Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thoughts on Wrapping Up Microsoft's FY10

Well, here's to wrapping up FY10. The kick-off of the Annual Review Season is our long, long, sloppy kiss goodnight to the fiscal year that was.

How are various things wrapping up?

Entertainment and Devices: with Bach and Allard out of the picture the E&D snow globe got a shaking where it's not clear how things are going to change. I was surprised at the number of pro-Bach comments in the last post, and a number of commenters believed that Mr. Bach had what it took to be the next Microsoft CEO. I respect your opinion, but I have to admit I did my best "ba-roo?" reading that.

Regarding Mr. Bach's departure: you can't call it accountability. Accountability would have been right after the red-ring o' death $1,000,000,000USD write-off. Come on, when senior leaders get together to consider what kind of emergent opportunities to get into, it's all about the billion dollar market. Perhaps they wrongly assumed that it exclusively meant income. It's pleasant that we have an entertainment presence like the Xbox and that Sony took a hard one on the chin, but did it really need to take that much money away from the shareholders and tarnish our reputation so much? And leave so much more unfulfilled around TV media entertainment that is getting rapidly covered by competitors?

Given the swirling flakes in the E&D snow globe, does E&D need to be Sinofsky'd? Discipline can be a good thing. You don't want every project to be like Forza. Willy-nilly feature development without stringent peer reviews and pre-checkin testing: dumb. Agile? So is using two hands instead of one to smear poo all over a wall. You've got twice the mess to clean-up. Those days should be behind us. More than anything, E&D needs leadership that oozes passion for everyday joys and who show up late Friday afternoon to play with what's new this past week and give praise and feedback. It needs joy and delight and laughter. And while running the trains on time is good for everyone, it doesn't need the stoic, passionless, data-driven rectilinear styling of a Sinofsky org's Switzerland.

No, rather than Switzerland E&D needs Italy. It needs curves and "oooo's!" and non-linear surprises. Sinofsky, I'd say, is on a three-release effort with Windows so he's busy anyways. I can't imagine if he was brought in to help pull things around, though, that it would go very well... I imagine his lieutenants first job would be to put the ribbon into the Zune client app and Media Center and then try to figure how to wedge it into the Xbox dashboard. Nanites would start flowing through everyone's bloodstream, and their skin would turn sickly pale... the trains would run ontime, just to dull destinations.

Kin: we put a lot of time + effort around Danger and producing the Kin (well, maybe more effort could have been spent on keeping the services running). Kin is not made for me or my social circle, so I can't judge it as a device. Sales will be the deciding factor here. And I'm sure when the first quarter numbers are released, we'll just say, "Well, we have an update to the Kin feature phone that we are sure will increase uptake significantly." Like fully supporting Facebook and Twitter features. I love the green dot, though.

And I do like Kin Studio, which I think pushes Kin over the top for some Millennials. If Kin Studio could be adapted soon to be a feature available for every WP7 phone user then we'd really surprise and delight potential phone users.

WP7: As for the WP7 phone: goodness. I'm hoping it's great and I like what I see. I like that a number of 3rd parties are already in the tube to deliver apps. I have sore glutes, though, from all the WP7 demos I see: every time a WP7 PM says, "Let me try this" my buns seize up hoping that it goes smoothly this time vs. the PM mumbling something about regressions in the latest build. There's still plenty of runway to go and time to fix all the various bugs and oddities, but it makes me apprehensive regarding the overall quality bar and wondering, "How did this go in so busted to begin with?" Several someones being agile, no doubt.

While we've been chasing the iPhone hockey puck (of what, two releases ago?) we risk that the real puck of today is Android. Maybe. The Android ecosystem is still too chaotic, but its potential is showing (thank you, Vic). We have to not only have great 3rd party apps on release but also show commitment in having our own series of Microsoft applications constantly going out of the door. For important as the mobile platform is, it's surprising how little we're invested in developing our own series of applications for it, hoping that developers will meander over to our party.

And as the mobile application platform grows up into more interesting devices, the Windows hardware platform is growing downwards to meet it. There's a collision of development philosophy dead ahead and it needs to be solved this summer, not within years. Microsoft seriously needs to woo developers, and if you're giving them an ever-changing flowchart of constantly updated development platforms when the competitors have straight lines, you've lost a big campaign and potentially the war. Windows, E&D, and DevDiv must be forced to reconcile the future of application development and distribution from mobile to client to cloud by Microsoft's CEO, or start FY11 with leadership that can.

Natal: I'll get a Natal device when it comes out, though I don't know how much I'll use it in the cozy space I have our Xbox in. I'm not redecorating for Natal, which means every time I boot it up I will look around at all the various potential ankle and knee injuries. It might be worth it, though, if I can swing a light-saber, force-push, and even wave my hand for a Jedi mind-trick. But not for playing paint kick-ball.

A big Windows opportunity for Natal: some smarty plugs it into his desktop and a driver installs and Win7 magically lights up for Natal interaction. Word spreads. Win7 works with Natal and you can go all Minority Report now with your laptop and desktop! That's a Jobs-worthy show-off moment: "Oh, yes, an iPad. How nostalgically quaint to have a device you have to actually smear your fingers around the surface to do something with. Now, watch my Cheetos plastered fingers bring up Media Center to play some recorded World Cup! And after that, I'll navigate the universe with Worldwide Telescope!"

Pop a cap in your ass: which by cap, I mean Market Cap and the reflections and abundant free advice issued forth when Apple passed Microsoft with-respect-to Market Capitalization this past week. A lot of focus came down on Mr. Ballmer, who shrugged it off as much as he shrugs off the lost decade of MSFT stock price. A nice case study of attitude begets results. While Microsoft has its three-screened head in The Cloud (can't wait to see that marketing campaign [eye-roll]) Apple continues a consumer-love affair of joyous design and content delivery. One bit of free advice I naturally loved: What Will It Take to Save Microsoft (MSFT) - a snippet from the end:

And I see no end to the misery. Microsoft should learn from longtime brother-in-arms Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), whose CEO Paul Otellini has cut a complicated beast down to the operations that really matter. That's the kind of sugar-free medicine it would take to save Microsoft from itself, and of course, something that drastic will never happen.

What a shame.

Yes, we need our Neutron Jack at this point. We have our supposedly endangered cash cows and then a lot of products and operations clinging on. Many of which that would never exist in a sane company. Spin-off those groups to live or die on their own, with Microsoft owning appropriate stock such that if their survival instinct kicks in and they flourish, it will be a nice hefty return. You also have to realize that product groups are way overstaffed and just need engineers, in this day and age, that can do it all vs. being silo'd into their coding, testing, or spec'ing narrow band. Specialization is not sustainable. And the Partner system needs to be nuked away: more and more it's leading to bad short-term shiny decisions meant to make Partner. Well, this list goes on. I think our next CEO comes from the outside, because only an outsider at this point can scrub the company clean and ensure that the corporate DNA is rewritten.

Stealth Layoffs: comments here for a while have been saying don't expect anymore large layoffs but do expect ongoing stealth layoffs, the kind that don't trigger the WARN act, let alone publicity. If you see your leadership meeting with HR far more frequently than usual, should you be nervous? Well, first step, ask what's up. If the answer is unsatisfying and doesn't ring true: yep, be nervous, especially as FY10 wraps up and new FY11 reduced budgets kick in.

If you or your group has indeed been affected, please, if you will, share as much as you can.


-- Comments

581 comments:

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Anonymous said...

"In a note picked up at TechFlash, Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar says, "Given iPad’s success, tablet PC’s dominate many investor
conversations, as it has created the potential of a fourth consumption device (PC, phone, TV and now tablet)."

She adds, "Microsoft has not yet publicly outlined a product roadmap for tablets and we do not anticipate a meaningful product out for the holiday season, giving Apple a 12-18 month lead, similar to its lead in smartphones."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/goldman-sachs-microsoft-is-falling-behind-in-tablets-just-like-it-fell-behind-in-phones-2010-6

Anonymous said...

Layoffs coming on July 1. That was one of the conditions to approve the merit increases

Anonymous said...


At last, you should argue with your PM and shouldn't accept whatever decision he make. If you strongly believe he is wrong, escalate to VP level. You take his decision because you also feel like he may be right. Isn't it?


I did voice my opinion but I was vetoed as two disciplines of the three thought the cost was too high. And oh yes, then there is the lovely triage. sigh!

In my previous team at MS, there was an internal DL on which VP and Director were both very participative...One of the best group i've worked it, culturaly at least. Very open and receptive management. The duo also split in the end. Those were the days...

Oh btw, guess whose coding up the DCR?

Anonymous said...


I don't know if this is true or not, but a typical MSR intern is a _successful_ PhD student with great academic references and good (if not stellar) publication record.


I worked at a research center too just before joining MS and oh boy, I was depressed the first few months after joining. Yes, the average quality is much, much higher in research. But I think a part of it is to do with the fact that those folks always had time on their hands to fully comprehend the problem. Here in the product group, if it works and one can somehow justify it in design review, it's good.

I wonder if MSR also takes people who are not PhD but are interested in doing it?

I for one did part of graduate studies while working at the research wing. aah, the joy of industrial research + academia.

Do RSDE also get to co-author papers?
And how do you compare GOOG to MSFT?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone here heard of mass layoff rumor in the Online Search Division in next few months or so? I work in OSD and I have noticed several conference room fully booked for several days by HR. OSD is running at loss consistently,
Heard of things going crazy in Bing, AdCenter, Atlas.


Does anybody know why Todd Paul disappeared abruptly right at 1 year anniversary of bing and immediately before all hands meeting?

Anonymous said...

"should one of us try our VP would first say "who are you, exactly?" followed immediately thereafter by a note to one of his direct reports saying "fire that bozo for not understanding chain of command."



This is exactly what I found in MS, when I came here. The familiar stinking atmosphere of our Soviet Red Army barracks, including boring, indoctrinating lectures on legions of mean enemies around and how we are led by wise, impeccable generals. Sometimes it was even good to feel like a boy again in my infantry regiment with the bunch of jerks around.



Unfortunately in a sense this Microsoft “red army” culture is quite effective, because this is the only way to build and maintain the enormous pyramid of modern software. I really admire you guys, but I personally prefer life in freedom without constant fear of punishment or falling from this pyramid. I’m OK with the small goals and petty joys of a regular developer.



Since I left MS many years ago, several times I passed preliminary interviews just to hear familiar complacent voices of hiring staff ranting those meaningless buzz words (see the list of “10 deadly sins against your team neighbor”), and then aborted the process. You know, it’s useful from time to time to remind yourself how stupid I was to come here, ready to sell my freedom of speech and judgment for a mess of pottage and illusive chance to get rich. Good luck guys! I will definitely use your software into which you put so much efforts and sufferings.

Anonymous said...

"Microsoft has not yet publicly outlined a product roadmap for tablets and we do not anticipate a meaningful product out for the holiday season, giving Apple a 12-18 month lead, similar to its lead in smartphones."

Ballmer is intent on underestimating iPad the same way he did iPhone and again taking years instead of months to respond. It’s probably too late already because iPad now has market momentum and is a platform not just a product. But If MS hasn't articulated the roadmap and worked with OEMs to deliver at least one compelling product by fall, this will likely be his final mistake and the one with the largest negative impact for MS.

Anonymous said...

You sure went through a lot of work there just to plant a non issue that is unrelated to this post. 5% and above is just the arbitrary threshold chosen by the SEC for special reporting. Also, Gates doesn't sell 1MM shares a day. He sells approximately 20MM a quarter. Ballmer will become a larger owner if the trend continues,

Gates sold 20 million shares from April 28 thru May 14 2010. That would suggest 40-60 million a quarter.

"If the trend continues". Are you serious? When is that last time any exec BOUGHT shares?

Your assertion that Gates' sales make no difference to the stock price, given volumes, is mostly true. However the message to the market is that Bill is getting out while the gettin's good.

Anonymous said...

NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) plans to make a private offering of senior notes and use the proceeds to repay short-term debt, the company announced on Tuesday.

The Redmond, Washington-based company also said it intends to repurchase shares of its common stock during or after the private offering.

Great. We have $40bill in cash and equivalents, and are borrowing money to fund share buybacks ...

http://www.reuters.com/article/idCNN0818973020100608?rpc=44

Anonymous said...

Ballmer has managed to survive previous calls for his resignation. But something feels different this time. I don't think he lasts the year.

Drumbeats: The Tech Press Turns on Microsoft's Ballmer

Anonymous said...

Really wonder how the review system works or has been working in the past. How can people like NM-ATU Lead in MS INDIA, who doesn't know what Manufacturing is...can survive? Someone who is hardly seen at customers' and when does it's more of a "fight"...and still has survived over a decade. I'm sure...nothing to do with "pure performance".

Anonymous said...

If Android was based on smalltalk or LISP, or any other OO language that didn't import so much of C++'s brain damage, and they had someone with a modicum of actual design ability involved (and no, aping Apple's UI is not design ability), then it might be a serious competitor to the iPhone.

This is _so_ Microsoft in a nutshell. What user could care less about any of this crud? The irony is especially pronounced given the cult of personality around the creator of DONKEY.BAS.

Anonymous said...

@At Microsoft, if we want to keep our careers on track, we ignore the compulsion to do the right thing and we do whatever will make our managers happy -- and what makes our managers happy is usually whatever makes THEIR managers happy, and so on and so on.

very true. deep rooted all over MS.

Anonymous said...

one problem is that we ship org structures and not solutions.

For any given ship, the solutions part may or may not be true, but the org structure part always is. See
Conway's Law:

http://www.melconway.com/law/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Law

Anonymous said...

Escalations at Microsoft don't work...

They do too work. It's a great way to get youself added to the gestapo's, er, human resources' hit list. Works very well for the good-old-boy-network management chain that is partying on the stockpayers' dime while running the company into the ground.

Anonymous said...

"Wait. There has been upside though. The Cashback team has been promoted on the fast track."

I don't believe it is a true statement, if it is true, their promotion should be reverted."

Rajat Taneja is now the CVP of the Ad Platform- a big job. He formerly ran Bing Cashback. Has he worked on anything successful at Microsoft or anywhere else? Has great timing though, get out at the top of the hype cycle.

I work in OSD and feel layoffs are in order. People are literally tripping over each other. A few great people but too many of the wrong people. All the acquisitions, yahoo folks coming over, and indiscriminate hiring makes for a bloated org. More VPs and partners here than anywhere else. Or at least it seems that way.

Anonymous said...

When MICROSOFT will manage stupid managers? As they are cause for all the issues.
What !?!?! Can't even understand your question. Maybe you are the cause of all the issues in your team.

Anonymous said...

While I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe that it's time to SteveB to pack up, I also think that eventually he'll be missed. Whoever ends up at the wheel, the job of putting MSFT back on track will be a hard and thankless one. I fully expect a few years of blood and tears before things get better, if they ever do. The bad decisions of the last 10 years will have to get undone, and a lot of bystanders will get hurt in the process.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Lyons is calling for Steve Ballmer to resign in Newsweek:

Drumbeats: The Tech Press Turns on Microsoft's Ballmer

Anonymous said...

