Monday, February 25, 2008

Because the Last Aquisition Went So Well...

Check-in on Yahoo: BusinessWeek has a small take on Kevin Johnson's message to Microsoft and Yahoo employees. A number of articles have been posted putting this email in the light of "we're not going to be firing anybody! Please, don't leave, we luv you all and we have someplace to squeeze you in!" After our own CEO basically lied to his own senior leadership regarding the Yahoo acquisition, I'm not buying anything they are selling because their agenda, whatever it is, is built on misrepresentation. Or shooting from the hip.

Besides, of course, I want folks fired due to my original agenda; plus, the Yahoo Peanut Butter Manifesto probably pointed to more than just 1,000 Yahoo folks needing to find a better place to work.

Reading Mr. Johnson's email, I have an image in my head of John Wayne from McLintock, reassuringly saying in this case, "Somebody needs to fire ya, kid. But I'm not gonna fire ya. I'm not gonna fire ya. ... The HELL I'M NOT!" *biff* Or, in this case, *RIF*

A Couple More Perspectives:

From the Field: a welcome message from the field in this comment:

Working in the field and not in the US, I sometimes cannot relate to the comments that are heavily oriented at the minority of peopele working in MS which is dev. And maybe this is part of the MS problem? SMSG is swarming with people and due to the "Keep your scorecard green" culture that came with Kevin "thank you for all that you do" Turner, managers are not managing and coaching people anymore. Every day I see people that should be empowered to do business staring into their spreadsheets in order manipulate Siebel (yes we use that utter crap CRM system still) to keep the scorecard green instead of going out to meet the customers. Many MS people in (i think especially in services) miss the "techy" culture where we doing good things for customers, making them successful. Now all we get "Why is your scorecard yellow, just fix it".

Dirty aQuantive laundry: a very revealing comment worth reading in full starts with:

I'm no longer with aQuantive, I now work for a great team in MS. I was threatened not to talk, but my story needs to be told, to some people higher up who believe that they can integrate Yahoo, I believe that they can, but they have to hear what is happening to Microsoft's ad serving business, which will save the company years to find out, it will be too late once they realize. The engineers at aQuantive are great, some of the best, but the central nervous system doesn't exist, this is Microsoft's managements responsibility, and it could cost us the leadership in the ad business. [...]

Classy, real classy: I'm sure anyone who had ran Vista at work looked at the Vista Capable stickers on machines they wouldn't buy for their Mom and felt bad regarding the misrepresentation of those machines' capabilities. Even some of our VPs expressed their strong dislike (d'oh, [shake fist] damn you email discovery!). Now we're up for a class action lawsuit and I'm really interested to see what kind of leg we have to stand on here. Fighting to justify this poor decision doesn't rank up as high on the Bozo Meter as trying to defend browsing technology as being a core OS component, but it's close.

Rory Blyth channels Mini: Windows Live Writer Team and Microsoft - where Rory is put over the edge when Live Writer - a delightful blogging application I adore (and makes me wonder if my hatred of .NET apps is misplaced) - gets ruined by being wedged into a Live Suite installer infrastructure. Rory is no longer with Microsoft and he doesn't hesitate to load up both barrels and let loose. A little later in the comment stream:

What happened to me is I worked for Microsoft for three years. You didn't read the post in its entirety, so you may have missed it, but I wrote that this isn't just about Live Writer - it's about Microsoft's approach to user experience in general.

I saw - and was subject to - so many dirty tricks on the inside. There's a constant battle between the stupid people and the smart people, and the stupid people do quite well. Probably because stupid people are scared of the smart people and do whatever they can to get more stupid people to work at Microsoft. A good way to retain your power and position is to ensure you aren't being challenged by other employees.

The sad thing is that I'm not exaggerating.

The company is bloated. I said myself that firing tens of thousands is cruel, but when you have managers for managers for managers for managers for managers for managers and managers for them, you have something ridiculous.

Firing tens of thousands of Microsofties? Allow me to raise my hands in the air, wave them about, and yell out, "Hallelujah brother, praise the RIF!!!"

Mid-year career discussion is upon us and now is an ideal time for you to update your resume and assess where you are and where you are going. Want a raise? Secret to Success, rule #1: the best way to get a raise is to change companies. Bar none. So update that resume and see what kind of follow-ups you get. Perhaps you're an eagle trying to soar with the turkeys... if so, some parting advice from one of our commenters:

I left months ago and am so glad I did. MSFT has a bunch of great achievers drowning amongst a gaggle of whiners who want top pay and work-life balance but don't want to work hard to achieve anything. Until you get rid of the latter, you wont' get top performance out of the former. The people who want challenges in life and to achieve something will just continue to get fed up and leave. It's sad. If you are there and frustrated there are many alternative lives you could be leading happily elsewhere. Go, it ain't that scary and you'll never regret it. Stay and you'll wake up at 45 yrs old (how many 45+ people do you see around you, eh?) sad and feeling empty. Go, leave, it's okay and you'll stop feeling so angry and abused.


85 comments:

Anonymous said...

another ex-MSFTie wrote about the nightmare that is the Windows Live Writer installation at http://scottru.wordpress.com/2008/02/16/windows-live-writer-team-i-feel-for-ya/.

Anonymous said...

I highly suggest you all just quit. Seriously. It's better on the other side of the fence, and I couldn't be happier for it. Go out, get a better commute, get a raise, get options that might actually be worth something, get a job where your coworkers start complaining if you schedule them for 2 meetings in a single day! I did all of those in one fell swoop, and I'm never coming back.

Anonymous said...

I admire you greatly for one reason, because I know that you care about the customer and you have courage. thanks for posting my comment, like you risk your job keeping this blog, I risked mine and accept the consequences. I was moved by Ballmers speach at the company meeting and knew it would be tough implementing that message, it can cost a person their job, but the reward for doing what is right for the customer, the company, and for the team, that reward is imesurable. I see a benefit for what you do, maybe I'm mistaken in believing that your work makes a change for the better, and unless I'm wrong, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Rory Blythe??? I can't believe you gave that guy a link. He is a perfect example of the failed culter of Microsoft. 3 years experience writing .NET apps (he admits poorly) and he is suddenly an expert on corporate direction? He has a sophomoric skillset but tells everyone he is the greatest so gets treated as such. Remind you of any hundreds of comments on here?

He's not smart enough to know to remove the Toshiba craplets? Anyone who has dogfooded Vista can tell you all about their craplets killing the machine.

And his connection failed while installing live writer and Microsoft is a crap company. Makes perfect sense. Everyone I have talked to loves the live installer. Works like a champ for me every time.

All he does is talk about Microsoft all this time after he left because it is all he has ever done: 3 years at MS. If you read the post you will see why he left - drug addiction. He blames MS for his drug addiction, but anyone with experience in the recovery field knows what bs this is. Like a true addict it is everyone else's fault he spent all his time, money, and health getting high. Yea, hate on MS all day Rory; it's a straight path to relapse.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good excuse for the class action suit, I am offering in advance. Blame the OEMs. We made the aero-less Vista experience a possibility so that people could upgrade their 5 year old computers. We did not plan on OEMs shoveling all their last gen models out ther door pushing them as Vista models. It's the OEMs fault. And we cannot control OEMs like Apple, and we already have cases against us preventing us from stopping OEMs from adding whatever crud they can shovel onto the desktop. So fine. Let's just get this comment out of the way and not have to hear any pointing of the finger outside the company.

Anonymous said...

From the second Q/A of the email:

"we should remember that Microsoft is a growth company that has hired over 20,000 people since 2005"

We will not argue with this assessment; it is merely that Kevin clearly thinks this is a GOOD thing.

Anonymous said...

Mini,

I know you have been pushing the RIF idea for the longest time and believe me I agree with it, but there are problems in how to decide who to layoff.

