Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Six Hopes for This Year's Microsoft Company Meeting

(Updated below for the Extra-Long-Labor-Day-Vacation-Layoff of September 3rd 2009)

I'm one of the biggest Microsoft Company Meeting fanboys *evah*, but even I'm surprised that we're having a full-blown Company Meeting this year at Safeco Field in Seattle. I thought it and MGX were going to be cut without a second thought given the economic reset we are all enduring. I'm wrong. Given that it is happening, it's my opinion that this year's Company Meeting sure can't be a clone of last year's. I mean, last year's was great and everything... but now our everything is different.

I think about the context around this year's Company Meeting. There is what the crowd brings, what the crowd expects to see, and what the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) wants to accomplish with this meeting. Look, against this current economic tide the Microsoft SLT is putting on the Company Meeting. There has to be a pretty big goal they are shooting for, not just rah-rah party-demo time.

Because there are two very large elephants sitting down front and center with the hand-picked floor crowd. Two grumpy elephants with very good memories, one of January 22nd 2009 with 1,400 Microsoftie layoffs and the other with May 5th, 2009 and 3,600 further Microsoftie layoffs. Folks are going to come into Safeco, grab their box lunch, sit down with their co-workers and friends and as they fold their pink paper airplane, they are going to remark, "I can't believe they are spending all this money for today. <<Fill name in the blank>> and more could have kept their job if they just cancelled this horse and pony show."

These folks might have on their Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters buttons, but they've scratched out the Proudly part. They are staring at the grumpy elephants, and are looking to the SLT for some serious L.

I'm just imagining what corporate baggage people are bringing in during the Company Meeting. Maybe they were part of the original 1,400 and had to scramble through interview loops to find a new Microsoft position. To be clear: I wanted cut-backs when we were in the 50,000 range of employees, let alone approaching 100,000. 100,000, man. That's crack-pipe craziness. Had we been more prudent and efficient over the years, we wouldn't have reached the stage where the light bulb went off over Ballmer's head and he said, "I know... layoffs!" We got bloated and we cut, and we should cut more. But our leadership shouldn't have gone down that crack-pipe path to begin with.

Anyway, looping back to the 2009 Microsoft Company Meeting, some of my hopes and expectations:

One: I expect Steve Ballmer to come out front first, before any other Microsoft leadership, to speak the truth about the last year and where we are now. He must acknowledge it starkly. We had layoffs. We had inefficiencies. Positions had to go due to the economy being unable to sustain those parts of the business. There are people missing this year that, last year, were some of the biggest Microsoftie fans.

And, there are people here this year that will not be in the audience next year.

Take that in.

With success in the middle of hardship, this is a rare opportunity to enact change in Microsoft culture and recalibrate to being efficient and streamlined. I want Ballmer to get out front and say, "Today, we're celebrating our success of Windows 7. From this success we are learning and we are acting. We're learning why it was a success, how to do even better, and then taking those lessons and putting them into practice. In Windows. In Office. In Dev Div. In all of Microsoft. The rest of today we will not only tell you where we are and where we are going, but we're also going to discuss honestly how we're changing to be an efficient, streamlined company that smartly uses its successes to leverage good change. For the benefit of the company, our customers, our shareholders, and our employees."

Two: Any vision this year has to be practical and realized with one, two, or at most, three years. And, closing the loop on accountability, there's a discussion and a review of how the vision of the past has brought us to practical results. The pie has come down from the sky and now it's time to eat.

Three: demos are short, sweet, powerful, and made especially for a crowd of some of the smartest (plus good looking) people on earth.

Four: if it's new and hot, we get to see it now. That new Halo game. Zune HD. Stuff that even Beta testers haven't seen yet. Give us some reward for actually working for Microsoft and being excited about seeing things that are new and known by very few. Hell yes we'll tweet and blog about the coolness. And to assuage any anxiety over that: happy, enthused Microsofties sharing their enthusiasm for Microsoft with the world == a good thing in this day and age.

Five: a short introduction by LisaB of the new, efficient, streamlined review system: a simple Word document that let's you cover what you were responsible for, how you did, and your manager's assessment. Hey, I can dream.

Six: wrap-up by a serious Steve Ballmer. No running around high-fiving people or shaking his fists in the air to get a "YeAAAH!" from the crowd. But rather a serious Ballmer who covers what we've been through, how we're going to change, and a re-enforcement for the success at Microsoft being something that has to spread through-out the teams.

After the Company Meeting, I intend to sit down at Pike Brewing and ponder over: what did the SLT intend to accomplish this year at the Company Meeting? How are the Microsofties attending better for having been there?

My concern is that the template for the meeting this year is the same as it ever has been, with some comedic hijinks, Kevin Turner covering all the "gooood" results that we should be fired up about, music, Liddell's financial review, an opaque speech by Ozzie, very late arriving busses full of people wondering why we can't figure out traffic control, rambling demos of misbehaving and barely competitive technology, paper airplanes smacking the back of my head, and a big cheerleader Ballmer at the end, all screaming and full of gusto... and totally passing over the hardships of this year.

I hope that all doesn't happen, but if it does, later I'll just sit at the bar between the grumpy elephants and drop some tears into my beer while still musing over what the SLT's intentions and goals might be.

What goals and expectations do you have for the Company Meeting?


Addendum: as of September 3rd 2009 it looks like it might be two large grumpy elephants and a little baby elephant:

Weird. How much more than 27? And just who is affected? I don't see it on the WARN site yet. Snippet from Ms. Chan's post:

Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said the company is making cuts across the country, but he did not elaborate on how many more jobs in the U.S. were affected.

"I can confirm that part of our effort to reduce costs and increase efficiencies involved 27 job eliminations here and in other regions across the country. While job eliminations are always difficult, we are taking these necessary actions to realign our resources against our top priorities."


-- Comments

132 comments:

Anonymous said...

+1 for number five on your list, Mini. I can't tell you how much time I've spent on useless review tweaking when I really should be focusing time and attention on my tripled workload (due to cuts in the org).

Although most likely it'll just be everything you alluded to in the end...and SteveB downing a fifth of honey as usual. *sigh* Oh well...here's hoping!

Anonymous said...

I would love to see (hear about) Ballmer being totally honest and upfront about the cut-backs and layoffs. I was a part of the May 5th "Cinco de Firo" round and would appreciate some sort of acknowledgment for the two elephants in the stadium. I can't believe they canceled the company picnic but are still going forward with the company meeting. Things must be improving. No, I don't want my job back.

Anonymous said...

Expectations: zero. "SLT" hasn't shown any indication of learning from mistakes before, why should they start now?

Anonymous said...

I feel for you man. What can I say, look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvsboPUjrGc (almost 2 million views)

Or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5oGaZIKYvo (passed the 2 million views mark)

I'm no MS employee, and seeing these videos, I sure don't want to be one... Not under Ballmer.

My money is on you sipping a tear-beer cocktail that night. Say hi to the elephants for me ;)

Anonymous said...

You talk about trimming people, but what about trimming the business? Why is Microsoft in so many different businesses? How much do you intend to lose in search? Zune? Xbox?

Yes, these are a lot more glamorous than Windows or enterprise software, but they are costing billions and detracting from much needed focus.

Trim the business and the headcount will follow.

Anonymous said...

Let's see some balls around honesty. The same old shuck and jive ain't gonna cut it.

Anonymous said...

You expect Ballmer to speak the truth? That's crack-pipe craziness.

Anonymous said...

I have only been to 1 company meeting in my 5 years of service...

Anonymous said...

I think the SLT should do the right thing and announce that they are closing up shop and giving the money back to the shareholders.

Anonymous said...

I too am suprised that they decided to hold the company meeting this year.

I really expected them to try the online meeting concept again.

Anonymous said...

I think you hit it right on the head with this one Mini. I've been with the company 3 years now, and every year I hear how this is "the biggest and most promising year in our history!" and "we've never launched a product wave like this before!" While I was bored of that on year 2, to hear it again to start year 4, especially in this economic climate, would be really demotivating.

Anonymous said...

"and we should cut more"

Hey Mini,

Love your site, but you just have no idea what it's like out in the field. My product group, based outside of Redmond, has been cut down to the bone. After the layoffs there was an additional wave of "cheap bastard layoffs", where a large number of people were simply asked to quit (no severance). The product group is also using this year's review to do the same thing. People with perfectly good track records are being asked for a resignation date. Lots and lots of people. Our 10% bucket is looking more like 20% of our workforce.

