Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Microsoft FY09Q4 Results

This is it. The wrap up of FY09, coming fresh to us Thursday July 23rd. I'll put this up a bit early in case there are any initial questions, thoughts, or insights regarding how FY09 is closing.

Some of my favorite places to track insights and opinions on MSFT quarterly results:

Topics I'm interested in:

  • Description of efficiency so far and an enumeration of which groups are going to get Sinofsky'd.
  • Assessment of further financial risk at the hands of the EU Commission.
  • Oh, any more layoffs? If not, it would be wise for the SLT - for the sake of employee morale - to close the door on this now.

Given how negative Ballmer has been about the economic reset, I can't imagine any rosy picture painting just yet, even if Intel looks like it has bottomed out and Apple is frantically trying to create as many iPhones as it possibly can.


373 comments:

1 – 200 of 373   Newer›   Newest»
Tom said...

I don't think I've heard the verbing of "Sinofsky" before. What exactly do you mean by "to 'Sinofsky' a group"?

Thanks,
Tom

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is on a different path than Intel and Apple. Intel's main competitor, AMD, is working hard to self-destruct itself. Apple's competitors are unable to out think Steve Jobs.

Microsoft, unfortunately, isn't that fortunate. Its remaining competitors from the past are able to hold their ground and the new competitors are giving it a run for its money. Microsoft will end up being a mixed bag at earnings time. Some progress in some places, some setbacks in other places = nothing exciting to report. There will probably be some extra profit to report, thanks to the cost cuts.

Hard to know how the market reacts to this. The market has lost touch with economic reality long time ago, so place your bets and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Bernanke let slip that dealing with inflation from the dramatically increased money supply "will be far off in the future".



Bernanke says Fed can take on supercop role



The Fed boss sought to assure investors and Congress that the central bank will be able to reel in its extraordinary economic stimulus and prevent a flare up of inflation once a recovery is firmly rooted. Still, any such steps will be far off in the future. The central bank's focus remains "fostering economic recovery," he said.



Microsoft Plans to Use Apple Exec for Retail Stores



Microsoft's plan to open several retail stores in the second half of 2009 now includes the hiring of George Blankenship, a former Apple executive who helped launch the company’s retail arm in 2001. Microsoft plans to aggressively promote the retail experience, even opening stores close to preexisting Apple stores, as it seeks to compete with Steve Jobs more aggressively.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a repeat of last quarter and the quarter before that. Great results from IBM and Apple. Good results from Google. MS disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody still care? Earnings reports normally have some suspense, and good ones can lead to large stock moves (like Apple's today). In MS's case, the choices are limited to "Was it bad?" or "Was it really bad?". And the stock will either fall a little or fall a lot.

Anonymous said...

"What exactly do you mean by to 'Sinofsky' a group"?

My guesses would be:

1. make a PM org, a Dev org and a Test org
2. shed some people indirectly in the usual post-Windows release reorg, to avoid adding to layoffs
3. do it all as quietly as possible, given how tightly information is controlled about anything and everything in his org

Anonymous said...

Seven Reasons Microsoft's Profits are Tanking

Anonymous said...

Rumour in MBD has it that 3rd round of lay-offs are to occur prior to 31st July.

Anonymous said...

Regarding: "Rumour in MBD has it that 3rd round of lay-offs are to occur prior to 31st July."

Do you mean layoffs in MBD specifically?

Anonymous said...

It is about 8:45 AM. Only a few hours until the official earnings announcement. It is almost a given that business will be down yoy but I believe that the aggressive cost cutting will help keep profits at a decent level (maybe even a nice surprise on that front?) If things are OK then stock could even get a small boost.

I am a lot more worried about the long term. You can only cut costs for so long before a company starts feeding on itself. And I don't see business bouncing back significantly soon. Even worse in this environment a lot of people are learning to do without Microsoft products out of necessity. I very much doubt they'll ever go back to their old ways.

Anonymous said...

Even when earnings are good, the stock still moves down. So why bother?

Much more interested in getting hints about what the next round of layoffs will be.

Anonymous said...

> Rumour in MBD has it that 3rd round of lay-offs are to occur prior to 31st July.

MBD is huge. What parts of MBD? MBS? Office? Gurdeep's org?

Anonymous said...

More layoffs are coming for sure. Not later than aug 15th.

Anonymous said...

There's a new Reuters headline that reads, "Microsoft says to cut 5,000 jobs." I can't tell if that's an ungrammatical reference to the jobs already cut, or a harbinger of more layoffs to come.

Has anyone heard anything about another large-scale round of layoffs?

Anonymous said...

More cuts announced.

Mini - you must be happy.

Anonymous said...

What is MBD?

Anonymous said...

http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/index.php/the-business-journal-national-news/13-national/1173-microsoft-to-cut-5000-jobs.html

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that when KT addressed the layoffs (in his MGX presentation on Wednesday) he said "the layoffs in January and again in, uh, September". Was that a Freudian slip or a mis-statement, given that the second round was in May? Is the next one in September?

Anonymous said...

The article posted regarding the 5,000 jobs is from January "1,400 today with 872 in Redmond area". These are the numbers announced in January.

Anonymous said...

Bets on when MSFT kicks Ballmer to the curve?

My guess is NEVER.

It's unfortunate the employees and shareholders suffer from incompetence.

I think the stock would gain 20% on news of billg return...Who's with me to start a petition?

Anonymous said...

The funniest thing in Microsoft - layoff 5000 people and then hire 10000 CSG/Vendors onsite! Wow nice idea - stupid folks.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ 2:40 - link isn't working. Haven't seen anything published about additional layoffs. Can anyone cite sources?

Gary said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8166262.stm

Is this what you mean by turning the corner? Did anybody expect it to be this bad?

Anonymous said...

The 5000 job cuts by Reuter headline was actually a mistake.

http://www.iii.co.uk/news/?type=reutersnews&articleid=TRE56M75N&feed=Bus&action=article

Anonymous said...

In retrospect, I'm glad i got laid off in January; it forcibly disconnected me from the KoolAid drip-feed. I see clearly now that MSFT has truly jumped the shark, and is a company is a long, slow decline. It won't vanish overnight, rather become gradually more anguished and irrelevant. The GFC has just highlighted Microsoft's paucity of ideas, ability and innovation. The final denouement will be either (a) a painful rebirth, like IBM in early/mid-1990s; or (b) sudden implosion, like DEC or Wang, leaving a smoking crater. Either way, MSFT's current set of pompous verities about "doing business at Microsoft" or "the Microsoft way" will become sardonic jokes. Yes, MSFT was a truly great company - for a while there. So was DEC. Sic transit gloria mundi ...

Anonymous said...

Check this out:

"Microsoft is providing operating expense guidance of $26.6 billion to $26.9 billion, for the full year ending June 30, 2010".

Compare this with operating expense of $38 billion for the year ending June 30, 2009.

I wonder where $11 billion in expenses will be cut.

Feel like mini has reached its goal: MS is downsizing; dramatically ...

http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY09/earn_rel_q4_09.mspx

Anonymous said...

Although often lagging behind competitors, Microsoft can and will catch up if properly focused. Whether or not the timing is right to recover market share is another issue but it has happened time and again.

IMO, the issue is if it can recover the corporate culture focused on business results instead of internal politics. Sacrificing the needs of the business to advance personal agendas is the the classic large company disease that will cause Microsoft to crumble under its own weight.

Yes, even after the layoffs the games continue. One would think that with the same amount of work and less people to do it, everyone would be too busy. But instead, the work:politics ratio has only gone up because now there is an excuse to do less work.

If Ray Ozzie wants Microsoft to get back into "startup mode", this is what will need to be erradicated.

Anonymous said...

Correction: http://www.iii.co.uk/news/?type=reutersnews&articleid=TRE56M75N&feed=Bus&action=article

Mike said...

It's very funny that people say of Steven (in the context of a definition of "to Sinofsky" an org) "do it all as quietly as possible, given how tightly information is controlled about anything and everything in his org." Have you read Steven's blog on the corpnet? It is one of the most transparent and insightful senior executive blogs I've seen. Yes, he doesn't want information about what was in Windows 7 coming out before they were ready - and he wrote a long blog post explaining, quite rationally, why. I think the rap that Steven controls information unnecessarily is quite unfair.

Anonymous said...

I'll be surprised if there's not another round of layoffs.

Anonymous said...

The stores could be a great boost with consumers if (and only if) they provide kick-ass customer service. Like, over the top service. Zappo service.

But I doubt that we will, and it saddens me.

Anonymous said...

"Did anyone else notice that when KT addressed the layoffs (in his MGX presentation on Wednesday) he said "the layoffs in January and again in, uh, September". Was that a Freudian slip or a mis-statement, given that the second round was in May? Is the next one in September?"

Just shut the hell up, for the love of god. It was a stupid stutter.

Anonymous said...

The quarterly results were disappointing. I think that with the rest of economy down, MS has to keep doing aggressive cost cutting to contain the losses to some tolerable level.

If I were an exec I would fire most of the program managers and just have a handful of release managers per org. That will not only cut costs but also speed up execution.

The program managers are completely incompetent and useless. It also seems that unlike devs who have to rise up the ladder from SDE levels, some PMs are being directly hired at senior and principal levels. Crazy

Anonymous said...

The stores could be a great boost with consumers if (and only if) they provide kick-ass customer service. Like, over the top service. Zappo service.

But I doubt that we will, and it saddens me.


Well, I jumped ship a short while ago.. But if the management chains that existed when I left are anywhere near a retail experiment...

Eh.

I will watch for the flaming abyss from my back deck...

Anonymous said...

"it forcibly disconnected me from the KoolAid drip-feed" Mini, I've been a fan of your writing for a while but your posts are so distant from reality that I have to say this to you... get off the KoolAid too. :) -exMSN'er (who resigned in time)

c said...

After observing the effects of Sinofsky'ing Windows, and listening to devs from Windows talk about it, I have but one conclusion: I wish Steve would change orgs and come Sinofsky Office.

Anonymous said...

Check this out:

"Microsoft is providing operating expense guidance of $26.6 billion to $26.9 billion, for the full year ending June 30, 2010".

Compare this with operating expense of $38 billion for the year ending June 30, 2009.

I wonder where $11 billion in expenses will be cut.

Feel like mini has reached its goal: MS is downsizing; dramatically ...


Correct me if I'm wrong, but yesterday's report doesn't include the layoffs from May (since many stayed the full 60 days). I think MSFT will see the full cuts effects by the end of the calendar year.

11B is a lot of money, but the number of ~26B is not new (previous quarter reports said the similar numbers). The group that I was in when I got let go got hit hard, easily over a 30% cut. Other groups in my division also got the same treatment. I don't think that 11B means more layoffs right now.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I think that the cuts were done well. They really screwed the pooch again with the "60 job search".

Anonymous said...

Wall Street Journal has a site where you can grade Ballmer's performance: http://online.wsj.com/community

Anonymous said...

Re: Thursday, July 23, 2009 7:44:00PM
> In retrospect, I'm glad i got laid off in January; it forcibly disconnected me from the KoolAid drip-feed.

Amen to that, my fellow 1400'er. Now that I've been unplugged from the KoolAid drip, I quickly landed a job somewhere else. Here, my work is actually valued, I'm appreciated, and treated with respect. Here's there less hand-waving, no people talking over each other in meetings, and more respect.

Not only is the grass greener, it's real grass. :-)

Anonymous said...

"In MS's case, the choices are limited to "Was it bad?" or "Was it really bad?". And the stock will either fall a little or fall a lot."

Really bad and fall a lot it is.

"The company is in my belief the best shape that I've seen"

Yeah Liddell, it shows.

Anonymous said...

I think the stock would gain 20% on news of billg return...Who's with me to start a petition?

Sorry, but no thanks. Bill checked out a looong time ago. He's got other interests now, and he's not a savior. There is no miracle. It is going to take time and hard work and business smarts to turn this ship around.

Anonymous said...

Can Someone tell what is going on with layoffs? any rumors/estimates about what divisions would be effected? I heard they plan to use the employee performance review to decide whom to layoff.

Anonymous said...

Turning the corner? What corner? Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Apple, IBM, Google, Intel, eBay, Yahoo, Amazon all beat. MS misses badly. Macroeconomics? Bullshit.

Missing revenue by a staggering $1.25 billion without any forewarning or attempt to temper expectations? Management incompetence. Pure and simple.

Ballmer, Turner, Liddell should all be out on their ass.

Anonymous said...

Most of the Microsoft employees come to work at 11 AM and leave at 4:30 PM. During this time they concentrate more on their personal businesses.

How do you expect Microsoft to be profitable with this type of attitude.

Anonymous said...

The stores could be a great boost with consumers if (and only if) they provide kick-ass customer service. Like, over the top service. Zappo service.

This is typical MS thinking. The idea that your stuff is awesome and the customers are wrong when they don't choose it or buy it, and that all they need is convincing or service. Make better stuff. Stop coping everyone else. wtf.

Anonymous said...