Plan 1 - Layoff a whole bunch of bloated management and underperforming ICs:
I think the problem with this approach is who will decide what management is bloated. Firstly, In my experience, most of the high level managers operate on the buddy system, so it seems like they will tend to pick the front line managers as the ones to get axed (potentially bad!). Secondly, if we are trying to layoff the high level managerial bloat, it seems counter-intuitive for the high level managers to make a decision on who leaves.

Plan 2 - Lets just kill a bunch of useless products and that should get rid of a bunch of workforce:
Then we can replace the low performers in the existing workforce with some of the talent we potentially just laid off. Unfortunately I can't think of any major teams that we can just kill off. Actually, let me rephrase, I can think of several, but I doubt our leadership will agree with me on any of them. We could probably start off with a few small teams and work our way up. Another problem is that the bloat will still exist and to preseve their status and position, the bloat will end up hiring more people and/or taking up the responsibility of picking up the work of the teams that just got fired which will bring us back to square 1.

Maybe I missed other options...? Please enlighten me.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

Great post, Mini. And concerning to hear that inside scoop on AQNT. I was already getting worried about management's constant reference to that being a "success" (especially when trying to prove their street cred for buying YHOO). As if it were "mission accomplished", and maybe they'd forgotten that it cost $6B+ - thereby ensuring that ultimate success can only be judged at some very distant point in the future rather than currently. I really hope they don't lose focus on this one, as they have so many others in the past.

jon said...

Thanks for the link, Mini. I have no idea what Ballmer did and didn't say to his senior leadership; in what way do you think he "basically lied" and to who? It's really hard for me to believe that KJ, Ray Ozzie, Chris Liddell, etc. weren't in the loop on this...

And a response to Anonymous @8:59PM from the other thread:

I see no convincing reasoning other than the same old economy of scale argument

The strategic advanantages I'm highlighting include market structure (being in a duopoly), culture, geography, and moving towards social software. If there are reasons you -- or others -- disagree with them, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Economies of scale on the search/advertising market do translate to significant revenue. Of course it's making a bet on just how large the two company's market share will be after regulatory approval and integration, but it's a very safe bet that Yahoo! + Microsoft > Microsoft -- by quite a lot really. I agree this isn't the primary strategic reason to do the deal but just to keep in perspective: we are probably talking at least several billion dollars a year here even if both companies continue to lose market share in the interim. That's significant.

jon

Anonymous said...

For every one of you that leave, there are two more who would jump at the opportunity to work for Microsoft. So quit complaining and just leave. MSFT will keep trolling the college campuses for new talent. Heck most of today’s innovation is coming from students who aren't yet jaded by corporate life. Take a look at some of the top internet entrepreneurs.

Anonymous said...

I am confused...no proof that the CEO 'lied' was given here, just a quick comment to the side. Care to go into detail or is this a Mini exclusive?

Anonymous said...

Whenever a company finds itself in tightened financial straits, it focuses on the core business, drops the extraneous stuff and cuts out management layers wherever possible.

Together, these three things show investors that the company is serious about returning to profitability. More importantly, they stop the bleeding and start the healing process.

Microsoft as a whole is doing very well, so it's tempting not to consider any drastic action to 'save' it. Why save a company posting billions in profits?

When you dig down though, you find a few very successful divisions supporting a larger number of failing divisions. Without the cash earned in Windows, Office and server, there could never have been entertainment, online or mobile divisions.

One thing very large, very successful companies do well (thinking of GE here, but it's common practice) is to make each division profitable or get rid of it.

Too many Microsoft divisions are resting on the laurels of their profitable peers. There's no need to turn a profit so there's little innovation or incentive to create things customers will love.

Look at the iPhone versus Windows Mobile. This is not Apple versus Microsoft, it's Apple's iPhone division versus Microsoft's mobile division. All the buzz is with Apple, all the news. People want an iPhone, people reportedly love using it. Does the iPhone division turn a profit? You bet, and it's a handsome profit.

Why was Microsoft so blind-sided by the iPhone? The answer is that the mobile guys didn't innovate; they rested on the laurels of others. They weren't hungry for success, coming up with strange new concepts and trying them out in prototypes. Incremental change is nice enough, but explosive changes get people's attention.

Any division that doesn't need to turn a profit won't bother. It's easier to coast, make up reasons why you missed the boat and do safe, conservative busy-work.

Making every division profitable would drive headcount *way* down, strip a lot of the time-wasting practices out and maybe even see some divisions sold off as separate companies. That last would be good for Microsoft, focusing back on core profitability.

The resulting Microsoft would be leaner and healthier, a more exciting place to work.

(By the way, I'm not a Microsoft employee, but have worked in multi-national businesses. If Windows Mobile is turning profits, apply my point to another division and it stands just as well.)

Rory said...

anonymous -

"Rory Blythe???"

No "e" - there's no "e" on the end. My branch is vastly superior to theirs. They need a superfluous "e" to get ahead.

For a guy who's trying to come off as being qualified to assess my intelligence, you could have at least spelled my name correctly.

And multiple question marks are a sign of mental retardation.

"I can't believe you gave that guy a link."

I know, huh. It's unbelievable. So unbelievable that I think we should all talk about it and get really excited.

"He is a perfect example of the failed culter of Microsoft."

Ah, yes. The old Microsoft "culter" - I don't know what "failed culter" is, but I've just learned that I'm a perfect example of it.

Add "perfect example of the failed 'culter' of Microsoft" to my list of defects.

"3 years experience writing .NET apps (he admits poorly)"

You research poorly. I worked for Microsoft for three years - before that, all I did was code. Not just in .Net, of course, but there isn't room to post my entire resume here.

"...and he is suddenly an expert on corporate direction?"

Well, I'm a genius, and you aren't, so I figure I'm at least somewhat qualified to comment.

"He has a sophomoric skillset but tells everyone he is the greatest so gets treated as such."

Actually, I started off merely thinking I was awesome. It wasn't until I wound up in the New York Times, in the European press, on French news television, on an A&E reality show, getting pussy because of my writing, etc., that people finally told me I was great.

That's when I started calling myself great. I figured all those people couldn't be wrong.

"He's not smart enough to know to remove the Toshiba craplets?"

Toshiba wasn't smart enough to sell me a machine with a decent setup.

"Anyone who has dogfooded Vista can tell you all about their craplets killing the machine."

OS X didn't come with any "craplets" (wow - quoting you gives my spellchecker a workout).

As a customer, I don't care where the "craplets" come from. It's not my job to figure it out, nor is it my job to realize that I have to remove them before the system will work (or at least kind of work).

And, yeah, my Toshiba runs sans "craplets," but Windows Update keeps reinstalling them, and since Windows Update is the closest software analogue to a Nazi, I don't feel like I have much of a choice in the matter.

Not that it's a big deal. It can only bother me as long as I'm using Vista.

"And his connection failed while installing live writer and Microsoft is a crap company."

I made it clear that Microsoft isn't a "crap" company. In fact, one of the many points of my post (that evidently slipped past your enormous mental fishnet) was that a great product - Windows Live Writer - was sullied by the crap installer. It was an argument about Microsoft's success, and how MS gets in the way of itself.

When I release the talking storybook for certain demographics, I'll let you know. Should be more at your level.

"Makes perfect sense. Everyone I have talked to loves the live installer. Works like a champ for me every time."

Everyone you've talked to is stupid.

"All he does is talk about Microsoft all this time after he left because it is all he has ever done: 3 years at MS."

Barring the previous years I spent as an independent, co-hosting .Net Rocks, and doing charity work in my spare time.

"If you read the post you will see why he left - drug addiction."

Drug addiction was just one problem. I went downhill after my grandmother died - that was more of an issue. I had also been diagnosed as bipolar three times, but ignored those diagnoses because I didn't want to believe it.

I've since been diagnosed another two times, been put on proper medication, and I'm getting back into the swing of things.

I'll never be over my grandmother's death, but I've been getting on, and you *will* begin seeing my name much more often than you have in the previous months. Enjoy the peace while you can.

"He blames MS for his drug addiction"

No I don't.

