Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The KIN-fusing KIN-clusion to KIN, and FY11 Microsoft Layoff Rumors

Get out of the way Microsoft Bob, you have a replacement that Microsoft's Gen-Y employees can claim for their own! It's spelled K-I-N.

KIN's demise can't surprise anyone. When I looked at the phone's features, I thought: alright, an incomplete Facebook experience that I cannot improve by installing new applications... and I pay $$$ through the nose for a plan. But I've got a green dot and KIN Studio... maybe that will be enough to sell enough units to justify the Danger acquisition and the person-years of work behind getting KIN out. What the hell where all those people doing? I couldn't imagine anyone wanting the resulting iffy feature-phone at a smartphone cost, but KIN wasn't made for me. I was willing to let the market be the judge of KIN.

Verdict? Guilty, guilty, guilty.

The original Zune/Pink phone had interesting momentum but it all got squandered. What's the one ThinkWeek paper I want to read this year? Lessons Learned from Microsoft KIN and How Microsoft Must Change Product Development. You can't have a failure like this without examining it and then sharing what went wrong, all with respect to vision, execution, and leadership. How big was the original iPhone team? How big was the KIN team? Why did one result in a lineage of amazingly successful devices in the marketplace, and the other become a textbook extended definition for "dud" ?

Interesting comments:

All I can say as a former Windows Mobile employee who is now working for a competitor in the phone space is that this is good news for the rest of us. [...] Personally I quit because of the frustrating management and autocratic decision style of Terry Myerson and Andrew Lees. The only exec in the team myself and other folks respcted was Tom Gibbons who is now sidelined. Lees and Myerson don't know consumer products or phones. Gibbons at least knows consumer product development. We often talk about how Andrew Lees still has a job but Microsoft's loss is a gain for the rest of us.

And

And now Kin is killed *after* it has shipped in June 2010. You can bet Andy was involved in the development of Kin, the partnership agreements with the OEM, Verizon and most importantly the "ship it" approvals all along the way. And Microsoft discovers its a bad idea after it blows up in the broad market. Absolutely no thanks to any pro-active decision making on Andy's part.

Now there is spin that Andy killed kin to put all the wood behind Windows Phone 7. Er, the guy was in charge for two years of Kin development. He could have made this decision far earlier.

Similarly Windows Phone 7 has two years of development under his watch. Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn't help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista.

And finally, one Danger-employee's point of view of why they became demotivated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I guess we need another ThinkWeek paper on how to successfully acquire companies, too. Between this and aQuantive, we only excel at taking the financial boon of Windows and Office and giving it over to leadership that totally blows it down the drain like an odds-challenged drunk in Vegas. And the shareholders continue to suffer in silence. And the drunks are looking for their next cash infusion.

Dude, Where's Ray? You see more and more yearning for the days of BillG at the helm, perhaps because at least he was an uber geek that could drill your team's presentation like nobody's business and understand what your team was doing. And occasionally get enthralled by technology choices that would confound your average user (WinFS). Ray was supposed to serve as a replacement architect at Microsoft's technical helm, yet his impact seems to be superficial (and pretty disparaged if you chat with any leader in the company). Here's a snippet of a great comment about Ray and his impact at Microsoft:

The problem is, Ray doesn't see himself as the "Chief Software Architect" of the company. He sees himself as the "Chief Visionary Officer" (to borrow someone's phrase from early comments). He sees his job as being the person who regularly kicks "old" Microsoft in the butt to wake them up to whats going on in the world.

All of his behavior lines up with this: His correcting of Ballmer (in public!); His team's building Mesh, an expensive, buzz-generating, science-project app beloved by those who know about it, but irrelevant to those who don't (which is 99+% of the planet); More recently, his team's building of Docs.com -- another expensive, buzz-generating app that has no business model and no path to ever having one (if you need an indication of how pointless an exercise docs.com is, just look at the visitor trends for it since launch: http://trends.google.com/websites?q=docs.com).

Meanwhile, Ozzie has made enemies of most of the leaders of the actual products that pay for his "Labs". He's made no secret of the fact that he thinks that Windows is run terribly, or that Office is dead technology. Behind closed doors, he is openly dispariging of Microsoft development practices and Microsoft technology. His efforts to build product display a stunning lack of a caring about how much things cost to run, or whether they will ever make money. To my knowledge, he doesn't care in the slightest about the enterprise businesses at the company.

Dude, Where's My Job? Folks have been talking about ongoing stealth layoffs and the impending July FY11 layoffs reacting to teams with reduced budgets. I've scanned some various HR calendars and found some interesting appointments more around next week vs. this week, but the layoff rumors have spilled over beyond here and into TechFlash: Microsoft pruning more jobs. A follow-up by Ms. Mary-Jo Foley: More Microsoft job cuts coming ZDNet. So I'd expect more news next week than this week, but one commenter has noted:

Layoffs confirmed for tomorrow. I see long meetings booked by HR-types in Lincoln Square and RedWest-C. Didn't go through all the calendars for you main-campus types.

If Microsoft is doing this to appear fiscally responsible, they really can't tell just this half of the story. The other half of the story is the number of contingent staff positions, which if you open up Headtrax for yourself to investigate be prepared to tell Elizabeth you're coming to join her, because it about gave me a mild heart-attack.

If you learn anything, please comment regarding the group and the size of the hit and any impression about the folks impacted (e.g., 10%'ers, long-term employees, etc).


-- Comments

775 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Maybe the kernel was great in 1989, but it's a mess now, with all the compatibility layers and ad-hoc patches. They have NEVER refactored it to get rid of all that crud, which it desperately needed at least 10 years ago.

So Rob Short's work to refactor the kernel wasn't used?

That wasn't actually refactoring, but the preliminary stage of figuring out what was actually needed to be part of the base O/S and what wasn't. I realize it's hard to believe that no one knew that in advance, but apparently that was the case.

I can state from experience that even the simple task of building a specific part of the O/S, e.g., a specific binary in the file system, is fraught with difficulty due to the makefiles not being factored correctly to allow you to build one component without having to experiment to see what other components you have to build first.

So once they identified the components that were needed for the O/S core, then they would have to have spent the engineering time to refactor that code. Unfortunately, this was never done as far as I know. Part of the problem is the fact that you effectively can't use C++ in the kernel, due to the lack of compiler and library support. So the kernel has to be written in C, with all the attendant drawbacks of that language, mostly the inability to build reliable programming components (classes, templates) so that you can raise the level of abstraction from the lowest level.

If this is true, why haven't the compiler and libraries been upgraded so that you could use C++ in the kernel? Because the main developers, Dave Cutler included, are C programmers, not C++ programmers. Therefore, there is no constituency for fixing the compiler and libraries, even though the compiler and library developers would LOVE to fix them.

I guess this is just another example of the dysfunctional nature of Microsoft development.

Anonymous said...

been at msft for about 4 years now. My advice to the person with the offer - as long as it's not in MSN or Bing, come on in, the water's fine. MSN management cares only about their bonuses. Nothing else. period. Not quality. Not users. Not advertisers. Not best content.

Just moved to IEB where cool stuff like xbox and kinect are getting rave reviews. Our team works together (ok so it's only been a few months but it's not OSD) and we are all working toward the holiday ship period. Sure it's troubling when your top exec leaves but from all accounts, seems like a layoff of the top 10% might not be such a bad thing, eh?

Understand how microsoft works, yes it's a "game" but you CAN minimize that aspect of your job. Learn something new every day. Build something a billion people will use for years. How many places do you have a chance to do that? Not very many.

Stock? THey've all had a bath the past couple of years in case you haven't been looking. If you're holding on to it that's your investment choice. Frequent advice is not to hold stock in your employerer since you already depend on them for so much else. Diversify. I don't know about everyone else but when I hired on they explained the compensation policy very clearly. Sure no one expected the world economy to tank but I still have a job I love.

I like my team. I like my product. I'm happy I survived and feel badly for those that didn't.

I do wish someone would be publicly and violently executed for the Kin debacle. We could sell tickets and recoup some expenses. (Just kidding censors. It's a joke, ok?)

Anonymous said...

Apple stock gone way up in the past year.

Anonymous said...

>If the image of Sinofsky is something different, you can always feel free to correct us where you see fit.

Sinofsky is a sleazeball. He did some house cleanup and got credit. Under promised and over delivered. Writes blogs. Fools Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

>Appoint some new leadership

Pratley the visionary PM is the man to the rescue. He has bigger vision than Ray and higher capacity than Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't actually refactoring, but the preliminary stage of figuring out what was actually needed to be part of the base O/S and what wasn't. I realize it's hard to believe that no one knew that in advance, but apparently that was the case.

I remember Brian Valentine saying they were going to refactor the kernel and the rest of the OS to create a core OS where you could install only what you needed.

Among other things, it was going to be one way of reducing the attack surface of Windows server.

Anonymous said...

>I remember Brian Valentine saying they were going to refactor the kernel and the rest of the OS to create a core OS where you could install only what you needed.

It's called Server Core now. Google for more information. Or check their blog: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server_core/

Anonymous said...

>I tend to think that most people who works at Microsoft are either idiots or a crooks.

I think that about people that works there too! This is a funny, funny comment coming from an iPhone dev. The quality of those apps are...just amazing. I mean imagine how terribly Microsoft's products would work if they were used by the literally thousands of people that may have downloaded your free app on a closed platform with no hardware variation! Man, you guys are the software engineering geniuses!! Have you made enough to retire from your App Store yet or have you realized that you are the miner and Apple is the one selling shovels?

Anonymous said...

>On most teams this means the Pm is HiPo, the dev might be, but yeah.


Hahaha and THAT is what is wrong with Microsoft. Take notice people, the PM's are the HiPos, with their long track record of awesome success, look no further than the last 10 years or so at Microsoft to see the result of keeping these HiPos around! Man, imagine where we would be if we just spent that same time/energy MAKING PRODUCTS PEOPLE WANT TO USE instead of playing retarded fucking political hack games and kissing every ass that passes by our lips.

Anonymous said...

HiPo: Short for High Potential. This first appeared in IDC. It is a fair and balanced process to ensure the rank and file kiss SrinK's ass when they don't report to him. It also allowed international teams to recognize they hired "growing employees" who otherwise wouldn't fair well on a global scale.

Anonymous said...

I remember Brian Valentine saying they were going to refactor the kernel and the rest of the OS to create a core OS where you could install only what you needed.

