn't really the answer.

That said, I feel your pain and I've been mega frustrated by Windows and its behavior before too. I'm sorry it was such a painful process. :-(

Anonymous said...

Now, did you just gloss over all of that verbiage? That's what most people reading dialogs (and Help) do. Makes it hard to catch their attention long enough to let them know what they should do and when they should do it.

The condescending responses continue.

I didn't gloss over anything. I am fully aware of how this works; I've been using Windows for years. I'm a back-end web coder, not Grandma.

You guys really don't get it, do you? "Click Here to find out information about how to adjust settings to prevent this message from appearing again" is bad design. It's amazing to me the way that even the friendly responses automatically assume that I missed something, am impatient, or don't understand.

Making me go through a two-step process to open the SYSTEM folder (because I am first warned "This folder contains files that keep your system working properly. There is no need to modify its contents. To view this folder, click: Show Files") is also bad design. Sometimes I need to go in there and the warning wastes my time.

I am not posting these examples because I need help, as I said before. I am posting them because this forum is presumably full of the very people who create this stuff. Again, it's very telling that the knee-jerk reaction to my pointing out these design flaws is to assume that I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Don't you know the reason our old HR Sr VP was fired?

Affairs with one of your reports is a company violation. Think about it - as a manager you have direct say on staff review and pay. You could be bringing lots of company exposure if someone else on the team was deemed a "Kim"/10%-er and the object of your affection had a great review. Its not rocket science, just common sense (which apparently Stuart was lacking)

No, Stuart was fired for the affair and the hostile work environment he created for women in his org. Great to see that HR finally did something about it, and that the reason publicized was company policy violation ...and not "spending more time with his family".
Hope his wife takes him to the cleaners. He has definitely earned it.

Anonymous said...

Since most of the chatter was just thinly disguised versions of "I want more money" and "stop sticking the loser label on us losers", Lisa's "I can't respond to everything you guys say, let alone do it" seems like a pretty reasonable response.

The InsideMS post that you refer to was about the 10%/Limited "Situation 2" label. I think you must be confusing that with the 10%/Limited "Situation 1" label (someone who is actually documented as underperforming and for all intents and purposes, probably is a "loser" as you so unkindly put it).

After being promoted a year ago, I was blindsided during this annual review period with the Kim label. I know exactly why it happened. It happened because I was caught on the wrong side of a spiteful, incompetent manager. That, after a 13-year career at this company, during which I'd received awards for my work, many 4.0 reviews, and steady promotions. Every other person who'd submitted feedback on my performance during the last annual review period had submitted positive feedback.

So does being slapped with that label make me a loser? I'll go ahead and answer that for you: No. Is it "good attrition" now that the team is losing me because of that review? I'll go ahead and answer that too: Um, no. With me, seniority and a great deal of valuable in-house knowledge are walking out the door.

So I'm lobbying and providing feedback wherever I can to encourage others to lobby for getting rid of the asinine 10%/Limited "Situation 2" label. If that label is being applied to others in the same way that it is being applied to me, the company will not have "good attrition" or "losers" going out the door. They will have long-time, great performers walking out the door. And for every one one of us who walks out the door, the company will need 3 or 4 lesser-paid junior people to do our work. It will take months, or perhaps even years, to bring the new kids up to speed, and they won't have the history or background knowledge that we do.

And every Kimstar who walks out the door will do so with resentment for this treatment after years of great service to the company. Since these people aren't "losers," they'll be hired by our competitors or initiate their own competing start-ups. You can be sure they won't be providing great publicity for their alma mater.

So before you label people "losers" because they received a "loser label," stop, step away from the keyboard, drop the chalupa, and think.

You just haven't been Kimmed yet.

Anonymous said...

The condescending responses continue.

Ouch. I actually didn't mean to be condescending, and I wasn't meaning just YOU reading whatever you did or didn't read. But apparently you're too ticked off to accept any discussion or observations about the whole ball of wax, so I'll just wish you good day. Or a better day tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Since most of the chatter was just thinly disguised versions of "I want more money" and "stop sticking the loser label on us losers", Lisa's "I can't respond to everything you guys say, let alone do it" seems like a pretty reasonable response.