"...but anyone with experience in the recovery field knows what bs this is."

And that'd be you?

"Like a true addict it is everyone else's fault he spent all his time, money, and health getting high."

Actually, no. I take full responsibility. So much, in fact, that I paid for rehab out of pocket even though insurance would have covered it (MS provides its employees with excellent health insurance).

By the time I was through with rehab, I'd spent about $20,000 of my own on it.

I also must dispute the "all his time [and] money" bit.

One reason that people like you dislike me is that I'm an asshole who's succeeded. I'm also cocky, and I have the skills and experience to back it up.

It took very little time to do the drugs. I spent most of my time working.

On drugs.

And doing far better than you.

Which, understandably, must be a source of frustration for someone such as yourself.

"Yea, hate on MS all day Rory; it's a straight path to relapse."

That's what "anyone with experience in the recovery field" would say, but I'm taking my chances.

Do I have to write "pwnd" or is it already blindingly obvious?

Anonymous said...

@anoymous - "I highly suggest you all just quit."

Done. Freaked my manager right out. Heading to a startup. Note I'm not in Redmond, and was in the top 10% during review times. Won't stick around to see it again this year - and couldn't be happier.

Don't get me wrong - MS was a good company and took good care of me. But hearing the stories, seeing what my colleagues were going through convinced me I'd be better off in another organization.

It's a shame really - I'll miss reading the blog, but I know that being gone I will no longer care about it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Rory! Funny stuff, but your writing style is a bit on the staccato side. Slow it on down there, little fella! :)

But, regarding this statement:

"I made it clear that Microsoft isn't a "crap" company. In fact, one of the many points of my post (that evidently slipped past your enormous mental fishnet) was that a great product - Windows Live Writer - was sullied by the crap installer. It was an argument about Microsoft's success, and how MS gets in the way of itself."

You are 100% correct -- back in the day I was on one of the teams mandated to integrate with the common installer. Everyone suffering under that mandate hated it and nobody wanted to be part of it because it sucks ass so very badly and it's the wrong thing to do in every imaginable customer scenario. The common installer represents everything that's wrong with Microsoft -- "You will integrate with everything else we ship even if it makes no sense and even if it's the wrong thing for your customers, because suite integration is much more important than being functional or useful or relevant."

Oh, the common installer. Thanks, Windows Live, for absolutely destroying the first-run experience of my product. It's absolute, unmitigated garbage and one of the reasons I fled for greener pastures. :)

Anonymous said...

Yowza! Bit of a knife-fight in the comments on this one!

I think requiring every division to hit a profitability metric and bonusing that division's leadership on achieving it would be a sea-change in softie culture and behaviour.

But, it's also correct that the board will never make this happen until either a) the makeup of board membership changes substantially or b) a market event or trend disrupts the revenue streams of Windows and Office badly enough to force change. Things are simply too good.

So what are the odds of either happening in the forseeable future?

Too much cash is coming in making too many board members rich for them to want to change much of anything. And SPSA seems to me designed to ensure that Microsoft management is rewarded for maintaining the status quo, and for virtually nothing else.

I see no compelling event to cause any major change in behaviour.

Anonymous said...

Someone said:

"People want an iPhone, people reportedly love using it."

I certainly love using mine. Best phone I've ever had. Bar none. My wife loves hers, too.

Apple has been adding features via firmware updates, and with the addition of a software development kit for third-party developers, the iPhone will just get better and better.

Every two months, I'm on-call for a week. Our on-call phone that we share amongst the group is a top-of-the-line BlackBerry. It's a turd.

Anonymous said...

"Economies of scale on the search/advertising market do translate to significant revenue."

Maybe I'm getting confused by your terminology. Economies of scale refer to cost structure directly (not revenue) and assume you can successfully capture those economies (which isn't a given). And in this case, GOOG will remain the largest entity regardless and therefore theoretically should have even lower unit costs. So, should a MSFT/YHOO entity start to translate lower costs (assuming they get them) into higher revenue, there's good reason to expect that GOOG would lower their costs to counter that. Bottom line, cost economies alone don't seem sufficient to justify this proposed deal.

jon said...

Yowza, indeed.

More mundanely, I put a reasonably-detailed press roundup up on Liminal States, including coverage on the huge EU fine, Microsoft potentially lowering their bid, privacy concerns, and of course culture. Enjoy!

jon

PS: for those of you considering new jobs, at Microsoft or elsewhere, a bunch of people told me that this thread from back in December was useful.

Anonymous said...

Short and sweet: The Yahoo offer boils down to a tremendous transfer of wealth from Microsoft shareholders to Yahoo shareholders. Period. Why would anyone holding MSFT be happy with that?

Anonymous said...

The Yahoo acquisition is a massive distraction to management - they need to re-focus on delivering products that customers love. Having just encountered the horrendously bad and ineffective Windows Easy Transfer (okay, useless - it died 4 times and does not transfer apps)- can't they spend some time thinking about the customer? The beta Windows Easy Transfer Companion worked no better - it crashed every time during network transfers. And let's not get started on all those who were unable to upgrade fairly new systems to run Vista. The company has failed to obtain traction in search and online search advertising - failures point to management problems.

Now, more billion $ fines from the EU. Management cannot run the existing firm successfully anymore - why should anyone believe they could swallow Yahoo? In which year after 2000, has the share price hit the $27 to $28 range. Answer: All of them, plus 1998.

Anonymous said...

I think requiring every division to hit a profitability metric and bonusing that division's leadership on achieving it would be a sea-change in softie culture and behaviour.

But, it's also correct that the board will never make this happen until either a) the makeup of board membership changes substantially or b) a market event or trend disrupts the revenue streams of Windows and Office badly enough to force change. Things are simply too good.


I'm the original (non-Microsoft) poster again, and a big reason for change is that things aren't good everywhere - the success of a few big divisions is hiding the rampant failures across other divisions.

Things could be a lot better.

How much money is wasted on losing ventures, year after year? Could that money be better spent? How much is spent on a quest to buy marketshare in an industry only peripherally related to the core business of Microsoft - OS (home or server) and Office?

Alyosha` said...

> Why was Microsoft so blind-sided by the iPhone? The answer is that the mobile guys didn't innovate; they rested on the laurels of others. They weren't hungry for success, coming up with strange new concepts and trying them out in prototypes. Incremental change is nice enough, but explosive changes get people's attention.

I work in mobile. I'd have to take issue with this telling of history.

I don't see it as WM "losing" to iPhone. I think they are competing in separate events, to borrow an Olympic metaphor. Microsoft has never endeavored to make a cool consumer phone. Never. Apple is the uncontested king in that area. WM6 was all about competing with RIM in the mobile information worker space. You may remember the codename for WM6, Crossbow, as being named after a brand of herbicide particularly effective against blackberry bushes. The MIW market is just as lucrative as the consumer phone market, even if it is far more "niche" and far less sexy. And to be honest we've done pretty well in that narrowly defined market.

The issue isn't that we haven't "innovated", that we got fat and lazy and uncompetitive.
Microsoft and Apple simply have been attacking different problems and 'innovating' in different directions.

(As an aside, I hate that word, 'innovative'. I think it's very rare to come over a totally novel idea; instead it's the packaging and execution of an existing idea that matters in the marketplace. The iPhone contains very few truly novel concepts, but it is a very packaging of good ideas, esp. for a v1 product).

Apple's got some well-earned good press with the iPhone, and I'm not saying that buzz isn't important, that momentum isn't important, but at the end of the day, what really matters is return on investment, and the consumer phone market is an awfully tough place to make money in.

Anonymous said...

Apple's got some well-earned good press with the iPhone, and I'm not saying that buzz isn't important, that momentum isn't important, but at the end of the day, what really matters is return on investment, and the consumer phone market is an awfully tough place to make money in.

At the end of the day, if the crazy buzz that Apple has received from the iPhone drives millions of new customers into the Apple ecosystem because everything they do is so cool OMG, then that's a strategic play that we've never been able to master.

