Sunday, January 25, 2009

3,600 Microsoft Shoes Waiting to Drop

A profound thanks to all the people who spent time writing heart-felt and high-quality comments over the past few posts. When big events like this layoff happen at Microsoft, it shakes loose collective thoughts that have been building for a while, many of which exceed anything I've written here. There are some gems within the most recent 1,200+ comments. If you're not a typical Mini-Microsoft comment reader, you should spend some time reading over the last three posts' comments, the last two especially:

Now you'll see some random and non-high-quality comments are in there, too. I had to flip moderation back on when the conversation about Microsoft H1Bs got downright nasty. I acknowledge there is concern about citizens losing their jobs at a company that has historically been on the forefront pushing for H1B visas. Going forward, I expect that Microsoft U.S. H1B hiring comes to a near halt.

OHAI: The elephant. There's a rather terse looking elephant in the room staring at me right now and pointing at its laptop screen. What's it got here... let's see. Ah. Blast off for Mini-Microsoft! And some text is highlighted...

  • Microsoft needs to reduce employee size. It’s too big. It doesn’t need a quicky Atkins-equivalent. No, it needs to get itself on a corporate exercise program that will shed itself of unwanted groups and employees. And stay on that.
  • Microsoft needs to stop hiring. It’s hard enough finding the scarcest of treasured corporate resources: the talented individual suitable for working at Microsoft. Stop hiring, trim down, and rebalance those precious scare employees inside to where they can be more productive and make products that delight our customers.

So before I get all thankful that this blog has provided a community-style water-cooler for discussing and ruminating over these layoffs together, I have to acknowledge that yes, I support reducing the company size. Big time. Back when I wrote the above in 2004 I felt we were already too big and encumbered with mismanagement due to our size. Over the years, rather than it being a blast off for a mini-Microsoft it became a blast off for a MAXI-Microsoft. When I wrote the above, I wanted a common sense realignment of our people and groups to focus deeply on the products we needed to be involved with. I also wanted the under-achievers moved on.

Instead: now we get the achievement-ignorant crash diet of this past week and we'll try to keep on that diet for the next 18 months, with the occasional binge. Yeah, good luck with your corporate ketosis level. I believe we need to smartly right-size downwards at least another 10,000 globally and lock down hiring. Emphasis on smartly. Going forward, we risk going through spurts of layoffs now given that we over-reached and will continue to over-reach.

Getting back to community: looks like there are Facebook groups for people affected by the recent events to get together and network with each other and with possible local recruiters (good for the recruiters since talented people got the pink slip). Here's what I've found so far:

  • Help Microsoft Friends Find a Job
  • Microsoft January 2009 Alumni
  • The Microsoft 1400
  • 2009 Microsoft Laid Off Workers

Employee Town Hall: if you watched this Town Hall to get some comfort, Mr. Ballmer's opening remarks certainly popped your balloon of hope. As already reported elsewhere, Mr. Ballmer thinks it's another year or two until hitting bottom in the current economic crisis, and when it does bottom out, the subsequent level of spending reached will be well below the glory spend days.

Tip of the hat to the two questioners: bad hires + accountability and seeking that corporate "I'm sorry."

My biggest issue is that Mr. Ballmer reiterated that his unabated ambition drives what we do and that we're going to continue to go big and broad. "Forward down the field! Faster down the field! Move! Forward forward forward forward!" (slap my forehead as some of his front-row half-backs chuckle for their man) Oy! Going big and broad and trying to enter and dominate every possible software market is exactly what resulted in Microsoft having reactive and broad, shallow features that are rushed out lacking polish and usually lead to user frustration as the shallow experience putters out.

We should not go broad. We must rebalance and go deep, without redundant teams and teams working on products with no chance to see a release. Now is the perfect time to drop compete in some markets where the teams in place just are not going to succeed and drop those groups. I'm not happy with our portfolio. And I'm surprised that the Microsoft Board of Directors can't smell the rotting fish in the portfolio. Well, then again, given our Board's results, maybe I'm not surprised.

I've been revisiting Good to Great lately. Some joke that Mr. Ballmer read it backwards. Now more than ever it is so incredibly frustrating to read about the Level 5 CEO leader and think about the gap we have between where we are and a leader like that. I'm also disappointed that the potential LisaB started out with in her Listening Tours and the early InsideMS employee participation has been squandered and lost. I know... she proposed changes to Ballmer and Ballmer said "No way!" Well, keep driving at it. Keep having the conversation and leverage the employees to make it happen. Creating a new way to be an employee in an IQ-driven 21st century corporation is still possible. In the meantime, we've slapped on superficial ideas that might have scaled and been manageable with a 1990s 20,000 employee company, but in this age those ideas no longer work, let alone apply to our huge employee base.

So we'll continue with our divisive stack ranking and celebrating the individual over the group. I realize that none of this is going to change while Mr. Ballmer is in charge. And when do you expect that to change? Unless the Board sees the villagers shareholders running at them with pitchforks and can feel the heat of the torches on their neck, that is not going to happen any time soon.

Random links:


322 comments:

1 – 200 of 322   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Displaced Microsoft Worker Action Plan

1. Write or telephone your elected officials Monday.
Senators
Cantwell, Maria - (D - WA)
(202) 224-3441
Web Form: cantwell.senate.gov/contact/

Murray, Patty - (D - WA)
(202) 224-2621
Web Form: murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm

US Congress
Washington State http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFInder/congress.aspx


Dave Reichert http://reichert.house.gov/Contact/
(206) 275-3438

Jay Inslee
http://www.house.gov/inslee/contact/email.html
(206) 361-0233

Anonymous said...

I hope the TCN partners+ and spouses still get to go to their free boon-doggle trip to Victoria this year. They'll need the comforting after these tough times and the stock being where it is.

Thank goodness we still kept David Vaskivitch and his team around - what would we all do without them?


Partners deserve money.

Anonymous said...

5000, to0 many or too few?

Anonymous said...

Get ready for replay of Survivors over and over again like Groundhogs day movie.

Yes it will be dog eat dog, back stabbing, hostile, butt kissing, passive/aggressive, make-up accomplishments, etc by all MS employees in pure survival mode in vain attempts not to be labeled as 10%er or 3.6k club.

It's going to be "fun" 18 months folks...

PS - I'd suggest shutting down MSN and spinning off E&D.

Anonymous said...

I really admire the two people who stood up and challenged See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil. In retrospect, if I'd had had enough intestinal fortitude (balls) to go to building 34 and step up to the mike, I would have asked one, simple question to Steve: "How could you let this happen?"

Because that's what it all boils down to. How did Steve and the BoD let us get in this position. They have known that business has been slowing down for at least the last 10 quarters. They have known that the market is shifting to subscription-based services and we are a couple of years away from having a cogent strategy around S+S. They have known that Vista is a bucket of shit and we are a couple of years away from recovering.

Why did they let hiring and spending get so out of hand?

Anonymous said...

The real problem for the Next 3600 is that for the most part, the die has already been cast, and there's little one can do now to change your fate: I've heard that the midyear assessment exercise has largely been completed, and that annual ranking isn't far behind. So you've got, what, a couple months to *maybe* move the needle a little bit? Good luck with that.

What a fine, productive atmosphere this is going to be...

Anonymous said...

"3,600 Microsoft Shoes Waiting to Drop"

Mini, I think you've got that slightly wrong. I'd say there are probably 3.600 Microsoft shoes waiting to be thrown at Ballmer.

If I were him, I'd start practicing shoe-dodging. Bush has some free time now, maybe MSPAC could bring him to campus for some private instruction...

Anonymous said...

"spinning off E&D"

XBox is a crown jewel. The investments have been made and now we start seeing the payoff. Give it a chance.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day when MSFT was much smaller and had a generous stock option program, employee motivation was aligned with management’s and the share holders. A developer in the Windows org might work hard to ship a new version of Windows because they knew when Windows shipped, there would be a nice bump in the stock price, and a nice bump in their net worth. This is no longer true, employee goals no longer align with the shareholder and managment is not prepared to cope with that situation.

With the 3600 layoffs hanging out there, employees in the Windows organization might correctly believe that there will be no mass layoffs in the Windows org until after Windows 7 ships, but given the bloat in the Windows org, it is easy to imagine mass layoffs after Windows 7 ships. So are those employees going to work hard to ship? Quite the opposite, if they are smart, and most Microsoft employees are, they will be engaged in slowing the release of Windows 7 until after the economy improves so they can keep their paychecks coming as long as possible. They won’t be doing anything obvious or stupid, they just won’t fix bugs as fast as they can, they won’t find bugs until later in the cycle, they’ll schedule more meetings, run more decisions further up the management chain. And given that there will be no merit raises this year and bonus/promotion budgets are likely to be meager as well as reserved for partners, this is a great year for the Windows employees to have a healthy work life balance.

Anonymous said...

"smacks forehead..."
yeah, that was pretty much my take on a few of his lines...Ballmer's world-view is pretty "kool".

Anonymous said...

Everyone is really disappointed that coworkers have been laid off with little warning and no cause. This layoff has absolutely destroyed morale on my team. The 5000 should have been laid off immediately and should have been given ample warning. Now everyone is looking over their shoulder, spending no time on actual work.

Anonymous said...

No one wants to work in an environment where everyone is looking to fuck everyone else over. If they did they would have taken higher paying jobs at Oracle.

Anonymous said...

Main problem is, Steve and top management not able to predict future technology trends, I am not sure How we are spending $7 billion research budget,How much revenue we generated because of our research team work.

I am sorry for the people who lost their jobs, but business point of view this makes sense, i think we should down size more and shut down more projects like Zune, I am not sure why people complaining abot this, if you are capable, you will find better job some where.

our online division is clue less, when i spoke to somebody in Asia, They know only two names, google/yahoo,They never heard about Live and MSN,we better to reach deal with yahoo and downsize our MSN/live search investements,we never going to win this race, we need Yahoo(Incase if you want to be major search provider)

our IT division also over staffed, for small project, They are allocating more resources and taking long time.

My recommendations are

(1)Downsize research/IT team

(2)There is noway Zune can win any market share,so please close this team

(3)If you want to be stong search player, Please reach deal with Yahoo

(4)Eventhoug windows 7 may be sucessful, this may be hard sell in this market,what happens if windows margins/sales started going down like 25%, How can we compensate this revenue?,we better to start thinking about this now.

(5)Try to get rid of low performers ASAP,There are so many talented people out side,we can hire better people

Anonymous said...

Please watch and make sure none of the openings are filled with H1 visa holders. That shouldn't happen considering all the laid off people recently from US.

Anonymous said...

Smartly... That is a key word in this discussion. How to "smartly" reduce the costs of Microsoft so we remain highly profitable to invest in growth even in a down market.

Our problem is we don't have a cohesive definition of "smartly". So we'll likely end up in the political bloodsport on steroids that has become the review process. Beware the MYCD - have solid results or end up on the chopper.

I really wish we could look at this as an opportunity. The current environment should and could force some prioritization by the numbers and skills needed for the future. But sadly, that means we'd need a definition of "smartly" and we don't have that.

I'm missing MSFTExtremeMakeover at the moment. His/her comments on the financials were always a good read. Any chance of coming back??? We could certainly use your insights.

Anonymous said...

I hope the TCN partners+ and spouses still get to go to their free boon-doggle trip to Victoria this year. They'll need the comforting after these tough times and the stock being where it is.

Enron 2 is in the making

Anonymous said...

Ballmer's comments during the townhall show that he is out of touch with everything.

Ballmer, the SLT, and the board have failed the company, period.

At the next shareholders meeting, vote your shares against Ballmer and the current board.

Sure, there probably won't be enough votes to oust them, but it might send a message if every employee voted against them.

Anonymous said...

I keep reading comments that suggest that Zune should be shut down because it lost $100 million in sales.
It's important to remember what Robbie Bach said two weeks ago: "Zune had a great year."
And Robbie's one of the smart ones.
We're doomed.

Anonymous said...

I started doing my part last week: looking for a new job. It's been frustrating anyway (unable to switch teams with the freeze), but now with the prospect of constant layoffs and increased ranking politics looming, I've had enough. It may take a few months, so I started early (and hope my number doesn't get called before I'm ready).

Strange as it sounds, I'm partly leaving because I want to go somewhere more stable.

Anonymous said...

With the 3600 layoffs hanging out there, employees in the Windows organization might correctly believe that there will be no mass layoffs in the Windows org until after Windows 7 ships, but given the bloat in the Windows org, it is easy to imagine mass layoffs after Windows 7 ships. So are those employees going to work hard to ship? Quite the opposite, if they are smart, and most Microsoft employees are, they will be engaged in slowing the release of Windows 7 until after the economy improves so they can keep their paychecks coming as long as possible. They won’t be doing anything obvious or stupid, they just won’t fix bugs as fast as they can, they won’t find bugs until later in the cycle, they’ll schedule more meetings, run more decisions further up the management chain. And given that there will be no merit raises this year and bonus/promotion budgets are likely to be meager as well as reserved for partners, this is a great year for the Windows employees to have a healthy work life balance.

Eh, that's not really very smart at all. It would take massive collaboration to achieve and relies on the vast majority of employees participating. Have you ever read the Prisoner's Dilemma? If anything, this layoff is going to make me work harder and I imagine it will affect many others in the same way. So people that slack to prolong the Windows 7 release, like you're describing, will be more likely to fall into the lower buckets and get laid off in future rounds. Your plan is bad for the company, individuals, etc. It's just a dumb idea... but go right ahead, we could use one less person like you around.

I want Windows 7 to be the best release in years and I'm going to do what I can to make it so. If I get laid off, so be it, but it won't be for lack of trying.

Anonymous said...

I want to ask the question again.

I have 9 years service overall but i came back 3 years ago. if i get layoff, do i get 3 years or 9 years?

Limulus said...

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/144227.asp

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 4:30 PM
To: Microsoft - All Employees
Subject: FY09 Strategic Update

Excerpt: "Looking ahead, I see an incredibly bright future for our company. [...] we are the best in the world at doing software and nobody should be confused about this. It doesn't mean that we can't improve, but nobody is better than we are. Nobody works harder than we do. Nobody is more tenacious than we are. We're investing more broadly and more seriously than anybody else. Our opportunities to change the world have never been greater. I look forward to working with all of you [...] in FY09."

Oops.

Just to play 'advocatus diaboli' for a moment, I wrote at the time:

"The hubris and downright vanity Ballmer shows in that statement, especially given what we actually KNOW about Microsoft, reveals a leader enthusiastically marching his troops towards the edge of a cliff."

