Thursday, April 22, 2010

Microsoft FY10Q3 Results

Time for another quarterly update - all indicators point to a great quarter. With Win7's results and upcoming releases of Office 2010, Natal, and Windows Phone, things are on the upswing. Like I wrote back in July 2009, I believe that Microsoft has turned the corner and is headed in the right direction, though by no means is the corporation out of the scary neighborhood a lot of bad turns sent it into.

But we have hit the bottom with Vista and have emerged as the can-do underdog. If Microsoft knows anything, it knows how to do underdog. We really need to learn how to be the gracious competitive top-dog, too, but for now, underdog works.

Plus, given time, the context of the competitive marketplace has changed a lot. First: thank goodness for competition. Even pureblood Google and Apple fans should be thankful for competition from Microsoft, even if they deign its presence with faint of disdain and use air-quotes when saying the word competition (and for some reason, I can't get a vision of the Seattle Weekly's Uptight Seattlelite out my mind while writing that). Second: there's enough growing concern with Apple and Google's success that folks naturally want balance and by no means do they see Microsoft as dominating. Rather: underdog, fighting for balance.

Things have gotten interesting again. Let's check-in on some of the original reasons this random blog started up:

Improved:

  • Microsoft needs to reduce employee size. It’s too big. It doesn’t need a quicky Atkins-equivalent. No, it needs to get itself on a corporate exercise program that will shed itself of unwanted groups and employees. And stay on that.
    • Wellll, we added a lot of jobs in the five years after that point, but when the cold harsh reality of over-hiring became obvious, it was handled (poorly) through layoffs.
  • Microsoft needs to stop hiring. It’s hard enough finding the scarcest of treasured corporate resources: the talented individual suitable for working at Microsoft. Stop hiring, trim down, and rebalance those precious scare employees inside to where they can be more productive and make products that delight our customers.
    • There have been freezes and slow-downs so that's good. But some hiring continues. What we really need is an efficient defrag to allow load balancing in the company.
  • Unleash employee driven innovation with a Microsoft Labs community area.
    • We have various labs now and other efforts that have come and gone.
  • Re-energize the home market. The home market is pretty tepid with-respect-to Microsoft-branded software. It can’t take that much effort to invigorate Microsoft for the home user and make it cool.
    • Yes, we realize now that the consumer market is worth pursuing vs. making the IT department happy with limiting features. People find cool technology now outside of work and bring it into the workplace (e.g., the iPhone). This is much improved and has a long way to go before we're great at it. Actually leveraging the power of the individual PC is still barely tapped, and probably groups are confused given Azure and three-screens about pushing more onto the desktop than we are.
  • Start working vigorously on Internet Explorer again. Winning the browser wars, dusting off our hands, and running away screaming from IE to the Next Cool Thing represents the very worst in less-than-competitive behavior.
    • Yep, we are working on IE with great passion. How we participate and influence HTML5 will be an interesting process to watch. I have no faith in the W3C (what was the last useful thing they helped create... XML namespaces?). HTML5 is the Next Big Thing if you listen to some folks who have large impact regarding Microsoft's future direction, so something is going to happen here. Have fun, IE-team!
  • Less research, more application.
    • Goodness knows most of the researches I know or occasionally work with are motivated to find out what product teams need and get inline with producing interesting features that the product team just doesn't have the background to create, so kudos there.
  • Continue the community effort and make it so if you’re not leading cool innovation, your butt is dedicated to some time per week helping out in the community, sharing all that wonderful knowledge between your ears. Reward that!
    • I did have this under the next section of "Not-addressed" until I realized that employee blogging covers this and has become so rampant that it has faded to a point that it's not acknowledged ("blogging is dead" and everyone now of course communicates in spurts of 140 characters. Uh-huh.). I'd like to see this turn into engineering employees writing more code that ships outside of our product line rhythm.

Not-improved:

  • Re-interviewing: all employees below a certain life-time review average need to re-interview. Those that don’t make the cut the second time around get to look for new opportunities elsewhere.
    • Just an idea regarding what to do for people who do not have career momentum. Over the years, the question has been: "Will this person make Level 63?" - if not, they should find a new company.
  • Back to Basics. Win32 and C++. Bread and butter. Not everything can run in the freaking CLR.
    • Our development story is a complete mess. And I don't see it getting any better. I'd say we're on a collision course of Bach vs. Sinofsky given development options for the Windows Phone vs. Windows. In the middle of this is a meandering DevDiv organization. If we have a gap in our underdog armor, it is our development story.

Back to quarterly results: the analysis I look forward to:

Friday we have a Town Hall. I'm sure there will be questions about going forward competing with the iPhone and iPad and Google. And maybe questions / comments like:

  • Are the layoffs over?
  • Wow, what a great quarter. I'm really looking forward to my raise this year...

Administrivia time...

This old blog: hey slacker blog-writer, what's going on here? Well, obviously not much. Mainly, unlike many of you talented people, I don't do multitasking well. Writing especially. Back, going on six years now, this was my spare time focus for writing and reading & responding to all the great comments. It was a unique place that arose organically as a lone voice to ask, "Aren't other people concerned about where Microsoft is going?"

Well, this lone voice has other writing passions right now (not involving Microsoft) and that's where I'm putting the occasional spare time I squeeze out of my life. I'm sure you can understand. It also happens at a time where things are fairly good with-respect-to Microsoft's future and direction. Yes, there are problems but there have been more successes than failures and the success of our competitors have provided clarity regarding direction and what success looks like.

If there are interesting constructive topics you'd like to discuss, please let me know.


-- Comments

250 comments:

1 – 200 of 250   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Totally agree about Win32 and C++.

You guys need a new native API. Win32 is a joke with its horrible messaging system and functions with 50 arguments.

The APIs available on OS X and Linux knock the socks off of the windows offerings.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you on the C++ front there.

Can we backport PowerShell 2.0 to Win2K & WinXP? PowerShell so rocks, but I can't run 2.0 on my WinXP dev/Win2K Server boxen. Just because old OSes are EOL'd doesn't mean that they don't serve as MS ambassadors in the SMB & corporate arena. People still use them on a day-to-day basis and they serve either as a marketing tool (do you know how many times we see the Windows logo a day) or a reason to ditch the MS platform and move to Linux.

Can we make Visual C++ way cooler looking - especially the Express edition? Please? Netbeans and XCode just make development so much more fun.

Please fix ClearType!!!!!

Mini! Glad to hear from you! I was wondering if you were culled!

FARfetched said...

if you’re not leading cool innovation, your butt is dedicated to some time per week helping out in the community, sharing all that wonderful knowledge between your ears

I can say that's happening, at least in my experience. Case in point: many of our products has a set of web pages for troubleshooting, and one of those pages runs afoul of IE8 unless the Compatibility View button is on. Since IT is still blocking IE8 at work, and I don't use Windows at home, I couldn't get a screen shot. There was one on a MSDN blog, so I emailed the bloggers for permission to use it in our documentation. They said "no problem," then sent an updated version.

Gotta give you guys a thumbs-up when you help out, after all…

sqba said...

"If we have a gap in our underdog armor, it is our development story." Well, for a software company, I'd say this is something more than just a gap in the armor. And there's not much of a choice, either: Win32 or CLR. Microsoft really needs some drastic changes.

Anonymous said...

"Our development story is a complete mess. And I don't see it getting any better."

Don't know about that one... As an outsider and developer, I see your dev division as the company's shining star, and Scott Gu as one of the brightest software people anywhere who's lead it brilliantly so far.

What can't run in the CLR and why go back to the stone .. err ... Win32 ages?

Anonymous said...

DevDiv's story is not that complicated -- what don't you understand about it? Also, why go back to Win32 (are you serious?). A few friends from the 'valley' are actually "excited" about WP7 specifically for the reason of moving away from that legacy AND standardizing more toward Silverlight instead of having yet another Mobile SDK that is vastly different than other desktop technology.

You should just go back to complaining about xbox being a $8billion dollor money hole over its first 8years as I think you're also becoming disconnected from reality :) (remember that 8billion would have just been used to hire more people anyhow or used on other frivolous things that didn't matter)

WikiNinja said...

Continue the community effort and make it so if you’re not leading cool innovation, your butt is dedicated to some time per week helping out in the community, sharing all that wonderful knowledge between your ears. Reward that!

TechNet Wiki. Contribute boldly, edit gently!

Anonymous said...

Wow! STB revenue almost flat. Maybe AWS and App Engine having some effect?

Anonymous said...

Why are Microsoft's financial reports unaudited?

westech said...

Putting Microsoft’s last quarter’s earning into perspective

Microsoft’s revenues were up 6% and earnings were up 17% over last year in the latest quarterly report. Sounds pretty good on the face of it, though well behind Apple’s starling growth. However, last year was pretty bad for Microsoft, and if you look a little deeper. it becomes evident that they are just barely catching up to what they did in 2008. Their revenue was up #% but their net profit was down 9%

MSFT Earnings (in $ Billions)

Revenue

2008 14,454
2009 13,649
2010 14,903

Net Income

2008 4,388
2009 2,977
2010 4,006

Furthermore, their net margins dropped frpm 30.3% to 26.9%.

Clearly not much growth over the last two years.

Anonymous said...

in my mind, the browser war is the same as the developer tools war. I use firefox not because it is a better browser but because it has extremely useful addins. Flashblock, ad block and greasemonkey scripts make the web bearable. These or equivalents may exist for IE, but where? And how to write my own?

Anonymous said...

constructive topics to discuss:
1) Is Bing loosing too much money? his quarter, the revenue for Online Service increased, but the loss widened - indicating that we are probably buying traffic at a very high rate
2) Is KIN a good strategy for mobile, especially given that iPhone can be bought in U.S. on contract for $99, and does a lot more than Kin does (including apps and itunes and games). It may be too early to assess this since Verizon has not disclosed the pricing of the phone and service for Kin.
3) Silverlight vs. HTML5 - why are we investing so much in Silverlight? Where is the money if it is open and works on all platforms and browsers?

Anonymous said...

http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-microsofts-bingmsn-results-truly-horrifying-quarterly-loss-balloons-to-713-million-2010-4

Microsoft's Bing/MSN Results Truly Horrifying -- Loss Rate Balloons To ~$3 Billion A Year

Microsoft's online services division losses exploded to $713 million, up from $411 million a year ago. That's almost a $3 billion loss run-rate.

It's hard to describe how awful this business looks in isolation. We're talking about a business with plenty of scale--more than $2 billion of revenue--that is still losing more than it generates in revenue. This in an industry sector in which even the WORST competitor, AOL, is still making plenty of money.

Anonymous said...

A tiny percentage of developers need to write native code. Of those, the vast majority fall into two groups:
1) Game developers. DirectX is actually a pretty good API with ongoing support, so these folks are basically taken care of.
2) Legacy application developers. These people wouldn't have much use for a modernized native API anyway.

So what is the value in investing in a modernized native Windows API?

Donald said...

Yeah Mini. I miss your blog writing. Glad to see you back every once in a while.

Pretty happy at what microsoft is doing these days and what's in the pipeline.

Even though Microsoft dropped after hours, looks like the technicals are still bullish for the stock. Good stuff

Microsoft Technicals

Anonymous said...

To the "windows mobile house of cards" comment poster from previous thread

I totally agree with you. Steve Balmer, don't let Terry and his bunch of handpicked partners and principals who are basically his overpaid yes men fool you, win phone 7 is a horribly executed dumb copy cat project that tries to be as capable as iphone was 3 years ago and it is taking 3 years to build. By the time you release it, iPhone will be light years ahead and it will be a big embarassment. Please save the compony that humilation and do something original please

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Mini, good post.

Enjoyed your observations though I completely disagree with your comments around
"Re-interviewing: all employees below a certain life-time review average need to re-interview."

Let us make it fair and say all employees re-interview. Surely you will not object to that because you of all people should know promotions in Microsoft are not always fair.You have indicated how subjective they are in your own posts few times. So why reward people who already are in the "senior" bucket? How can you be so sure they got there after a fair competition? Do you even know if the seniors competed with others via stack ranking when they were sde2s and became senior or were they directly hired as a senior because they had a sponsor inside?

I work in a group where a bunch of SDE2s are keeping the wheels moving. The so called "seniors" were all directly hired in that level but deliver way less then the SDE2s. What about interviewing all and making sure everyone is performing at their level and firing those that don't meet the bar, instead of giving those who already became Senior a free pass like this?

And don't even get me started on disparity between a dev and PM.
Would you rather have a company filled with Senior PMs or SDE2's?
Think about it for a sec before posting stuff like this.

Azaliae said...

I disagree on the browser war...
MS finally launch something there but even on HTML5 there is still much to do and they're not as fast as the competition (not fast in term of javascript execution but on release cycle, new standards support, ...)

Anonymous said...

What about merit raises this year? Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Thanks God for the corporate habit of releasing quarterly earnings, that prompts Mini to get out of his cozy seat and start writing again once in a while...

Really, Mini, you should write more often. Or find a way to post stories written by other "invited writers" on your blog. (although the blog being anonymous, this would make an interesting challenge)

On the development story: frankly I think we missed the boat (actually a series of boats) with Microsoft's stupid anti-open source culture.

I don't think Microsoft should get all cozy and warmed up about GPL either. But here is something I noticed: there is a growing "open source fans" community out there, and we are increasingly missing our target audience. Those guys like open source, are using open source day and night, and we don't have anything in store for them.

It's like we are a old rock band that was famous a while back, but all these new kids like only hip-hop, Lady Gaga and other stuff. We have nothing in store for them.

However, making Microsoft more open source friendly (GPL without the IP risks of tainting?) would pose formidable legal challenges. I have no clue if/how this is even possible. Maybe MS-PL or MS-RL are the answers? Hip-hop rock? Ewww. Maybe teaming with other companies? Release an open-source form of Visual Studio?

P.s. to the guy that mentioned "please fix Cleartype" - can you detail what is the issue? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

"2010 14,903

Net Income

2008 4,388
2009 2,977
2010 4,006

Furthermore, their net margins dropped frpm 30.3% to 26.9%."
============================

This is so messed up, I'm not even sure where to start.