MSFT is the Wile E Coyote of the business world. The momentum of its past successes allowed it to keep running past the edge of the cliff, but now it is being forced to look down and the inevitable fall is starting.
None of the "big bets" of the past 10 years have paid off in a way that makes them viable replacements for the Windows and Office cash cows. A combination of lower margins and eroding market shares will slowly drive Microsoft to irrelevance. As somebody else mentioned, don't expect the apocalypse but rather a slow and soul crushing process filled with more "business realignments" and constant promises that it's about to get better.
Some people have rightly pointed out that IBM and HPs successfully got out of such binds. Just remember that for every IBM there are dozens like Commodore, Apollo, Osborne, WordStar, Geoworks,...
Do you believe that the current SLT has what it takes to pull it off? If past results are any indication, this is about to get very ugly.

Anonymous said...

The season to continue proving how badly this MS executive board is managing the company is about to start with review results coming out soon. Get ready for another sample of gross mismanagement at large.
You think morale is low now with these results? Wait...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous that previous year's operating expense was $38 billion. This is incorrect. It was around $25 billion. So, it's going to *grow* by about a billion this year. To me, this says no more mass layoffs, but there are no guarantees in life.

Lotta trolls and misinformation on the Internet, but this isn't news either.

Despite the bad quarter, I think things are looking up.

Anonymous said...

A culture of competition between fiefdoms has been both a motivator and and a source of redundancy and waste at Microsoft in my 15 yrs there.

Instead of building core competencies into product teams we sponsor "special" groups to do segmented tasks such as business intelligence or partner engagement. Since specialized groups don't "ship" anything they spend time justifying their own existence. Product teams stop meeting with their customers, usually have less face time with execs and lose touch or motivation.

We need to think in terms of self sustainable fighting units. If teams have blind spots, fix the problem don't outsource it to a new team.

This bifurcation is a curse. I remember simpler times and pound-for-pound more effective, accountable and self sustainable organizations.

Anonymous said...

"Compare this with operating expense of $38 billion for the year ending June 30, 2009."

You flunk.

Anonymous said...

"Lotta trolls and misinformation on the Internet, but this isn't news either."

Correction. Small number of trolls. Large number of aliases. And much too much idle time.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft lost the ability to innovate due to its organizational structure --- the way to measure a successful manager /director is based on how large his/her org is and how fast he/she grows the org in terms of its size. How many fucking BI team does Microsoft have? At least a dozen. The only sustained model of innovation (and hence the revenue) is to build strong product teams that has the mentality of R=D, yet research and development should never be decoupled, in that sense all the fucking sissy labs (whatever adlab, livelab, research labs and etc.) should be dismissed at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

"Most of the Microsoft employees come to work at 11 AM and leave at 4:30 PM. During this time they concentrate more on their personal businesses.

How do you expect Microsoft to be profitable with this type of attitude."

Do you work in the IE team? :)

John C. Randolph said...

Ok, so the net earnings are down 29% year-over-year. What would they be, if MSFT wasn't pouring money down the ratholes that will never go profitable, like the Xbox and the online services division?

I've been saying for years that MS needs to concentrate on their core business. Playing catch-up to Apple or Google is a losing game. What MS should be doing is making Windows as reliable as it can possibly be.

Anonymous said...

Most of the Microsoft employees come to work at 11 AM and leave at 4:30 PM

So true. Just watch the discussions on Investment club. People are more interested in stocks during working hours than the work they are actually supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

>Most of the Microsoft employees >come to work at 11 AM and leave at >4:30 PM. During this time they >concentrate more on their personal >businesses.
Would it be better if they stay for 12 hours a day building another Zune 1.0 ?

Stop blaming people for lack of direction from their management chain, which prohibits any real innovation and initiative.

For example, several things which has to be done to keep Windows relevant as an application platform will not even planned for Win8, but instead we have plenty political power plays and games between VP's/DE's/GM's and nobody wants to solve real problems. Sorry, couldn't be more specific in this example.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous that previous year's operating expense was $38 billion. This is incorrect. It was around $25 billion. So, it's going to *grow* by about a billion this year. To me, this says no more mass layoffs, but there are no guarantees in life.

Lotta trolls and misinformation on the Internet, but this isn't news either.

Despite the bad quarter, I think things are looking up.


Its been 38 billion the last 2 years

http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY09/earn_rel_q4_09.mspx#income

So how are they going to cut 11 million.

Anonymous said...

Well, I jumped ship a short while ago.. But if the management chains that existed when I left are anywhere near a retail experiment...

Eh.

I will watch for the flaming abyss from my back deck...


There's a lot of negative sentiment here and on wall street also. And that's OK given the quarter we just had. But there's no denying we also have some good things to look forward to with Win7, XBox Natal which is truly innovative, Server R2, even Bing. Like a jet engine, there is a little while from throttle to spool-up.

I agree risks are always there like with this walmart guy doing his retail thing. If not done with absulute perfection, this could end up becoming a big joke. To a good measure, I'm countin on those stores to turn microsoft into a big laughing stock.

peon said...

To the guy who said the year's expenses were 25 billion, not 38 billion, I direct you to the official FY09 results page: http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY09/earn_rel_q4_09.mspx

Scroll down to the part that says "Total operating expenses". Examine the columns that say "Year ended June 30". You can see that this year's total opex was $38,074 million, and last year's was $38,149 million. Then you can scroll back up to the "Business Outlook" heading to see the statement "Microsoft is providing operating expense guidance of $26.6 billion to $26.9 billion, for the full year ending June 30, 2010".

So, where will the money come from? Well, look at the breakdown in that chart:

Cost of revenue: $12.2B
R&D: $9.0B
Sales & Marketing: $12.9B
General & Admin: $3.7B

To cut $11B from that is... difficult. Here are a few things we know will affect opex:

* The layoffs will save about $1B. This assumes a cost-to-MS of about $250k/head (including benefits) and about 4000 layoffs concluded already

* The contractor reduction saves some money. Let's say that a contractor costs MS 2/3 what an FTE does (higher cash cost incl. fees, no benefits) and they cut more contractors. Call this another $1B

* Building construction costs will be way down. Savings... fifty million? Upper bound of maybe a few hundred million, tops. Probably really pushing it.

* Probably no new datacenters. But costs to continue building the ones in progress. Savings... call it a billion?

Ok, so we've reduced a bit over $3B. Where's the other $8B coming from? Well, I think that there are two big cost buckets: headcount, and cost of revenue.

For headcount, you cut costs by slashing benefits or firing. Say one round of huge layoffs... call it $4B worth, or 16000 heads. It could be more; I suspect that cost-per-head is lower outside the US. But that's if they were fired on 7/1; the longer they stay the less of that $250k they'll save, because, you know, we'll be paying them until then, plus another 60 days.

16k heads is a huge number, and probably far greater than would happen. But lets use that number. So far we've saved $4B on headcount and have another $4B to go.

Well, um, some benefit cuts would help. Medical is probably the largest expense by far. I have no way to estimate the savings here. Maybe they're banking on nationalized healthcare? That seems... gutsy, and unlikely.

What else can we touch? Well, about all that's left is cost of revenue. The margins on software are huge, so no reductions likely there. Hardware, though... much slimmer margins. What hardware do we make? Well, XBox, Zune, peripherals, and, um, some pretty small fish. If you're going to attack cost of revenue, you'll have to go after the hardware orgs.

There is one way you could accomplish "huge headcount reduction" and "eliminate hardware costs", and that's to spin off E&D. Now you don't have to pay for the heads, they've got their own self-sufficient campus, the COR for the hardware sales are gone, etc.

Is it likely? No, if you'd suggested it to me I would have called you a crazy fuck. But I would have said the same if you told me MSFT could go from $38B to $27B in opex in one year without seeing it myself in the yearly report. I don't think the number was an accident, so there's got to be some plan. So, there's my crazy theory: MSFT is planning to spin off E&D.

Anonymous said...

"I think the stock would gain 20% on news of billg return...Who's with me to start a petition?"

Sorry, but no thanks. Bill checked out a looong time ago. He's got other interests now, and he's not a savior. There is no miracle. It is going to take time and hard work and business smarts to turn this ship around.



Totally agree. BillG is a tech dinosaur who's time was done the minute the internet happened: he completely missed the boat on the importance of the Web, and ever since then Microsoft has been slipping further behind. This is one reason why it's so hysterical that Ozzie -- another tech dinosaur from the same generation -- was his hand-picked successor: Ozzie is no more capable of taking Microsoft into the future than Bill was. They're both old, their genius days are long past, and the world has moved on.

So yeah -- no interest in having Bill come back. I want someone 15 years younger and who understands what life is going to be like in the next 10 years, not what it was like 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

>>I don't think I've heard the verbing of "Sinofsky" before. What exactly do you mean by "to 'Sinofsky' a group"?

Sinofsky vb.

- To introduce three silos;
- To bring about an exponential increase in meetings;
- To institutonalize mediocrity;
- To cause a strong need to have front-line workers who get the job done regardless

A better solution: instead of changing the model, change the offending PUMs. Having a VP be the first cross-disciplinary voice is actually a tad problematic.

Anonymous said...

This is typical MS thinking. The idea that your stuff is awesome and the customers are wrong when they don't choose it or buy it, and that all they need is convincing or service.

That wasn't my point at all. Microsoft products are already available in all sorts of retail stores; for us to open our own and have a positive impact, we have to offer more than just another place to buy things. And I wasn't even thinking about people who have chosen other OSs and products - I'm thinking of the customers who do use MS products, whether it's because of familiarity or it came on the box or it's what they want to use for whatever reason, and what they would want (and expect) from a Microsoft store.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of negative sentiment here and on wall street also. And that's OK given the quarter we just had. But there's no denying we also have some good things to look forward to


I don't know how much seniority you have at Microsoft but for your sake I hope that you haven't been there for very long.

Because for the past 10 years there's ALWAYS been "stuff to look forward to" that was going to get us out of our rut any time, right now, watch it, it's coming... er... never mind, we've decided to "productize in a different way" (no, no, we swear it's not canceled)... But hey, we've got that newer new thing that's gonna make billions, and it will work this time, promise.

The sooner you start taking the pie in the sky promises from management for what they are, the better off you will be.

Anonymous said...

Most of the Microsoft employees come to work at 11 AM and leave at 4:30 PM

So true. Just watch the discussions on Investment club. People are more interested in stocks during working hours than the work they are actually supposed to do.


Some of you folks are such blatant, ignorant trolls. In the 15+ years I've worked here and the handful of teams I've worked on in different divisions I've never been in a group where people chronically underworked. You can't generalize a few bad apples to the masses.

And stop with the freaking SOC DL call-outs. One of the things that makes MSFT great is the work-style flexibility. Another is the richness and diversity of conversations we have internally, whether it's an Investment Club, Organic Gardeners, HW Junkies or Truffle lovers. Pop up out of your ground squirrel den sometime, take a mental context switching break, and you may find you learn something and come out of it refreshed. You can not directly correlate DL contribution patterns with individual performance.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft retail outlets - I wonder what will they carry?
Will they be clones of the company store and the visitor center - selling apparel, useless trinkets, boxes of software, have laptops, zunes, xbox'es and surface devices on display? I mean, why does Microsoft need to lease/buy retail space? After all, it is amongst the most recognized brands in the world! That's wasteful expenditure in my eye.
If you plan on using retail stores to educate customers about the latest and greatest things thay can do with software - use YouTube, you will have far greater reach than you could ever have with 10-15 stores nationwide.
For heaven's sake put that money in your consulting arm instead. Let them help business customers design, develop and implement solutions. Foster longterm shareholder value. Take IBM's lead, look at the way they have preserved and grown shareholder value over the years.
Don't give in to the fancies of the Walmart boy.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what "operating expense guidance" means in this context (I know the encyclopedia definition). Looking at the press release, it looks like the operating expenses have been ~#38b the last couple of years, and they're now saying it will be less than ~#27b the coming fiscal year - which does seem pretty remarkable. And yet, see this analysts' roundup, including this quote:

"The main story here is their operating expense guidance for next year. They guided for it to be up slightly. I think people were expecting that to be down. So that's what's really touching off the weakness right now. People would have looked past Q4 numbers if they simply guided op ex down for next year."

What what do those numbers in the press release (in the high-level statement and the semi-detailed tables) really mean?

Anonymous said...

Um, when I typed "~#38b" and "~#27b," I meant "~$38b" and "~$27b" :P....

Anonymous said...

Just like Coca Cola and Pepsi, it will eventually be Google and Microsoft. Both have the $ muscle and the people talent to raise the competitive bar. It's exciting times and definitely not for the feint hearted! I'll buy MSFT bcos GOOG is simply too expensive!

Anonymous said...

Mini,

Have you joined WinMo? How come you don't write about mess the company is in because of WinMo? Every other year top management is replaced but root cause of problem is middle management at Senior and Principal level. This game of musical chairs (top management replacement) will go on unless there is change in middle management. There is no point in replacing top management (strategy, planning, vision) if they are going to keep the same middle management (execution, implementation). Some Senior managers (63,64) should be 60 or 61, managing up is the core competency.