Everything Apple does reinforces that they are a company of cool, and invites you to try all of their other equally cool products... Apple is great at building a customer base that will buy Apple when given the chance.

We absolutely suck at bringing people into our prodcut universe -- you just don't meet people that can't wait to get the latest Microsoft consumer product because "everything we do is so cool".

jon said...

Anonymous at 10:32AM

"Economies of scale on the search/advertising market do translate to significant revenue."

Maybe I'm getting confused by your terminology. Economies of scale refer to cost structure directly (not revenue) and assume you can successfully capture those economies (which isn't a given).


Good point: it might well be a terminology problem. I'm specifically talking about the demand-side economies of scale, and I'm not sure how well-known or standard this is. Wikipedia's Network Effects page talks about the role of demand-side economies of scale and network effects, at least a little bit:

Network effects are commonly mistaken for economies of scale, which result from business size rather than interoperability (see also natural monopoly). To help clarify the distinction, people speak of demand side vs. supply side economies of scale. Classical economies of scale are on the production side, while network effects arise on the demand side. Network effects are also mistaken for economies of scope.

For search advertising I'm specifically talking about the virtuous cycle between search keyword inventory. More generally, it's the virtuous cycle between the number of advertisers and the number of publishers/amount of inventory -- so Yahoo!'s portal, Mail, Messenger, and social computing inventory as well as their advertiser base helps here. Google has been successfully exploiting these very classic network effects for several years, most clearly for search in its OEM deals like the Dell Toolbar and for bloggers with AdSense.

There are some good papers, presentations, and videos floating around Microsoft that make this clear -- Eric Picard's talk at the Ad Astra immersion workshop is a couple of years old, and so there's presumably newer stuff out there, but it's a fine overview.

jon

Anonymous said...

>I work in mobile. I'd have to take issue with this telling of history.<

you forgot about business model innovation. Each iPhone makes Apple hundreds of dollars per sale. WM makes what $5? $10?

anyway, information workers are flocking to iPhone just like everybody else. The apps will come soon that will make it easier for them to do so.

Anonymous said...


I'm the original (non-Microsoft) poster again, and a big reason for change is that things aren't good everywhere - the success of a few big divisions is hiding the rampant failures across other divisions.

Things could be a lot better.

How much money is wasted on losing ventures, year after year? Could that money be better spent? How much is spent on a quest to buy marketshare in an industry only peripherally related to the core business of Microsoft - OS (home or server) and Office?


Yowza here...

We're violently agreeing :) No question that the two highly profitable cash machines are being used to prop up the rest and no question at all that Microsoft's financial performance could be much, much better in so many ways.

The root problem remains that folks who hold the voting shares that matter are happy and SPSA ensures company management stays on the status quo course.

That's why a cultural change is required, and I can only imagine some radical disruption to the Windows and Office revenue streams being a powerful enough trigger to make that happen.

Most big companies would be reeling from a $1.5 billion fine a la the EU action, but MS will just shrug it off.

Perhaps that fact holds a lesson in itself?

Anonymous said...

Slightly O/T, but this is what happens when your mgmt is distracted with "keeping up with the Googles", Yahoo, ads, and being all things to all people... Ouch.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/352993_msftvista28.html?source=mypi

Anonymous said...

For the Windows Mobile guy. Dude, forget about innovating. I'd be happy if I had a version of Windows Mobile that didn't require me to reboot the phone every single day, or it no longer picks up a signal. And then about every two months I have to totally blow it away -- the handy-dandy "clear storage" option -- because it just doesn't work anymore. If I don't, it becomes a paperweight, completely useless.

I'd work on little things like that and worry about "innovating" later.

jon said...

One thing that I think would really help is more transparency about massive internal subsidies between divisions. What is the true cost to MSN of being a captive audience to the Windows Live platform -- and of having to monetize their ads via the Microsoft platform, when other options would be more lucrative [although less advantageous to Microsoft as a whole]?

What is the true value of the developer tools group to Windows -- and how could the (potential) value of something like Popfly to Windows Live be recognized?

In a situation like the EU fine, how much should internally be attributed to the group that originally infringed -- and how to account for whatever organizations drove the ill-fated "ignore the sanctions" strategy that tacked another $1.5B (or more) onto the fines? And conversely, how much should be credited to the team that turned things around and actually did get the documentation done, at huge cost to their other priorities (and personal lives)?

And so on ...

jon

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy if I had a version of Windows Mobile that didn't require me to reboot the phone every single day, or it no longer picks up a signal.

WM makes what $5? $10?

In case you guys forgot, Microsoft doesn't make phones. It makes an OS for other people's phones.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has never endeavored to make a cool consumer phone. ... The issue isn't that we haven't "innovated", that we got fat and lazy and uncompetitive.
Microsoft and Apple simply have been attacking different problems and 'innovating' in different directions.


I wish the whole mobile division would be fired and start over. People like you are exactly what's wrong with Microsoft.

Windows Mobile's problem is that it hasn't ever built a mobile product that delights customers. It's not about consumer vs. enterprise or "innovating". The iPhone isn't innovative. It just takes the three things people want to do with their phone and makes those so simple a toddler can figure it out. Everyone's blind to its numerous flaws because it's dazzling in design and usability.

Every person I know in Microsoft mobile is completely clueless about this. They go around complaining that Apple's getting all the press for features Windows mobile had years ago. It's not about the feature set! It's not about the market segment! It's not about "innovation". It's about products that are simple and a joy to use (and yes, pretty) vs. products that are not.

The problem is that Microsoft employees tolerate dialogs with hexadecimal error codes; installers that require you to munge the registry and reboot six times; and applications that have video acceleration on by default and render garbage on two-year-old hardware. Guess what: Everyone else in the world thinks that SUCKS!!!

If you all would pay as much attention to the overall user experience as you do to mundane programming details, Microsoft products would be far more excellent than any competitors'. You'll hold up RTM to fix an obscure crashing bug, but you won't fix the first-impression OOBE or the UX bug that every single user will see.

You know you've failed when people would rather use Linux (Linux!!) than Windows. My God, how frustrating must your products become before you finally WAKE UP?!?

Anonymous said...

alyosha said:

I don't see it as WM "losing" to iPhone. I think they are competing in separate events, to borrow an Olympic metaphor. Microsoft has never endeavored to make a cool consumer phone. Never. Apple is the uncontested king in that area. WM6 was all about competing with RIM in the mobile information worker space. You may remember the codename for WM6, Crossbow, as being named after a brand of herbicide particularly effective against blackberry bushes. The MIW market is just as lucrative as the consumer phone market, even if it is far more "niche" and far less sexy. And to be honest we've done pretty well in that narrowly defined market.

Come March 6th, I think MS better be prepared to get destroyed by Apple in the "MIW" space, too.

Combine an iPhone with a third-party SDK and "enterprise" features (read Exchange support), and I think you'll see executives everywhere sporting iPhones.

Anonymous said...

Comment from the outside:

I've been using Microsoft products for (holy shnikies!) 24 years. I was one of those people who saw the first-run print ads that Bill Gates purchased decrying pirating of their first BASIC interpreter when I was a kid in high school. I was an early fan of the company and its success.

I know there are plenty of people both inside and outside of the company who would like Microsoft to focus exclusively on their "core business". If they had done so in the late 1970's to the exclusion of everything else, there would have been no MSDOS, Windows, MS Office Suite, or X Box. The Microsoft I was first introduced to circa 1977 was a compiler company. It wasn't until IBM came knocking that they considered entering the OS business.

So opportunities arise and companies change, sometimes for the better. There certainly needs to be renewed focus on delivering a better product in a more timely fashion. Vista took too long and was missing too many features (from my perspective) from a company that has the staff and resources of Microsoft. The shameful truth is, Microsoft of 2008 has become the IBM of 1980. The question is: Will Microsoft suffer the same fate as IBM in the late 80's and 90's?

Judging from what I read in this blog, and several other blogs where Microsoft insider's have their say, the answer is quite possibly.