Ballmer wants to stay on as MS CEO until perhaps 2018.

http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/operatingsystems/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=208402027

If he does, will there still *be* a MS then?

Anonymous said...

To all those who are salivating for Bill Gates return - remember that he did a royal screw up by not handling the Antitrust case correctly.When Clinton's attorney general was negotiating for a settlement, MS did not negotiate in good faith, and took cheap potshots at the judge and DOJ.

With the result that MS lost the case bad, we were declared a monopoly, and this opened floodgates of lawsuits and the resultant burden to document all our protocols.

BillG royally screwed up on this one - he is singularly responsible for the downfall of the company due to the DOJ case. The billions of dollars we have paid in fines can all be attributed to the stupid, boneheaded decisions of top management.

And the irony is, they finally agreed to some of the same things that the clinton DOJ was asking for in the first settlement negotiations, before the case went to trial.

Anonymous said...

Regarding taking legal action --

Think of these layoffs like a product: "Big Layoffs 1.0". Like all v1 products, it was rushed to market and has bugs. One of these bugs might have been your case: you may have had your legal rights violated. If you have actual damages and a legitimate cause of action, you can win some money from Microsoft. Keep these things in mind:

- I am not a lawyer. Only a lawyer can determine whether you have a cause of action.
- You can't use Group Legal. They specifically exclude actions against your employer.
- Forget class-action. Takes forever and most of the money goes to the lawyers. Your best bet is an individual action.
- Your goal is a quick settlement.
- The anticipated settlement must significantly exceed the amount of the severance package to be worthwhile.
- Microsoft likely has set aside money to settle claims.
- Happened to me by a company from which you would have expected things to be fully buttoned-up. I can't go into specifics because my settlement includes a gag clause.

Anonymous said...

MSFTExtremeMakeover - wherever you are,come back. This is the time we need your analysis and comments

Anonymous said...

I hope the TCN partners+ and spouses still get to go to their free boon-doggle trip to Victoria this year. They'll need the comforting after these tough times and the stock being where it is.


My boss was supposed to go, he showed me the mail where they cancelled the event this year. So no partner boondoggle this year.

I for one think the company (including SteveB) is trying to do the right thing. That said, I do not know what the vaskevitch org produces.

Anonymous said...

So, what does the next 3600 mean?

First off, I'd like to offer my deepest sympathies to the people laid off last week. It's a life changing experience and I truly hope each and every one of you gets back on their feet as soon as possible.

What makes it very difficult is that this action came with virtually no warning to the impacted employees. So, Thursday was really a pretty dark day when I think about it. Particularly alarming is the fact that the criteria used appears to be a combination of things. So, you cannot look at your org and performance history and assume you're safe.

I guess the only option one has now is to try to block out the situation as much as possible and do the best job you can. We have little or no control over our fates. E/20 or A/70 may not mean a thing when the next ax falls.

For those of us who are still around, this almost feels like a reprieve. We have a few more months with jobs, so what can one do?

I came up with a list:

1. Continue to do your job to the best of your abilities.
2. Keep that resume current and start networking if not already
3. Tighten that belt, start saving, pay-down debt, build or enhance that rainy day fund
4. Take care of things like doctor and dentist appts

Worrying about whether you'll be in the next bucket and when that might be is a futile exercise and you just might work yourself into a layoff if you obssess over it too much.

Anonymous said...

Here's another prime example of our 'diworsification' strategy: Microsoft Songsmith.

What the hell are we doing? What possible audience are we trying to reach? Tone-deaf idiots interested in background instrumentals? I don't understand.

http://store.microsoft.com/microsoft/Songsmith/product/8483EA75

See this post on Valleywag about Songsmith: http://valleywag.gawker.com/5138788/awful-product-with-awful-ad-makes-awful-music

Anonymous said...

Was anyone laid off in SVC? Other than the Agents folks (that would be a funny story to tell, and shows the quality of management in SVC and Redmond)

Anonymous said...

I think Ballmer et al missed a key opportunity to involve employees in resolving our current situation.

With all the great minds and competitive spirits, why not ask employees to suggest cost-cutting measures or even have teams compete to lower costs? I bet employees could have come up with some innovative ideas that didn't involve diverting careers and lives.

Or perhaps provide a poll where employees could weigh and vote for cost-cutting options? What would the highest number of people be willing to give up to help avoid major layoffs? Is there any chance that management would consider this option instead of the dread of waiting for 3600 pairs of shoes to drop?

I am saddened that rabid hiring and missed cues by upper management led to this situation. I hope they are held accountable, but meanwhile, I hope Microsoft utilizes every resource available, including smart minds and creative thinking, to help solve it.

I'd have to say the Town Hall was a low point in feeling there's no dialog with upper management. This is not the Microsoft that I have cared deeply about over the years. At times, it felt like I was being yelled down to by a coach who has lost his teams's respect. Other times, it felt a scene from "The Animal Farm" by George Orwell:

"No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"
- George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 5

Anonymous said...

@9:27pm.

As a H1 (actually E3) hire which went through recently I'm disappointed people are still spouting about giving jobs to americans over foreigners.

Remember that America was built by foreigners into the country that it is today.

Yes, I'm truly saddened by the folks who lost their jobs but remember there were H1B's in that list too - people whom had picked up their families and in most instances moved halfway across the world to provide a better life for their families or to further their careers.

Are they any less deserving of our sympathy? Not only do they face an uncertain economic future, they will in many cases be forced to return to their homeland at short notice with their leave to remain expiring at the end of their termination period with Microsoft.

For the record I was hired over a host of local candidates for my role because of my experience and skill profile not because I was cheaper than them. I can guarantee that with my relocation and other associated costs there is no way I am cheaper than a local hire, not now, not in the next 2-3years.

Please be upset, annoyed this happened at this company - but don't divide the ranks any further by further festering this "us vs. them" mentality that seems to be so rife right now.

Anonymous said...

This whole layoff is to distract from the real issue:

Steve Ballmer is incompetent to lead Microsoft.

This layoff has successfully shifted the discussion from how terrible our strategy is and how terrible our quarter was. It has been a raging success and it only took the jobs of 1400 people to do it.

Fire Steve Ballmer now!

Anonymous said...

Mini it is time for you to go (and take Cringley with you; he has never understood Microsoft and he never will). The Microsoft that you pine for is gone and it isn't coming back. The company that has taken the place of the old one is neither better nor worse. It is just different and has different values. It has its own virtues and vices. As Ted Turner said "Lead, follow, or get out of the way".

Anonymous said...

Well, msftextrememakeover was at least smart enough to sell all his shares while the stock was worth something.

http://msftextrememakeover.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I wish we'd slice away some of our excesses before dumping colleagues.

Here are some ideas:

* Cancel MGX
* Cancel S4

(side benefit: not only will we save costs, but the field will actually have some productive sales time in the first quarter)

* Cancel TechReady

(Change the focus to new product / feature training in release cycles)

These events cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and we can do without them until things get better.

Anonymous said...

With the 3600 layoffs hanging out there, employees in the Windows organization might correctly believe that there will be no mass layoffs in the Windows org until after Windows 7 ships, but given the bloat in the Windows org, it is easy to imagine mass layoffs after Windows 7 ships. So are those employees going to work hard to ship? Quite the opposite, if they are smart, and most Microsoft employees are, they will be engaged in slowing the release of Windows 7 until after the economy improves so they can keep their paychecks coming as long as possible. They won’t be doing anything obvious or stupid, they just won’t fix bugs as fast as they can, they won’t find bugs until later in the cycle, they’ll schedule more meetings, run more decisions further up the management chain. And given that there will be no merit raises this year and bonus/promotion budgets are likely to be meager as well as reserved for partners, this is a great year for the Windows employees to have a healthy work life balance.

+1.

The sad thing is, as much common sense as this makes, it wouldn't surprise me if Ballmer and the gang have never even considered it. Hell, they still haven't figured out that encouraging and rewarding individual "visibility" in a team-based environment is counterproductive and they've had years to see the effects of that.

This company needs an enema!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I think we'll see some "bad attrit" during the next six months, as many top performers leave for companies that don't have a randomized layoff looming over their heads.

I also think Microsoft bungled this layoff so badly, with many of those laid off over 45 or had health problems, that they'll have to set aside reserves to cover the cost of settlement/judgement.

How long until we see Ballmer and LisaB testifying before Congress about the H1 visa program and why so many Microsoft jobs now posted are H1 visa eligible?

Anonymous said...

XBox is a crown jewel. The investments have been made and now we start seeing the payoff. Give it a chance.

"A chance?" How many more billions should we piss away? Bach and Allard have had their chance. Now we can see that even the razor-thin profitability its adherents were promoting is a sham (unless you think it's fair to not take into account the Xbox division's proper share of company overhead).

I say sell the 360 as long as possible and then either pack it in or bring in a new team to manage its successor. The current management has had eight years and all they've managed to do is destroy our once-thriving PC gaming presence. And Bach has spent most of that time not just squandering the potential of his own org, but he's gone the extra mile and diluted the market with his rampant insider selling. Personally, I'd like to think if I headed up a division that was nothing but a boat anchor on the bottom line year after year, I'd at least be content with my seven-figure salary and not insist on further watering down the value of the stock.

Anonymous said...

Close Zune, Windows Mobile, XBOX.

Replace some of XBox focus with PC gaming on lighter form factors.

No MGX. Total waste of time for drunken parties

Anonymous said...

i think from 2000 microsoft has hired mostly crap. people who were contractors, converted to test, and then test leads and managers (its much easier), and then they "shift" to the only possible thing, program manager and sr program managers (which sucks big time), and thats it , they corrupt the whole system with their useless ideas. I think people should stick to their disciplines after all wouldnt they have shown passion for testing when they originally were hired and grew in the ranks ! This is cheating and just a way to grow, fire all such people who have changed streams.

Anonymous said...

Was anyone laid off in SVC?

Yes. I know of one business unit there that lost several devs in SVC, among others.

Anonymous said...

I think Ballmer et al missed a key opportunity to involve employees in resolving our current situation.

With all the great minds and competitive spirits, why not ask employees to suggest cost-cutting measures or even have teams compete to lower costs? I bet employees could have come up with some innovative ideas that didn't involve diverting careers and lives.


Of course we could have. But why do you think management cares what we think? They always know better than the rabble, you know...Vista, Songsmith, Zune, come on, they have a track record!

Anonymous said...

>> How we are spending $7 billion research budget,

Idiot, it's R&D budget. It covers ALL R&D efforts in the company. Dev, test, PM. It's not just Research.

Anonymous said...

Okay - everyone laid off needs to be aware of something. I called the HR help phone number and asked very specifically about the 60 days of remaining on MS payroll and what happens if I take another position during that time.

All I could get out of them was that the employee agreement, NDA and moonlighting agreement remain in effect. That means that you cannot go to work in violation of those agreements during the 60 days or you are risking your entire package, severance and all.

It's very telling that the HR person refused to send this to me in email as well. Note that the SAR says "remain an employee through 3/23" - so if you resign for another job or are "fired" for violating the employment, NDA or moonlighting agreement, you will lose it all.

Beware. Call the askhr number yourselves to verify. Check with a lawyer. I did.

Anonymous said...

"For the record I was hired over a host of local candidates for my role because of my experience and skill profile not because I was cheaper than them."

I know many cases in Microsoft where managers deliberately selected H1 visa holders over US citizens/ Green card holdes. These managers know H1 visa holders would not rebel at all and can be manipulated pretty easily because they wouldn't leave. Do you think it is fare? In many of these cases there were plenty qualified people available for the job but they didn't get the job. I have a plenty of sympathy for H1 visa holders and many of them deserve to be hired. But, when the system is manipulated by many of the managers for thir own advantage the repercussions would be inevitable like Microsoft is being sequested by congress to testify.

Anonymous said...

Mini - the title of your post should say "3,600 PAIRS of Microsoft Shoes Waiting to Drop", unless MSFT is only going to lay-off FTEs with only one leg! Now, that would be a class-action discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

Anonymous said...

I think "intestinal fortitude" is guts. Testicular fortitude would be be balls.

Anonymous said...

Devs working on C# projects would be well advised to switch to groups that use C++. While there are C# jobs outside MS they tend to be IT type jobs. High-tech jobs all require recent C++ experience. This is what I am planning to do.

Anonymous said...

New InsideMS post today.

Anonymous said...

"unless you think it's fair to not take into account the Xbox division's proper share of company overhead"

Just to clear things up since I've seen comments like this alot, but the majority of company overhead is allocated down to each individual business's operating results. Go ask any competent finance manager working for MS.

Please don't make assumptions and pass it off as fact.

Anonymous said...

Here are a few more cut-backs that should be cut alongside the few "Take-one-for-the-team Limited 10%" folks that *should* have been the ones laid off.

1. Free beverage program. Most of us make six figures a year. We can afford some damn Mountain Dew. Field employees don't get this benefit. I bet the energy bills go down (refrigerators) and the water bill (not having to go to the bathroom) goes down too.

2. Reorganize field services. Premier and MCS do *pretty much* the same thing. A reorganization would also help with regionalizing resources and cut down on travel cost.

3. Cut back on the giving campaign. A 100% match is nice, but in this economy, charities should be lucky to get anything at all (except from rich people). I say cut back to a 50% match.

4. Scale back on commercials and advertising. Maybe just improve them. The last few "People_Ready" commercials, I had no clue what they were advertising for. The Jerry Seinfeld and Mojave campaigns also are terrible. We should have fought back hard against the Mac vs. PC debate instead of wait forever to make the "I'm a PC campaign" - not getting that money back, don't waste it again.

5. Move some operations away from Planet Redmond. Utilize the bare bones GTSC's in Texas and Charlotte and the other facilities around the country for something other than support and sales. Maybe some R&D, maybe some documentation teams. It's cheaper to live in Dallas and Charlotte, you can pay people less and you don't have to relocate as many people (as far) when you do hire. Live Meeting and web cameras work quite well these days. We have two giant facilities that are maybe 50% full.

Anonymous said...

> Was anyone laid off in SVC?

Yes, SVC had layoffs. I'm not going to out them, but they do exist.

Anonymous said...

As an American working in Europe on a work permit, I think it's time for the H1B haters to calm down. People will always try to find the best job they can, and companies will always try to hire the best people available.

Companies invest a lot of money in bringing employees in from other countries - higher moving expenses, settling in costs, visa fees, even language classes at times. They don't do it because we're cheaper than the local pool, but (I like to think, at least), because we fit their needs better.