Anonymous said...

To whoever posted that every employee comes in at 11 and leave at 4.30

I am an employee who is excited about the work I am doing here in Microsoft. My normal work hours are 10 to 12 hours, not because anyone is asking me to do. It is because I feel excited and does not keep track of time on a daily basis. Some days I may take some personal time off, but to generalize this across the company is foolishness. A friend of mine goes in at noon but works till 3 AM.

Anonymous said...

From marketwatch (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-the-party-over-for-microsoft-2009-07-24?siteid=rss&rss=1):

Years ago in the pre-Internet era, AOL was the talk of the town, so Microsoft had to copy it with MSN. No money was made; no strategic advantage was gained.

Netscape was the rage for a while, so Microsoft threw together a browser and got in that business. The browser was given away for free. No money was made; the strategy got the company in trouble with government trustbusters.

During the early days of the Internet, new online publications appeared. Microsoft decided to become a publisher too, rolling out a slew of online properties including a computer magazine and a women's magazine. They were all folded.

Computer books became popular; Microsoft began Microsoft Press. After an early splash and success, the company soon lost interest and the division now languishes.

Teddy Ruxpin became a hot toy. Microsoft rolled out a couple of robotic plush toys, including the creepy Barney the Dinosaur who sang "I love you and you love me." The company soon lost interest and dropped the whole thing.

AOL-TV appeared, along with other device-centric TV-delivery mechanisms in the 1990s. Microsoft created a Microsoft-TV division as well as a device. It soon lost interest.

Adobe Photoshop became a huge success, so Microsoft hired Alvy Ray Smith to develop photo-editing software. Smith quit when the company lost interest in the idea.

Yahoo and Google showed that a search engine could be a money maker, so Microsoft copied that idea; it now has Bing.

Cloud applications are currently trendy, along with notions about software as a service. Microsoft decides to go into that business.

The Apple rolled out a MP3 player, the iPod. Microsoft came up with its own MP3 player, the Zune. The company also says it wants to stream music.

westech said...

What’s Wrong With Microsoft?

For years Microsoft has had a dominant position, virtually a monopoly in computer operating systems and business applications. They have had the advantage of having dominant share. market share. Their cash income, properly employed, should have enabled them to grow and to continue to dominate their markets. However, their two main products are mature cash cows. Experience tells us that seeking growth in cash cows is fruitless, so investment in them should be limited to competitive improvements to defend their position in a growing market place.

Microsoft’s OS was clearly the best on the market 10 years ago. It did need improved security, reliability and speed to keep that position. Improvements to the user interface (like automotive styling) were desirable but not key to maintaining its position. Today it is far from being the best OS around. Upgrades have improved security and reliability somewhat, but have bloated its size, lessened its responsiveness, and made it unsuitable for use in much of the available market. The company seems to be in denial about its capabilities. And to add insult to injury, they charge a high price for it and try to jam it down the throats of their captive customers (the computer manufacturers), who then have to try to convince their customers, the end users. People used to stick to a brand of automobile because they were used to it: ‘Once a Chevvie owner always a Chevvie owner’. Objectively it is far behind Mac OSX, and it doesn’t seem to be taking the Chrome OS seriously. It should. At best, Windows 7 will narrow the gap but no matter how good it is the best Microsoft can expect from it is to slow the market share erosion. It cannot add to growth.

Microsoft Office is an excellent product. It, too has a dominant position, but it too is a cash cow. The last significant upgrade was the addition of Power Point. For most users their has been no increase in utility in the last ten years. Bells and whistles are added nut other than changes in user interface they are not used by most of their customers. Indeed, the product is more confusing to many customers, Its integration with the operating system has insulated it from competition. Don’t look to growth with new versions. It is a mature product. The best that it can do is maintain its position.

To continue its success, Microsoft must reinvest its cash in new markets with new products. Here the track record is abysmal. Jonathan Ive, the designer of the iMac, iPod, and iPhone to name a few has said that Apple’s success was that it was not driven by money but by a complete focus on delivering just a few desirable and useful products. I guess the money just follows.

More later

Anonymous said...

@Mr $38 Billion expenses

Its been 38 billion the last 2 years

I see where you're getting that number, but you can't compare it to the guidance. It's apples to oranges.

Look back to the previous quarters' reports for fiscal 2009. You'll see that expense guidance for every quarter is as follows:

1Q -- No guidance
2Q -- $27B
3Q -- $26B
4Q -- (actual) $25.6B (?)

2010 -- $27B +- (projected)

I can't find the actual total for fiscal 2009, but read in a newspaper article that it was $25.6 +- billion. I assume they got that number from the earnings conference call.

So, while we have been cutting expenses all 2009, they're going to increase slightly this year.

You don't really believe that we'd go from a projection of $26B (last year) to an actual of $38B, do you? That would be the biggest story of earnings day. Likewise, a cut from $38B to $27B would be huge... almost 1/3 of the entire company. And yet, NO ONE in the financial press picked up no this?

Sorry, not apples/apples, and you are spreading MISinformation.

There are certainly scenarios where expenses (and jobs) will be cut further, but that does not appear to be the currrent plan.

Anonymous said...

Another is the richness and diversity of conversations we have internally, whether it's an Investment Club, Organic Gardeners, HW Junkies or Truffle lovers

I am all for discussions once in a while. But having the same guy post day in and dayout during office hours on which stocks he is going to buy/short before market close does not inspire confidence.

westech said...

More on Microsoft;

Microsoft crushed Netscape. Internet Explorer was the cream of the browser products. It has been ignored to the point where it is now the worst (although adequate).

The mobile OS is years behind the competition. Mac OSX mobile runs rings around it. It is one of the reasons the iPhone, so strongly denigrated by Balmer, is changing the cell phone world.

The Zune is a joke. The iPod, also denigrated by Balmer, changed the music industry. The recognition that people want to own their music rather than subscribe to it made it a desirable and useful product. The Zune offered nothing that most people wanted. It is ugly to boot.

Incidentally, the iPod is now a mature product and a cash cow for Apple. Note that they are investing the profits in the iPod Touch which is really a small, hand held computer. I believe that 18,000,000 have been sold. And they will probably use this as a base for entering the tablet market with a unique product which will not have to rely on low price for market success.

The XBox 360 has had some success, but bottom line it probably still had not recouped its total investment; and it probably never will because the competition is more nimble and understands their customer’s needs better.

How about the Surface? Great idea; terrible, complicated execution. Inherently too complicated. Screen multitouch technology a la Apple is simpler.

And what ever happened to MSN, Microsoft Press, the TV division and Encarta, to name a few?

Enough already. I see no reason to believe that the bloated, leaderless bureaucratic Microsoft has turned the corner.

FWIW, I don't work for Microsoft, have used computers for 30 years, learned on a Victor 8, bought my firts Mac in 1984 and now own 3 (the oldest having turned 10), have never had a virus and have never had OS problems.

Anonymous said...

"What what do those numbers in the press release (in the high-level statement and the semi-detailed tables) really mean?"

(Simplified) OpEx guidance doesn't include COGS or non-recurring. Total operating expenses on the income statement does. OpEx guidance for FY10 is $26.6 - $26.9 billion. FY09 began around $28 and was revised to $26.7 - $26.9 during the year. Actual came in near $25.6.

So FY10 is in line with FY09 revised, slightly above FY09 actual, but lower than the $27.4 billion first provided in April.

The troll doesn't understand accounting.

Anonymous said...

>> because anyone is asking me to do. It is
>> because I feel excited and does not keep
>> track of time on a daily basis.

No, it's because you feel that if you sit in your office 12 hours a day, your career might progress slightly faster. It might. Or it might not. One thing is guaranteed, though - in five years you will hate your life.

It is physically not possible to work 12 hours a day for any extended period of time. Note that I said "work", not "post crap in DLs and on Facebook". There's a difference.

Anonymous said...

Regarding operating expenses:
$12bn of them are Cost of revenue which is the cost of making the products (raw materials, packaging, etc).
It is usually proportional to the income and generally very difficult to reduce.

Anonymous said...

westech is 100% spot on. I'm an SDE at Microsoft, and from my comparatively short tenure at the company relative to Mini, I can already see that the company is grossly mismanaged.

Microsoft has several advantages:

1) An incredibly talented (and dedicated) pool of minion-level workers.

2) Several core businesses that are at the top in terms of market share.

3) Tons of cash.

What Microsoft doesn't have:

1) Focus, vision, and leadership. Our executive and mid-management, for all their "impressive" MBA's and ridiculous salaries, have absolutely no intuition nor foresight.

2) Strategy and execution. Out of #1 comes a second point of weakness. Microsoft has a bloated org structure with far too many levels in the hierarchy. It also has a ridiculous ratios in terms of role allocations.

Microsoft needs to do several things before we can even consider looking around the proverbial corner.

First, we need to get out of the business areas wherein no roadmap to profitability exists. Why even bother going head-to-head with the likes of Google with search or Apple with Zune/iPhone?! Their mind/marketshare is too great, and how long can we pander ourselves about as the cheap-o PC software company before everything implodes? We would make way way way more money relative to cost in partnering with them and utilizing their respective platforms to create other marketable products.

Second, we need to eliminate tons of useless managerial overhead and the ludicrous ratio of Devs/PM's/Tests. Too many senior & principal level managers with no social/technical/business skill are in positions of unchecked power. Furthermore, how many PM's does it take to deliver even a simple product/feature?!

Third, we need to realize that products such as Windows (consumer) & Office have no where to go but down. The focus of these product teams needs to be relegated to three key areas: usability, security, and performance. Let's face reality, here. As far as features are concerned, these products more than meet the bar. In terms of quality, HC interaction, and elegance, they are lacking horribly. Future investment should be kept to a minimum unless in one the aforementioned areas.

Finally, we need to invest any savings into high-growth-potential areas. It is more than obvious that Windows Mobile needs a complete overhaul. I'd even go so far as to say that the entire org needs a complete bootstrap. Still, the growth potential is there.

Server & Tools has a huge potential for greater and greater future profitability. They need more investment in order to focus on many of the areas mentioned previously...albeit usability is less of a concern relative to administrative ease.

Azure deserves special mentioning. This is another area with incredible potential, wherein the focus should be on rapid development, lowering costs, and most importantly, SECURING cloud computing. Who cares about social networking and online advertising?

The sad thing is, I don't see any of this happening anytime soon...

Anonymous said...

"If I were an exec I would fire most of the program managers and just have a handful of release managers per org. That will not only cut costs but also speed up execution.

The program managers are completely incompetent and useless."

+1
These worthless political positions are the layers and layers of management that is costing us millions. They usually work from home (yeah, right.), come in late and leave early.

These are the exact layers of management that brought the banks to their knees.

Anonymous said...

"I want someone 15 years younger and who understands what life is going to be like in the next 10 years, not what it was like 10 years ago."

Youth doesn't guarantee vision and maturity doesn't preclude it. Think Steve Jobs on the last one.

Anonymous said...

To "more later"...

Please don't. It's clear that you're impressed with yourself and your brilliant analysis, but it's the same tired story that people have been regurgitating ad nauseum.

It isn't remotely insightful and it is riddled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and opinions presented as fact.

Why even argue and attempt to prove to you the many places you are just glaringly wrong, and then the many places where you conclusions (based on mistaken assumptions) don't map to reality, when the same argument has raged in the exact same form for years and years and years on the internet.

It's amazing that every day another light bulb goes off over some armchair analysts head and they run of to post what the genuinely believe is some kind of original thinking on this topic.

One parting shot though... Anyone who is *genuinely* "objective" would not say that there is any kind of real world dramatic difference between ANY of the x86 OS's today. The fact is they are all more similar than different and any of them get the job done well enough. The rest of it is suitability of the surrounding ecosystem to whatever task is at hand. For example, in certain areas, the rich open source activity just makes Linux the best choice while in other areas, the familiarity of the talent pool with the Mac as a platform makes OSX the best choice.

And shockingly enough, in many other areas Windows is the best choice and it isnt because of "strong arming" or "forcing" or "racketering" or any of the other hyperbolic, alarmist, ramblings of the crazed zealots. Its simply because in certain areas Windows as a *platform* *is* the best choice. Anyone who actually works in IT and genuinely understands it knows this to be true.

Anonymous said...

Ok let's discuss about the main topic here. How many more heads are on the chopping block ? what divisions are going to be affected ? Any info from the big shot's reading this would be of great value.

Anonymous said...

>>To continue its success, Microsoft must reinvest its cash in new markets with new products. Here the track record is abysmal. Jonathan Ive, the designer of the iMac, iPod, and iPhone to name a few has said that Apple’s success was that it was not driven by money but by a complete focus on delivering just a few desirable and useful products. I guess the money just follows.

If we went back to having truly technical, visionary and inspirational leadership we may have a chance.

We have no-one, no-one at all.