There is a documentary about how the IBM of the 1980-90's crashed and burned. I don't know the title, but it is illuminating. The people who are being interviewed were all executive management in IBM at the time when the company was being trounced by Microsoft. They were, without exception, completely blindsided by Microsoft's success (and the success of the microcomputer revolution). I believe it would be instructive for anyone who is a senior Microsoft employee to watch, just to see if your impressions of your senior management are comparable.

As I said, I have been a Microsoft fan for many years. The company has grown beyond its ability to control itself. The comments I read here reflect my impressions. I would like to believe that Microsoft can again reduce its bureaucracy and lethargy and make itself competitive again. But, as one commenter has noted, with OS and Suite revenues posting billions in profits, where is the incentive to change?

But that is what IBM executive management thought....

Anonymous said...

For every one of you that leave, there are two more who would jump at the opportunity to work for Microsoft. So quit complaining and just leave. MSFT will keep trolling the college campuses for new talent. Heck most of today’s innovation is coming from students who aren't yet jaded by corporate life. Take a look at some of the top internet entrepreneurs.

This is just a classic Msft view of the world.

So we should just let everyone go who has years of experience and is unhappy with the Jawad situation, our overly aggressive/arrogant acquisition approach to Yahoo and the fact that shareholder value has increased a whopping 0% over the last 7 years (Feb '01 - Feb '08)? I love it!! So root cause will be addressed by hiring a bunch of overly eager college kids to replace these individuals? God, I hope you're not a VP...

If that attitude is truly reflective of the people who run this company then thank you for justifying why so many people hate us. If we continue on our current path then people might be in for a big shock in the next 90 days.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if I derailed the thread by using Windows Mobile as an example. I could've used the online division just as well (probably better).

There is a real disconnect between the people I talk to about Windows Mobile (users, people on forums like this) and the comments by Microsoft devs (like the person from that division who posted earlier).

The customers seem less happy with the products, allowing competitors to sweep them up with something shiny and new. The iPhone isn't all innovation, but it's not old stuff either. The interface is king in any consumer device, and the iPhone's got interface niceness in spades. The technology is good too (not great, but pretty good) but the interface makes it amazingly usable.

This is what I meant earlier - where were the new concepts being tried out, the dramatically new devices based on Windows Mobile? Why couldn't Microsoft see that the Surface concept would be ideal for a small consumer device? Surely someone must have made a connection - what happened? All I see are the same sorts of phones year in, year out. Nothing shiny and new, nothing to grab attention, nothing that's actually fun to use. Just another phone, more of the same.

Maybe the customers I talk to aren't representative. That could well be the case, but I very rarely hear a positive comment.

Lastly, if the market is too hard to make money in, and the products aren't stellar enough after a decade of trying then Microsoft should sell the division off. Divest and refocus! The energy that goes into poorly-performing divisions would be more profitably spent elsewhere. Sorry Windows Mobile person, but if you can't maintain double-digit growth (showing my GE history there) and solid profits, then your division should face the chop.

Anonymous said...

I don't see it as WM "losing" to iPhone. I think they are competing in separate events, to borrow an Olympic metaphor. Microsoft has never endeavored to make a cool consumer phone. Never.

Holy crap, doesn't that seem like a problem to anybody else?

It's the XBox vs. Wii all over again. "Oh, yeah, we're not interested in making products that the general public loves and buys en masse. We don't want to make money hand over fist. That's not the 'niche' we're going after."

I wish you guys would go pursue your strategies of commercial unsuccess somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

>I work in mobile. I'd have to take issue with this telling of history.<

I believe that the existence of an enterprise mobile market that is decoupled from the consumer mobile market is a big myth. There are plenty of overlapping needs. Segmenting the market in such a way makes sense for a small startup. However, it seemed misguided for a company of our size, ability and positioning.

For many reasons including those discussed previously, that was the strategy that was chosen.

Without going into the 20-20 hindsight vision thing, let's just say that it's great that the iphone has showed existential proof to the contrary about why our biz model doesn't really work.

Perhaps we can learn from it, and get back to our core competency - copy the features as fast as possible and build a better phone...

Anonymous said...

Mini, Maybe this deserves a blog of its own. Check out:
http://www.news.com/8301-13579_3-9882376-37.html?tag=newsmap

In early 2006, Intel's Renee James, vice president and general manager of Intel's software and solutions group, was able to prevail on Microsoft's Will Poole to change the proposed requirements for Microsoft's proposed "Vista Ready" marketing program to include an older integrated graphics chipset that couldn't run Vista's Aero interface. At the time, Intel was worried that it wouldn't be able to ship the more advanced 945 chispet, which was capable of running Aero, in step with Microsoft's proposed schedule for the introduction of the marketing upgrade plan.

...

In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded.


--------------------------------

Quite a damning article.... I didn't know we were responsible to Intel shareholders as well.

There are just so many things wrong about this, I don't know which to react to first. It appears that Will Poole let this happen. If this is indeed his doing, I'm very surprised he's still some kind of a honcho at MS after screwing over the customers in this manner.

Maybe I shouldn't be. This is just another classic example of accountability (lack of) for managers as Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

"This is what I meant earlier - where were the new concepts being tried out, the dramatically new devices based on Windows Mobile?"

That's my question as well. The stat I found shocking was that >20% of smartphones in NA get returned. If you were running the Mobile business with a minuscule share overall and you see that metric, doesn't the light bulb go on and you say "hmm, I wonder if I made that UI easier to navigate whether I could grab a ton of share?". Instead, a brand new player to the market does it before you can and on their first attempt. Somehow I get the feeling that AAPL saw that stat and saw opportunity, whereas MSFT saw it and just accepted it as immutable. That's the difference between focusing on customer experiences vs competitors.

Anonymous said...

RE: Vista capable suit. Please see Todd Bishop's excellent coverage and please take a moment to peruse the disturbing internal email threads between execs (particularly alarming is Ballmer's two word response of "Righto thanks" to Sinofsky's assesment of the some of the driver issues).

This ain't looking good.

Anonymous said...

This is what I meant earlier - where were the new concepts being tried out, the dramatically new devices based on Windows Mobile?

No, please, don't give them the idea that they need to "innovate" and waste their time trying wacky stuff to compete with Apple.

What Windows Mobile really needs is to simply CATCH UP right now. Every phone company out there has figured out how to make their software reliable, visually appealing, and easy to use. It's not like WM has to sail into uncharted intellectual territory to make their software look and work better than a Windows 3.1 PC from 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

particularly alarming is Ballmer's two word response of "Righto thanks"

That's not alarming. That's typical Ballmer who likely doesn't even read many of his own mail. I had a colleague who after completely hating the subject matter (as well he should) at MGX fired off a drunk email to Ballmer chastising him for all the company ills. He was right on, but being inebriated, certainly didn't hold back. And he got back something like "Thanks for the note, keep up the good work". Ballmer's a joke. Doesn't care about employees, the company or the shareholders.

Anonymous said...

Mini,

I have been reading your blog for over a year now. It is informative because I have seen my current company sliding down into some of these less than good practices MS does.
My question is more for you. Why do you cloak your self in anonymity with the "MiniMicrosoft" tag? Why would you work for a company where speaking your mind would get you fired? What does that say about the integrity of your company in general? You, in my opinion, are more of a MS fan than an opponent. Your comments are very constructive on how to help the company, not bashing it.
So, why not stand up and use your true identity? If they fired you, wouldn't that send a VERY clear sign what integrity means to them? What values does MS represent then?

Anonymous said...

The "new" EU fine around our failure to comply with earlier rulngs and the class action suit around Vista, and that actually shocking email thread (geez I can't believe I read the whole thing) point at a continuing culture of arrogance coupled with a lack of accountability.

Culture comes from the top down. So does accountability.

Maybe this is one of those "Iceberg, right ahead!" moments that will disrupt the Windows revenue stream enough to trigger change...but I think not.