Our leadership -

(a) screwed up our flagship product (Vista)and all but gave Mac additional marketshare
(b) got lucky with Jerry Yang's lack of sanity which helped us dodge the bullet of the $40B takeover of Yahoo that surely would have tanked the company
(c) sat by while we wrote off $1B on Xbox RROD issues
(d) let E&D drop to 5th place in phones
(e) invested millions in things like MediaRoom and CE where competitors like Google are jumping ahead of us
(f) totally ignored tablets/slates while competitors have sold 2M units in less than 6 months
(g) invested billions in aQuantitive and has not seen any considerable ROI
(h) spent hundreds of millions on Danger, only to turn out Kin after years of development and very public issues between staff and management of that team
(i) saw the departure of Bungie, the team that practically minted money for the company
(j) saw partner HP publicly lose faith and spend $1B to buy Palm/WebOS
(k) Let IE's perception and market share fall under its watch and let third parties own the conversation about HTML5 and the web
(l) presided over our stock remaining flat or lower for a decade, with a 20% drop in the last month alone.

I'm running out of letters, so I'll stop now as the point has been made.

In the history of US business, has any publicly held company had these sorts of repeated sheninangans go on and allowed the man at the helm stay there for a a couple of years, never mind a decade? Where is the board? Where are our institutional investors?

I'm a person who was rewarded with stock while I was there because of my perceived value to the company and I held onto that stock after my departure because I believe in the company and my former colleagues.

I've just seen it (and any profit from owning it) drop over the past month as the stock is down 20%. I know people who still work there and are regularly recruited by Google and Amazon, and they all tell the same story - it's getting harder and harder to turn them down as these issues continue.

Board - you need to 10% Steve. Per Jack Welch (see his talk at Sloan, where he discusses the curve), you're doing him and the company a disservice by not having the talk with him now. He's a great salesman, maybe we can keep him on in another role that plays to his talents.

Bill - we need you back. Not only are there the issues with Steve, there's the issue with Ray. While he is a very smart man, he's just not commanding the respect or making the progress that someone in his role should be and he and public speaking are not exactly chocolate and peanut butter. He's brilliant but he's not going to be effective on his own. The better solution would be to have the two of you working together as the intellectual, visionary powerhouse we need to right the ship.

If the last decade has taught us anything, it's that there is no replacement for Bill Gates. We clearly didn't appreciate you enough when you were here and we're sorry. Bill, we need you, please come back.

Come back and bring your lessons learned from the foundation with you. Let's trump Google's 'Do No Evil' with our own saying - 'Change the World for the Better'. Whether it's technology for consumers, startups, Enterprises, governments, or the public sector, the potential opportunity is brighter than it's ever been.

And with things like powerful mobile devices, an elastic cloud, and natural user interfaces like speech, touch, and motion now being realized, it should be both an amazingly interesting time to come back, not to mention a hell of a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Steve shouldn't be running the company, but he's a great salesman. If he could handle a shift to another position, we'd all be happier.

Anonymous said...

Who is Frank X. Shaw anyway and why does Microsoft tolerate VP's embarassing behaviour such as this one?
http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-spokesman-mocks-ft-over-google-dumps-windows-story-2010-6

If there is a 10% bucket for VPs, Frank belongs there and needs to be shown the door comes early July. Let's move Microsoft, raise the bar, raise the quality of the people in the company and start at the top. We need more Sinofskies!

Be Paid said...

A crazy thought - what would happen if Microsoft went and completed the 100% Yahoo deal (pay whatever Yahoo wants for it, it's about long term survival), appointing Carol Bartz as Microhoo CEO. She seems to have what it takes to clean the house. Of course there would be blood and tears, but who knows, the company could come back strong after few years.

Anonymous said...

>> And how do you compare GOOG to MSFT?

It's not black and white, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Advantages:
1. Perks - breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks in between, massage and gym on site.
2. Google treats you as an adult, there's very little handholding or management, you're expected to drive things yourself. If you like to be told what to do, you'll be unhappy here.
3. More open culture internally. It is generally not a problem to submit a patch to fix a problem or add a feature in another piece of infrastructure.
4. INSANE technical sophistication when it comes to online services.
5. 20% time - it exists, but many folks don't know what to do with it and never use it. I do.
6. No Windows in the datacenter - that in itself is a huge advantage.
7. Easier to start your own projects (see 20% above). A lot of those grow into full blown services later on.
8. Less rigidity in the process and HR - if you have a legitimate need or problem, management will listen to you and make adjustments.
9. Google pays for your internet connection at home.
10. Average quality of employees is much higher than at MSFT - you actually learn pretty sophisticated things.
11. Very little management. That could be perceived as a disadvantage too, if you'd like to become a manager - there are fewer opportunities for that.
12. Essentially unlimited computer resources (this was kind of a problem for me in MSR - you could get access to compute clusters and COSMOS/SCOPE, of course, but all of that is laughable compared to what's available at Google). This is only good when you know what to do with it, though.
13. Google really "pays for performance". True "star" performers can pull down eye popping compensation figures. But the meaning of "star" doesn't map to what you're used to at Microsoft. Merely being visible is not enough.

Disadvantages:
1. You really have to be "self driven". I mentioned this under advantages as well, but this is not for everyone.
2. No offices. Kinda hard to concentrate when people are talking.
3. Enormous amount of stuff to learn. Very little external experience will apply here, particularly if you weren't in one of the groups that do cutting edge stuff (parts of Bing, some parts of Windows, parts of MSR, SQL, compilers in DevDiv and a few others). Expect to feel mentally challenged for the first year or so (I'm not joking).
4. There's $10 co-pay on the medical plan.
5. Google is heavily decentralized. Some travel and a lot of videoconferencing will be required to get things done. The more senior you are, the more of this you will be expected to do.
6. They generally expect that you'll actually do your work (and look at the results when doing perf reviews), unlike at Microsoft where being pals with your boss is all you need to succeed.
7. Average employee quality is much higher than at MSFT - you may not be as "senior" as you thought you were in comparison.
8. As a corollary of 7 - a lot of time is eaten up by interviews. It's not uncommon to have 2 or 3 per week (together with prep and feedback writing time, that's a good day's worth of work in itself).
9. Some of the older infrastructure and shared code is fucked in the head, yet extremely hard to fix because everyone depends on it, or because it's just very technically complex.
10. Atmosphere is somewhat nerdy and impersonal. People don't really hang out with each other. This could be a local phenomenon, of course.

All in all, I don't see myself going back in the foreseeable future. At the same time, given the right opportunity at MSFT, I'd consider it, certainly, particularly if compensation package is substantially higher. Microsoft treated me pretty well, I have very few complaints, unlike most everyone else in the comments section of this blog.

Anonymous said...

>> Do RSDE also get to co-author papers?

Not just co-author, RSDEs can (and do) do original research and write papers of their own. That, of course, assumes you have the chops, and know the field well enough to not reinvent the wheel.

Anonymous said...

About Rajat Taneja:

"[...] Taneja is responsible for the research, development and operations of Bing shopping and cashback programs."


http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/Taneja/

Anonymous said...

Long-time MSFT employee in sales/services org. I have had numerous WinMo devices (even an iPaq). But I am looking at FroYo and iPhone 4 and wondering why bother with WP7? Late 2010 is much too late for a v1.0. I really can't bring myself to buy into any Google "big brother" stuff. But the iPhone 4... what a beautiful machine. It just works. No dorking with configuring GPS on COM ports or lack of apps ...

Someone convince me to wait until November/December because it is *really* tempting to go iPhone.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ June 08, 2010 6:23:00 PM - You are not alone. A lot of people are saying this in the field too (sales, Premier, and consulting). I'm hearing the vibe more and more from product people I interact with. Flat stock. Lack of vision for leadership choices. Beyond Dan Lyons, check out This Week In Tech and last weeks Cranky Geeks. The tech press and investors feel our stock targets are $38 and $40.

Replace him with Ozzie (was ne not billg's chosen heir apparent?). He *GETS* it. We need a product guy asking the hard technical questions in product reviews. Someone needs a visionary finger on the pulse of our product line. Someone to bring together the product groups and STOP the infighting and turf wars.

Anonymous said...

Man Yusuf Mehdi is still there in Microsoft. It is because of people like him that MSN is a money sucking pit. what has he done for all these years.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see the iPhone 4 launch. Two things struck me as a Microsoftie:

-The iPhone 4 reached feature parity with other high end smartphone. Apple basically came from behind with a underfeatured but very well designed phone and made their cutomers drool over every incremental improvement every step of the way until they reached that parity. MS had the technology but...
-The iPhone 4 added gyroscopes in addition to the accelerometers, making it the equivalent of a controller for the Wii, another top seller in its market, and games will soon follow that take advantage of that. The point is that could easily have been WP7 leading the way and should have been, but...

Anonymous said...

"The bad decisions of the last 10 years will have to get undone, and a lot of bystanders will get hurt in the process."

That's the way it works. Failure has consequences and they'll be paid disproportionately by employees who had no control over the strategies and decisions that led to the failures. I won't miss Steve, I'll blame him for causing it.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know why Todd Paul disappeared abruptly right at 1 year anniversary of bing and immediately before all hands meeting?

Satya couldn't/didn't give him a veep title. Ebay did.

Anonymous said...

Steve #1 and Steve #2 at the D8 conference ...

I just watched two video clips:

#1 Ballmer responding to a question on Jobs' assertion that the number PCs (including Macs) would become smaller as users moved to smartphones, tablets etc.
#2 Jobs responding to a question about the number of suicides occurring in an Apple vendor factory in China.

If I were on stage my preference by far would be question #1. Ballmer who has been around a long time waffled on and on without actually making a clear point, arguably incoherent. Jobs on the other hand presented the facts; admitted his concern and responsibility; and presented a plan to fix.

SteveB is an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

someone made a comment about Mr. Gates selling 20M-shares a quarter. Look back some quarters. I bleieve if you look around May 2009 +/- it was closer to 300M-shares (June 2009 - being end of poor quarter/year). He's not selling for simply diversification. He/Foundation has advisors who definitly know when and how much to sell.

I think BobMu also sold a major chunk of his owned amount too. Makes you really think how bullish they are about their own business.

Anonymous said...

Most of the things I see on this board is whining and crying. To be honest, everyone in MSFT is better than 90% of the technology employees in this world. So, be happy and focus on your jobs and you will get promoted. I will be finishing 5 yrs @ MSFT this Oct. I am from Bay Area. Most of the ppl here hate MSFT. Most of my friends work for one competitor or the other, but I still love working here. The most imp. thing is that you get to work on real technology that ppl use in a relatively stable job. Whether it is successful or not is beyond our jobs. So, let's have fun, learn something new and get good products out. Whining and crying is not going to help. Either work hard or leave the job. Personally, I am happy Robby and Allard were shown the door. That means we realize it and are willing to fix our mistakes. THis decade was a transition decade. FY 11 will define us for the next 10 yrs. So, let's work hard and show those Apples & Googles that we have a hard one and not a soft one :).

Anonymous said...

While I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe that it's time to SteveB to pack up, I also think that eventually he'll be missed. Whoever ends up at the wheel, the job of putting MSFT back on track will be a hard and thankless one. I fully expect a few years of blood and tears before things get better, if they ever do. The bad decisions of the last 10 years will have to get undone, and a lot of bystanders will get hurt in the process.

I don't really see the logic here. You admit upfront that Steve should be gone, then say he'll be missed... and go on to list all the reasons he won't.

Unless what you'll be missing is the illusion that things are going well when they aren't? You'd rather have Monkey Boy acting like a cheerleader than a true leader who might navigate a course out of this mess?

It's almost like you're saying "The undoing of Ballmer's decade of neglect is going to be a tough job... so let's just pretend the problem doesn't exist and let things keep deteriorating in the meantime."

Anonymous said...

When MICROSOFT will manage stupid managers? As they are cause for all the issues.
What !?!?! Can't even understand your question. Maybe you are the cause of all the issues in your team.

And you must be among one of the stupid Manager. :)
Whole company is suffering because of you guys only and you are over reacting. Check the morale of the people around you. I don't have to explain much.

Anonymous said...

@10 deadly sins arguing with your peer:

10) You are slow to react
9) You don't understand the business
8) You don't care about what customers want
7) You don't listen
6) You are not able to make decision
5) You argue too much
4) You do not let things go
3) You are not able to move forward
2) You are difficult to work with
1) You are not a team player

OPEN CULTURE...

Anonymous said...

@Layoffs coming on July 1. That was one of the conditions to approve the merit increases


source?

Anonymous said...

@When MICROSOFT will manage stupid managers? As they are cause for all the issues.
What !?!?! Can't even understand your question. Maybe you are the cause of all the issues in your team.

That is what your skill set dude...you guys do not understand anything...hence proved...

Anonymous said...

"Gates sold 20 million shares from April 28 thru May 14 2010. That would suggest 40-60 million a quarter."

All it suggests to me is that you're still trying to mislead without directly lying, which is kind of interesting on its own. The data is available going back more than two years. 20MM is the average per quarter, usually spread out over two months (which I also told you). He's probably done for this quarter.

"If the trend continues". Are you serious? When is that last time any exec BOUGHT shares?

Read along with me:
"Ballmer will become a larger owner if the trend continues, but in 3-4 years not eighteen months." The trend I'm referring to, obviously, is Gates continuing to sell at approximately the same rate and Ballmer continuing not to sell. If Gates changes his pace of selling, or Ballmer starts, the analysis and projection is moot.

"Your assertion that Gates' sales make no difference to the stock price, given volumes, is mostly true. However the message to the market is that Bill is getting out while the gettin's good."

Do you know of any large technology company where the founders or other high level insiders aren't selling? He also has a foundation to support. Volume and "message" wise, his sales aren't the reason MS stock hasn't performed.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs to feel the fear of death in order to start living again. We're getting there, but still a long way to go. It won't be pretty, and I feel sorry for those who will suffer (probably including me).

I've worked at both Microsoft and Apple, and Apple (of a few years ago at least) was still recovering from it's near death experience. People felt urgency and took pride in how much actual meaningful WORK they got done on products they believed in. No Program Managers, just highly motivated developers, designers, product planners and project managers. They laughed when I described how many people it takes to screw in a light bulb at Microsoft. Things that take 50 people at Microsoft 2 years would be an eight month task for 5 at Apple. Microsoft probably spends more money on the annual review process than Apple does to build and release a major revision of the Mac OS or iPhone.

But if you want to make good money (but not get-rich-and-buy-an-island-money) and not work too hard, Microsoft is still the place to be for a while longer, if you can live with yourself.

Anonymous said...

"Ballmer is intent on underestimating iPad the same way he did iPhone and again taking years instead of months to respond. It’s probably too late already because iPad now has market momentum and is a platform not just a product."