Anonymous said...


And stop with the freaking SOC DL call-outs. One of the things that makes MSFT great is the work-style flexibility. Another is the richness and diversity of conversations we have internally, whether it's an Investment Club, Organic Gardeners, HW Junkies or Truffle lovers. Pop up out of your ground squirrel den sometime, take a mental context switching break, and you may find you learn something and come out of it refreshed. You can not directly correlate DL contribution patterns with individual performance.


This is a great point, and thanks for someone finally bringing it out. I'm also sick and tired of people referring to internal DLs as if it's full slackers who have nothing better to do than to post there all day.

I enjoy most of the conversation that takes place in these various forums, and I have learned a lot over the years, whether it's the Investment Club, Photography, Homeowners, etc. There are some smart knowledgeable people who are nice enough to share their insight and it's appreciated.

Sure, things may get carried away sometimes and I can definitely point to a handful of people who perhaps spend a little too much time there, but by and large, I cannot possibly see how participation in an internal alias has anything to do with performance.

I also feel that Mini should do a better job filtering the posts in which people actually get outed in such a public place like this one.

Anonymous said...

The schadenfreude from the anti-MSFT trolls is always amusing.

You can just hear them rubbing their grubby little hands together and thinking "THIS is the moment!!! NOW COMES THE END OF the "great" MSFT empire!!!!"

What a bunch of freaking losers. Here is the difference between MSFT and the likes of WordStar or Apolo... Tens of billions of dollars in cash.

Here is another difference. MASSIVE public interest. I mean hell, for a company that is so "over" and "pathetic" and such a "never was", it SURE does stir the blood of millions of basement dwelling internet losers who have nothing to do but post diatribes on every tech forum under the sun. As they say, any press is good press!

As for Google and Apple, they have radically different biz models. Might as well compare MSFT earnings to Coke or Dow Chemical as much as compare them to Google. Google is an ad agency and nothing more. They dont sell technology - they give away science projects that are paid for with ADVERTISING REVENUE.

When people start buying shit (I thought we were in a Great Depression? WHOOPS! guess not apparently!) then Google is instantly over. If the ad money stops the MONEY stops. Think people will just start magically paying for crap that was always free? OK then...

Apple sells iPods and iPhones. Thats all they do. Oh, and the also sell notebooks to Mac fanatics. Thats like selling prayer beads at a pilgrimage. Apple lunatics would spend their last dollar on a Mac rather than on food. They are another company that defies macro-economic trends unless they get VERY bad.

To me, Apple and Google are a sign that the economy just IS NOT as bad as every idiot pisses and moans it is. If it was, they'd be both screwed as they're bigger luxuries than any other "tech" companies. Apple being a (perceived) top dollar for top quality (LOL) experience and Google being monetized websites.

If people are worrying about what to eat and killing stray dogs for food, they arent worried about iPhones and surfing porno.

MSFT is FAR more susceptible to recessions because the product is much more of a commodity (like Intel and Dell who also are having a tough time)

But of course now the basement dwelling geniuses will compose more diatribes explaining why the above common sense is "JUST WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!"

and for the record, Im just an average IT guy who has grown just really tired of the stupidity of these religious "debates" over commodity technology.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying for years that MS needs to concentrate on their core business. Playing catch-up to Apple or Google is a losing game. What MS should be doing is making Windows as reliable as it can possibly be."

thank god you're not in power. Let's see -- Microsoft should stop investing and put 100% of resources into making Windows "reliable". Great. Then when Windows becomes a commodity because everything is on a mobile device or on the web, we can close up shop.

Anonymous said...

"You can not directly correlate DL contribution patterns with individual performance."

Have you ever seen a 68+ actively participating on a _social_ DL? (Or even a 65+?) I can't think of anyone, but maybe I'm on the wrong DL's.

Anonymous said...

I don't know anyone on my team (or product team for that matter) who could afford to only work from 11-4:30. All of us tend to put in ~10-12 hours a day. Everyone is 110% pumped about the product we're working on, about beating the competition, and about turning out solid code.

Frankly, if you can get away (and I do mean get away) with working from 11-4:30 you shouldn't be here or your product should be cut.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft lost the ability to innovate due to its organizational structure --- the way to measure a successful manager /director is based on how large his/her org is and how fast he/she grows the org in terms of its size. .
.
Amen. The problem: Microsoft is organized around teams, not products.

How many teams are created, or find themselves at the beginning of a cycle, with only a 1-sentence or 1-word idea of what they're supposed to be doing? e.g., "We're the the UI team."

Then, for the next few months, they (especially the PMs) just sit around trying to think of some stuff for the team to do.

Then they decide what to do based on how many milestones it will take and how many people are available to work on it, i.e., not much to do with customer need or objective improvement to the product.

How eff'ed up is this situation? It's a formalized joke of a "justify your existence" exercise that's accepted as SOP across the company. Nobody is actually in charge of making sure a product is going in the right direction or gets the improvements it needs, and every cycle the product gets more bloated with low-pri features because hundreds of employees show up to work every day and, well, they have to work on SOMETHING, right?

Apple famously delayed a release of OS X so its operating system people could go help finish up the iPhone. Now THAT'S showing some product focus. Can anybody imagine Windows taking a break to help out Windows Mobile? Hahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the idea behind the stores, other than as another painfully "me-too" nod to Apple. Other companies like Dell and Gateway have failed miserably at the store idea. And they actually sell more stuff that people would buy at a store. What is Microsoft going to sell? Boxed copies of Win7? XBoxes? Zunes? People might buy these... but it's a fraction of the stuff that e.g. Sony sells in its stores. Sony has the PS3 and MP3 players too, AND a ton of other stuff: sexy cameras, sexy laptops, sexy TVs, speakers and AV equipment, an e-book reader, other miscellaneous electronic gadgets, etc. Microsoft won't have ANY of this. So it seems like the best outcome Microsoft could possibly hope for is to be as successful as the Sony stores... and I've never seen a Sony store with more than a couple people in it at any given time, whereas I have passed by nearby Apple stores many times without going in because they looked too crowded. My prediction is that Microsoft stores will be an underfunded effort that's rushed to "market" and then after 9 months an executive will see that it's a net financial loss and shut the whole thing down.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini,
Your blog has completed 5 years. Congratulations! How about a post retrospecting the last 5 years. Some of your wishes in the first post actually came true

Anonymous said...

"It's very funny that people say of Steven (in the context of a definition of "to Sinofsky" an org) "do it all as quietly as possible, given how tightly information is controlled about anything and everything in his org." Have you read Steven's blog on the corpnet? It is one of the most transparent and insightful senior executive blogs I've seen. Yes, he doesn't want information about what was in Windows 7 coming out before they were ready - and he wrote a long blog post explaining, quite rationally, why. I think the rap that Steven controls information unnecessarily is quite unfair."

Please .... take off the rose colored glasses and ease up on the kool aid. He is a shark.

Anonymous said...

Simple solution:
Merge Dev and Test into a team of engineers whose sole purpose is to design, code and test the product. Cut the PM team to a bare minimum and hire project managers to manage projects.

Net gain:
Morale boost for Test, who frequently play the visibility game to succeed and weed out the non-technical black box testers.
Devs are now accountable to write solid code and not throw it over the wall.
PMs are forced to become engineers.

Anonymous said...

Have you joined WinMo? How come you don't write about mess the company is in because of WinMo? Every other year top management is replaced but root cause of problem is middle management at Senior and Principal level. This game of musical chairs (top management replacement) will go on unless there is change in middle management. There is no point in replacing top management (strategy, planning, vision) if they are going to keep the same middle management (execution, implementation). Some Senior managers (63,64) should be 60 or 61, managing up is the core competency
I disagree, the problem with WinMo all along has been strategy, planning and vision. Earlier the vision was to beat blackberry so the top management just focused on business market and fed business focused kool-aid to the masses. After i-phone kicked Ballmer's nuts and made him groan, he woke up and management was quickly replaced with more young, forward looking chaps. But alas the new management only sees iPhone. There vision is to build another iPhone; no innovative thinking but let's just copy iPhone. ICs and middle management (at least dev pillar) is surprisingly very hard working and dedicated. Inspite of the horrible engineering environment they are asked to work in they have been able to accomplish a lot. Just to realize in the end that what top management planned was just mediocre product.

Another problem I see in WinMo is that everything is driven by egotistical partner level middle managers who think they are always right. So instead of innovation flowing up from ICs, crappy old world thinking flows down. They have been responsible for demise of WinMo but they are still around, building their empires, sucking the life out of hard-working engineers with their cowboyish strategy and vision.

Anonymous said...

I think it is funny how people on this blog talk about why MS has been sinking for years but less than a year ago they were having pretty good quarters while everyone else was looking pretty bad. Fact is MS had a quarter that most companies would die to have ... it just wasn't good for them. Businesses are not spending and foreign economies are even worse than here in the US. There is no evidence that MS is losing all their market share or anything like that. Once business starts spending all the trolls on here will be saying that MS must be cooking the books. Get real people. MS is here to stay.

Anonymous said...

What a good one, Yahoo declined the offer last year.
Where would we be now, if we had really thrown 40$B cash over the fence.
Thanks for not taking the offer to Yahoo...!!!

Anonymous said...

"So that's what's really touching off the weakness right now. People would have looked past Q4 numbers if they simply guided op ex down for next year."

The analyst is wrong. The increase in operating expenses is negative, but it's just an additional shareholder FU. It's not the proximate cause of the selloff. It's one item on a long list, which includes the $1.2 billion miss (while Apple, IBM, Oracle and even Intel reported great results), continued losses in entertainment and online, tepid outlook for the next two quarters, mananagement's continued refusal to provide revenue or earnings guidance, growing investor concern about the health and future viability of MS's business model, disgust (no small amount), in some cases probably capitulation, and most importantly the stock price before the report (which wasn't grounded in FY10 reality).

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of freaking losers. Here is the difference between MSFT and the likes of WordStar or Apolo... Tens of billions of dollars in cash.


Billions of dollars which less than a year ago your Dear Leader was ready to throw out the window by buying a former child-star of the dot com bubble.

Billions in cash are not an insurance policy against incompetent management. They will cushion the fall, the will allow the decline to drag longer, but the end result will be the same.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that when KT addressed the layoffs (in his MGX presentation on Wednesday) he said "the layoffs in January and again in, uh, September". Was that a Freudian slip or a mis-statement, given that the second round was in May? Is the next one in September?

We can only hope. The amount of money they expense for travel and lavish means is criminal. The "Russian Rocket" should be the first to get the boot.

Anonymous said...

"So we front-ended it a bit in the first six months of the year and then just took a very conservative stance in the second half."

Liddell (on the call) trying to justify why the company spent $8 billion on the stock heading into a recession and during a market collapse, and then ZERO in the second half when it was at lows not seen this decade. Not surprisingly, he failed.

Anonymous said...

and weed out the non-technical black box testers

Do you really believe quality has improved since Microsoft fired most of its black-box testers and moved to an SDET/automated test model? I don't.

Anonymous said...

"Once business starts spending all the trolls on here will be saying that MS must be cooking the books. Get real people. MS is here to stay."

You've been drinking too much SLT kool-aid. When the recession ends, will entertainment go from losing money to immensely profitable? Will online stop losing billions and do likewise? How about multi-year trends away from desktop sofware? Will they reverse? Will margin pressure on Office due to free offerings like Google Aps subside? Will share erosion and pricing pressure on Windows from Apple, free OSs, and the continued downard march of PCs prices cease? Will IE's market share reverse? Zune's? Will WinMo go from laggard to leader? Is Ballmer going to suddenly catch and lead the next five industry trends instead of missing them? Are Apple, Google, IBM, and Oracle, who all operated better than MS before and especially during this recession, going to get weaker for some reason when the economy finally improves?

MS's monopolies are breaking down. That was inevitable eventually, and the company delayed it for a long time. What wasn't inevitable was the total failure in coming up with anything to replace it, even on a partial basis. This isn't a process that started with the recession. It's been over a decade in the making. It won't end with it either. Even if MS has turned the proverbial corner, it waited too long. The next five years are going to be very tough. Layoffs are going to be a regular occurence. And if the company can't do in the next five years what it hasn't done in the last ten, namely come up with a new profit engine, then MS will slowly fade to black.

Anonymous said...

Listened to Liddell's keynote at MGX. Interesting take from the Wall Street analyst interview (didn't catch his name). He said the cost cutting showed MS cared about the shareholders and hoped it was a long term change. Echo's many of the calls for getting leaner.

Anonymous said...

Lots of debate here about the technical aspects of OS and devices ... let's look at underlying shareholder value created in the past 10 years for just two companies: Apple and Microsoft.

In July 1999, AAPL was trading at $16.31, and MSFT at $42.91. Today AAPL shares are trading at $159.67 and MSFT at $23.03. So AAPL has increased its value 10x while MSFT has basically halved.

SteveB and his 'management team' are a bunch of self-seeking losers. If the Board had any balls he would be gone, and many of the SLT with him.