Again, too much money is being made by senior management off the back of SPSA and the board is controlled by people whose interest is maintaining the status quo.

Anonymous said...

So, why not stand up and use your true identity? If they fired you, wouldn't that send a VERY clear sign what integrity means to them? What values does MS represent then?

You're forgeting about a few things:

1. There are no irreplaceable people.
2. Mini is a corporate animal.
3. For any "killed" senior animal we can always hire a couple grads that will innovate in the first year while we're taming them.

Do you know how people become heros on wars? Becoming a hero on war equals to responding to a failed leadership. That requires a lot of self sacrifice and the road to that usually gets you killed. I don't feel Mini is ready to sacrifice a well being of his family to some failed leadership in a company in which he (perhaps) is not in the list of major shareholders. :)

Anonymous said...

I know there are plenty of people both inside and outside of the company who would like Microsoft to focus exclusively on their "core business". If they had done so in the late 1970's to the exclusion of everything else, there would have been no MSDOS, Windows, MS Office Suite, or X Box. The Microsoft I was first introduced to circa 1977 was a compiler company. It wasn't until IBM came knocking that they considered entering the OS business.

I'm a long time employee. For the most part, I agree with you, but there comes a time when you have to pull the plug and Ballmer doesn't know when that is. If Ballmer had been in charge during the 80's through the present we'd still be trying to sell Xenix.

Anonymous said...

"If they fired you, wouldn't that send a VERY clear sign what integrity means to them?"

I think we have already established that, so why bother risking his job.

On a more serious note, I believe almost any company would fire such an employee to protect itself.

Anonymous said...

My question is more for you. Why do you cloak your self in anonymity with the "MiniMicrosoft" tag? Why would you work for a company where speaking your mind would get you fired? What does that say about the integrity of your company in general? You, in my opinion, are more of a MS fan than an opponent. Your comments are very constructive on how to help the company, not bashing it.
So, why not stand up and use your true identity? If they fired you, wouldn't that send a VERY clear sign what integrity means to them? What values does MS represent then?


Criminally naive comment FTL.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Will Poole fired by now? I guess its too late now that the details are out... What a shame.

Anonymous said...

If you all would pay as much attention to the overall user experience as you do to mundane programming details, Microsoft products would be far more excellent than any competitors'. You'll hold up RTM to fix an obscure crashing bug, but you won't fix the first-impression OOBE or the UX bug that every single user will see.

Problem is, it's not like our products are great technically but just weak in UX. We need to be great in both.

You rightly point out that some folks would rather use Linux than Vista. That's not because Ubuntu has such great breakthough innovative UX, but because it is technically solid (and simple, compared to Windows).

I'm a little afraid of having even more unbalanced focus on the "UX" side of things: This tends to mean more PM influence, more features, and more willingness to slice and dice said features based on different user segments, "80% use cases", etc. This thinking has led to very complicated UX, designed by too many PM's, each of which want their little feature to be "killer", even when it's just a contol panel.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the vista logo. Man, if they had written these email then the best thing was to ask the court to make it a class and then settle with it.

Man, why Brad Smith is so incompetent to not know to not fight a losing battle. You get defeated anyway but get permanent scars on the way.

Does he only care to create some additional work for him and his team?

Brad should be fired fighting the lawsuits which we should not and not fighting those which we should have.

His actions take away the pride from doing a job from Microsoft. I recall all those Microsoft's job which I heard before joining this company. In a letter to mom, "Mom I became a druggist, a criminal... don't worry mom, I was just setting the stage to tell you that I joined Microsoft".

That's the pride, these email have taken away.

Anonymous said...

Why do you cloak your self in anonymity with the "MiniMicrosoft" tag? Why would you work for a company where speaking your mind would get you fired? What does that say about the integrity of your company in general?

I hate to tell you, but while I would be among the first to say that Microsoft's culture and bureaucracy are particularly dysfunctional, when it comes to a pattern of public upbraiding by someone internal, they aren't different from most companies in their reaction. Plus it's not like Mini is whistle-blowing on some coverup where lives were lost or something. Do you really think there'd be enough public reaction to a firing of someone taking the stance Mini has for Microsoft to worry about it?

Plus, see below...

So, why not stand up and use your true identity? If they fired you, wouldn't that send a VERY clear sign what integrity means to them? What values does MS represent then?

You act like firing Mini is the only recourse Microsoft would have. They could just decide to blunt his career momentum entirely, make sure he never receives another promotion, "Kim" the hell out of him and wait for him to inevitably leave on his own. Even if such behavior "proves" that Microsoft is vindictive, how many fewer copies of Windows do you think would be sold as a result?

Anonymous said...

The "new" EU fine around our failure to comply with earlier rulngs and the class action suit around Vista, and that actually shocking email thread (geez I can't believe I read the whole thing) point at a continuing culture of arrogance coupled with a lack of accountability.

Culture comes from the top down. So does accountability.


Like after the U.S. D.O.J. antitrust suit was settled and all of the employees had to attend "compliance" training; as if we peons were the jackasses responsible that mess. [eyes rolling]

Anonymous said...

Microsoft and Apple simply have been attacking different problems and 'innovating' in different directions.

Microsoft manufactures components, Apple designs experiences. Microsoft markets technology, Apple markets emotion.

Which one has the better retail plan here?

Anonymous said...

You are clueless if you believe EU fine on Microsoft is about Microsoft.

Its about EU vs. the US. The EU was created to come up with an answer to the Dollar (strength through solidarity). Read up before you speak up.

Moreover, EU cannot match the US in terms of manufacturing (though if you are curious, look at the funding EU countries are doing w/ China and Africa) or natural resources, but technology is one of the areas where they can totally mess with the US.

When governments get involved, it is not a good sign.

former winbuilder said...

"Maybe this is one of those "Iceberg, right ahead!" moments that will disrupt the Windows revenue stream enough to trigger change...but I think not."


I agree. IMO, it will take an "Iceberg, dead astern!" moment to trigger change. MS is reactive, not proactive, and until enough damage is done to one of the flagship products, I don't expect to see change. Change will come when real CRISIS management is required. Seems like that is the long term plan anyway (short term crisis management).

Anonymous said...

I don't get the "Vista capable" lawsuit.

Those machines run vista just fine, you just won't get the transparent windows.

And the logo definition states clearly that that isn't a requirement.

So you bought something that was supposed to run Vista but not necessarily allow fancy graphics, you don't get fancy graphics - and you sue?!

Also note that if Intel spent the time to write WDDM drivers for the 915 and 945, we wouldn't have that problem.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft manufactures components, Apple designs experiences. Microsoft markets technology, Apple markets emotion.

Which one has the better retail plan here?"

Oh, boy. Your name isn't Strawman, is it? It is MS that uses Your Potential, Our passion ® right? This is the awesome thing about being an Apple user watching non-Apple users comment on the subject. They simply can't believe that they're way is THAT much different. I mean, certainly it can't be worse... right? Apple has everyone fooled, right? They sell snake oil, it can't be that good.

Apple's products are great. They are not perfect, they're great. MS products, I mean, their components-- are mediocre. Not perfect, mediocre.

Apple doesn't sell emotion. People have emotion toward Apple products because they're great. People also have feelings toward mediocre. It's just, well... meh.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft manufactures components, Apple designs experiences. Microsoft markets technology, Apple markets emotion.

Brilliant! Spot-on.

You know, there have been so many pithy tidbits of wisdom on Mini, it's too bad they can't be collected into a little book which can be sent to all the MS execs and board members.

The collective wisdom that's come across this blog is truly stunning.

Anonymous said...

Quite a damning article.... I didn't know we were responsible to Intel shareholders as well.

At least we feel a responsibility to some company's shareholders since we obviously give a %$@&# about our own.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the "Vista capable" lawsuit.

I'm not condoning U.S.-style "sue whenever our feelings are hurt" lawsuit nonsense, but maybe the people suing about this aren't techno-dweeby enough to think that an OS' window and chrome rendering is somehow distinct from the underlying OS.