1) You are putting deffered revenue into the last quarter and they trying to use that for a profit calculation.

2) Net Income is a very noisy number, in 2008 Q3 there was a huge tax benefit. If you want to see comparable numbers for growth you need to use Operating Income.

If you compare real GAAP numbers:

-Billions-
In 2008 Q3, Rev: $14.454 OI $4.409
In 2010 Q3, Rev: $14.503 OI $5.173

The operating margin was 30.5% in 2008 Q3 and now it is 35.7%. So the internals are improving.

There was little top line growth but Microsoft is doing a better job at turning money into protential profits.

After OI you have investment income, taxes, one time charges and many possible adjustments depending on accounting choices.

So the growth was flat over two years, but the business is running better.

Anonymous said...

MS finally launch something there but even on HTML5 there is still much to do and they're not as fast as the competition (not fast in term of javascript execution but on release cycle, new standards support, ...)

Regardless of standards, performance, etc., IE simply reeks of poor craftsmanship. Starting with IE7, all the UI elements are now random shapes and sizes and strewn all over the window frame. All the dialogs look inconsistent and are confusing. After a fresh install, different built-in dialogs and web pages constantly harass users. Memory consumption and performance are bad but worse is that they're unpredictable--sometimes a new blank tab will come up immediately and sometimes it takes several seconds. WHAT IS IT DOING? How much time can it possibly take to create a BLANK TAB?

I am not going to use a browser where so little thought has gone into fit-and-finish. If the user experience is so poor, how can the underlying design and algorithms be any better?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft cannot improve innovation, that's the problem. 70 20 10 evaluation is totally subjective and depends on how well you play the corporate game even though you dont deserve mostly. Eventually some 20 percentage people take wrong decisions in wrong directions, because they dont have it, and the rest 70 10 applies the wrong decisions taken. MSFT cannot beat Google or Apple this way having selecting the incompetent 20 percentage. Lean & Mean MSFT makes really sense. Or the company will lose more market share to Apple, Google, and others.

Anonymous said...

Last night Microsoft revealed that its Online Services Division lost $711 million in the first three months of this year. That's a jaw-dropping $2.8 billion loss annual run rate.


This chart shows quarterly loses since 2005, the last time Microsoft's online operations made money. If you travel further back, Microsoft's losses become even more staggering. Since 1998, Microsoft's online division has lost over $10 billion.


Is there any company that's lost as much money on the Internet as Microsoft? We're hard pressed to think of one.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/CHART-OF-THE-DAY-Has-Any-siliconalley-2074392301.html?x=0&.v=3

Anonymous said...

Welcome back. Everything you've mentioned is 100% spot-on, IMO. I do take issue with your view of Microsoft's dev story.

My division does a ton of work with SQL and .NET, and I gotta say that having worked in the field with their open-source alternatives (I dare not say equivalents), Microsoft dev tools by large-and-far beat the <explitive /> out of everything. Even my old work buddies who absolutely hate MSFT will admit that they are openly addicted to the drug that is VS along with its IntelliCrack (TM).

Also, what is wrong with choice? We have Win32, and we have WPF/Silverlight. Given any task, it's almost always clear which is the best tool for the job.

Finally, why the hate for the CLR? It might be only opinion, but my guess is the world is heading to a place where more and more "things" become "devices" that run software. Having separate SDK's and dev toolchains for each is simply unmaintainable. CLR & .NET position Microsoft in a way that simplifies the dev story while also affording tremendous capability. So why the hatred, man? :)

Anonymous said...

Having been forced through the interview loop (entire group layed off last year), I can tell you that will not weed out the bad canidates as most interview loops are likely to contain those that should be fired. A hiring manager actually apologized to me because I had hires from his directs, but no hire by clueless PM and GPM, both of which tried to ask technical questions they themselve did not understand (failed to understand my probing questions pm what they really wanted me to code).

That is not to say that all PM's are bad (worked with my share of bright ones), but when they guys in the trenches get overruled by the clueless leaders... needless to say I found a much better group to work for.

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed with SLT's answer in the Town hall meeting about misalignment between WP7 vs KIN, Windows Media vs Zune, etc.

They talk about three screens in a cloud, but each group either see's their peer groups as inept or a threat and put up roadblocks to collaberation.

When I hear that the groups have different "focuses", that just points to the fact the leadership does not understand the technical issues and are unwilling to force meaningful collaberation. We have the vision, who's the leader that's going to make sure the end to end story comes to fruition? I don't think it Stevie...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree on the "IntelliCrack" comment above :). "The intellisense team should run this company" - I bet some of you might have heard this from one of CLR gurus!

Anonymous said...

Re:'On the development story: frankly I think we missed the boat (actually a series of boats) with Microsoft's stupid anti-open source culture.'

MSFT is trying to play well with open source. They've invited PHP core devs over to discuss about how to run PHP better with IIS. They've worked out some vague legalese to not sue open source devs who work with Mono. They've also tried to contribute Linux kernel code (don't know how that went).

Re:"please fix Cleartype" - can you detail what is the issue?

I work with Windows XP the whole entire day with ClearType on. I then use either Ubuntu or Snow Leopard after work. It's amazing how smooth the fonts on the latter are, and how satisfying it is to work on these platforms. I might be looking into reformatting my hard disk at work with Ubuntu/OpenSolaris and running Windows in VirtualBox for browser testing - just because of ClearType's clear inability to deliver nice smooth fonts (even on Windows 7).

BTW kudos to the MSFT devs hard at work (especially the IE devs) who have absolutely no time to post something on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Finally, why the hate for the CLR? It might be only opinion, but my guess is the world is heading to a place where more and more "things" become "devices" that run software. Having separate SDK's and dev toolchains for each is simply unmaintainable. CLR & .NET position Microsoft in a way that simplifies the dev story while also affording tremendous capability. So why the hatred, man? :)

There is ALREADY a perfectly good standard dev environment and toolchain--all the open source software--which runs great on EVERY device and EVERY operating system other than Windows.

Microsoft just keeps coming up with more and more crap for people to learn in order to develop on Windows specifically--completely different languages (C#), incessant new versions of .NET and Visual Studio, etc.

If Microsoft really wants to delight developers, get serious about POSIX compliance, ship with a bash shell, and give us header files and libraries to access Windows APIs via gcc. Then we'll be able to finally write Windows software the same way we write software for any other platform. Is that really so much to ask?

Anonymous said...

I agree DevDiv developed too many "unwanted" new technologies.

I recommend instead of continue to create them, use the resources somewhere else.

DevDiv have a lot of excellence programmers. Can't we just move half of the DevDiv resource to online disivion? Instead of directly compete in online search, why not create tons of online application and dominate this space before Google try to claim it.

Anonymous said...

"After [operating income] you have investment income, taxes, one time charges and many possible adjustments depending on accounting choices. So the growth was flat over two years, but the business is running better."
Friday, April 23, 2010 10:00:00 AM

I thought I'd add to this post - SLT and Partner bonuses are based on Operating Income,(in fact the SLT bonus pool was significantly increased for FY10) not total revenue or growth, and thus one can see why we see great improvement in IO.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft just keeps coming up with more and more crap for people to learn in order to develop on Windows specifically--completely different languages (C#), incessant new versions of .NET and Visual Studio, etc.

Agreed. I would bet that the developer community grows very weary of the churn that Microsoft spews forth. It becomes a nightmare to keep up -- even people inside of Microsoft are lost.

Anonymous said...

What about merit raises this year? Does anyone know?

I checked with your manager and you are not getting one.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft cannot improve innovation, that's the problem. 70 20 10 evaluation is totally subjective and depends on how well you play the corporate game."

This is apparently true, especially when in may appear that a higher percentage of 10's apply to those in level 65 and below. There appears to be no forced 10-70-20 curve 'by level band', once you elevate above Director level.

I believe when LisaB examines the review system, she may see that Partners and above have only a 5% chance of a "10%" ranking, [and ~2%chance of an Underperformed], and then some of those 10s assigned at Partner+ level may be earlier or already departed employees during the previous 'review period'.

How can the SLT believe in the 'forced 10-70-20 curve' when they do not believe in for themselves? It may appear to LisaB, that she will see that some SLT assign an overwhelming number of "Exceeds" to their directs (>50%) and push the 10s down to skip levels or even further. The exec's trust one untrained manager to make or break an indirect's career at Microsoft, who they may not even really know.

Only the little people get "ranked and yanked" at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

When I hear that the groups have different "focuses", that just points to the fact the leadership does not understand the technical issues and are unwilling to force meaningful collaberation. We have the vision, who's the leader that's going to make sure the end to end story comes to fruition? I don't think it Stevie...
Apparently you have all the answers my friend, so why don't you step up and be the "leader".

Anonymous said...

Question: what is the most high-end as well as profitable group at Microsoft which is hiring C++/C# developers? Is it Azure?

Anonymous said...

Who in Winodws mobile team made the decision of blocking native code interop? WP7 is doomed without that capability.

I totally agree with the decision of being incompatible with previous versions of Windows mobile. I can implement a new UI layer using managed code. But it is just unacceptable for not being able to reuse a large portion of platform independent C source code.

Anonymous said...

3) Silverlight vs. HTML5 - why are we investing so much in Silverlight? Where is the money if it is open and works on all platforms and browsers?

I worked for Microsoft for ten years and left a while ago, but I made sure my directs knew the business proposition of what we did and why. I certainly hope that your manager or mentor is doing the same for you, if not, find a new manager or mentor.

To answer your question, you need to think like a business outside of Microsoft:

- I decided to use Silverlight to build my web application for my customers (Silverlight: Free).
- I use Visual Studio and Expression to build my application (Dev Tools: Not Free)
- I host this web application on a Windows Server (Windows: Not Free).
- Plus I connect to a SQL Server for data (SQL: Very Expensive)
- As this service expands, I move to a clustered farm (More Expensive Servers), or move to MS cloud computing (Still Not Free)

So my decision to use Silverlight was hardly a cost free decision. In the end, Silverlight further entrenched Microsoft into the core of my business objectives.

Otherwise, I could use Flash on a host of other platforms == Microsoft gets zilch.

Anonymous said...

"Steve Balmer, don't let Terry and his bunch of handpicked partners and principals who are basically his overpaid yes men fool you, win phone 7 is a horribly executed dumb copy cat project that tries to be as capable as iphone was 3 years ago and it is taking 3 years to build. By the time you release it, iPhone will be light years ahead and it will be a big embarassment. Please save the compony that humilation and do something original please"

I have to disagree on this one -- WP7 is the first mobile OS we've ever done that I've seen people get excited about. Seriously, the difference in reaction among internal audiences has been night and day from 6.5 or anything earlier.

We absolutely need to reach parity with iPhone, and there are even some things that WP7 does that are, dare I say, a bit cooler. The fact that WP7 feels like a contemporary mobile OS and not a throwback to 1999 is a big step forward here.

Anonymous said...

+1 on the need for full-blown unmanaged API. There are a number of reasons why you might want to have it:
1. In the datacenters where machines are shared between jobs or VMs, unmanaged code uses far less RAM, so you can run more jobs per machine.
2. C++ has come a long way from the bad old days. These days you can write secure code by adhering to a simple set of guidelines and using newer APIs. Well, at least as secure as what you'd write for CLR.
3. Higher performance and more ways to optimize when needed. This again goes back to running stuff in the datacenter on a shared resource.
4. On the desktop, I'm sure folks would appreciate lighter weight apps, more responsive apps. Fact is, most of the desktop apps that even Microsoft ship are written in C++, using the same old shitty Win32 API. I've programmed for the Mac, and their Objective-C API, while it is also not perfect in absolute terms, blows Win32 (and huge chunks of WPF) out of the water.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the poster on IE taking too long to open empty pages. I avoid IE at work, but whenever I have to open it, it almost comes up with a set of drumrolls. The machine slows down, the mouse starts stuttering, the Hard disk goes into a grunt of massive indigestion and then it shows up as a white screen which stays there for a while and then the default tab shows 'Connecting...' for a good 30s (I measured it) and then it's up to type something. And no, my machine is not a dinosaur. 6GB of RAM and 2.4 GHz core duo can't get IE to come up on time!

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the comments about devdiv. External developers love VS10, Silverlight is a huge hit and they keep cranking out genuinely innovative products (Blend, Sketchflow etc).

No disrespect but I really don't think you understand what devdiv does. Go talk to Soma and I think you'll change your mind.

Hugh said...

@Anonymous,

"They've worked out some vague legalese to not sue open source devs who work with Mono. They've also tried to contribute Linux kernel code (don't know how that went)."

Sorry Anon, but those of us in the know understand that Microsoft is like any other I.T. company in that the techos are mostly good and the managers are mostly not. The big problem is that MS managers are not your run-of-the-mill bad; they are particularly amoral / machiavellian / incompetent / noxious. In the open source world only fools and dupes trust MS, the rest of us wouldn't touch anything from MS with a forty foot barge pole. Nothing personal, that's just the way it is.

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft really wants to delight developers, get serious about POSIX compliance, ship with a bash shell, and give us header files and libraries to access Windows APIs via gcc. Then we'll be able to finally write Windows software the same way we write software for any other platform. Is that really so much to ask?

Calm down, grab a beer, and relax a little. It'll due wonders for your longevity. =)

Now let's be serious here for a moment.

Step 1, please do actual reading: Interix.

Step 2, nobody likes an anti-MS/pro-OSS fanboi just as much as nobody likes an anti-OSS/pro-MS koolaid-er, so stay objective.

Step 3, try Powershell. It's object-oriented and very well designed...instead of yet-another-text-shell.

Step 4, realize that you can't claim the importance of standardization while also proclaiming GCC the king of all toolchains. That's just ludicrous! GCC == the #1 in terms of non-compliant extensions and unmaintainable spaghetti code on their backend code. I might know since I write compiler frontends for a living.

And POSIX compliance, well, it's overrated. If it were worth its weight, why would we need autoconf/automake/etc. on supposedly POSIX-compliant platforms?