So don't get too excited about how we are handling our headcount. When you give an executive (already lacking in morals) a goal of making short term cost gains at the expense of living human beings you end up with a cost cutting machine that cannot be turned off and ends up cutting the company to shreds.

Even if you love cost cutting, you have to realize that they way we are doing it now (in this current review period), cutting people with no track record of poor performance, puts us at a huge risk of a class action lawsuit in California. There was a recent high level decision in California that affirmed private attorney general acts, which would allow a small number of employees to file a suit on behalf of all Microsoft employees. This recent practice of cutting people on the basis of a single (bogus) review is going to cost us billions down the road.

Just imagine the result from adding 100 Yahoo employees to the Silicon Valley campus. Do you think they will go quietly after their first Microsoft review? You have to be aware of the long term damage we are doing right now by failing to enact meaningful performance management.

If a court in California finds that this year's reviews were used in a discriminatory manner (and believe me, my product group primarily fires/pushes out employees over the age of 40) we are going to be paying for this folly for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I'd skip the meeting and go straight to Pike Brewing.

Anonymous said...

Six Hopes

1. Steve Ballmer introduces his replacement.

2. New CEO gives a broad overview of how to deal with the rise of netbooks that are killing margins, how to deal with the constant rise of goverenments and companies demanding open document formats, and Linux/open source in general

3. E&D gone. The entire train wreck of a division. Nothing but a long line of E&D people with their "I just got fired" boxes in hand walking to their cars. Xbox, Zune, mobile history. Former E&D office space sterilized to cleanse the stench of failure.

4. Search gone.

5. House cleaning of the Ballmer crony chain. Fresh faces across the board for senior managers. The non-Ballmer lackeys can stay with the same pay and benefits but in some other non-managerial role

6. An announcement that everyone else is safe so the everyone can get back to work and stop worrying about talking about when the next set of layoffs are going to drop

Anonymous said...

I have no goals or expectations for the Company Meeting.

I have not attended one in person for 5 or 6 years, and the last couple years haven't even bothered to try to have it streaming on my desktop in the background.

It was a waste of time and resources before the layoffs, and is doubly so after them.

A modern software company, which sells among other things software enabling remote access and teleconferencing, should have zero need to get its people together in person in a baseball field to tell them anything. If you need togetherness, simulcast to the cafeterias and have teams show up there.

And this company has not been up front about past layoffs or possible upcoming ones, so expecting such at the CM is silly. They weren't even honest and up front at the meetings they had in January to discuss the layoffs specifically with people face to face...

Anonymous said...

Two things I take out of this: PINK SLIP PAPER AIRPLANES and AFTER PARTY AT PIKE BREWIIIIING!

I'm grabbing pink paper now and folding a stack of glarts to take with me. After the meeting, I'll be at Pike Brewing looking for the glum weepy guy so that I can buy 'em a beer.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and make sure to cheer for other product teams as well.

Anonymous said...

yes, please no crazy, sweating, running around Ballmer craziness.

I still remember watching the town hall meeting right after the 1400 was announced, and Ballmer was still "raa raa raa". Tasteless, and out of touch.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft laying off 27 employees in Redmond and Bellevue

http://bit.ly/P8lqV

raa raa raa!!

Anonymous said...

I agree spending the tens of millions it costs to put on MGX and the Mompany Meeting is ridiculous ... in any climate but especially today's. It's Microsoft for crimeney sake. Hold a virtual company meeting that all offices can tune into or at least catch on demand. Film some killer demos and put them on the secure CorpNet for all to see. This is 2009 after all.

Anonymous said...

Steve Ballmer's hopping around on stage shouting "I love this company!" only works on sales people who get a percentage of a sale (commission), kids just out of school that buy the "change the world" mantra and the top 20%.

MSFT vs GOOG 5 years

Unless the dude is in an Easter Bunny costume giving out chocolates, walking is sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
I was thinking of skipping the meeting this year (as were all my co-workers and management chain), mostly to avoid being berated for having an iPhone again.

That said, Pike Brewing or elsewhere, you should setup a "Mini Post-Company Meetup". Whether you show up or not, nobody will know - just a place for folks to get together and walk about the meeting.

And maybe it'll be a great one and we'll all move from the koolaid to the beer-aid!

Anonymous said...

Six Hopes

1. Steve Ballmer introduces his replacement.

3. E&D gone.

4. Search gone.

5. House cleaning of the Ballmer crony chain.

6. An announcement that everyone else is safe so the everyone can get back to work and stop worrying about talking about when the next set of layoffs are going to drop
I agree with you on everything except E&D.

I would bet that Xbox Live is the most profitable service that we offer. We've been talking about software+services for way too many company meetings, so it's good to see at least one that's delivering. Speaking of S+S, I expect another yawn-fest from the Azure people.

Zune HD is getting good reviews and has as lot of people interested in it. I'm sure we'll say something stupid and screw that up somehow.

Is Windows Phone in that group? If it is, I agree that they should be cut because of yet another delay on WinMo 7. But for reasons we cannot discuss in public, this will not happen.

Search - The only way we abandon this money sucking shithole is if Steve leaves.

Anonymous said...

Mini, I find your characterization of Microsoft’s headcount growth as "crack pipe craziness" quite inaccurate. Two things happened in the last 8-10 years.

First, Microsoft was sticking its hands into more and more different cookie jars. Video game consoles, children’s toys (remember those atrocious Teletubbies?), photo editing,... That required adding people. There was no way around it.

And then there was Bill relinquishing the CEO title to SteveB. That event marked the end of the era when geeks ruled at MS. From then on, slowly but methodically layers of management were added to make Microsoft look more like the other "serious" players. Call it what you want. Cargo-cult business, IBM-envy, Revenge of the MBAs… In any case there was nothing "crazy" about it. It was all very deliberate.

Similarly I disagree with your assertion that the cuts, although they could have been avoided had growth been better managed, are a step in the right direction. The recent layoffs are useless because they didn’t do anything to reverse any of these two trends I just described. Microsoft is still trying to be all things to everybody. And from what I’ve seen middle management is still as bloated as ever. Most of the people I know who’ve lost their jobs were experienced ICs and I’ve heard of some teams losing half of their ICs while their 3 or 4 layer deep management structure remained untouched. This leaves you with less people, who collectively have less experience (because senior ICs were targeted for layoff) doing the same amount of work. Hardly a recipe for success.

Anonymous said...

Zune HD is getting good reviews and has as lot of people interested in it.

Folks in Redmond (and US, generally) don't seem to realise Zune is not available anywhere except US and (recently) Canada. In other words, even if Zune was best product in the world, 95% of the potential market cannot buy one. Even if you buy the hardware through a buddy living in US, you cannot use Zune online service from outside US. iPod suffers no such limitation! There was talk of expanding international access for Zune HD but no details yet. In Asia/Pacific, any deals would seem to be at least 12-24 months away or longer; dunno about Europe. Zune, HD or otherwise, is walking dead; it can never help to resurrect MSFT.

Anonymous said...

So...one assumes that since this layoff was supposedly reported to WARN with an effective date of 11/1, which requires 60 days notice to the employees affected, that these poor bastards have already been told...?

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should stop calling it the "SLT". We don't have any leadership.
How's about the "MMT - The Mis-management Team?"
The "PPT - The Poor Planning Team or The Poo Poo Team?"
The "MBCT - Manage By Consensus Team?"
Or...the "WTFT"....figure that one out for yourself.

Anonymous said...

"I would bet that Xbox Live is the most profitable service that we offer."

That doesn't really make any sense. Didn't E&D just post a 31 million dollar loss last quarter? The online fees are attached to a product that generates has generated insane losses over the past eight years. It is hard to know what the actual Xbox losses are since 2001 since efforts have been made to hide them, but Mini has pegged them at 8 billion, others at 7 billion, and some say they are even higher than that if you take away the profitable products mixed in that offset the losses over the years.

So, yes it is generating revenue. But all that revenue is doing is partially helping fill in the hole the product it is attached to and depends on created in the first place.