So people managers at review time think about this: delivering the 'tough' message around performance to some hapless L61 PM is one thing - apparently the same rules don't apply to the people who are really responsible for Microsoft's inability to perform.

Anonymous said...

thank god you're not in power. Let's see -- Microsoft should stop investing and put 100% of resources into making Windows "reliable". Great. Then when Windows becomes a commodity because everything is on a mobile device or on the web, we can close up shop. .
.
I don't know if I'd use the word "reliable" either but it should be noted that Apple's recent success with the iPhone and other products is due in large part to the operating system strategy they've been pursuing for the last 10+ years.

Vista is an unorganized, bloated mess which I don't think anyone would reasonably expect to run on a cell phone or a set-top box (Apple TV) or even just a different processor architecture, whereas OS X is lightweight and modular and has no problems running on a phone. Most people know that the iPhone OS is "based on" OS X but don't realize how close they really are--do some iPhone development and you'll quickly realize you might as well be developing for the Mac; same tools, libraries, etc. Apple's investment in "just" their operating system has paid off in big ways.

Anonymous said...

What, no comment on Microsoft's 4th quarter performance? I am disappointed. As is the street.

Microsoft is struggling, and it kills us all. We get rid of 5000 people, then hire them all back into Redmond. If you are a field person, you watch Kevin Turner cut, cut and cut the field some more. Hurting our customer scores, giving our competitors opportunity because we are losing people to cover accounts, slashing marketing so that we watch as Apple trounces us in the market ads (and everyone else). While in Redmond, more people get hired, money gets flushed down the search toilet and Redmond just makes stupid bet after stupid bet, with zero accountability. Poor products, missed deadlines.

I have to admit, after reading your blog for years, I often disagreed. But no more ... time to bring things back in line.

Make this a field driven organization. Invest in our customers. Cut crappy products (why is the Zune only in the US after 4 frigging years - how pathetic BACH!). Get focused. And cut Redmond. CUT it hard. 5000 people in Redmond could go tomorrow and not a single product would be impacted.

BRING ON MINIMICROSOFT. It is long overdue!

Anonymous said...

> If I were an exec I would fire most of the program managers and just have a handful of release managers per org. That will not only cut costs but also speed up execution.

The program managers are completely incompetent and useless.

+1 from me as well

I have worked with some that are extremely competent and work well with others. Unfortunately, other PMs have the maturity of high schoolers.

My former MSFT boss once described PMs as "Glorified Admins". Ouch.

Anonymous said...

And today, in the spirit of further cost cutting, no air-conditioning for non-lab rooms. Hooray!

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky is a shark? Look...

Are you people on crack? Fuck.

This the one competent executive we have. Seriously. Read his blog. Send him a fucking email, he will answer it. I swear you people will complain us into oblivion no matter who is running the show. The Office org is falling to shit without Sinofsky and you Windows people don't realize what you have. Send him back if you don't want him. You. Fucking. Idiots.

Anonymous said...

"The program managers are completely incompetent and useless."

+1

http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-carol-bartzs-f-bomb-2009-4

Politics, politics, Politics... is all they know and do.

Anonymous said...

"He said the cost cutting showed MS cared about the shareholders and hoped it was a long term change."

MS caring about shareholders would constitute a long term change. But on the cuts, MS originally said it would do whatever was required to preserve EPS targets. That plan was later abandoned as infeasible. Even buybacks were halted, which also hurts EPS. There were cuts, but the majority of the shortfall was allowed to fall directly into reduced EPS. And operating expenses are up again for 2010. So I don't know what the analyst sees as impressive. A token gesture was made, knowing that no action at all wasn't conducive to management getting re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen a 68+ actively participating on a _social_ DL? (Or even a 65+?) I can't think of anyone, but maybe I'm on the wrong DL's.

No, because they spend all day in useless meetings instead of being productive.

Anonymous said...

5000 people in Redmond could go tomorrow and not a single product would be impacted.And how many products would be impacted if you cut 5000 field guys? Yeah, exactly. Hope your boss doesn't read this blog.

Anonymous said...

"Make this a field driven organization. Invest in our customers. Cut crappy products (why is the Zune only in the US after 4 frigging years - how pathetic BACH!). Get focused. And cut Redmond. CUT it hard. 5000 people in Redmond could go tomorrow and not a single product would be impacted."

Amen to that brother! How many sales orgs/people do we need in Redmond? DPE and SMSG are great examples of bloat. Field sales hate them both, basically useless overhead that adds no value and in most cases actually detracts from value. EPG, led by simonwi, like Topsy has "growed and growed" to ~1000 people who are just an overlay sales org. Yet if you need help with a partner issue you can't find anyone cause they're all too busy, probably authoring internal fucking PPTs. Not to mention that the sales force segmentation/fragmentation/duplication where we have field sales for online that is completely separate from software sales that is completely separate from services sales. To make sure that the cluster fuck continues unabated we are now opening retail stores creating yet another sales force and management structure.
MCS HQ has also ballooned, causing the consultants who do actual customer facing work to face increasingly unattainable utilization goals.

Redmond HC should be morphed into field sales resources who can generate revenue and CPE. Sales orgs should be combined into a single entity. WRT lean & mean, and for the stock price to get to $40, we need to reduce HC to 58-60,000 which would be $1mill revenue for each HC. That is where we used to be before SteveB took over ...

Anonymous said...

Vista is an unorganized, bloated mess which I don't think anyone would reasonably expect to run on a cell phone or a set-top box (Apple TV) or even just a different processor architecture


Actually Windows history suggests that Vista is perfectly suited to run on multiple architectures. You might remember that NT4 shipped for MIPS, PowerPC and Alpha. Even Windows 2000 ran on Alpha, until they decided late in the game to make it x86 only. And doesn't the current iteration of Win Server run on Itanium?

There's no reason to believe that Vista can't be built for other architectures.

Anonymous said...

Love the most recent post about Sinofsky. Most competent exec we have. Office will take him back if you don't want him.

Anonymous said...

Bing is not getting bang for its buck, 150 million dollar campaign faded and no long lasting outcome. Google continue to rule search, MS is trying to tie-up again with another sinking ship Yahoo.

Sub $400 laptop market is a real boom for Intel and a burst for MS. Google timed it right, finally someone is going to penitrate into MS OS market share. Do we really need Windows anymore? Everyone has smartphones, do we still need a laptop or a PC? do we need to pay for OS or MS Office vs. using on-line opps.

MS India continue to let go of people, several PUMs packing their bags. Situation in Redmond is no better. My counter part in Redmond is shaky...Q4 results didn't help matters!

Can somebody update on MS India layoffs this week?

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled why the GA for Win7 needs 3 FULL months? When we launch in late October 09, we would have already missed the back-to-school season. I say, 45 days is MAX what it should take OEMs to start loading Win7 on machines, especially given that they have been engaged from all the way since before the first beta, and the driver model has not changed a lot since Vista. Let's get some sales up for this quarter atleast!

Anonymous said...

"Too many senior & principal level managers with no social/technical/business skill are in positions of unchecked power. Furthermore, how many PM's does it take to deliver even a simple product/feature?!"

+1

In CTS there is a GPSO org rolling out a simple internal tool. They have ~60 PM's to do this. A total bloat!! What a waste of time/cost/resources. Plus, a 3rd of the PM's came from an org that was dismantled because of them. It's insane madness.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Yahoo! deal is back.

YHOO: back into $17s
MSFT: holding at $23

peon said...

Thanks for clarifying OpEx - the idea that Cost of Revenue isn't included is reasonable, and explains the difference.

... so, of course, it's weird to see them going _up_. Cutting the 4000-5000 heads should have trimmed costs by close to a billion. I wonder why expenses are still going up?


Oh, and this comment:
This the one competent executive we have. Seriously. Read his blog. Send him a fucking email, he will answer it. I swear you people will complain us into oblivion no matter who is running the show.
is right on. Stevesi is great He is transparent, smart, and he builds orgs that get shit done. I was very happy to hear he was promoted from VP to president, as that gives him control over more things to fix and puts him one step away from replacing another Steve....

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky is a genius. He created career path for PM.

Anonymous said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32193887/ns/business-us_business/

http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=138177

We're nearing a search deal with Yahoo. But instead of getting their search technology, or their search experts, they'd just promote Bing as the way to search on their site.

WTF? So we spend a lot more money, but we don't actually make the search results more relevant. Better than pissing it away on useless tv spots I guess.

And on the plus side, it looks like Yahoo would handle sales. So that's probably a few thousand more people that we can lay off. Finally we can purge people from the oversized nightmare that is Bing.

Anonymous said...

We will find out official details of the Yahoo deal very soon, but irrespective of the details, this is just another attempt to avoid accountability for poor execution in the Online Services Division. One of the time tested strategy in the executive handbook is to change the evaluation criteria when you are getting a poor evaluation.

Yahoo and Microsoft make a deal and use each others assets and technologies. That makes it hard to evaluate if Bing was really successful or not. Same goes for the Ads strategy. It will take a few quarters to find out if this deal was helpful or not. Meanwhile, that buys precious time for partners and executives to get more vested.

The fact that it took nearly 3 years (the first rumor about a Microsoft/Yahoo deal surfaced in 2006. Or was it 2007?) for a deal to happen shows that this is a complex, hard to value deal. It is rare for weak competitors to combine forces and turn the tables on the winner. More often than not, in the time it takes to digest a deal the number 1 player is making good progress and gaining market share and reputation.

I want Microsoft to succeed on the Internet, but it is hard to believe that success comes from feeding the same execs that lost market share the last few years. Also hard to believe that combining forces with a mediocre company headed by a relatively new ceo (who wasn't in the Online industry before this new job as ceo of yahoo) will help defeat the juggernaut that is run by its founders and is still at the top of its game.

It is time to focus on profits. Sinking billions of dollars each year in pursuit of market share is a meaningless endeavor if there is no proof that the Online Services division has learned to use investment wisely. They are still pissing it away. Why not? Who wouldn't love to spend other people's money to build an empire?

Anonymous said...

There vision is to build another iPhone; no innovative thinking but let's just copy iPhone. ICs and middle management (at least dev pillar) is surprisingly very hard working and dedicated. Inspite of the horrible engineering environment they are asked to work in they have been able to accomplish a lot. Just to realize in the end that what top management planned was just mediocre product.

Yep - MS is not very creative when it comes to new product ideas - the copy and paste and let the monopoly power do its' thing way to riches has been entrenched too long.

As far as the hard working devs go - most of the top ones are very bright in a kind of autistic way. They will jump through all sorts of technically challenging hoops to implement ideas that they know are DOA, but they put on the blinders and plow through while carefully cheering the idiots that made the poor top level design choices in the first place. I have no sympathy for them - they have no spines. The ones that do eventually leave.

Anonymous said...

>No, it's because you feel that if >you sit in your office 12 hours a >day, your career might progress >slightly faster. It might. Or it >might not. One thing is >guaranteed, though - in five >years you will hate your life.

This is not true. I still get quality time to spend with my famiily. It is not just about progressing the career. It is about being excited about what you do on any day. I agree if you are not excited about your work, then you cannot sustain this. I have been doing this for 15 years and not a day has gone without me thinking twice that I am spending more time in office.

>It is physically not possible to >work 12 hours a day for any >extended period of time. Note >that I said "work", not "post >crap in DLs and on Facebook". >There's a difference.

It's the truth that many folks spend some time on FB or DLs, I also do. But compared to the time I spend on work related activites, these personal activities take very time. That will bring in fun during work.

So, it is not just about the hours I spend at work, I was trying to comment on generalizing everyone spending less hours.

Anonymous said...

So... let me get this straight... We take over search and Yahoo takes over Sales... doesn't that mean we are going to lay off MSN sales? I'm assuming that are the "savings" Balmer was talking about?

Anonymous said...

I have to give it to SteveB, this MicroHoo deal sounds quite good for MS to a layperson such as myself. Hopefully it will lead to some synergies in Search and Advertising and allow some cost cutting / change in focus at MS. Yahoo's 21 Billion Market Cap and P/E of 35 are fantasy and I think this deal further emphasises that. That said, maybe Yahoo can teach MS a thing or two on Search and Advertising and both companies will benefit? Gotta be better than paying 40 Billion for Yahoo as originally intended. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Anonymous said...

About the Microsoft Store: hopefully the company is smart about this.

Apple got flack for adding so many full time employees, turns out many worked at the company's many retail stores.

Would MSFT extend gold-plated (in retail terms) healthcare to the employees of these stores in malls throughout the world?

How much would that cost?

I bet the average retail worked has a lot more dependents than young techies in the field, or Redmond, who are too busy working to think of having children.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder why expenses are still going up?"

If you mean why (specifically), the main difference is probably launch costs associated with all the new products this year (Sales and Marketing bucket). R&D is also up a bit (budgeted at $9.5 billion from 09's $9 actual). Then there's normal inflation (most things, from wages to consumables, aren't getting cheaper). Finally, the forecast is in USD whereas many of the costs that comprise it aren't. So FX (foreign exchange) may have a role.