It's called Server Core now. Google for more information. Or check their blog: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server_core/

That may be one meaning of "refactoring", but I'm referring to code refactoring, where old cruddy code is cleaned up and made understandable and maintainable. If any of that has been done, I've never heard about it, and it isn't visible in the kernel code I've read.

Of course, I don't claim to know all the Windows kernel code, but I have seen tens of thousands of lines of it, in various components, and it is really ugly.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't a decade of begging and pleading to get people to use software that's "ALL FREE" and making only incremental gains clued you kids in yet?


I'm no OSS fanboy (I have to use some of it as part of my job and I know the flip side of the coin all too well) but does the genius who wrote this realize that open source software powers a lot of high profile systems these days?
There isn't a web powerhouse out there that doesn't use OSS. Windows server is squarely in the minority.

"Market share" figures mean squat for a product that's free. One douchebag MBA installs Sharepoint and that's a few thousand dollars credited to Microsoft by the scorekeepers. Thousands of Google engineers spin Linux instances in their data centers and nobody will ever hear about it.

Anonymous said...

if i had known this would happen,i should had left MS(KK) much earlier.

Anonymous said...

>And if they try to move to Google Kirkland... be ready!

Nah, they wouldn't pass a Google inteview loop, they can smell bullshit and pretentious idiots.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of code quality (or the lack thereof), I think I know the real reason that Microsoft doesn't want to open-source Windows: because of the ridicule that would result.

Anonymous said...

>> I have always been valued and never feel like a pawn.

That's sorta how I felt, before I left. And then I realized I was a pawn. Here's a simple litmus test. Can you start your own project at Microsoft if you have a great idea? No? You're a pawn. As simple as that.

Anonymous said...

That may be one meaning of "refactoring", but I'm referring to code refactoring, where old cruddy code is cleaned up and made understandable and maintainable. If any of that has been done, I've never heard about it, and it isn't visible in the kernel code I've read.

My understanding of what they were trying to do at the time was to first untangle the dependencies between layers and components in the OS.

After that, they could refactor code in individual components without having to worry about some unknown component being affected by the change.

It sounds like they untangled some of the dependencies between layers and components if they managed to create Server Core but did not continue with refactoring code in individual components.

KLB said...

> And how is that making
> everything connected to
> Windows is wrong in
> business sense?

Because Windows carries a lot of baggage along with whatever advantages it supposedly brings. That is everything from minimum hardware requirements (for a USABLE system, not the bare minimum the kernel will boot on) to UI design (not just shrinking the desktop to a smartphone screen) to so many other things, some of which are culturally embedded and deeply woven in.

MS got used to establishing a beachhead with Windows and then grinding down the competition over time. That doesn't lend itself to creativity required for engaging with the customer base. Microsoft got used to pre-selling to OEM's and not regular people, and apparently can't figure that out, except by ripping off other companies that are successful in that arena.

Waiting multiple years for incremental updates is the model from 10+ years ago; Google and others release and update software continuously, make it easy to access over the web.

MS over the last 10 years is like a supertanker: fixed in the same direction, too slow to change direction, passing opportunity by constantly due to inertia.

Anyway, tying everything to Windows might "leverage" one set of resources, but it also is like putting ankle weights on and trying to run. Some markets move 5x faster than the Windows release schedule and that is crippling.

Anonymous said...

@Wednesday, July 07, 2010 7:30:00 PM

Get real. The Linux kernel doesn't have any C++ either. This is no coincidence. C++ in the kernel is not the answer.

Contrary to the beliefs of mediocre programmers everywhere, you don't need C++ to write maintainable, re-usable, even object-oriented code. There are also legitimate technical reasons why not to use some C++ features in kernel development.

Anonymous said...

Mini, please turn moderating back on. The s/n ratio has plummeted.

Anonymous said...

I love working for MS. It's a huge company with some great opportunities but ... there's a lot of politics, egos and vested interests in maintaining the current silos and structure and keeping the blinkers firmly in place.

Microsoft has the talent to succeed but upper management have evolved a culture of fear (especially with the current uncertainties) that people are not willing to put the same level of effort on the table when politics rather than your ability can be your undoing.

There are some great technologies - both existing and new - but on the whole MS has forgotten what made them a success... the consumer, not the enterprise.

But surely that's not right? MS are a huge enterprise supplier right? But how did they get there?

With consumer products like Outlook, Access and even Sharepoint that wormed their way into the old IBM accounts of the day and provided freedom from the 43xx and AS/400 world.

Now we've become IBM and Apple and Google are wooing the consumer - often with inferior products but... they are good enough to get the job done and they are pleasure to use.

I remember the first time I used Outlook instead of Memo or even cc:Mail ... I was sold. I took my own copy to the office and nagged the IT department to let me connected it to our cc:Mail server. a year later I was managing the migration to Exchange.

Now it's some college kid showing how well his Gmail account works with his Android phone who's repeating that.

Does SteveB need to step aside? Maybe, maybe not. If he stays he needs to get back in touch with the reality - both in the market and inside his own trenches. LisaB is open and approachable, but KT, Andy Lees and others in the upper echelons are neither in touch nor adding value. And Ray Ozzie. The man is neither inspirational or visionary. He destroyed Lotus building Notes, then reinvented it as Groove and now much to everyones surprise crated the good-as-dead Mesh. What else has he done beyond wear nice suits and read from teleprompters? Maybe correcting SteveB and pointing out that Google may be onto something is his saving grace... but if so he needs to start yelling it from the rooftops and galvenizing the company behind him.

Azure is a great case in point. It's an over-engineered nightmare that's got a steep learning curve and a prohibitive cost model yet we still wonder why it's not beating AppEngine and EC2. Visual Studio alone is a bloated unstable monster that takes longer to install than an HTML5 webapp takes to build!

I soldier away doing what I do because I believe MS has a future, it just needs to get back on the path (and SteveB - that's going to take more than just trash talking iPhone using employees at this years Company Meeting...)

Anonymous said...

Lol. Media center its currently getting the danger treatment.the team has been split up to work on silly things and the executives that own it are totally ignorant of the consumer media space. it's abandonware with a skeleton crew while every one else is tasked with yet another stupid project born of apple envy.

windows 8 is going to be shit.

Anonymous said...

has anyone else noticed that the https://www.microsoftintegrity.com site runs on Apache and uses JSP.

Does Global Compliance not think Windows is secure enough?

Jon H said...

"There are also legitimate technical reasons why not to use some C++ features in kernel development."

Apple's I/O Kit framework for drivers uses a restricted subset of C++. No templates, no exceptions, no multiple inheritance, a different form of RTTI, etc.

Anonymous said...

The Danger folks certainly seemed to have a high opinion of themselves all along. Sadly the truth was far from this. As anyone who was at the first real calibration meeting after the merger will attest, it was a bloodbath when many of the Danger folks were compared to their MS peers. Danger had some good folks, but not as many as they thought. The good ones who were unhappy with MS had lots of local job opportunities, the unhappy ones that stayed only stayed because no-one else in the Valley would take them.

I call BS.

I knew people at Danger. More motivated and a better team than any I've ever been in at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Don't know why people are surprised by the lack of talent in the management pool. Microsoft's theory of "you're either moving up or moving out" has people applying for management positions because they have no where else to go. These people were probably very talented in their area, but have no management skills what so ever. I know, I had one.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 10:49:00 AM"

If you only had one, consider yourself very lucky. I left MS because I was tired of reporting to managers with zero managerial background and zero managerial skills. And you're totally right about some people applying for the management positions because they can't get a salary bump otherwise - MS would be a lot better place to work if they hired managers to do the managing instead of giving the positions to people who can't advance otherwise. As I've seen it said before, most people don't leave MS because they dislike the company, they leave because of their manager.

Anonymous said...

Responding to:
"The good ones who were unhappy with MS had lots of local job opportunities, the unhappy ones that stayed only stayed because no-one else in the Valley would take them."

I honestly think only one is good a Principal Engineer , the rest are a not at all.

Anonymous said...

@"AAPL - 35000 employees",

You realize that half of Apple's headcount is their FTE Apple Store employees, right?

More like AAPL 20000 employees + 15000 Turner-style Walmart folk.

Anonymous said...

Dear MS HR, PLEASE CUT the Danger employees. They are unmotivated, they hated Microsoft from the start. I believe they should take their retention package and GO. The little group left of danger people in the KIN services team is the most unprofessional and lack of motivated group of people I have ever seen.

Anonymous said...

I worked at MSFT over 10 years ago in MCS. It was bad then. Looks like it's just kept getting worse. Passionate engineers are worth their weight in gold. For craptastic management to alienate the Dev teams to this extent is unforgivable.

This is what you get when you hand the leadership of technology companies over to sales reps. Everything becomes a bottom line conversation. Long term investments and market-making become impossible because you can't get a return in a quarter or two.

I worked with Andy Lees at HP years ago. He was a sales rep then, still has the same mindset now. Seems like Ballmer is just surrounding himself with like minded Mini-Me's and is shying away from the technology that built Microsoft. Human behavior? Maybe. Good business for MSFT. Hell no.

Anonymous said...

The "games" will continue until the printing presses called Windows and Office run out of ink. Then good luck finding another place where sociopathic behavior is tolerated like it is at MS.


You are right on the money. But if this "game" is working in my favor today, padding my bank account, and keeps me well on the retirement track for a little while more then I don't really care whether it runs out of ink now do I?

Anonymous said...

Calibrations in good orgs didn't start until after people had at least 2 weeks to write their reviews. If you find out that your calibrations started sooner, time to change teams.

Horrible things are happening in Windows org. All Sinofskys doing.

There will be layoffs in Windows. He probably did that too but I have no direct knowledge of his role.

Engineering Services is the Win org where the cuts will be made. Managers impacted too.

Anonymous said...

Get real. The Linux kernel doesn't have any C++ either. This is no coincidence.

That is because, for historical reasons, most O/S developers are C programmers, not C++ programmers. I don't consider that a valid reason not to use C++.

C++ in the kernel is not the answer.

Of course it is not "the answer". But it would be a start in the right direction.

Contrary to the beliefs of mediocre programmers everywhere, you don't need C++ to write maintainable, re-usable, even object-oriented code.

No, instead you can reinvent the same facility (e.g., virtual functions, linked lists) dozens or hundreds of times, each slightly different from the others, and none of them as comprehensible or maintainable as the ones that come with the C++ compiler and library. I hope you'll forgive me for not understanding the benefits of that approach.