Even taking for the sake of argument that 10 million people are actually paying 50 dollars a year, that 500 million in revenue a year. Most likely wildy optimistic since the actual number of recurring year over year subscribers is quite a bit lower. But even with that high number, you still aren't even getting close to paying for the cost of development of the hardware. There are other source of revenue in addition to the online fees, but they've had eight years and two major hardware products to demonstrate they have a viable business model that can contribute to the growth of the company.

They've completely failed to so. E&D's Xbox has been nothing more than a money sink living off the other profitable parts of the company.

Console hardware design and manufacturing clearly is something this company has no business trying to compete in. The first Xbox was nothing more than a bunch of off the shelf desktop PC parts tossed in a black box. The second was the disasterous rushed out the door cheapest bid to manufacture junk that has racked up similar levels of losses as the first hardware.

I'm sure the E&D guys will claim that 'the next one will get it right' just like they did after the first Xbox had to be pulled from the market. But if they are generating this large of losses for a product with such cheap and unreliable hardware, there is no way they are going to be able to spend less on design and manufacturing of yet another Xbox if they hope to avoid repeating the RRoD fiasco and other hardware problems that plague the current console.

I know that at a fundamental level there is still that old dream of creating a walled in garden and acting as a tollkeeper for access generating automatic revenue like a utility company. That dream goes all the way back to the mid to late 1990s where it was hoped an alternative to the Internet could be created with a Microsoft Network. The Xbox online service is just the latest but smaller scale version of that old dream. The desire to realize that dream seems to cloud the reality that unless massive resources are put into internal design and manufacturing capabilities like Sony has, Xbox hardware will never be a viable product and continue to live off the profits of the rest of the company.

Killing off non-viable products like the Xbox is what competent senior management are supposed to do. Actually, even more competent management would have listened to the people who warned of what a massive mistake the Xbox project was eight years ago.

Anonymous said...

+1 on dumping businesses and most of the people associated with them.

But it is easy for me to say that, since I work in Office. :)

Put the money in smaller scale programs that extend some of our core brands.

First suggestion would be to provide some of the promised updates for the Ultimate editions of Windows.

+1000 on using some of our technology to host the company meeting. I can't believe they wasted money on MGX too. The sales people are already overcompensated thanks to a severely distorted bonus system. This thing screams boondoggle.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of this. Seriously tired. I worry every day that I will be selected for the next cull, unable to sell our house, broke, unable to support my children, and hardly able to pay to have our sorry possessions shipped home such is the life of a H1-B holder within the collective. Having already seen many good people go I know there's no hiding, just waiting. This isn't the brave new world we were promised in the Land of the Free. It almost feels like Orwells 1984 when the final bullet would be a blessed relief. How are we ever expected to produce our best work in this continued climate of fear? Does it seem that most everyone has had a bad review this year? Are those really our own bad reviews, or just a reflection of the poor productivity of the dismal environment, of the inept SLT and of the mad emperor Nero himself counting his chickens as Microsoft burns?

Anonymous said...

> demos are short, sweet, powerful, and made especially for a crowd of some of the smartest (plus good looking) people on earth.

And for everyone else, a Windows 7 House Party! (Lamest, most embarrasing marketing scheme ever.) Why is our advertising and promotion so clueless and dorky? I'm bewildered.

I'll be skipping the company meeting again this year. It's a day at work that does nothing to move me closer to hitting my commitments. (I notice that no one in my management heirarchy ever goes either.)

Anonymous said...

"3. E&D gone. The entire train wreck of a division. Nothing but a long line of E&D people with their "I just got fired" boxes in hand walking to their cars. Xbox, Zune, mobile history. Former E&D office space sterilized to cleanse the stench of failure."

I'm guessing you don't know what our profit margins are like on XBOX Live.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the 27 layoffs paid for Seth Myers' appearance at the company meeting.

Anonymous said...

To the 27+ - Take your severence and run! I was part of the May cull and made the mistake of scurrying around and finding another position in the company. End result - screwed on review and unhappy where I ended (because of scramble). I'm now looking to either chew crow for 18 months or leave without severence.

Anonymous said...

>> But it is easy for me to say that, since I work in Office

80% of Office could be let go, too. You shouldn't need thousands of people to change UI for every release, and nothing else has changed much in the past five years.

Anonymous said...

rumor - another 5,000 layoffs announced on 9/12/09

Anonymous said...

Folks in Redmond (and US, generally) don't seem to realise Zune is not available anywhere except US and (recently) Canada.

Yup, the people in Redmond are depressingly US-centric. Even the employees that are from other countries that move here seem to get infected with this mindset after awhile.

Anonymous said...

Is Anonymous at Friday, September 04, 2009 12:19:00 AM supposed to be some sort of ironic commentary?

That much angst is almost on an emo scale.

There's legitimate concern about layoffs and the lack of transparency or competency. Then there's just hysteria.

And in case you're new to the blog: bringing up your H1-B status is not guaranteed to get much sympathy here. I don't have an opinion on whether that's fair or not. Just noting that not everyone thinks H1-B visa workers have it bad.

Anonymous said...

*reads XBox live / Xbox business / E&D comments*

Oh, Christ, this isn't going to turn into yet another XBox profitability thread, is it? Hasn't that horse been beaten to death around here by now?

Anonymous said...

"The people they left? The woman who interrupts work to complain about her pains and aches, and who's so shy that she's afraid to express herself in meetings. The H1B who is a PM writing marketing white papers, but since he cannot write English with correct grammar, everything he writes has to go to the content writing team for massive editing, with time wasting back and forth about "what did you mean when you said this-garbled-English on page 32?". Followed by at least one engineer reviewing the paper to ensure that in translation to full English, it didn't become inaccurate. Then there's a supposedly experienced dev who took a full year to learn his job, constantly asking his teammates to review every 2-line change to code before he checked it in for more than a year, couldn't remember sd commands, doesn't understand things until the 7th time they're explained to him, who not only barely contributes but pulls down the performance of the whole team. When people reached their limit and refused to audit his performance of job for him under the table to help him not look like the failure he is, he complained to management, who turned around and complained at the team for not helping him, so they continue to do so at risk of being considered problems themselves. That's just on one product feature team of about 10. Other teams likely have their own examples of low-potential, low-performing employees who should have been culled for the good of the team, but were not, instead of the likely illegal culls that took place."

An herein lies the problem. Does anyone here remember the definition of the word “Team”? Hands up at the back if you ever really knew it in the first place! A team is a collection of individuals who have both strengths and weaknesses. Yes weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect. In a team we all help each other to achieve the overall objective, and grow together, so that the strength of the team as a whole is greater than the sum of the individuals. Let me put that to the boneheads in a (yuck) ‘sports analogy’ that might get through: it’s no good having a bunch of individual glory seekers each holding on to the ball trying to score because they’ll get beaten every time by the ‘team’ of weaker players who work together against them. Happens every time. Get it?!?!?

So to the woman who’s afraid to express herself – go find a team where your opinion is respected, sought, and valued.

To the PM who’s English is a little rough – welcome to a country who can’t even spell the word ‘colour’.

And to the Dev who struggles with antiquated poorly documented and totally obscure SD commands –why oh why does a company that gave the world TFS doesn’t use that when it’s 20yrs more advanced ?

Go team!

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the meeting end on time. It has been a few years since we had a meeting that did not go at least 45 minutes over the planned time.

Anonymous said...

Many of the bloated and useless businesses that Microsoft finds itself in today (as well as useless features of its core prodcuts) reach back to the days when Windows and Office were making so much money that the company was afraid of what government regulators would do to its monopoly.

Fast forward to today... The regulators have left Microsoft with its monopoly, but forced it to open its data formats and communications protocols to the point that its hands are tied for the future and there is little or no remaining advantage. You can add all the features you want to Office or Extras to Windows, but they are now open and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the expense excuses now have a life of their own, the monsters don't want to go away. Xbox, IE, MSTV, Windows Mobile, and all of their predecessors that died (anyone remember BOB?). Not to mention hundreds of smaller projects that never led to anything of real value.

How does Microsoft get its act together? It lays off 5000 40-50 year-olds, hires 3000 new lower level people in Search (one of the new wave of "we gotta spend this money") and otherwise continues to ride out the Windows/Office monopoly.

Microsoft started in this tiny way to tear itself apart. Now that the cracks have formed, more destruction will follow. The governments won't give up, the remaining employees will never again feel the same loyalty they did before.