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft really wants to delight developers, get serious about POSIX compliance, ship with a bash shell, and give us header files and libraries to access Windows APIs via gcc. Then we'll be able to finally write Windows software the same way we write software for any other platform. Is that really so much to ask?

See Steve, "Developers, developers, developers, developers,....".

Anonymous said...

Last night Microsoft revealed that its Online Services Division lost $711 million in the first three months of this year. That's a jaw-dropping $2.8 billion loss annual run rate.


This chart shows quarterly loses since 2005, the last time Microsoft's online operations made money. If you travel further back, Microsoft's losses become even more staggering. Since 1998, Microsoft's online division has lost over $10 billion.


Is there any company that's lost as much money on the Internet as Microsoft? We're hard pressed to think of one.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/CHART-OF-THE-DAY-Has-Any-siliconalley-2074392301.html?x=0&.v=3


The LOSSES are actually worse. These numbers don't include the losses from Windows Live. WL is conveniently hidden under the Windows P&L. I believe that team loses another $600 Million a year. To do an apples to apples comparison with Yahoo, Google and AOL ...I would count the WL losses too....The annual loss run rate is closer to $3.4 Billion....

Anonymous said...

If you're waiting 30 seconds in connecting state, you obviously have a bad, bad, bad plugin or something else fucked up with your setting. No browser takes 30 seconds to render blank. Not any version of IE, not any version of Firefox, none.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you finally realized the vision of Office Labs. The Labs has the best developers at Microsoft. They are out there teaching Office developers how to design the next version of Office.

Anonymous said...

Will you feel any better if you know that one of the major feature of dev 11 is to revive C++?

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft has turned the corner and is headed in the right direction "

I have thought long and hard about this statement. I just don't think we did. Besides some "old" money/business from Windows and Office, where is the new money? Which "new" business unit created in the past 5 years contributed $1B for the company? Spending $3B a year to get $1B revenue does not count.

Pissing on Win32 vs. CLR, SL vs. HTML5, is non-productive. Cutting headcount or cost management is just a defensive strategy.

I believe there are many $Bs "new money" to be made in software for the years to come. MSFT has to make one or two bold but not dumb new bets. It's a CEO test.

Anonymous said...

Step 3, try Powershell. It's object-oriented and very well designed...instead of yet-another-text-shell.

You're proving my point for me. I'm saying Microsoft constantly invents new crap for people to learn and your response is "hey, check out this new crap." Great.

Anonymous said...

>I am glad you finally realized the vision of Office Labs. The Labs has the best developers at Microsoft.

Hahah, you're obviously trolling.

Anonymous said...

You're proving my point for me. I'm saying Microsoft constantly invents new crap for people to learn and your response is "hey, check out this new crap." Great.

I don't necessarily think creating new code & products is a bad thing...but being directionless and punching in the dark is.

Anonymous said...

Inventing crap every day and forcing devs to keep learning new crap every day is a guaranteed way to keep wages down amongst devs.

No matter how good you are in C, C++ and Win32 or if you are a solid Microsoft SDE2, your manager can say at any time "aah that dude I ran into in Starbucks today knows a lot about silverlight, I want to bring him in directly as Senior SDE. No promo for you this year too , sorry."

Fortunately for PMs, this constant "learn something new today" BS has not affected them. Because the current Microsoft PM2 has mastered the art of Microsoft PM bullshitery and status message posting "skill" and the guy in Starbucks just cannot compete with this PM2, so our so called hard working PM2 gets promoted to Senior PM. Aaah, how cute.

The day it affects PMs life will be the day Microsoft will stop releasing new crap every week.
Until then it will keep doing it, because people who talk about this new crap (aka PMs) win because talk is cheap and payoff in MS is big and people who have to master and perfect products (aka devs) built with the new crap lose because by the time they got it right, something new is on the horizon, time to press the reset button...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to agree, but it's hard to see how MS has turned a corner. Short term benefits of W7 aside, the long term trend for the cash cows is still down. Indeed the competitive and obsolescence threats to these businesses seem to multiple daily, and we’re increasingly seeing the company implement price cuts, a sure sign of competitive pressure. On the new business front, Xbox is still unprofitable over its lifetime and losses in search are not only large but escalating. The latter is now on track to lose even more than Xbox did. In short, you have a situation with declining legacy businesses and no obvious new business to take their place. Meanwhile, Apple is growing much faster, is a lot better positioned in segments that matter for the future (mobile, consumer), and in its spare time has shown a glimpse of what may be the future of PCs (iPad) and taken over yet another market MS helped pioneer (the tablet). As a result, it's a short distance away from surpassing MS on market capitalization (already exceeded it on the S&P where founder's shares are excluded), and should become a larger company by revenue sometime next year. All this in less than a decade, and starting from a position of near bankruptcy.

When you get right down to it what’s really changed at MS? Tactically there have been some cost cuts, including relatively minor tweaks to headcount. There’s also been some rationalization in redundant or low return projects. But none of that was done proactively; it was all forced by the recession and MS’s far below average performance during that. Strategically, there has been little change to the overall leadership team or business plan responsible for turning this former top dog into underdog in less than a decade. No amount of tactical changes can overcome that.

MS will have turned a corner when at least ¾ of the current SLT, including principally Ballmer, are gone, when the strategy that has mostly failed for the past decade is replaced by something more effective, when innovation and intelligent market entry replace the current approach of trying to buy success for poorly thought out products and strategies by throwing ridiculous amounts of money at them, and when the company can point to at least one new business that actually generates a substantial profit instead of losing billions.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on the developer gripe. No one outside of MS cares about unmanaged Win32 programming. ISV's know managed code has a better return, and corprate IT doens't generally staff the skill required to do it. I think MS is doing some courageous stuff with Silverlight to stay relevant to developers in the post-PC world.

Anonymous said...

"You're proving my point for me. I'm saying Microsoft constantly invents new crap for people to learn and your response is "hey, check out this new crap." Great."

Sounds a lot like Google to me (Orkut, Checkout, Answers, Wave, Buzz etc. etc. etc.)

Anonymous said...

Having separate SDK's and dev toolchains for each is simply unmaintainable. CLR & .NET position Microsoft in a way that simplifies the dev story while also affording tremendous capability.

Agree totally. I am a dev who makes his living with MS tools. The consolidation of capabilities in VS makes my life easier, and the IDE is brilliant. The unified platform also does. (Would I like to see .NET on other platforms? Yes. Does its absence prevent me from meeting client needs? No.)


Posix etc. / go back to C++/Win32

No thanks. The abstraction layer provided by .NET and Java - interpreted languages generally - is worth so much in terms of safety and stability over doing pointer arithmetic, memory management, etc. Most devs - myself among them - should focus on meeting client needs, not reinventing primitive wheels that somebody more expert has already done. I am not a good enough dev to work 100% reliably with malloc, ref counts, etc., but I do very well because instead of fighting a CPU and telling it how many bytes to reserve in its many GB or RAM for a particular string or int, I can focus on enabling people to get on with their jobs and lives.

Yes, the never-ending platform expansion is wearying. But let's face it: maybe instead of billing ourselves as ".NET developer" we need to be more specific about our areas of expertise, and slowly educate hiring managers and recruiters also. For example: I am a .NET developer with ASP.NET, WinForms, and WCF/services experience. I do not (yet) have ASP.NET MVC or WPF or WF experience. This level of candor has never caused me problems, and I have not lacked for work (so far). So just acknowledge that .NET isn't a small toy anymore, it's a major platform.

paulsc@exmsft.com said...

I call BS on the developer gripe. No one outside of MS cares about unmanaged Win32 programming.

You have no idea what you are talking about. Managed code is great for all sorts of scenarios from websites to line of business applications, but when you need performance, small executables, hardware drivers or maximum flexibility, unmanaged C or C++ is your first and best choice.

I am not happy that the new features of VS2010 have bypassed the native code developer, but I understand this is being addressed in the next version.

Anonymous said...

I am not a good enough dev to work 100% reliably with malloc, ref counts, etc., but I do very well because instead of fighting a CPU and telling it how many bytes to reserve in its many GB or RAM for a particular string or int, I can focus on enabling people to get on with their jobs and lives.

:)

For the C# .NET developer, the true question is:

Are you a good enough developer to use IDisposable and not leave null references everywhere?

I constantly see C# developers (who stunningly don't know C) screw this up and generate disasters. Understanding C/C++ is one thing, and you're right - some painful detail knowledge is required. The lure of C# is that you needn't know those things, but additions like IDisposable break the entire no-refs-to-get-GC'd model, and provide C# developers with enough weapons to get themselves injured.

Anonymous said...

HP to buy Palm

Another one of MSFT's long-time partners drops WinMo exclusivity. Does WinMo have a future?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is Saturated DOT

Anonymous said...

Interesting article...some workplaces are implementing a "no jerk" rule to cut down on employees to bash and belittle others. Offenders get fired. Imagine if MSFT implemented this. They wouldn't because 50% of the company would be fired. hahaha

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703832204575209980136270838.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_careerjournal

Anonymous said...

MS Courier tablet concept cancelled!
HP Slate also cancelled or postponned due to Palm acquisition.

Today, Gizmodo reports that Microsoft has cancelled its own "Courier" booklet-style tablet device.

We're told that on Wednesday, Microsoft execs informed the internal team that had been working on the tablet device that the project would no longer be supported. Courier had never been publicly announced or acknowledged as a Microsoft product.


Apple has won the war!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the idea of re-interviewing everyone: totally agree. Problem is: remember when Ballmer asked every employee for "Great Ideas"? I've sent exactly this idea to Ballmer, who replied copying some top person in HR. Nothing happened.

The other problem is we would need to have a company-wide technical interview committee, instead of trusting this task to individuals teams. Nowadays, interview loops are totally biased. Questions are not the same to all the candidates, and those interviewing early for a position will face a harder interview than those coming later, when pressure starts to mount to fill the position. Individuals that are afraid of great people intentionally make open questions without a clear answer, and then make a case for "no hire" even if Einstein himself shows up for the interview. I've seen a friend who is a Math genius interview in a team, be given a Math expression to prove wrong or right, and do it only to be told that "your proof is too complicated". Another went to an interview and was given one of those mechanical puzzles in which you need to remove a node from a chain to resolve. How this relates to daily development tasks is beyond me...

Overall, most of the issues were spot on. But re-interviewing would only work if starting with the partners, what we know won't happen...

Anonymous said...

>> I am not a good enough dev to work 100% reliably with malloc, ref counts, etc.

Then perhaps you should change careers? I mean, if you can't learn to use smart pointers and are incapable of understanding the RAII idiom, then it's quite possible that programming is simply not a good field for you.

DevDiv SDE said...

Guys, did you even see the new C++ features in Dev10? The new IntelliSense engine that can complete absolutely everything, and blows every other C++ IDE on the marker out of the water? The new tasty C++0x stuff, especially lambdas, which make stuff so much easier?

.NET gets more love from marketing, sure, but we're as strong as ever on the native front.

Anonymous said...

I also totally agree about Win32 and C++.

Windows Phone 7 without C++ means there won't be any Windows Phone 7 apps from me.

Anonymous said...

When Judge Penfold Jackson ruled that Microsoft should be broken up ten years ago, why on earth was that god-sent opportunity thrown away?

Just imagine how lean and mean three or four (or more) "Baby Bills" would have been.

Instead of the huge fear of rocking the boat by doing anything to disadvantage the cash-cows of Windows and Office, there would have been separate little Microsofts out there unafraid to take chances, branch off in unexpected directions, maybe even compete against each other, pull off miracles, and go for broke.

But no,we got timidity, chaos and decline. Is it coincidence that steveb has presided over all of that?

Anonymous said...

Courier would have been a mini-longhorn. There is no way the device could have lived up to the hype generated by the videos.

The range of scenarios for a content creation type device is far, far more complicated than a content consumption device. Plus the split-screen design would never have made it a serious competitor to the iPad in the much bigger content consumption segment.

Anonymous said...

RE: Microsoft Courier cancelled

http://gizmodo.com/5527442/microsoft-cancels-innovative-courier-tablet-project

"" Microsoft Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw told us:

"At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity." "

Only to dump them in favor of another run-of-the-mill app ? :(

It is hard to imagine why anyone would cancel such a wonderful device (if the videos were any indication of the prototype)

Anonymous said...

Okay, so let me get this, MSFT is losing the smart phone war, LOST the music player war, had the tablet/slate market in hand, but saw that slip through the fingers like sand. So what does the powers in charge do? Why, cancel the best bet to give iPad a run for its money.

It was announced today that Courier is now officially dead. In addition, HP (now with Palm WebOS in its pocket) has decided to cancel a Windows 7 slate.

Argue as you may of the world's acceptance of a touch only device, but my observation is that more and more people are jumping on to the iPad bandwagon. When you are at your kid's baseball game, and you are inclined to keep score electronically, which is easier: a simple tablet with finger input (so no stylus to drop) or a clamshell laptop with a full keyboard? Or if you are a frequent flyer, and you are trying to do work on the plane, Which is easier to work on when the fat guy in front of you decides to recline his seat all the way?

Argue as you may that the traditional PC market will exist for the near future, but there is no denying that a slate is eating into the traditional PC market space.

Oh, and here is another consideration for you to mull over: could it be that Robbie Bach has it only 75% right? It's not a three screen world we are moving to, but a four screen world?

Got to go now, gotta check stock prices. I am thinking SELL.

Anonymous said...

"If there are interesting constructive topics you'd like to discuss, please let me know."

The most important topic imo is MS's strategy for growth in the mobile internet [post PC] era. The current plan isn't credible.

Anonymous said...

http://acid3.acidtests.org/

Lots of work to do!

Anonymous said...

@Offenders get fired. Imagine if MSFT implemented this. They wouldn't because 50% of the company would be fired.

In fact MSFT should do this to come on track. The out side world changed a lot.

Anonymous said...

"Is there any company that's lost as much money on the Internet as Microsoft? We're hard pressed to think of one."