If that's all you got from the many thoughtful (sprinkled with unthoughtful, but still) comments, suggestions, frustrations, etc. on Lisa's blog, then you should go have coffee with Lisa. You can make a toast to dismissing all those silly, presumptuous peons and their useless complaining with your sweeping, erroneous generalizations.

Don't forget to make a couple of sharp remarks about how of course she never PROMISED to listen or respond, nevermind do anything. What were we thinking?? Why not just purge the blog every couple of weeks then, and make it official? Let people vent to the brick wall and perhaps they'll heave a big sigh and go back to their little desks and stop complaining.

After all, people are only complaining about things that will never change because it's "working" at some executive level and that's the bottom line. Why should we presume that anyone up there actually "cares"? Clearly Lisa doesn't and she's told us so in no uncertain terms. She didn't *say* stop complaining - but she might as well have.

At least Mini actually reads through the comments and remarks on them with his own thoughts and insights! Regularly, even! I think he has a day job too, right Mini? Oh, and his day job ISN'T about HR and employee relations.

Whatever. Lisa's just been a big disappointment in hype vs. the actual change. In the end, she's just another exec (albeit in gym shorts :-) who is out to keep the power and money at the top (notice that every addition comes with an equal and opposite subtraction). So she shuffles the deck chairs a bit. Big deal.

Anonymous said...

Affairs with one of your reports is a company violation.

Is it really written into the company rules this way? I've worked in a group where a manager and her employee had a relationship, and neither one was fired. They did move the manager to a new spot after awhile, and I know at least one person on the team complained that it was clearly not right. But HR didn't come storming in and fire them. So methinks there was a whole lot more ammo to the situation than just the affair.

BTW, was the person that Scott had an affair with fired as well? I presume so, but haven't heard/seen either way.

Anonymous said...

From the "You don't believe it until it happens to you" department:

After being promoted a year ago, I was blindsided during this annual review period with the Kim label. I know exactly why it happened. It happened because I was caught on the wrong side of a spiteful, incompetent manager. That, after a 13-year career at this company, during which I'd received awards for my work, many 4.0 reviews, and steady promotions.
...
So before you label people "losers" because they received a "loser label," stop, step away from the keyboard, drop the chalupa, and think.

You just haven't been Kimmed yet.


The poster above has spoken sage words, perhaps the sagest of which is "yet".

An acquaintance on another team and I were both Kimmed this year, each of us after more than 7 years of great work, awards and regular promotions. I won't share my record because it would identify me, but it happened out of the blue after a mid-year that evaluated me as performing "above level". My situation also involved an incompetent, spiteful manager who'd tried to hire me internally a few years ago onto a different team, and whose offer I'd politely turned down.

Why didn't I exit the team before being reviewed by a C? After all, if I'm really an A employee, I should know by now to avoid the C managers, right? Answer: I do. Remember that I declined an offer to join this one's team earlier in my career. This manager was a last minute substitution in the leadership lineup just before the reporting structure locked for review purposes. There was no way to avoid it other than leaving the company and leaving thousands of not-yet-vested stock grants on the table.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Stuart Scott. But seriously, what kind of moron VP do you have to be to have an affair with one of your directs.

1. There are NOT a lot of attractive women at Microsoft
2. You've got tons of money
3. Go get a fuck pad in Seattle and a few Starbucks baristas if you need more sex
4. You don't get fired...

What an idiot.

Anonymous said...

An acquaintance on another team and I were both Kimmed this year, each of us after more than 7 years of great work, awards and regular promotions....

The whole purpose of "Kim/Limited" is to chase the majority of people out after 7 to 10 years (and nearly everyone out after 15). It's pretty clear that Microsoft wants to replace experienced (and expensive) employees with cheap and naive entry-levels.

Think about it. The folks running the company value passion more than anything else, and think that kids fresh out of college will have lots and lots of passion.

This isn't going to work as well as they think, but that of course fits with their track record quite well.

Anonymous said...

The whole purpose of "Kim/Limited" is to chase the majority of people out after 7 to 10 years (and nearly everyone out after 15).