The end may not be near, but it has become visible in the distance.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has commented much on our search deal with Yahoo. It's been over a month and it's hard to tell what's going on with that.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. What do people think MSFT would have done with $8billion extra if we got it back over the course of 7-8 years?

Do you think that investors would even remember from year to year ... heck even week to week?

I guess I'm not sure that an extra $8 billion over 8 years would have amounted to higher pay, putting our hands in less markets, and a better stock price. (Which seems like you 'people of entitlement' always yearn for)

The sad thing about E&D's Xbox is the crappy hardware. Sometimes it's not just about making loads of money; sometimes it's about being somewhat profitable while furthering how all consumers (be it IT departments buying Windows and Office or parents shopping for their children) see Microsoft. Our 'brand' is just as important as the tons of money you greedy bastards always want. The hardware issues have caused a 'brand' problem. The people (our people) responsible for the hardware as well as the company's who provided the hardware should never do business with us again for at least a decade in that space.

Anonymous said...

you guys talk about the slt like they all should be lined up against a wall.

do people really want all the slt to go? sinofsky? muglia? elop? qui lu(he may have not had enough time to be rated either way)? really? why, specifcally on the engineering leaders like this?

Anonymous said...

rumor - another 5,000 layoffs announced on 9/12/09

5,000. On 9/12. Saturday 9/12. Not flipping likely. C'mon, you unsubstantiated rumor-mongers aren't even trying hard anymore. Can we please filter out anymore layoff rumors? Too little signal, lotsa noise.

Anonymous said...

20 people were laid off from SMS&P yesterday; one day notice; their last day was today.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who wants to turn a team into a remedial "no IC left behind":

I'll only answer the most obvious one.

To the PM who’s English is a little rough – welcome to a country who can’t even spell the word ‘colour’.

"The specialty of the programming is to eliminating the difficulty of the watching for the timeing quotient. That is in the case of the application programming." Be careful about trying to win an argument by equivalencing unintelligible and "a little rough", because the two aren't the same. And there's another 24 pages of similar sentences where those came from.

This isn't a public school class room at a local King County school system where 75% of students are estimated to be ESL and requiring remedial attention. This is a leading software company. The people I described are "C" hires.

There's a reason the US Olympic team wouldn't let even a past hero like Mark Spitz swim in the relay finals today. The point of a project team is to achieve the org's goals, not to raise everyone's self-esteem by "including them" and not letting them fail. If the PM in question brought something unique to the team that it couldn't get anywhere else, or if the country were so short of engineers who could write English that we couldn't hire anyone who'd do a better job, I'd agree, he should be coddled. That's not so, though. And it's not limited to the elite of the elite, either. Even the US Army will toss back to boot camp people whose performance isn't up to par, because they are a risk factor to their unit.

Anonymous said...

Didn't E&D just post a 31 million dollar loss last quarter?

I guess you didn't get the memo. It's not about making money. It's about market share.

bobble said...

Sorry Mini but you're whistling in the breeze. I know you're a fanboi but you don't REALLY expect MonkeyBoy, er the SLT, to address reality do you? Balmer has no real vision except "oh yea we can do that to!" If it was any other company the shareholders would have run him out by now but they can't run Balmer because he owns too much of the company. Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. Big whoop and maybe it will bring a few people back but don't count on it. The next Office version with a few features that really aren't that compelling? Listen to the collective yawn in the business world.

Denial will be the theme with a cursory mention of the "tough economic climate blah blah blah."

If I'm wrong the next time you make it to Colorado I'll buy a couple of Fat tires out of my unemployment checks.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to the company meeting this year with the hopes that I'll be able to hear Debra Chrapaty speak again. That was a highlight of last years meeting for me.

Anonymous said...

More layoffs to come. SMSP did wave one of small cuts this week. C&O rumored to be in the later September round as will the rest of SMSG corp. SMSG field teams right after FY09 payouts mid-month due to smaller quotas and efficiency gains in sales motions. BGs September/October but not clear who, where other than the typical "ship and shake" people movement of launch teams disbanding.

Don't know total numbers across all this but would imagine give market projects and overall economic climate around the world a few thousand more is not unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

I work in Office division. In the midst of layoffs, we were still hiring collage recruit.
I asked my manager why we can’t re-distribute same skill set of lay off people to fill other open positions. His response was that college hire is different head count.
I still don’t understand this concept. Microsoft as a company is basically saying “we value fresh new young people but OK to cut other ones”.
My moral toward the company is the lowest in my 15 year of service and I am thinking about moving on…

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has commented much on our search deal with Yahoo. It's been over a month and it's hard to tell what's going on with that.

We are so used to Search burning through billions of dollars with nothing to show for it that we don't even pay attention anymore. It's always been hard to tell what's going on over there.

Xeno said...

Honestly, Microsoft has had this coming for a long time and it had nothing to do with the economy. Google is doing fine and didn't lay off that many. Apple still had profits. Linux had loads of new customers.

They suffered because they are bloated and neglected their customers. When they decide to start listening to their customers rather than telling their customers what they SHOULD want, then they might start taking back share from Firefox and Apache and Google and iPod and OSX and Nintendo and etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Is it really true that MS laid off mostly people 40+? If that's the case, something not difficult to verify, isn't this illegal and potentially very expensive?

Anonymous said...

In the midst of layoffs, we were still hiring collage recruit.
I asked my manager why we can’t re-distribute same skill set of lay off people to fill other open positions. His response was that college hire is different head count.
I still don’t understand this concept. Microsoft as a company is basically saying “we value fresh new young people but OK to cut other ones”.


Apparently we learned this from pro sports teams in the US. Totally unproven rookies get multi-million dollar guarantees, while the proven players that have been on the team for 10+ years are being tossed aside to be able to pay the new kids.

OMG...is Paul Allen doing consulting work for us???!!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, Microsoft has had this coming for a long time and it had nothing to do with the economy.

They suffered because they are bloated and neglected their customers. When they decide to start listening to their customers rather than telling their customers what they SHOULD want


That's a real load of bullshit there. One of the problems with Windows is that they listen to *too many* customers. You cannot possibly make all of the changes to please OEM, ODM, small business, enterprise, enthusiast and normal end users at the same time.

And since we have so many people to please, we aren't able to keep anything under wraps anymore. We have to show everything months in advance.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to the company meeting this year with the hopes that I'll be able to hear Debra Chrapaty speak again. That was a highlight of last years meeting for me.

I am going with hopes to see win-mobile demo the improved browser. That would beat your highlight.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has commented much on our search deal with Yahoo. It's been over a month and it's hard to tell what's going on with that.

We are so used to Search burning through billions of dollars with nothing to show for it that we don't even pay attention anymore. It's always been hard to tell what's going on over there.

This is not the main problem!
For years, MSN was the one bleeding money. Then, Zune/Xbox got the honor. Nobody ever really cared about such strategic investments. One accepts that a drugstore has a photo development center, even if that is unrelated to its core business, and loses money. The focus is to have a one-stop place for the customers. If the customer wants it, we have to give it to the customer, as long as we can execute correctly. The problem is not in the strategy: it is in the execution.

What the rumor mill really talked about have always been the inflated levels in such organizations, and the outsourcing of the real work, while the many partners and principals would be patting themselves in the back in endless meetings. What always created a huge morale problem inside the company is when two developers from Windows/Office at some point in time take different career paths. Suppose one stays in Windows is for the next 6 years owns development/maintenance of the most important OS feature. Meanwhile, suppose another one went to MSN, just to keep maintaining the footer of the MSN pages. After 6 years, the developer in Windows had at most 3 promotions, and probably is a senior by now. Meanwhile, the developer in MSN probably would be by now a partner, having used the last 6 years to efficiently improve delivery of the MSN page footers!

Somehow, what the Microsoft Search division found was a way to speed up such anomaly. Mediocre people went there as soon as the division started. They then brought some academics to give the team some respect, but the disconnect is so big that they can barely understand each other. Now, adding to the pile some scum from Yahoo doesn’t change anything. It only shows how serious we are about the Search business that a technical guy with little management experience and crude English and soft skills is put to run Search, coming from the failed Yahoo. Probably SteveB did this just to slap the faces of Satya Nadella and Yusuf Mehdi. Qi Lu will soon ask for the usual “more time with the family”, and by then hope some hardcore Microsoft person will be put in charge. I vote for Steven Sinofsky.