And I was hired to work for Microsoft in Europe - it wasn't a transfer or anything like that.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I think we'll see some "bad attrit" during the next six months, as many top performers leave for companies that don't have a randomized layoff looming over their heads.

Well, I don't know that there are many places where job security is safe right now. Perhaps bankruptcy lawyers, repo men, pawn shops, etc.

But those who are sticking around MS because of job security now realize that's not a given anymore.

Anonymous said...

"I have 9 years service overall but i came back 3 years ago. if i get layoff, do i get 3 years or 9 years?"


Are you seriously asking this question?

Anonymous said...

http://www.hireamericansfirst.org/us_workers.aspx
U.S. Workers: How becoming a member can save your job

In order to influence Congress we need to show that there are a large number of American degreed and experienced tech workers who are suffering actual harm due to employment based visas and offshoring. Similarly, reporters need to be able to quickly locate American tech workers in their area in order to balance articles that stem from corporate press releases and funded "studies."

The Programmers Guild has already filed 300 discrimination complaints against H-1b employers. But in order to seek large damage claims, they need a group of plaintiffs that have suffered actual harm. If you select "Will be party to class action" in your profile, the Programmers Guild will notify you of job ads to apply for. If the Guild files a class action suit against that employer, you will be a harmed plaintiff eligible to share in the damages award.
We do not collect members' street addresses, and your name, email, phone number will remain confidential - except for media inquiries. We recommend that your summary resume vague, citing skills and years of experience. The media and other members can contact you by sending you a message from your profile. You can choose to receive email notifications when these messages arrive.

Anonymous said...

http://www.hireamericansfirst.org/us_workers.aspx
America's highest-skilled workers are being displaced from their professions by employment-based visas:

H-1b: Congress has authorized employers to sponsor and hire foreign workers regardless of whether qualified Americans are available to fill the positions. Employers can legally force Americans to train their foreign H-1b replacements as a condition of receiving a severance package.

L-1: Congress has authorized employers to bring foreign workers into the U.S. for one year while continuing to pay them their foreign wage level.

PERM: Congress has authorized employers to sponsor foreign workers for green cards by simply running a few classified ads and then to find any reason possible to disqualify all American applicants.

Anonymous said...

One thing everyone here is forgetting is that one, this is happening all over the country, in every industry. And two, Microsoft has every right to do this - they are not doing anything illegal. If anyone is even thinking about filing a lawsuit good luck, Microsoft will take you down so fast you won't know what hit you. The company has both inside legal counsel and lawyers on retainer all over Washington state. Yes, it is sad to see this happen to 'Microsoft', but that's the price you pay when you have people in management positions, making bad hiring decisions, inflating the need for extra headcount. How do you think the company grew from 75,000 employees to 95,000 in 2.5years?

Anonymous said...

"I'd say there are probably 3.600 Microsoft shoes waiting to be thrown at Ballmer."

7200 unless there's some Michael Jackson glove inspired habit of wearing only one.

Anonymous said...

I did like one thing about layoffs. Some HR folks also got laid off. I have no love for them, since they dont have for us either. My experience with Microsoft HR has been worse than worse.

Anonymous said...

One thing i dont understand is why doesnt MS offer voluntary retirement scheme??

People who dont feel passionate about MS/it's products/leadership would gladly accept it and go. It would not create any bad feelings or down the morale of the employees too. These people who will be willing to accept voluntary retirement are not good for morale of co. anyways (in the short/medium term).

If not enough people accept the voluntary package, MS can always resort again to lay-offs/ aggressive performance management.

MSFT Observer said...

Here is a transcript of the call SteveB had with Barack Obama Wednesday: http://msftobserver.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/steveb-calls-baracko/

It's the call he should have had. As a few employees in MSPAC have pointed out, the timing of the announcement was a slap in the face to the new president. Google embraces him; MSFT almost goes out of its way to do the wrong thing.

Anonymous said...

You know, I have absolutley no idea why everybody's suddenly feeling sorry for those that got laid off. I mean, reading this comments section for the past few days it's become pretty clear that the people that are being laid off are top notch developers. In other words, these people are pretty quickly going to find work at GOOG or APPL or a start-up of some sort since the consensus also seems to be that people that leave MS invariably end up happier anyway.

Rather than feel sorry for them, wish them well on their new beginnings. Stop with the doom and gloom

Anonymous said...

Reposting from the prior thread, because I'm curious about the answer. This isn't my post, but I'd like a clarification, too. I read it a bit differently; my perception is that we get the 60 days, and vacation, but may only get additional severance severance if the total weeks of severance to which we are entitled are greater than the sum of 60 days + vacation.

In other words, is the clause below telling people like me with two years at the company, and therefore 4 weeks' severance pay, that we will receive no additional pay when we sign the severance agreement? If so, harsh! That would completely remove any reason for some of us to sign it, wouldn't it?

"to Sunday 11:27 AM and others on the severance package:
I reviewed some of the paperwork and it went like this. 60 days of pay and considered to be on the payroll including benefits; actual date of termination is March 23rd. Considered an employee on the payroll until that date (but with no corpnet ect access). Plus, there's actual severance pay on top of it, vacation pay payout, and money towards continuation of benefits after the loss of employment.

As one of the 'lucky' 1400, I have been reviewing the package (level 64 & below) and noted the following:

'Your severance pay will be reduced by any period of pay you are provided under the WARN Act or any similar laws and any paid leave provided to you in connection with your termination.'.

In other words, by my reading, the 60 days base pay mandated by WARN includes your unpaid vacation time. It appears that we will not be paid out for vacation time ON TOP OF the 60 days. The unpaid vacation time will offset pay we would have received as part of the WARN notice.

Complete BS. Would love to learn that I'm wrong about MS' position on this.

Monday, January 26, 2009 2:14:00 AM"

Anonymous said...

I've been here for over a decade... Some basics that need to be understood.

1) Sales People should sell (Period)
2) Everyone else from the field to the ivory tower need to focus on innovation and the relationships to land.
3) We should have a conscription program. If you are going to work in the Ivory Tower, you need to spend 1 Year in the field.
4) There was a day when I was four levels from Bill Gates. Yikes, need to collapse the organization. We pin "advancement" to where you are in the structure. That's the first problem. Either you are helping or ladder climbing.
5) Ban business books like good to great, 5 minute manager, etc. etc. Microsoft passes these out and it drives more behaviors around climbing the ladder and less around making a difference for the company.
6) Years ago when we had stock options, and splits, etc... we worked hard. Was it for the money? No it was becuase we felt we were part of something great.

I have reflected alot on #6... what caused me to work 16 hour days... I don't personally care about money... so what was it? It was the sense of a "team" that was kicking ass in the world, making a difference, and developing our skills. We were in it together. Back when I started people used to take you under their wing... not a question asked, just come with me. No we view new people as "Kids" looking to take our job (I was 38 when I hired in)... or potential future bosses. We made people managers based on how others perceived their "make the people around you better". Now it's based on displaying managerial behavior whether or not it helps the company succeed. We complain about our managers now, the current method of promoting to managers is based on bad habits, not good ones...

I personally grieve not for the Microsoft of the past, but for the Microsoft that could be. A few simple changes from the Top could get it started all over again.

Do we have dead weight? Yes! When I hired in I had four interviews with MCS, and then they pipelined me and I ended up in an SE position. That's OK, now I'm considered brilliant. I interview people all the time... my "Hire" reccomendation is less than 20%. Yet many get hired... we used to have a Microsoft Smart hiring standard, now we have a breathing and pumping heart standard. Get smaller if that's what everyone wants... just get smaller, smarter.

Anonymous said...

"With all the great minds and competitive spirits, why not ask employees to suggest cost-cutting measures or even have teams compete to lower costs? I bet employees could have come up with some innovative ideas that didn't involve diverting careers and lives."

LisaB is doing just that in her latest InsideMS blog post. Time to put up or shut up.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
I suppose you know Jens Moberg and a non-unsignificant senior execs like Gerri E and on has stepped aside recently. I also suppose you know that the ones left praise Ballmer, never disagree w him or KT.

And given Mr Ballmers not so good history in hiring (Orlando, Yusuf etc, people who merely flatter Ballmer w/o adding much or any value to the business) puts MS in a bad spot. See, KT is the successor as we stand today. The same fella who has no understanding of IT business, consumer electronics what so ever, the same fella who claimed officially that MS core strength is its operational execellence. Hence, even the Board has now realized that KT can not take over from Ballmer, it would be a disaster.

I.e. Ballmer remains in reign, Board cant sack him even if the investors wanted them to (they do) becuase there is no backfill except external, and if that would be an official truth it would be disastrous even for the Board, the same board who approved investments (cost) far bigger than the IT-market growth/investment level leaving Microsoft in a place where our HC has grown with more than 30% during the past two years but product portfolio, customer sat and profit margin has not improved - on contrary....

Anonymous said...

Quote from Bill Gates about the layoff on an NPR Q&A

"Microsoft's best days are certainly ahead because [of] the research and products and customer connections they have and the strength of leadership, starting with [Chief Executive Officer] Steve Ballmer. It's definitely not immune to this huge downturn that's taking place. Steve is doing the right things. I don't think I would do it any differently or any better, so I picked a time. I announced it several years in advance. And I always knew that company would have all sorts of twists and turns that they'd take on and do well with without my being there full time."

-- Bill Gates

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99816984


You still want him back?

Unoquenocalla said...

Guys, this company went just too big to be manageable in the way it used to. We need to turn into a group and split into some different companies which will make everybody really accountable for their small area of responsability. A lot of executives are today managing something too big.

Anonymous said...

"I want Windows 7 to be the best release in years and I'm going to do what I can to make it so. If I get laid off, so be it, but it won't be for lack of trying."

Thank you. Nice to see at least one responsible, forward-looking person on here. MS is not going away soon - those who remain can do something themselves to make it better or continue to point fingers and whine online...

Anonymous said...

"an IQ-driven 21st century corporation"

I'm afraid I don't understand the fascination with high IQ that seems to permeate Microsoft. "The smartest guys in the room" do not always bring about the best results.

I've met plenty of people dumber than me who were very effective and very capable. In fact, I think that focusing on IQ is a myopic strategy. Even a 5 year old pokemon player knows that you gotta catch'em all.

Is it some insecurity in regard to Google which is causing this?

I am pretty smart myself, but I'd hesitate to say it is a prerequisite to doing good work. In fact, I've found environments where everyone is really smart to be less effective than those with a more reasonable balance of abilities.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see that people are channeling their anger against temp. workers from out side countries. As a previous comments explains they are not cheap and in anyways lesser than home grown talent.
It is sad that people are losing jobs and so are temp. workers – so you are all in it together. People who are calling for the heads of temp. workers are failing to see the bigger picture. Microsoft is a global corporation with global businesses and employees. It has been a strong advocate of globalization from which it has benefitted a lot in terms of tangibles like - revenue, talent, business and intangibles improving cultural ties (world peace ) – all of which has let do prosperity of those touched by it. Moreover, it has done nothing which is not in laws of USA or other countries.

Non-merit based sacking of a disproportionate numbers of temp. workers will add to the economic woes of USA, decreased productivity at MS and a failure of many of the tangibles and in-tangibles that MS has achieved. It may well be a net loss situation for Microsoft.

Take for example 5000 temp workers been asked to leave Microsoft spread evenly over 1 to 5 years as temp workers, salary of 85K to 105K spread evenly and a savings rate of 35 % (which is typical) over each year of stay- results in at-least 0.5 billion $ of cash leaving the local banking sector (more bank failures?). Assuming half of them were home-owners they will have to see off houses all at once in a few months time at fire-sale prices, some will on default the remaining mortgages etc. The impact on asset prices, savings will and overall local economy will big. It may leave to more rounds of layoffs with lower assest prices etc and hurt the economy more.

Imagine this trend repeated across ever major sate in US – California, NY etc..

The bottom line is – you are all in it together. Most corporations thrived on global knowledge boom, they were mostly driven favorable US/Global laws, pioneers like Gates et al., ably supported by contribution people from all over the world and a Global demand. To blame it on Temp. workers is not only naïve, but acting on those beliefs can be counter productive. It seems nothing more than just witch hunting and will be a step back to the Middle Ages! So, if the Congress and Senate propose to pass such laws to ban/penalize temp. workers on a non-merit based evaluation it may be sending the world backwards and not consistent based on the foundations of USA. The recession will be over in a few years but the big picture can change for ever!

Anonymous said...

Re: "Displaced Microsoft Worker Action Plan" at Sunday, January 25 2009 6:27:00 PM

I wrote my senators and congressman to encourage them to advocate for all laid-off Microsoft employees, many of whom are their constituents, to have equal access to internal job search resources such as the career site, individual team sites, informationals, etc. As we learned here over the weekend, some people retained access to those resources; but the majority seem to not have access to them.

If you're among those laid off who are interested in continuing at Microsoft in a different role, or among those at Microsoft who are hiring and who'd like to have the best possible chance to consider your laid-off colleagues for suitable roles, I suggest that you do so, too.

Also, would it be possible to use a keyword like Microsoft1400 somewhere in external resume submissions, so that internal hiring managers could easily identify those of us who are not-quite-internal-but-not-quite-external for the next 56 days?

Anonymous said...

The current management has had eight years and all they've managed to do is destroy our once-thriving PC gaming presence.

Hmm... the original XBox happened in the ~2000 timeframe. Back then your average desktop computer suitable for 3-D gaming was still pretty big, loud, and expensive, and it was uncommon for you to be able to connect it to a TV in a convenient, meaningful way.

Nowadays you can get a small, quiet "desktop" computer with a fast processor, big hard drive, DVD burner, a nice video card with HDMI out, etc. for around $300, and it would obviously be much more capable than a game console.

If one were to do a "reset" of the game console industry the same way the iPhone was a reset of the cell phone industry, I'm sure they would start a certification program for PCs instead of building special consoles. I.e., your PC would have "XBox capability" if it was a certain size, met certain acoustic properties, had certain functionality and performance, etc.

If Microsoft would switch to this model, all the costs of manufacturing consoles would disappear instantly and the money would start rolling in from certification fees, software/OS licenses, etc.

Anonymous said...

How can displaced MS workers find out about Microsoft job opportunities and confirm that they are not "fake" job advertisements for PERM labor certification purposes?

Anonymous said...

"I'd suggest shutting down MSN..."