Unfortunately this fits with all the available data, including LisaB's posts on her blog. "We fixed Limited by renaming it 10%." God, lady - get a grip. Come right out and say "We're cleaning out 10% of folks every year because we want 10% college hires coming in every year. Deal with it."

Having been here nearly 10 years myself, it's clearly time to make sure my resume is plumped out so I can start looking before I get Kimmed myself. What a company...

Anonymous said...

Hey, let's look at today's opening number- Holy Beejeezus! (pop-pop - socks flying off feet): we're above $36?!?! Dear Microsoft Leadership: walk the halls today.

Hope they took your advice 'cause we're plummeting back to the low 30's as I write this...

:-(

Anonymous said...

1. There are NOT a lot of attractive women at Microsoft

Umm - apparently even a guy with lots of money found one. Maybe it's you?

Some Guy said...

You guys who are upset about getting screwed in your review have my sympathy. It's happened to me at Apple. I had an incompetent, non-technical manager who apparently didn't care that I was far and away the most productive member of his group of direct reports.

The thing is, that's a standard hazard of working for someone else, particularly in a Fortune-100 company. You can either quit, or take it over his head. Personally, I recommend taking it over his head.

Some Guy said...

" It's pretty clear that Microsoft wants to replace experienced (and expensive) employees with cheap and naive entry-levels. "

You know, if you can document that and prove it in court, class-action lawsuits have been known to pay out hundreds of millions.

Anonymous said...

"You know, if you can document that and prove it in court, class-action lawsuits have been known to pay out hundreds of millions."

Hmm. Good point. The actually policy of Limited II is that you just don't have much potential for growth. The implemented *practice* is that if you've been in one level "too long," you can be labeled Limited II regardless of your performance. I don't know if that's written down, though. If there's a memo from HR stating that, then seems like fodder for a lawsuit. Because clearly, no one can continue a trajectory forever of being promoted every 2 years. There's an absolute limit, even if you're a superstar, nevermind a human being.

But even so, Limited II just *encourages* you to leave by treating you like something distasteful and rewarding you with the bare minimum possible. It's not like you get an "Underperformed" and are getting actively managed out. Just passive-aggressively managed out.

So, I guess no lawsuit. Unless someone can demonstrate that folks younger than some magic number get demonstrably fewer Limited II's.

For that, you would need stats. Does freedom of information cover that...?

Might be easier to prove harrassment, especially when a manager blindsides you in August after a fine mid-year review, and then a year later, you not only get a fabulous review, but you get PROMOTED. What happened to being Limited? Shouldn't the manager who mislabeled you that way and basically libeled you get a major demerit, at the very least? Yeah...not hardly. They just say "Whoops, I guess you were redeemable after all, who would have believed it?"

Just sucks all around. Leave 'em behind and good riddance.

Adam Barr said...

I continue to disagree with the consensus here on the alleged "Kim" situation. Mini, this is the one area where I feel you are actively promoting something which is factually wrong.

This is what I see:

1) Microsoft decided to bucket people for stock grants, and decided there would be a bottom 10% bucket.

2) The name chosen for this bottom 10% bucket, "Limited", was poorly chosen due to the connotations of the word--so it was changed to "10%".

3) The description of the bottom 10% bucket implied that Microsoft didn't see those people as having much value--this was incorrect, so Microsoft created a second definition to correct that (for some people in the 10% bucket, the original definition WAS accurate, so it is still available).

And more specifically, the change in #3 was done to AVOID people getting a more negative message than was intended...so I don't see why people are interpreting it as trying to force a more negative message and push the entire bottom 10% out of the company.

As always, I invite any Microsofties who want to discuss this more to contact me via internal email. Thanks.

- adam

Anonymous said...

Adam said:


3) The description of the bottom 10% bucket implied that Microsoft didn't see those people as having much value--this was incorrect, so Microsoft created a second definition to correct that (for some people in the 10% bucket, the original definition WAS accurate, so it is still available).

And more specifically, the change in #3 was done to AVOID people getting a more negative message than was intended...so I don't see why people are interpreting it as trying to force a more negative message and push the entire bottom 10% out of the company.


C'mon, even with the lowered employee bar, people are smart enough to see through that. The label was there and no amount of renaming it was going to change that.