Anonymous said...

"Didn't E&D just post a 31 million dollar loss last quarter?

I guess you didn't get the memo. It's not about making money. It's about market share.

Friday, September 04, 2009 11:18:00 PM
"
Total BS. If MS has all the marketshare but lose money for it, MS can bankrupt in a day.

Anonymous said...

SMSP just went through its layoffs. I guess when KT made that slip at MGX ("it was a tough time when we went through layoffs in January and September..." Uh, there were no layoffs in September 2008)

Rumor has it that Zune will be dumping heads, some folks I know at STB are on pins and needles.

A vast majority of the folks at SMSP that were let go were over the age of 40. But the MACH MBA hires are bopping along just fine, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

I've finally decided not to attend the company meeting this year, when I noticed I was more excited about the MC than the content from the SLT. Even with mini's agenda, I'd walk away unsatisfied. I'm not sure there's much the SLT could say at this point, I'd like to see action more than morale speaches, SLT members playing video games on stage, and Steve running around like an ape. Really, what will Steve say about layoffs that he hasn't already? Certianly nothing that we're looking for because they totally !@$E@# it up from the start. Frankly, I'd rather get some work done. I'll get jazzed when I see change.

Anonymous said...

in regards to folks comments about mba/college hires coming on board while (older) folks appear to be RIF'd out -

when Thought Leadership discussed job freezes, hc cuts, and banked positions starting late last year... these new rules and policies did not apply to the college/new/mba hires, per direction from higher Thought Leadership. these 'new grad' positions were not affected by cuts/freezes, while experienced roles were frozen, cut, banked and RIF'd.

no discussion was entertained, or asked about necessary experienced/non experienced roles, responsiblities and the needs of the business, just 'out with the old, in with the new'.

coincidentally, businessweek magazine just ranked MS as one of the top destinations for new grads, as MS has _the highest_ pay among tech companies (for new hires). MS is even mentioned on the front cover.

potential age discrimination class action, someday? Wait a year or two until the eeoc.gov gets their arms around it.

Anonymous said...


Rumor has it that Zune will be dumping heads, some folks I know at STB are on pins and needles.



yes and in MSD, bradA has to remove 100 people by end of september. that will be laided over many of his teams, omps may be hit most of all. Some folks are already impacted in MSP

Anonymous said...

I predict, Ozzie doesn't show up and nobody notices.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the 27 layoffs paid for Seth Myers' appearance at the company meeting."

I'll bet that the $ spent on the entire company meeting couldn't pay for 10 heads. Not that 10 jobs aren't important, but I think most folks grossly overestimate the nominal cost of the meeting.

Anonymous said...

I heard that E&D Win Mo is only doing internal hires at the moment. Anybody know why? Are these positions reserved for any round of layoffs? Sometimes, the middle management does things smarter than the guys at the top ...
Any insight is appreciated.
Thanks

Anonymous said...

> Probably SteveB did this just to
> slap the faces of Satya Nadella
> and Yusuf Mehdi.

You got this right, brother!

Anonymous said...

> OMG...is Paul Allen doing consulting work for us???!!

Don't think so. Otherwise, we will be doing things like signing Shaun Alexander into an eight-year contract, and then have him break his foot a few weeks later. What is wrong with new college hires? At least they take less sick leaves.

Anonymous said...

"I'm curious. What do people think MSFT would have done with $8billion extra if we got it back over the course of 7-8 years?"

Blown it on something else.

"Do you think that investors would even remember from year to year ... heck even week to week?"

Investors have had a much greater handle on MS's future prospects than MS's management has. So yes, they're keenly aware of it. And even blowing it on something new every year would probably be looked at more favorably than continuing to pour money into a loser for nine years.

Anonymous said...

"Xeno said..."

Everybody say hi to long time MS hater and serial message board troll John DeRosa.

Anonymous said...


... Microsoft as a company is basically saying “we value fresh new young people but OK to cut other ones”.
My moral toward the company is the lowest in my 15 year of service and I am thinking about moving on…


That seems to me to be exactly what they would prefer.

Anonymous said...

yes and in MSD, bradA has to remove 100 people by end of september. that will be laided over many of his teams, omps may be hit most of all. Some folks are already impacted in MSP

It seems BradA only has <30 people in his team. How could he remove 100 people?

Anonymous said...

One accepts that a drugstore has a photo development center ... If the customer wants it, we have to give it to the customer, as long as we can execute correctly. The problem is not in the strategy: it is in the execution.

Rubbish. Why doesn't Microsoft sell TVs with embedded DNLA and web browsers? It should be in the 'TV market' to bring Microsoft branding to consumers everywhere and compete with the likes of Panasonic? It'd be stupid to do so, and the only reason it would happen (like competing with iPod, Playstation, Google, etc) is management ego. They can't conceive of growth without strong-arming in to an already established market, trying to take it over (like has happened with many bundled Windows apps).

For so many non-core things this is a stupid direction to take the company, trying to be the #1 in *everything*. Better to focus on what Microsoft is good at instead of trying to take over the world.

Less people means less crap products means less losses means better core products. The alternative is a steady decline as has happened to so many monopoly companies in the past.

Anonymous said...

As for the college hires being safe and allowed to "bop along" - I came in as a college hire last year and was let go with less than a year with the company in May.

Anonymous said...

KT again - thanks for all the do-do. Oops, my bad, I mean all that you do! And y'all do it so well!

Anonymous said...

This isn't the brave new world we were promised in the Land of the Free. It almost feels like Orwells 1984 when the final bullet would be a blessed relief. How are we ever expected to produce our best work in this continued climate of fear?

This is the U.S. work environment. It has been this way since at least the 70's. Any job can go away anytime. Another U.S. characteristic is to right size / down size / lay off more senior employees (a.k.a. older) as new hires are cheaper, younger hires are less likely to use health benefits, and less likely to have expensive chronic health issues. Look at cobra costs for child vs. an adult. The cobra cost is significantly less as younger people do not usually have high blood pressure/cholesteral, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

I am in several protected classes, one being age but would not be surprised to be included in a future round of layoffs due to my age. I am very lucky to come from a family with good health history into the 70's but msft has no way of knowing that. Also, since I am older I have a few years at msft so my salary is significantly more than a new college hire. Another strike against me. Microsoft seems to like churning folks at 4-7 years, they can bring in another cheaper college hire. You can last out several years past but the odds keep diminishing each year that you will continue to be employed here, unless you reach a certain level. Why do I continue to work here? I love the competiveness, working with smart people, and usually the work is rewarding which makes it fun!

Anonymous said...

yes and in MSD, bradA has to remove 100 people by end of september. that will be laided over many of his teams, omps may be hit most of all. Some folks are already impacted in MSP

It seems BradA only has <30 people in his team. How could he remove 100 people?


People are talking about BradAnd.

Anonymous said...

"It only shows how serious we are about the Search business that a technical guy with little management experience and crude English and soft skills is put to run Search, coming from the failed Yahoo. Probably SteveB did this just to slap the faces of Satya Nadella and Yusuf Mehdi. Qi Lu will soon ask for the usual “more time with the family”, and by then hope some hardcore Microsoft person will be put in charge. I vote for Steven Sinofsky."

When it comes to Qi Lu, you are greatly mistaken. Try talking to the people that work with him and you will see that he's here for more than the paycheck or to simply feed his ego. Better yet, send him your ideas for how to fix search as I hear he actually reads and responds to employee emails. Pretty amazing for a division president who probably has a million better things to do. In a short amount of time he's managed to garner immense respect from his team and those who have had the opportunity to interact with him. Read last week’s NYT article and you'll see that others outside Microsoft feel the same way.

There's no doubt we have huge challenges with search, but for the first time we actually have a chance to make a dent in Google's share. Yeah, it’s going to be a frickin long haul, but for the first time we have someone who knows what he’s doing.

I'm not asking you to drink the kool-aide or put your rose-colored glasses on, but you just don't have a clue as to how off base you are when it comes to his ability or commitment--which by the way--is not related one bit to his proficiency of the English language. Perpetuating this kind of crap does nothing but engender fear and hate. Back to the earlier comment about what it means to be a team: should we fail in search and abandon the business, every person that cooperated with the hate efforts is complicit.

Anonymous said...