+1

MS wants to believe this is another netbook, where reverting back to XP and dropping prices was enough (luckily) to get Windows back as the preferred choice. That worked because netbooks fundamentally were just smaller, less powerful laptops. This isn’t. It’s a different paradigm where the advantages of Windows and the impressive portfolio of Windows apps are negated and actually become a liability, as several of MS’s own OEM partners have already agreed. By the time Ballmer or his replacement are forced to acknowledge this, 20% or more of the “PC” market will have been relinquished to Apple and probably Google. Then MS will have another reorg, give up trying to push W7 where everyone else can see it doesn’t belong, and announce another WP7 like mega effort to "get back in the game". Ballmer's mistakes so far have mostly cost MS positions in new markets. This time the Windows cow is going to be gored. And that affects everything at MS. Buckle up.

Anonymous said...

@Escalations at Microsoft don't work...

That's the reason microsoft is facing such tough time. If Escalation are not working...that's a BIG question mark over the LEADERSHIP.

Microsoft's contribution is really great for the world but still there are lots of issues on which organization has to work on going forward.

Try few simple fixes(No rocket science):

1. listen to core issues.
2. act on issues and gain ppl's faith.
3. resolve issues with performance review and promote the right people.
4. give due credits.
5. take action against the odds.


Talent is good...motivation is great. Motivated people can do wonders >> trust me.

Anonymous said...

Drumbeats: The Tech Press Turns on Microsoft's Ballmer

I liked this part:

The most vicious rip on Ballmer comes from developer David Heinemeier Hansson, who says that while Gates was an evil genius, Ballmer is “certainly no genius and calling him evil is to belittle evil.”

Anonymous said...

Why is Microsoft selling debt?

Anonymous said...

Our team got hit by stealth layoffs today. 2 good people got laid off. From what management said, we weren't the only group. Anybody else hear of anything going down? How many did they cut?

Anonymous said...

Curious to know what people think would happen to the price of Microsoft stock if SteveB announced his retirement tomorrow. Up? Or, down?

Anonymous said...

While I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe that it's time to SteveB to pack up, I also think that eventually he'll be missed.

Agreed. Eventually we'll all be missed, by those who remain.

Thus on SteveB's forthcoming demise, there'll be the tearful next of kin, the distant cousins who hope to cash in big, and all the rest of the contestants who just want the BIG MONEY!

Anonymous said...

SMSG just had some layoffs... so's Office if what i heard is true

Anonymous said...

My team is acutally requesting reviews before they rank. Granted we've probably already been semi-ranked at least they are taking it into consideration. Or maybe they just don't know what their teams are doing...

Anonymous said...

On Rajat Taneja-

Do we really need a VP to manage a program like Bing Cashback? Bing Cashback was the Jellyfish acquisition, Microsoft is rumored to have paid ~$50M for the 26 person company. How is it possible that Microsoft needs someone earning a 7-figure salary to manage a 26 person acquisition? Also, Bing Cashback was never well run, had some very public and embarrassing outages during Black Friday 2008 and never increased Bing query share, the purpose of the program. Previously, RajatT worked on Microsoft Office Accounting, another product which was recently shutdown. Now he's in charge of the ad platform integration with Yahoo happening this year. Shareholders watch out.

Anonymous said...

"Our leadership..."

Really great comment. My only disagreement is on Gates being the solution. I think MS needs a clean break from the past, and that's best acheived through an outsider.

Anonymous said...


All in all, I don't see myself going back in the foreseeable future. At the same time, given the right opportunity at MSFT, I'd consider it, certainly, particularly if compensation package is substantially higher. Microsoft treated me pretty well, I have very few complaints, unlike most everyone else in the comments section of this blog.


I thank you for your candid feedback of your present (and past) employer. In some ways, I think MS has been kind enough to me so far and that's one reason for the inertia. Though I do begin to wonder about my stay here on days when I see Principals propose and do things that would make even a 1st yr comp sci grad student cringe.

I wish MS had 20% time, there is a ton of stuff I try to do, but at the cost of my personal time. And having source code access to OS and building your own flavor is much more fun than online services.

But is it really true that GOOG doesn't let you change teams or profiles? This was my only reason why I backed out after an informational with them.

Anonymous said...

But I am looking at FroYo and iPhone 4 and wondering why bother with WP7? Late 2010 is much too late for a v1.0.

It's never too late to succeed with a disruptive technology. Look what Apple did just 3 years ago to the established cell phone market.

That said, WP7 is not that disruptive technology so why bother waiting.

iPhone has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. So does Android. Neither phone gets it 100% right.

It would be possible to create a mobile OS with virtually all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of both platforms.

Instead WP7 seems intent on copying almost all the disadvantages of the iPhone.

Anonymous said...

Look over at Consumer and online and see what kind of a boondogle they have planned for the Cannes ad fest...amazing that they send so many people for an expense paid week in France who truly add no value at all...that business is in peril and they send most of the 65 and aboves off to a week of parties and sitting on the beach, masked in a customer event. Meanwhile we sit and twirl waiting for the nest reorg or lay off....

Insane!

Anonymous said...

Curious to know what people think would happen to the price of Microsoft stock if SteveB announced his retirement tomorrow. Up? Or, down?

I'll bite. I say upside of 10%.

Anonymous said...

Most of the things I see on this board is whining and crying. To be honest, everyone in MSFT is better than 90% of the technology employees in this world.


You must be steveb for sure.

Anonymous said...

Not just co-author, RSDEs can (and do) do original research and write papers of their own. That, of course, assumes you have the chops, and know the field well enough to not reinvent the wheel.

So what actually distinguishes the RSDE role from the Researcher and SDE roles? Do RSDEs usually have PhDs?

Anonymous said...

If you have see two great talks in the engineering forum, especially the one form XBOX dev director, who used real facts to tell you the problem of Microsoft. You will know the MSFT problem is obvious and easy to fix, but it will touch too many people.

Problem? You don't know the problem? You cannot see the problem when iPhone has only 20 testers and 2-3 PMs while XBOX has 100+ testers and 30+ PMs (not to mention mobile team, which has 1k+ testers)?

You don't know the problem when the manager say "this bug must be signed off by a tester" "this UI change must be investigated by a User experience team"?

You cannot see the problem when customer's problem is "isolated" by CSS team/Escalation Team/SE team/...and Dev don't know the customer's pain? Yeah, MSFT call it "hirarchy" and "Organized", but the fact is the product quality decreases.

Which company in the bay area has 10K+ testers and 10k+ PMs?? Why a company will pay money to 20+ people who don't make selling products?----yes, you can argue the importance of PMs and Testers, but really, they don't make money. Worse, the dev will think "hey, I have PM and tester, why shoudl I bother thinking about the product design and testability?"----eventually it makes the dev lacks design/test motivation, the tester lacks developing/design skills, and the PM becomes short of tech. skills.

With too many ppl, how can u have a "flat" organization? The only way is either to elliminate the so called "discipline"---everyone is a Developer, regardless whatever your title is. Everyone can design new features, doing code review, check in code, fix bugs --- is this rocket science? no, this is how Google does, and this is all other companies do, except MSFT.

Anonymous said...

"At Microsoft, if we want to keep our careers on track, we ignore the compulsion to do the right thing and we do whatever will make our managers happy -- and what makes our managers happy is usually whatever makes THEIR managers happy, and so on and so on."

- very true. LEAVE the group when your rappo with your direct manager is shaken (usually trying to rectify trust doesn't work), you are as good as your manager's rappo with his manager.
- The root of nepotism/favoritism (friends over firepower) starts at Bill/Steve level and continues down (Steve/HankVigil, Steve/YusufMehdi, Steve/JonDevaan) and so on. It's astonishing that these FoS (friend of Steve) are there still despite past screw-ups. If Bill truly cares about his baby he fires Steve or assigns him to special project like "Chief Business Architect"(or some stupid/crazy name) stock jumps up by 10%, stock jumps by another 10% if Bill takes over himself.
- If you are FoS you are spared (like Yusuf) for several rounds of screwups until it gets very obvious
- Also HR is generally not neutral (the true role of HR), they generally are more biased towards management (at any level).
- Steve has percolated the FoS system throughout the organization so whistle-blower, honest escalation, will never work with either higher mgmt or HR (you will be the one who will be sacrificed). The moment you are out of FoS (or what ever circle you were in) you are butchered mercilessly, no such thing as "company may still need you for other projects" (assuming you are still performing well).
- MS HAS become IBM (actually worse in some ways because of FoS system). IBM stock is where it was a dozen years, so has MSFT (ignoring the in between up and down blimps). Market cap wise MS still has a bit more downside to go.
- Bill tried hard to split the role of CEO to Chief Cheerleader Officer (CCO - aka Ballmer) and Chief Visionary Officer (CVO - aka Ozzi). But in really it never works espcially with FoS system when your CCO is holding the balls of CVO. a true CEO has to be both CCO and CVO himself/herself as Jobs and to some extent Ellison have proven. Outsourcing CEO's vision to someone is a recipe for disaster and a guaranteed paycheck for McKinsey and company (I am sure they will be extremely unhappy when Ballmer loses his job).

Anonymous said...

The issue shouldn't be whether Ballmer stays or goes, it should be whether Microsoft stays as is or splits up. Yes, the company has gotten worse in so many areas in the 10 years under Steve's helm but I'm not sure it would have been any different under another exec. And seriously, who could replace him and do a better job? Sinofsky is the most likely but that’s a big if. No other MS president or senior exec is up to the task. It’s simply an impossible task that way everyone on here defines it.

Bringing in an outsider would never work either. We’ve tried that in the past, when the company was much smaller, with Mike Hallman and Rick Belluzzo and neither worked out. Heck, we can’t even hire CVP level folks from the outside with much success. The majority of them don’t assimilate well and leave in a couple of years. Just for kicks, maybe we should bring in a senior level woman as our new CEO. Our track record on bringing in external CVP-level women is embarrassingly abysmal. Sadly, she’d last less than a year.

To get back to the Microsoft everyone seems to want – the faster moving, more innovative, more dynamic, more fun, stock-going-up Microsoft of the 1990s – the only answer is to split up into 3 or 4 Baby Bills. It is simply physically impossible to move as fast as needed when we’re a 100,000 person company. We could lay off the 10% of obvious dead weight that statistically must exist in any organization, and another 10% for good measure, but even that won’t help. We’d still be an 80,000 person Titanic (not counting the ~40,000- 60,000 contractors we’d also have).

I guarantee you that if the DOJ had succeeded in splitting us apart years ago, today we’d all be happier people, more fulfilled in our jobs, and much prouder of the company we work for. Oh, and the stock we each got in the new companies would be worth WAY more than a cumulative $25/share.

Anonymous said...

"While I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe that it's time to SteveB to pack up, I also think that eventually he'll be missed."

Not a snowball's chance in hell. Dude has been an unmitigated disaster for the Microsoft brand.

We remain profitable based on nothing the flagging momentum of the businesses he inherited, not due to any action he's taken.

Anonymous said...

Put yourself in Steveb's shoes, you helped build the company to one of the world's most powerful, cash is flowing in like there's no tomorrow and you would step down?

Ok, almost every attempt to break into a new market failed. I think other posters made a good point: failure is not big deal, all the mainstream product cash keeps coming in... well maybe with mobile it is painful, it is the platform of the now (not future anymore). And failures are in growth markets, the mainstream revenues in the commoditized markets. And MS always seems to think they can leverage of the PC platform, windows here, so I want windows there... maybe not ... maybe the consumer wants raw quality, ease of use, performance

Anonymous said...

Have been at level 63 for 6 years now. Manager dropped a hint that I will be in 10%. Does this mean I have to packup and leave immediately or can I still continue for a few more years.

Anonymous said...

So, be happy and focus on your jobs and you will get promoted. I will be finishing 5 yrs @ MSFT this Oct.

You do realize that you are cresting in your msft career? The 5-7 year mark is where most in the engineering disciplines start slipping down in the stack ranking. Those new hires in the uber org are the ones that will soon be getting your promotions.

Anonymous said...

"Bringing in an outsider would never work either. We’ve tried that in the past, when the company was much smaller, with Mike Hallman and Rick Belluzzo and neither worked out. Heck, we can’t even hire CVP level folks from the outside with much success. The majority of them don’t assimilate well and leave in a couple of years."

That’s because none of them were ever really in charge and MS’s culture is as formidable as it is dysfunctional. There are two important differences this time:

1) MS’s problems are now front page news.
2) The new CEO will probably result from Steve being deposed by shareholders (behind closed doors or formally)

Combine them and you get an outsider with a mandate for real change and the authority to steamroll anyone who tries to stop them. That's why it will be different. Assimilating isn’t going to be on their agenda. It’s going to be get on the new bus or get left behind.

Anonymous said...

"Steve has percolated the FoS system throughout the organization"

Witts is another FoS to add to your list. Actually, most of SLT is. That's how they get there. And then they promote on the same basis, only dumber and even less capable (can’t risk someone who might take your place in Steve’s affection). Which is why we now have entire chains of command that look like something Saddam Hussein would have dreamed up and are about as effective.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see so many calls for billg's return. Things were better before Ballmer but billg's technical vision has always been questionable. To this day, when asked about technology, all he does is go on about voice recognition and tablets with styluses. These were supposed to be the hot new technologies like 20 years ago and the world has moved on. His head is stuck in a science fiction novel whereas Microsoft needs a leader who can relate to average consumers.

Anonymous said...

"But is it really true that GOOG doesn't let you change teams or profiles? This was my only reason why I backed out after an informational with them."

No.

Google does require interviews to transfer between different job ladders (test engineering, ops, software engineering), but people are gently encouraged to move projects after 18-24 months. This is a rubber-stamped process.

Anonymous said...

It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books? There's no story why you need this. And you run up against its limitations, beginning with no stylus (ergo no note taking and horrible input) almost immediately. Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life.

Anonymous said...

You sure went through a lot of work there just to plant a non issue that is unrelated to this post. 5% and above is just the arbitrary threshold chosen by the SEC for special reporting. Also, Gates doesn't sell 1MM shares a day. He sells approximately 20MM a quarter. Ballmer will become a larger owner if the trend continues, but in 3-4 years not eighteen months.


Are you a PR hack? Sure smells like it. Anyway as you insist on splitting hairs, here are the actual facts about Gates sales from 5/7/2005 to 5/18/2010:

Total shares sold:490,173,216
Average sale price: $24.38
Proceeds: $12,961,327,120
Share balance 5/18/10:640,971,294

So I grant you not a million a trading day, but 100 million a year. So, ceteris paribus, Ballmer will be majority shareholder in ~2 years.

link http://www.secform4.com/insider-trading/902012-11.htm

Anonymous said...