And as for mediocre programmers, I prefer that they stay as far away from C++ as possible. However, I was under the impression that Microsoft hires excellent programmers, who could therefore easily learn a powerful and flexible programming language such as C++, rather than being stuck in the dark ages with a portable assembly language like C.

There are also legitimate technical reasons why not to use some C++ features in kernel development.

I'm not aware of any such reasons, other than possibly the greater stack depth used by C++ exception handling. However, I'd be willing to bet that that issue could be dealt with by reasonable O/S architecture changes.

If you know of other legitimate technical reasons, please enlighten us.

Anonymous said...

The next $1B waste of money burner will be HSG. Over promised and delivered ... awful, awful software. This division should be shown the door. They've had their chance and are blowing it. Big Time. Yeah, let's solve problems in a vertical by populating product teams with people who know nothing about health.. Genius!

Anonymous said...

I wasn't laid off. (Yet.) Don't really think I'm in line to get laid off. (Yet.)

As far as where MS has gone wrong, I'm not really interested in blaming anyone. I have ideas, but they're unformed. I frankly wouldn't know who to blame. That could probably be worked out by all the others here.

I just feel sick. I've been here a few years. I was recruited. I was believed in. I thought that if they didn't know what they were doing, that I would have some impact to help get them where they're going. Yes, I get that that's naive. I have long since admitted it's naive. But it's been the only thing keeping me interested these past few years.

I work nights. I work weekends. I work on vacations. I try to grind through to get everything in the best shape it can be. My manager respects my effort. He seems to like me. He's always 70%'ed me. I have no idea if he thinks I have a future here. I kinda think at some base level he thinks I'm an idiot who's only still here because I have escaped the ravages of carpal tunnel.

I see us get hammered in the press. I realize it's the media. But six straight years of death knells kind of gnaws at you after a bit. Six straight years, culminating in an article I read today that pretty much said we were pretty much dead, it will just take 20 or 30 years to bury the corpse.

I have no idea what KIN was supposed to do. It had no clear motive. It had too much specificity. Oh sure, it looked adorable. But it was a "What If" product. We seem to release products that try too hard to introduce some remote, philosophical construct.

Consumers want things that do stuff that they understand. When they understand it fully, then you can introduce more remote things on top of it.

But that's as much blaming as I'm prepared to do. The fact is, I'm a little older. I have kids. I'm trying not to disrupt their lives with cold hard reality, yet. But the fact is I spend most of my days in terrible sadness, knowing I'm too old to start a new career, and probably finally ready to retire all those ambitions I nurture. I can't thrive here anymore. Everyone thinks we're dead.

It's all over for me. This is where it ends. This is the day that I realized it.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest loosers in the Kin debacle that hasn't been talked about is Sharp. OEM for the Kin, and the biggest cellphone brand in Japan....but not in the states of course. Kin was supposed to be their entry point into the US market for mobile. Sharp ponied up half the ad $$ for the Kin launch...basically subsidised it with the thought it would be good for their brand and they would sell a lot of phones and be a trojan horse for other Sharp Mobile efforts in the US. Big fail. Not only did they have to tool up factories custom design hardware and sub the marketing they only sold a few thousand phones at best. Sharp's taking a huge bath on this one. And because Sharp's mobile group is in Nara Japan and had no people on the ground in WA or Palo Alto...they had little leverage or insight into the US market and got taken for a ride. I'm sure there are a lot of unhappy execs in Osaka right now cause of this...

Anonymous said...

If Ballmer could figure out a way to move software development to China and India to save money, he would.

Of course Ballmer is doing that, and in classic Ballmer fashion, is screwing that up. They are throwing money away at IDC. In China, they are letting China shore up its domestic software industry. But it is all good for China and India at Microsoft's expense.

Anonymous said...

I interviewed with the Kin Services team this past May as a internal interviewee. My experience was nothing but horrific. I was interviewed by this lack of grace woman whose whole desired was to be as cruel, inhuman as she can be. It was not a routine interview. I left the interview thinking what was that all about? I found out she was a former Danger employee.

Later I also learned by Microsoft insiders in the PMX team at Palo Alto that that I should not take it personal that it is part of the HATE they have for Microsoft employees. Thank You MS VARMA for your NO HIRE I am a happier person where I am now outside of the KIN services team. I would not have liked to work with you or under you. I hope our paths never cross again.

MS HR should consider letting this people find other positions outside the company, they obviously hate MS from the get-go why give them retention packages???
Having only interviewed and experienced this I can relate to some of the comments here, my sentiments to the Microsoft Kin Services team employees that have to live this rudeness, hostility daily from Danger folks. So GLAD for the NO HIRE.

Anonymous said...

Xbox live become 1 billion revenue business...

Share point is the fastest growing app ever...

SQL server is the faster growing database...

Window 7 is a great hit, and office make tons of money...

MS still make cool things. Don't be that negative, MS do have multiple big failures and not the best company for everyone, it is still a pretty good company.

BTW, anyone know how many headcount did Kin team have? Will the rumor of the small layout is talking about the Kin team get dismissed?

Anonymous said...

S/N ratio is high. Even this post is probably nonsense.

The truth for anyone reading is that MS is still one of the best places to work with plenty of brilliant people. There are plenty of great things still happening at the company and many of us who still believe that it's a great place to make a decent living and really make a difference for our customers.

So many things that are in the news are only part of the story. So many comments you read from folks inside and outside should be taken into CONTEXT -- you don't know where they came from or if they really knew much about the bigger picture. Everyone today has an opinion, few want to take the time to really research the truth. Every day I pick through emails from employees all over the company complaining about something when they don't even know 1/10th of the story. Most bad decisions happen because of a lack of information. Don't perpetuate the cycle.

There are problems, sure, and there's an increasing amount of politics and a lack of direction in many teams. You don't have to strain to find disfunction. The review system is amazingly broken. Empire-building everywhere. To ignore it would be stupid. But to learn from it and focus on doing what you can to change it instead of just becoming another whiner, well that can be quite rewarding.

While I have felt undervalued at times in my 10+ years -- I've had my share of bad managers, most of whom eventually were let go or promoted out -- in general, I feel like I really can still make a difference, and I've learned a lot from the experiences.

At the end of the day, the people that get stuff done (like Terry or Sinofsky) are the ones that are leading. You may not agree with every decision they make, but let's face it, the previous direction (WM & Vista) wasn't working and the technical leadership had been buried.

The non-technical business decisions, now that's a whole 'nother can of worms and we all know who is ultimately responsible for those at the end of the day. But the Board seems unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

Let Apple have their day in the limelight. To some extent, they deserve it (if they don't self-destruct). But to say that the end is near because of a few hard-learned lessons is not looking at the big picture. MS is still a huge company full of opportunities and successes.

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder how many executives on the PMX team (Kin) had telecom background? Yes it was Zero. The two key people Matt Bencke and Roz Ho combined had zero days of telecom background.

Pink business model was flawed from the very start. People blaming Andy and Terry (again both have zero telecom background) should try to get hold of assumptions of Pink Business Plan - Pricing (Device + Service), Distribution (regional differences), Growth rate, Customer, Competition, etc were all barely considered.

This was a project driven by ego (and J Allard/Robbie support). It is time to get rid of all executives involved - NOW.

Anonymous said...

I was laid off. 22 years. Manager in E&D. E/20 last year. I'm relieved, I think I was on track for an A/20 this review and now I can spend more time with my family.

Anonymous said...

The Danger folks certainly seemed to have a high opinion of themselves all along. Sadly the truth was far from this. As anyone who was at the first real calibration meeting after the merger will attest, it was a bloodbath when many of the Danger folks were compared to their MS peers.

Danger more or less invented what we call smartphones today--full email client, web browser, IM, app store, etc. Super easy to use. Customers LOVED them. And this was back in the 2002 timeframe, half a decade ahead of the iPhone.

Did Windows Mobile ever produce anything that customers loved?

If I had to hire either an ex-Danger guy or an ex-Microsoft guy, I'd be strongly biased towards the former, regardless of your "calibration meetings."

Your typical "smart" Microsoft employee is able to reverse a linked list better than almost anybody in the world, but is pretty clueless when it comes to making things that customers want.

In terms of commercial success and personal pride, I would rather make a product that people want instead of a bloated mess with optimal linked list reversing characteristics.

Anonymous said...

Layoff become a trend now. MS should look for some other alternatives for success.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for the employees who are losing their jobs. But they will look back and be thankful this day came. I left the company 10 years ago and it was the best career I could have made. Get Microsoft on your resume and many companies assume you're smart and get things done because they don't know any better. You got what you came for, now go find something else that will make the world a better place. Working for Microsoft is only making wealthy people even more wealthy. Remember when it was difficult to land a job at Microsoft? Now it's easy and the caliber of people hired is a step or two below what it used to be. Microsoft is the next IBM: profitable, stable and incredibly boring. If that's the type of company you want to work for then stay and deal with the politics and terrible management. But you should view getting laid off as a badge of honor and an opportunity to do something new and refreshing that actually matters.

Anonymous said...

I was in the Windows Mobile division in the education and support area and after a very dedicated three year stint got my walking papers along with half of my group.

What can you say about a mobile division where a great deal of the senior people are using iPhones instead of Windows Mobile? We courted the enterprise, and the main application which was the security package SCMDM was dropped and instead SCCM which is a much more generic and watered down product was there to take it's place.

Not only did MS fail their consumer base by taking years to launch a product 6.5 which was already behind the times when released, it refused, it also left their loyal enterprise customers holding the bag.

I loved working at Microsoft, no one was as good to their employees as they are and we were a big family, I miss everyone and miss the work we were doing. But there is no culture of innovation, you lose when you stick your neck out to point out how things can be done better. At budget time everyone just tries to stay under the radar so that if the numbers are bad no one can point fingers at them. I miss MS, would be back in a hot second if they get back on track, but I don't see it happening at all-Android rocks, I have an HTC Android phone now-and iPhone, well, what can you say.

Anonymous said...

Mini what do you mean by:

"I guess we need another ThinkWeek paper on how to successfully acquire companies, too"

What other ThinkWeek paper are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

I notice that a lot of comments are focused at our technical leaders. Have we also looked at the bean counters running the helm, AKA Mr. Walmart - Kevin Turner.