All I want is:
- lots of home-spun meaningless drivel from KT
- a lap dance from LisaB.
- some really crazy simian gyrations from SteveB, something that can really "help us shine" on youtube.
- deafening silence from E&D
- a commitment from SLT that they will resign if Win 7 flops

Anonymous said...

One accepts that a drugstore has a photo development center ... If the customer wants it, we have to give it to the customer, as long as we can execute correctly. The problem is not in the strategy: it is in the execution.

Rubbish. Why doesn't Microsoft sell TVs with embedded DNLA and web browsers? It should be in the 'TV market' to bring Microsoft branding to consumers everywhere and compete with the likes of Panasonic? It'd be stupid to do so, and the only reason it would happen (like competing with iPod, Playstation, Google, etc) is management ego.

I can only be happy that you were not around when Microsoft decided to move around the MS-DOS, instead of focusing on competing with DR-DOS. Wait... It is good you were not around also when Microsoft decide to go beyond doing a BASIC compiler, and also decided to jump into the OS business!

Please read before ranting!
The analogy was about keeping some business units that are not core, based on what customers want. Not what a PM/GM/VP wants. The CUSTOMER! I know it is hard to understand a word almost unheard in the Microsoft corridors: CUSTOMER. Repeat: CUSTOMER. Definition: someone who pays for our goods or services!

If customers want "TVs with embedded DNLA and web browsers" then let's given them that. Wait: we already did that! Remember WebTV/UltimateTV? The customers didn't want. Yes, a few customers loved it, as some customers love the SPOT watches. But a few is not enough.

Clearly, the problem at Microsoft is not only execution: there is also a hearing problem all over the company.

The company should focus on the CUSTOMER, instead of in the competitors. In several sites I see "Google Ads" pointing back to Google nowadays. It is certainly hard to sell ads in this recession, and I anticipate that we could see some "natural attrition" reducing Google significantly in the near future. Meanwhile, Apple is going toward a wall. Let's not remember that the iPod was only a success after the release of iTunes for Windows. And Facebook and Twitter are nice toys but, as YouTube, they are not real businesses.

Again: let's focus on the customer, stop the internal fighting (yes, that is hard!) and use competitor information to refine our stategies, instead of defining those.

Anonymous said...

"I heard that E&D Win Mo is only doing internal hires at the moment. Anybody know why?"

Nobody external wants to join a losing team that has taken three years and only come up with a lame service pack?

Anonymous said...

NO Hopes left with MICROSOFT.

Anonymous said...

Most insecure company. People only play dirty politics.

Anonymous said...

...Everybody say hi to long time MS hater and serial message board troll John DeRosa...

Um - I know John and assure you that he is NOT Xeno. Nonetheless, to the poster of the above comment, if you are so willing to negatively comment on someone else, how about stepping up, identifying yourself, and taking accountability for your own comments too?

sheesh. Let's stick to the discussion here about MSFT business issues and not get into personal comments about non-MSFT people?

Anonymous said...


After 6 years, the developer in Windows had at most 3 promotions, and probably is a senior by now. Meanwhile, the developer in MSN probably would be by now a partner, having used the last 6 years to efficiently improve delivery of the MSN page footers!

Somehow, what the Microsoft Search division found was a way to speed up such anomaly.


+1

This anomaly has been perfected in the online audience business group.

Anonymous said...

yes and in MSD, bradA has to remove 100 people by end of september. that will be laided over many of his teams, omps may be hit most of all. Some folks are already impacted in MSP

What do you know about MSP? I havent heard anything yet

Anonymous said...

Mini

I am certain that the cost to fund the company meeting could pay 1400 annual salaries for your former co-workers.

Here's a glimpse of a day in the life of an unemployed tech worker http://www.outsourcedandhomeless.com/ .

Anonymous said...

I expect to see another cheesy WiMo demo video (not bits) that is based on to be written bits that are still 3-5 years off.

Anonymous said...

"Um - I know John and assure you that he is NOT Xeno."

LOL. Busted.

Anonymous said...

That seems to me to be exactly what they would prefer.

Brilliantly played by Microsoft's devious HR department. Now I say again to you recent college grads, "Do you really want to go to work for a company that will manage you out in 10 - 15 years? Especially when the days of getting rich on stock options are no more?"

Anonymous said...

>I'm guessing you don't know what >our profit margins are like on >XBOX Live.

You just don't get it, do you?

Let's forget about Xbox. Let's say you sell shoes. Each shoe you make costs you $100 to produce, and you sell it at $90. That's a negative margin.

Now, you also sell replacement shoe laces. Each shoe lace costs you $.01 to make. And you sell it for $.10.

Now, you've got one hell of a profit margin on shoe laces.

But still, you are loosing money on the entire shoes business.

You might be making a huge margin -percentage wise- in one tiny business that is entirely dependent on its parent, a money-loosing big business.

You should get rid of both business (Xbox and by extension, Xbox Live too).

Plus, with today's iPod announcements, the Zune HD is already dead-before-arrival.

So you might as well just jettison the entire division. I guarantee that the stock would go up that day.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record: I'm am a few months shy of 60. I've remade myself four times in a 10-year career here, moving from slowing business lines to those clearly innovating. This week I was promoted to a 64 and told a directorship is within reach, if I wish. I'm an individual contributor by choice, and am viewed as a valuable, long-term asset to my organization. So please: cut the crap about ageism and woe-is-me defeatism. You are who you make yourself. If you are unhappy with your team, move. If you are unhappy with mgmt, move. Or move out and find yourself a better life, if you can. I'm focusing on improving this place; please join me.

Anonymous said...

Now I say again to you recent college grads, "Do you really want to go to work for a company that will manage you out in 10 - 15 years? Especially when the days of getting rich on stock options are no more?"

This really shows how out of touch a lot of you folks are with the "outside world", the average college grad is lucky to make it 5 years with a single company, let alone 10+. That's the world of their parents. I graduated 11 years ago and between layoffs, busted startups, mergers and acquisitions, bad management and everything else I've had 6 jobs. I've managed to maintain good career development out of it but the idea of working at a single company for a decade is almost laughable unless you're an academic or government employee.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic but a great post on Slashdot (How to hire a hacker)

If you seriously want someone who thinks out of the box and can figure out complex problems, there really are just a few simple steps to take into consideration:

1) Realize you WILL be hiring someone smarter than you
2) Be okay with it since it will make you look smarter!
3) Allow them to do their job! Don't impose on them stupid ass schedules that require them to attend stupid ass meetings all the freaking time! Light bulb moments don't come on schedules, they come when you allow them to spend their own good time figuring out YOUR problem.
4) DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE TRY TO MICROMANAGE!!!!!!
5) Understand they are not after your job.. they just want to do THE job you hired them to do.. so chill out, give them raises and plain and simple, keep them happy!

Step #6 is of course "PROFIT!!!"

Shame thats not the Microsoft way anymore

Anonymous said...

Six Hopes

1. Steve Ballmer introduces his replacement.

2. New CEO gives a broad overview of how to deal with the rise of netbooks that are killing margins, how to deal with the constant rise of goverenments and companies demanding open document formats, and Linux/open source in general

3. E&D gone. The entire train wreck of a division. Nothing but a long line of E&D people with their "I just got fired" boxes in hand walking to their cars. Xbox, Zune, mobile history. Former E&D office space sterilized to cleanse the stench of failure.

4. Search gone.

5. House cleaning of the Ballmer crony chain. Fresh faces across the board for senior managers. The non-Ballmer lackeys can stay with the same pay and benefits but in some other non-managerial role

6. An announcement that everyone else is safe so the everyone can get back to work and stop worrying about talking about when the next set of layoffs are going to drop


AMMEN!! My thoughts exactley.

Anonymous said...

"Brilliantly played by Microsoft's devious HR department. Now I say again to you recent college grads, "Do you really want to go to work for a company that will manage you out in 10 - 15 years? Especially when the days of getting rich on stock options are no more?""

If you ask a recent college grad if they plan to work for the same company for 15 years they'll likely think you're totally insane.

Anonymous said...

"The company should focus on the CUSTOMER, instead of in the competitors."

I love it. Not developers, developers or competitors, competitors. But customers, customers!

Having sneaked out the airlock of the mothership some months back, I have been AMAZED by customers' (and partners') perceptions of Microsoft, that are inherently negative. "They don't understand, they don't care" ... etc.