If you mean why isn't the company reducing costs more given business conditions, that's a good question.

Anonymous said...

Now that the Yahoo! deal is done, shall we shift focus back to WinMo? I'd recommend ditching the whole WinMo in favor of striking a deal with Palm or RIM.

Anonymous said...

+1
Too many PMs in the org wasting everyone's time.

Anonymous said...

>> Simple solution:
>> Merge Dev and Test into a team of
>> engineers whose sole purpose is to
>> design, code and test the product

That's retarded, particularly if you put products on a super arggressive schedule that you pull out of your ass and tie to the next trade show. Devs have the goal to ship _something_ on time. Under pressure they will lie and cheat to make things look better than they really are. Testers have the goal that most bugs are identified and eliminated before the customer sees them. In a somewhat large team (10+ engineers), those goals become mutually exclusive, which necessitates two separate sets of people doing them. Separate QA is a must in larger teams, even if it's just a couple of guys. Dev/test proportion could be tweaked, though, particularly in teams with high quality, mature devs and proper scheduling.

Anonymous said...

Say what?
Am I reading the last 2 entries correctly? Are these posted by an impostor or has the free refrigerated drinks all over campus been replaced by artificially insemanated coolaid???
Company morale is for those that make the morale, all others are expendible in time of company cost cutting.
Isn't that what Mini Microsoft is all about?
Read some articles today tha MS stock was rated a "buy".
Will keep reading, but as a customer who tests your products before release there is nothing Iphoneish on your horizon until company morale has been re-set to current enonomic realities, Yahoo deal or not...
Your company morale must be re-set to your cutomers reality not yours.

Customer

Anonymous said...

re the sinofsky theme...word on the street is that sinosfky did a "take down" on billv. Not clear what billv will be doing next...i hear the knives are out for his cronies

windows 7 rocks...

Anonymous said...

Another problem I see in WinMo is that everything is driven by egotistical partner level middle managers who think they are always right. So instead of innovation flowing up from ICs, crappy old world thinking flows down. They have been responsible for demise of WinMo but they are still around, building their empires, sucking the life out of hard-working engineers with their cowboyish strategy and vision.

I couldn't agree more!

Some of the principal PMs I've had to deal with in that Maldives project are ridiculously obnoxious! They're all release managers put in feature PM positions and don't have a clue!

btw to the guy who said lets merge dev and test - LOVE THAT IDEA. And we should merge product management (another completely useless discipline) and program management.

Two disciplines bother me the most at Microsoft - test and product management. The former is riddled with incompetent non-technical people who should be 57s or 58s. I want to shoot every tester who can't set up his own box or who doesn't read a spec and asks me at the end of a cycle "is that a bug?". Test managers are the worst. Every test manager I've worked with writes no test cases, no code and just manages up.

Product managers is another waste. Seriously what do these people even do that PMs can't just take on? They're all MBAs who know nothing about the products, make last minute "urgent" feature requests and just bash engineering. Why do we have product planning, product management, program management AND marketing.
Worst part is marketing and product management hire contractors for the smallest tasks! Any work intensive task is too menial for them.

Bah! what a waste.

Anonymous said...

"The program managers are completely incompetent and useless."

Hmm we do have a- and v- pms and recruiters. Not sure what they have been doing when we are cutting products and downsizing.

Anonymous said...

Did everyone find it interesting that MSFT *Operating Income* only decreased slightly from FY08 to FY09? It appeared to be one of the smaller negative numbers during the earnings announcement, and coincidentally the number Microsoft uses to calculate _Executive_ bonuses. Unless something changed after it was quietly filed last September, it appears the MS execs will be sharing the economic squeeze by taking a whopping ~9% decrease in CASH bonus. (No messy RIF’s, cuts in base, or stock grants to inconvenience executive income streams). Per this SEC document, Microsoft exec's get paid a stated (guaranteed?) percentage of Operating Income. For the complete details, see *Mini's post of September 25, 2008*. The SEC document was filed by Microsoft just days within job freezes, and HC cuts. A message?: The more cuts, the better the Op. Inc. line, the better the bonus.

Anonymous said...

In July 1999, AAPL was trading at $16.31, and MSFT at $42.91. Today AAPL shares are trading at $159.67 and MSFT at $23.03. So AAPL has increased its value 10x while MSFT has basically halved.

AAPL split 2-for-1 twice in that period so they've actually grown by 40x. MSFT split once 2-for-1 so they have not halved.

Anonymous said...

"In CTS there is a GPSO org rolling out a simple internal tool. They have ~60 PM's to do this. A total bloat!! What a waste of time/cost/resources. Plus, a 3rd of the PM's came from an org that was dismantled because of them. It's insane madness."

Leaving aside 'insane madness' which is tautological my friend, who exactly are CTS and GPSO? Never heard of them and been around 10 years. Please enlighten the rest of us plebs ... is this a part of MCS? CSS? What is the tool, some IT monstrosity?

As George Costanza put it "Details, Jerry, give me the details!" ;-)

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"In CTS there is a GPSO org rolling out a simple internal tool. They have ~60 PM's to do this."

Yes I am all to familiar with MS Solve. It has added hours to my day and removed years from my life. The case handling and work flow changes are miserable. I thought Clarify was bad but this is an abomination. As an Escalation Engineer I personally think we all deserve better, but are likely to receive much less. The executives are completely divorced from reality and believe their own powerpoints. I predict that this tool will go away soon as the company tightens its belt further and questions start to get asked about $100 million+ projects that provide value only to the career trajectories of the favored few.

Take heart my brother! Better times are coming.

Mikhail said...

My first weeks in the ranks of the unemployed have been quite eventful. I have written up an article describing my experiences, and strategies. I hope this might prove to be of some value to those who are out there hunting for work, like me, or at least provide amusement if nothing else. :)

http://surkanstance.blogspot.com/2009/07/tales-from-job-search-trenches.html

Anonymous said...

Balmer does a good job. Got Yahoo for free.

Anonymous said...

Merge Dev and Test into a team of engineers whose sole purpose is to design, code and test the product

This was the PUM model. A bunch of powerpoints, prototype quality products and Vista were shipped. So the org is going back to the good old ways of doing things.

Anonymous said...

"Did everyone find it interesting that MSFT *Operating Income* only decreased slightly from FY08 to FY09?"

$20,363 from $22,271 isn't slight.

Anonymous said...

Did Robbie really tell analysts that we continued to make good progress with Zune and only lost a little bit of share in mobile?

Anonymous said...

Apple sells iPods and iPhones. Thats all they do. Oh, and the also sell notebooks to Mac fanatics. Thats like selling prayer beads at a pilgrimage. Apple lunatics would spend their last dollar on a Mac rather than on food. They are another company that defies macro-economic trends unless they get VERY bad.

And this is why you fail.

If that is all you think Apple is, then you're just horrible at researching your competitors. Make no mistake - Apple is a direct competitor on at least two fronts: the OS and mobile devices.

On the OS front, you have to consider that there is a move against Microsoft (too staid, too dull, etc) combined with general unhappiness about PC maintenance that helps support a decision to buy a Mac. You might consider it the mark of a fanatic, but that 'analysis' fails to understand why Mac laptops are growing in a market where most others are down. More fanatics joining the cult? Or something else that maybe you should understand better, in order to fight it (or better - capitalise on it yourself).

On the mobile devices front, Apple have slaughtered Microsoft. Music players are not even a competition, and while they brought nothing new to mobile phones in terms of technology, they changed the UI and ease of use, hopefully forever. The feature list of an iPhone is not so exciting, and analyses based on just that fail to comprehend why the things are flying off the shelves.

Apple make plenty of mistakes and mis-steps along the way, but they are doing some things incredibly well. Writing that off as a bunch of fanatics means you really don't understand two of your markets well enough to compete. You cannot ever hope to beat a competitor who is running rings around you unless you begin to understand why.

I don't normally like to jump in with a 'defend Apple' comment here, but had to try to help this guy understand something important.

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend ditching the whole WinMo in favor of striking a deal with Palm or RIM.

Great idea. Let the pros do the job that is needed to fight with iphone - both palm and RIMM are credible competitors. And lets give the suckers at winmo boot. Seriously - how long can we subsidize the crap from winmo? WinMo's latest products look like the products of previous generation.

Anonymous said...

"Yes I am all to familiar with MS Solve. It has added hours to my day and removed years from my life. The case handling and work flow changes are miserable. I thought Clarify was bad but this is an abomination. As an Escalation Engineer I personally think we all deserve better, but are likely to receive much less. The executives are completely divorced from reality and believe their own powerpoints. I predict that this tool will go away soon as the company tightens its belt further and questions start to get asked about $100 million+ projects that provide value only to the career trajectories of the favored few.

Take heart my brother! Better times are coming."

I sure hope you are right! I realize that CTS is off of most of the bloggers here's radar. Technical Support is critical to the success of our Products. But when we have a piece of crap Incident Management Tool, MSSolve, rolled out, it is costing us millions in lost revenue. SLT has already admitted we lost minimun 5mil because of this junk. This is a prime example of managing down. Clueless PM's who think they know what is best without bothering to freaking test it.

MSSolve needs to be shelved and the entire team dismantled.

I sure hope "better times are coming"!!

westech said...

Microsoft has a dominant OS position in the current computer market. They have a major market share, excellent profit margins, and generate tons of cash. There is no way that Apple could challenge them directly. They are not competing with MS directly. Instead they are looking for opportunities which build on their strengths and take advantage of Microsoft’s weaknesses. The conventional computer market is mature with limited growth. This applies to Macintosh computers as well as those running Windows. Apple has used their cash to develop new markets, thus the iPods, iPhone and iTouch.

Steve Ballmer was recently quoted as saying that Mac growth is a rounding error. "Apple's share globally cost us nothing," he said. "Now, hopefully, we will take share back from Apple, but you know, Apple still only sells about 10 million PCs, so it is a limited opportunity."

True. But he misses the point that the iPhone is really a computer that happens to be a phone, and they are currently selling at a rate of about 25,000,000 a year. The iTouch is also selling well; I estimate that it is selling at least 15,000,000 a year. BTW, the margin on the iPhone is in the 50 to 60% range. Perhaps his view is prejudiced by position he has taken. See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5oGaZIKYvo

What he should really worry about is the rumored iTablet, which will be more akin to a big iTouch. Knowing Apple’s ability to making products that users like, it will probably have a major impact on the low end computer business but will still sell at a premium price.

Much fun has been poked at Apple fanboys, but the point is that the majority of people who use their products are very pleased. Many OS users dis Microsoft. You can judge for yourselves whether they have a point. I think Ballmer spends too much time chasing Apple and not enough time developing really new products that people want.

Microsoft stores? This will be interesting to watch. I don’t believe that they will catch the Appl;e store experience.

Steve Ballamer said...

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/microsoft-yahoo-bring-good-news-for-google-2009-07-30?link=kiosk

Let's get one thing straight: For a search engine to be successful against Google, it has to show noteworthy superiority. Bing actually shows no superiority whatsoever.

It's been pointed out over and over again that during the Michael Jackson is dead moment, Bing was clueless.

For some reason Microsoft seems to think that by making the results prettier, people will want to use the system more. Aesthetics only comes into play as a factor when all things are equal and you need an edge. All things are not equal.

Anonymous said...

Did Robbie really tell analysts that we continued to make good progress with Zune

"If Zune were going to make a strong move against the iPod, it already would have," said IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian.

To be sure, the Zune provides a tiny, and apparently deteriorating portion of Microsoft's business. Revenue for the non-gaming side of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices unit, which includes the Zune, tumbled 42 percent to roughly $211 million for the fourth fiscal quarter ended in June — or about 2 percent of the software giant's total, according to regulatory filings.

By contrast, iPod sales declined just 11 percent in the same quarter to roughly $1.5 billion, or about 18 percent of Apple's total in the period.

http://www.mercurynews.com/nationworld/ci_12940980?nclick_check=1

Anonymous said...

"I'd recommend ditching the whole WinMo in favor of striking a deal with Palm or RIM."

I had heard a while back that there were actually discussions with RIMM about just that. Does anyone know anything about this?

Anonymous said...

>Test managers are the worst.
>Every test manager I've worked
>with writes no test cases, no
>code and just manages up.

LOL. Didn't LisaB tell you already? Wrting test code or test case is not part of their comittments.

Anonymous said...

Any takers?
MS to buy Palm ...

http://www.xchangemag.com/hotnews/microsoft-to-buy-palm-.html

Anonymous said...

> Two disciplines bother me the most at Microsoft - test and product management.

Both Test and PM are necessary. If they do their jobs right, we would have much better products. But the reality is they have not done a good job and that bothers me. Here is a common scenario I have noticed:

A couple of months before shipping, Devs will start to try hard to push bugs into next release using all the execuses they can find; PMs only care about meeting release schedule so they pretend those bugs are not important too; Tests often don't fight either because they are scared to become the scapegoats when those incompetent Devs break existing features by fixing the bugs they don't want to fix in the first place and push the schedule late. As a result, everyone cheers after sending another louse proudct out of door on time. Then the new relase cycle starts again with a fight for bonus and promotion first.