No one is even close. Same thing for losses in gaming. And this lack of success has been allowed to continue for so long that it now threatens the company's future. Apple has literally transformed itself over ten years with modest bets that have paid off big time. None more so than iPhone, which both Steve and Robbie said wouldn’t be a success, but is now responsible for more than half of Apple’s overall revenue and profit after just three years. MS on the other hand has almost nothing to show for long term investments that easily exceed $100 billion. The closest thing to a success is Sharepoint, and it didn't require grandiose investments or timeframes.

Companies that stand the test of time figure out how to successfully reinvent themselves. Those that don't wither and die. And maybe that's as it should be.

Anonymous said...

"Nowadays, interview loops are totally biased. Questions are not the same to all the candidates, and those interviewing early for a position will face a harder interview than those coming later, when pressure starts to mount to fill the position. Individuals that are afraid of great people intentionally make open questions without a clear answer, and then make a case for "no hire" even if Einstein himself shows up for the interview. I've seen a friend who is a Math genius interview in a team, be given a Math expression to prove wrong or right, and do it only to be told that "your proof is too complicated". Another went to an interview and was given one of those mechanical puzzles in which you need to remove a node from a chain to resolve. How this relates to daily development tasks is beyond me..."

How many different companies have you interviewed with over your career? I ask because the problems you raise here are universal. I've interviewed at Amazon, Google and a variety of startups over the years, and the spectrum ranges from competent interviewers to nightmarish idiots.

Just like here at MS.

I'm a 14 year veteran and have probably been on a dozen loops here throughout my career -- about half have resulted in job offers. Of the loops that didn't result in offers, it was pretty much equally split between me not being the right fit or not having the right skillz, and the interviewing team being clueless in how to conduct an effective interview.

Shitty interviews are actually fairly helpful: you don't want to work for a team that isn't capable of judging talent, so when you encounter these loops it becomes easy to write that team off your list. Over time, as with everything else, these teams will either learn how to become better interviewers or they'll implode by making bad hires... in either case, you won't need to suffer the consequences.

Anonymous said...

i have worked at ms for 9+ years and am seeing the same thing again and again. "we need to do something cool" and "it needs to make money". i am tired of my ideas being discounted because the middle layer of management is too eager to please, tired of my cautions being ignored because the middle layer of management only wants to say yes to everything, and mostly tired of reporting to mba's who have never written a line of code in their life. being told that your ideas suck, even though at one point they got me hired, and being personally demoralized on a weekly basis by people who do less but expect me to do more - i'm so done with this place; when i leave, i will leave you to yourselves.

Anonymous said...

MS needs to change its work culture. The company is so full of nepotism and favoritism that it is hard to function. One person in our team does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and even other people are aware of it, yet no one can do anything because the director of the team is batting for him. Even the GM is aware of the situation and yet nothing is done. This is an astounding situation. I wonder if the director had to pay his salary from his pocket, would he still retain him!!

Anonymous said...

Mini and all readers, I encourage you to read this book:
Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters (Hardcover)
~ Samuel A. Culbert (Author), Lawrence Rout (Contributor)
http://www.amazon.com/Get-Rid-Performance-Review-Managing/dp/044655605X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272675818&sr=8-1

More, I think we should invite the author for a presentation at Microsoft.
We all know that our review system is broken and we all know the review is all about the manager. So this book actually explains the fundamentals for this broken system, explaining how harmful it is and why it's been used for so many years. Moreover, the author propose an alternative for that which is, at least, very interesting and practical!
I'll use his suggestions on our next MS Poll.

Now, while we still have our broken review system I want to share with you what I've been doing to beat the system. I've been working for MS for about 10 years and love the company in the same proportion I hate the review system. After 7 years of frustation and anger during most of my reviews I decided to think about it and I came up with a very simple solution that gave me more time, a promotion and happy reviews. For 3 years in a row I've been beating the system. What I do is very simple, actually, obvious.
Let's analyze the Average Joey to use as reference:
- He works 8 hours a day.
- He does just what he's asked for.
- Usually he's happy with his work life balance and review score.

That said, I bet that at least once (probably more than once) you had a great year, you created something that caused impact like a cool tool that helped several teams, a book that's helping readers across the world, a process that saved millions to the company or any other thing that was recognized by peers, customers or other teams as something that caused impact. However, that was not your manager's perception so you ended up getting the old 3.0;3.5 or the new 70%/Achieved.
Sounds familiar, right?
After sweating for one year certain that this would be your year you are frustrated, disapointed, and you might think you got an average review. Wrong. You underperformed! Think about it, the Average Joey dedicated 8 hours to get the same bonus, shares and salary raise that you got, however, to create something that made the difference it's fair to assume you worked more than 8 hours a day! So if you worked 9 hours a day for that particular year you worked ~240 hours more than the average Joey and you got the same score, so you're an underperformer.
Assuming you are capable of doing your work very well at the point you should get great reviews sometimes, you decide that next year you're going to work 7 hours a day. At the end of the new year you just did what you were asked for, nothing more, but working 7 hours a day and again you got 70%/Achieved. Are you average? No! For this particular year you were a top performer! Yes, you used ~240 hours less than the average Joey and you got the same review score! That's something!
You got the point. :) If you do the same you can use the extra time to create a killer iPhone/Windows Phone 7 application that might give you lots of money, or invest in the stock market, or sell things on ebay or whatever you want to do to make an extra money because you'll have time for that. If money is not your motivation you can just relax and enjoy life doing the things you like.
Our review system doesn't incentive us to take risks and if you work hard trying to get a great review you're gambling while losing your time and health. Okay, you might succeed one year, but you might fail in another even better year. Likewise if you're really good as you think you are you should do the same as the AJ in much less time. ;-) Work smarter, not harder.

Anonymous said...

>The Labs has the best developers at Microsoft.

No kidding! They also have the best PM and Test in the world.

Anonymous said...

I like W7, however it still needs improvement.

I worked 14 years at MS from positions in consulting to PM, to developer in Windows Client and in the Kernel.

W7 is way better than Vista, it does however have problems, like connectivity problems that are big. Just look in the MS forums, it is a learning experience. The tough part is that per MS always the problems are with "third parties", and although technically this may be true in some instances, it has gotten very old for customers. I just mentioned connectivity problems, because they are the ones I have stumbled into, but I am pretty sure I will discover others.

Let's compare to other OS's. Linux for example, you have some pain installing say Ubuntu, and it may have limited functionality, but once it is installed it stays like that for the most part. OS-x on the other hand, is no Prima donna, and in fact 10.5.6 is way slower and more buggy than earlier releases, yet however, for the most part, for customers it works and when it does not work, the solution amounts to something user actionable, and not a series of 300 dangerous commands to given in exact sequence.

Windows is currently on my list of "tortures" that I endure. Fixing some problems in Windows is a time sink, and MS should really look at the time people waste on that. Vista was impossible and W7 is way better, however the TCO is still high, and un-helpful automated assistants that after blocking your computer for a couple of minutes give up and tell you to contact your "local administrator", even in home installs, raise the levels of frustration a lot.

The bottom line and possibly the focus for MS is that Windows should be fun for it's customers, whether they are developers or end users.

I will continue with API in another post.

Anonymous said...

Enough of Windows, to the topic of open source now. MS still has not understood the way to get involved properly with the community. The communication with MS is always fractured, not open. The way it works is via forums where people post questions, some folks answer and at some point, an MS guru, provides a solution, if it could be called such. To be fair, MVPs also answer often. However, frequently, the MS tone and attitude is "pontificating" style.

The bottom line is that sometimes it takes days if not months of anything including begging to get an answer to a question. I have friends inside MS and I still do have an extremely hard time to get answers to key questions.

Contrast this with the open source, where the forums are really peers talking and where in general I can find an answer by googling, without needing to ask anyone, just because a lot is written in peer, understandable talk.

On the topic of APIs, some other poster said: "Microsoft just keeps coming up with more and more crap for people to learn in order to develop on Windows specifically--completely different languages (C#), incessant new versions of .NET and Visual Studio, etc.". This poster is obviously an MS employee and he is right beyond MS.

At some point MS had the largest developer mind share, however after creating API after API where none of these APIs have clear rationale and often are created just because group A thought that what group B had created was bad and decided to create a new API where they task a PM that never programmed to write the API. Well, guess what, developers, and I mean serious geeks, get tired of it all.

Contrast this with the open source, where APIs are developed in "emergent mode" and where the same people that use the API are the ones that create new API requirements and eventually write the API.

Take for example the time it takes to learn to program in ASP.NET. You need to learn C#, then ASP.NET, all the architecture and track the changes that C#, ASP.NET and IIS impose from version to version. That is a huge unpaid and unjustifiable expense for developers. Beyond that, each time you want to install a machine for Windows development, you need to allocate two days to install Visual Studio, SQL and all the conflicting patches until you get things working. Fire up the development environment and wait and wait.

Contrast this with PHP. The learning curve of PHP is close to null, and installing PHP on a machine, including Windows takes 2 minutes. Install mysql and it takes you 5 more minutes. Now if you want you can program with Notepad++ or else you simply grab a free IDE, which downloads from the Internet in 10 mins and installs in 5 mins. Also, it is not a question to make PHP run easier on IIS it is windows that needs to be easier to deploy on the cloud, because that PHP app ends up on a 256K linux box running on the cloud and scales.

The bottom line is that I think MS needs to work a lot on refocusing itself and the way it conducts business, both internally between groups and externally with the rest of the world if it wants to get back on top of the game. Working with MS products should be fun for customers, whether they are developers or end users.

I really want to see MS come back, have fun and good luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

@70 20 10 evaluation is totally subjective and depends on how well you play the corporate game even though you dont deserve mostly.

:) very true for at least MSIT,India.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article...some workplaces are implementing a "no jerk" rule to cut down on employees to bash and belittle others. Offenders get fired. Imagine if MSFT implemented this. They wouldn't because 50% of the company would be fired.

Think before you recommend.

I do not believe this would have the result that one might first assume. The likely result is that politically clever people would line up 15 deep to nominate their enemies and threats as jerks. Which of the two, the nominating person or the nominated person, is really the jerk is up for grabs.

Anonymous said...

"Courier would have been a mini-longhorn. There is no way the device could have lived up to the hype generated by the videos. The range of scenarios for a content creation type device is far, far more complicated than a content consumption device."

Good points, but why then did the company waste time and money on it? As the largest software company in the world and with ten years of tablet experience, shouldn't MS have anticipated those problems and concentrated instead on consumption? Wasn’t it obvious that two screens, the most expensive part of the device, would make the price prohibitive? How come Apple was able to see all that and come to market with the right price/functionality trade off, while MS was forced into the embarrassing situation of publically cancelling this widely rumored product (which the company never bothered to deny).

What about the broader competitive implications? If rumors that the HP W7 slate is also dead are true, what does MS have to compete against iPad? What OS will it use, especially since HP and others apparently no longer see W7 as the answer? Duh. Who will the hardware partner be now that the largest PC maker is “doubling down” on WebOS? If it requires WP7 or something new (likely), how many years will go by before MS can bring a viable competitor to market? Will it be four, like what happened with iPhone? How did that work out, and how much larger and more dominant will Apple be by then? In addition to at least $5 billion of incremental revenue for Apple next year, what negative effect will that have on Windows sales? How many iPad buyers would have bought a PC? How many will then purchase a Mac due to the halo effect that worked so well with iPod and iPhone? What other OEMs will bail on Windows devices in favor of Android or whathaveyou in order to better compete with Apple?

But most of all where’s the internal anger and outrage? MS is about to lose yet another market it helped pioneer without even a fight. Has failure and losing to Apple become so institutionalized that it’s now just accepted as inevitable? MS is already ten years into its decline. If something doesn’t happen asap to rekindle the competitive fires and fundamentally change direction, ten years from now MS will join Digital Equipment, Wang, Compaq, and the other former industry leaders who no longer exist.

NoRompamos said...

I second the poster who mentioned the problems with the performance review and gave the link to the book "Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters". I will read it :-).

The performance review is in my opinion a well oiled machined for destroying self-esteem and talent. That is IMO one of the reasons of the reasons MS can't hire, because folks see that very talented people get to the company with a great expectations and within a few years they are reduced to insecure people with lots of doubts and no confidence whatsoever.

The performance review is one of the key reasons I left. On the one hand it becomes a criminal record if you had a couple of threes, or whatever the measurement is nowadays. If you're a naysayer and say: No I am successful this won't happen to me, just a wait a few years and you will taste the cool-aid on your own.

The other negative effect is that instead of promoting mobility it locks people in positions and levels.

Anonymous said...

MSPoll results came out last week. Outside my straw poke hole view of the world I have heard rumblings of concern along with the usual planning for all hands meetings and morale events.

Any one out there with a sneak peak at wider results?

Anonymous said...

"Got to go now, gotta check stock prices. I am thinking SELL."

I have already sold mine, suspecting something is going to happen soon with our mobile strategy. Remembering the Yahoo bid?

Anonymous said...

How do you fix "underlevel" ?

Anonymous said...

and being personally demoralized on a weekly basis by people who do less but expect me to do more - i'm so done with this place

Right on, brother/sister. You are not the only Microsoft employee or former Microsoft employee who can identify with this.

Anonymous said...

Contrast this with the open source, where the forums are really peers talking and where in general I can find an answer by googling, without needing to ask anyone, just because a lot is written in peer, understandable talk.
I've used open source and I find the same amount of trouble or worst trying to find answers to issues I'm having with applications, whether googling or through networking. So you statements and reasoning are completely exaggerated and I would discredit those completely. Now get back to work.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on the developer gripe. No one outside of MS cares about unmanaged Win32 programming.

Wrong. For those of us that care about writing "native win32" apps, we have to go unmanaged - because after four major releases of the .Net framework, there still isn't complete support built in for the win32 common controls. Here's a short list of the top of my head:

* No support for the Treeview insertion mark (TVW_SETINSERTMARK).
* No support for getting the icon associated with a file (SHGetFileInfo).
* No support for the Windows 7 TaskDialog.
* No support for Wizard dialogs or property pages.