Such products as I helped ship were designed in a vacuum. In a vacuum with at least two dimensions - customer vacuum and leadership vacuum. A great example today is BPOS. MS created a partner ecosystem of hosting companies who provided hosted applications based on MS platform, and then decided to piss all over them by creating a competitive product. This alienates partners and by extension, customers. Does BPOS advantage the customer? Not really. Does it create yet another BG with associated overhead? Yes. Is it fundamentally another short-sighted revenue grab? Yes.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 4:39:00 PM

Great Comment!

I keep wondering why they simply won't get out of my way and let me do my damn job. Just let me know what it is you want, give me the tools, keep the bears off my back, and let me do my job.

So, I guess I am not alone after all.

Anonymous said...

I'm am a few months shy of 60. ... This week I was promoted to a 64 and told a directorship is within reach, if I wish. I'm an individual contributor by choice, and am viewed as a valuable, long-term asset to my organization. So please: cut the crap about ageism and woe-is-me defeatism. You are who you make yourself. If you are unhappy with your team, move. If you are unhappy with mgmt, move. Or move out and find yourself a better life, if you can.

I think I love you. Very well said!

Anonymous said...

I am certain that the cost to fund the company meeting could pay 1400 annual salaries for your former co-workers.

I have it on good authority from one of the people who actually do the production for the company meeting that it couldn't. The company meeting $, guest speaker included, would cover about 10 - 15% of that.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the folks who were let go very recently, but in my case with no package due to a really bad performance review under an incompetent manager. Also over 40 btw...

Quick question: are we allowed to apply to any other externally open positions?

Anonymous said...

I'm am a few months shy of 60. ... This week I was promoted to a 64 and told a directorship is within reach, if I wish. I'm an individual contributor by choice, and am viewed as a valuable, long-term asset to my organization. So please: cut the crap about ageism and woe-is-me defeatism.
If that's true, you are the exception to the rule. You know how to play the game, have good friends, and/or belong to the privileged group - good for you, the systems works in your favor in some way. Ageism and all kinds of discrimination exists today, at MS and other companies. That is the reality. So we won't cut the crap just because you say it. Those who feel discriminated for whatever reason are free to express their opinions. Unless you experience it yourself you don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

Wishlist... maybe just all booing at Kevin Turner? Or could we all shave the mustache on stage and teach him how to value employees?

Anonymous said...

Wishlist... maybe just all booing at Kevin Turner? Or could we all shave the mustache on stage and teach him how to value employees?

Is he still doing those cartwheels?

Anonymous said...

It's no wonder MS is tanking. Basic math and critical thinking skills seem to be disappearing. From 9/9, 7:29pm:

I am certain that the cost to fund the company meeting could pay 1400 annual salaries for your former co-workers.

I have it on good authority from one of the people who actually do the production for the company meeting that it couldn't. The company meeting $, guest speaker included, would cover about 10 - 15% of that.


Assuming a $200K/yr fully loaded employee cost, 1400 people is $280M. 10% of that is... think hard, you can do it, is $28M. Does that seem reasonable? If that's the budget, call me; I'll do it for $25M next year, $23M if you pay net 30.

Anonymous said...

"I heard that E&D Win Mo is only doing internal hires at the moment. Anybody know why?"

dunno, but one thing I do know is that in my group (development), the people who are on the border of getting a 10% for the year (in other words, they're in the bottom 11-12% category) end up leaving the group and doing an internal transfer to WinMo. Anyone else seeing this happen in their group?

Anonymous said...

Somebody should shout "You lie!!" during Ballmer's speech.

Anonymous said...

Will Craig Mundie ever demo SongSmith?

Anonymous said...

Hoo boy. At this point I can see the writing on the wall, and it isn't good. After eleven years with Microsoft it's clear that it's time to bail. This is a company that doesn't really have any go-forward vision and is going to continue to bleed headcount. We did really great during the heyday of the PC but where are we going now? SLT still hasn't digested the reality of 21st century's web-centric computing model and is still sputtering with "me too" initiatives that nobody wants.

*sigh*

Hopefully I can find a job somewhere else before my job at Microsoft reaches the chopping block.

(Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.)

Anonymous said...

Well, no big surprise that #6 didn't come true. Same ol monkeyboy.

Anonymous said...

SteveB during company meeting:

"We had to reset our plans, we had to reset our costs, we had to reset our people..."

Laying off several hundred people is a reset?

"Less than 3% bad attrition..."

You mean, in a poor economy, and poor job market, more people who had a fulltime job tried to stay here?

Then he went on about how MSFT did when hiring people away from other companies or competing for people against other companies and I just had to stop.

Anonymous said...

What was Stephen Elop trying to demo? Some dynamix crap? It was the most boring presentation and couldn't make much sense of the presentation. I was hoping they'd show off the new Office 14 client and server product features.. but alas nothing. Also there was no demo of windows mobile 7 or PMX.`

Anonymous said...

"Quick question: are we allowed to apply to any other externally open positions?"

Allowed? This is America! You can apply for everything from sea to shining sea. Unfortunately however, people who are let go for what ever reason are ineligible for rehire. This is HR policy, from sea to shining sea, and beyond. So apply as much as you like, brother, but nothing will come of it. And Microsoft has a boatload of lawyers which will insure that nothing does come of it, regardless of your merits for rehire.

Move on.

danny said...

"Those who feel discriminated for whatever reason are free to express their opinions. Unless you experience it yourself you don't know what you're talking about."

Thank you! I've worked with a few of these "older, wise, gurus" and had such a hard time stomaching the bubble they kept themselves in and the way they worked the system. BTW - I'm a senior citizen myself but I bailed a few years ago. (I guess I was only "older")

Anonymous said...

"dunno, but one thing I do know is that in my group (development), the people who are on the border of getting a 10% for the year (in other words, they're in the bottom 11-12% category) end up leaving the group and doing an internal transfer to WinMo. Anyone else seeing this happen in their group?"

That's true. A Hires A's, B's hires C's and D's.

Be Paid said...

Was it KT or Steve who said this, my cache got kind of full trying to remember all of the better Seth's jokes (especially one about Cougar, my wife really liked it:):

"In this tough economy all the the divisions are firing on all cylinders".

Well, that they were firing we knew, only nobody told us about any cylinders.

Anonymous said...

A few observations.

1. It's difficult to put Ballmer's comments about the layoffs in context when he and other members of executive staff are taking tens of millions in bonuses. Sorry, I don't believe that this is appropriate or justified, given our financial performance over the past year.

2. Was I the only person who was kind of shocked by Seth Myer's riffing? SitOnMyFacebook? Making fun of old people? Don't we all have to take annual training to prevent precisely the kind of behavior exhibited onstage by Seth?

3. Stephen Elop's presentation was horrible. Dynamics is cool, but the director drilled down way, way, way, way too far. He should have picked a couple common scenarios and left it at that. But, no, he wanted to torture us. Then, Elop piled on by talking about Garage and some kind of random nonsense about collaboration. Seriously, why? What was the point? Why not demo the latest version of Office?

4. Did everyone notice the exodus of people when Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie went onstage? It was striking. I don't believe that everyone spontaneously needed to take a bathroom break at that moment. The tag team of Ozzie and Mundie nearly put me to sleep. I wish that I had strapped my head to the back of my chair; otherwise, I might have risked whiplash or damage from a sleepy forehead strike.

5. Kevin Turner said that Microsoft was "the most innovative company in the industry". I beg to differ. Apple is without question the most innovative, they're doing all the right things (other than having a lower-priced competitor to netbooks), they have developer mindshare, they single-handedly killed our smartphone market share lead, and they've unified their entire product line with a common development platform. Meanwhile, we've got unbelievable overlap, infighting between divisions, inability to recognize failure, we reward incompetence/mediocrity, we get very low ROI on our R&D spending, etc. That's not innovation.

6. Bing, Windows Live, Natal, and Windows 7 are notable exceptions. They rock.

Anonymous said...

Steven Elop demozzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Anonymous said...

Holy moses, was Elop terrible. TERRIBLE. Should be fired. Mr. Smooth obviously rehearsed his presentation styles, felt like I was watching home shopping channel. But jeezus keereist, was he really pitching Garage and some internal video-annotation wiki as the tools for innovation at Microsoft? What about funded commitments and priorities? Where were your products? Fuck off with your OpenOffice hubris if you can't show anything new. Why hasn't Office web experience launched yet? What an asshole. The sense of entitlement wafting up from the stage smelled bad all the way up in the upper decks.