What WOULD'VE changed the perception of the "Limited II" class was taking a chunk out of the 70% bucket and making that the "valuable but not upwardly mobile" designation. Had the buckets changed to something like the following:

- 20% "Outstanding"
- 50% "Strong"
- 20% "Performing"
- 10% "Limited"

Then you would placate the nervousness of the people being "Kim-ed" by telling them they were in the lower part of the "Strong" bucket rather than the upper part of the "Limited" bucket.

By going the way they did, what purpose did that serve? You could even budget the comp the exact same way in the above distribution as they do today, if you wanted.

The places the mind goes when things like this come up are along the lines of "MSFT wants to fire/manage-out the bottom 10%". It's NOT a big leap given that Steve-o is a huge Jack Welch sycophant.

Of course, if it's really true and ALL the people in the 10% bucket are being subtly told to look elsewhere, then the plan is working. But it kills morale and it encourages "me first" behavior, not "team/product/customer first".

Anonymous said...

This might be out of context, if so, I apologize. [Mini, if you choose to not allow it, please give me the luxury of dropping it on the Cutting Room Floor rather than merely deleting it. The latter has unfortunate and hopefully unintentional connotations.]

In my career, I have worked for many parts of the software industry. At Microsoft, I started my time being treated very well, and being rewarded. I fell into the trap of assuming that it was proper recognition of hard work.

Only when a reorganization moved me to work for a different management chain did I realize that Microsoft does not necessarily reward effort or productivity. What Microsoft rewards varys depending on where you are.

I moved through new three different jobs at Microsoft, finding disinterested managers, GMs with that thousand-yard-stare, and VPs that rewarded the strangest things.

Those three jobs left me bitter, as my Microsoft career had totally stalled. I have related some stories here, and even experienced what seemed like a scoff from Mini at my claim that sycophancy was an absolute must to work for many executives.

I lost patience with the last of those three positions this summer after learning that the GM did not consider me an 'up and comer'. (That's OK. I considered him regularly dazed and confused, so I'm no more noble.)

I now work for an entirely different division. It isn't a perfect division by far. However, I'm reporting to a manager who's realistic, cares about delivering the right thing, seems dedicated to his job and not to the political machinations to rise above his job, and I no longer expect a complete reorg every 6 months.

My point: Were someone to have claimed the abominations and abuses of power that I've cited above and in the past to me when I started at Microsoft, I would have said that they were exaggerating, as I had never seen anything like that in my well-over-ten-years of experience at the time.

If I'd only ever worked in my current division and heard the same claims, I'd also scoff at them and contemplate whether the writer was sane or not, as my experience would be dramatically different.

However, during those years working for managers who were clawing their way up the corporate ladder and who took a dislike to me the instant they recognized that I wasn't a pure subservient puppy, had I read someone making those claims, my thoughts would have been "You and me both, brother."

For those 'star performers' who think that everyone else is mud and that they're something very special, be careful. It takes very little for you to become a nuisance to someone comfortable misuing power, and you'll suddenly be Kimmed in your next review.

Anonymous said...

1. There are NOT a lot of attractive women at Microsoft

Umm - apparently even a guy with lots of money found one. Maybe it's you?


No, it's not him. I've been working at MS for 10 years now. I'm 32 and still single, and let me tell you, unless you're willing to lower your standards dramatically, or somehow get lucky, there's no way you're going to meet any nice looking women, because there just aren't that many. The occasional ones you see are almost always married (no surprise there).

The ratio of men/women in this company is around 75/25, maybe 70/30, tops. Most of the desirable women can be found in HR, legal, and marketing organizations, and as I said earlier, 99% of the time, they're spoken for. Outside of those organizations, the cupboard is bare, just like the original poster said, there aren't that many attractive looking women at Microsoft.

I checked out some of the VP-level directs of Stuart, and none of them would rate above a 5 in my honest estimation.

Anonymous said...


Hey, let's look at today's opening number- Holy Beejeezus! (pop-pop - socks flying off feet): we're above $36?!?! Dear Microsoft Leadership: walk the halls today.

Hope they took your advice 'cause we're plummeting back to the low 30's as I write this...