MS person: "well, duh, the computer runs Vista. It's just that the drivers aren't WDDM-compliant and it's using an integrated graphics chipset that shares system RAM, and for all these reasons plus other stuff only us wizards understand, the UI reverts to Classic mode."

Normal human: "Why does my new computer look way uglier than what I see in ads and Joe's more expensive PC? This thing has a Vista sticker on it!"

Anonymous said...

"I don't get the "Vista capable" lawsuit."

Oops! Starting too look like MSFT fanboys stooping to the same level as Apple fanboys. "our fav company never does anything wrong".

Maybe it's obvious to a geek that a "Vista capable" sticker somwhere implies that you wouldn't get the full "Vista experience", but not for your everyday user.

"And the logo definition states clearly that that isn't a requirement."

You mean this?

You're right. It actually says:
"...like the new Windows Aero user experience may require advanced or additional hardware."

Can it get any clearer? Of course the customer should waste a couple of hours/days to research what *may* actually means. That's the least you would expect from the d**kheads buying your stuff.

"So you bought something that was supposed to run Vista but not necessarily allow fancy graphics, you don't get fancy graphics - and you sue?!"

Of course "Vista capable" doesn't say anything about that aero should work. It doesn't say that the sound should work either or the mouse or the keyboard for that matter, but hey, i'm just one of those stupid f**k's that take those things for granted. I'm acually happy anything works at all. That's the meaning of the "Wow" experience i suppose?

"Also note that if Intel spent the time to write WDDM drivers for the 915 and 945, we wouldn't have that problem."

Nvidia still has problem with their drivers too, running Vista x64 home premium, but ofcourse MSFT (or nVidia for that matter) never claimed "all drivers should work dandy" either, so i guess i'm just f**ked.

Anonymous said...

So you bought something that was supposed to run Vista but not necessarily allow fancy graphics, you don't get fancy graphics - and you sue?!

Also note that if Intel spent the time to write WDDM drivers for the 915 and 945, we wouldn't have that problem.



The issue is "Vista Capable" should have been "Vista Basic Capable". Saying "Vista Capable" allowed Intel to "cheat" consumers by selling them chipsets with inferior graphics capability, messaging them as capable of running Vista without making it absolutely clear it can't do aero - one of the key experiences people will spend $ for a new system.

Do you really think Mike Ybarra, Jimall, Walmart, HP et. al. were just kiddin around when they expressed concern & disappointment over the program messaging and lowered standards?

Ever stop to think that Intel does not have the WDDM driver for 915 possibly because the chipset (hardware) limitations? Writing a driver is the easy part once the hardware is capable.

You sound pretty ignorant about drivers & technology in general. And you have zero perception about consumer needs and wants. Are you a PM on the windows logo team?

On the bright side, we now know who are those few good people in the company who tried to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

On the bright side, we now know who are those few good people in the company who tried to do the right thing.

Yeah, like JimAll. Oh, wait...

Anonymous said...

same old issues year after year.

More EU fine.
More stupid lawsuits.
Too many managers and employees.
People waiting for GC.
Working outside MS is better.

Anonymous said...

all these new low calibre acquisitions by MS makes the Google-Youtube deal seems real cheap. why not just buy Youtube back then??

Anonymous said...

I am the clueless windows PM who commented that intel just needs to release a driver.

Maybe I really don't understand enough about drivers. Yes, Glass worked with the 915 XP driver on the vista betas, and yes, transparent windows and 3d desktops work nicely on the 915 on linux, but maybe there's really some hardware limitation that prevents running this functionality in one software driver vs another? (*cough*)

All I am saying is that intel themselves have said that all they need to do is publish a WDDM driver: here.

915 based solutions are fully capable of handling transparent windows. That a third party hasn't released a driver yet is IMHO not a good reason to sue MSFT.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Windows Vista logo lawsuit is stupid, it's just that MS is more so. And the thing about us, is that we won't learn until someone slaps us around, and even then, it's a bit of a crap shoot.

I can't believe we traded HP for Intel. That's what we did. He screwed HP (and others) to make Intel happy. So now, when Win7 hits, how willing is HP (and others) going to be to support whatever it is we're going to recommend that they have? Yes, Intel is important, I get that, but it's not important to the exclusion of everyone else. And that doesn't even take into account the consumer. Poor little consumer who is expected to know the difference between "capable" and "designed for". THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE US.

Like Vista wasn't enough of a boondoggle now we have SP1 problems and this lawsuit.

I don't want to tell people that I work for this company.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little afraid of having even more unbalanced focus on the "UX" side of things: This tends to mean more PM influence, more features, and more willingness to slice and dice said features based on different user segments, "80% use cases", etc.

+1
It's unfortunate that there are so many egregious user interface flaws with WM and nobody on that team seems to even realize it. For example, the most-recently-used programs list. It obviates any benefit of muscle memory and it requires the user's full attention to visually process the list. Typical Microsoft mistake: hire a bunch of PMs out of college, tell them they're rock stars at designing stuff despite little-to-no formal training, give them authority over the UI for multi-million dollar projects, and this sort of thing is the result.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting to read the several email threads here
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/library/vistaone3046.pdf

If you go through these threads you notice two things
1. How clueless the top management is abouth the things going on. Jim alchin not being kept in the loop, Steve not knowing about the drivers etc
2. Look at the grammatical mistakes and use of words. Steve saying Righto? Wow

Anonymous said...

but maybe the people suing about this aren't techno-dweeby enough to think that an OS' window and chrome rendering is somehow distinct from the underlying OS.

The supposed benefits of Vista are so obscure and poorly communicated that 9/10 people will tell you that Vista is better than XP because it looks better and has cool transparent windows.

If you think Vista = transparent windows (and who can blame you?) and you bought a Vista computer and you CAN'T get transparent windows, then I think you have a right to be pissed.

Anonymous said...

Nice post on the Will Poole debacle
http://msftextrememakeover.blogspot.com/

Speaking of VPs wonder what is up with Jawad Khaki now. He no longer has any direct reports. Does he really deserve the SSPA?

Anonymous said...

...but maybe the people suing about this aren't techno-dweeby enough to think that an OS' window and chrome rendering is somehow distinct from the underlying OS.

Yeah, like Internet Explorer... oh, wait...

Anonymous said...

Maybe I really don't understand enough about drivers. Yes, Glass worked with the 915 XP driver on the vista betas, and yes, transparent windows and 3d desktops work nicely on the 915 on linux

Here's another data point, almost everything in OS X is 3-D accelerated, transparent, and animated, and this has been going on since ~2001 and DirectX ~7 class hardware.

Glass does something or another with DirectX 9 and pixel shaders. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if this is done to drive hardware sales instead of for any aesthetic reason. I still think OS X looks way better and find the animations much more impressive.

Anonymous said...

My question is more for you. Why do you cloak your self in anonymity with the "MiniMicrosoft" tag? Why would you work for a company where speaking your mind would get you fired? What does that say about the integrity of your company in general?

TROLL WARNING

Okay, maybe they're not a troll. If not, they're so naive that I've got a large chunk of central Florida ... uhhh ... "land" to sell them.

Friend, your favorite companies - small or massive - all suffer from "Tell the truth, alienate people above you." Once in power, very very few people can tolerate the truth when it opposes their beliefs. That's why there are so very few truly great executives in the world.

Anonymous said...