Big deal, you are a pilot. Gah, what a skuz bucket. Fire him. He's a dud.

Ray shined by comparison.

Mundie seems to be getting crazier. I have a vision of him standing at a wall surface console, alone, in his darkened office, shooing off interruptions from TA's and admins as he lives out his long-lost fantasy life as a future architect, murmuring to himself as he manipulates projected three-dee models, dragging his fingers across a white table top and murmuring to himself, and occasionally ordering a shuttle from his robo-avatar assistant, who really only can respond with one of eight canned responses prerecorded for various company meeting presos. The 888 arrives, waits, and leaves with a no show every time. Xanadu.

This forum is anonymous, right?

Anonymous said...

dunno, but one thing I do know is that in my group (development), the people who are on the border of getting a 10% for the year (in other words, they're in the bottom 11-12% category) end up leaving the group and doing an internal transfer to WinMo. Anyone else seeing this happen in their group?

Can't speak for everyone but we lost lots of high performers from Windows Live to WinMo..

Anonymous said...

Hope Mundie is having a blast creating that "Office of the future" and screwing his "virtual assistants" while Google and Apple are running away with our lunches.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that KT showed a little frankness, but disappointed (but not altogether surprised) at Ballmer's session. He is not a visionary, and his tired cliches and concepts perpetuate the belief that Microsoftees live in a bubble. I agree with the poster who said that when people use a competitive product, why not figure out what's missing instead of chastise people for using it.

A few things stood out:

Ballmer's use of the term "bad attrition" - does that include MSFT showing high-performing people the door? Sorry choice of terms after a layoff - situational awareness is not his strong suit.

Demo'ing Dynamics without making the business case - there seems to be confusion about the path to success. Isn't Dynamics an area where there were cutbacks this year - how does this fit into our overall strategy? Why not show other MDB products that have a lot of buzz?

PhotoSynth demo was OK, but where is PhotoSynth headed? I think the technology is way cool, but there's some confusion about its future and how it fits into overall strategies.

LisaB's participation in the game demo was just plain weird. I'm not usually a formal person, but you'd think they'd have her speak a bit frankly about this past year instead of literally dodge balls in a game demo. Perhaps it was supposed to be cute, but it fell short.

The meeting is just another sign that we can't achieve crispness and cohesiveness under current SLT.

Anonymous said...

@'Was I the only person who was kind of shocked by Seth Myer's riffing? SitOnMyFacebook? Making fun of old people? Don't we all have to take annual training to prevent precisely the kind of behavior exhibited onstage by Seth?
',

No. He can say whatever he likes. He is not an FTE. He is also a realistic human being.

As a large company, with a large bank account, the company is at risk every step of the way. Policy, HR, LCA, is all there to make sure that you can just be fired for making a funny statement like Mr. SNL - not to actually keep you from having fun at your job, or being a regular, social, fun being.

Protect the company, HR's job.

Offending statements: entertaining, and part of the world today at every company.

Anonymous said...

"In this tough economy all the the divisions are firing on all cylinders".

Well, that they were firing we knew, only nobody told us about any cylinders.


To interpret it yet another way, one web board package does word substitutions for some words, and one of its default substitutions is "youplasticcylinder" for "youtube". So, firing on all cylinders is, in effect, firing on you-know-who who owns youtube.

Anonymous said...

"Quick question: are we allowed to apply to any other externally open positions?"

I know someone who was part of the May layoff group who was recently rehired. It might make a difference if you were part of the layoff group who were given 60 days to look internally vs. the group who were not. (Said employee was part of the first group.) Your mileage may vary, but I don't agree there's a blanket policy to not rehire laid off folks.

Anonymous said...

@'Ballmer's use of the term "bad attrition"',

No, it most likely does not. Good attrition means we are OK with it, and so if we're letting go high performers, but it is our call, it would classify as good attr.

Bad attrition is someone saying "hey, I'm leaving...", and the stat shows up in executive and HR commitments to be keep super low.

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately however, people who are let go for what ever reason are ineligible for rehire. This is HR policy, from sea to shining sea, and beyond. "


That is incorrect. There are only a few ways that a person can be tagged as ineligible for rehire. One of those ways is if they threaten another employee.

I had to fire a guy that owned a lot of weapons (guns, knives, swords, crossbows). I made sure he got added to this list.

Anonymous said...

So how many ways can a person be tagged for not eligible to be rehired?

Anonymous said...

Mundie started doing his road show of a "PC room" some months ago - Minority Report video screens and gestures with the user controlling the world. That's when I knew it was time to leave Microsoft. We can't be demonstrating PC rooms (remember the mainframe computer room?) while everyone is buying pocket computers like iPhone. The Microsoft leadership has lost touch with reality.

The earnings report reflects Microsoft's dire situation even more clearly. Consumers are not interested in upgrading their PCs - when they wear out, they will buy new ones. But that's like replacing a refrigerator, you have to do it but it isn't changing your life. Kindle, iPod Touch, and iPhone are the devices enabling people to do new things. MSFT stock went up but this is on over optimistic assumptions consumers will buy new PCs with Windows 7. Windows 7 simply isn't a must-have aspirational product - it fixes Vista's bugs but that's about it.

Now that Win7 is out and priced into the stock, Wall Street will look at what's next from Microsoft. Windows Mobile & the huge mess of related mobile projects (Zune, Pink, 6.5, 6.6, and 7.0) don't have the right mind set or design point to win. These projects are obviously being rushed out and at best will meet with the same luke-warm reception as Nokia and Palm devices. Fast iteration & bug fixing won't help any more. Products like iPhone and Kindle are winning because of network effects (developer ecosystem, lots of users, and fast pace of updates)that Microsoft simply cannot match. With the internet, network effects are a big part of new products and Windows Mobile is too far behind to catch up. Android, with its new business model (free, open, server monetization) and faster updates, has become the must have alternative for OEMs & carriers wanting to be rescued from an iPhone world.

Bing is a nice effort but here too, network effects favor Google. As Linux has not been able to break Windows, Bing will remain at single digits vs Google.

Microsoft needs a game changing new product that reaches consumers imagination. Alternatively, MSFT can become incredibly efficient delivering value to the enterprise user and extracting every last $ from the PC ecosystem possible. As revenue decreases, and cost cutting increases, we will see a greater focus on the latter.

Anonymous said...

To the person who talked about the unprofessional behavior of the Palo Alto Kin (former Danger team), I need to respond because I was one of them.

You are correct, the remaining Danger team was not professional nor did we show off the amazing stuff we had that made Danger such a great place. But the reason for that was our collective disbelief that we were working in such a screwed up place. Yes, we took long lunches and we sat in conference rooms and went on coffee breaks and the conversations always went something like this..."Can you believe that want us to do this?" Or "Did you hear that IM was cut, YouTube was cut? The App store was cut?" "Can you believe how mismanaged this place is?" "Why is this place to dysfunctional??"

Please understand that we went from being a high functioning, extremely passionate and driven organization to a dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic.

Consider this, in less than 10 years with 1/10 of the budget Microsoft had for PMX, we created a fully multitasking operating system, a powerful service to support it, 12 different device models, and obsessed and supportive fans of our product. While I will grant that we did not shake up the entire wireless world (ala iPhone) we made a really good product and were rewarded by the incredible support of our userbase and our own feelings of accomplishment. If we had had more time and resources, we would of come out with newer versions, supporting touch screens and revamping our UI. But we ran out of time and were acquired and look at the results. A phone that was a complete and total failure. We all knew (Microsoft employees included) that is was a lackluster device, lacked the features the market wanted and was buggy with performance problems on top of it all.

When we were first acquired, we were not taking long lunches and coffee breaks. We were committed to help this Pink project out and show our stuff. But when our best ideas were knocked down over and over and it began to dawn on us that we were not going to have any real affect on the product, we gave up. We began counting down to the 2 year point so we could get our retention bonuses and get out.

I am sorry you had to witness that amazing group behave so poorly. Trust me, they were (and still are) the best group of people ever assembled to fight the cellular battle. But when the leaders are all incompetent, we just wanted out.