Ugh. So sick of the MSN hatred. For the last frickin' time: MSN has been in the black for at least 6 years. The portion of OSG that is dragging down the profits is *Live Search* - Captain Ahab Ballmer's special anti-Google harpoon (the one with 2000 open heads while we're laying off 5000 elsewhere). Please aim your venom at the appropriate targets.

Anonymous said...

Would you idiots please get your act together and take down Ballmer.


Oppose the board selection on the next proxy (instead of ignoring your proxy circular or blandly voting down the line with the board recommendation). And hopefully someone (anyone) will make a shareholder initiative to remove Ballmer.

The best strategy is to remove Ballmer from the Board. I'm thinking that's the kind of do-nothing protest vote initiative that even institutional investors can get behind such a shareholder initiative. It publicly chastens Ballmer but doesn't threaten the scared nellies who worry about who would replace him as CEO. A protest initiative of this kind doesn't need to pass and is directly targeted at Ballmer's mediocrity. It doesn't threaten Gates or other Board members, or continuity. It would really light a fire under Ballmer's ass and hopefully get the board into discussions about management. Ballmer, if he had any class (he doesn't) he would resign.


Seriously, kick Ballmer off the Board. I'd love to remove him as CEO but until you lazy shareholders demonstrate a backbone I'm pushing this baby step.

Anonymous said...

"I have 9 years service overall but i came back 3 years ago. if i get layoff, do i get 3 years or 9 years?"

Page 3 of the severance plan, under Measuring your Service, says "your service will be measured only from your most recent date of rehire."

I'm in the same boat as you.

Will said...

"Microsoft's best days are certainly ahead because [of] the research and products and customer connections they have and the strength of leadership, starting with [Chief Executive Officer] Steve Ballmer. It's definitely not immune to this huge downturn that's taking place. Steve is doing the right things. I don't think I would do it any differently or any better, so I picked a time. I announced it several years in advance. And I always knew that company would have all sorts of twists and turns that they'd take on and do well with without my being there full time."

-- Bill Gates today on NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99816984

Anonymous said...

Why would H1B hiring slow down?

I don't think so, if anything, it will increase.

With economies being also bad at their countries, I expect more foreign students to stay here and therefore increasing the H1B pool and the hiring.

There is no legal requirement to hire locals before hiring H1B candidates.

Anonymous said...

"I know many cases in Microsoft where managers deliberately selected H1 visa holders over US citizens/ Green card holdes. These managers know H1 visa holders would not rebel at all and can be manipulated pretty easily because they wouldn't leave."

Bullshit. H1 has more wait time, more paperwork and has a risk of not going through each year (there is a limit). Most managers will prefer GC or citizenship.

Leonidas said...

All I could get out of them was that the employee agreement, NDA and moonlighting agreement remain in effect. That means that you cannot go to work in violation of those agreements during the 60 days or you are risking your entire package, severance and all.

This is true if you select the job search option. It may not be true if you decline that option. Have a lawyer look into that now.

BTW, you should immediately request (or get access to) all agreements you are subject to, as well as a description of why you were selected.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering what the overall productivity hit is? My wife was a high performer, always exceed rating. She was laid off after over 8 yrs at microsoft (and no she is not over 45 like all the conspiracy theorists think, she started as a college hire so she is young). Now the rest of her team is freaking out becuase one of the better performing employees was cut that means that they could be cut at any moment regardless of performance.

Seems about the worst possible way to do layoffs. Cut deep, fast and hard right away and then promise no more layoffs or gently prune poor performers over time without a general "layoff" both seem like much better methods. I'm worried the way they did it will result in a horrible work environment, loss of high quality employees (and potential employees) all for what?? a lousy 3% reduction in staff? Rediculous.

For all the layoff victims - be sure to read the clauses in the severance package re: microsoft offering you a position and forfeiting your severance before deciding to apply for another microsoft position. I would hate for someone to interview, decide they don't like the open position, and kiss their severance goodbye - scary! :(

Anonymous said...

All the anti-H1B comments are rediculous. America got to where it is today by importing the "best and the brightest". H1Bs are NOT paid less regardless of what some people think. If Microsoft, or any other US company, is not happy with candidates available they WILL outsource. Outsourcing is the real enemy! Cheap labor and all the money flowing into someone elses economy rather than our own. (I am born and raised in USA 4 generations if you are wondering)

Anonymous said...

"Bullshit. H1 has more wait time, more paperwork and has a risk of not going through each year (there is a limit). Most managers will prefer GC or citizenship."

Statistics proves it otherwise. How many applications Microsoft gets every month and why the percentage of H1 visa hiring is this high.

I am an asian but born in US. There were some of Asian managers in Microsoft simply didn't know this fact so they would tell me why they prefer H1 visa holders that they wouldn't tell to white americans. This is also a one of unrevealed secrets for career success in Microsoft. Who would you prefer to hire? Somebody who would never counter argue your positions, would not try to leave the group, do anything what you say or somebody who would act freely and wouldn't be scared to take bolder actions.

Waiting for a couple months is nothing when the managers own career advances are at stake.

Again, there are plenty of valid cases when unemployment is low hiring a smart H1 visa holder makes every sense.

Crandrea Group said...

It is sad to read comments from so many frustrated employees and shareholders.However, based on numerous reports it also comes as no real surprise.

Mini states "that things won't change until shareholders come with pitchforks".

That is the essence of our "New Strategy" for Microsoft. The company shares have underperformed competitors for eight years. They have languished for long-term at approximately $25 per share.

Despite massive share buybacks, massive R&D, numerous acquisitions, the shares have remained flat.The tragedy, Mr. Ballmer announces more share buybacks, and continued R&D in the midst of layoffs and ludicious market share attempt with a Verizon deal.

We in mid-December launched a campaign similar to Ironfire Capital and its "Plan B" for Yahoo.

We have obtained a reference at http://www.networkworld/community/node/37634

We will also be attracting additional attention with the media within the next couple of days.

Our blog can be accessed via http://thecrandreagoupr.blogspot.com

Within the next couple of days we will also have another post incorporating a interview conducted with media company.

The pitchforks are out..we are rallying more villagers(shareholders and employees) to effect change. Shareholder activism has the ability to effect change and influence "strategy".

Based on the comments in this blog, the consensus, Microsoft requires a 'New Strategy'.

Anonymous said...

People are now scared, I sense it in the team. don't think great work will come from someone being scared.

This is inhumane, it's 21st centuray for god's sakes. What kind of society is this?

Anonymous said...

Visit these links and see if any of you think history could be repeating itself:

DEC

Big Switch

Anonymous said...

>>>>>>>One thing i dont understand is why doesnt MS offer voluntary retirement scheme??


+1 on that.

In fact I would go a step further and say that offer such employees 1.5 week of severance for every 6 months of job. So an avg guy with 5 years of experience will get 15 weeks (about 3.5 months of severance) - not bad since we dont need to give them 2 months of "job search" time. Less than that, the slackers/draggers might not have enough incentive to leave on their own.

I'd add that I see some people coming to work just for the heck of it. Pretty sure if given right monetary incentive, a good chunk of them would leave for other gigs.

To me it is a win-win. Employee who is just dragging with his job chooses to leave. Microsoft gets to reduce it's headcount/operating expense, without creating ill will or firing top performers. The remaining employees will have a better work atmosphere and probably would start believing in 'going above and beyond' concept again. (I for one cannot understand what message Ballmer is sending by firing the 'top performers' - as many of the fired employees posted here, while retaining 10% guys and staggering 3600 remaining firings).

Any other opinions here?

Anonymous said...

The requirement to adhere to the NDA, Employment Agreement and Moonlighting rules applies to both those with and without internal job search. It's not predicated on whether you have a job search option but on the WARN requirement to be on payroll for those 60 days.

I will be interested to know if the 60 days of WARN enforced notice is subtracted from the severance amount based on term of service.

I did find the part about using only date of last employment if you have left and come back. There's no mention of that being changed if you came back within a year and "retained" your seniority per MS. Kiss another 2 weeks of pay goodbye there.

Anonymous said...

To the person who thinks Steve Ballmer should be fired. I don't feel like I'm the only one who think so.

Steve Ballmer was really good as a sales leader. That necessarily did not give him the chops to run the whole company. He may have been the most trustworthy and qualified that Bill and the board of directors found. Call it coincidence or not, since he took over the reins of the company, our stock has tanked. The way I look at it, Mr. Ballmer is more of a numbers guy, more specifically a bottomline numbers guy and no matter how much he decided to look far ahead, he is too short sighted on hitting numbers in the near future.

To the owner of this blog. I can see your point that MS is bloated and hence crippled with incompetent people. Unfortunately I don't share your view. I feel MS is incompetent at realizing the potential of it's own employees. Yes!! People move up the chain of command for the wrong reasons. The problem we have is that the wrong people have moved up the chain of command and sit in middle management. It's usually the self centered high performers that end up in these spots and to make things worse, they are measured against the bottomline that they contribute. I have been around the company in several teams and groups at various ends of the spectrum. I've shipped products that range from super-successful all the way down to utter failures. At points through this journey, I have found the culture in the company to be very different from team to team and have had the pleasure of sometimes working in a utopia product, where people right from the middle management strive to get the product right and make it a passion to get it right. The beauty is that the right product had a direct correlation with the revenue and profit. Then again, I was on Vista where employee performance was measured by the number of bugs that were fixed, let alone if the feature set that we delivered was usable or not.

Coming back to Mr. Ballmer. Is it a coincidence that products that he did not have heavy influence on have been more successful in user perception and also the market. Take XBox for example. Mr. Ballmer had a more hands off approach and today if there is any product in the company that comes closest to his software + services dream, it's XBox + XBox Live. Is it coincidence that the last version of Windows that was widely praised (Win2000) was prior to him taking over as CEO? Time and time again and version after version, Mobile was asked to prioritize commercial features that they thought would bring in money over usability and experience. In fact, SteveB laughed at the iPhone being viable in the commercial space. Guess who's laughing today?

The problem with Mr. Ballmer is that he does not look at the pockets of success in MS and try and harness the ingredients to other groups.

Then we have his obsession with winning in search in a numbers way. I say we should win in search because it's something everyone does and will continue to do. We need to get people to choose our search engine over google. Buying Yahoo is not the answer for that. I don't know what the answer is, but it's definitely not buying Yahoo.

MS in my opinion is too concerned about the bottomline and pleasing it's shareholders in the near future. Windows 7 is a direct example of what can be achieved (no matter how your team dynamics are) when the team leadership prioritizes product quality and usability over maximizing profit.

My point is that it's not the size of MS, thats the problem. It's the leadership and it's expectations. We need to recognize the right leaders amongst our pawns; not just the high performers who are more concerned about covering their rears. Then, our priorities should be do deliver amazingly usable and reliable products and not about how our bottomline will grow. Doing vice versa may mean more short term profits, but in the long run we might as well let iPhone and Apple rule the roost in the years to come.

As for this layoff, my opinion is it's an eyewash. I've been in an MS layoff before and I know MS has laid off groups or redistributed resources before. Never have I felt more vindicated before. Mr. Ballmer is using this economy to get some good attrition. The sad part is that he handles it like a lay off, breaking the trust between employee and company and scarring that relationship forever. IMO, MS should be able to easily weather the storm in it's full capacity and still continue to make money (maybe not grow). Moreover, if you did want good attrition, do it without affecting the other better performers and do it piecemeal like MS has done it before. Blaming it on the economy and all this eyewash has just eroded away one of MS's strongest hiring advantages; job security.

Congratulations Mr. Ballmer. I'm sure the next 2 years will be very "productive" for employees. At the end,we will be left with all the self centered "cover my a**" type of high performers who will move into your middle management to lead this company out of it's misery!!!

Anonymous said...

"With economies being also bad at their countries, I expect more foreign students to stay here and therefore increasing the H1B pool and the hiring."


Foreign students who stay after completing their degree are not H1Bs.

And would you rather that after completing their education, sometimes at a taxpayer supported institution, they went back to their own country rather than stay here?

Anonymous said...

Villager speaketh. Fire Lydle and Lisa

Anonymous said...

"With all the great minds and competitive spirits, why not ask employees to suggest cost-cutting measures or even have teams compete to lower costs?

How about not mothballing profitable products like Flight Simulator? Not exactly rocket science unless you're Shane Kim and his brain-dead buddies. They weren't even bright enough to sell off the business so they'd get some cash from the whole mess.

Anonymous said...

"I have 9 years service overall but i came back 3 years ago. if i get layoff, do i get 3 years or 9 years?"

How did this person stay out of the 1400 ? :))

Anonymous said...

"I.e. Ballmer remains in reign, Board cant sack him even if the investors wanted them to (they do) becuase there is no backfill except external"


What about SteveSi ?

Anonymous said...

"i think from 2000 microsoft has hired mostly crap. people who were contractors, converted to test, and then test leads and managers (its much easier), and then they "shift" to the only possible thing, program manager and sr program managers (which sucks big time), and thats it , they corrupt the whole system with their useless ideas. I think people should stick to their disciplines after all wouldnt they have shown passion for testing when they originally were hired and grew in the ranks ! This is cheating and just a way to grow, fire all such people who have changed streams."

Although I disagree with the year, this is a sad state of affairs in MS. While it was a better option for the employee to change jobs internally as opposed to changing company, it messed up the whole equilibrium.

Anonymous said...

Though any layoffs suck, I think a lot of folks are off the mark on the layoff approach. I hear things like "shoulda done the big cut and guarantee no additional layoff for XX months". Personally I expected bigger cuts now, but this economy is so freakin' unpredicable. No-one knows what or where the bottom will be. Personally I'm going to take the advice of others and stop 401K contribs, in favor of putting money in the bank, for about a year. Maybe then the future will be clearer. I personally laid off 4of my team of 12, and have great admiration for the way they've handled the news. For me to be whining about the past now would seem pathetic.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of voluntary retirement, here is a precedent by Intel - the offered 4 months of pay and 1.25 week of pay for every year worked. Wonder if Ms would do something similar:

Here is the url:
http://www.faceintel.com/digital.htm

Anonymous said...

I want Windows 7 to be the best release in years and I'm going to do what I can to make it so. If I get laid off, so be it, but it won't be for lack of trying.

Thanks for reflecting the attitude I know to be true of most of my colleagues. I have to say that reading thru this forum I feel like this doesn't reflect the mature and insightful demeanor of most msfties. Maybe this is wishful thinking but I believe there's a silent majority that simply isn't represented here.