Now, I can do a lot of this stuff with P/Invoke, but that's going outside the sandbox.

It certainly seems that no one in DevDiv thinks anyone outside of MS considers these important, and that's a big mistake. Steve Jobs is in a pissing
match with Adobe because he knows that Flash/Flex/Air won't support all of the features Apple's building into the OS, you folks don't even want to support the features you've built into your own OS.

As for me, I'm a partner in a small ISV that's about to embark on a major upgrade of our product. Currently written in VB6, the major upgrade is going to stay VB6. Why? Because I'd rather spend my time pulling my UI logic and editing out of VB/Win32 and sticking it in Flash than convert it over to .Net and redo all the "outside the sandbox" stuff with P/Invoke. This'll give my junior programmers the ability to maintain more of our product line, and put my company in a better position should we decide to move away from the desktop and go web-based. If MS doesn't care about supporting native look and feel, why should I?

And don't get me started on Windows Installer...

Anonymous said...

8 1/2 year employee who's sick of seeing one executive misstep after another. MS Poll numbers came out and are down, do you think steveb will take any responsibility for it? Please, for the sake of the company Steve, Retire!

Cinco de Fire-O is coming up in a couple of days. I think I'll go have a beer with some of the very talented people who were part of the sh!tcanning...

Anonymous said...

"Mini and all readers, I encourage you to read this book:
Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters (Hardcover)
~ Samuel A. Culbert "

+1 for the book (need to buy it)
+1 for the strategy for more predictible and happy reviews. It makes sense, the only variable we can control is the number of hours we work, so if we work less and receive the same we're receiving more. Sounds fair to me.

Anonymous said...

I still feel that we have too many layers of management. I look at some of the content teams around the company and see 3 layers of management from Director, Group Managers, Team managers and finally ICs. The ICs ROCK! get rid of at least one layer of management and re-purpose them as content developers. Many of the managers simply SUCK at setting direction. They are woefully inept at business and strategy. They've gotten to their positions mainly 'cause they were considered to be good writers. Put them to do some real work instead of sitting in meetings 40% of the time. After all - how difficult is it really to communicate with our customers. Let's salute the "blogs" of war :)

Anonymous said...

How do you fix "underlevel" ?

The easiest way is to have a patron inside the company who'll champion your case and make things happen. This is also the rarest way, from what I have seen.

The next easiest (but risky) way is to be a critical person at a critical point in a project, and start laughing to your manager about how you're suddenly getting calls for advanced positions at {insert profitable competitor of choice}, commenting that, "But of course, you know I want to stay here." Done this way, it's not a threat, just data. This has the potential for various results, some good (level bump) some bad (you're marked for next layoffs).

The most common way is to take a job on the outside, ideally but not necessarily at least near your target salary level or desired title. Yes, seriously. Hundreds of your colleagues know that it's easier to get a higher salary at MS by leaving the company and coming back to it than by kicking butt inside it unless you are one of the small number of chosen.

You do good things there for 18 months. You come back, with better knowledge of how levels correlate with experience, titles and salary, and negotiate appropriately for a 1-3 level increase over what you had 18 months ago.

This is the time-honored way of doing it, but I don't have firsthand knowledge of how well it works in the recession. Most people I know that have gone back lately have gone back as CSG's for other reasons such as wanting a more predictable work week or wanting to test drive a group they don't know before going blue again.

Against you is the nosedive in salaries for many roles, out in industry. For example, I had to take a 20% cut that was painful but I'm partially making it up resume-wise by getting to work on a a major player's 21st century tech.

In favor of this approach is how static MS salaries have been lately and how slim the promo budgets have been. You could still beat your peers if you employ this strategy.

Anonymous said...

Apple iPad Reaches ‘One Million Sold’ Twice as Fast as iPhone

Read More http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/apple-ipad-reaches-one-million-sold-twice-as-fast-as-iphone/#ixzz0msby992N

At $500 each this is the same from revenue POV for APPL, as selling 10 million PCs at an average OEM license of $50. In 30 days. How soon before SteveB pulverizes one on stage?

Anonymous said...

But most of all where’s the internal anger and outrage? MS is about to lose yet another market it helped pioneer without even a fight. Has failure and losing to Apple become so institutionalized that it’s now just accepted as inevitable? MS is already ten years into its decline. If something doesn’t happen asap to rekindle the competitive fires and fundamentally change direction, ten years from now MS will join Digital Equipment, Wang, Compaq, and the other former industry leaders who no longer exist.

Trust me when I say that there is plenty of internal anger. Most of the lower level employees I have talked to know our executives are putting us on a path to doom with their utter lack of vision. MS has everything else necessary: the talent, virtually unlimited resources, and the technology pieces. But we are stuck going no where fast because of vision. Another severe handicap is the assinine 70/20/10 review system, which other posts have covered well.

Unfortunately, what are the outlets for expressing this anger and frustration? MSPoll? This forum? Also, is the executive leadership truly interested in hearing and acting upon our feedback? Based on their history, I would say the answer is a resounding no. I suppose another option would be in a town hall, but given the job market now, that would be a risky proposition with the likely result of preserving the status quo.

Anonymous said...

How effective is MS Poll? Do we take MS Poll results seriously? I personally do not see POSITIVE changes after MS Poll. Do we really fix anything or only we know to screw DEV and TEST?

MS Poll comes every year like New Year. :)

Anonymous said...

Contrast this with the open source, ...So you statements and reasoning are completely exaggerated and I would discredit those completely. Now get back to work.

Well, you're just a testimony to the arrogance and stupidity that makes MS be on the path it is and the things it needs to correct. You could have disagreed politely, but no, you choose to offend. What an idiot.

Now get back to work you at MS, because you would not be able to get a job anywhere else with that attitude.

Joe said...

>there still isn't complete support
>built in for the win32 common controls.
>Here's a short list of the top of my
>head:

Let's get more basic - there are 7 different, incompatible "String" types in w32.

Which one does the API call take? Who knows, no one docuented it

Anonymous said...

ship party means mandatory bye-byes are coming soon. happens every time.

Anonymous said...

To “Friday, April 30, 2010 2:13:00 PM”
I believe we are in violent agreement. You pointed out that biased interviews happen in other companies as much as it happens at Microsoft. You are correct.
That is exactly why I pointed out that one of the ideas suggested by Mini may not work (Re-interviewing: all employees below a certain life-time review average need to re-interview.). What would happen is just that immediately a lot of medium performers or insecure interviewers would flock to MSN, Bing and the other places with “easy interviews”. Meanwhile, groups like Windows, Office, etc. may have great people stuck with “meeting expectations” because of the calibration idiosyncrasies, and re-interviewing those people by others from the same team may end-up just providing opportunties to serve cold revenge, instead of really calibrating skills and levels across the company.

Anonymous said...

At $500 each this is the same from revenue POV for APPL, as selling 10 million PCs at an average OEM license of $50. In 30 days. How soon before SteveB pulverizes one on stage?

And how soon (or late) before he realizes this tablet thing really took off with Apple, HP/Webos maybe a Google tablet dominating the market, and then starts pouring billions to play catchup yet again.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Ballmer has repeatedly exemplified this quotation, most notably with the iPhone.

Anonymous said...

@MS Poll comes every year like New Year. :)

Means Stupid Management

Anonymous said...

MSIT India is no more a professional place. Relationship works nothing else is working.

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, what are the outlets for expressing this anger and frustration? MSPoll? This forum? Also, is the executive leadership truly interested in hearing and acting upon our feedback? Based on their history, I would say the answer is a resounding no. I suppose another option would be in a town hall, but given the job market now, that would be a risky proposition with the likely result of preserving the status quo."

Agree, leadership has no interest in hearing your feedback. Most are still too arrogant to admit they're wrong (despite the preponderance of evidence), and the minority who isn’t in denial won't rock the boat and risk cancelling their lucrative bonuses and carefully laid plans for a wealthy retirement.

The only solution is new leadership. That requires something visible that forces the board or shareholders to act. A Yahoo-like "Peanut Butter Manifesto" memo would probably do it. Evidence that the CEO has broadly lost the confidence of his employees would be impossible to ignore. But finding someone senior at MS who cares enough about the company to risk their job and do the right thing will be difficult. That leaves two options: some other public show of Ballmer's lost credibility amongst employees or the better part of 90K employees voting their shares against the current crew. The former would be the most effective but is difficult to organize for obvious reasons. Alternatively, just wait. It will happen eventually because growth is going to cease permanently. The problem is that by then it will probably be too late for anyone to resurrect MS, no matter how gifted a CEO. There aren't a lot of Apple-like recovery stories in corporate history.

Anonymous said...

What's particularly irritating about the iPad saga is how smart everyone was beforehand...how the whole industry "knew" Apple was making a big mistake. "People want an actual PC, not a big iPod touch." "It needs a keyboard." "It needs a stylus." "It needs a USB port." "It's going to fail because it isn't a legitimate portable computer." "There's no multitasking." "There's no Flash."

Right. Because size, weight, battery life, cost, screen brightness, and all the other real-world factors that affect the creation of an actual shipping product aren't part of the equation when you're just sitting around dreaming about what you'd like to create (or making "concept" videos and mock-ups).

So everybody else knows better, and sneers, while Apple goes ahead and actually solves the real-world engineering and design problems, and then sells a million iPads in a month.

And what do you know? It turns out that scaling a tablet computer upwards from a phone makes far more sense than scaling down from a laptop. (Good luck getting a Windows 7-based device to turn on instantly and switch apps at lightspeed like the iPad, which, amongst other features, has no virtual memory at all.)

In the abstract, Apple's ideas always seem "compromised," because Apple understands both the reality of creating and selling hardware and the reality of how people want to use devices. You'd think people would see the pattern and learn from it, but nobody ever does.

Anonymous said...

... MS needs to change its work culture. The company is so full of nepotism and favoritism...

And all you have to do is look at BizTalk. It slowly became a place of a certain 'culture' via nepotism. Then it became the majority 'culture' to the point of a super majority. Then the 'culture' pulled the product back to the 'culture' country.

I guess if you have a majority you can do whatever you want.

Anonymous said...

The abstraction layer provided by .NET and Java - interpreted languages generally - is worth so much in terms of safety and stability over doing pointer arithmetic, memory management, etc. Most devs - myself among them - should focus on meeting client needs, not reinventing primitive wheels that somebody more expert has already done.

Does your client only need new projects that only run on Windows? Do you already know C#/.NET/Silverlight/WPF/etc.? Then maybe the Microsoft stack really is a great choice for you.

What if your client already has a million lines of C++ code and wants you to do something with that? Thanks to Microsoft's strategizing, you can't use any new APIs with that old code, so you're stuck with ancient and stupid Win32. And of course Microsoft's latest compilers will spit out a warning for every call to scanf telling you you wrote your code wrong. (Thanks.)

What if your client wants you to make a mobile app that runs on the iPhone and Android and Windows Phone 7? Well, iPhone and Android both run native C/C++ no problem, you just have to do the UI in Obj-C or Java, respectively, and you're done. With Windows Phone 7 you have to redo everything in managed code. (Great.)

Microsoft's "strategy" of forcing people to use managed code is basically a giant F-YOU to anybody working on legacy projects and/or cross-platform projects.

And guess what, that includes Microsoft itself. Windows and Office are still C++/Win32, and it's not because we haven't heard of .NET.

Anonymous said...

Three years of Project Pink hype and the result is Kin, a phone that is getting reviews like this:

"The real issue is that we cannot remember a phone in recent memory that has felt so cheap and so clunky to use. Seriously. For some reason — and I am really not exaggerating here — I do not remember ever being so frustrated with a phone. It is slow and far from intuitive."

Also, who agreed to that pricing model? It's almost smartphone pricing but without the feature set. And how many crippled mobile browsers is MS going to foist on people? This product is DOA. Three years and God knows how much money wasted. How many people will lose their jobs over this embarassment? I'm guessing none. And why did Bach and Ballmer let it see the light of day in this sorry condition? Does MS really need any more failures?

Anonymous said...

Then perhaps you should change careers? I mean, if you can't learn to use smart pointers and are incapable of understanding the RAII idiom, then it's quite possible that programming is simply not a good field for you.

Honestly, neither of those has meant a thing in my work for 15 years. And yet, there is (more than one piece of) software out there I created that continues to run years later, has directly generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue for its owners, has not revolutionized but certainly shaken up one worldwide market, has generated at least one patent, leads some of the people using it to this day to still send me occasional unsolicited feedback about the great things they can do (make $$$, outmaneuver competitors) with it, and has led to many referrals and much work.

But maybe you're right. Because I prefer someone else - the .NET Framework or the Java people - to take care of low-level memory management because I trust them to do it better than I can day in/day out, I must be a failure.

Anonymous said...

But most of all where’s the internal anger and outrage? MS is about to lose yet another market it helped pioneer without even a fight. Has failure and losing to Apple become so institutionalized that it’s now just accepted as inevitable?

Losing on just about everything new has taken its toll. It leaves one shaking their head and thoughts like, "if only we had someone with vision that could execute".

Anonymous said...

Windows Live is laying off people today...

Anonymous said...

Happy Cinco de Fire-O! Have you thought about a fallen colleague today?

Anonymous said...

"I thought I'd add to this post - SLT and Partner bonuses are based on Operating Income,(in fact the SLT bonus pool was significantly increased for FY10) not total revenue or growth, and thus one can see why we see great improvement in IO."

OI is always valid, but especially during a recession when sales are depressed and you want focus on what can be influenced, namely efficiency. But SLT has shown an uncanny ability over the last ten years to selectively switch bonus criteria in order to maximize their return. Sadly, they haven’t shown equivalent anticipation and timing prowess when it comes to dealing with competitors. And with the company worth half what it once was and in many ways worse positioned overall, it’s hard to argue the system has rewarded the correct set of behaviors on balance.

Anonymous said...

"What's particularly irritating about the iPad saga is how smart everyone was beforehand...how the whole industry "knew" Apple was making a big mistake."