Anonymous said...

I actually love this Yahoo deal. This is probably the first time where Ballmer opened his mouth and somebody else's stock got screwed.

Spiny Norman said...

Unfortunately, MS hasn't got the intestinal fortitude to kill WinMo dead, as it really should do. It's really too bad. This is the one major, *growing* market where MS could still establish a foothold. But because WinMo has its tentacles wrapped so tightly around the company's brainstem, it will never happen.

Anonymous said...

"Merge Dev and Test into a team of engineers whose sole purpose is to design, code and test the product

This was the PUM model. A bunch of powerpoints, prototype quality products and Vista were shipped. So the org is going back to the good old ways of doing things.
"

Engineers are the world's shittiest designers -- period.

DESIGNERS design products, Engineers build them, Testers test them and PMs manage the schedule -- that's a right-thinking world. The problem with Microsoft has always been that PMs consider themselves designers -- that is almost, but not quite, as bad as having your engineers do design work on products that real humans use.

Anonymous said...

any possibility of managing out people based on year end review?

Anonymous said...

This is my first post and I am looking for advise from this forum. This is my first review at MS and I was put in bottom 10%. I became scape goat for typical Microsoft politics. I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region. My question is, how do I bite the bullet? I am unable to digest the fact that is happening for me. How do I keep my moral high. Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled why the GA for Win7 needs 3 FULL months?

That is, in fact, insanely quick. Think about how we sell - we aren't the company which ships hw+sw in one tiny neat package. We're the company with a huge ecosystem of partners.

DELL will be able to roll out on short notice. J.Random.Laptop vendor in Taiwan won't.

So, in order to keep the entire ecosystem happy, we set a date that allows everyone to ship at the same time. An attempt at fairness or maintaining market penetration depending on your bias, but that's how it is.

Anonymous said...

The one thing about Sinofsky that pisses me off is that he's bound for the win8 cycle. Win8 is going to be an awe-inspiring release and he's going to make the windows machine into the best ever software-delivering behemoth.

But I'd much rather have seen him step up and replace Ballmer right now in this crisis.

He's exactly the medicine Microsoft at large needs - someone who has far vision but a tight focus on delivering results.

Oh, well, I guess I'll have to wait another three years.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
This is my first post and I am looking for advise from this forum. This is my first review at MS and I was put in bottom 10%. I became scape goat for typical Microsoft politics. I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region. My question is, how do I bite the bullet?


If you have another offer, and you have been told that your boss would walk you out, then leave right now to go to a sure thing.

Now there are two ways to get a 10% rating. 1)that you aren't performing to what the job requires, time for a change. You might not be using your strengths well. 2) The other reason for 10% is that you have reached the highest level of your job's grade level, and there is nowhere up to go or that they don't see you progressing to more responsibility. Under this scenario, say you are a 64 as an individual contributor, not a manager, and it probably isn't going to happen that you'll ever fit the mold for the level of 66, then you'd be a 10%er, even if your work is very acceptable or good. It is believed by your management team that you've maxed out. Unfortunately, the system makes it look like you aren't a good level 64 giving you a 10%, you may however be really good at your job, be an expert, but won't be going to a 66 in your lifetime.

In military terms it would be like being the top enlisted rank, but will never jump to Officer, so you are punished. It seems a bit silly to lose the institutional knowledge of those that have been around a long time, are strong contributors and knowledge expert at what they do, to then be punished for not being viewed as going to a high leadership level. Which requires a different set of skills than maybe the employee has. Don't we want to work to our strengths? A strange message to send to good senior/longevity people and perhaps, older employees.

Anonymous said...

Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?

--

leave while you can

Anonymous said...

"any possibility of managing out people based on year end review?"

I don't understand this question... you should manage people out whenever they need to be managed out, there's no need to wait for the review.

That said, reviews are frequently used as the mechanism for formally delivering a written "job in jeopardy" message that starts the countdown clock ticking.

Anonymous said...

This is my first review at MS and I was put in bottom 10%. I became scape goat for typical Microsoft politics. I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region. ... Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?

If you already have an offer and you are unhappy (for whatever reason), why sit around? Sounds like you are a fairly new employee (first review), so you don't have much to lose by jumping ship. Don't wait around for someone to tell you that you are not wanted. Leave on your own terms and don't look back.

Anonymous said...

Well FY09 was quite a year. Never thought I'd be happy to get a new revenue target and retire the old one, but this year I am.

As for our execs, the only one I'd pay a bonus to this year is Sinofsky. Pay that man a boatload as far as I'm concerned. Win7 rocks and I can sell the heck out of it which is more fun than I've had in 3 years.

He also apparently took down BillV which is also worth a bonus in my book. BillV is great at many things, but he rose too fast, got too big for his britches, and caused a big mess as a result. He should go back down a level or 2 and earn real stripes. I hope they don't "park and pay" him like a few of our other execs and he lingers past his usefulness.

Anonymous said...

I am unable to digest the fact that is happening for me. How do I keep my moral high. Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?


On a professional level, you should cut your losses and go now. You have nothing to gain by staying. If you get fired for performance reasons you won't get any severance. If you have another job lined up, take it. In this economy they won't wait for you.

On a personal level, do what you think is right to make yourself feel whole. I had one shitty manager early in my career. He was a real weasel, covered up for his buddies' unethical behavior, and lied to me repeatedly. I was lucky to get out of that toxic situation but always regretted not confronting him.

Anonymous said...

I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region.Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?
You have a job already lined up. Go for it, quit MS, give the bastards you have as managers two weeks and leave. MS is nowadays just another company on earth. You owe them nothing , they owe you nothing. You are fortunate you have an offer already. Take it and leave. Your life will be so much better outside of MS. You will realize that very soon after you leave.

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled why the GA for Win7 needs 3 FULL months?

Here's one reason: for OEMs and volume licensing, it's flippin' huge. On the order of literally thousands of distinct pieces of media, when you multiple languages times editions times regions, etc. etc. 3 months is amazing.


The one thing about Sinofsky that pisses me off is that he's bound for the win8 cycle. ... But I'd much rather have seen him step up and replace Ballmer right now in this crisis.

Save the cheerleader, save the world. Windows has every chance of being very irrelevant if they don't build on good will from Win7 and do the right things with e.g. netbooks. Fix Windows, and set the org up to be reliable, then Sinofsky can make a run at bigger things.

>Test managers are the worst.
>Every test manager I've worked
>with writes no test cases, no
>code and just manages up.


Good test managers should be solving the broad problems that test organization have had for years: how to accurately report the quality of the product, how to help find and interpret trends in customer feedback, how to build test harnesses that don't need so much care and feeding. Some organizations have more political or less competent test managers than others, but that's true of any discipline.

You want to bitch about a real problem in Test, go make a push to bring back STEs. Vista is one of the most glaring examples of all the problems that cropped up when they managed so many STEs up or out (or over to SDET). They overemphasized SDETs. They turned Test into simple Quality Assurance - checklists, rote programming work, and people who were only in test because they wanted to be (or couldn't hack it as) "real developers". Notice how many of the really complex, really good bugs - the real showstoppers - tend to be caught in private beta, public beta, internal selfhosting? I wonder why that is?

I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region.

Run. F**king RUN. If done right, managing someone out takes a long time (legal hoops, performance documentation) and it's the most demoralizing time of your professional life that isn't a layoff. And if done wrong (i.e. quickly), you might have some contacts and relationships poisoned behind you on the way out, and no time to really ease into your next job. Go now.

danny said...

"This is probably the first time where Ballmer opened his mouth and somebody else's stock got screwed."

I love this quote! This is the kind of stuff that should be put on a t-shirt.

On the plus side, it's a change. Sometimes change can be good ... sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon:

.....This is my first review at MS and I was put in bottom 10%. ..... I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer. ....... Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?

You need to accept that job on Monday morning at 9 to start in 2 weeks. Then you need to spend 4+ hours getting all your personal e-info in order, print your mid year review if it was ok, get details on your personal records, prep a going away email - VERY nice and polite and non-political and thank the bejesus out of everything and everyone and then sched a meeting with your manager with as little notice as possible.
You'll tell them you're moving on, thank you so much, they're the best, etc, etc.
You may or may not choose to take a few vaca/sick days/floating holidays in the following two weeks. If they try to walk you out hit send on your drafted mail and go.
Do NOT do your review. Don't open the mail, don't hit the link, don't go into a meeting with your boss about it and fer christsakes don't sign.
You'll get over the humiliation by going to a better place in a situation within your control and without a crappy review.

Anonymous said...

He's [Sinofsky] exactly the medicine Microsoft at large needs - someone who has far vision but a tight focus on delivering results.

I dunno. Sinofsky hasn't done the one thing that any really sucessful executive needs to do - fire the incompetents in the management chain. Too many of the bumblers are still around. All Sinofsky did was slap on a new, poorly explained design process and reorg the teams into his goofy triads. The teething pains with the design process are over, and at least there is a design process now, but Windows still doesn't have a cadre of managers that know how to execute.

If Sinofsky can't or won't fix that for Windows, how does he fix it for the whole company?

Anonymous said...

Apple sells iPods and iPhones. Thats all they do. Oh, and the also sell notebooks to Mac fanatics. Thats like selling prayer beads at a pilgrimage. Apple lunatics would spend their last dollar on a Mac rather than on food. They are another company that defies macro-economic trends unless they get VERY bad.>>>

Hello from a Microsoft shareholder that's concerned because of comments like this one. Not because I understand that the competition can create some strong feelings - I get that. But because comments like these are so short-sided.

Apple now owns 91% of the share of laptops sold over 1000 dollars. That's the area in which companies make actual money. How easy would it be for Apple to drop price and still make a profit? Pretty easy, they already dropped a Mac to 1100 and saw some of the best earnings ever.

They absolutely own the Back to School timeframe. If you go to a college, all you see are Macs. And those kids are the IT decision-makers in 10-20 years.

Apple has both time and money on their side. Their iPhone dominates because of it's *innovation* - everything else is copy cat models.

So as a shareholder who loves Microsoft, seeing this kind of arrogance and ignorance combined makes me awfully nervous.

Anonymous said...

This is my first post and I am looking for advise from this forum. This is my first review at MS and I was put in bottom 10%. I became scape goat for typical Microsoft politics. I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region. My question is, how do I bite the bullet? I am unable to digest the fact that is happening for me. How do I keep my moral high. Do I need to wait till they take decision or quit on my own?

Hi Kim. Welcome to the 10% bucket; unfortunately I'm sitting in there with you.

If they are preparing to walk you out then you must have got Underachived - 10. Getting Achived - 10 typically should not lead to you getting such a message.

I would tell you to walk if you already have a job offer in hand and only been here 1 year. There is no reason to wait for them to RIF (or fire) you really. If you are RIF'd what are you going to get? 2 weeks pay... forget it.

Myself I don't have anything lined up yet and would be leaving 24 weeks of pay on the table if they decide to RIF me. So I'll grind it out and let them cut me a check if that is what they decide. But I've had enough of this pathetic review model and the politics that go along with it so I will be looking for a new job. As for your moral or depression for getting such a message just tell yourself "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!"

any possibility of managing out people based on year end review?

Yes. I have it on good authority another RIF is coming. Don't know how many, when, or what the criteria is, but it's coming.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, MS hasn't got the intestinal fortitude to kill WinMo dead, as it really should do

Guys please stop with killing Winmo. Let experts do their job. Instead of making comments here about things you dont understand, why dont you do your job of collecting coins outside of Sulabh shauchalya

Anonymous said...

Engineers are the world's shittiest designers -- period. .
.
Maybe, maybe not. This is the conventional Microsoft wisdom that PMs tell each other, and given the number of engineers in the company/world, no doubt many would be shitty product designers... and quite a few would no doubt be very good at it.

I don't think someone's skills are defined by his job title. Many people have talents that would make them successful in many different positions. Look at Jobs, he was never formally trained for any particular "trade" and never had any title besides executive for the companies he founded, but he's a spectacular product designer.

Out of all the titles at Microsoft, Devs are the ones who typically have Rainman-like fixations on computers, have used them for many hours per day since their pre-teen years, are curious and excited about trying different operating systems and competitors' products, know the pros and cons of all of them, read slashdot every day, etc. I would frankly be astonished if the best person for any given computer-related job isn't "at heart" a dev. BTW, I believe Sinofsky, whom everybody is now fawning over, was hired as, and worked for several years as, a dev.

Microsoft's problem with design is that every product is literally designed by committee--dozens or hundreds of PMs have their fingers in every aspect of the design, with all the political infighting that implies. Every product at Microsoft needs one single person with good common sense--like Jobs--who has the authority to call bullshit on any poor user experience he sees.

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky's vision comes from Walt Mossberg. Windows org in trouble yet another re-arranging of deck chairs.