:-(


Still holding strong in the mid-34s, the entire tech sector took a beating today. Have you seen GOOG, AAPL, RIMM, etc? Stop acting like it was only Microsoft. Heck, we were only down 2%, I was expecting it to be far worse given the lousy overall market conditions.

Some Guy said...

" Jack Welch sycophant"

Let me point out a couple of things about Jack Welch.

First, his tenure at GE, from 1981 to 2001, saw GE's revenues rise from $26 billion to to $130 billion, and its market capitalization go from $14 billion to over $410 billion. So, Welch was indeed a very talented CEO.

Secondly, the 10%ers that Welch fired really were the bottom 10%, not the solid contributors who got an asshole for a manager. Welch was, if anything, even more ruthless about canning managers who weren't pulling their weight.

Hell, if Welch was willing to come out of retirement, he might just be the guy who could actually get MS out of its slump. I'm sure that one of his first actions would be to send the poseurs like Allard packing.

Thomas said...

On the Jack Welch meme, one of the strategies he consistently applied was to dispose of any business units were GE could not be number 1 or 2 in the market, or which didn't fit the company's strategy going forward. That approach might bring a little focus to Microsft.

Anonymous said...

"I've been working at MS for 10 years now. I'm 32 and still single, and let me tell you, unless you're willing to lower your standards dramatically, or somehow get lucky, there's no way you're going to meet any nice looking women, because there just aren't that many."

Hoo, boy. Comments on mini hit a new low with this one.

Hint 1: you might be better off trying to meet someone OUTSIDE your workplace.

Hint 2: you might be better off if your criteria weren't so heavily weighted toward the purely physical attractiveness of a potential partner.

Adam Barr said...

somebody wrote:


What WOULD'VE changed the perception of the "Limited II" class was taking a chunk out of the 70% bucket and making that the "valuable but not upwardly mobile" designation. Had the buckets changed to something like the following:

- 20% "Outstanding"
- 50% "Strong"
- 20% "Performing"
- 10% "Limited"

...


You can certainly disagree on the specific buckets chosen; I'm not claiming 20/70/10 is ideal, but I don't know what went into the decision. Whatever you choose, you are going to have a bottom bucket and the last person in the bottom bucket is going to feel worse than the first person in the bucket above, even though their performance is not that different.

(Although in your example, you still have a bottom 10% bucket labeled "Limited", so the situation would be the same as today for people in that bucket.)

- adam

Anonymous said...

>What WOULD'VE changed the perception of the "Limited II" class was taking a chunk out of the 70% bucket and making that the "valuable but not upwardly mobile" designation.

We *had* that. It was called "3.0" and people still bitched.

Anonymous said...

RE "stack rankings"

The whole notion is broken. It's characterized as a race so you have winners (i.e. the so-called "rock stars"), people who are running but not yet "rock stars" and then, well, losers. If you're not a winner, well, that makes you a loser. Consequently, it's everyone for themselves and the rest of the team/company be damned if necessary. But MSFT can't even do that right in their hopelessly passive-aggressive dysfunction.

If you're going to have "losers" then call it that and either fire them or put them on a training plan. But that would require managers to actually do that squishy, touchy-feely, people management that has no apparent value and consequently no reward at MSFT. (by people management I don't just mean the obligatory review and commitment paperwork or collecting the documentation necessary to terminate someone. I mean managing them throughout the time they work for you.)

But, instead, the Losers (and, face it there will always be losers, especially in a compay of 80+ thousand employees) are just left as lepers to fend for themselves by finding another job or just coming to MiniMsft and complain about how unfair life is. Remember MSFT only cares about the "winners" and everyone knows that if you're a loser, you can't be a winner. Many of the comments here reflect that very sentiment (as though there were no other way to productively employ these "losers." Nope. We just want winners, and, you know, if you're not a winner, you're a ....

If you want to treat people as expendable, then call it for what it is: Churn and burn. Then you'll attract the self-serving, Machiavellian "winners" that you want. The agressive (i.e. "passionate") will rise to the top on the bodies of those who can't keep up. But that's what you want, right? The best of the best and who cares about the rest?