Since he has joined, he has run the company by spreadsheet, scorecards and fear. He has been relentless in cost cutting. I guess that can be considered one of the roles of the COO, but what has he done for HR, Morale and the innovation sprit. It is probably at an all-time low in the company with people always looking behind their backs to see if they are next on the chopping block. Reading the ex-Danger team's blog kinds of sums up how innovation is killed by our silos, bureaucracy and leadership culture. I don’t think the new culture is healthy at all.

Also, how much longer can we survive squandering all our profits from our bread and butter business like office and windows, and keep screwing up in all the other investments area we make (Surface, Zune, KIN, MSN)? Somehow, seem to be always a few steps behind out competition. And there will come a time when we can’t save our hide by cost cutting anymore, and by that time, all the innovation sprit, enterprising and passion of the employees will at some point dry up if they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think the company has lost vision and putting our eggs is too many buckets but not having enough of them hatch. Not sure if we don’t know how to innovate, or is it our marketing guys who don’t know how to put us back in the heart and minds of our customers.

I hope that things will get better…. But I have been hoping for a few years now. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Hi to all MS employees here (all 7 of them :-) ).

Just wanted to share a few thoughts from the outside (just a linux, open-source fanboy):

As I see it it's not all gloom, and Microsoft definitely has bright spots.

Let me start with the biggest. Dotnet! A really impressive Java clone that (arguably) surpasses the original. This goes hand in hand with Visual Studio. Impressive vision. developers, developers etc... . I cannot stress how important and impressivce this is for you guys.

Next of course is XBOX, and its Live. Money money money, Nothing new here.

Next, surprisingly, IE9. Now these guys bring something new to Microsoft. Openness, standards, no hidden agenda (as i see it so far).

I'm sure there are many more.

Now, some suggestions and random thoughts:

1) Open up! I mean REALLY open up. Not some stupid shared-source thing. I'd say start with DOTNET. Publicly state you have no intention to sue anyone re. DOTNET. Leave windows closed if you need the extra money, not many care. Also publicly reverse your (Ballmer) statements on open source.

2) Currently Windows Azure is a joke! Is Microsoft in the commodity business? Compare with Google App Engine (the reason i'm into Java). Day and Night!

3) Work on that "Not invented here" syndrome. You'll work yourself to death recreating everything under the sun as Microsoft. That IS the power of open source.

I am sure there many many more...

All the best, don't despair, the future in tech is brighter then EVER for evryone
-meni, open-source and standards unashamed fanboy

PS, I'm working now on learning the Java stack with Eclipse. All b/c of Google's App Engine.

PPS, even with bright-spot 1 above, i cannot stress enough how disgusted i am about the fact that in my country high-schoolers are being taught DOTNET!

Anonymous said...

"Got called from my PDRM at 10am EST, I get vacation time, and am paid through end of today"

Is this a layoff or termination with cause? I'm confused about not receiving a severance package if it was a layoff.

Sergey Solyanik said...

I worked at Microsoft for 10 years, then went to Google, then back to Microsoft.

All companies have problems. Apple. Google. Microsoft. They are just different problems, and they look bigger when you are closer to them.

Yes, Microsoft is failing in consumer markets, always have, maybe always will. We don't get consumer. Vista (AKA Abby & Toby platform), Windows Mobile, Kin... Even XBox - it is successful because it was built more for a typical Microsoft employee than for a regular person, it's just MS people love the same kind of videogames that 14 years old males do :-). But if you look at kids or family games on XBox - total failure.

The problem is that we target some mythical "dumb" customer, we don't really know who that is, and we overshoot the level of dumbness by a wide margin. I worked on the first version of Windows Home Server and we had people on the team - not developers, obviously - who seriously tried to argue that our customers don't know what a file share is. I kid you not.

However, just the same as Microsoft doesn't get consumers, Google and Apple don't get the enterprise. I have participated in creation of a business product at Google, and the people around me did not understand basic concepts like the need for customer service, a refund process, or the like. The entire Google internal system is antithetic to schedule predictability and release stability that is required for a corporate product. People who say that Gmail and Google Docs somehow threaten Exchange and Office have obviously never used these products in a work setting for an extended period of time.

One thing that is going for Microsoft is a plentitude of cultures. We have Xbox team, and an Office team, and Windows team, and Bing, and all these organizations are as unlike each others as they can be. My advice to people, especially developers, who complain about politics, poor managers, boring products, etc - check out the career site! Plenty of teams are hiring, and there are tons of really fun places which will match your preferred style, values, or culture. Just keep moving until you find the right place for YOU. Trust me, it does exist. (By the way, I am hiring, too! If you dream in code and can implement a semaphore if I woke you up at 3am, and like a blend of "old Microsoft" and "new Google" cultures, look me up on career site!)

Finally, it is true that often leaders make companies/armies/countries great. But not always, and never alone, and certainly not in democratic societies :-). I don't think that success of Microsoft in the 90's is directly attributable to BillG and BillG alone, and the steam somehow magically went out of the company the day he left the building. Yes, we have plenty of people at the high places that probably should not have been there. So does Google, so does Apple, so does Oracle, Intel, ..., ..., ... These aren't the people who (most of) you work with, they aren't the people who you meet every day, and I'll let you in on a secret - they aren't the people who make YOUR product a success or a failure. YOU do. They can't affect the stock price much - YOU can, by shipping great products, and by making environment around YOU better, so it attracts more people like YOU.

So don't get consumed by paranoia and politics, focus on your job, your product, and your team, and everything else will follow.

And if not, as long as you do the above, you will still be very employable, and well compensated. At Google, at Amazon, or in my team :-).

Blake said...

Interesting that there are almost no positive comments in the above. Even BP's inept communication's office would have tried to get in front of this one.

As for redundancies in marketing...it's about time.

Anonymous said...

I like the forum being unmoderated.

Anonymous said...

Why are you guys so negative?

Working here isn't that bad. If you don't believe me, just quit and go somewhere else and you'll find out. I guarantee you that you'll want to come back to MS within 6 months.

You guys need to keep things in proper prospective: the entire tech sector went down the toilet after the dot.com bubble burst in 2000. Working as an engineer is tough these days, regardless where you work.

In your next life, choose to become a doctor, lawyer, or a banker. They got it better :)

Anonymous said...

Q. What phone costs $1 billion each?

A. "[Microsoft] sold a grand total of 503 Kins" http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/07/07/kin

"Danger was acquired by Microsoft on 11 February, 2008, for a price rumored to be around $500 million (USD)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danger_%28company%29

Anonymous said...

Good lord. How much do you want to bet that when WinMo7 comes out, all it will be able to do is call up a Subway shop in Puerto Rico and play Texas Hold 'Em?

Fact: Every consumer product that comes from MS these days is characterized by what it DOESN'T do. Why do we get worked up about anything when our pronounced hatred of external apps has captivated our leadership so?

Why am I even here?

Anonymous said...

To "I have an offer to start at MSFT in Redmond starting Aug 09."

I'll repeat what someone told me once about working at Microsoft: Stay close to where the products are built or where they are sold. Anything else is overhead.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a subsidiary and I got fired last week. I actually saw that coming, but it is sad anyway. I, like steveb, loved the company.

Anonymous said...

Wow, our team and the whole region got hit by lay offs yesterday. Somany good ressources, most of them long timers got cut

Anonymous said...

To the person mentioning the guy with a Political Science degree being a leader at MS - the partner-level GM I had in the tech group I was in had a degree in stage lighting... Didn't have the foggiest idea what we did but was an excellent regurgitator of briefing info, and that goes a long way at the highest levels of MS I'm sad to say.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Fargo, I am an ex-msftee from there, was in round 2 and had a great summer last year :) and I do know for sure that Area Sales Reps got laid off yesterday. I don't know what team that rolls up into or the severance package, if any but I am sure she wasn't the only one.

Anonymous said...

[re. WP7] There isnt a single feature in it that is not available in IPhone. The phone this weird differentiating concept of 'Tiles' - which in first look to me sucked. Add to it - we dont know yet the huge no. of features and apps that this phone will not have as compared to IPhone.

If iPhone proved anything, it's that the vast majority of people do NOT care about bullet-point lists of features; rather, they want a phone that's intuitive and fun to use. Everything I've seen of WP7 so far suggests it can deliver this, and potentially go way beyond the iPhone. For starters, the tile/hub thing looks like a much more friendly, user-centric model than the old grid'o'icons + siloed, fullscreen apps.

And this is coming from an iPhone-owning, OSX-using non-employee.

Anonymous said...

I rose in the Microsoft ranks fast as i knew that if i looked busy and was vocal it would get peoples attention - hey i worked out the system and gamed them in the process.

It was easy, too easy. My observations for Microsoft is that its got way to many anti-risk taking overlords and the company is obviously very top-heavy. I'd say instead of pruning the lower branches, its time to start swapping out the leadership levels.

I once had to work with Andy Lee's direct.. that guy is an empty corpse, i watched people fall over themselves to kiss his ass and it was probably a defining moment for me in just how badly Microsoft is currently celebrating mediocrity.

I'd like to see Microsoft leadership level get detoxed with new outside blood and it needs to stop inbreeding ..err..hiring within for that level of responsibility as 9/10 those jar heads are starved of new ideas anyway.

Anonymous said...

Belt tighening is the right thing to do - if business is not growing and new ventures are going nowhere what else would you do?

Granted they are painful - esp for the individual involved, but required nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I've just been laid off from the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division, word on the street here is the Xbox and Zune product lines are now coming to an end. Microsoft are focusing back on software.

Anonymous said...

"Large companies like Microsoft are required to notify the state if they close a plant with 50 or more employees or if they have a mass layoff that involves more than 500 employees at any single location." Seattle Times

Given probably more than 50 people were affected yesterday, wonder how they got around this? Does building number = location?

I believe this small chopping each week will continue through Summer.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was invited to a "kaffee klatsch" with a high-ranking exec in Windows Mobile. He asked the people there what we thought of the mobile business, and the next version of Windows Mobile on which we were all working.

When it was my turn, I said that I thought we should not be in the business of designing mobile phones, and that IMHO we had already lost the space to Apple (Droid wasn't out yet). I also stated my opinion that our leadership just couldn't admit our loss because, well, we're MICROSOFT. I stated that our best bet was to start developing awesome applications for other mobile O/S and put our resources elsewhere.

I went further and said that, in Windows Mobile, the different disciplines - Program Management, Test, Design, Usability, Development - were always at war with one another, and that unless the organization was led to cohesion, nothing of value would be shipped.