Anonymous said...

"Any takers?
MS to buy Palm ..."

They already should have in December when $.5-1 billion would have gotten the deal done. It made sense then on just about any basis (incremental technology, people, patents, take out a potential competitor, etc). Now it would probably take $3 billion (they trade for $2.2) and might still be wise. But it requires a comprehensive unbiased analysis. It also depends on whether MS is still committed to its overall strategy following this year's embarassing results.

But you don't last long as an MS President admitting your strategy is wrong or a competitor got ahead of you (and your future plans) quicker and cheaper, even when it's undeniable (Apple). So don't expect an overt admission here, which is what a buyout of Palm would signal.

Anonymous said...

Efficiency is much more than just the number of people you have or how smart and hardworking they are. Reducing the numbers won't be enough. Here's a few measures I would use to predict success based on my experience at Microsoft.

1. Less email. Too many people use email like IM: constant, short bursts that serve mostly as interrupts. Before I came to Microsoft, I often attended meetings with Microsoft employees and I used to think they were just rude--ignoring the room while staring at their laptops. Now I know that that it had nothing to do with personal rudeness, they were simply trying to keep up with email. Where I came from, email ettiquette was: "Before you put someone's email address on a message ask yourself if they really need to see it because by sending them them email, you are asking for their time. At Microsoft, you put everyone who might possibly have an interest on the CC: line.

2. Fewer meetings. People at Microsoft spend too much time "managing up". I've never seen calendars so full of meetings as I have at Microsoft. Here's a simple starting point: Anyone who wants a meeting should take responsibility for scheduling it themselves. Line Managers in particular take note: Your people's time is your greatest asset. Don't make them waste it trying to find an open spot in your calendar for a meeting that you want to have.
Avoid regular "status meetings" with fixed agendas as much as possible.

3. Better use of Microsoft productivity tools. Doesn't it seem odd that with productivity tools such as Office and SharePoint, people still dig around in email to find that document you asked about? And that people will still print out a document for review and write comments on the hardcopy rather than using the collaboration features provided by our products!?

4. Micromanagement--less of it. Hire people who can do the job and let them do it. If you have more than a couple of people working for you and any of them can't do their particular job better than you can, find someone who can. You don't have time to be doing their job and yours.

5. Manage to results, not specific activities. If people are getting the required results it's not important that they do so exactly as you would have if you still had their job. There's always more than one way to execute and if you can't trust your reports to do so and come to you when they need help, then either you've hired the wrong people or you are still an individual contributor at heart and you should think about going back to being one.

What keeps me awake at night these days? If I read the industry 3Q results correctly, Apple pulled in roughly 60% of the revenue (8+ billion) that Microsoft did and did it with roughly one third the workforce.

Anonymous said...

I actually love this Yahoo deal. This is probably the first time where Ballmer opened his mouth and somebody else's stock got screwed.

LOL. I love this comment more.

Anonymous said...

Under this scenario, say you are a 64 as an individual contributor, not a manager, and it probably isn't going to happen that you'll ever fit the mold for the level of 66, then you'd be a 10%er, even if your work is very acceptable or good. It is believed by your management team that you've maxed out

I am an IC dev and recently got promoted to L64. What are the implications of being in 10% bucket for senior ICs assuming that I get an Achieved. Are senior ICs allowed to stagnate at their level. I dont see myself moving upto L65 and was wondering what would happen if I just continue to remain 10% + Achieved.

Anonymous said...

"what would happen if I just continue to remain 10% + Achieved."

Hmmm, perhaps a manager can come along and clear that up, but IMHO you are buggered. It is not supposed to be that way, but there is a stigma with 10%. And a place like MSFT does not like folks "to just be doing their jobs", even if it is well. The other impact is when it comes to cutting - you are first in line - if there is another team member with Achieved/70 they would be a better corporate bet.

The whole review/reward system at MSFT is crap. It might have been appropriate for an incubation business, but now that it is middle-aged I think the review needs to be reviewed. Maybe you folks should be more like IBM or government.

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Let the pros do the job that is needed to fight with iphone - both palm and RIMM are credible competitors. And lets give the suckers at winmo boot. .
.
Microsoft bought Danger a while ago. They made the Sidekick. While it never had a huge portion of market share, it had a ton of mindshare and really connected with users. It was sort of a proto-iPhone ... big screen, friendly UI, web surfing, e-mail, required a data plan, etc. It just didn't have the slick touch screen and corresponding UI. But celebrities etc. loved it.

So Danger was acquired beginning of last year and the speculation was that with Microsoft's deep pockets, they could make an awesome iPhone competitor that customers would fall in love with. And now where are they? I haven't heard anything about the deal for probably more than a year now, internally or externally. It seems like yet another company Microsoft acquired and then ground into nothingness with bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

In the Windows Org (both WEX and COSD) they have already started the process of performance management. I know of a few people who just disappeared and management doesn't even acknowledge their departure in email.
During MY09, I was given the "job in jeopardy" message and told to leave ASAP. I am in a position that doesn't play to my strenghts'. I have been looking but haven't found anything in this dismal economy.
The momemt I find something I am going to walk, so as to keep my sanity and my dignity. I am now in the weekly perf management roller coaster ride which is no fun.
To the poster who has a job offer, to echo everyone else's comment -- RUN, buddy RUN!

Anonymous said...

To the person who said "Apple now owns 91% of the share of laptops sold over 1000 dollars."
I am not agreeing or disagreeing with your post but …
If you do the research, that isn’t nearly as impressive as it sounds. It is like saying Ferrari owns the market on cars over $200,000 so they are really kicking Toyota’s butt.

Anonymous said...

On a personal level, do what you think is right to make yourself feel whole. I had one shitty manager early in my career. He was a real weasel, covered up for his buddies' unethical behavior, and lied to me repeatedly. I was lucky to get out of that toxic situation but always regretted not confronting him.

OK now. The conventional advice here is to not burn bridges. Depending on how much support you have from others at the company, confronting the guy is likely a bad move that could come back to bite you in the future. You never know who you'll be working with in 20 years. If not that guy, it could be SOME guy who isn't on your side, who knows how you treated the pathetic manager and doesn't want to be on the receiving end of it himself.

That said, sometimes this is an incredibly empowering action to take. I did it a few years ago, around 2005 or 2006. Yes, at Microsoft. In my annual review, after stating that I didn't want to waste the hour discussing a review done by someone who had appeared to be disinterested in providing an unbiased evaluation of my performance, and I thought it would be a more efficient use of the time to provide feedback to him. It was a contentious situation, so another manager was present. He'd already poisoned many in the hierarchy against me, but I still had a great cadre of former colleagues on other teams who knew b-s when they saw it.

I called the dude on some lies he'd written about my performance, presenting stats to the contrary. I told him that his behavior toward me was counterproductive to getting the best out of any engineer and that he should simply quit being an ass if he wanted me performing at my best to help him meet his team goals. And so on. I emailed a summary to the VP, citing the written lies specifically, voicing full support for the VP's goals and noting that it would be ideal if I was working for a manager that would let me work at full potential to help achieve them and evaluate my contributions fairly. After this, I felt healthier than I had in months.

Now hear this: I am still employed, and happy on another team. When I left, I emailed the management chain and said that I regretted not being able to stay on in their group, but I needed to be in one that provided more managerial support for career and technical growth opportunities. YMMV, as always. So in spite of conventional wisdom, it doesn't always backfire. It depends how much karma you have to burn. I spent some of it on that, but as my new team seems to be sufficiently happy with me, I've probably earned most of it back by now.

Anonymous said...

Hey mini, you'll love this.

We've got a "kickoff" meeting today - 200+ people from the DC area flown out to Las Vegas (what cost controls?) for it.

Best part - "The session starts at 1pm, doors will be closed at 12:45. No laptops are allowed in the session."

Listen, if you already anticipate that the content of having people read powerpoints at the audience will be so boring that you have to tell folks not to bring laptops, maybe you should reexamine the value of the whole freaking thing.

Sign me "Treaing your employees like they're in grade school is not a good sign"

Anonymous said...

"I am an IC dev and recently got promoted to L64. What are the implications of being in 10% bucket for senior ICs assuming that I get an Achieved. Are senior ICs allowed to stagnate at their level. I dont see myself moving upto L65 and was wondering what would happen if I just continue to remain 10% + Achieved."

Strong 64s don't get put in the 10% bucket even if they've hit a ceiling -- many people stay at 64 indefinitely. If you're a strong 64 and your work is respected, you'll be squarely in the 70% bucket. If you get 10% the org is telling you that you're not valued.

Anonymous said...

>Now there are two ways to get a 10% rating

There are 3 ways to a 10%. 1 & 2 are the ones HR lists. The 3rd is the reality of the model.

1) You got underachieved. You're failing at your job.
2) You've reached the foreseeable limit of your career. 5 years from now you'll still be at L64 while others have moved ahead. Could be your choice (you're happy with the responsibilities you have) or it could be your potential.
3) 90% of your peers are contributing more than you. Maybe they have projects where it's easier to contribute more, maybe they're executing better than you (getting more done), maybe they're more proactive (creating their own projects), maybe ...

#2 means you're limited. It's all about you.
#3 means others are currently seen as better than you. It's all about them. This you can work at but it'll still be a blow to you.

It's been a few years since we switched to the 20/70/10 model. Many teams haven't grown much. 10% tend to move on. Now I'm seeing folks that used to be 70% slip into 10%. Good people that get their job done and still have the potential to grow in their career. The org simply ran out of #1 and #2 10% cases. Now it's them.

IIRC GE had the same problem with the curve. Once the crud has left, only the good people remain for you to let go.

May be good for MSFT but really hard on the solid performers we label this way.

Anonymous said...

I was told by my manager told that he is preparing to walk me out. I already have a job offer from another big company in same region. My question is, how do I bite the bullet?

You mean to tell me that you have another job offer in this market and you are thinking about NOT taking it? Are you MAD? When - not if, you are let go this opportunity may be gone.

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky got a freeride on Windows 7 and is cashing in on it big-time. I hope our leadership team will look at what happens next as the real test because W7 was going to be a winner as long as it turned up on time (recognizing that on time is a success metric that is worth noting)

Games of Org flattening, musical-chairs,spin-the-job title and political yahtzee to follow.

Anonymous said...

I was promoted to 63 in march.

Thought it was good but now manager hints that I don't rank well with the rest of those in my new bucket. She says we fired some bad seniors this year. Others moved last fall.

I was promoted but I think she's giving me 10%.

Time to look for a new job?
Would I be ok if she hadn't promoted me?

Anonymous said...

I am an IC dev and recently got promoted to L64. What are the implications of being in 10% bucket for senior ICs assuming that I get an Achieved. Are senior ICs allowed to stagnate at their level. I dont see myself moving upto L65 and was wondering what would happen if I just continue to remain 10% + Achieved.

Start making plans for what you will do once your Microsoft "career" is over.

Anonymous said...

"Any takers?
MS to buy Palm"

Only on the condition that Jon Rubinstein (Palm CEO, former Apple iPod whiz) commits to 3-5 years and takes over as president of the Entertainment division. Then it would be very interesting. Of course, chances of him agreeing to that are low. But MS is in desperate need of a new CEO as well, so maybe that can be additional incentive during the negotiation process ;-)

Anonymous said...

DESIGNERS design products, Engineers build them, Testers test them and PMs manage the schedule -- that's a right-thinking world.

The job is actually called 'Software Design Engineer' for a reason. Too often, designers have a title containing the name, but don't understand workflow design. They come from educational/experience tracks where pretty pictures were all that counted, and they're good at making things look great.

Don't confuse that with skill at designing UX (which is what we do as an org).

Some of the best UX design I've seen came (counter to the cliche!) from engineers pointing out obvious flaws and optimizing interaction barriers out of the way.

Anonymous said...

To: Saturday, August 01, 2009 1:34:00 AM

Leave.

I did back in March and I don't regret it for a day.

Don't take me wrong, I love MS and I would work for the right team in a heartbeat, but the team I was on had already let two go in January and I was certain things were not going to look better in the short or long run (I am/was right, but I will not delve into it for my former colleagues sakes).

Leave on a good note if you can: I could have roasted my direct manager and my skip level, but I did not (although I will admit I would have felt immense and immediate satisfaction to have done so). I’m not saying put in 70 hours to make your manager happy, but don’t burn your bridges on your way out either.

I will not say my new job is some great gift from the sky, it has its ups and downs like any other – but I will say that the job I am in now is incredibly safe and much less stressful. Before I left MS I was staying up late worrying about my family’s future in the event I was laid-off, and I was not leading a balanced lifestyle trying to get a good review score. Now that I am out I can say that I only work 40-45 hours a week (with only a minor pay cut overall) and I spend a lot more quality time with my kids and wife, who says I gained 5 to 7 years of my life back now that I left MS.

For me, it was a no brainer: bad fit on a bad team with no good future. Only you can assess your own situation, but leave for the right reasons.

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