Ouch. I hope not. That was one of the keys to Enron's success. Oh wait... One could argue that the only difference between Enron and Microsoft is 45-billion, oh, I mean 35-billion, oh wait, I mean 23-billion in the bank. (hmmmm)

Stack ranking isn't necessarily "bad" (however there are studies that demonstrate that it is) it's just lazy. The manager sits down, once a year and says: Let's see. These people I care about, these people I don't. End of management task for the year, now back to coding. Someday, they'll learn that there's more to management than just listing people below you on the org chart. But hey, the stock hit 37 so there's no problem, No, wait, 35... No wait...

Anonymous said...

"You know, if you can document that and prove it in court, class-action lawsuits have been known to pay out hundreds of millions."

Hmm. Good point. The actually policy of Limited II is that you just don't have much potential for growth. The implemented *practice* is that if you've been in one level "too long," you can be labeled Limited II regardless of your performance. I don't know if that's written down, though. If there's a memo from HR stating that, then seems like fodder for a lawsuit. Because clearly, no one can continue a trajectory forever of being promoted every 2 years. There's an absolute limit, even if you're a superstar, nevermind a human being.


I never saw it written down, but it was verbally communicated to all managers (or at least all managers with a report 24 months in level in my division). 24+ months at level was an automatic “Limited” and an informal “PIP” (Performance Improvement Plan). The second part of the message was that if the employee didn’t get promoted “soon” (left nebulous, but “next review” was strongly implied) then they would switch to “underperformed” and be managed out. When you consider that promotion budgets typically only allow at most 1/3 of a team to get promotions in any given year, that means the average promotion time (36 months) is longer than the Kim time (24 months). Plus, as you get above L63, promotions every two-three years get harder, as there are fewer and fewer slots for L65-67. And very few for L68. I calculated that the average strong performing college hire would have a reasonably happy review life until the age of 32 or so, then go through five or six years of skirting Kimmhood (Limited II one year, promoted the next, Limited II two years later, etc), and finally be managed out around 38 or 39 years old. 40, BTW, is the magic number for age discrimination.

So, I suspect none of it was written down, but enough managers got the verbal communication to piece it back together. Plus, MSFT then went and pissed off a bunch of those managers by Kimming them, so I suspect a sharp shyster could find some willing stool pigeons.

This may be the next big legal fiasco for the company. They think they’re smart enough to have protected themselves from it, but it won't look very good if it gets in front of a jury.

About Welch, yeah, he fired 10% of the rank and file, and kept the other 90%. He fired 85% of the VPs and kept the other 15%. Even in imitation, MSFT HR can't get it right.

Anonymous said...

I checked out some of the VP-level directs of Stuart, and none of them would rate above a 5 in my honest estimation.

As long as your opinion of the "attractiveness" of a woman is purely on a visual survey, then IMO, you get what you deserve.

Fortunately, as a woman, I like geeky men of all different "visuals" and don't limit myself to the Harrison Fords (or whatever standard you want to choose that would correspond to your version of a "5" for women). Attractiveness to me has a whole lot more to do with how fun and interesting someone is and the personal connection I feel with them than whether they measure up on some arbitrary "pretty" scale.

Sorry you're having such a hard time finding a soulmate here. But...I'm not the least surprised. :-)

Anonymous said...

What WOULD'VE changed the perception of the "Limited II" class was taking a chunk out of the 70% bucket and making that the "valuable but not upwardly mobile" designation.

And even THEN, it's just plain arbitrary. Period. One minute you're hugely upwardly mobile, the next minute a nasty manager decides you deserve to be slapped so you're labeled NOT upwardly mobile. A few months later, new manager plus a lot of brown-nosing (perhaps - or maybe not even that), and - you guessed it - you're upwardly mobile again!

You're the SAME PERSON. And yet you're being tossed around between these labels that pretend to predict what your FUTURE performance will be. When the predictions are wrong, the people who labeled you that way should be taken out behind the woodshed and taught a lesson.

If they're not willing to take responsibility for jerking you around like that (and trashing your career as much as they could, in the meantime), then where's the accountability? And if there's no accountability, why do we pretend that the system has any merit whatsoever as a "quantifiable" measure of someone's worth to the company, present and future?