More interesting share ownership facts from 2009 proxy:

Executive Officers, Directors as a group (19 persons)own 1,147,023,996 shares, or 12.82% of MSFT. Note that these are individuals who are NOT specifically called out as beneficial owners. So any chance of a palace revolt against SteveB are about nil, with insiders who regularly feast at the trough the main beneficiaries of the current system (see below). Keep in mind that about 25% of the $4.4billion in annual dividends benefits just 30 people.

Here is a summary of stock sales in the past 7 years in millions:

Brad Smith $37, RobbieB $50, LisaB 26, David Marquardt $3,164, BobMu $100, Sinofsky $6.

Interesting that Sinofsky who has arguably contributed the most has sold the least ...

Anonymous said...

>> But is it really true that GOOG doesn't let you change teams or profiles?

Where did you get that idea? If you kick ass Google will let you do ANYTHING (within reason, of course, but way outside of what Microsoft would let you do). That said, they won't create a position for you just because you want to be a manager — there has to be a real need. You'll likely have to beat other candidates (internal and external) if you want to switch tracks (e.g. go from software development to people management). Meritocracy can be a bitch sometimes.

And if you hate your project, they'll let you change project. Google goes to great lengths in hiring good people. They're obsessed with getting the best of the best. There's simply no sense for Google to keep you doing the work you hate.

Anonymous said...

Why is Microsoft selling debt?

Because Microsoft can borrow at an insanely low interest rate since they're almost a 0% risk, and turn around and invest that money elsewhere at a slightly higher interest rate. We actually make a pretty darn good return each year on that money in the bank.

Anonymous said...

@"At Microsoft, if we want to keep our careers on track, we ignore the compulsion to do the right thing and we do whatever will make our managers happy -- and what makes our managers happy is usually whatever makes THEIR managers happy, and so on and so on."

EXD-LPO, MSIT, India.

Anonymous said...

Okay, the landscape is no longer just employees, or ex-employees, whining about how Microsoft leaders don't get it. Increasingly, analysts and investment experts are piling on saying that Ballmer is not the person to bet on, and by extension, Microsoft is not the investment to bet on.

Check this out:

http://www.thestreet.com/video/10781211/investor-watch-ballmer-is-trouble.html#91338654001

Anonymous said...

I found this article to be very interesting:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37550993/ns/technology_and_science-wireless/

While it talks about Microsoft's position of strength in the online space relative to Apple and Google, it uses soft phrases like 'could be moving toward', 'albeit well down the road' - all of which leads me to believe that the author sees what could be but is not confident that MS can pull it all together despite supposedly being ahead of it's competitors.

Even with this positive view of Microsoft why should we be worried? Because there has been a clear and repeated pattern of a failure to execute across divisions over the last 15 years.

The author lists all of our online pieces like we were a chess grandmaster, slowly deploying each piece with deliberate care and thought of what we wanted to do 15 moves from now. Reality bites when we realize that all these pieces are spread apart in different groups with competing VPs, GMs and other leaders that would kill each other for a promotion if they had too.

Externally, even the author has his doubts "and all the potential power we see in Microsoft's sprawling empire of cloud-ish services, it won't amount to anything if Microsoft doesn't force it together."

Ouch.

And I didn't even quote from the 'How they can blow it' section of the article. Imagine what he could write if he saw internally how we truly are organized and have/will cannibalize each other to stay out of the A/10 or lower bucket.

I give us <15% chance we pull it off without bloodshed - some boneheaded VP and their minions will attempt sacrifice some other team because they have overlapping technology. This assumes we pull it off at all. On the bright side, we always seem to manage to do something - even if by accident.

Anonymous said...

Why I think WM7 will fail.

I don't mean fail in the sense that it won't sell. I mean fail in that it won't save Microsoft. To understand what I mean, let's take a look at Microsoft's past successes. When MS DOS came out, it was only available on one PC from one manufacturer, IBM. However, IBM made a mistake (luckily for Microsoft) by not patenting the PC Bus interface. This allowed clone manufacturers to make IBM PC clones, bundled with pirated MS DOS software. Piracy was rampant in the early days and people didn't think twice to pirate. So, PCs became very common and MS DOS became very successful. However, there were still good competitors like DRDOS.

When Windows 3.1 came out, with Word and Excel, which by the way were helped by the Mac versions which came out a few years earlier, people started to favor Word and Excel over the "big" players of the day - WordPerfect and VisiCalc. WordPerfect and VisiCalc never made the successful transition over to Windows, partly because as some claimed, Microsoft kept the Windows secret sauce to themselves. The other operating systems like DRDOS never transitioned successfully to GUI and the Mac OS was hardware bound and couldn't achieve the ubiquity of PC clones. So Windows became the ubiquitous OS as it is.

Now, there were some Word and Excel competitors like Lotus 1-2-3 but they were all made by different companies. Microsoft made the brilliant move to come out with Outlook Express, killing all other mail software out there as Outlook Express was bundled free with Windows. They also came out with Access which killed dBASE and other desktop databases. What's more, they bundled Word, Excel, Outlook and Access together as Office, locking out basically every other word processor, spreadsheet, mail client and desktop database competitor in one go. Now, none of these software by themselves were better than the competitors, but the sum was greater than the whole. And since IT made the buying decisions, it was easier to buy the Office bundle.

Now, moving to phones. Phones are made by manufacturers with licensed software and were thrown away every few years to be easily replaced with different phones from different manufacturers or models. There was no incentive to maintain compatibility with your previous phone. Also, buying phones was and is primarily a consumer decision, unlike the PC where it was primarily a company decision. The only analogous comparison to Microsoft's initial success with DOS where DOS was installed on many PC clones is really Android where Android is free (just like pirated DOS was) and any manufacturer can make a phone with it. Also, with WM7 starting from scratch where every previous 3rd party app is no longer compatible with WM7, throws away the advantage that Windows has, where people keep buying PCs so their existing apps will still run. The only phone that has this advantage so far is the iPhone (Android possibly but not to the extent of the iPhone).

So, in my opinion, Microsoft's success was one part luck (Windows) and one part great business decision (Office) which they won't be able to replicate on the phone. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

A bit of musical humor, hope you enjoy it!
- SteveB to BillG/board during his review this year:
Should I

- Billg response to the Ballder:
Dont go

- Shareholder's response to Ballmer:
Get off

On a serious note how many screw ups can one tolerate as been said many times before - constant MSN messing around under Mehdi's army including David Cole and Bruce Jaffe, the more screw ups they did the more Steve promoted them! IA, MSN, Live and now Bing. But looks like Jaffe and Cole failed out of favor as they were eventually fired or they would have been SVP/Presidents by now as Mehdi is SVP.

- Remember the $10M man Richard Emerson that Steve hired directly as SVP to do big deals; he was so pathetic that he got fired within 2 years!

- Mobile is another story, he keeps putting sales guys in charge there (Knook and now AndyLees), these guys are not visionary in mobile, they are marketing/sales people leading charge against Apple/Jobs of the world, who is he kidding?

- The worst part is that billg himself did the biggest mistake in 2000, when he thought that a salsey guy like Ballmer could be a visionary leader of such a vast pioneering software company. I am not smarter than billg but I was shocked when this happened and continue to be shocked today as billg has turned his blind eye for 10+ years as one of the greatest software companies in history is being driven to ground by Ballmer, it’s a shame. Billg has done some wonders to the world with his thoughtful giving, charitable work, but as a Chairman of the board he is no longer showing any love to the shareholders of this company.

Anonymous said...

And seriously, who could replace him and do a better job? Sinofsky is the most likely but that’s a big if. No other MS president or senior exec is up to the task.

Why not BobMu? He's got the old-time style that worked in the past, is highly technical, and has been successfully running Server and Tools for years.

Anonymous said...

>Who is Frank X. Shaw anyway and why does Microsoft tolerate VP's embarassing behaviour such as this one?

He called out a BS FT article that let Google claim their move away from Windows had to do with Windows insecurity when their own employee was owned via social engineering, IM and a PDF exploit. Social engineering isn't safeguarded against by running Linux, OSX or any other non-Windows OS. He should have pointed out how ironic it is that Google was running Windows up until that point, why not have the entire company running Chrome OS? We really need to stop letting Apple and Google get away with some of the more outlandish claims they make.

Anonymous said...

"It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books? There's no story why you need this. And you run up against its limitations, beginning with no stylus (ergo no note taking and horrible input) almost immediately. Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life."

OMG, you really ARE Steve Ballmer.

Who else on the face of the planet now would dare suggest that anyone on earth under the age of 50 has any desire to ever touch a stylus?

Reading this comment actually made me cringe, because I know there are some influential people at Microsoft still running around in absolute denial that Apple has it and we don't... people who say things like "yeah, everyone on the planet is buying an iPhone now but really it's not going to last."

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Dude.

iPad may not be anything special, but it is hardly a bunt. You can tell the millions and millions of people who are buying them that it's just a crazy fad and they're dumb, but that's not going to change the fact that iPad is a huge winner that kicked our ass righteously and continues to change the face of computing.

Oh, your comment. I actually teared-up at how out of touch it was.

Anonymous said...

@Try few simple fixes(No rocket science):

Microsoft don't need your advice. Better you concentrate on your job.

Anonymous said...

From above: "It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books? There's no story why you need this. And you run up against its limitations, beginning with no stylus (ergo no note taking and horrible input) almost immediately. Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life."

Fantastic vision! Keep it up, boys! You're right, only 2 million bought means nothing. Right? Right?

Please o please o please...

Anonymous said...

"billg's technical vision has always been questionable"

You are missing the point, billg may be wrong at times but he had technical passion. That is lacking in company now, it is being run by sales and marketing people from top and their equivalents (non technical PM types managers) at the middle and bottom. Culture has shifted from being technical, innovative company to driving things. My manager (with core competency of managing up) in product group tells me during review period company values leaders and drivers because any one can write code, design. That may be true but when I look around, all I see is MS producing these drivers in bulk whereas competitors are producing equivalents of Mercedes, BMW. Someone has to understand money is in producing better products, there is no moat in producing drivers and billg understood that...

Anonymous said...

Have been at level 63 for 6 years now. Manager dropped a hint that I will be in 10%. Does this mean I have to packup and leave immediately or can I still continue for a few more years.

Our director was heard to say that anyone who had been at level for 5 years can expect to be an automatic 10%. Never heard that before in our group. I wonder if it's new policy, or if it's just going to be broadly enforced this year to cull the herd.

Anonymous said...

>Who is Frank X. Shaw anyway and why does Microsoft tolerate VP's embarassing behaviour such as this one?

He called out a BS FT article that let Google claim their move away from Windows had to do with Windows insecurity when their own employee was owned via social engineering, IM and a PDF exploit.


Yeah, but did he have to do it in such an immature manner? It makes Microsoft look defensive and insecure.

He should have pointed out how ironic it is that Google was running Windows up until that point,

But he didn't. If he had, we wouldn't be talking about how embarrassing his responses were.

Anonymous said...

It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books? There's no story why you need this. And you run up against its limitations, beginning with no stylus (ergo no note taking and horrible input) almost immediately. Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life.

With all due respect, Mr. Ballmer, aren't there more important things you should be doing instead of posting comments here?

Anonymous said...

It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. ...

What's clear, after countless reviews and customer testimonials, is that the iPad is not everything to everybody, nor was it intended to be. It's not even everything to some people, nor was it intended to be. The target iPad user already has a phone and a laptop, so why expect its functionality to subsume one or the other?

You are bringing your preconceived notions of tablet computing to the table, which is a mistake. You see a device with a certain size and shape and expect it to be used for note-taking, for example. But I don't recall Apple nor anyone else saying it was suitable for such a purpose, just as nobody expects to take notes on a Kindle. Or a microwave.

The iPad is simply a piece of consumer electronics with certain features and functionality. If you want one, you can buy one. If you don't, you don't have to. But why waste your time complaining that an apple isn't an orange. (No pun intended.)

Anonymous said...

>> [on iPad] It's still far from clear what this is really for.

Reminds me of that famous Slashdot quote about the iPod. "No wifi, less space than a Nomad. Lame." Fast forward a few years and everyone has one.

It's pretty clear what it's for. It's to replace the PC for most people, most of the time, eventually, and create a $15B run rate business on selling hardware, taking cut off software and media being sold on the device, and selling ads on top of all that. It's a brilliant plan.

They started small (just like iPhone V1) so that Microsoft weenies wouldn't recognize what's coming at them, and by the time they release V3, MS is going to be so far behind, there will be no chance of ever catching up. You know why? Because you don't even realize that handwriting recognition and UIs not specifically designed for touch are EPIC FAIL.

I use the iPad to read books and scientific papers in bed. Beats the crap out of my laptop for that. It's easier to hold, has longer battery life and better perceived performance. I also use it for Netflix and web browsing. My wife uses it to read books, do email, web browsing, casual gaming and also Netflix. Her laptop is covered with dust already — she gets enough "full blown PC experience" at work to care to even fire it up.

Face it, not everyone loves PCs as much as we do. For most "normal" people PCs are a pain in the ass and, since eventually something inevitably goes wrong, a techical support nightmare. That's the iPad's target market right there. Folks who just want to watch a movie, read a book, post crap on Facebook and play a game every now and then.

Now watch it unfold - apple will add a higher res display and dual core processor in V2 (while at the same time making it thinner, sexier, cheaper and increasing battery life even further). It will also have multitasking this fall. And you can be damn sure developers will write a lot of kick ass apps by the holiday season (and Apple themselves will help as well). Also coming this fall is a bevy of Android tablets, and if we're lucky the HP webOS tablet as well. Next year, all these devices will have 300 dpi IPS screens as well.

This will be _the_ way to consume media. It's kinda sad that you guys can't see it.

Anonymous said...

http://business.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jun/07/slide-show-1-narayana-murthy-on-infosys-politics-and-his-son.htm#contentTop

This is weird coming from a MS Vendor company.

Anonymous said...

Windows Client and Windows Server may be the only businesses that will matter in MS future.

so rightly Sinofsky or BobMu or a combination of both should be heading MS soon.

Who does finally make it to the top and how soon is to be seen.

Anonymous said...

I think Windows Phone 7 will be a good product.

I worry that people simply aren't going to care at this point, however.

Anonymous said...

predicting short life for Ipad: like all the analysts out there who completely underestimated the iphone sales volumes. Ipad with horrible input? It can't be "worse" than Iphone, in fact Ipad has a small size keyboard now, just no tactile feedback, maybe users will adapt? (wow, users can adapt?). Why people love Ipads? They're small, all in one device, even a laptop or notebook is too heavy to carry around all the time. Ereader, movie screen, computer all in one? YES!!!!! That's the whole point!!!

Anonymous said...


Why I think WM7 will fail.

I don't mean fail in the sense that it won't sell. I mean fail in that it won't save Microsoft. To understand what I mean, let's take a look at Microsoft's past successes.


Mmm, it may actually not be as much a failure as other Microsoft's efforts have been in the past.

I think the strategy is quite compelling, no other competitor out there has something for all three thingies - mobile, browser and PC. They are banking on Silverlight to pull them through and I for one will be holding on to their shares to see how it turns out. They may just end up killing iPhone (I know, I laughed at my own statement.)