Most of the other non-execs in the meeting diverted their eyes. Some looked at me like "are you nuts for saying that?" The exec hosting the klatsch merely said, "what an interesting idea" and went on to the next person.

That moment confirmed for me that I was no longer working for the Microsoft I had known and enjoyed years ago. I was working for the 21st century version of IBM. It was time to go.

Anonymous said...

I think Microsoft reached a Zenith with Window 2000, and possibly Windows 2003. XP was O.K. - once all the eye candy removed. SQL 2000 was a spectacular product. Office 97 / 2000 was fine too (until the blight of the 2003 / 2007 formats.)

For 10 years now, Microsoft has just watched the competition close around it. I am one very disappointed stock holder hearing yet another bombshell.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem obvious? FIRE (not layoff) the executives who screwed this up. Imagine the number of jobs that could be saved. It's not the employees that caused the debacle.

Anonymous said...

>>Q. What phone costs $1 billion each?

A. "[Microsoft] sold a grand total of 503 Kins" http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/07/07/kin

"Danger was acquired by Microsoft on 11 February, 2008, for a price rumored to be around $500 million (USD)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danger_%28company%29

I know 14 is a tough age, but you really need to concentrate on that math homework.

Anonymous said...

to the poster who hasn't "used any Microsoft products for 10 years"

Why are you reading and posting on an intensely internal blog like Mini Microsoft??

Anonymous said...

Anon at July 07, 2010 5:07:00 PM:

"Do I not own my e-mails sent to family and friend about ideas on the weekends? Sounds like it's owned by the company and I need a license for it!"

What you do on your own time and with your own resources is yours ... in California, thanks to a late 1980s or so law.

Non-competes have been unenforceable there for a long time (and to an amazing extent), which I'm sure has more than a little to do with Silicon Valley's success.

For its California employees Microsoft can say whatever it wants about this but it can only enforce it by firing you and keeping you out of their app store.

Anonymous said...

Kin isnt the first example of this in recent history.
Look at what happened to Proclarity and PPS 2007 for gods sake. We invested large in training and product dev for PPS, so to find out it had been axed through some blog post was somewhat upsetting to say the least. Now we have PowerPivot that flys in the face of every BI best practice out there.
We are slowly but surely steering away from our dependance on MS BI every day.
Actually its the same at home -
Microsoft dev since 1993.

Anonymous said...

Dear Microsoft employees-that-make-key-decisions,

Please kill Windows Mobile 7. Tell me one reason why I would want to buy that over the iPhone? Yes, you have a fancy navigation interface but that is pretty much it. The moment Steve Jobs showed FaceTime, I realized WM7 is dead.


Also, consider cutting the price of Kinect - w.k.a. Natal(awesome name!) to half. The device is overpriced and will suffer the same fate as the Kin.

BlueCollarCritic said...

WOW! Its amazing to see how many unhappy real workers (those who do things and don;t simply watch over others and tell them what to do) there are at Microsoft.

Its clear that whether it is real or not the perception by employees is that things run politically at MS and not based on any logical approach. What a shame.

JSatGS said...

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Anonymous said...

"I've just been laid off from the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division, word on the street here is the Xbox and Zune product lines are now coming to an end. Microsoft are focusing back on software."


You never worked for MSFT. Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has become a process oriented company

Ideas are equated to levels. Dumb ideas from Managers gets visibity. With lot of old decade managers it only appears as virtual network of connected people to grow their preferred connections within the organizations.

Manager acts as a delivery boy for management. There is absolutely no transparency. I have personally seen it more as worker category vs manager's pet category. Its a bullshit thing u rate your abilities. Pure eyewash. Managers are never handson. Managers in MSIT are worst. This will not sustain. It's not place to be for people who have passion and honest. Few bad apples which are preserved by management spoil the whole environment.

Anonymous said...

>> The entire Google internal system is antithetic to schedule predictability

In reality it's no more antithetic than Microsoft's. It's just that Google tries not to ship products before they're ready, and doesn't make a big deal out of shipping them by a randomly chosen date. Can't ship it this quarter? Fine, put it into your next quarter's objectives and ship it then.

MS products slip all the time. Worse yet, products get released with shitty quality just because the execs like to pretend that they know how long a software project will take three years in advance.

Needless to say, I much prefer Google's approach.

Anonymous said...

Xbox coming to an end?

Can someone comment on this?

Anonymous said...

C++ in the kernel? Check out what happened to Taligent, also called Pink (IBM and Apple's attempt way back in the day when they tried to cooperate). Anyone who thinks that C++ in any shape or size will fit in a kernel doesn't understand hardware and doesn't understand kernel limitations and requirements. Go get an education.

I've never worked at MSFT, but I've used their products and I used to like them. Then XP happened, Exchange was imposed on my email, and all the fucking viruses in the world took our corporate network down in 1999 costing our business unit millions of dollars in lost revenue. I forget what that stupid piece of shit was called, but I remember our IT guy laughing all the way to the purchase council, so that he could hire more temps for desktop support.

All the politics described here reminds me of another former monopoly I used to work for. Namely AT&T, before they split into their three pieces. Then I got sucked into the disaster called Lucent, where unless you had personally licked every executives ass clean all the way up to the division E-level (i.e. VP), you wouldn't survive 10 days.

Monopolies are interesting things. They have inertia as the money from the monopoly dries out, you see all the interesting events that the Kin fiasco seems to have seen. Expensive acquisitions, ego based technical changes in the acquisition, loss of key technical people, fun times. Enough hubris to go around ...

MSFT is going to die, yeah, I know they have gazillions of stupid Windows 7 licenses coming in. Well guess what, the world is moving to machines like the iPad - Apples out there - using it now for this - and HPs not far behind with WebOS.

This tanker ain't turning folks, it's going tits up as our british friends say.

Anonymous said...

"I've just been laid off from the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division, word on the street here is the Xbox and Zune product lines are now coming to an end. Microsoft are focusing back on software."

Obvious troll is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Look at the Linkedin profile of Matt Bencke
This dude has degrees in Political Science, and still is a GM in a technological company


That is nothing, Sameer Nagi in Microsoft India has a degree in Hotel Management and he manages 40 Engineers in a Talent Development Program called APEX

Anonymous said...

When I joined Microsoft in 1999, I felt empowered to make a difference in the world.

When I left Microsoft in 2001, I wrote a passionate exit letter illustrating exactly what the Danger employee who was part of the acquisition commented about.

The culture at Microsoft, the dysfunction and inclining illogical higher leadership, is apparently still all about politics, blowing sunshine up the occasional ass and covering their own rather than making educated decisions about a chosen market.

From spending years in a product who’s only goal was to ‘catch up to yahoo’ to transferring to an idiocratic joke of a team that was going to ‘change the way Microsoft operates’ (and lasted about a year), it’s hard to forget how disillusioned I was after working there.

The illustration of how the Danger employees felt after their acquisition reminds me of the ‘managers’ I ended up working for in the short lived, and as far as I can tell equally useless, group that was supposedly created specifically to advance the Microsoft culture to include guidance from ‘people like me’ (us) and put an end to this crap.

Well, I can say that I learned a lot from that experience. It’s unsurprising, if not pretty sad, to see that on Microsofts end, not a much has changed. But at least they offer up some semblance of trying once in a while, I guess.

Anonymous said...

(I'm a non-employee, though I did contract at Microsoft in the very late 90's for a time)

As an outsider that has tracked the mobile industry for a very long time, Kin seems like it was a good idea at the time it was hatched. But it clearly fell apart in the execution, both product and especially business ($30/mo for something ostensibly targeted at teens? ha!). It had some good ideas about the user experience though, again, lacking in execution largely because it appeared to have been rushed.

Windows Phone 7, I think like others have expressed, will suffer due to the awful branding. It sounds like a corporate device yet it's aimed at consumers. I also have a hard time believing Microsoft can grow their app market as the late-comer to the game behind Apple and Google. The user experience on the device itself - as seen in the emulator - is quite appealing. iOS4 looks positively antiquated compared side-by-side. But the UX is also very different and here, too, is where Microsoft could have a hard time: the Apple experience has become the de facto smartphone experience, and that is what most people will have in mind if/when they try WinPho7 - people fear change. I've seen this "iPhone" effect time and time again when observing people trying something new to them, such as Blackberry or Android. The Apple experience has achieved public consciousness and therefore has inertia - deviate from these expectations and you will likely either succeed wildly or, unfortunately, crash and burn.

I want Microsoft to succeed, especially with WinPho7. Apple needs more competition (so far Google is still just threatening - WinPho7 seems like it blows away any Android experience to date) to be pushed to innovate. I also want Microsoft to succeed because they are - strangely enough, the underdog. A long time ago, people were excited about Microsoft's mobile offerings, such as their first smartphone. When it was being developed, I remember watching user studies and was impressed at how, participant after participant, all eagerly asked "when can I get this?" (demand characteristics aside, it was still consistent across studies and participants). Unfortunately, 10 years later the current Windows Mobile experience has evolved very little from the original, all the while the entire industry as been turned upside down by Apple.

I feel for the employees being let go. It is awful (I've been let go twice in my career). Sadly, from reading here and from others I know working at the company in Redmond, a pervasive darkness is descending and starting to permeate the culture.

But it could be worse, look at what happened at AOL - from the news and lately from Alley Insider, I'm pretty sure they've had at LEAST one layoff per year, often 10 or 20% of the entire company or more, for a whole decade. AOL's biggest problems seem similar to Microsoft's (and Yahoo!'s??): poor leadership with no clear long-term vision resulting in no clear short-term actions. There should be no parallels between the train-wreck that is AOL and the financially wildly successful Microsoft, but it's troubling that there are.

Good luck out there.

Anonymous said...

"But that's as much blaming as I'm prepared to do. The fact is, I'm a little older. I have kids. I'm trying not to disrupt their lives with cold hard reality, yet. But the fact is I spend most of my days in terrible sadness, knowing I'm too old to start a new career, and probably finally ready to retire all those ambitions I nurture. I can't thrive here anymore. Everyone thinks we're dead.

It's all over for me. This is where it ends. This is the day that I realized it."


Jesus, self-pity much?

I left Microsoft of my own free will after 14 years to return to grad school for an MFA -- I'm going to be an art teacher, although I worked as a PM at the 'soft.

BTW, I'm starting this adventure at 41.

A Dev friend of mine went back to college at 45 and is now about to finish Med school at 52.