Concerns were expressed about some of the missing features, but the hype leading up to launch was off the charts and analysts were calling for unit sales of 10 million in year one. Even the stock raced ahead in anticipation. So let's not pretend people saw failure written all over it. I'm actually surprised they didn't sell more than a million after a month. In addition to the advance hype and Apple's legions of fanbois, the iPad has a huge iTouch/iPhone installed base to tap and leverages the considerable value of the iTunes/App store. The real test will come later. But they're in the lead, again, and will be tough to catch. MS looks to be out of the running entirely. But Android may have some chance.

Anonymous said...

Windows Live is laying off people today...

It is? I've heard nothing of the kind.

Anonymous said...

"Because I prefer someone else - the .NET Framework or the Java people - to take care of low-level memory management because I trust them to do it better than I can day in/day out, I must be a failure."

But that's not what you said. You said you weren't a good enough dev to work with malloc, ref counts, etc. 100% of the time.

And nobody is, but neither are they good enough to handle the equivalents in managed code. Reading between the lines, you didn't say you preferred .NET or Java, you seemed to say you couldn't do native code very well no matter how you tried. And that's a bit of a red flag.

Anonymous said...

Here is one problem with Microsoft: it is immensely profitable. Yes, you read that right.

The fact that Microsoft is so profitable means that it can afford failures at zero cost. Yes, there were some recent cost cutting measures, and people are getting more serious about selecting projects. I can feel this. But still, Microsoft is like a lethargic sleeping giant that just took a truckload of pain-killers. Well, pain is not bad. Pain causes a natural adverse reaction. But we feel no pain when some project goes bad.

Take KIN for example. I was very enthusiastic when I saw the videos. The concepts are pretty revolutionary. But the disastruous reviews reminded me of an expression I heard from my friends outside: "So ... Microsoft". Supercool vision combined with horrible execution. Slow software. Crashes. Frustration. Ridiculous pricing. Sounds familiar?

There are signs that this laissez-faire attitude against customers is changing. W7 is now a very solid release. Apple, Google taught us some lessons. We are still at the beginning, but hopefully things will get better on the way...

FARfetched said...

In the abstract, Apple's ideas always seem "compromised," because Apple understands … the reality of how people want to use devices. You'd think people would see the pattern and learn from it, but nobody ever does.

I said roughly the same thing in the last post, and received a dismissive brush-off from an insider… which suggests to me that 1) many insiders truly don't get what non-technical people want from a technical device; 2) they don't want to know. Thus, unfortunately, will Microsoft continue its slide into irrelevancy outside a clique of IT drones.

The same dynamic is there in the interpreter vs. compiler argument in this comment thread. I remember Bill Gates himself saying long ago, that interpreted languages were the way forward — and unless you're working in low-level niches such as OS or embedded development, he was right (even if, at the time, I dismissed his comment myself as the myopia of a CEO whose company was built on selling BASIC interpreters to the industry). But both compiled and interpreted languages are useful in their intended environments.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft lacks great leaders who are also great engineers. If you look at layers of management where there is engineering talent (this has thinned over the years) you'll find that they are too low and risk averse to drive a compelling end-to-end vision like the iPhone. We have no Jobs. Gates is gone and even before he left he couldn't scale to what the company had become.

Post Vista and some other debacles this probably felt like an improvement. Groups plan better and deliver on commitments. That's step 1. Step 2 should be to bring back more of the risk taking that produces great plays like Azure. This is easier when there is no other group owning the space, much harder when taking on an entrenched group such as mobile.

Let's bring the "grrr" back, while acknowlegding the success of mature well planned products like Win7. Microsoft has never been better positioned talent wise.

Anonymous said...

Windows Live is laying off people today...

I am in that division but not caught any whiff of it.

Anonymous said...

>> I trust them to do it better than I can day in/day out, I must be a failure

I didn't say you can't do it. I said that _if_ you can't do it then maybe programming is not the right field. Any retard with half a brain can learn proper memory management hygiene in a month at most. As a result, you get much higher datacenter efficiency and density, and in some corner cases, higher performance as well.

Even on the desktop, almost _all_ the apps you're using on a daily basis are unmanaged. Show me a managed browser or word processor. You are CRIPPLING people who want to write unmanaged code.

Don't get me wrong, too. I'm not against managed code per se. It works well in some contexts. Just not in ALL contexts, and not even in the majority of contexts.

Anonymous said...

On managed code vs unmanaged code.

Microsoft has for years catered to the Enterprise market. What's in that? Bajillions of developers who write in-house corporate apps. They're often not of the caliber of the kind of devs that start companies, work for high-visability ISVs, or have blue badges. They're "good enough" talents for the job at prices corporate America is willing to pay to generate their graphs, produce SQL database summaries and create web data entry screens for the front and back office. Their charter is to quickly produce apps that help the business, not necessarily to produce the most efficient apps.

These are the people who made VB6 so popular in that niche, who'd be lost in C++, because they want to think about business details and UIs more than they want to think about keeping themselves out of trouble in a more flexible language. Catering to managed code developers is part of MS making development "more accessible" (code for less expensive) for those paying for lots of developers, ie, the Enterprise.

Hopefully the swing back to caring about C++ in the next version of VS is part of a recognition by MS that there are many devs who are not that sort of Enterprise dev, that they don't want to lose to Linux or Mac OS X.

Not everything is in the cloud yet. And even when it is, as another poster points out, a well-written native app generally has lower memory requirements, which is a factor when potentially thousands of copies of the same code are running on hundreds of servers.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft lacks great leaders who are also great engineers.
.
. blah blah blah
.
Microsoft has never been better positioned talent wise.


Was this comment made by two different people?

Anonymous said...

I'm actually surprised they didn't sell more than a million after a month. In addition to the advance hype and Apple's legions of fanbois, the iPad has a huge iTouch/iPhone installed base to tap and leverages the considerable value of the iTunes/App store.

You forget that the iPad 3G only started selling last week and it's already sold out in all Apple Stores. Many customers were waiting for the 3G version and not every user is a fanboy - see the 99 year old Portland grandma who got her first ever computing device.

Also, there's pent up demand for the iPad internationally and it hasn't officially gone on sale there yet.

And also, hype does not necessary mean sales, see Google's Nexus One as the prime example.

You need a truly great and revolutionary product to move a million units in a month that costs more than half a thousand bucks a pop!

Anonymous said...

But SLT has shown an uncanny ability over the last ten years to selectively switch bonus criteria in order to maximize their return. Sadly, they haven’t shown equivalent anticipation and timing prowess when it comes to dealing with competitors.

Almost entirely semi-fake Brian Kevin Turner here, and I'm speaking to YOU.

I am so sick of y'all whining, blubbering and generally complaining about what the SLT so richly deserves. Not a kick in the pants; but lots and lots and lots of money. That's what we deserve. We have to RUN the company. Y'all just gets to shout from the sidelines like some parents at a school soccer game. So there! Y'all should be kissin' your own collective asses to have the privilege of turning up for work. Speakin' of ... what are you waitin' foah?

Anonymous said...

>>Let's bring the "grrr" back, while acknowlegding the success of mature well planned products like Win7. Microsoft has never been better positioned talent wise.

When you're into 3-yr planning cycles where after M0 (Milestone 0) the plan is locked for the next 3 years, how are you supposed to keep up with changes in technology and user preferences? Exhibit A: Windows 8. By the time Windows 8 ships, my newborn will be in pre-K and just graduating into K. Oh, and yes, Android has just replaced Windows as the most ubiquitous OS on the planet. IE has plunged from 60% as of today to the low teens. (From 98% once upon a time).

Let's see, that 3 year planning cycle. Rings a bell.... ah yes, you must be talking about these multi-year plans

Anonymous said...

>>I said roughly the same thing in the last post, and received a dismissive brush-off from an insider… which suggests to me that 1) many insiders truly don't get what non-technical people want from a technical device; 2) they don't want to know.

If I had $100 for every person in MS that I've heard call themselves an "engineer" and then sneer at Apple, I might have my dream island by now. 'cos at Microsoft, we engineer our stuff. In the meanwhile iPhone/iPad and Android devices are selling like ice-cream on a hot summer day.

Victor said...

Recent events have me wondering about one of Microsoft's greatest strengths: cutting the deal and making contracts. Few companies have had more success than MS when it comes to making deals that favor their home team.

A recent good example is convincing HTC to pay Microsoft a licensing fee for using Google's Android without infringing on MS patents. This is brilliant! I laughed when I read about it. Microsoft is making money off of software Google is investing major R&D to give away for free! That is one of the best maneuvers I've heard in a while.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f15002e2-5327-11df-813e-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

I also read something about a deal with Nokia but I haven't gathered enough info to say anything interesting about it.

On the other hand, some other recent deals are showing some weakness in Microsoft's brain trust.

1. Kin starts at $70 per month just to get started, let alone adding on more money for texting ($20 more!) or Zune pass (another $15 but at least it would have value to people who like the service). Reviews are mixed on the Kin's software and hardware and I won't presume to make a judgement on something I haven't tried. But pretty much every reviewer agrees that the data plan is going to severely limit adaption of the Kin. And that's because, for some reason, Microsoft couldn't cut the deal with Verizon that would give the Kin the advantage on the data plan. Why?

2. HP buys Palm for the WebOS and reportedly (is this confirmed?) dropped building tablets for Microsoft. Honestly, I don't think this is going to work out as well as HP hopes. But hey, it will be interesting to see what happens. I bring this up because I think this is another case where Microsoft's wheeler and dealers couldn't create a deal that kept HP in the fold. Maybe I'm overstating the ability of any company to keep a lock on another major player, but it just seems strange that HP decided to go their own direction.

Any thoughts?

By the way, love the blog.

Anonymous said...

... Complaints about Apple ...

When I joined Microsoft a decade ago, I'd worked for a fair number of employers, some successful, some not so much.

What shocked me more than anything else was that at Microsoft, and especially from those who'd never worked elsewhere, there was little to no interest in hearing how the competition did anything. Offered views on the competition were more frequently sneered at than considered.

The attitude then seemed to be "Look, this is MICROSOFT. This is the MOST SUCCESSFUL software company in the world. Those other companies should learn from us, not the other way around."

Today, a decade later - things have changed, but only slightly. Instead of sneers, there's grudging acceptance to hear how a competitor does something, and then usually only because someone in exec mgmt thinks it's a good idea. After listening, it's then dismissed. (But heard, at least.)

Yet, Microsoft's about to lose Market capitalization to Apple. The arrogance of the 90s is no longer justified.

Yet, still, nobody seems to care, or at best, gives lip service to caring before ignoring the remainder.

THINK FOR YOURSELF: If someone waltzed into your org or group and wanted you to consider doing a product 'The Cisco Way', 'The Apple Way', 'The Google Way', and so on, what would your reaction be? If you're truthful to yourself, I'll bet that most people realized that they would react negatively.

I'll leave it up to the reader to decide if this is a good trait or a bad trait.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the swing back to caring about C++ in the next version of VS

That solves a few aspects of the managed vs. unmanaged issue, i.e., that most developers are already familiar and comfortable with C++ and its nuances, and that there's a ton of code already written in C++, and that C++ is still the best choice for anything cross-platform.

But there are other issues: many newer Windows APIs can't be called from unmanaged code, and e.g. Windows Phone 7 can't be programmed in unmanaged code. I don't see how a new version of VS can address these key problems.

Anonymous said...

If someone waltzed into your org or group and wanted you to consider doing a product 'The Cisco Way', 'The Apple Way', 'The Google Way', and so on, what would your reaction be? If you're truthful to yourself, I'll bet that most people realized that they would react negatively.

I'm the original poster (i.e. I'm Anonymous on Tuesday at 10:09 PM). Respectfully, I think the discussion's veering away from the most important central point.

The issue isn't contrasting corporate methodology and/or culture. The issue isn't having somebody in a room in Redmond say "Let's do this the Apple way" (or "the Google way") and getting shunned. It's a deeper issue.

What I was talking about originally (and what a couple of other posters seemed to agree with) is a specific contrast between Microsoft's thinking and Apple's thinking.

Specifically, Apple's products all have conspicuous missing features that Microsoft's defenders and advocates always point to, triumphantly, as "deal breakers" or "big mistakes." Every time Apple announces a product, Microsoft makes the biggest possible deal about what's not there (best example being Steve Ballmer's television interview in which he sneered that the iPhone "doesn't even have a keyboard"). Every time an Apple/Microsoft flamewar starts in any comment thread anywhere, the Microsoft defenders always go this route: the Apple product in question is missing something "crucial." And, since the product is crippled in this way and yet still sells well and gets defended, the explanation must be the "style" of the Apple product, or the "blind loyalty" of Apple's fans. In other words: the Apple product is lacking a keyboard (or a USB port, or a stylus, or an expansion slot, or whatever); people like it anyway; therefore those people are wrong and must be victims of Apple's "cool factor" or product design or whatever frivolous factor.

And this is what I'm objecting to: the flawed logic that leads from "Apple left something out of the product" to "anybody who likes that product is stupid." What I was trying to say originally is that every time Apple does this, it's because they have actually re-investigated the entire premise of the product in question (as well as all the real-world limitations that are connected to the idea) and made a strategic compromise based on that investigation.

"There's no multitasking on the iPhone!" Yes, that's true. But it turns out that phones with multitasking operating systems are prone to all kinds of problems (draining battery, restarts etc.) that the iPhone avoids. "There's no Flash!" Same comments.

If Apple's critics and competitors could think just a little bit more clearly, they'd realize 1) that Apple removes features and technologies for sound reasons that have to do with the actual "battlefield conditions" of the product's actual use in a real market, and 2) that Apple's customers understand this (post-facto) and are choosing Apple's products for this very reason and not out of any blind loyalty or fashion sense.

Take the fenders off a bicycle and it becomes more maneuverable and lighter. But you would never think to do it until you'd explored the basic bicycle design completely and realized where the trade-offs were. If all you did was admire prototypes and blue-sky schematics, you wouldn't ever remove the fenders, you know, because they keep the mud away from the cyclist. You won't find out that the cyclist cares more about removing 1.5 pounds of metal than he/she does about mud.