The layoffs are truly unfortunate and my heart goes out to all affected. Were they avoidable? Hard to say - we're living thru some pretty trying economic times. The growth over the past 2-5 yrs has definitely been a little out of control. But having worked in the "real world" prior to msft I have to say folks are often "spoiled" by some of the luxuries that msft offers. From an engineer's POV there are very few places where you can be exposed to as vast an array of brilliant technical minds and challenging problems to work on. IMHO at least some folks posting here don't realize how fortunate they are because they haven't experienced the flip-side.

I've only ever known one person who worked at AAPL and the anecdotes of enslavement were scary. I have several friends who work at GOOG and ironically many have recently started observing that it's msft on a fast track (both the good & bad) - the growth both in terms of market capitalization (good) and personnel (bad) has been a lot faster. And the inevitable introduction of adult supervision / middle management has a number of them rushing out the door to startups. Startups of course have tons to offer in terms of that wonderful tight-knit small group dynamic many of us crave. The downside - your odds of impacting the world (despite kick a** technology) are slim. I came to msft to change the world and still believe it's the best place to do so within the broad sphere of computing.

Anonymous said...

So, anyone know if Jawad is one of the people being laid off? :P

He seems to have been doing nothing for ages (no-one reports to him in Headtrax).

Anonymous said...

The axe looming over my head isn't doing me any good. Encouraging and mature words -

"want Windows 7 to be the best release in years and I'm going to do what I can to make it so. If I get laid off, so be it, but it won't be for lack of trying."



I prepped up my resume during the day today, I couldn't get any work done - our regular team meeting turned to a 'leads only' meeting and I sweated in my pants the entire afternoon.

Just sent across my CV to a friend down in CA. I love what we are doing for Win Mobile 7 but I can't work knowing that one day amongst the next 548 days, I could be the next 3600. g1/iPhone, here I come. :(

Anonymous said...


For all the layoff victims - be sure to read the clauses in the severance package re: microsoft offering you a position and forfeiting your severance before deciding to apply for another microsoft position. I would hate for someone to interview, decide they don't like the open position, and kiss their severance goodbye - scary! :(


Hmm, I wonder if you would have any luck editing the agreement and striking out the clauses you don't like? Would MSFT retract the severence pay offer if you struck this the above clause? (And is that legal?)

Anonymous said...

63: new H1B jobs posted for MIcrosoft Corporation today (as of 2:30 pm PST 1/26/09)

200+ : new H1B job postings for Microsoft Corporation since 1,400 American citizens laid off 1/22/2009

Contact your Congressman tomorrow. Tell them they must include E-Verify in the upcoming Economic Stimulus plan. This program verifies citizenship of H1B/PERM job filings and helps protect American jobs for US citizens in the USA.

Electronic letter and online contacts
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/webreturn/?url=/caps/issues/alert/?alertid=12515801

We need the E-Verify program. Please support the amendments that were added to the stimulus bill.

Millions of Americans have lost jobs during this recession. The E-Verify amendments offered to the stimulus package by Rep. Calvert and Rep. Kingston will see that this bill provides jobs for Americans.

Congress is poised to pass a $1 trillion economic stimulus to create millions of jobs. If this bill is passed, these jobs should go to American workers and legal residents.

The successful E-Verify system imposes minimal burdens on employers and employees. Every day, more of our nation's businesses sign up for the E-Verify program. The program would be a good idea under any circumstances, but it is especially important during this economic crisis.

Please do all you can to ensure that the final version of the bill retains these two amendments. It would be unconscionable to have American taxpayers pay for jobs that are given to foreign workers.

Anonymous said...

"If one were to do a "reset" of the game console industry the same way the iPhone was a reset of the cell phone industry, I'm sure they would start a certification program for PCs instead of building special consoles. I.e., your PC would have "XBox capability" if it was a certain size, met certain acoustic properties, had certain functionality and performance, etc."

Vista had this... look how well that worked out.

PC gaming for all intents and purposes is dead other than a few major franchise hits (WoW, Starcraft, Sims). It's not a MS thing, it's an industry thing.

Anonymous said...

Well I can say one thing for certain, things changed very fast over the weekend and while I still have my job I am not sure this is the same great place it used to be to work.

I am a mobile worker (Sales) who spends a large chunk of time on the road, occasionally being away from home on weekends. Anything to serve my customers! There was always an understanding that these weekend work days out of town would be covered with days of in lieu.

Apparently that is not the case. Last week I was out of town from Saturday until Friday visting customers, including some on Saturday and Sunday and while it was common knowledge within our team of this in lieu day off upon return from such trips, I got ripped.

HR, blah blah, unfair to others, balh blah, business standards, blah blah...

So while I feel lucky I still have a job where some in our extended team don't I seem to be doing even more, for less, and no chance for any recognition, monetary or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

We need someone like the new Yahoo CEO... She sounds cool so far: New CEO Swears Like a Sailor at Yahoo Blabbers.

Anonymous said...

Given Steve Ballmer's public admiration for the Jack Welch "fire the bottom 10%" approach, and comments Steve has made at company meetings that sounded pretty close to "if you have a family, that's a great motivation to work hard and keep your job," I assume that the MS ongoing layoff strategy is designed to light a fire under the soft and ever-expanding flesh MS employees plant each day into the thousands of chairs located across the Microsoft campuses.


Furthermore, despite some claims to the contrary, I suspect the majority of the layoffs (particularly the "hand in your badge now!" variety) were the bottom 10% over time. The reason decisions were made at the GM/VP level was because they wanted to eliminate some of the inconsistencies and biases that would result if decisions were pushed down the PUMs and discipline managers.

So, for those of us remaining, how do we adjust our career planning? Mini makes some suggestions in his "Rumors of Upcoming Microsoft Cut-Backs" post. But what are you going to do? For me, though I think I'm a solid performer, I've committed the sin of not clearly understanding how my manager and his manager see me and my long-term trajectory. I'll aim to fix that. I'll also do some of the obvious things "just in case" (e.g. updated résumé, outstanding medical/dental issues resolved, networking, evaluating the marketability of my skill-set). I'll probably make a greater effort to be debt free and have enough funds for 12-18 months of jobless living (though I wish I had started this a couple years ago). Maybe I'll even do a lightweight external job search "just to see." All of these things would be good for me, and actually would probably be good for Microsoft in the long run. But I'm curious what, if anything, others plan to do differently given the layoffs.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a steveb fan. When he entered stage at Company Meeting I used to stand up to give him my respect. When Vista got screwed I thought it was KJ's fault, not Steve. When Yahoo mess was going on I thought it was YusufM, not steveb. I'd just forgotten all these super bad decisions circle backs to him because he is the one approving it and signing it. As a CEO he is 100% accountable for all of these.

I've recently started reading stories about how Steve Jobs works at Apple and a book called Google Story. Anyone who is still disillusioned for steveb should read that book. There is no alternative for tech company to have technically superior visionary person at helm.. Steve Jobs sits down with his design team every week and drives his vision. Brin and Page actually knows in and out of their crawlers and algorithms. Bill Gates used to review specs of every major feature in Windows and Office. When was the last time steveb reviewed any specs and contributed his vision? He is a blind guy who needs other 4 people to guide him. But how he can choose these guide people if he himself is not a visionary? Now you know why all our presidents are also non-visionaries - because they have been hired by a non-visionary! This cascades all the way through and explains why org of billg was so much vibrant and had an edge. They can decide to create a better browser from nothing and can do it within a year (YES, I do thing IE was far ahead of all competitors at that time). Now we can't even make a decent music player. Hell, we can't even decide on branding of our Internet properties.

So that's a difference a visionary makes. Billg was one of them and inherently knew constantly cutting fat was important. He used to brag about doing 10% RIF every year to keep company healthy. Ballmer will never get this.

If you tell BillG that you absolutely positively need X people, he will ask you to get your work done with X-1. With Ballmer and his chain of commands you can tell you need 2X people to something and them with stupid justifications. My org is the one who is going to get new head count (as Ballmer had mentioned in his email). So my manager called up a meeting and asked us how many we need for doing X. We started with 1 then it became 2 and finally my manager said let's make it 3 so we have a backup! And this is AFTER layoffs. If there was no layoffs I'm pretty sure my manager would have given estimate of 4 new headcount. Do you see what kind of fat we have accumulated here?

I've many of people in my org who can't possibly claim to have skill set more than "ability to use MS Office applications". You guessed them right: they are all PMs. These people had done some coding in their high schools and never touched code again. But they keep putting in their resumes. I know you ask: How the hell they got hired? A classic example of "Bs" hiring "Cs". As "Bs" themselves are out of touch they can't ask coding and other deeper tech questions to "Cs" (DevDiv may be exception here). Do you see now why we are so bad at bringing features that customers what in a way they want? We have PMs less literate than our customers.

My group is one of the "top" group in MS. We use this fact to get all kind of unusual headcount and funds. The consequence is that my group is super inflated. A fun fact: Only 23% of people in my group can actually read/write code using current dev tools and have done so at least once in past one year. Yes, take that: 77% of people haven't even read any code even once in past one year. What all they do? They write specs, do road maps, draw architecture diagrams, talk about budgets, "talk" to customers, draw icons etc. We have more than 2/3 of org who don't understand technology working to define technology. As per the Google Story book, the ratio at Google is 1/10. From this calculation, we have about 67% of fat. If Microsoft was human being, it would be ICU because of such accessive fat. SteveB, do you get it now?

Anonymous said...

>Yes, SVC had layoffs. I'm not going to out them, but they do exist.

No layoffs under Windows Live hotmail in SVC. They are under Sinofsky's. An email was sent stating no changes to the org, for now...

Anonymous said...

They can't lay you off if they can't find you. LOL

Honestly, what if you just stopped coming into work. Show up for the team meetings, answer emails remotely, produce just enough to get by (but remotely), and just hide. How long do you think thaty you could do that before they search you out and make you "next". While you're doing that, interview, polish your resume, and get ready for your next gig.

And Mini...shouldn't it be 7200 shoes waiting to drop?

Anonymous said...

While is understandable that many employees are mad with this situation, some guys are going way over the edge and hunting the wrong animal. Many people are saying here and also in Facebook that H1B should be the first to be fired, that’s just ridiculous. A company should never fire someone by the visa status, race, religious condition, color or anything that is not related to that person’s performance. It doesn’t make any sense to fire someone because of the vista status if that person for example has a high utilization and it is top performer (exceed constantly). When you choose to fire first the H1B you are focusing in the wrong metric, that are lots of underperformers at MS and many of them are not H1B and you know why? Because H1B visa workers pass through a hell to be here in US and they are not here to joke around. To be approved a H1B have to be so high qualified, go through a tough documentation request that you have no idea what that job means to that person. When Microsoft hires a H1B visa worker is because they put a position out there and many people (including Native American) interviewed for that position and they DID NOT qualify for that position. Don’t blame H1B for your unsuccessful career at MS, do you job, work harder than your peers and make sure to be diligent on your utilization. Stop caring about who goes first, if you have guts to look to this crisis and work your ass off to make sure you did your best, I doubt that you will be fired. Unfortunately there are many morons out there that are already thinking: why exceed this year if I will not have a merit increase anyway. Wrong mind set, this is the time that you have to do your 110% to be sure you will stay with your job. All H1B holders that I know are going already 200 miles per hour to do over the expectation this year. If they can and they are willing to do it why you want to fire them? Why management will lay off a great performer instead of fired that guy that doesn’t do shit and just complain. There you go….it is time to re-think about your posture at MS, more than ever, be the asshole of the team is not good…not good at all.
All that to say: before you be an irrational racist and say: “H1B should be the first”, think about the management perspective, they are looking for great performers. They are thinking: “The underperformer should be the firsts regardless of citizenship”. You should think about that before point fingers.

Anonymous said...

To the mobile worker concerned about time-in-lieu ...

... that might have been a practice in your team, but it certainly isn't in my subsidiary. Travel is clearly understood to be an after-hours thing (ie, evenings and week-ends) with no compensatory time off.

Anonymous said...

"They can decide to create a better browser from nothing"

Sorry, like most MS products IE was bought in from somewhere else. In this case Spyglass' version of the open-source Mosaic browser which Marc Andreesen wrote while at NCSA.

See Help->About in IE up to IE6 (IE 7 no longer credits NCSA, all that ancient code must be gone).

Anonymous said...

And Mini...shouldn't it be 7200 shoes waiting to drop?

Actually, no, Whoda has it right. It's 3600 shoes waiting to drop.

See, the metaphore is that you already heard one shoe drop, and now you're waiting for the second shoe. 3600 shoes already dropped when Ballmer announced that many people would be axed over the next 18 months. Now everyone is waiting nervously for the second set of 3600 shoes to drop when they find out exactly who will get the axe.

Which is one of the reasons this is such a crock. Ballmer may admire Jack Welch's "fire the bottom 10%" notion, but you know what else Welch did? Before he fired the bottom 10% of workerbees, he first fired 85% of the VPs. He got rid of the incompetent executives and managers first.

Anonymous said...

And Mini...shouldn't it be 7200 shoes waiting to drop?

3600 people are waiting for the *other* shoe to drop.

So... no.

Anonymous said...

>"We need someone like the new Yahoo CEO... She sounds cool so far:"

I think you are right. She shepherded over the decline of Autodesk in the engineering market in much the same way Balmer shepherded over Microsoft's decline due to a disruptive technology shift.
http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=ADSK#chart1:symbol=adsk;range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=MSFT#chart1:symbol=msft;range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

She brought Inventor software up to speed, but it was pretty much too late as other software companies cleaned their clocks having had a seven year head start.

She maintained dominance in selected markets (architectural cad) like Microsoft did in enterprise and office.

Autodesk faced the same kind of challenges: owned the drafting cad market for fifteen years, was challenged by disruptive technology in the form of parametric software and a vastly improved update process from SolidWorks, was directly challenged by their 'Google' (SolidWorks) to take their existing clients, etc.

A big plus: it is always nicer to have something nice to look at while somebody is stealing your wallet.

Anonymous said...

I think people should stick to their disciplines after all wouldnt they have shown passion for testing when they originally were hired and grew in the ranks ! This is cheating and just a way to grow, fire all such people who have changed streams.

The fact that people are promoted into positions they are not qualified/suited for is directly due to the fact that Microsoft's management policy is one of, "If an employee isn't moving up, then that employee should be dispatched." Managers promote employees and employees seek promotions in a desperate effort to keep from being "Kimmed".