Yes, Apple did a fantastic job with iP[a,o]* (iPod, iPhone, iPad). But they did something revolutionary back in 2007. I haven't seen anything absolutely new from them. MSFT seems to be milking their Office and Windows products, Apple seems to be doing so with their iPhone/iPad business.

More than anything, I think MSFT needs to seriously rethink about their marketing. It simply sucks!

I stumbled upon a Zune HD a few weeks back and I think it's a gorgeous mp3 player. I've never seen any ad for it and yes, I do live in the states.

My teenage niece raves about her Shuffle and iMac. Apple has done such a remarkable job with marketing and convinced her that the lack of a screen on her shuffle is actually a feature. yeeesh!

Anonymous said...

It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books? There's no story why you need this. And you run up against its limitations, beginning with no stylus (ergo no note taking and horrible input) almost immediately. Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life

This is the future of Microsoft with Elop and his vision group.

Anonymous said...

Our director was heard to say that anyone who had been at level for 5 years can expect to be an automatic 10%.


Got promoted to L62 in last years review. Manager told me I am in 70% bucket this year. Can someone please throw some light on how the contribution rankings are determined. Can I go to the 10% next year or does the slipping happen gradually

Anonymous said...

>It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books?

The dumbos don't get it. iPad is a quick way to make money off the fan base. Office Planning is coming up with a video that will outpace iPad.

Anonymous said...

@Try few simple fixes(No rocket science):
Microsoft don't need your advice. Better you concentrate on your job.

Sorry. My mistake.
Microsoft is a giant. Why MS would like to take some constructive advice from other employee.

Anonymous said...

"Our director was heard to say that anyone who had been at level for 5 years can expect to be an automatic 10%."

Just stupid to do this, but I can believe the OP heard it and suspect this is what HR is ‘teaching’ to the Directors and below during this review cycle. This will not be the policy instituted at l67 and above, I’m sure. Otherwise, we'll see the upper levels awash with “10%”s this year, which has not been the case in the past when in the 67+ levels one only has about a 2% chance of a “10%”. SteveB and KT (Ray) would be shown the door.

I've seen protected classes in one group double promoted in the last two years, despite 1% promo budget (simply due to EEOC complaint), so they’ll be seen as superstars now due to their velocity metric, and many people stuck in place for 5+ years, or not promoted because they were #2 behind a “superstar” with lack of budget. Maybe those that also chose for the good of career and Company to broaden their horizons and deal with the constant HR mantra "you can only transfer laterally" will be canned. So if you stuck and stayed in the same plain vanilla group – like finance (no one is going to shut down finance) and developed no cross organizational agility, customer facing experience, simply kept your head down turning the crank, not taking any chances to introduce new ideas or diverse opinions, you got promoted. Everyone else who moved and took on better roles in different groups and took on challenging areas for the company – like incubation type products - have only been punished, and bounced around despite showing how resilient and flexible they became to changing and challenging new markets and how cross-organizationally aware they have learned to work and cooperate.

So we reward mediocrity, no wonder we’ve become mediocre. I have noticed a propensity these past 5+ years for people who stayed in org (more or less) and stayed in role to be promoted at least twice the rate of those who were also or even higher achieving, and chose to move on to new areas or very challenging growth areas for the Company. What will MS be left with?

Anonymous said...

I am getting feeling am on the list of layoffs, could someone share info (not in 10%, tried to change culture in company, landed in bad books of management):

- If given chance to look around for 2 months within company or leave immediately, which one is better? Is there any chance of finding new job within company?

- Any facebook or linkedin group for laid off?

- WARN act is not being used lately even though layoffs are happening all over the company, it is primarily to keep filing green cards and H1B visas to not give information of layoffs through official channels, has any one taken legal action over it, can others join ?

- Any other advise ?

Anonymous said...

>It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for.

Amen. You sell 5 million iPads a year and with an attach rate of 10%, you can sell 500K copies of office a year. If you create a team of 50 to work on it with 2 partners, you are looking at 15 million in product development costs alone. Then there is Office Planning, Sales and channel costs. If you get $20 after channel revenue for Office, we are looking at $5 million loss.

Anonymous said...

How is Bing mobile search? I heard they are ramping up hiring big time.

Anonymous said...

My thought when Kindle came out: great, just wished it could do more.. like a cross between notebook and Kindle, with WIFI and all already available with the device.

Then Ipad came along, I would say: SCORE!!! Now if you list the pluses and minuses of User interaction with or withour keyboard etc etc, yes, less comfort, and yes, less clutter. The perfect portable device...

Sad thing is: MS was the first with Toshiba to come out with Tablet on a large commercial scale long time ago, insisted on Stylus (I type faster than I can write.. plus my writing is unreadable), but with foldable keyboard, actually a cool device, just didn't take off. Imagine they would have replaced the keyboard with touch only....

Apple isn't that original, but they certainly do know timing, what functionality to include, simplicity, touch etc. and buck the trends, analysts etc. Ah: they take risks and prevail!!!! (instead of the 10% causing everybody to avoid risks, talk forever, consensus consensus etc.... )

The analysts have been wrong so many times now on Apple's new products that they have almost become an inverse indicator .. Similar behavior: risk avoidance etc.

Maybe there should be a review moratorium for risk takers, and an upper 10% (now 20%), for people who took calculated risks with high rewards and dared to ram it through with the right vision etc. Bold technical leadership... that is..

Anonymous said...

"Witts is another FoS to add to your list. Actually, most of SLT is. That's how they get there. And then they promote on the same basis, only dumber and even less capable (can’t risk someone who might take your place in Steve’s affection). Which is why we now have entire chains of command that look like something Saddam Hussein would have dreamed up and are about as effective."

F'n - A !!! What we need to do is bring in "the Bob's" to sit down all of these team managers, middle layers of ignorant Incompetent yes men and simply ask them... what in the hell is it that you actually do here?

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know why Todd Paul disappeared abruptly right at 1 year anniversary of bing and immediately before all hands meeting?

As someone already wrote: he went to eBay, and that is a good thing. Todd is a nice person, but he illustrates one of the biggest problems of Microsoft’s test discipline: mediocre developers see it as an accelerated career path, and take over without having knowledge, passion or even respect for the discipline. These people that couldn’t succeed as developers then try to build a small developing company inside test, using the “automation” excuse. They don’t even think about why something should be automated, what is the return on investment, and if the automation itself won’t introduce more problems than it can find in what is released to customers. They goal is to develop, and while they won’t pass the bar to be successful developers, somehow they are allowed to continue to do this while being testers.

Microsoft needs more testers that want to test and find problems that would affect customers, and not more testers that are frustrated developers trying to show-off. For all Bing’s automation, it cannot provide relevant results, and it takes just someone making a search to figure that out. Google has a lot less automation, and a lot more people really providing feedback and manually affecting the search results. Now, the head of the leadership of Bing’s test discipline will be used as political premium for whoever says what Satya wants to hear, instead of going to the person most qualified and focused on customers.

Anonymous said...

Nothing will change until the current review and reward system is replaced.

The review system will not change until the current leadership team is replaced.



A certain percentage of Microsoft employees are quietly "let go", "managed out", etc. every year because Ballmer believes it benefits the company.


Unless HR does a consistent job of hiring people who perform worse that you every year, the job you did last year to stay out of the bottom 10% isn't necessarily good enough next year. They have to find fault with what you do because they have to cull the herd every year. This year's "good enough" is next year's "loser".


Management has to categorize most employees as "average" in a relative sense for compensation purposes whether you are average or not by some absolute measure.
Microsoft could probably afford to compensate based upon some absolute measure of performance but why bother if most employees accept that they are average? It saves the company money.


You're right about the current review system staying in place with Ballmer as CEO.


The Struggle To Measure Performance

Steve Scullen, an associate professor of management at Drake University in Des Moines, found that forced ranking, including the firing of the bottom 5% or 10%, results in an impressive 16% productivity improvement -- but only over the first couple of years. After that, Scullen says, the gains drop off, from 6% climbs in the third and fourth years to basically zero by year 10. "It's a terrific idea for companies in trouble, done over one or two years, but to do it as a long-term solution is not going to work," says Dave Ulrich, a business professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "Over time it gets people focused on competing with each other rather than collaborating."

Anonymous said...

>company values leaders and drivers because any one can write code, design.

Wrong and wrong. If 'any one can write code, design' then why is it a fact that it used to be a badge of honor to get hired at Microsoft (due to tough interview loop)? Why is it still a badge of honor to be hired at Google? Management likes to see developers as replaceable cogs, they can be gotten rid of, replaced with new graduates, outsourced to the lowest cost country of the moment, etc.. How has that worked out? How has the overall quality of Microsoft products fared over say the past 5 years? 10 years? Can any one LEARN to write code / design? Sure. Does that mean they will be as good at it as anyone else? No. The fact that Microsoft values leaders and drivers is hilarious considering we have so few of either currently. It takes more to be a leader / driver than saying you are one, and if you spend 95% of your time engaged in politics or trying to CYA then you are neither.

Anonymous said...

"But is it really true that GOOG doesn't let you change teams or profiles? This was my only reason why I backed out after an informational with them."

It used to be much easier to change teams (at one point, it was pretty much go to a web page, a few clicks, *poof* you're on a new team).

Now you need to negotiate with your new and old manager, and there is a bit more attention paid to headcount budgets attached to particular projects, but that's pretty normal at any company. I will say that coming from IBM, it's much easier to change teams at Google, simply because budgets aren't as tightly watched compared to IBM (where headcounts are negotiated six months before the beginning of the calendar year, and even if you have the headcount allocation, there can be headcount freezes that can prevent a manager from accepting new people on his/her team).

I've never seen some of the vindictive behavior claimed in the comments of this blog where a manager will veto a transfer just out of spite or because they're afraid they won't be able to get someone better. I really wonder whether that is common at MSFT, or whether it's just some people whining. It's hard to tell from the outside.

It's pretty common for engineers to rotate every 18-24 months at Google, so people are really not "chained" to any assignment. (Although if you love what you are doing, it's also fair game to just stay with a team for years. Things are pretty flexible.) The 20% time is also very useful for getting your feet wet at a team you want to transfer to while you finish up your commitments at your old team, do the necessary knowledge/skills transfers to other engineers on the team, etc.

The flip side of it is that for someone who has just been hired, you generally won't be allowed to instantly transfer to some "sexier" team until 18-24 months go by. In general the team that hired you did so because they really needed the help, so that seems pretty fair to me.

Anonymous said...

Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years from scratch while everyone else was sleeping at the wheel. Mistakes do happen when you do something as big as XBox, so I would not blame them for that. But now it is ahuge business with even bigger potential. In fact, much bigger than all those pathetic efforts in the online space. When everyone keeps looking at XBox as some tiny gaming project then it is simply very shortsighted - XBox may replace TVs and possibly desktop computers in your living rooms and this is a 1 trillion $ opportunity worldwide. Bigger than iPad,iPhone,Wii,Google,Bing and others combined. So firing people who built the foundation for all this is just plain stupid! E&D was the only innovative place in MS up until now. Can you imagine something like Natal coming out of Sinofsky's org? Hardly. He is in the train shipping business, not in the innovation business.

Anonymous said...

i got managed out today. i heard many more people are managed out today before the next fiscal year starts.

Anonymous said...

"XBox may replace TVs and possibly desktop computers in your living rooms and this is a 1 trillion $ opportunity worldwide. Bigger than iPad,iPhone,Wii,Google,Bing and others combined."

Wait...do you understand what the XBox is? Or what any of those other things are? The only things it competes with are Wii and maaayyyyyve desktop computers (the latter of which are not commonly found in living rooms).

I mean, I think people are harder on the xbox than it deserves, but come on. How is the Xbox going to replace TVs? Is the next one going to have a screen built in? Or some little lasers that drag images directly onto your retina?

Anonymous said...

>It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for. Media player? E-reader? Huge iPhone? A really expensive way to read comic books?

Obviously, ipad is not for you. Same way iphone is not for steveb. I can see ipad (or touch based all-in-one tablet) takes over at least 15% PC market in the next 5 years. iPad is perfect for cool consumers and high-end business people who hate working on a laptop on a plane.

Anonymous said...

The dumbos don't get it. iPad is a quick way to make money off the fan base. Office Planning is coming up with a video that will outpace iPad.

I always admit to being amazed at how dismissive some people are of serious competition. These people are Apple's best advantage - they write off products like the iPad (and iPhone, and iPod, and the MacBooks, etc etc etc) and when the market changes around them, they refuse to compete and instead assume that everyone else is stupid.

Those 'dumbos' could have been giving Microsoft their $500, but instead they gave it to Apple.

Here's a thought to consider - what if computing was heading towards a model more like the iPad than the laptop, if your customers want the OS out of the way completely and just want a streamlined means to get to their apps? What if users didn't ever want to support their system again, and wanted the system to manage itself?

Wouldn't you want to have a stake in a game that has the potential to change the fundamentals of how we use computers? Or are you absolutely certain that the iPad is not presaging some sort of shift in the computing world?

Anonymous said...

Today my team had to spend 5 hours doing face to face 360 feedback. Is this one of Microsoft's latest trends in their review process, or is just one of the added benefits to working in the AdCenter org?

Anonymous said...

Windows division. 10 plus years. Recent promotion. I've shipped successful products that make money.

They are bringing in college interns, sounds like I get to train myself out of my own job.

As an IC - I've worked so hard, and put in so many late nights and Holidays to always provide the very best no-compromise solution. I've worked weeks straight. I know I have some of the best deliverables as a result of my obsession and drive for perfection.

Doesn't seem like Microsoft's review process cares. It's all about scope of influence, impact, communication, personality, popularity, and all this other esoteric bull-crap that has nothing to do with quality of work or results.

My jobs is difficult to being with, but with all the red-tape it is now impossible. Worse - thankless, and it's really like no job is ever good enough at Microsoft. Even when you get promoted they complain that you didn't get promoted often enough.

Gone are the days of employer loyalty. When you start to grey and go bald they will replace you like a worn out PC. Experience has no value. Their is always a better, cheaper, hire opportunity around the corner.

It's wrong.

Anonymous said...

The definition of computers has changed, and that landscape-shift is bad news for Microsoft.

This year global PC shipments will be around 366 million. Windows will be on the vast majority of those units. However if you consider smartphones as computers (AT&T does), then the picture is quite different. Smartphone shipments globally are projected at 220 million. 75% of that market is owned by Symbian, RIM and AAPL. Windows Mobile globally is around 10%. Factoring in the iPad, total shipments of PCs, Smartphones and iPads is about 598 million. So Microsoft's OS share across that total is not 90% as in the PC world, but more like 60% and declining.

Market growth of smartphones, and consumer preferences for netbooks and other mobile PCs spells trouble for Microsoft, due to shrinking margins in netbooks and non-existent effective products in mobility. As soon as market perception of what constitutes a 'computer' today changes to include smartphones, the share price will erode further while our glorious leader babbles on about 'rounding errors'.