Anonymous said...

What shocked me more than anything else was that at Microsoft, and especially from those who'd never worked elsewhere, there was little to no interest in hearing how the competition did anything. Offered views on the competition were more frequently sneered at than considered.

Amen. Employees are often uninterested in the competition, but another issue is the bizarre sense of company loyalty at Microsoft.

How many employees do you know who won't touch Firefox, buy an iPhone, or play a PlayStation simply because they're not made by Microsoft? Come on, Microsoft is paying you to do your job and that's it. Your employment contract doesn't say you have to be a fanboy. The stock price won't go up just because YOU use Google instead of Bing.

There's something to be said for dogfooding products, but there's at least as much to be said for researching the competition.

Anonymous said...

@The attitude then seemed to be "Look, this is MICROSOFT. This is the MOST SUCCESSFUL software company in the world. Those other companies should learn from us, not the other way around."

This attitude is not allowing us to grow.

Anonymous said...

The issue isn't contrasting corporate methodology and/or culture. The issue isn't having somebody in a room in Redmond say "Let's do this the Apple way" (or "the Google way") and getting shunned. It's a deeper issue.


With all due respect, that is corproate methodology.

Determining what defines a 'great' product is entirely from the culture of the company.

For instance, without explaining what, there is a significant effort being expended today that will cause major changes in a future version of a very visible Microsoft product. Technologists will probably applaud. However, I can't see how this changes the customer value from prior version.

Yet, the effort is awash in top-flight technical people and Partners abound. Too much influence exists there for the direction to change.

In my (yes, I realize, necessarily vague) example, it's being done as the 'technically correct' choice (with serious potential cost-savings down the road). Of the reasons it's being done doesn't include "it dramatically improves the product".

This may sound like I'm repeating you, but I'm not. This is Microsoft culture. Flawed, but nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

To the poster who wrote:

"...Specifically, Apple's products all have conspicuous missing features that Microsoft's defenders and advocates always point to, triumphantly, as "deal breakers" or "big mistakes." "

I work for MS and I totally agree with your comments. Unfortunately we focus too much on HOW and Apple focus on WHY. Someone else said that before, if you know the book "Start With Why" http://startwithwhy.com/ it goes in details about it.

How can we change it? It must start from SLT first.

By the way, +1 to the poster who recommended "Get Rid of the Performance Review..."

Anonymous said...

Um...people- it has nothing to do with lack of interest, and or bizarre sense of loyalty. It has to do with a bunch of smart people knowing where their bread is buttered.
For the average MS employee there is almost a zero percent who 'compete' with Apple or Goog or Cisco or X competitor.
Competitors are your peers on the curve. You are not incented to beat Apple. You are incented to beat your competitors.
Challenging upper management who is scoffing Apples products will not make you beat competitors.
It's all very logical and runs downhill. Don't be surprised by the outcome.

Anonymous said...

There is definitely a focus on internal competition rather than external competition.

Part of this comes from the fact that most new product groups are far more at risk from unfriendly reorgs than they are from market failure.

A decision that two internal products overlap can result in instant death for one of the groups, vs failure in the market may actually result in increased headcount.

Anonymous said...

And this is what I'm objecting to: the flawed logic that leads from "Apple left something out of the product" to "anybody who likes that product is stupid." What I was trying to say originally is that every time Apple does this, it's because they have actually re-investigated the entire premise of the product in question (as well as all the real-world limitations that are connected to the idea) and made a strategic compromise based on that investigation.

I've been saying a similar thing for a while, perhaps not so well though.

The best advantage Apple has over companies like Microsoft is the widespread belief that Apple succeeds through being cool.

When people focus on image and hype, they release bad products with great marketing campaigns. We've seen that again and again in the last few years, and yet so many industry pundits (who really should only be given any credence based on their record of successful predictions) keep saying that Apple are going to fail because their well of 'cool' will run dry one day, or that Apple's customers have been taken in by a slick marketing campaign.

Believe it or not, but people are too smart to fall for slick twice. Once, maybe. Twice? Of course, if you disagree and believe that customers are essentially stupid, then please point to your immense personal wealth that you realised through your superior intellect...

Industry pundits are like money in the bank for Apple. They are the best advantage Apple may have right now. They keep people focused on the wrong game altogether.

Other companies are playing checkers, while Apple has been working on a royal flush.

Anonymous said...


Specifically, Apple's products all have conspicuous missing features that Microsoft's defenders and advocates always point to, triumphantly, as "deal breakers" or "big mistakes." Every time Apple announces a product, Microsoft makes the biggest possible deal about what's not there
...
Offered views on the competition were more frequently sneered at than considered.
...
The attitude then seemed to be "Look, this is MICROSOFT. This is the MOST SUCCESSFUL software company in the world. Those other companies should learn from us, not the other way around."


This all sounds so much like Digital Equipment Corporation in the mid-80's to early 90's, that it's positively bone-chilling.

Back in those days, we at DEC laughed at Sun, Microsoft and Intel. Because the VAX, VMS, DECNET, VMS compilers, etc. had soooooo much more to offer, so many more and better features, than UNIX, Intel chips, DOS, and Windows.

Guess what? Not that many people in the real world wanted that crud. We were just adding cost, we were not adding value.

Now Microsoft seems to be going down exactly the same path that DEC went down.

Microsoft will take MUCH longer to implode than DEC did. In fact, MS might never implode, because MS has a very low per-unit-cost business model, in contract to DEC's high per-unit-cost business model.

But the trajectory looks very similar...

Anonymous said...

"The arrogance of the 90s is no longer justified."

It permeates from above. MS is run by people who still act like the company has succeeded over the last decade because it larger, when in fact its competitive position and influence peaked in the late 90’s along with its valuation. It hasn’t had a major new success since, and now most of its traditional businesses are facing intense competition or even obsolescence, much of it from new leaders like Apple and Google. Until management is forced to acknowledge the reality of MS’s last decade and resulting current position, the decline will continue.

Anonymous said...

KIN

As in: 'kin hell

OK - great name

Audrina Majella said...

What matters most is there are lots of improvement, that would be a great business transformation, and for not so high rated “not-improved” things confidently know that you'll work out on that.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does our review system not implicitly drive us towards a meritocracy? If so, ask yourself how the SLT got to where they are ...

- Ballmer, buddy of the founder. Never worked anywhere else.
- Turner, ex grocery-store clerk who was a major customer and buddy of founder and CEO. Last worked on Aisle 14 cleaning up vomit.
- Brummel, ex PM who's been around since Moses. Never worked anywhere else.
- Bach. Never worked anywhere.
- Qi Lu. Failed at Yahoo, Bing-Boy losing share fast.. Smart enough to out-smart Ballmer in getting hired, which doesn't take a whole lot, let's face it.
- Mich Matthews. Responsible for Seinfeld commercials. What else can I say?
- Ray Ozzie. Gates' Svengali, apparently worked elsewhere. One of our many software architects. Clueless.
- Rick Rashid. Excels in 'investing' billions in research and producing nothing of value
- Stephen Elop. Excels in making billions and looking bovine simultaneously. Outstanding! Stephen is my first draft pick for next CEO.
Jean-Philippe Courtois. Jean-Philippe is a buddy of the founder and French. What else can I say?

Jesus I am tired ... I thought about Vigil, and then about BobMu, CraigMu and Eric Rudder. Thereafter I decided to move on with my life.

Anonymous said...

Any news on how the Yahoo deal will affect ad sales headcount?

Anonymous said...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-20004592-92.html

Alex Gounares CTO at AOL.
He must be hiring all those who dislike working for those uselessly inflated Bing/ Ad Center SLT :)a

Anonymous said...

At least my manager was honest enough to let me know that the ranking for our team is done. They are now moving on to calibration across team.

You read it right. There is no change in the process this year: ranking, calibration, and then we write the review documents. As it has ever been...

Anonymous said...

There are some excellent observations here that deserve repeating:

"For the average MS employee there is almost a zero percent who 'compete' with Apple or Goog or Cisco or X competitor. Competitors are your peers on the curve."

Amen. I was going to observe that this applies to groups as well as individuals - but the next post beat me to it:

" most new product groups are far more at risk from unfriendly reorgs than they are from market failure."

Finally: "MS might never implode, because MS has a very low per-unit-cost business model"

Like K-Mart before its acquisition or Netflix when it was at $9 under fear of Blockbuster our stock is priced neatly at what investors could recap if we stripped the company down to the bones and maximized revenue out of legacy products for a few years. Given legacy cash cows, Microsoft can't 'implode' more quickly than it is - no matter how madly some folks are hoping for it to. (You know who you are.)

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?
Do you still get them since you were at the company during the full fiscal year or do you lose them?

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?


You lose them

Anonymous said...

"Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?
Do you still get them since you were at the company during the full fiscal year or do you lose them?"

The magical stock award fairy comes to grant you all your shares.

What do you think happens? It's a benefit applied to employees. It's a contract that states they vest on a certain date. It's a business not a charity!

Anonymous said...

"If so, ask yourself how the SLT got to where they are ..."

Waste of time. Ask why they should be allowed to stay and continue receiving bonuses that in many cases exceed that of Apple's SLT. One or two are solid, but collectively they have lost:

- 50% of the stock price
- the MP3 player market
- the digital media market
- the web development market
- the Smartphone market
- the mobile apps market
- the casual gaming market
- the set-top market
- the search market
- the cloud infrastructure and applications market
- at least 5% of the enterprise office and mail server market
- 10% of the worldwide PC market
- 40% of the internet browser market
- And are working on losing the tablet market

A few of those losses may not be permanent (Cloud) or MS still has a chance of remaining a player (Search, far less so Smartphones), although the inability to make a profit at any of them makes that possibility somewhat moot. But most are gone for good.

In less than a decade SLT has basically accomplished what the DOJ, EUC, several other jurisdictions, and hundreds of competitors tried and failed to do during MS's first two and a half decades: cripple the company.

Anonymous said...


Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?
Do you still get them since you were at the company during the full fiscal year or do you lose them?


You lose them right away. You are still eligible for a bonus, not sure if you get it however. I have heard of people receiving a bonus if they stay thru June 30, but leave before the reviews.

Also, if you are an old timer who still has those last batch of options, you have 60 days from your date of departure to exercise them.

Note: I have about 700 shares (after taxes) that will vest on Aug 31, so in today's prices, that's almost $20K. There are some shaky things going on in our org, and I'm going to try and hold on for dear life until 8/31 because it would suck to lose out on that much money.

Anonymous said...

Curves and internal competition: awesome comment, brilliant. GE is finally waking up to this self destructive "review" system (Revenues crashed last decade), ah, maybe in another decade or so... we were never first anyways..

Very early comment about broken review system, slacking off (work 7 hours a day) and be a top performer: that's exactly what some people I know are doing: running their own business or playing the stock market in that extra 1 hour (minimum) per day. And they got promoted! Just pop an email at 11:30pm (time delayed) and you're covered....

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?

If your termination date is before the vesting date then I'd say you lose the stocks/options.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the employment strategy. In MS we have almost as much as vendors as FTEs, and way too many FTEs relies on vendors to do the work. Do not fire anyone and cut all vendors. We need FTEs back to work 100% of their time, reduce by 70% the leadership (leads and managers) demoting them as ICs. Who doesn't like that is free to go.

Anonymous said...

"most new product groups are far more at risk from unfriendly reorgs than they are from market failure."

Which explains why MS is losing in so many markets. MS's reward system is broken. WinMo dies on Bach's watch and he doesn't get fired. Instead he gets more resources and the largest bonus of any executive last year.

Anonymous said...

@ranking, calibration, and then we write the review documents.

haaaahhhaaaaahaa

What a stupid management one can understand. :)

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?
Do you still get them since you were at the company during the full fiscal year or do you lose them?


You lose them. If you left on 8/30 or slightly before they vest, they may have credited your account but they will take it back after they go over their books.

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?
Do you still get them since you were at the company during the full fiscal year or do you lose them?


What is it about the word "vesting" do you not comprehend? If the vesting date is 8/31, and you leave on 8/30, you get zip.

Anonymous said...

Stock vesting dates are essentially a contractural obligation. If the date says 8/31 it means 12:01 AM on 8/31 and no sooner. If you leave on 8/30, you lose the stock.
My manager made sure the effective date of my team's demise was 9/1 so we would be able to get our stock.

Anonymous said...

"Does somebody know what happens to stocks vesting on 8/31 if you leave Microsoft a bit before the vesting date (let's say early July)?"

You would loose that stock unit vesting on the future date of your separation. You have to be an FTE, in the system, in payroll, to have it vest (or have a special deal).

There is some sort of special situation for those at the company for a longer time (15+ years and a certain age - 55 - I think), who can keep stock vesting after they leave. I don't know the details, but have run accross it on HR Web or stock web.

You can be gone but running out vacation as long as your vacation runs through 8/31, and HR and your manager would have to approve that. They'd rather just pay you out your vacation hours as it is less expensive than keeping you on payroll with benefits while you run out your vacation.

Anonymous said...

Stocks/options vests exactly when the internal stock tool says it vests. If you bail one day before your next vesting date, you get nothing.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does our review system not implicitly drive us towards a meritocracy? If so, ask yourself how the SLT got to where they are ...

OK, the OP ici "avec toi" as Jean-Philippe Courtois would say.

Feeling refreshed I thought I would finish my diatribe WRT SLT:

J Allard. Bald, looks uninteresting and combative. Who? Agreed.
Sinofski: Like Mussolini the trains run ... but are they on time? Only the commuters can figure that one out.
Peter Klein. CFO. Bio photo infers he just heard his first dirty joke. Who? Agreed.
BobMu. I zinged him before but let me add some color ... I heard Bob at the recent Hosting Summit in Bellevue. Hey! HR drones! That narrows Moi to about a 1000 people. Good luck with that BTW. To be fair Server and Tools Division (previously known as STD, although a few years ago that acronym equated to Sexually Transmitted Disease) has shown, amazingly, innovation and growth. Bob's performance at the event was pedestrian, lack-lustre and ho-hum. At least, compared to our illustrious CEO, Bob mostly kept both feet out of his mouth. Bravo, Bob! You go!
Craig Mundie. Craig, Craig, Craig, you are the quintessential dick. So much so you should have been christened Dick Mundie. Anyway my heart goes out to you as with good grace, you have accepted every piece of dogshit you have been fed, yet you smile for the camera! Emerging Markets? Good luck with that!