One of the reasons Microsoft can't hire enough talent is because Microsoft has taken tens of thousands of good employees, promoted them to a level of incompetency, and then tossed them out with the trash.

Employment at Microsoft is sort of like a crappy pyramid scheme with SteveB and his Partners clinging to the top.

Anonymous said...

>>There is no legal requirement to hire locals before hiring H1B candidates.

I think you'll find there is.

Anonymous said...

Just to clear things up since I've seen comments like this alot, but the majority of company overhead is allocated down to each individual business's operating results. Go ask any competent finance manager working for MS.

They are referring to the portion that remains unallocated after that process is complete. $1.3 billion last quarter.

Anonymous said...

>>Any other opinions here?

If voluntary separation were offered, why do you think that "slackers/draggers" would take it?

The best people can find a job in any economy. So why wouldn't they take the severance and start somewhere else on the following Monday?

In the current situation, whatever loyalty employees had for this company has been seriously undermined - regardless of who you are (let's say 64 and below at least) and what you've done, you could get RIFed, and this could happen anywhere.

So now we have the best people knowing that what they do is in no way tied to job security. Gold Star on Wednesday, laid off on Thursday is an odd message. Might as well be applying your smarts anywhere, right?

Regardless of the economy, I think we'll see considerable bad attrition from folks who previously felt valued for their accomplishments and contribution to the company's success.

This does not seem to be our SLT's finest hour.

Anonymous said...

>>Yes, take that: 77% of people haven't even read any code even once in past one year. What all they do? They write specs, do road maps, draw architecture diagrams, talk about budgets, "talk" to customers, draw icons etc.

I'm a developer. I do hope you re-read your comment and consider what is involved in the process of shipping software.

While I don't doubt that some organizations may be bloated, suggesting that anyone who does not write and/or read code is pure overhead suggests that you don't understand the business you're in. Not understanding the business you're in is a very, very dangerous place to be right now.

This company has a history of heaping largesse on the "hero developer". That time has gone. And good riddance to it. The actual writing code that we do is largely a commodity activity. Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it is true. It's the overall understanding of software in general and the business we're in that will make the difference between OK and great developers going forward, and that includes an understanding and appreciation of what the non-code-writers do.

And if they do indeed suck, what have you done to help?

Anonymous said...

It occurred to me that Microsoft is like these big financial institutions: too big to manage. This is one of the issues that has lead to management not knowing what is going on in the banks, so they didn't know what their risk exposures were. We've seen what that's done to the banks.

Well, Microsoft is similar. It's in too many lines of business, and it's too big. It cannot be effectively managed. So I wonder if a lot of the venom directed at Ballmer is misplaced. Yeah, he can't manage Microsoft, but I'm not sure that anyone else can, either. (And don't bother to tell me that Bill did. Sure, he did, but that was a lot of acquisitions and new lines of business ago.)

At a minimum, though, you can still blame Ballmer for this: He let Microsoft grow into something bigger than he could manage.

But if this idea is right, then just getting rid of Ballmer isn't the answer (no matter how satisfying it would be). Microsoft would still be too big to manage, and Ballmer's replacement would not do much better than he did. The only answer is to break up Microsoft into pieces that are small enough that one person can, at a high level, actually manage them.

MSS

Anonymous said...

I think a big part of the problem right now is that there is no visibility into what the criteria was for the layoff.

I'm sure it's deliberate because admitting to them would leave it open to scrutiny and more legal action. But lack of it means people are even more hurt and feel unfairly treated (if laid off) or scared and unsure (if not laid off).

Personally, other than the gotchas in the agreement and having to wait to take a new job until 3/24, I'm okay. I'd already decided it was time for me and, if offered a voluntary severance package, I would have taken it.

I think it really does hurt, though, when people stand in judgement of the people laid off as being sub-par or bad performers when the premise of the layoff itself was POSITION based, not employee based.

If the criteria had been to lay off the bottom x% of workers by the last year (or whatever time period) in problem units, it WOULD have been announced because it would have settled the troops and the press. It's concrete and measurable.

For the record, I was not in the 10% bucket and am a 13 year veteran of the company. But I was in a non-standard role and, I believe, the role was judged expendable.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this blog since news broke. I left MS recently probably I sensed something bad was coming inspite I really enjoyed working there.

I must say I enjoyed working with really smart guys - ppl scarifies personal life to show world that we build something which makes better world. This was my feeling I shared for almost 2 years - we shipped great product under tight dead line. Wow - I had 2 great years.

There were lot of mid management changes happened - couple of good guys left and joined some other team - few hardworking smart guys promoted to lead/manager positions. Next one year I saw ugly part of MS. SO called smart guys who were promoted to lead/manager position were trying hard to create their own pie so that they can scale high - at the end of M1 milestone we had junk feature set that was going in next release instead of looking at our customer need and where competition is heading. I sensed this quite - I raised my concern - u know typical manager answer - sux. Here comes TAP customer program 90% of features which were developed in M2, M3 milestone got hardly any taker in TAP program. This was clear result of greedy manager who wanted to prove their worth dominating each other. I lost passion to work. I was thinking about changing team inside MS - before I could take decision - I was hit by internal freeze. I had no option to continue in same team or look outside. It was tough decision but I decided to actively persive career outside. To my surprise - I landed in good company, better position(I dont care much as long as I get to work on great stuff), 40% hike on my base pay. Yes - MS is not the only better place.

I guess MS does layoff bottom people making their life miserable at work place and forcing them to look for change - I would have preferred this way to get rid of few people instead using economy excuse and openly cutting people. This will definitely cost MS to retain smart guys or recruit any - this will happen if not now immediately but definitely after 2 years from now.

I hope changes at top happens quickly before more damage happens - Include Ballmar in 5000.

Anonymous said...

I left Microsoft at the beginning of last year after spending 20 years there. I’m not going to talk about how bad it is to work at Microsoft because I think that would be disingenuous. The majority of my time at Microsoft was great and when times weren’t so great I elected to move to another group.

Microsoft changed a lot in the time I was there, growing from ~1500 employees to ~80k. The one thing I would have like to see change that didn’t was the up or out mentality that was reinforced by the performance reviews. There can only be so many executives in a company, and Microsoft needs to realize that at some point most people get off the career ladder and into a job mentality. Don’t punish employees for this instead recognize and embrace it.

Now as a shareholder, and not to be callous to those that lost their jobs last week, I really wanted to see deeper cuts that would make a positive impact on the stock price. Put some divisions on notice, bring in third party experts to review the business plans and revenue prospects for these divisions and make the hard decisions. I say bring in third party experts because the management in charge of these divisions is too passionate about the product. Microsoft doesn’t hire people who like to quit, so asking teams to kill their products runs counter to their strengths. Simply put throwing good money after bad has never been a sound business strategy, so stop doing it.

Finally if Microsoft is not going to try to impact stock price via reducing product lines than increase the dividend. Seems like a simple equation to me.

Anonymous said...

Have any of the European Business Intelligence sales team been laid off? In the States we're hearing they took a hit as the result of recent changes to the PerformancePoint roadmap, but no one can confirm.

Anonymous said...

Even Yahoo beats estimates!

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Yahoo-suffers-4Q-loss-but-apf-14171851.html

Profit of 17 cents instead of 13 cents (excluding one-time expenses)

Anonymous said...

Okey..an ex-employee(to be after this Friday) from MBS/Dynamics in Denmark...the severence package has been announced for us after a few days of consultation with our employee representatives.

0 month to 5 months experienced get 3 months pay

5 months to 2 years and 9 months get 5 months pay

2 years and 9 months to 5 years and
8 months get 7 months pay

5 years and 8 months to 8 years and 7 months get 9 months pay

8 years and 7 months to 12 years
6 months get 11 months pay

12 years to 15 years get 12 months pay

15 years to 18 years get 13 months pay

>18 years get 14 months pay

Apart from that:
1. An outplacement offer worth DKK 26,500 for all impacted employees
2. All due holiday paid
3. Employees get to keep their laptop and smartphones (the contents will be erased by IT and will install Vista or XP instead)
4. Those who are asked to work during the notice period will be paid special bonus every month on top of their salary
5. Legal assistance for rental and visa issues
6. Employees who were relocated to Denmark by MS get relocation costs - 50,000 DKK per adult, 12,000 per dependent
7. A room available on campus with PCs and Microsoft corp. network access for employees to stay informed about MS career opportunities during their notice period

Not bad :)

Anonymous said...

¿What is going on with the comments?
Mini: Please liberate them!!!

Anonymous said...

So let me see if I've got this straight...

I was one of the 1400, no 60-days-with-corpnet-access/out by EOD Friday.

I'm about to start shopping myself around. If I find a job quickly and accept it, if I start another position before the 60 days is up (March 23), then I would forfeit the entire severance package? Really?

I've only just started sniffing around, but it's pretty obvious that jobs aren't exactly falling like raindrops from the Seattle sky. The issue might be moot, but I'd be pretty torn if I found something good, was offered a job, and had to choose between the new job and the severance package.

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments:

Regarding the stupid shoes dropping, people - the saying is "waiting for the OTHER shoe to drop", meaning its as if all 3600 were standing with one foot up... only 3600 are going to come down.

Regarding complaining to your governor/senator/congressman... or filing a lawsuit - are you joking? Do you have any idea what kind of power Microsoft wields politically and how large its army of lawyers is?

Regarding H1B's - I know you may hate to hear it, I've been a hiring manager and also been on countless loops for candidates worldwide. I'm sorry, there aren't enough (until perhaps a few months ago) *qualified* & *highly educated* people in the US. Sure we had plenty of College drop outs apply and people who learned something during their military service but they were put to shame by the foreign workers who were smarter/faster/better (but definitely not cheaper).

I can assure you H1-B's are not cheaper, they are a significant hassle and expense, but technical talent, I'm sorry to tell you folks, does not grow on trees in the US any longer. The few that do graduate here, don't put us on the top of their list of places they'd like to work at.

Anonymous said...

Sort of interested to see if they will be making any statments soon about the Company Picnic and Company meeting. I can't imagine that they will go ahead with those extravaganzas after this blood letting.

(well yes I can... but not if they want to avoid outrage on many fronts.)

Anonymous said...

< When Microsoft hires a H1B visa worker is because they put a position out there and many people (including Native American) interviewed for that position and they DID NOT qualify for that position. >

Microsoft continually gets a bunch of resume submittals. Possibly the highly qualified American's resume was not identified by HR?

Anonymous said...

... that might have been a practice in your team, but it certainly isn't in my subsidiary. Travel is clearly understood to be an after-hours thing (ie, evenings and week-ends) with no compensatory time off.

Travel is one thing. Working all weekend is another.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Seattle most of my life, long before there was a Microsoft. Sure, the region is more prosperous but the character of the area has changed and the cost of living here is exorbitant. A lot of us would be happier if Microsoft vanished.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous to read those anit-H1B posts. Those comments are the most political and redneck stuffs I have ever come across. When things are going south, suddenly feel desperate to beg your congressman to throw a life jacket. I feel pound of you, my countryman!

Anonymous said...

It's amazing what things happen when you gather the "best and brightest" all in one isolated corner of the world. You end up with a Hobbesian world where life is short, brutal, and nasty.

Anonymous said...

The actual writing code that we do is largely a commodity activity. Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it is true. It's the overall understanding of software in general and the business we're in that will make the difference between OK and great developers going forward

While I agree with your overall point, that there's much more to making successful software products than writing code, I disagree that writing code is a commodity activity. A good coder will write code that's smaller, faster, more stable, and easier to maintain--all good things for the customer and the budget (less testing required, less work required to add/change features, less support infrastructure required, etc.). Microsoft is one of the few companies I've worked for that ignores the value of good coding/engineering. The prevailing philosophy is that "every dev at Microsoft writes good code or they wouldn't have been hired" and devs can only really distinguish themselves by working on high-visibility features and/or progressing quickly to management. Sad.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of voluntary retirement, here is a precedent by Intel - the offered 4 months of pay and 1.25 week of pay for every year worked. Wonder if Ms would do something similar:

+1. This is good idea. I am ready to help ease the head count burden for something like this.

Anonymous said...

PC gaming is not dead, but MS is trying its hardest to kill it. See the enormous suckage that GFWL is, and shutting several game studios including the one responsible for Flight Simulator.

Anonymous said...

Mini - PLEASE moderate better. You're letting spam & trolls dominate this conversation.

Anonymous said...

>> Foreign students who stay after completing their degree are not H1Bs.

Wrong. All the H1B's in my team have American degrees.

Anonymous said...

I used to think the main "numbers" problem was worrying about moving too slowly through the career levels. Perhaps I'm inferring too much, but it seems like there might be a tax if you've moved too far, too fast. Perhaps the company has unintentionally painted its ICs into a corner by offering an advanced IC career path?

If you're a strong performer who has obtained a higher level, then your cost per head might be higher than the average for similar roles in your group. Could this be putting some people at risk for layoff, especially if you're in a group that is not in the latest limelight?

I fear that employees now have a lifecycle, and if you successfully RTM, then you might be out the door.

- Lower levels: get work done, but sometimes bug your co-workers
- Middle levels: get lots of work done, think systematically, help (or at least don't bug) co-workers
- Higher levels: get work done between vying for visibility amongst your manager's manager and peers, sink time into bringing together disparate systems, and bug the hell out of your co-workers as you expand your scope and prove you're worthy of a higher level.
- Mission accomplished and game over. You cost too much.

If it has actually come down to cost per head, then perhaps employees should be given a chance to relevel, if it means saving their jobs. I've always heard moving down a level can have lasting career limiting effects, but these are unusual times. If this is where we're at, then I wish execs would be straight with us. Or maybe the numbers games should be revisited?

It's painful to fuss so much about numbers, vs. focusing on customers and shipping great products. I agree we should write clear commitments that we can quantify, but this is diferent than overanalyzing levels and compa ranges. It stamps out the human factor and sucks the life out of teamwork.

I'm also bummed to see so little flexibility in helping people find other positions. I'm not suggesting people can totally change disciplines, but if there's an opening that uses similar, transferable skills, why can't the employees be given a chance? I thought we hired agile, intellectually strong people who could handle ambiguity well. What the hell has happened to our corporate culture and faith in our number one resource?

And speaking of resources, I'll hurl if I see a fancy banner hanging from a building or get a color brochure in my mail slot, while 1400 people are worried about staying afloat.

Anonymous said...

Travel is one thing. Working all weekend is another.

Get over yourself, developers work weekends and late nights all the time without complaining... Man up!

Anonymous said...