Anonymous said...

More than anything, I think MSFT needs to seriously rethink about their marketing. It simply sucks!
...
My teenage niece raves about her Shuffle and iMac. Apple has done such a remarkable job with marketing and convinced her that the lack of a screen on her shuffle is actually a feature. yeeesh!


Bad example. Apple can obviously make MP3 players with screens, so they don't need to convince anybody to buy one without. Therefore your niece wanted a tiny (no screen) MP3 player, something Microsoft doesn't make and no amount of marketing can fix that.

No doubt Microsoft's marketing could be better, but just because you found a Microsoft device you think is cool (Zune HD) doesn't mean everything Microsoft makes is equivalent or better than the competition. And just because Apple has good marketing doesn't mean its products aren't better. Do yourself a favor and try using a Mac for a week and see if you don't end up switching too.

Anonymous said...

Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years from scratch while everyone else was sleeping at the wheel. I think you have forgotten about SQL and MOSS.

Mistakes do happen when you do something as big as XBox, so I would not blame them for that. You mean mistakes like a billion $ write-off due to poor quality? Some poor hapless L61 gets reamed or fired because some piss-ant project is a week behind schedule ... think about it.

Anonymous said...

Amen. You sell 5 million iPads a year and with an attach rate of 10%, you can sell 500K copies of office a year. If you create a team of 50 to work on it with 2 partners, you are looking at 15 million in product development costs alone. Then there is Office Planning, Sales and channel costs. If you get $20 after channel revenue for Office, we are looking at $5 million loss.

Bravo! You just articulated why MSFT is sliding into the toilet. Ignore new opportunities, instead of capitalizing on them.

BTW it's actually 12 million iPads a year, not 5. And why exactly would you need 50 people? And even more pressing, why 2 partners? Golf days, sailing??

Anonymous said...

"Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years from scratch while everyone else was sleeping at the wheel."

Huh?

In FY2009 Microsoft earned 25% profit. In that same year E&D had 2% profit. In their best year, E&D earned only 6% profit. These aren't SW margins, these are commodity HW margins. In fact, since E&D actually includes the Microsoft Mouse & Natural KB group (which is consistently very profitable, 20+% as I recall) these results are very damning.

I've heard people say "the best way to make a small fortune in this business is to start with a large fortune." That's what Robbie did. Anyone can achieve 2% margins if they are massively subsidized year after year.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this blog for a while and sadly a lot of the harsh comments are actually true...

I see that we have a plethora of principals/partners who need to justify their roles not by doing real work but by doing something more abstract and hence they force the lesser mortals to follow them..

The thing that i cannot understand is the fascination around principals/architects by the management..Do we really need principals who dont deliver anything tangible, have big egos,
waste cycles of everyone with their "sync" meetings?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs more testers that want to test and find problems that would affect customers, and not more testers that are frustrated developers trying to show-off.

I agree 100% but this undermines everything Microsoft has been doing for the past ~10 years. It appears that Microsoft doesn't want or need software testers. Imagine that. It's because Microsoft only hires big throbbing brains who were tops in their class at highly rated programs that the quality of its software is such that it doesn't require any real testing. [cough cough]

Anonymous said...

Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years from scratch while everyone else was sleeping at the wheel.

Exchange was another product that reached $1+ billion.

After it hit that number, Exchange had a revolving door of "friends of" with a 50,000 foot view taking a crack at managing a messaging product.

The existing management was told they had no future sticking around and that the new people were there to take it to the next level.

On the flip side, at some point the people gaming the system, meet the reality of how their product is selling.


When everyone keeps looking at XBox as some tiny gaming project then it is simply very shortsighted - XBox may replace TVs and possibly desktop computers in your living rooms and this is a 1 trillion $ opportunity worldwide.

Internet TVs and some Blue-Ray players offer streaming of online content as well. XBox could be another one of those devices offering TV programming.

Sony is coming out with 3D HDTV later this year.


Consumer electronics moves a lot faster than Microsoft.


The game Bill and Steve played of announcing vaporware so companies would wait for what Microsoft released instead of buying a competitor's product won't work in consumer electronics.


Microsoft has that revenue cushion of Windows and Office that lets the company fund failure a lot longer than other companies so Steve probably has many more years of blaming others for Microsoft's failures outside of Windows and Office.

Steve will never put himself in the bottom 10% bucket.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life.

Well, don't give up your day job to be a psychic since it looks like you're going to be wrong:

Apple's iPad nabs Netbook market share
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20007756-64.html?tag=newsEditorsPicksArea.0

Anonymous said...

Whatever the MS fanboys will say, you've got to hand it to Apple - AT&T sells out of iPhone 4 preorders in 1/2 a day!

http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/15/atandt-sold-out-of-iphone-4-for-launch-day/

Anonymous said...

It's really unbelievable that somebody calls "talking about veto-ing managers" whining. I have seen enough people getting vetod for the manager's selfish temporary reason so they couldn't grow; they later got 10%-ed because they didn't grow or dared to look around. Now how stupid is that?

Anonymous said...

If I received a 10% ranking for last year's review and receive one again this year, should I quit now or wait to be fired? I've been at MS for 10 years with all great reviews until last year. If it wasn't for family to support, I would quit now. Spouse thinks one bad review in 10 years shouldn't make a difference but she doesn't work at MS and has no idea what I'm going through.

Anonymous said...

--The dumbos don't get it. iPad is a quick way to make money off the fan base. Office Planning is coming up with a video that will outpace iPad.--

Office is coming up with a video that will outpace iPad? *lol* Do I say anything further?

Anonymous said...

" Can any one LEARN to write code / design? Sure. Does that mean they will be as good at it as anyone else? "

I can't agree more.

I think this is well known MBA problem. They don't understand what skilled worker is.

The cost of replacing skilled worker is huge.

Firstly, you don't really know whether you can find/train another skilled worker with the same level of "skill".

Secondly, you need to provide the same "experience" to that skilled worker to bring him/her to the same par as the previous skill worker.

Programmer is similar to a doctor.

Will you outsource your own doctor oversea?
Well you may, and it may kill you if you have anything urgent...

Will you change doctor every year?
Well you can, if you believe all your new doctor have the same level of skill, and they will read and "understand" all your medical history. I just don't know how many of us will read all documentation and understand them...

Anonymous said...

I resigned to avoid getting a terrible review. My manager said I was a round peg in a square hole. Maybe I should get a job at this company, where that is valued:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTB0J8fDp8o&playnext_from=TL&videos=YnWnITqZhg4

Oops.

Anonymous said...

@I am getting feeling am on the list of layoffs, could someone share info (not in 10%, tried to change culture in company, landed in bad books of management):


The biggest mistake you did is to tried to change the Organization Culture. Look this is Microsoft.....who are you to suggest any change :).

If you know about your layoff list status…you should start acting immediately.

No other option for you within MS. Others really paying well. Go there and do not try to do the same mistake again n again :)

My serious suggestion....try to do the right thing in life no matter what the results are. WORLD is really HUGE.

No body is doing favor...you work you get salary.

FARfetched said...

And you run up against [the iPad's] limitations, beginning with no stylus (ergo no note taking and horrible input) almost immediately. Seriously, you guys are really rattled if you are panicking because 2 million Apple zombies threw perfectly good money away on a gimmick that I predict will have a very short life.

Wow, that was ignorant. You've never even touched an iPad, have you? Another poster asked "[who] under the age of 50 has any desire to touch a stylus?" I'm 51 and don't want one either. I can touch-type on an iPad a lot faster than I could write with a… stylus. Ptui.

Fact is, unless you're doing software development (and the vast majority of people in the world don't), an iPad can easily handle 80% or more of the things you would use a regular computer for.

Attack the iPad all you want, but don't do it from a position of complete ignorance. Seriously, the hardware isn't all that big a deal… yeah, it's got a big sharp display in front of a wicked-fast processor & a large battery. I've said much the same thing elsewhere: someone else could have built this, but they didn't. Software/OS-wise, I think it's too dependent on having a "mothership" computer to dock with. It wouldn't have taken much effort to make it something that could have been a primary computing device for many people.

Microsoft certainly has the talent and ability to design things that people line up to buy, but not if the company insists on tying it to Windows. It's just too huge for embedded products like phones, tablets, and music players. Maybe let the Zune group give it a shot, but the rest of the company will have to stay out of the way and let them do it.

Anonymous said...

"Are you a PR hack? Sure smells like it..."

You seem upset. Don’t tell me you actually thought your clumsy plant was subtle and your factual mistakes would go unchallenged?

20MM/quarter instead of “40-60”million, or “one million” a day, isn't splitting hairs. Neither is refuting the impact that has on a stock that sells 60-80MM/day and regularly does 80-100MM. I get 401MM sold since Feb 2005. But going back that far is just another attempt by you to mislead. The best predictor of the next two years is his current and past actions over the last two. That’s about 20MM/quarter. So, ceteris paribus, it will take him about 3 years to drop to Ballmer’s level, not “eighteen months” or “two years”. And you still haven’t answered my question: “So?”.

The rest of your comment is full of more mistakes. Gates is part of that group of insiders and specifically called out as a beneficial owner. The others aren’t because, wait for it, they don’t qualify per the SEC. Apparently you have a bug up your butt about that reporting requirement, but the person to take it up with is the SEC. Thirty people don’t own 25% of MS (not even close) and therefore don’t get 25% of the dividend. But even if they did, what about it? You own the stock you get the dividend. It’s not complicated.

On the palace coup odds being nil, who expected otherwise? The palace will eventually be stormed from outside, as it is at most public companies that ignore shareholders long enough. MS’s senior people are highly paid. So are most senior people in technology, especially ones who have been around a long time. Your point is? The concern at MS is what they have delivered in return. Sinofsky does look like a bargain there. Bach and LisaB, not so much.

Anonymous said...

The real question someone should ask SteveB is "what is our strategy to win?"
5 years ago I heard a great speech from someone at MSR about reading - they had a whole team doing nothing but research on reading.
Their goal though,was limited to the PC hardware view of the world.
So, no iPad, no Kindle or any of the other electronic readers that have hit the market. All that came out of the research was some tweaking of fonts for Windows.

Don't look back to BillG for help. He said no one would want a single purpose device like the iPod when they could have music on a PC (I joked with my GM at the time that if BillG really thought that true, he should sell his house and car and live in a motor home- my boss did not think that was funny).

Anonymous said...

It blows my mind that people here can't figure out that the iPad was a bunt, not a triple. It's still far from clear what this is really for.

Amen. You sell 5 million iPads a year and with an attach rate of 10%, you can sell 500K copies of office a year.


Are you kidding me? Apple and AT&T servers were bogged down yesterday due to 10x demand of iPhone 4 vs. 3GS. People stand in lines for iPads. They sold out their developer conference in 8 days.

Make NO mistake, Microsoft and others are S-C-R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G to catch up. Because when you innovate, you lead. Apple knows this. Microsoft has refused to take a leadership role and it is starting to take its toll.

Nice read: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2012118387_microsoftoffice15.html

Anonymous said...

@company values leaders and drivers because any one can write code, design.

That means they are BIG problems( leaders and drivers)...as everybody is aware about Microsoft's status in the market.

Microsoft has to re-think about those leaders and drivers.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, much bigger than all those pathetic efforts in the online space......1 trillion $ opportunity worldwide"

To balance this statement you should know that the advertising market is a $600B business with only 15% of ads being online today - so there is $500B+ of opportunity to go after. More importantly we care about profit right? Our traditional S/W business, has a Gross Margin of around 80%. Compare this to GOOG at 63% and say a Consumer Electronics company like AAPL which is 41%. Net is that online represents a significant upside to top and bottom line growth at margins that are significantly higher than a media or CE businesses. Now that doesn't mean we shouldn't go after the CE, media, or gaming business but lets not discount the significant business opportunity from online and more specifically search. Finally there is a valid discussion to be had on whether given our poor performance in capturing this opportunity whether we should just give up - but that wasn't the point in the post.

Anonymous said...

Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years from scratch while everyone else was sleeping at the wheel

Wrong. Sonfosky has done it. Muglia has done it and heck even Elops has done it!

Anonymous said...

"Wrong. Sonfosky has done it. Muglia has done it and heck even Elops has done it!"

UM did they do it without the windows/Office/OEM monopoly?

Anonymous said...

Same way iphone is not for steveb. I can see ipad (or touch based all-in-one tablet) takes over at least 15% PC market in the next 5 years. iPad is perfect for cool consumers and high-end business people who hate working on a laptop on a plane.

You look like an Apple fan boy. Nothing wrong with that. Real people will continue to use laptops. Sinfosky is planning win8 with the cunningness of Machiavelli. He is ably assisted in design by a super charged PM group. Win8 will eat Apples breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Anonymous said...

Mini how about a blog post on the contribution rankings. How are these determined and how do they impact your career

Janaki said...

Now there is a new blog in town from a former MS employee: http://minimgsi.blogspot.com/

It seems whenever MS does something to someone another Mini MSFT pops out of the woodwork!. If this continues, every division and sub-division in MS will have a "Mini".

Anonymous said...

For those of you hoping Gates is going to ride in:

Bill Gates supports Steve Ballmer, as rival Apple overtakes Microsoft

WASHINGTON -- Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates said he supports Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, as rival Apple Inc. overtook Microsoft last month to become the technology company with the highest market capitalization. “I happen to like the things that Steve's doing,” Gates said when asked if he had confidence in Ballmer, according to the transcript of an interview for broadcast Sunday on ABC's “This Week” program. “It's not my full-time work, but as a board member, you know, I see a lot of great things going on.”

Anonymous said...

Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years from scratch while everyone else was sleeping at the wheel. Mistakes do happen when you do something as big as XBox, so I would not blame them for that. But now it is ahuge business with even bigger potential. In fact, much bigger than all those pathetic efforts in the online space. When everyone keeps looking at XBox as some tiny gaming project then it is simply very shortsighted - XBox may replace TVs and possibly desktop computers in your living rooms and this is a 1 trillion $ opportunity worldwide. Bigger than iPad,iPhone,Wii,Google,Bing and others combined. So firing people who built the foundation for all this is just plain stupid! E&D was the only innovative place in MS up until now. Can you imagine something like Natal coming out of Sinofsky's org? Hardly. He is in the train shipping business, not in the innovation business.

It's like a joke - "How do you build a $1B business? Start with $8B and get Bach to manage it."

Sure, X-Box is making money now and only a fool would cancel it, but spending $8B to build that $1B business is an interesting take on things.

Lastly - X-Box is one of a number of devices that plug into the TV. Don't start talking about massive opportunities until you're providing something truly unique and valuable. Currently there's nothing to indicate that Microsoft can lay claim to any new markets that aren't already being realised with this game machine.

Anonymous said...