Anonymous said...

We *had* that. It was called "3.0" and people still bitched.

Now you're confusing the review rating with the stock/future performance rating. Don't mix them up in the same conversation, it's confusing enough as it is.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if you decide to CRF or delete this altogether, Mini, but I really don't think it's too far of a deviation from what is already a straying from the topic. It is, rather, a dose of reality.

As long as your opinion of the "attractiveness" of a woman is purely on a visual survey, then IMO, you get what you deserve.

Welcome to basic human nature. Men tend to go for the hottest woman they can afford. Women tend to go for the richest man they can attract.

Fortunately, as a woman, I like geeky men of all different "visuals" and don't limit myself to the Harrison Fords (or whatever standard you want to choose that would correspond to your version of a "5" for women).

As a woman, that's not at all surprising. In fact, it's typical that women consider other attributes like money, power, and fame, before physical attractiveness.

Attractiveness to me has a whole lot more to do with how fun and interesting someone is and the personal connection I feel with them than whether they measure up on some arbitrary "pretty" scale.

Men can afford to rate attractiveness in mates so highly because the asset they use as a bargaining chip (their net worth and earning power) is an appreciating asset. Conversely, women (in general) cannot afford to use their own attractiveness to hold out for the "ideal" man because said attractiveness is a depreciating asset.

The older a man gets, the "attractive" he becomes, based on the criteria women in general (including yourself) use to determine said attractiveness.

The older a woman gets, the less attractive she becomes.

But water seeks its own level, which is why all the thiry-year-old single moms in Seattle have no shortage of underachieving Poindexters from which to wrangle and select a mate before the big 4-0 comes a-knockin'.

Anonymous said...

I was reading recently about how disparity in status and assets can trigger a low-grade fight-or-flight instinct. By having so many levels and such big pay differences, Microsoft may be leveraging human nature (more than one might think) to make everybody work like crazy. The downside is that people at the bottom of such a society tend to have many more health problems and die much younger.

So Microsoft may be structured ideally to maximize productivity, if productivity means individuals working to climb the ladder levels as if their lives literally depended on it. Maybe great for a shoe factory but it may also be the worst system possible if you're trying to get people to collaborate on projects.

Anonymous said...

Man, what they DON'T teach in engineering school.

Silly geeks, you work at Microsoft so you DON'T have to look for mates at Microsoft.

Besides, many people (men and women) who work at Microsoft are much more devoted to their jobs than to anyone of the same species. Shopping for mates there is the prescription for emotional disaster. Try and find out the divorce rate for people employed at MSFT. That is not a number they are proud of.

Anonymous said...

So Microsoft may be structured ideally to maximize productivity, if productivity means individuals working to climb the ladder levels as if their lives literally depended on it. Maybe great for a shoe factory but it may also be the worst system possible if you're trying to get people to collaborate on projects.

Bingo - teamwork dissapears in a Glengarry Glenn Ross environment. Okay if you're selling real estate, I guess, but not so good if you're building complex products.

The other problem, of course, is that smart people who find themselves in such an environment get out, because they realize they are being taken advantage of and can probably get a better deal elsewhere.

So, eventually you end up with a bunch of backstabbing third-raters.

Good luck with that, Steve

Anonymous said...

to the lowly dater ..

try craigslist or match.com since you can't seem to peruse downtown or eastside to find one of the available women ... :)

Anonymous said...

to the lowly dater ..

try craigslist or match.com since you can't seem to peruse downtown or eastside to find one of the available women ... :)


Oh, there are lots of available women, nobody is denying that. The question is, where are all the "attractive" available women? :-)

Anonymous said...


try craigslist or match.com since you can't seem to peruse downtown or eastside to find one of the available women ... :)


Ugh, have you ever seen the profiles at match.com? No thanks, I like my chances at the local Starbucks a whole lot better.

Anonymous said...


Hoo, boy. Comments on mini hit a new low with this one.


Why, it's off topic, but an interesting one and somewhat related to MSFT. I'm glad someone brought it up.


Hint 1: you might be better off trying to meet someone OUTSIDE your workplace.