When all this is over, people will ask "How could so many people know and not one say no or ring the alarm?". The answer is simple, bottom up top down people benefit from keeping their mouth shut - they get medical insurance, salaries often above business average, bonus schemes, they put their kids in fancy schools, they buy houses, boats and other stuff that they wouldnt be able to afford if it wasnt for Microsoft.

Even if the golden handcuffs have been removed and not many specialists will turn millionares, the culture still sticks, there is a piece of the action here for everyone. Ballmer, you are being used and abused by people who are mererly making money from your vanity whilst talking rubbish about you behind your back whilst laughing all the way to the bank.

In a sense, this is worse than Enron, because in Microsoft, an incredible amount of people know, but none of them act, not one single person. I tried, and I was made redundant with a generous comp and ben pack.

Anonymous said...

>> developers work weekends and late nights
>> all the time without complaining...

If you work like this "all the time", you're either not very productive or a pussy who can't push back against management. You will burn out in 3-4 years and you will hate life. Do only work at work. Don't work from home. Don't come in on weekends. Don't work late (unless you're in the final stretch of the shipping cycle). You're in it for a long haul, make sure you won't need Zoloft three years from now. It's bad for you.

Anonymous said...

It seems that E&D is hiring pretty massively again. Nearly ALL positions listed are from there. WTF? Why would you lay off a bunch of people, then turn around and hire a bunch of people?

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, MSFTExtremeMakeover was one of the 1400....

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments posted here are insightful and productive (or aspire to be productive). Does anyone know if MSFT management is reading this stuff and/or cares? Since the major announcements I feel like we're getting radio silence from the exec team. There are some crazy ideas posted here but there are also some good ideas. What I've heard, through the proverbial grapevine, is that decisions about cuts is being made at the GM level without any input about specific employees' contributions, stack-ranking or value to the product groups. Instead of a smart and strategic reduction in force it's straight slash and burn and "figure it out later." I guess that's easier but it sure won't solve our problems.

Hello MSFT! Can you hear us?! Please put aside the excuse that this is just a global issue and, as someone posted earlier, man up and tell us how MSFT is going to be different and better going forward as a result of these painful cuts. There are a ton of questions which you need to address. Why ARE we keeping free sodas and subsidized cafeterias but ending people's careers and ripping apart their lives? Why ARE we continuing to throw good money after bad on losing propositions? Why DO we continue to chase Google instead of doing what we do best? Supposedly the MSFT employees are smarter than the average fence-post, supposedly we are shareholders in MSFT's future, supposedly there MIGHT BE A PLAN? Care to share? Can someone please send up a flare to the Executive Branch of our company and get their attention? I sure haven't had any success in that arena. End of rant. I wish all of you the absolute best. Msft, non-Msft, former-Msft. Times are really tough and I think we need to start demanding some concrete answers.

Anonymous said...

There is a huge amount of trolling pushing lawsuits and visas. Think about who benefits the most from lawsuits. Think about who has resorted to competition via lawsuit for years. Think about the incredible spike in trolling and external commentary since the layoff. Have a little dignity and get over it; move on.

/disclaimer: I am American and among the 1400, no I am not buying your stupid T-shirt.

Anonymous said...

"I have 9 years service overall but i came back 3 years ago. if i get layoff, do i get 3 years or 9 years?"

No hire.

Anonymous said...

"They own over 50% of the market share in the over $1000 dollar portable computers which are the only ones that make a profit for MSFT."

Can anyone else spot the fail here?

Anonymous said...

"Regarding the stupid shoes dropping, people - the saying is "waiting for the OTHER shoe to drop", meaning its as if all 3600 were standing with one foot up... only 3600 are going to come down."

Uh, actually the saying comes from apartment living (back in the day before every America was promised a McMansion in every pot) where you can hear the upstairs neighbor dropping their shoes on the floor when going to bed. You hear the first shoe drop, and cannot sleep until you hear the 2nd drop. Who you callin' stupid now? :pp

Anonymous said...

If you guys got your wish about Ballmer you would see half the company fired without severance. I recommend the movie "The Corporation." The move on wall street is for short term, exponentially growing profits. Impossible to sustain. Ballmer is managing the conversion from growth company to value/dividend company. The street is rewarding that with a lower p/e. Feel lucky it has remained flat over that period. Once p/e is in a good place, our year over year growth will begin to reflect again.

If he really did care about the stock he would sh*tcan the majority of you, your friends, and the products you like to work on (unless you /like/ to work on excel your entire career). While not my favorite exec in the world, he has steered the company altruistically and given jobs to tens of thousands of techies and tons of products to the world (for better or for worse) instead of kissing the street's a** and bloodthirstily cutting away at everything and everyone (the street in question being the one that toppled the finance industry in search of short term profit growth above all else). I respect that.

/disclaimer: I am in the 1400 and still like Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

If voluntary separation were offered, why do you think that "slackers/draggers" would take it?

The best people can find a job in any economy. So why wouldn't they take the severance and start somewhere else on the following Monday?


That was also my point. A person who is ready to take voluntary retirement in this economy, how motivated is that person to work for MS or how passionate he truly is for his team's product? Such a person would leave anyway when the economy improves. Why not get rid of them by dangling carrot of voluntary retirement in front of them - at time when co. has to get rid of at least 3600 more people.

BTW - my thinking is that Ballmer is handling this in the worst possible manner. He is prolonging this layoff saga forever. And when the economy deterioates further, he might come back and say - oh we need to layoff 5K more, but that will take another 24 months!!! He is just taking this co. down the hill. If a wall st. bank screws up, their CEO is the first head to roll. I dont know why shareholders are still putting up with Ballmer. This guy has no vision - the only vision I hear from him is - how do I save our windows/office empire, and how do I catch up with Google search, iphone, ipod and other missed trains. Nothing original in last few years.

Anonymous said...

>>I fear that employees now have a lifecycle, and if you successfully RTM, then you might be out the door.

Don't identify yourself by where you work, but who you are and what you're capable of. No-one decides on when your career is done but you - not Microsoft, or any other employer.

Keep your skill current, understand the business, concentrate on making the business succeed. If the business model/plan/schedule/execution sucks in your group, help it to fail quickly by taking your skills elsewhere. Some battles cannot be won.

Don't wait for the other shoe to drop. It may, or it may not, and there is nowhere that you can be that will guarantee it will not. Its a cruel shock for many to realize that they are - in spite of being the "brightest and the best", 20/Exceeded gold start - expendable.

Give loyalty to people, not corporations. Corporations try - by design - hard to foster in you a sense of loyalty that is not reciprocated. "Our people are out best asset", "We will never have layoffs".

Do good work, but do it out of love of customer, loyalty to a good team and good manager, not to any corporation that would can you in an instant in the hope of a pat on the head from Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

And speaking of resources, I'll hurl if I see a fancy banner hanging from a building or get a color brochure in my mail slot, while 1400 people are worried about staying afloat.

Well, then you better better stock up on the Pepto Bismol and keep some handy. Surely these things will not be changing. Bet on it.

Anonymous said...

"It seems that E&D is hiring pretty massively again. Nearly ALL positions listed are from there. WTF? Why would you lay off a bunch of people, then turn around and hire a bunch of people?"

To trim out the low performing talent and convert roles less valuable to the business into roles that are more valuable. Happens all the time in many companies, not just MS...

Anonymous said...


>> developers work weekends and
>> late nights all the time
>> without complaining...

If you work like this "all the time", you're either not very productive or a pussy who can't push back against management. You will burn out in 3-4 years and you will hate life. Do only work at work. Don't work from home. Don't come in on weekends. Don't work late (unless you're in the final stretch of the shipping cycle). You're in it for a long haul, make sure you won't need Zoloft three years from now.


Bravo to whoever said this. I wish this was part of new employee orientation, and sent out every year at review time.

It amazes me that after 20 years here, people still think a 4am email or coming in on a Sunday morning is a badge of pride. Unless you're working with people in different timezones, if you need to work weekends and nights, you're doing it wrong.

This is another reason the review system should move from stack ranking individuals, to rewarding teams. You could reward teams that not only set aggressive goals, not only meet those goals on time without screwing people, but manage to do it all in a 50 to 60 hour work week.

When will people learn to see late nights and weekend work as a sign of failure instead of a heroic effort?

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments posted here are insightful and productive (or aspire to be productive). Does anyone know if MSFT management is reading this stuff and/or cares?

Get a clue: the execs don't give a damn what you or I or anyone else thinks. There have been countless great ideas suggested here for years, and on lisab's abandoned internal "blog". Every day, people make good suggestions to improve things. In my experience, none of it ever goes anywhere.

Why? Because the people running things believe that they are smarter, more virtuous, and better in every way than anyone who's below them in the pecking order. And because they have no incentive to listen to anyone else - the system gives them every reason to ignore anything that comes from somebody else that they are competing against. You don't get ahead at Microsoft by embracing suggestions from someone else, you get ahead by being "a rock star" and going it alone.

This is the essence of Microsoft's self-reinforcing delusion that it's a pure meritocracy. It's why we consistently make shockingly stupid decisions at every level, and it's why we build crap that nobody wants.

It's at the very core of the company's DNA, and most of the company's problems stem from it. Don't expect it to change anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I just read this on CNBC.com, why isn't Balmer's name on this list yet IBM and Google are?

Here's the list of chief executives of major companies are meeting with Obama Wednesday to discuss the U.S. economy:

— Steve Appleton, chairman, president and CEO, Micron Technology Inc

— David Barger, CEO, JetBlue Airways Corp

—Greg Brown, president and co-CEO, Motorola Inc

—John Bryson, president and CEO, Edison International

—David Cote, chairman and CEO, Honeywell International Inc

—Debra Lee, president and CEO, BET Holdings Inc, a division of Viacom Inc

—Anne Mulcahy, chairman and CEO, Xerox Corp

—Sam Palmisano, chairman, CEO and President, IBM

—Antonio Perez, chairman and CEO, Eastman Kodak Co

—Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google Inc

—Michael Splinter, president and CEO, Applied Materials Inc

—Wendell Weeks, chairman and CEO, Corning Inc

—Ron Williams, CEO, Aetna Inc

Anonymous said...

To say that Ballmer worships the Jack Welsh "10%" model, while accurate, missing the other half of that equation. Welsh also held his managers responsible for the performance of their TEAMS. If a amanger had a team witn low performers, that manger was also held accountable. If that manager could not improve his TEAM's performance, he was "rewarded" accordingly. I think the closest we come to this is linking managers to their OHI scores.

As others have said, with 90K people in the company, pitting team member against team member does not create a productive environment. As the company grew, on any team I worked on I never got the sense that everyone was working towards a common goal and was bought in.It's always been every man for himseld. More often than not, the only help you get from your team members is if it utlimately benefits them in meeting their committments. Our real world version of Lord of the Flies.

As for those of us that remember the Microsoft we all loved working for, my opinion is that the DOJ decision started this "change". Before then there was a sense of "us against the world". People believed in and worked towards "a pc on every desks.....running MS software". On the enterprise side, we celebrated big corporate wins. We relished our competitors losing busines to us. Right or wrong, people made decisions at a much lower level as to how to go about winning business.

After the DOJ decision came down, everyone began second guessing themselves. This resulted in the decision by committee, the "need" to get "everyone's buy off", run it by LCA, bla bla bla. Decisions are no longer made on what is best for the customer. They are made based on what's best for Microsoft. One would think those would be the same, but they are not.

Anonymous said...

It's cute how mini and so many others have a sentimental yearning to go back to 1997. Get over it, times have changed. Ballmer isn't perfect but he's right, companies can't simply entrench in an industry such as MS's.

Anonymous said...

"I'm about to start shopping myself around. If I find a job quickly and accept it, if I start another position before the 60 days is up (March 23), then I would forfeit the entire severance package? Really?"

Yes. You also lose it if any time if you take a job at certain companies during that 60 days plus the length of time of your severance package. For instance, you have 10 weeks pay, if you take a job in the 10 weeks after the 60 days that meets certain criteria, you also lose the package (or have to pay part of it back, I can't recall offhand). There is no list of the employers; the package lists one, but there's more than that.

The paperwork also states that they can take it away for whatever reason they want. You also lose the package if they find out you are offered a job and don't take it (although they'd have a hard time finding that out).

Most people will end up losing their severance package because of this. The rules are so strange that a lot of people will break them and lose the package without even knowing it.

This is *not* the great deal that MS is telling the world they're giving their employees.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the MSFT severance packages are generous. Even more so if you happen to be laid off in Europe. I'm sure there are companies with more generous severence benefits as some of these comments indicate, but I personally know situations where people got laid off with NOTHING and one day notification. And that was after 20+ years of service with their company! I'm very surprised to see laid off MSFT employees in Denmark keep their company laptops and smartphones. Do US employees get the same deal? If not why not?

It does appear to be more costly to layoff global employees - doesn't seem to bode well for the US employees when the next 3600 jobs are cut.

I'm a shareholder and I want to see my MSFT investment go up. But come on folks - when jobs are lost this economic spiral ain't gonna get better. Keep US workers employed!

Anonymous said...

"Believe it or not, MSFTExtremeMakeover was one of the 1400...."

That is believable and Mini should have been too. The rumors picked up by the press from this blog put a lot of extra pressure on Microsoft to do the layoffs. Normal attrition and getting rid of poor performers over time would have been a cheaper less risky path.

Anonymous said...

What do you think? Should we bring ThinkWeek back as a way to tell Ballmer how we smartly slim down and focus? Would hate to see that channel cut off right when we need it most.

Keeperplanet said...

>"WTF? Why would you lay off a bunch of people, then turn around and hire a bunch of people?"

WTF, maybe because in every market sector attacked with new products (that would be Xbox live, Xbox, Zune, etc. etc.), there was massive failure in design, engineering and marketing? Just a guess.

Anonymous said...

/snip/
It's amazing what things happen when you gather the "best and brightest" all in one isolated corner of the world. You end up with a Hobbesian world where life is short, brutal, and nasty.
//snip/

Try some time at Adobe, Apple, or Amazon and then tell me that MS is so unique.

Or, spend some time in academia, investment banks, or law firms.

MS is not as unqiue as people think.

It's called either capitalism or natural selection, depending on the model you favor.

Anonymous said...

>> In a sense, this is worse than Enron, because in Microsoft, an incredible amount of people know, but none of them act, not one single person. I tried, and I was made redundant with a generous comp and ben pack.

I tried as well, and the MS response was "Welcome to the 1400," with an inadequate comp package.