My manager said I was a round peg in a square hole. Maybe I should get a job at this company, where that is valued:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTB0J8fDp8o&playnext_from=TL&videos=YnWnITqZhg4


Did you notice the tiny "10%" mark under the 'm' of the word "human",
when it says "push the human race forward"? Coincidence? No. Microsoft's message is clear - People with those attributes, get pushed down to "10%", along with the real non-performers, for the next batch-eject. Your manager is right. ....
Or could it be that the video's real message is: We recognize that people with those attributes are rare - as in "10%" of a sample set - and so we want them. Some mixup!

Anonymous said...

"Mistakes do happen when you do something as big as XBox, so I would not blame them for that."

What about the 7B it has lost? Or WinMo? Kin? Zune? Media center? Mediaroom?

Bach=failure^2.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why people believe review system only broken in Microsoft, or their manager is not fair.

Can any people name one review system which is perfect? All review system have their own pros and cons.

Also, if believe your manager is not fair, is it your problem or is it your manager problem?

If you truly believe your manager is a jerk or he is incompetence. Should you move on to a new team or company? It is your own career. Life is too short.

If your believe your manager is a good person, he may know something you don't know, and something he can't really tell you.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs a leader that concentrates on marketing what we have instead of pumping money into dead end projects.

I only recently realized Office Live existed!!! shame on me, or shame on microsoft. Google docs is a brand now, but office live has barely a whisper out there about it to get folks interested.

Media center is another one. If Apple had the integration of media center they would be screaming about it from the top of Everest, but you hear absolutely nothing about it from Microsoft. Do they think that people will just find this information on their own? MS have had it too easy for too long, and now need new leadership.

Oh, and two layoffs that i know of in the EOC ROC. Both middle managment (level 64+)

Anonymous said...

You seem upset. Don’t tell me you actually thought your clumsy plant was subtle and your factual mistakes would go unchallenged?

"Clumsy plant" LOL. Just exercising free speech in making some observations. I doubt what I say will much influence the course of events. What you fail to appreciate is that Gates is selling now while MSFT is still worth something. And who can blame him really? Microsoft is increasingly irrelevant in the 21st century. Ballmer is not selling for his own reasons, doubt that he needs the money so it is likely ego.

Anyway I would invite anyone reading this to pull up the 2009 proxy statement and satisfy yourself that the insider ownership information I provided is in fact correct, despite what my faithful, but misguided, corporate PR flunky says.

Oops forgot ... did you Google 'ceteris paribus' :)

Anonymous said...

"If I received a 10% ranking for last year's review and receive one again this year, should I quit now or wait to be fired? I've been at "MS for 10 years ..." June 15, 2010 7:46:00 PM

Sadly, you've been targetd. In the former days, MS took one's total career in perspetive and how many managers put you in the bottom bucket. Now, one manager, espeically one who may be in the same level band as you (obvious conflict of interest), can "can" your career at MS - regardless of their own qualifications, or reasoning to put you in that bucket. The mantra from above is "All 10% are bad, do not hire, manage out" - despite how many Nobel prizes you earned in earlier years and what you did for the Company or virtues you may have over a manager. The way this label is being passed out virtually makes it impossible to recover or get a job anywhere else. I heard this from a Partner. (Any double 10s out there find new jobs - let us know???) Many groups have VP Policies that require senior management approval to move a 10% in, so they just do not bother interviewing you - regardelss of resume accomplishments, and level 60 HR generalists are on hand to reinforce this policy (a potential future discriminatory class action as GE had).

Net, try to stick it out. If you quit, you do not get the ~$2,000 per month in unemployment. MS would love you to quit since it is cheaper for them (they 'pay' for unemployment either through self insure or through insurance rates), thus they paralyze you interally, giving you the impression you have no where to go but quit. If they fire you, you get the unemployment, possibly some severance too. Do keep in mind you don't get unemployment if you do something egregious to try and get fired (stealing, etc.), but if they decided to PIP you or throw you out the door for whatever reason they use (not enough work, RIF, Performance), file for your unemployment. The good news is it all looks the same to any new employer, unless you tell your new employer. Do check with an employment attorney about your sitatuion. A few hundred dollars spent can save you thousands in future income, potentially.

If you feel you've been discriminated against or your civil rights violated, and you're a protected class (over 40?), or have performed a protected *action*, look into filing a claim with eeoc.gov. A good source of un-official advice also posted at undercoverlawyer.com

Anonymous said...

If I received a 10% ranking for last year's review and receive one again this year, should I quit now or wait to be fired? I've been at MS for 10 years with all great reviews until last year. If it wasn't for family to support, I would quit now. Spouse thinks one bad review in 10 years shouldn't make a difference but she doesn't work at MS and has no idea what I'm going through.

I would recommend sticking it out, at least you're getting paid in the meantime. MS will never publicly disclose the reason you are no longer with the company so no-one will know the circumstances.

It is kind of frightening how things have evolved since the Limited (now 10%) ranking has gained a life of its own. I heard one CVP say 10% is absolutely NOT a career-killer. Two years after I heard that, managers in calibration and leadership meetings were making sneering references to "10 percenters" as though these individuals had some kind of infectious disease. In almost all divisions AFAIK hiring managers have to get GM or VP approval to hire someone who received 10% in last review. Sadly this is another symptom of MS' malaise - the employee as the enemy, the drive to 'cull the herd'.

Good luck to you whoever you are. I have walked the same path. Remember that you are the same person you always were. What some middle manager says about you is just that - an opinion.

Anonymous said...

MSFT market cap $229bill, AAPL $247bill. MSFT makes massive losses in all new markets it tries to enter. AAPL innovates in new markets.

12 month target prices for AAPL vary, but $340 is now common. If that happens AAPL will be worth 50% more than MSFT. After that a corporate raider will come in and gut MS, after a nasty proxy fight that the incumbents will lose, probably in 2011. The new owners will terminate or sell unprofitable businesses and concentrate on the core. 50% of current headcount will go in the process.

Can't happen? Oh yes it can. Run properly (as opposed to today) MS can generate profits of $40-50bill. Buying it for $200bill would be the deal of the century.

Anonymous said...

@i got managed out today. i heard many more people are managed out today before the next fiscal year starts.

WHICH GROUP?

Anonymous said...

@http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTB0J8fDp8o&playnext_from=TL&videos=YnWnITqZhg4

MICROSOFT...try to follow at least.

Anonymous said...

Find out how much other softies make compared to you:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/archives/211512.asp

* Director: $144,436
* Group Product Manager: $122,391
* Researcher: $121,183
* Senior Lead Program Manager: $119,509
* Lead Software Development Engineer: $116,640
* Senior Marketing Manager: $116,144
* Senior Software Development Engineer: $116,007
* Lead Program Manager: $114,206
* Senior Program Manager: $111,989
* Senior Product Manager: $111,890
* Marketing Manager: $101,078
* Product Manager: $100,355
* Program Manager II: $98,410
* Software Development Engineer II: $97,146
* Lead Software Development Engineer In Test: $96,457
* Finance Manager: $95,020
* Software Development Engineer In Test II: $92,722 to $95,354
* Program Manager: $89,410
* Software Development Engineer: $87,243
* User Experience Designer: $86,527
* Systems Engineer: $84,264
* Applications Developer: $81,596
* Software Development Engineer In Test: $81,119

Anonymous said...

"You also have to realize that product groups are way overstaffed and just need engineers, in this day and age, that can do it all vs. being silo'd into their coding, testing, or spec'ing narrow band. Specialization is not sustainable."


A place to look for over-staffing is Central Marketing. There are 62 people on staff just to mingle in Hollywood. That is right - mingling with celebrities. It blew my mind. Try measuring the return on investment on that! There are twice the number of people needed to do jobs that are basically repackaging what the agencies produce. And of course we pay agencies well.

I feel bad for engineers who actually create value for the company because whatever value they bring in from one door, walks out from the other that has been opened by someone else.

How do we make everyone accountable for the money that they spend on behalf of the company?

Anonymous said...

Mobile is a good example of why MS’s strong cash flow from other areas is actually a competitive disadvantage under the current culture and leadership.

“Phonesoft” would have known it had a problem either prior to, or within months of, the iPhone launch. It wouldn’t have spent two years denying the success and another year after that deciding to replace the entire team. It couldn’t have entertained another year after that of development, only to release what Myerson today confirms is a 1.0 product that will lag competitors in features. It sure wouldn’t have entered into that option knowing the team leader would then require five more years just to get the OS MS wants and needs. And it wouldn’t have spread its resources over WM6.5, WM7, WP7, Kin, and Danger.

Phonesoft would have quickly determined that build wasn’t feasible (either in time or money) and bought Palm. Within a year, it would have been back in the running with competitive phones being offered by carriers. Four years after the fact, and probably after an investment at least equal to what Palm would have cost then, Microsoft is years away from being competitive with even today’s Apple and Google, by its own admission. That all of this comes post Longhorn (where MS supposedly learned how to keep projects on track and moved to agile development), and post Ozzie (who was meant to make sure MS didn’t miss any more opportunities it was early to), just makes it more unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Who *are* all these Apple/Microsoft devotees posting on this blog? I'm inclined to think they're 14-year-olds who snuck the laptop upstairs after Mom tucked them in.

I've been a developer at MS for 10 years, and I simply haven't heard people getting bent out of shape about MS versus Apple/Linux/Google whatever else. Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but in my travels across 5 divisions, I simply haven't seen this.

It's the technology, NOT the company, and I see iPhones, iPods, iMacs, MacBooks and now increasingly iPads, in use by folks around me every day. And Windows phones and lots of Thinkpads and all manner of other stuff.

These users enjoy the technical merits of each without giving a flying **** about who made it. It simply doens't matter to geeks, which is why we're not sought out for fashion tips.

Anonymous said...

My jobs is difficult to being with, but with all the red-tape it is now impossible.

You have a few choices here.

a) accept the red tape and soldier on and get the job done, even though it will take 5 times as much effort.

b) avoid the red tape, workaround the BS, get the job done, get reamed by management for not following the process (with some of those office asshats and COSD sellouts Mr. SS put in charge of Windows, that is going to hurt you dearly).

c) realize that much of senior management is simply looting the company at this point, as it makes money hand over fist and will probably continue to do so for at least a few more years, and take the same approach. Work on things at your leisure, play the process game, and while you'll never stand out, you'll survive just fine and have plenty of time to pursue your other interests, including but not limited to finding a job at a company with a future (or starting your own). Or just have a very easy, low stress life.

Anonymous said...

I still have to say "I love this company". I hope I can spend another dozen years here. I am definately for changes and improvements across the board but I have faith we will continue to refine what we do and how we do it.

Long Live Microsoft!

Anonymous said...

"If I received a 10% ranking for last year's review and receive one again this year, should I quit now or wait to be fired? I've been at MS for 10 years with all great reviews until last year. If it wasn't for family to support, I would quit now. Spouse thinks one bad review in 10 years shouldn't make a difference but she doesn't work at MS and has no idea what I'm going through."
>> I can understand what you are going through and I can also understand that your spouse may not have an idea what you are going through. But do not blame her. You might not know what she is going through.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought to consider - what if computing was heading towards a model more like the iPad than the laptop, if your customers want the OS out of the way completely and just want a streamlined means to get to their apps? What if users didn't ever want to support their system again, and wanted the system to manage itself?

If Microsoft decided to sandbox Windows programs the same way Apple sandboxes iPhone/iPad apps, it would IMMEDIATELY solve most security problems and eliminate system bloat.

But then, all the virus scanner vendors would go out of business. Most of the crapware Dell etc. bundles with its computers wouldn't work; the crapware companies would cry bloody murder and go out of business and Dell would lose a valuable revenue stream. Best Buy and all the office supply companies who charge $50 to clean up your Windows PC would lose a major source of revenue. etc. etc.

So, Microsoft basically has a switch it can flip to make the world a better place and make everybody happy with Windows, but chooses not to flip the switch because it would upset the status quo. Sad.

(And before nitpickers jump on me about compatibility, it would be easy to provide an option for users to disable sandboxing on a per-program basis. Ideally this would be inconvenient and scary enough that users wouldn't want to do it often, and software companies would avoid making software that required it.)

Anonymous said...

Been here a looooong time. But now I am giving up on the prospects and any movement in the stock. First it was supposed to be Vista, then Office 11, 12, 13, 14, XBox, Zune, Bing, Exchange hitting billion, SQL hitting 5 billion blah blah blah. I am just tired and want to either take a break or join another company... when I am ready.

Microsoft has a lot of good talent, lots of resources, lots of output to show for it but not the love. It is the new IBM. Nothing wrong with that but I am done. Cooked.

What's the last date one needs to be employed @ MSFT to received the bonus etc. Is it Aug 31st or Sept15th? I am out that day!!!

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of chatter around a July 1st layoff. I am hearing the bottom 10 percent is the target this time around.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Two product-launches in just a few weeks. The Kin and the Kinect. Both start with 'Kin', so they're probably companion products. Nope. We just thought you might like to be confused. After all, we did go through our "Let's call everything ....Live!" phase, so now we will go through our "Let's call everything Kin..." phase.

It might have been better to have kept the 'Natal' name. Perhaps we could have had a name that actually means something, maybe 'Kinetik' instead of 'Kinect' which sounds like 'connect'.

Too late now, though.

Anonymous said...

After all, we did go through our "Let's call everything ....Live!" phase, so now we will go through our "Let's call everything Kin..." phase.

Ha ha. Don't forget the, "Let's call everything 'dot net'." phase. That's what having too many MBA's around trying to justify their inflated salary will get you. :)

Anonymous said...

@Mini how about a blog post on the contribution rankings. How are these determined and how do they impact your career.

1+

Also share your thoughts about the politics which drives review, ranking, rewards and recognition.

Anonymous said...

"UM did they do it without the windows/Office/OEM monopoly?"

No. Guess what? Neither did Bach and J. Without the financial resources of those businesses E&D wouldn't have made it through their first year.

Anonymous said...

You look like an Apple fan boy.

Typical MS response - shoot the messenger, ignore the message.

Real people will continue to use laptops.

From the evidence so far, most “real people” seem very, very open to the idea of going with something like an iPad instead.

“Real people” prefer not to have to deal with the many maintenance problems Windows laptops have, including running antivirus programs which can cause just as many problems as they try to prevent (McAfee, I’m looking at you).

Sinfosky is planning win8 with the cunningness of Machiavelli.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Please tell me you didn’t write that with a straight face… I mean, “cunningness”?

Win8 will eat Apples breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Except that Apple’s main source of income is now coming from the iPhone and iPad side of the fence, where Microsoft still has no answer that matters (as evidenced by HP’s recent moves).

So unless Win8 can somehow magically unify Microsoft’s increasingly fragmented mobile strategy under a single foundation (the same way Apple has one foundation for iOS and Mac OS X), there is very little chance of your statement being true.

Win8 will be a success in the same way IBM’s z/OS is a success - for the majority of "real people" out there, it's not going to matter.