Which leaves me with one Brad Smith ... a tiger is walking thru the jungle. Suddenly another tiger comes rushing by, picks up an elephant turd and eats it. The first tiger says "What is up with you man, are you crazy?". And the second tiger says "No, just ate a lawyer and I'm trying to get the taste out of my mouth". Good luck with the EU, Brad.

My task here is done.

Anonymous said...

Kinda an old topic, but I heard recently from a friend who is still a Sr manager at MS that Ballmer has been talking openly about the laid off people being "dead Weight" - Hey, I was part of the layoffs, and guess what? This dead weight now works for another Fortune 500 company with significant decision & recommendation power on tech purchases. Guess what I won't support?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what is next in win mobile org? With KIN out the door is there some major RIF'ing in the works?

Anonymous said...

This dead weight now works for another Fortune 500 company with significant decision & recommendation power on tech purchases. Guess what I won't support
Oh, I'm so worried now. Please buy from us, please come back to us !

Anonymous said...

"Hey, I was part of the layoffs, and guess what? This dead weight now works for another Fortune 500 company with significant decision & recommendation power on tech purchases. Guess what I won't support?"

If you make your decisions on that basis rather than making a proper cost-benefit analysis, then it sounds like they were right to fire you, and the other Fortune 500 company unfortunate to hire you.

skc said...

The thing I find most interesting about the comments section now is that ever since Google started dropping dud after dud, (Wave, Buzz) people have migrated to using Apple as the favored "na na na na na" taunt.

Pretty childish if you ask me

Anonymous said...

Windows Phone 7, dead on arrival. This decision is the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.wirelessweek.com/News/2010/05/Devices-Skype-Drops-WinMo7-Software/

Anonymous said...

My manager "recently" told I will get a promotion to level 65 next review period (I waited a little, not to identify myself too easily). Now, "Achieving" equals a 20% bonus. I've just received notice of a gold star award. I've been invited to a lot of meetings I was never invited before. I’ve been told I have “partner potential”. Welcome to the world of luxury!

I've been consistently performing well over the last few years. What changed last year? I gave up on telling people to avoid doing dumb things. Indeed, I even stated to help people do those dumbs things (and fail) as soon as possible. Learning: people don't hear you when their mind is set on something (happens outside work also). Just help them to proceed and fail fast, turn around and move on. Not the most intelligent approach, but probably the most effective when working for a company with so many "smart people".

Anonymous said...

Mini I completely agree with you on the reinterviewing bit. there are a few managers and directors who don't deserve to be in the roles they hold or the salaries they get. these people are morally and intellectually corrupt and actively encourage such practices as "managing up" that increase their flock of followers of similar (incompetent) disposition. This bunch often downplay the achievements of true achievers to promote incompetents and the achievers are either driven out of their teams or leave the company. till we are rid of this bunch we can only slide downwards. What says you?

Anonymous said...

"Like K-Mart before its acquisition or Netflix when it was at $9 under fear of Blockbuster our stock is priced neatly at what investors could recap if we stripped the company down to the bones and maximized revenue out of legacy products for a few years."

Ah no, it isn't. MS freed of it numerous money losing investments and maximized in its profitable core would easily be worth mid $30's. It trades at a discount to that because investors know that as long as SLT are running the show that will never happen.

Anonymous said...

Getting tired of stupid Managers at MS,
Stupidity is directly proportional to their level.
Review system is broken becoz first they do calibration, decide promotion and then we write review.............. awesome!!!
Happy to finally figure it out in a short time and will b leaving MS shortly.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why people think MS should do good in every areas it touch.

Clearly, MS is doing very bad on some areas like Mobile, Music, Search, etc.

However, MS did good in Window, Office, Developer tools, XBox, etc

As I remember, Walmart can't beat CostCo with Sam club. Even a great company will have its own weakness.

If MS is run by a lot of "not so great" leaders and still can achieve our current result, we should give Steve Baller some credit. Think about what happen when Steve Job left Apple?

I feel optimistic about MS future, MS can thrive if it can
-- Hire some good leader
-- Fix the review system (Promote internal good leader)
-- Play underdog well, and catch up with other people on mobile, seaerch, game, ....
-- Innoviation
-- Steve start reading Mini-Microsoft...

Anonymous said...

>Steve Jobs is in a pissing
match with Adobe because he knows that Flash/Flex/Air won't support all of the features Apple's building into the OS

Hahaha Jobs is in a pissing match solely about platform control and hence $. You think Jobs actually gives two shits about 'using available features'? Look at Apple's releases for Windows and say that with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

>>In MS we have almost as much as vendors as FTEs, and way too many FTEs relies on vendors to do the work.

Take note. This is the way things are going. As cost-cutting becomes the central strategy for improving the bottom line, more and more jobs will get outsourced from FTEs to vendors. I mean, look at the number of vendor testers in Server and Tools. The majority of whom are in China. The FTE's job is to primarily manage the vendors. But the core work is being done by vendors. Guess who's increasing their skill-set and who's loosing theirs?

Anonymous said...

The MS Poll numbers came in and they were pretty crappy all-over with Windows client having some of the worst numbers on record. SteveSi blog post was full of weasel words but the results spoke clearly. People think that the re-org was done horribly, the planning process internally ridiculed by the masses and the broad perception is that career growth for Senior IC's (outside of what was once WEX) is about 0.

Anonymous said...

This dead weight now works for another Fortune 500 company with significant decision & recommendation power on tech purchases. Guess what I won't support?
With that attitude I'm glad you're out of Microsoft. Yes, you're dead weight. good luck !

Anonymous said...


Getting tired of stupid Managers at MS,
Stupidity is directly proportional to their level.
Review system is broken becoz first they do calibration, decide promotion and then we write review.............. awesome!!!
Happy to finally figure it out in a short time and will b leaving MS shortly.

So you think your performance should be judged after what you write in probably a page of assessment at the end of the year?

And not from what your manager has been assessing through 1-1s, day-to-day work and performance against key commitments of the business group throughout the year?

Anonymous said...

The thing I find most interesting about the comments section now is that ever since Google started dropping dud after dud, (Wave, Buzz) people have migrated to using Apple as the favored "na na na na na" taunt.
Pretty childish if you ask me


Apple has been in the news more overall lately esp. with the iPad and the leaked new iPhone, and surpassing Micorsoft's market cap.

Wave and Buzz may not be setting the world on fire but Android is quickly dominating the smartphone market (more US sales than the iPhone) and Chrome is gaining browser share at a startling rate. Both products are no doubt contributing massively to Google's bottom line.

Childish is when a Microsoft employee delights in Google's minor failures, privacy issues, etc. and declares them to be "on the way out" when they are executing brilliantly. I don't necessarily mean you but certainly many people I know.

Anonymous said...

Windows Phone 7, dead on arrival. This decision is the tip of the iceberg.

Arguably the biggest mistake Google made with Android was to initially force developers to write apps in managed code (Java).

It is an embarrassment that Microsoft is repeating the exact same mistake.

What could possibly be going wrong in the WP7 team that would allow this to happen? Do they not read tech news?

Anonymous said...

ex-Microsoftie writes:
This dead weight now works for another Fortune 500 company with significant decision & recommendation power on tech purchases. Guess what I won't support

Possibly current Microsoftie writes:
With that attitude I'm glad you're out of Microsoft. Yes, you're dead weight. good luck !

I don't see anything in the OP's attitude that indicates he was dead weight at MS. You prefer supplier A's business conduct to supplier B's and choose from supplier A in order to support conduct you prefer? As long as you still meet your business goals, nothing wrong with that.

If you mind people choosing products on something other than price and functionality, best look inside your own house first and start screaming about the stupid cafeteria spoons that are so biodegradable that they disintegrate in hot soup. Or the people who build internal tools to the tune of a 20 million dollar budget even though buying something off the shelf would have been quicker to do, cheaper, and resulted in higher quality, because someone wanted the career boost that would come from delivering even a poor tool if it was at least borderline functional.

And OP, if you were Ballmer and had to do something to keep people from flying the coop when the economy improves, so that they're not around for the "next round", wouldn't you do exactly what he's doing? It's damage control, implying, "YOU won't get laid off, because you're good enough, and those other people weren't," even though some of those laid off met their fates for reasons far from "not being good enough."

Many people join and stay at Microsoft rather than startups because of the perceived job security. If they believe job security to be a myth after 2009, that's one less tie holding them at the company.

Anonymous said...

From the wake-up-world department:

As cost-cutting becomes the central strategy for improving the bottom line, more and more jobs will get outsourced from FTEs to vendors. I mean, look at the number of vendor testers in Server and Tools. The majority of whom are in China. The FTE's job is to primarily manage the vendors. But the core work is being done by vendors. Guess who's increasing their skill-set and who's loosing theirs?

IC's out there, take note. It's generally the IC tasks that are being outsourced, and IC's become managers without the title. What the OP says about the effect this has on the IC's skillset is correct. If you want to go into management, this is a great way to sneak in some experience. If you don't want to go into management, on the other hand, read the tea leaves and act accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Dead weight comment: > 30% will become dead weight in the next 4 years, simple math.... meaning MS hired dead weight? Or is there a maximum # years at the corp now (unless you're partner...)? You know: Japanese companies (if big enough) used to rotate people every 5 years. Now people get thrown out on the street and forced to re-interview to see if the "system" didn't mess them up bad enough? Nah, I think dead weight means (in mgt terms): we paid them too much some time ago and want to re-hire at lower salary level. Just call it that way (cost cutting) and don't hide behind all these tools like curves, reviews etc. MS has become a software factory now...

Anonymous said...

And not from what your manager has been assessing through 1-1s, day-to-day work and performance against key commitments of the business group throughout the year?

Dude, the odds of your manager actually doing this AND his/her peers are doing the same thing AND his/her assessments are actually meaningful in the politically charged stack review are extraordinarily low.

A Manager's performance at MS is not measured by doing these activities for their employees. The manager performance section of the review is derived more from 'did your force your staff to do what your manager wanted them to do' - so as long as you were more visible in contributing more to your management's goals than your peers then you should at least be A/70 material.

Notice I said 'were more visible' and not 'actually delivered'...

Anonymous said...

"Childish is when a Microsoft employee delights in Google's minor failures, privacy issues, etc. and declares them to be "on the way out" when they are executing brilliantly. I don't necessarily mean you but certainly many people I know."

Tis' only a flesh wound!

Anonymous said...

@So you think your performance should be judged after what you write in probably a page of assessment at the end of the year?

Yes (I think most of the professional companies follow it). If not then what's the need for writing assessment :)

By the way Are you one of them who gets benefit out of this process...why do you have a doubt?

Managers do not want to trust the recorded thing as they want to promote their own lobby. More or less everything is fixed. Once calibration is done that's enough for the year. More or less few people will complain what else. ..That's the kind of attitude our Managers have.

Anyways how does it matter as one manager handle max 5-10 ppl and don't tell me that they do full justice.

Review results comes after MID August, So a manager gets enough time to create a proper matrix abt his guys and can SHIT for calibration then after.

If this is not enough to explain you...will suggest why not to write reviews a bit before.

Anonymous said...

"Both products are no doubt contributing massively to Google's bottom line."

Both products are free, Einstein. And Google's share of search has been static. So don't weasel back with "but it helped them grow seach share".

Anonymous said...

So you think your performance should be judged after what you write in probably a page of assessment at the end of the year?

And not from what your manager has been assessing through 1-1s, day-to-day work and performance against key commitments of the business group throughout the year?


So why write a self-assessment for the performance review at all?

It is a waste of time.

Just write a review rebuttal if you disagree with the assessment after you get the review results.

Anonymous said...

MS was born in a garage and MS will end in another garage.
The last MS POOL had so bad results and it showed how MS FTE are upset and disappointed with the company.
A lot of bad managers, a lot of demotivated employees and very aggressive and skilled competitors = no future to MS. Very sad....

Anonymous said...

Just saw this on yahoo, and it sounds like Microsoft:

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/109519/5-ways-to-ensure-mediocrity-in-your-organization?mod=career-leadership

Anonymous said...

With that attitude I'm glad you're out of Microsoft. Yes, you're dead weight. good luck !

Actually you're the one with the crappy attitude. There's no reason to cop an attitude like that with a guy who was laid off through no fault of his own and managed to actually move up the food chain outside of Microsoft.

Look in the mirror bitterman.

Anonymous said...

"This dead weight now works for another Fortune 500 company with significant decision & recommendation power on tech purchases. Guess what I won't support?"

I guess Steve may say something inappropriate. You may need to pack again if your new company find out your decision is not make based on the best interest of your new company.

Anonymous said...

So you think your performance should be judged after what you write in probably a page of assessment at the end of the year?
And not from what your manager has been assessing through 1-1s, day-to-day work and performance against key commitments of the business group throughout the year?

Who are you trying to kid here. How many managers do you see who can truly assess their reports performance.

The truth is Forced ranking is being done to eliminate older employees and employees with fragile health.

http://www.abanet.org/irr/hr/spring04/forced.html

You would have definitely saved a bunch on your employee health insurance by indiscriminately firing based on age and health during the last layoffs.

Do not call this a meritocracy. You are just looking for fresh blood to keep the engines running.

Anonymous said...

broad perception is that career growth for Senior IC's (outside of what was once WEX) is about 0.

Career growth for anyone inside Windows is zero. Unless you were part of the Sinofsky takeover and with the in-crowd at that point, you're going to stay where you are, no matter what you do. The good news is you can at least relax now, there's no point trying to excel.

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