I'm accustomed to more agile environments, and tried a variety of strategies both agile and quite patient, to bring my team out of the dark ages. There's overhead on the team that could be cut, such as those who believe earnestly that their role makes a contribution, but which is nonessential to the product and serves only to slow down others' output. People are afraid to change the status quo. There are non-performers who didn't belong here in the first place who were put on a PIP for a year, and now work longer hours to get the work done, but don't work smarter and often have projects pulled from them by request of their cross-team collaborators who've become frustrated.

In the real world outside MS? Neither of these situations would have been allowed to continue in a company in which funding was limited and each individual was aware of the bottom line. The people who felt good about their purpose but slowed down others would have been exited with generous severance. Mentally slow people hired by mistake and found to be unable to do the work would be shown the door with minimal severance, and those on the loop that hired them would be retrained before being permitted to interview applicants again.

Before you complain about me for ragging on non-performers, when others on the team tried to help them, it was like beating our brains against the wall. One of them was assisted by four teammates in series. As each one gave up after explaining the same thing 6 times and having the person understand it one minute but be mystified by it 5 minutes later, a new one would take a crack at him. Nothing that any of us tried improved his work. Our conclusion was that he was "slow" because after 8 or 10 months, he learned the job well enough to be a "C". Microsoft considered that (less compensated) barely-achiever-for-the-moment individual competent enough to do the work our team does, that they felt it was safe to lay off higher priced, more competent, resources. If I was one of those still left on the team at a higher ladder level, "abandon all hope" would be a periodic thought.

Layoffs have shown that Microsoft is willing to operate in the real world. I challenge it to take on some of the attributes of other "real world" companies, that could mean the difference between an accelerated positive future and a slow decline.

Anonymous said...

Oh it's much worse... I have now been targeted for talking to executives and proposing bold ideas and action to make the "New" Microsoft... Most mid-level managers are trying to stay under the radar rather than proposing solutions... I think it's over here...

Anonymous said...

another post regarding h1bs:
my brother was a contractor working for TI, their whole business unit was shut down and moved to india.
The contracting company shut down their US operation and pulled back all their H1B contractors and moved them back to india... now these h1b workers will no longer be here nor will their tax dollars. its all going to the indian govt.
It makes perfect economic sense for the country as a whole to make h1b visas available. It is cheaper for all companies to get the work done in India than do it here.

Anonymous said...

It's terribly frustrating that the 60-day job search window doesn't allow me to nail down an outside job immediately without penalizing me the severance -- and given that any insurance at a new employer may not kick in for a few months, I could use the COBRA payment to help with medical coverage for my family in the interim.

Meanwhile, given that I'm not in Redmond, where jobs in my specialty are as prevalent, I'm forced to sell my home in a sh*t market, well before I ever would have done so by choice, to move to where a job is. In the worst-case scenario, I'm yanking my young kids out of school before the end of the school year.

To all those who remain and think they're immune in the next round(s), watch your back. I was recently promoted and received my best-ever review, bonus and stock award mere months ago. Protect yourselves. Don't be caught off guard.

Best wishes to my 1,399 brethren.

Anonymous said...

The week of April 20th may be the next round. Gird your loins.

Anonymous said...

We were discussing today while we can let some incapable 65+ go?

Their salary plus bonus could easily go over half a million and are many times of average Microsoft employees ( per salarylist.com ). Many of them have less than 3 directs and we really wonder why they are paid that much? And we barely can make a living here in the expensive area

Anonymous said...

>>"PC gaming for all intents and purposes is dead other than a few major franchise hits (WoW, Starcraft, Sims). It's not a MS thing, it's an industry thing."<<

But MS _is_ the industry. It was the meeting of Windows 95 and PC Games that drove an explosion of growth for PC's and multimedia hardware.

In the late 90's into 2001, MGS was developing a diverse and manageable portfolio of PC game experiences that nicely complemented the company's strength: Great PC Software. And it sold to a huge installed base, well exploited by games like Age of Empires and Flight Sim.

But it was around that time that we forgot that the PC is the star of the show. Others haven't, as can be seen by the success of Steam, Wow, and casual gaming.

Anonymous said...

>No layoffs under Windows Live hotmail in SVC. They are under Sinofsky's. An email was sent stating no changes to the org, for now...

What the hell has happened to that group? When I left a couple of years ago it was flatten to follow Sinofsky’s org model. Now it is super bloated, a bunch of principal dev leads, Leads of leads, Architects. I guess Sinofsky is too busy with Windows 7 to pay attention. Even worse, it looks like the backend team has taken over the whole thing. LOL, I am glad I left when I did.

Anonymous said...

< / MSFT >

Anonymous said...

GOING ON RIGHT NOW********

I am ex-MSFT in Redmond on non-MSFT related business. I am staying at the Marriott Redmond Town Center. And you know what I see. I see that there are meetings going on here and at the Marriott Residence Inn Redmond Town Center for all managers called the MYR (yep, you all know what that is). Each division has rooms assigned to it. So, if you want to know where your managers are...they are here.

This tells me a few things...taking these meetings offsite (wasting money) shows a lack of trust that these meetings take place on campus. Also denotes a sense of ominous urgency, don't ya think? It just so happens that I am hiring for .NET developers and I have 1/2 a mind to put on a sandwich board and walk around the hallways here at the hotel. LOL

Anonymous said...

I happen to have a couple of open positions and have been talking to a number of people who were laid off last week. It's sad. Everyone that I have talked to is what I would consider to be high caliber, ideal MS hires. Intelligent, articulate, creative, dedicated, energetic, etc. All of them were caught completely off guard by the cut. Most of them have families, mortgages, and, until last week, the belief that being a great employee would result in continued support by their company.

I will be hiring two of them to fill my open positions, but I can't help thinking that there are 1,398 just like them, and 3,600 more about to get the same treatment.

It's just sad.

Sad that our leadership has let us down.

Sad that we can no longer take care of all of our dedicated employees.

Sad that we are no longer the company that I joined 15 years ago.

Sad that there is little prospect that we will ever be that company again.

Anonymous said...

SAP joins IBM, Apple, Google, and even Yahoo in the beat earnings category. Revenue was short, but still 8% growth. Very different approach for handling 3000 announced layoffs:

"As SAP is a global company, we will consider each region and each line of business at all levels. We are looking for fair solutions according to accepted practice, and we will make this process as transparent as possible. We owe this to our employees. We plan to reduce the number of positions globally from 51,500 to 48,500, taking full advantage of attrition as a factor to reach this goal."

Anonymous said...

The rumor is that entire team after Flight Simulator, Train Simulator etc. (150 people) got sacked.

Anonymous said...

if I found something good, was offered a job, and had to choose between the new job and the severance package

Possibly the start date could be moved out to date favorable to you?

In reading all the posts about the severance package and it's gotcha's I am not sure what to think. It seems inhumane that someone could not start a job without losing the entire package.

Anonymous said...

>>technical talent, I'm sorry to tell you folks, does not grow on trees in the US any longer. The few that do graduate here, don't put us on the top of their list of places they'd like to work at.<<

...and last week we dropped down even lower on their list of places to work.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, MSFTExtremeMakeover was one of the 1400....

Fascinating and sad. And I must conclude that I can guess the identity of that blogger now, as can likely dozens or hundreds of others who put a couple simple pieces together.

Anonymous said...

>> When will people learn to see late nights and weekend work as a sign of failure instead of a heroic effort?

Just a thought here: When managers stop punishing those who don't, by placing them in the 1400.

Anonymous said...

I just read this on CNBC.com, why isn't Balmer's name on this list yet IBM and Google are?

That's a rhetorical question, right?

I'm guessing someone who admits not know what makes the MSFT stock price go up or down would not have much insight to offer on the economy.

Anonymous said...

>> developers work weekends and
>> late nights all the time
>> without complaining...

>If you work like this "all the >time", you're either not very or >a pussy who can't push back >against management. You will burn >out in 3-4 years and you will >hate life. Do only work at work. >Don't work from home. Don't come >in on weekends. Don't work late >(unless you're in the final >stretch of the shipping cycle). >You're in it for a long haul, >make sure you won't need Zoloft >three years from now

I agree with the longterm effect but unfortunately, in many areas, Microsoft needs to compete with startups where people do work longer hrs.

Anonymous said...

"It's terribly frustrating that the 60-day job search window doesn't allow me to nail down an outside job immediately without penalizing me the severance -- "

As long as you start that new outside job after your 60 days, you won't be penalized on the severance. I've had nice long conversations with my HR rep about this. If you start the new outside job within the 60 days, then you're subject to the moonlighting policy.

Anonymous said...

All bubbles have an eventual (and catastrophic) end. I wonder if this marks the end of Microsoft's H1B bubble or is the beginning of the end.

Anonymous said...

It's terribly frustrating that the 60-day job search window doesn't allow me to nail down an outside job immediately without penalizing me the severance -- and given that any insurance at a new employer may not kick in for a few months, I could use the COBRA payment to help with medical coverage for my family in the interim.

Firstly, your view of what severance pay is for needs adjustment. It is to offset the financial harm you incur by being unemployed. It is not a bonus, and it would be inethical to double-dip by being paid for your new job at the same time receiving paychecks from your old company.

Secondly, health coverage at companies typically start at the first of the month. For someone who is capable of finding a new job within 60 days is surely resourceful enough to come up with temporary health coverage to cover the gap, including buying COBRA coverage. If you don't have 3-4 weeks in extra cash, then you have a more serious problem than your imagined grievances with Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Shoe #3600 is currently dropping. 8 years at Microsoft, 5 levels up from where I joined, good reviews all around. I may come back once someone else is running the company. Monkey boy is a fucking disgrace. I will miss the people -- friends, colleagues, mentors. There are plenty of things I won't miss, though. And hopefully I'll keep at least some of the friends.

Anonymous said...

What are Exec compensations going to be like this year? How about posting a list of our favorite partners. Folks that are kicking back and enjoying the smooth life at the top echelons of Microsoft?

Anonymous said...


It sounds like the MSFT severance packages are generous. Even more so if you happen to be laid off in Europe. I'm sure there are companies with more generous severence benefits as some of these comments indicate, but I personally know situations where people got laid off with NOTHING and one day notification. And that was after 20+ years of service with their company! I'm very surprised to see laid off MSFT employees in Denmark keep their company laptops and smartphones. Do US employees get the same deal? If not why not?


It's really very simple - they get a good severance package and probably 2-4 weeks' notice because that's the law in most of Europe. MS is not really at fault for the lax US law. Most Americans are against government interfering with business, until they get hit...

The reason why you won't hear about massive layoffs in (the oh-so-despised) socialist France is that their labor laws are very restrictive in terms of who and how you can fire. Granted, this places an extra burden on business, but in time it also makes large corporations more careful regarding who they employ and how far they extend their workforce. It also 'encourages' (read - forces) companies to occasionally take the hit, instead of passing it to customers and employees.

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments posted here are insightful and productive (or aspire to be productive).

I want some of whatever you are smoking.

The vast majority of comments here are completely non productive.

Anonymous said...

Late in 2008 (?), the executive bonus structure was revamped to decouple bonuses from performance related measures and directly link bonuses to a percentage of operating income..making this component sort of cash heavy for the execs. Based on the company's latest forecasts, fiscal 2009 operating income will be between $26.3 billion and $26.9 billion, making the pool as large as $94.2 million. The plan sets a $20 million cap on the amount paid to any participating executive in a given year. This is for the 10 execs identified in the SEC filings.

Obviously, the changes in comp structure made 5 years ago are not working in the favor of both executives and employees.


It makes sense to freeze pay increases, but doesn't make sense to change the executive compensation mix (good timing!) and leave employee compensation-mix the same.


Is the employee compensation plan going to be restructured given the poor performance of the stock and tie everyone's performance to the business unit's operating income and make the bonus part mean something? Why not?

LisaB, who will probably make upwards of $10million this year alone, doesn't have the **** to answer this question, I betcha!! It's called being ashamed...

Anonymous said...

"As long as you start that new outside job after your 60 days, you won't be penalized on the severance. I've had nice long conversations with my HR rep about this. If you start the new outside job within the 60 days, then you're subject to the moonlighting policy."

This is partially correct. Certain companies such as subsidiaries of MS or companies in which MS has a 20% or greater stake in (which is not always obvious) will cause you to lose the whole package. Look into a company carefully!

Anonymous said...

I have read all the comments posted at minimsft.blogspot.com since the layoffs.

If the whole of these comments represents the true environment at Microsoft, then I have two conclusions:

1) Microsoft is in more trouble than what you read in the press.

2) Microsoft's employees, present and past, thought they were living in a high-tech utopia where they were entitled to a great paying job, great benefits and a great culture that it's wonderful to belong to.

In my opinion, this really is history repeating itself. I saw all the same things at Digital Equipment Corporation. Bob Palmer came in during Summer of 1992 as the new CEO and they put founder Ken Olsen out to pasture. One of his first statements as the new CEO: "There is no job security at Digital. You have to audition for your job every day." He also turned every product unit and business unit into a profit and loss center which was accountable for his own bottom line. After 12 - 18 months, he KNEW who the losers were and who the money-makers were. Layoffs ensued. LOTS of layoffs. Eventually, the company was taken over by Compaq, which itself was merged with HP about three years later.

While Microsoft's own future as a company is as uncertain as the present Economy, I can tell the present and former employees of Microsoft that you need to wake up and understand the world. It's very Darwinian out here. (Survival of the fittest.) No one owes you anything. You must be sharp, focused, and productive and able to learn and adapt rapidly. It also doesn't hurt to be congenial. Microsoft arrogance doesn't play well in the New World. And when whatever gig you are one dries up, you must be ready to move on and add value somewhere else. I have a feeling that most of you will be in denial and ignore this advice. It's OK. If and when you do get it, it will be a sign that you will probably survive and hopefully flourish in the New World.

And here is the ultimate acid test about how good you are for each of you: After you leave Microsoft, how long will it take you to find work?

Best to all of you.

Anonymous said...

About severance pay: it is pay for being severed from current employment. It offsets costs beyond just unemployment, it offsets the loss of future opportunity within Microsoft, the cost of looking for a new job (clothes, travel, etc), the loss of unawarded stock, the gap in medical coverage that may exist before coverage from the new job kicks in, and so on.
I see nothing unethical per se from 'double-dipping' and Microsoft shouldn't have written that restriction in to their severance contracts. Cost savings? All of the 1400 could have had a full year of salary coverage for the last quarter's loss in Search.

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