Wrapping up with a brilliant comment that's worth repeating:

“How do you build a $1B business? Start with $8B and get Bach to manage it.”

Anonymous said...

> Sinfosky is planning win8 with the cunningness of Machiavelli

By the time it comes out (in 2015?) it ain't gonna matter anymore. iPads will be on version 3 by then (at least), there will be a proverbial torrent of Android tablets, netbooks and phones, so for most people's non-business needs PC will be completely irrelevant.

I know it's hard to believe this when you're on campus, but that's the way it's gonna be.

Anonymous said...

"Real people will continue to use laptops. Sinfosky is planning win8 with the cunningness of Machiavelli. He is ably assisted in design by a super charged PM group. Win8 will eat Apples breakfast, lunch and dinner."

There are just so many egos in the above statements. Real people will continue use laptop, just like real man drives a pickup, just pure stupid. By "a super charged PM group", do you mean PM group or design group? "Win8 will eat Apples breakfast, lunch and dinner." So, you have secret access to Apple's product planning? And Steve Jobs will focus on PC(Mac) markets? Windows X will be OK in the PC OS market, since no one else is concentrate on PC market much any more. Your next dinosaur will be the killer, so what..

Anonymous said...

>He is ably assisted in design by a super charged PM group.

Why does this fill me with dread? The PM hordes at Microsoft tend to be political hacks that spend all day trying to spin mediocrity into innovation, take credit for the work they had no part it, distance themselves from anything (even things they were involved in) that didn't have massive acclaim (or even worse, had bugs or areas yet to improve, *gasp*, a non-perfect v1, that is crazy!!!), etc.. The idea they are helping anyone plan anything makes me sad. From what I have seen of Win8 planning I don't think it will eat anything for any meal. It is adding things it should have had/done ages ago *yawn*. Creativity isn't looking at what everyone else has done and saying 'we can do that marginally better!!'

Anonymous said...

>If your believe your manager is a good person, he may know something you don't know, and something he can't really tell you.

Major cop-out. I have secret info that makes all my incompetent decisions look brilliant, but I can't share it with you and it will never come to light. Even years later I will continue to look incompetent. The idea that the very people working on the front lines can't know some information that actually impacts the decisions they make day to day is among the most retarded ideas I have ever heard. And management wonders why the front line people don't always make optimal choices...I don't know, maybe because vital information is witheld so that useless middle managers can feel like they have some power and some secret knowledge.

If that is how we run the company (i.e. 0 transparency or trust of our actual employees) then we are screwed, time to sell all stock and look for a company not run by Gilbert Grape.

Anonymous said...

"It is kind of frightening how things have evolved since the Limited (now 10%) ranking has gained a life of its own. I heard one CVP say 10% is absolutely NOT a career-killer. Two years after I heard that, managers in calibration and leadership meetings were making sneering references to "10 percenters" as though these individuals had some kind of infectious disease..."

+1. When I read this, I swore I wrote it myself. I've never seen HR senior management ever retract LisaB's assertion that individual performers who were performing well in their level were welcome to remain as A10's, but that is what is happening. I too have heard Partners sneer and tell teams to not listen to someone on a conference call (who raised serious business issues), because "that person is a 10%-r". Sad, as the Partner ranks do not award 10% to their ranks the dreaded 10% label, so this score is rare above level 65, and therefore they don't see the damage it creates or really care, as long as they get their bonus. The 'forced curve' doesn't appear to exist up above despite what HR tells the masses.

The above referenced partner later was asked to leave his position, due to poor management, but allowed the typical internal partner time to transfer - 8+ months - to find a new unpublished role within the Company, at same level and partner pay, and at the exact same timeframe as the company implemented three major layoffs. It's pretty sad when you have a good 10% of the workforce unmotivated due to this label, and living on pins and needles as to what will happen next.

Many if not all groups have a "do not hire 10%'s" so there is no way to transfer or find a new job if you have a 10%. I'm sure there are a few rare examples, but most of the strategy is to just keep the 10s in place until they leave one way or another, hopefully on their own as it is cheaper for the Company. Obviously if you can retire or find a new outside job, take it, but don't just quit.Don't manuver your way out of months of earned unemployment pay, which you will not get if you quit.
Hang in there folks. Someday the kool-aid will run out.

Anonymous said...

I likes Ballmer. He is doing great things. I likes Sinofsky. He brought discipline. I likes Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Robby Bach together with J Allard are THE only people in MS who actually built 1 billion $ business in the last 10 years

Lisa Brumel runs around as if she has built a billion dollar org. The bloat in HR org is mind boggling. Now, dont forget that the entire HR org is built to support the stack ranking program.

Anonymous said...

lol you know it's a Microsoft blog because a) it's filled with Apple-boosting comments and b) somehow these people think they have credibility crapping on amazing product announcements like Kinect...I guarantee this product is going to give some Nintendo people ulcers, the buzz around it is way past iPhone levels especially from non-nerds who see the demos

look for more comments insisting this is the dumbest thing ever YOU'RE JUST COPYING THE WII etc etc etc

Anonymous said...

And before nitpickers jump on me about compatibility, it would be easy to provide an option for users to disable sandboxing on a per-program basis. Ideally this would be inconvenient and scary enough that users wouldn't want to do it often, and software companies would avoid making software that required it.

lol you worked on Vista didn't you

Anonymous said...

Really !! Have we finally learnt our lesson after playing in a thousand different areas? Did we need a super elaborate strategy to figure out that Windows is our platform which needs protecting. Just saw this:

http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/Hilo

Anonymous said...

"Anyway I would invite anyone reading this to pull up the 2009 proxy statement and satisfy yourself that the insider ownership information I provided is in fact correct, despite what my faithful, but misguided, corporate PR flunky says."

Okay, I’ll bite. You said:

“Executive Officers, Directors as a group (19 persons)own 1,147,023,996 shares, or 12.82% of MSFT. Note that these are individuals who are NOT specifically called out as beneficial owners”

The title of the proxy section you're quoting from:

INFORMATION REGARDING BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP OF PRINCIPAL SHAREHOLDERS, DIRECTORS, AND MANAGEMENT

You also said:

"Keep in mind that about 25% of the $4.4billion in annual dividends benefits just 30 people."

So who are the other 11 that own the remaining 12.18%? And where are you getting this from since it's not in the proxy?

Anonymous said...

Remember the 1st day in college when they asked you to look to the left and right person? And next they would say: by the end of the program they won't be there anymore.

Well same for the 10% deal: by the end of 5 years....

So wouldn't it be time to admit the revolving door cost cutting policy and humanize this process a bit instead of labeling people as untouchables?

Or is HR so scared of being targeted for lawsuits since the contractors suit? Which caused them to convert v- to FTE on a scale never seen before?

The 10% deal seriously diluted the value of being an FTE, you will need your health benefits to deal with the stress from the review process.

Anonymous said...

Win8 will eat Apples breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"Just wait for the next version!". LOL

Anonymous said...

>>Mini how about a blog post on the contribution rankings. How are these determined and how do they impact your career

How they affect your career is that if you're in the 10% bracket, you're screwed.

Even if anyone is willing to give you an *informational*, they will require VP-level approval to hire you if you pass the loop.

The bar for passing that loop is MUCH higher than it would be if you're in the 70 or 20 bracket.

So 10% has silently become equivalent to "Underperformed", and you're walking around with a target on your back for the following year, more than likely not able to transfer, and right at the top of that "next for layoff" list.

Talking of which, if you are laid off with a 10%, you lose corpnet access and your badge the next day,and while you're "technically" still an employee, finding another job at MS means you have to go through the *external* route (that's what HR tells you), and it is strongly suggested that you should look beyond the company.

So as you can imagine, calibrations are an absolute nightmare with everyone fighting to keep their folks out of the 10% bracket (unless you had my former boss, who couldn't care less), because 10% now has new secret meanings.

Anonymous said...

>>There is a lot of chatter around a July 1st layoff. I am hearing the bottom 10 percent is the target this time around.

That's right, and I've heard that you're on the top of the list.

Either back up your statement(s) or STFU.

18+ Year Employee said...

Microsoft can't make the stock price go up because it is too diluted. So instead it is trying to lower costs to raise margin, in an already margin rich company

Does this formula make sense for growth?

- 30% reduction in Marketing spend over the last two years that could drive increases in sales
- 5-8% reduction of people in sales, operations, engineering personnel, and more to come.
- Cut back on engineering projects
- Not losing the lowest 10% - but seemingly random loss of good performers
_____________________
= Equals Market Success & GROWTH ??? Just the opposite

Sure you can sustain cutting back on marketing and personnel, for a year... and eventually you start a downward spiral as your competitors make investments to get market share away from Microsoft.

Look, the competition is hiring our good people. As soon as they are laid off they head for VMware, Google, Apple, Juniper, Amazon, IBM, Oracle

Anonymous said...

Wow! Two product-launches in just a few weeks. The Kin and the Kinect. Both start with 'Kin', so they're probably companion products. Nope.

They were probably watching a lot of Beverly Hillbillies reruns, heard the word "kin", thought "Kin! Good enough." and then watched more Beverly Hillbillies reruns.

The Beverly Hillbillies - opening credits

Anonymous said...

"What's the last date one needs to be employed @ MSFT to received the bonus etc. Is it Aug 31st or Sept15th? I am out that day!!!"

As I understand, to be subjective bonus eligible under many plans, one needs to work through June 30th - period - in a perfect world. But, given most bonus $ amounts are not locked until after that date, I would stay longer, possibly through the August 30th-Sept 2 stock award date, to get that last piece too. Also, if you leave shortly after June 30th, you could be lowered into the 10% bucket, since there is stil time to increase a borderline "Ten percenter" to your 70% slot, since that person is staying on, and then using the 10% rating assigned to you to justify little to NO bonus (Keeping more for the group that stays is how many manager's would think - why pay someone leaving?). Net, to be safe, stay on until review is complete, though you may save someone elses 10% hide by leaving early.

Anonymous said...

"If I received a 10% ranking for last year's review and receive one again this year, should I quit now or wait to be fired? I've been at MS for 10 years with all great reviews until last year.>>>

Yes. Resign and take all of your stock with you. Don't wait. Two 10% reviews are a kiss of death, the fact that you have been there for 10+ years means nothing.

You'll resign and you'll find an entirely new way or working and enjoying your work outside of Microsoft. I did it after six years, and while I confess to having moved to a competitor, I wish I would have made a move years ago. Microsoft as it was no longer exists. It is the company that is trying to hang on to what it *used* to be and is simply not structured to be the company of the future.

Leave. It's a risk but two 10% are a probability of a lay off/termination.

Anonymous said...

Permission To Interview:
is it better to wait for 3 more months for notification to interview?
Or
just ask for permission to interview at this point.
(Assuming that I already have completed full interview loop and have an offer from another team.)

I understand my team's reviews are getting locked around July 1st. So I was planning to ask for permission to interview in July 1st week.

Anonymous said...

Speculation grows that Microsoft's Ballmer will exit stage left

Is Steve Ballmer about to exit Microsoft?

I have lost confidence in Steve Ballmer's leadership

Anonymous said...

Yes. Resign and take all of your stock with you. Don't wait. Two 10% reviews are a kiss of death, the fact that you have been there for 10+ years means nothing.

Lots of advice to this guy to either quit or not quit, but the smart thing to do (I think he said he needs the paycheck?) is look for another job while still working.

As another poster mentioned, Microsoft does not discuss the circumstances of former employees' terminations.

Therefore it does not hurt you to stick around, do a reasonable amount of work, and "wait to get fired" if that's what's going on, since being fired or laid off won't hurt you when looking for future employment. Nobody will know if you don't tell them.

Anonymous said...

So, what to do if your manager is at the same level as you and he is the one doing your review? Add what if his performance isn't so great and he really doesn't like you anyway. Add to that the fact he is managing 1/3rd of the employees for this group at this level and there is only a dozen or so people total in the group at this level. If he doesn't put one of his people into the 10% bracket, then he knows he may well be the one. What's the solution? Is H/R going to be your friend?

Anonymous said...

Escalations at Microsoft don't work, which is why we ship so much garbage. Do you really think nobody in the ranks of WinMo ever tried to tell their management that the product sucked? Of course they did -- but as with most other product units, nobody listens and if you shout too loudly you get branded as a troublemaker.

True.

Microsoft has enough cash to buy technology like that in Kinect (Project Natal) which lets Steve Ballmer look like he's doing something "cool" at Microsoft without actually developing it internally.

You don't know the social relationships that got the person the chance to mismanage a product.

If you bring up problems, chances are you will get trashed, they will get another chance at a different project, and Microsoft will just buy the technology it needs if they can't wait for someone new to try.

Everybody wins except you.


Israeli Firms Behind Microsoft's Project Natal Gaming System

As reported by Globes, Moshe Lichtman, Microsoft corporate vice president and head of Israel R&D said:

Fourteen development projects are taking place at the center today, twelve of them completely new and destined to become Microsoft products in new markets… the R&D center helped Microsoft in buying the intellectual property of 3DV Systems, and in the wake of that dozens of the company’s employees were recruited to work at the development center.

The announcement is linked to Project Natal, a new Microsoft gaming system that lets the user control games through body movement and words.

Anonymous said...

I have lost confidence in Steve Ballmer's leadership

http://www.betanews.com/joewilcox/article/I-have-lost-confidence-in-Steve-Ballmers-leadership/1276886190

Anonymous said...

So who are the other 11 that own the remaining 12.18%? And where are you getting this from since it's not in the proxy?

Chris I hope you're not an employee, because that would be truly depressing. I'll type slowly so you can follow along.

Ballmer and Gates between them own about 12% of all MS shares.

The proxy statement calls out ownership of some, but not all, executives and directors. It closes out by saying that ~12% of shares are owned by a further 19 individuals, who are executives, officers, directors (or other parasites), but they are not specifically named.

So adding together the Bill and Steve show, plus the 12% beneficially owned by individuals who are not specifically enumerated, gives you about 25%.

OK?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has a lot of good talent, lots of resources, lots of output to show for it but not the love. It is the new IBM.

I know what you're saying, and I agree with most, but not the IBM part. IBM had the courage to jettison poorly performing divisions (PCs). IBM researchers produced and continue to produce world-changing work. MS lacks the courage to do anything apart from defending its crumbling ramparts, and MSR has not produced any impact despite billions spent. (And now wait for the guy who will tell me that he worked with PhD interns in MSR who would rip product group devs apart ...:))

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me how we are all expected to kow-tow to the company values, when the guy presiding over that farce is the man caught by the DOJ with his hand in the cookie jar? I for one don't feel all that open and respectful ...

Anonymous said...

"the PM hordes at Microsoft tend to be political hacks that spend all day trying to spin mediocrity into innovation, ..."

I completely disagree. What do you guys have against PMs? We are a strong, focused and smart bunch. Give us 12 months, some decent devs and a couple testers and we WILL beat the Ipad thingy into oblivion.

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