Your lesson is this: no matter how much you love your job, DO NOT SACRIFICE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE FOR IT. Nights/weekends/vacations? You have only yourself to blame for that level of idiocy. And, of course, you've done your wife and children a huge disservice. Shame on you.

Stop your whining and snap out of your torpor -- you can change careers if you like. You can do the same thing at a different company. Microsoft has largely become a shit-hole, but happily you're not indentured there.

Good grief.

Anonymous said...

When I joined Microsoft in 1999, I felt empowered to make a difference in the world.

When I left Microsoft in 2001, I wrote an exit letter illustrating exactly what the Danger employee who was part of the acquisition commented about 10 years later.

The culture at Microsoft; the dysfunction and illogical higher leadership, is apparently still all about politics, blowing sunshine up the occasional ass and covering your own rather than making educated decisions about a chosen market.

From a product who’s only goal was to ‘catch up to yahoo’ to an idiocratic joke of a team that was going to ‘change the way Microsoft operates’ (and lasted about a year), it’s hard to forget how disillusioned I was after working at Microsoft.

The illustration of how the Danger employee felt after their acquisition reminds me of the ‘managers’ I ended up working for in the short lived, and as far as I can tell equally useless, group that was supposedly created specifically to advance the Microsoft culture to include guidance from ‘people like me’ and put an end to this crap.

Well, I can say that I learned a lot from that experience. It’s unsurprising, if not pretty sad, to see that on Microsofts end, not much has changed. But at least they offer up some semblance of trying once in a while, I guess. Maybe they'll pull their head out eventually.

Anonymous said...

Confirmed about Matt Benke, his mindless non-stop "BOOYAH" emails after the engineering team kept bailing him out each ridiculous commitment he signed everyone up for was insane.

Anonymous said...

• I have an offer to start at MSFT in Redmond starting Aug 09.
From a 4 year msft'er, I really love my job. I work with brilliant, passionate people every day and have a manager that pushes me to exceed and grow. I am well paid and have outstanding perks. It is a wonderful combination in my book.

Yep, there are a number of negative people working here - and they somehow are only willing to chime in on Mini versus MS Poll or other helpful forums. Comparing our MSFT employee survey scores to other tech companies, MS employees are highly engaged and satisfied with the careers at MSFT by comparison (the scores are consistently jaw-dropping high!). If these anonymous posters here would really, really like to see a change at MSFT, they should speak up within the company as well. I have personally witness more than one senior Executive within OSD with horrible employee survey scores get pushed of Microsoft. And for the record, Executives get pushed out of MSFT all the time. How many announcements have you send that say: “so-in-so is leaving to spend more time with their family”? It happens… A LOT.

My one and only real complaint about MSFT… we aren’t firm enough with our performance management and getting people out of the company. If you are going to force rank people based on performance, consistent 10% (s) should be managed out – or – termed. Other companies are willingly to term underachievers and I wish MSFT would as well. There are a number of long timers that need to go (my guess is many of them on this forum, *maybe* even mini). They spend their days focusing on what’s wrong versus incubating ideas. Some employees spend time crushing ideas with their negativity. If you don’t like it here anymore, GET OUT. Oh that’s right, you would rather whine to mini.

Oh and Mini- why do you moderated your responses? Filtering comments?

Andy said...

This is a bit of a tangent, but actually Linux doesn't have C++ because Linus is vehemently against it. You can agree or disagree, but that is the reason.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem obvious? FIRE (not layoff) the executives who screwed this up. Imagine the number of jobs that could be saved. It's not the employees that caused the debacle.

Dream on! That can't happen. You are not an exec, so it is obvious to you :). Many partners-plus do not pull their weight and mind you they cost a lot to MSFT and this is if you assume that they realy deserve to be partners-plus. Not just the comp, but club memberships, international vacations with families, you name it. It is not obvious to their managers. This is quite normal in remote offices.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with some of the comments in this blog... and this happens in all the world, I'm based outside the US working for a local sub and the review process is already finish.. I haven't even have my final numbers and calibration meetings took place 2 weeks ago.. so my bonus and grade has been decided without even asking me anything... the stok is dropping down.. and we continue to spend in stupid things like new offices, expensive travel for GMs.. new GMs with stupid hiring bonus...

Anonymous said...

Everything I've seen of WP7 so far suggests it can deliver this, and potentially go way beyond the iPhone. For starters, the tile/hub thing looks like a much more friendly, user-centric model than the old grid'o'icons + siloed, fullscreen apps.

Ouch. Is it opposite day?

What could POSSIBLY be simpler and more user friendly than just tapping an icon in the grid'o'icons to run an app that does what you want?

This is all that's wrong with Microsoft usability in a nutshell. You seem to honestly believe that a jumble of rectangles assaulting you with a barrage of random information is somehow easier to use than an iPhone. Kill me now.

Anonymous said...

Companies have to take risks, they have to fail to succeed. Redirecting resources is part of that. This is a huge global market and labor trends will show that no one is immuned from this dynamic. Change is inevitable, therefore, opportunities are inevitable - if you look for and embrace them. With the speed of business, it might not be wise to spend too much time licking wounds. It might be a better strategy to treat them and move forward.

Anonymous said...

A quick note - I work in the Core OS team in Windows (i.e. where the Kernel is built). All the discussion/information in recent posts about the level of cruft and C vs C++ in the Kernel is just completely off target.

There was a ton of cool work and cleanup in the kernel in Windows 7 and there's a TON of very cool work going on in the kernel now - if you want to know more, talk to a kernel dev or pm and they can tell you what the reality is!

Anonymous said...

It's obvious the Board needs to step in and make changes at the top. Tell me, what has MS done that is new and exciting to the marketplace in the last 10 years? Win 7? Yeah, it's an updated version of Windows. Wow.

Many Sr. Executives need to be escorted out by security. I left years ago but MS is quickly becoming the punch line.

Anonymous said...

I hear MSIT India getting ready to reshuffle leadership team. Murali Krishna and Nagender can't escape lay-off possibility, they don't have role or purpose in the org. What I hear lay-offs could be around 10% and elimination of redundent leadership roles. Span of Controls and Org Depth issues are also being addressed to right size MSIT India. Another 100+ headcount reduction?

Labored Joke said...

"Microsoft needs to learn a lesson from Gap. They have three brands. Banana Republic for the high-end stuff, Gap for the midrange, and Old Navy for the cheapass stuff. Each has its own image, and many people are unaware that they're all part of one company."

Nonsense, Microsoft just needs to recognize that "Windows" as a brand is old. They should Bing, everything.

Bing Mail
Bing OS
Bing Phone
Bing Messenger

As for being cooler, why not use letters? Letters are very cool.

So instead of Windows Live Messenger being Bing Messenger, it can be Bing M. But everything needs to be renamed.

Then when someone asks what office product I use, I can reply:

Bing O

Anonymous said...

"If iPhone proved anything, it's that the vast majority of people do NOT care about bullet-point lists of features; rather, they want a phone that's intuitive and fun to use. Everything I've seen of WP7 so far suggests it can deliver this, and potentially go way beyond the iPhone. For starters, the tile/hub thing looks like a much more friendly, user-centric model than the old grid'o'icons + siloed, fullscreen apps."

OK - I was the OP. If you're so enthralled by WP7 - can you answer the following:

1) How do you sell WP7 to a new user who is trying to decide b/w Iphone, Droid and WP7?

2) (If you want to go above and beyond) - how do you sell WP7 to an existing Iphone user whose 2 years contract is coming to an end and who is already used to using 5-10 iphone apps that may not be available on WP7?

If you can answer the above 2 with some substance and zero rhetoric, I'd be willing to re-think about WP7 having a chance against iphone.

Anonymous said...

With respect to the comment about Danger's talent pool and the calibration "bloodbath":

That talent pool, which never topped 300 people, shipped nearly a dozen successful phones in 10 years.

People who were turning down unsolicited offers from other companies stayed for a couple of reasons. Mostly, they stayed to finish sidekick LX 2009 and ship it.

After that they stayed because of the retention bonus. Many gave up in disgust and left their retention bonus on the table rather than wait it out.

They are still leaving, mostly in shock and awe at how badly kin was executed, how little accountability there is for the failure, and in disgust over the ruthless way in which Microsoft destroyed a successful company just because it could.

Of course they failed calibration. The skill set necessary to survive at Microsoft is very different than the skill set necessary to ship quality products with small teams. Some couldn't adjust, some wouldn't adjust. Some adjusted and did well, though they too are leaving.

Add to that that they got no credit in ranking for shipping the last sidekick, there's no surprise that they did poorly. The real surprise is that they did as well as they did in such a broken system.

Most of the Danger people who are left are still there because they are still supporting what is left of the Danger business. Despite T-Mobile killing sidekick, developers are still submitting third party applications for approval. The service is still running. OTAs to fix bugs are still being rolled out.

Most of the rest who are still around are still around because their Microsoft peers argue that PMX was unusual and that Microsoft is actually more competent than it appears and they're willing to take the risk.

Some are waiting because they've got multiple offers and they're trying to decide which one to take.

None would have trouble finding work nor doing well at any competently managed company.

Mikhail said...

With the lay-offs taking place at Microsoft this week I have decided to host an Internet radio show dedicated to talking about Microsoft, it's present and future next week. If you are an ex-MSFT employee who would be interested in sharing your thoughts as a guest on the show, please drop me a note (use the contact link at www.surkan.com).

This will be a LInked:Seattle Radio show (http://bit.ly/LinkedSeattle). I run the Linked:Seattle group (with nearly 21,000 members), and host periodic internet radio shows on Seattle related topics.

By the way, I am a Microosft almnus, and was let go from the company last year myself.

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a way to prohibit non MS folks from posting comments in this blog. It's difficult to actually glean useful information from the comments when 90% of the non MS posts are chocked full of inaccuracies, pure conjecture or clearly biased opinions.

Anonymous said...

I think Microsoft reached a Zenith with Window 2000, and possibly Windows 2003

I have to agree with Windows 2000.
Windows 2003 wasn't that good - they only thing good about Windows Server 2008 was that you can use Vista drivers.

Win 7 looks good because Vista sucked so bad. XP was good.

Win 8 will be a dud....there is no reason to upgrade in 2/3 years.

Anyway, in 2-3 years, Chrome OS will have taken off.

Harvey "Skip" Bogard said...