This comment is from someone who worked halfway across the planet
as a developer in a 'non-technical' environment.
I am an international college hire at MS, working halfway across the planet initially. Straight after college, for over a year I worked as an analyst/developer at an international office of a top-tier Investment bank (had I stuck on I'd have been relocated to their headquarters in NY City). I was recruited by MS in 2006, but kept working for over a year at my last company waiting for the H1B visa. I had read this blog quite a bit and was apprehensive about joining MS. The recruiter somehow managed to convince me how great a developer an SDET is and I was stupid enough not to do my homework- and ended up joining MS.
Of course, I had a great curiosity ( and interest) in seeing what MS Headquarters is like, since it influences all our lives and the PC so much. Despite all my apprehensions I decided to join.
An SDET is hardly the 'specially talented devloper'. But a little longer in the job and the Dev side in the company doesn't look too enticing either. MS no doubt did a GR8 job of making the PC accessible to the user - making software with great interfaces,
a great operating system, uniformity - which makes the PC much simpler to use.
The challenge which seems to have been entirely Forgotten - is to come up with some new products - Which Actually make to computer do complex, intelligent things. A lot of algorithmic & technical know how is of course required for this-
but I'm sure people at MS could be
pretty much the best fits for the purpose.
But there hardly seems to be much focus on that here at least from what I've figured from interacting with ppl from various groups.
I shifted here, hoping to find more technical stuff. I know I'm probably to immature to comment
on 'what's good for business', but how much time and effort is spent in simply rewriting & redesigning User Interface features. How long would this go on? The investment bank I was working with - and from what I've heard the same holds true for most financials - had contracts with companies for Real Time computing (TIBCO), and were using a whole lot of opensource technologies for developing compute intensive analytics. TIBCO is a good example of how just a very small group of people came up with a brilliant technical idea ( real time computing for financial trading floors). Tangosol is another small company. How many small comianies like this could come up - with new Ideas like this and make the computer do somethin useful. Do we really need three people (PM/Dev/Test) working on each small feature like a meaningless UI Change? I know of startups back at home trying some really complex products with imaging technology etc ( no clue whether they will suceed or not).I've used Java/Eclipse/Linux.
I'm no opensource maniac, I still feel that MS has made the PC so simple to use.But in my last job - in the development environment - MS just seemed redundant to the developers.
Its just that I feel that WAY too much time and energy ( which == money ) is being spent on rewriting UI Buttons and maybe the focus should be somewhere else.
There *ARE* people in the world who are smart enough not to need
a UI button with a beautiful icon
to get some useful work done with the computer.This is just a personal viewpoint.
It's been just 2 years since I've been working and maybe I don't really know whats good for business.
But I do agree with Mini's agenda that - it does not necessarily take a ton of people to come up with a new technical idea.
What I just feel is this - if people in a non technical company (like an inv. bank) see absolutely No need for MS platforms to get their 'real work' done- whats the future. ( I donno ... )
Besides I also feel its very wrong to be selling off the SDET profile in such a way to people across the globe.( I was told that there are Software Testing Engineers who sit and file the bugs and I dont have to do that - I have yet to find a single STE around me. I believed it, I had a much better opinion of Microsoft at that time). ( I don't feel frustrated with this aspect of the job though - if I'm working on technology which is hardly going to make any worthwhile change in the world, I might as well write code to test it/ do the manual testing - rather than develop it. )
This is just a different kind of viewpoint from someone from a different country and diff kind of experience in the past.

MacTheKnife said...

I have a question regarding the "Vista capable" lawsuit.

Don't be so naive. The truth of the matter is that there was horrendous support for drivers in Vista to support the peripherals that were already in existence. I had a )@(# of a time trying to get any drivers for my HP printer and I brought an ATI graphics card that was labeled Vista Ready, but there were no drivers bundled with it or those that were made available whenever were not WHQL signed, etc.

And don't get me started about 64-bit Vista.

If there are stones to be thrown, they should be thrown all over the map.

Anonymous said...

Saw this today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTkA9L2J2gY

Steve, if you want to work for an advertising company why don't you (and KevinT, KevinJo and all you other advertising/marketing wonks) just get a job at Google?

Anonymous said...

That a third party hasn't released a driver yet is IMHO not a good reason to sue MSFT.

I think you have made the lawsuit about Intel 915, whereas the lawsuit is really about the "Vista Capable" logo. It just so happens that the 915 is potentially one of the cards (because of no driver availability) that showcases the confusion regarding "Vista Capable". Its possible that there is another card out there from Joe's basement that also does not have WDDM drivers but is on Vista Capable laptops. The point is that MS knowingly lowered the requirement for Vista class machines, which caused a lot of confusion amongst retailers and consumers.

Anonymous said...

I just have to reflect on the Windows Mobile side thread here:

I just whish that the PM:s for WM could lift their head a little bit and look outide Washington state and preferrably outside the US for a change.

Getting high profile brands to do WM phones should be a top priority (yeah I know samsung has some phones but they have phones running ALL os:es). In most parts of the world HTC is probably referred to as some kind of bird flu and not a phone maker. Another top priority should be to listen to the OEM's as well regarding UI! The user experience for a phone is very important and Nokia would not choose to do a model that has a Windows like user exerience for their mass market phones, however they could really benefit from a great standard OS to start building phones on (Symbian is not equal to great). So either the WM guys starts to give tools to create great UI's on top of WM or start doing Microsoft devices with a great UX from the beginning.

And before anyone starts talking about the "fantastic" start menu on the HTC touch (get past the start menu and voila, there is the crapola WM UI again), I just want to mention Neonode, a small start-up that created a great UI with windows CE and a small team of great developers. It is not that hard, if you have some degrees of freedom.

And to focus on the smartphone segment is a wonderfully efficient way of *not* getting any volume, as that segment is very small compared to the other segments of the market.

So come on! Create a non IW version of WM with great flexible UI components, aimed at consumer phone manufacturers, with a great browser, a great media player, a great photography application, list boxes that does not require a pen, support for animated icons, yada yada yada allthecrapteenagerswant. And then decide to not brand it as Windows. It would sell like hotcakes. To OEM's.

Thank God that Knook left. Now maybe someone starts thinking a bit different in "club MED".

Anonymous said...

Where can I get historical information on WHI/OHI for an organization? How many years back is it available?

I've heard different responses to this. Some people say 2 years, some people say at least 5.

FYI: I'm looking for data on an org other than my own.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Windows Client PM that goes back to the LH/Vista cycle, and I can say from personal experience, that no one had a freakin' clue what Will Poole did during the Cycle. The chain of command was effectively ChisJo -> JimAll, with BrianV hovering in there somewhere even on Client stuff even though he was technically COSD.

Having read the released emails, I can only say that my impression of Will being a total no-op has been confirmed for the world to see. He must know where the bodies are buried because for whatever reason he's like buttered teflon. Even when Leonard was made the fall guy for LH, Will seemed to have no stink on him (at least to the rank and file).

It must be good to be him. Maybe he was more effective in his DMD days. He could not have been less effective during Vista.

Anonymous said...

My question is more for you. Why do you cloak your self in anonymity with the "MiniMicrosoft" tag? Why would you work for a company where speaking your mind would get you fired? What does that say about the integrity of your company in general?
First, I am the one who posted this originally.
1) Mini never answered me. I have only seen postings from others. It was an honest question of why Mini uses anonymity. Why Mini would stay at a company when someone voices changes to help the company would be fired, squashed, etc... I meant nothing rude or disrespectful by the question and hope it did not read that way.
2) I am not a shill, a troll, etc... I am a senior developer at a large company who is just starting to share some of the MS not so good practices.
3) If you are more worried about keeping your job than doing/saying the right thing, what makes you different than those higher ups doing the same? Where does your integrity lie? How is it helping the company if employees just don't say anything due to being afraid of the repurcussions? Isn't that how MS got in this position to begin with?
I have worked at a few companies (and positions within those companies) over my career and have left or internal transferred when I lost faith in the management to do "the right thing". The "right thing" was what was best for the company, and not always what I thought was right.
Maybe all the other anonymous MS people need also to look at the question honestly and not with hatefullness. If you are that worried about losing your job by making arguments or suggestions based on data... why are you still there? Are you helping MS or just adding to the problem?

Anonymous said...

I worked at MS many years ago and left the company and moved out of the region for a while. I've recently moved back and MS is the LAST place I would look for work. Seriously, I've considered it but I think I would probably blow my brains out walking into those lifeless buildings again.