Excellent suggestion, anyone looking at Microsoft as a place to potentially find a wife is going to be very disappointed. I have no comments on the whole attractiveness issue, but the original poster's note about the 75/25 ratio is what stacks the odds against us guys.


Hint 2: you might be better off if your criteria weren't so heavily weighted toward the purely physical attractiveness of a potential partner.


Again, well stated, but let's also not kid ourselves that physical attraction does not matter, it does. Once you get past that initial test, then you can focus on other things. If someone is pretty but otherwise a complete klutz, then forget about it.

Anonymous said...

Stuart was fired for the affair and the hostile work environment he created for women in his org
Chances are the whistler blower(s) will be managed out next, unless they were good at staying anonymous. HR does not like to hear these type of issues coming up. The whistler blower(s) are now on the "black list" - so better start looking for a job elsewhere....

Who da'Punk said...

Administrivia: Okay time to flip the comment moderation switch back to on a week after experimenting with the opening commenting. It wasn't too bad, except for that whole bit besmirching the beauty of Microsoftie-women (I'm not available and all, but smart is sexy, and Microsoft has some of the sexiest smart women in the world. The guys on the other hand... Anyway, end of discussion on that.).

Anonymous said...

Okay time to flip the comment moderation switch back to on a week after experimenting with the opening commenting.

Thanks for the ride, Mini! It was fun while it lasted. Enjoyed seeing comments as soon as they were posted instead of in batches. But understand why you need to flip the bit again. Ah, well...

Anonymous said...

The whole purpose of "Kim/Limited" is to chase the majority of people out after 7 to 10 years (and nearly everyone out after 15). It's pretty clear that Microsoft wants to replace experienced (and expensive) employees with cheap and naive entry-levels.

I have been a senior manager at Microsoft for a long time, and I have never seen this behavior. Every manager I know would find it abhorent. (I don't know all or even most MS managers, but I have a good sample size.)

Sure there are all sorts of reasons folks get labeled as Limited, some better than others. Bad managers perpetuate bad management. People do really horrible things, but there is no conspiracy to make them systematic.

People do get screwed on reviews sometimes. It sucks. Maybe the reviewing system is broken, and that's a discussion worth having.

But no one is telling us to force out employees because of what they cost. And if you think that is happening, please do see an attorney -- tell LCA (MS Legal) immediately! I'm serious. Send an EMail to your group's attorney today. It's a privileged conversation, and an attorney could lose his or her license for using that EMail improperly, so sending the mail is not a CLM (career-limiting move).

Again, I am not defending incompetent management. I am not denying that some managers may be venal. I am not even denying that there could be systemic unintentional bias or local intentional bias. But if it were intentional at a company level, I'm confident I'd know it.

Anonymous said...

If my recent firsthand experience with HR is any indication, there is no wonder it takes them so long to catch on to swinging dicks like Martin, Stuart, and Ken. (hey, wasn't that a smarmy song back in the 60's?)

I had an HR manager (not gneralist, mind you, a GM-level manager) tell me face to face that their role was to protect the company from the actions of employees. "OK," (you might ask) "why didn't they act to protect the company from the Swinging Dick Brigade sooner?"

"Because," she says (paraphrasing here) "the real problem is with the low level managers, not the level 65+ ones."

Riiight!*

*Bill Cosby, 1963

Anonymous said...

Mini-- Have you been busted? Where are you?? You've been silent too long. RSVP

Also noticed MSFTextreme has gone silent.... I'm worried.

Anonymous said...

Mini?

Minnnnnnieeeeee?

I need my fix, Mini!

This ex-Softie has had a sad reminder that the poor leadership and management examples this blog is all about are sadly not unique to Microsoft...in fact, MS has fewer bad managers (on a per-employee basis) than the other companies I've worked for before and since. I'm stuck in a company almost defined by weak leadership and poor management right now. I'm looking for the exits and (ironically) feeling a little nostalgic for Microsoft where at least I knew the rules.

My employment record includes Micron (back in the day!), IBM, Intel and Symantec, so I think I have some basis for comparison.

EricFowler said...

For us new arrivals, could someone please briefly define what is meant by "being Kimed"?

Thanks

caltel said...

Thanks...

Caltel
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