I read with great interest these two employee comments:
1. Look at the Linkedin profile of Matt Bencke This dude has degrees in Political Science, and still is a GM in a technological company

2. Microsoft should have never rehired him after he left the first time. There is a reason that neither his former manager nor his former skip wanted him back.

That said, I'd like to speak with Matt Bencke's manager about replacing him. As suggested by Anonymous, I looked at his LinkedIn profile. While I don't know him, I believe I'd be a better GM. At the risk of appearing narcissitic (I can assure you I'm not), I'd like to apply for his job. I believe I'd be a great manager to work for.

That shared, can someone please email me his manager's name/email?

Why would you want to help me? i.e. What's in it for you?
Well...how often do you get to have a say in picking your own general manager? Think of helping as an opportunity to have a say in your future.

My email/phone contact info can be found by Binging "Skip Bogard" AND resume. Thank you.
Skip Bogard
Skip Bogard

Anonymous said...

As you well said "shareholders are silent".
We, as employees are too silent and we're shareholders too.

There's one way to show disagreement peacefully and such in a strong way that the message will get so across that the very next day you'll see chairs flying and changes coming.

Don't show up at the company meeting. Just stay at home that day.

If was up to me I would go and wait for Ballmer to come out and as soon he shows up I would leave in mass.

Why you don't make a post that polls who believe this is a good idea? You got me and my wife both FTEs for 14 and 16 years. We're so pissed about the current MS.

KevinH said...

Sometimes it's not new leadership you need. Sometimes you just have to lift off and nuke the whole mess from orbit.

Seriously, does anything really think replacing Ballmer would solve anything? Replace him with who?

Here's the solution: Order the executive staff to use their personal fortunes to buy back shares of Microsoft.

Right now, the company is controlled by execs who never got it, and a bunch of PM's who are either tied down, losers, or don't give a flying *uck.

Selling Microsoft-branded porn DVD's would have been a better and more profitable strategy than Kin.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem obvious? FIRE (not layoff) the executives who screwed this up. Imagine the number of jobs that could be saved. It's not the employees that caused the debacle.

Who would make the decision to fire the executives?

Executives.

How likely is that going to happen?

We've already seen a few people blame the people from Danger even though they already produced a more successful phone before being acquired by Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Pink business model was flawed from the very start. People blaming Andy and Terry (again both have zero telecom background) should try to get hold of assumptions of Pink Business Plan - Pricing (Device + Service), Distribution (regional differences), Growth rate, Customer, Competition, etc were all barely considered.

Some of the features didn't really make sense for teenagers either.

How many teenagers want a website to organize their text messages?

It sounds like a feature a lawyer would want but they wouldn't want those messages stored on a public website.

Anonymous said...

I was laid off in the first wave last year. Was only out of work for a few months, and am now at a company that is SO much better in every way. Although I was devastated at the time, getting the bum's rush from MS was the best thing that ever happened to me.

For those who have been kicked to the curb, don't feel too bad. You will find yourself in a better place. Honestly.

Anonymous said...

That's sorta how I felt, before I left. And then I realized I was a pawn. Here's a simple litmus test. Can you start your own project at Microsoft if you have a great idea? No? You're a pawn. As simple as that.

Aw, no one liked your "Jump to conclusions mat" so you couldn't get funding. Sorry to hear that.

Anonymous said...

These comments just show an outsider like me that only disaffected, unhappy (and probably unproductive) people contribute comments. Just like comments on newspaper articles.

I read these with full knowledge that they represent only those willing to spend time writing comments (like me) -- not any sense of an overall trend or view.

Haters are haters...and they love showing it.

Anonymous said...

Just though I would point out the conficting advice given by some people.
You cannot complain that the company discourages risk taking and then ask the that someone be fired over KIN.
On the other hand, you can ask that someone do a Lessons Learned about how the product and its' development cycle.

Anonymous said...

[Fixed grammatical errors, Mini]

In terms of C++ in the kernel, I don't understand the argument or concern, really. C++ is somewhat bloated and many of it's advantages don't make sense in kernel context. First of all, C++ was designed to be a language for use in making general purpose libraries for external consumers, running as USER MODE applications and services. This argument is pointless... C is perfectly suited for the performance and footprint requirement of the Windows kernel.


In terms of MinWin, it was not conceived to be some lightwieght server-core-like client variant of Windows to be used on lesser hardware or environments running Windows that don't need the overhead of user mode services and a desktop... Windows Embedded is used for this purpose today. MinWin was designed specifically as a means to help Windows architects understand and map out all the dependencies in the system, cut away the cruft, see if the system boots, is stable, cut away more, etc. MinWin is still rather huge in size. Perhaps the name and subsequent blog FUD has led to this misperception?

To summarize, you don't NEED C++ in the kernel and the lack thereof makes for a pretty weak criticism of Windows architecture. Second, MinWin is about understanding the complexity of this galactic sized software system. Nothing more.

Finally, Microsoft, like all giant high pressure, high profit international corporations, is of course full of strange and unfortunate human-generated political BS. Make no mistake, engineers do NOT run the company - Marketing (or Product Management as Sinofsky calls it) does.And in some cases, they do a great job. Still, they are not engineers. Yes, we do need more leaders who understand the intimate details of what they are charged with making successful, spending much less time on messaging, PR pipelines and, well, marketing. Sinofsky is almost there, but he is not enough. We need two or three more technical Sinofskys, a few more Rudders and we will be kicking butt.

Windows is a tremendous piece of technology and I don't want to work for any other company, especially given the outrageous potential of the Microsoft future.

Put your shades on. It's bright, no matter what bloggers wax on endlessly about (and many of the Microsoft employees ranting on here on this blog). Fact is, MOST people are NOT privy to what's really going on in terms of technological and business strategy (sure that relationship is of course incestuos...). Transparency is not in place everywhere inside Microsoft (by design), so accept the fact that you do not know everything about the company's strategies and do your specific job to the best of your abilities. If positions get eliminated due to business strategy as a result of market climate and the broader GLOBAL economic downturn, that's one thing and it's too bad. If you get laid off or fired for your poor performance, well, that's another thing. Aren't you accountable for your performance? How you DO your job? What you achieve? How you perform relative to what you committed to? Yes, in most cases, you are.

Anonymous said...

I am a long-time employee of Microsoft. A number of my friends and peers were let go yesterday. All were hardworking and talented employees, so we all hated to see them go. However, we know that layoffs are a fact of life these days. The one thing that I find interesting is the fact that I know of very few managers that were let go. I know of an entire team that was let go, all but their manager. And, it was commonly believed that the manager was weak and inexperienced. I did hear that there was one Dir or GM over in Dynamics that was let go, but then I later heard that he wasn't let go, but given "other opportunities in the company." What's up with this? This is just more of the political BS that's going on here.

Anonymous said...

I know a few people in the Kin team and they aren't aware of any layoffs in their group.

Anonymous said...

The 10%/Limited bucket is such a morale sinker. It really needs to go. I've heard some teams just rotate the 10% to save their people or even give the 10% to whoever got promoted the year before. All it takes is one bad manager to put u in this bucket to sink your career. How do other groups deal with the 10%?

Anonymous said...

I don't get this. I see people who have left MSFT or shown the door posting maximum comments on this blog. Guys, GET OUT!! This blog is for MSFT only. What proves you guys to be losers and MSFT to be a gr8 company is that you guys keep on coming back to this blog. If I was ever laid off, I would get over it and never look back even in blogs. These blogs will add to your frustration that you were let go. I love MSFT. I will hate MSFT if they lay me off, yes, because job is bread and butter. But, then again, I would never come back to look at these blogs. I would focus harder on my future job and get it right from the mistakes learnt. I don't get the psychology, really. Look ahead and do something for yourself than coming back to bash MSFT. MSFT may be bad and falling downhill and may go OOB tomorrow, but how does that matter to you guys who don't even work there.Mannn.... go get an iPad and sleep on it.

Anonymous said...

Wondering why everyone that I know of that got laidoff in the last couple days has been with Microsoft for 9+ years...several top performers (not bottom 10%)also seems like a 20% - 30% cuts in three groups I know of that were impacted..and I know there is much more...wondering if the entire story is being told?

Anonymous said...

"Next of course is XBOX, and its Live. Money money money, Nothing new here."

Last year there were so many posters basing the XBOX and the money Microsoft spent on it. Now it is quickly becoming a new cash cow. HA!

Anonymous said...

Who is the Ray Ozzie guy that I've heard about?

Anonymous said...

It is the dirty internal politics that is destroying Microsoft. Unfortunately, MSFT has been having a corrupt corporate culture that encourages this internal politics. People are forced to get into this cut-throat competition in order to survive. For example, the company culture values "visibility" in the employee performance review. What is “visibility”? Let as many people as possible to “think” you are “doing” something "important". So we saw the talkative persons who love making pointless speeches in the endless meetings got promoted, because they had "influences". Those who work hard, who focus on the products, and who are quiet are punished. The more code you write, the more bugs you generate naturally, and later the others will use these bugs against you, and the “poorer” your “performance” will be.

A company with corrupt culture is doomed to decline, once it no longer has monopoly power in market to keep the cash flow.

Get rid of the mid-level "managers" who don't care of the company and don't know how to manage at all and all they think is to get as much as possible from the company.

Anonymous said...

my biggest gripe about all of this is how we (MSFT) has done all of this laying off without letting the rest of the company know. I have no idea if the person in the next office is gone, on vacation or just in relentless meetings for the day. Internally one of our biggest issues would be around communication and the lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous,

"Publicly state you have no intention to sue anyone re. DOTNET"

No one would believe it; MS has too much form.

Are you on the MS payroll? I strongly suspect that you've been snorting the Kool-Aid.

Anonymous said...

This blog and the comments offer much complaining and no solutions. Listen to the people who are telling you to go work somewhere else and you will see how it "ain’t so bad here". Now don't get me wrong, I value constructive criticism. Unfortunately there is little resemblance of that on this blog. This public flogging of the company, often by non-employees pretending to be employees is disturbing and completely disruptive to the hard working men and women that really care about making Microsoft a better place. Now I do pity those who have to deal with a clueless manager but I don’t pity those who offer no solutions to the problem. Simply calling your manager or the CEO names never solves problems. Also, talking about failures and completely dismissing the good things this company does is really not helping either. How about simply asking why certain products are making boatloads of money and showing strong growth and asking how that can be done with our dud products? That doesn’t solve the problem but it is a place to start as opposed to calling Ballmer Monkey Boy or bashing fellow employees in India.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why in the wake of the Kin debacle everyone is blaming Lees, Ho and Myerson while Matt Bencke is being let off the hook. He was the one who approved the flawed business model that depended on the operators charging MORE for a Pink plan than an unlimited plan. He was the one who .....


Terry Myerson had little or nothing to do with KIN. Lees .. maybe. Roz Ho and everyone else reporting to her are guilty as charged for KIN fiasco.

As for the question of why they are still drawing a paycheck, unless you are a newbie you may know that at Microsoft execs, GM's & partners are not accountable for their actions. They are here to cash in big stock, bonuses regardless of how they perform.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame Terry for KIN. I heard he hated KIN and wanted to cut it since the beginning, when he moved to WM, but he couldn't make it because some people blocked him.

Anonymous said...

@"AAPL - 35000 employees",

You realize that half of Apple's headcount is their FTE Apple Store employees, right?

More like AAPL 20000 employees + 15000 Turner-style Walmart folk.


Thank you, you are right my friend. That certainly changes the math. Revenue & profit per employee really stinks for MSFT under that model.

Anonymous said...

However, I don't see anything wrong with us building things that run on Windows and connect to Windows.

Because it's a bit like saying "You're free do do anything and go anywhere. But don't cross the road."

As long as everything is 'connected to Windows' there won't be any incentive to think outside the square and truly innovate.

Does an iPhone have to be tethered to the iMac? No! It is standalone.

Anonymous said...

hi there, steve’s 30th anniversary with the company is coming up very rapidly. tomorrow afternoon at ms studios,
let's gather together, celebrate and let him know how you appreciate his leadership to help company steer clear of those torrents and reefs.

Anonymous said...

When it was my turn, I said that I thought we should not be in the business of designing mobile phones, and that IMHO we had already lost the space to Apple (Droid wasn't out yet). I also stated my opinion that our leadership just couldn't admit our loss because, well, we're MICROSOFT. I stated that our best bet was to start developing awesome applications for other mobile O/S and put our resources elsewhere.


That's one approach. You are assuming that we are entering an entrenched market with high barriers to entry. The market data indicates that it is not yet entrenched. The smartphone market is growing and there are still numerous variants at play.

This also ignores potential assets that MSFT can bring to bear in the platform and the fact that - as noted by a previous poster - Apple is selling shovels to miners. Not many miners make money.

I went further and said that, in Windows Mobile, the different disciplines - Program Management, Test, Design, Usability, Development - were always at war with one another, and that unless the organization was led to cohesion, nothing of value would be shipped.


My perception is that this is no longer the case. There is a healthy tension between the different disciplines but it is not contentious. If you believe otherwise, please point to examples.

Most of the other non-execs in the meeting diverted their eyes. Some looked at me like "are you nuts for saying that?" The exec hosting the klatsch merely said, "what an interesting idea" and went on to the next person.

Let's see. You raised some harsh criticism and proposed something that runs counter to the current policy. You were not attacked or ridiculed, you received a polite non-commital response instead.

What exactly was your expectation in that setting?

That moment confirmed for me that I was no longer working for the Microsoft I had known and enjoyed years ago. I was working for the 21st century version of IBM. It was time to go.

I can't recall a single town hall a decade ago where execs tried to gather feedback on their product from others outside their team and it was not a recruiting session.

I can recall meetings where folks raising such a controversial position, whether correct or incorrect, were roasted or talked down to.

You're right, it's not the company you joined.

Steve Ballmer said...

This was planned! Why are you people twisting the truth like this?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, whatever manager gets fired by MS, Amazon will hire them! Happened after Vista, I was gobsmacked when I learned they hired Jim Allchin.

Anonymous said...

That is nothing, Sameer Nagi in Microsoft India has a degree in Hotel Management and he manages 40 Engineers in a Talent Development Program called APEX


Nothing beats Tarun Gulati, who was a waiter in a five star hotel in Bangalore and today is a GM in Microsft. All beacuse of his pal Sanjay Parthasarthy.

Steve Ballmer said...

The only cuts we plan are custodial staff! You people will simply have to empty your own trash cans now!

Anonymous said...

There's one way to show disagreement peacefully and such in a strong way that the message will get so across that the very next day you'll see chairs flying and changes coming.

Don't show up at the company meeting. Just stay at home that day.


The most sensible thing I've read all night. I was thinking the same thing earlier today.

Anonymous said...

It's just that Google tries not to ship products before they're ready, and doesn't make a big deal out of shipping them by a randomly chosen date. Can't ship it this quarter? Fine, put it into your next quarter's objectives and ship it then.

Easy to do when most of the stuff you "ship" isn't actually going to paying customers. When you have a massive ecosystem of partners that build on top of your platform, you have to communicate like this.

I assure you that there are totally arbitrary dates set for the various android OS releases as well.

You cannot complain that the company discourages risk taking and then ask the that someone be fired over KIN.

Uh, yes I can. Great concepts, and I think the desktop software got great reviews, but the execution is the part that sucked. I blame management more than I blame the individuals, but they should all be fired. They won't be doing anything useful for WP7, so I don't know why they weren't axed. I bet we're waiting to hear what Verizon wants to do, and whether or not they want to retain people with knowledge of that product.

One last request for Mini - Please delete the comments from spammers just looking to drive hits to their lame blogs or job sites. Those of us that have been let go are competent enough to find jobs without this sort of garbage. Or if you allow them, at least make sure you're getting a few hundred bucks per link.

Anonymous said...

Nonsense, Microsoft just needs to recognize that "Windows" as a brand is old. They should Bing, everything.

Bing Mail
Bing OS
Bing Phone
Bing Messenger


Ballmer could retire, buy an orchard, grow and sell...

Bing Cherries

Anonymous said...

Now I do pity those who have to deal with a clueless manager but I don’t pity those who offer no solutions to the problem.

Offering no solutions is not the same as not having any.

If you read the research of Stanford psychologist Carol S. Dweck, you would know that some people, including managers, equate telling them there is a better way to do something with saying they are not intelligent.

They view any mistake as evidence they are less intelligent.

If people on your team are not offering solutions, they might know something about your manager that you don't.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, whatever manager gets fired by MS, Amazon will hire them! Happened after Vista, I was gobsmacked when I learned they hired Jim Allchin.

I think you might mean Brian Valentine, not Jim Allchin. And Valentine didn't get fired, he quit.

Anonymous said...

The more code you write, the more bugs you generate naturally, and later the others will use these bugs against you, and the “poorer” your “performance” will be.

There's another variation on that where they assign other people's bugs to you to fix and they're used as evidence that you write buggy code at review time.

At review time, nobody is going to go through individual files in each check in for the entire year to figure out who owned what code and whose bugs you were fixing.

If they are playing those games, they want you to leave.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calibrations in good orgs didn't start until after people had at least 2 weeks to write their reviews. If you find out that your calibrations started sooner, time to change teams.

Horrible things are happening in Windows org. All Sinofskys doing.

There will be layoffs in Windows. He probably did that too but I have no direct knowledge of his role.

Engineering Services is the Win org where the cuts will be made. Managers impacted too.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 10:05:00 PM

ESC? Really? The group I'm in asked for reviews and details of achievements prior to stack ranking us. Further I haven't seen any cuts in ESC as of yet, although that is not to say there isn't room to cut...

Anonymous said...

The 10%/Limited bucket is such a morale sinker. It really needs to go. I've heard some teams just rotate the 10% to save their people or even give the 10% to whoever got promoted the year before. All it takes is one bad manager to put u in this bucket to sink your career. How do other groups deal with the 10%?

It is like a scarlet letter.

Why would they hire you if they can hire one of the many thousands of people applying to Microsoft every year?

They just manage you out through constantly giving you less important drudge work until you go away. Illegal but effective.

Anonymous said...

I don't get this. I see people who have left MSFT or shown the door posting maximum comments on this blog. Guys, GET OUT!! This blog is for MSFT only.

Some of those ex-MSFT are still shareholders with a financial stake in the company.

Some of those ex-MSFT poured a lot of their life into the company only to now see it being woefully mismanaged.

You may think you're hot sh*t but Wall Street and the retail marketplace have been begging to differ for quite some time now. You should be embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Last year there were so many posters basing the XBOX and the money Microsoft spent on it. Now it is quickly becoming a new cash cow. HA!


It's been said here before but obviously needs to be repeated for the benefit of the less intellectually gifted among us: XBOX will never ever make its losses back.

On a good quarter E&D makes a 200 million profit (not all of it from XBox but let's assume it is). The Xbox program has lost 8 Billions with a B. At the current rate it will take 10 years just to make its money back.

But that's assuming profit can be sustained. And it can't. When the current generation reaches the end of its lifecycle more money will have to be sunk into developing, then building and selling the next model (remember when a new console comes out the manufacturer usually takes a loss on every unit sold)

Plus in the console market, past achievements are no guarantee of future success. Nintendo went from dead last with the Gamecube to leader of the pack with the Wii. Just because XBox 360 is doing well doesn't mean Xbox III will do as well.

Actually I see many reasons why MSFT has a tough time ahead of itself in the console space. Because so much money has been sunk into making the 360 a success MS is trying to keep the current platform alive longer than the usual 5 years, and Sony is following the same path with the PS3. The problem is, as the hardware becomes more and more dated this leaves the door open for another competitor to emerge. Maybe Nintendo, maybe a resurgence in PC gaming, maybe something else altogether.

Sustained success in the console space will require more investment, pushing the break-even point even farther into the future than t already is.

MS cannot sustain a business like XBOX with its current cost structure. Nintendo still made money with Gamecube despite its being the least successful machine of its generation. XBOX 360 is far more successful than Gamecuble and still billions in the hole.

MSFT doesn't know how to run its XBox business.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous,

"This public flogging of the company [...] is disturbing and completely disruptive to the hard working men and women that really care about making Microsoft a better place."

You forgot to mention apple pie and the Stars and Stripes.

Anonymous said...

Fact is, MOST people are NOT privy to what's really going on in terms of technological and business strategy (sure that relationship is of course incestuos...). Transparency is not in place everywhere inside Microsoft (by design), so accept the fact that you do not know everything about the company's strategies and do your specific job to the best of your abilities.

Trust us.

That whole "Kin" thing was part of the master plan.

We're in control.

Do not panic.

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, people were excited about Microsoft's mobile offerings, such as their first smartphone. When it was being developed, I remember watching user studies and was impressed at how, participant after participant, all eagerly asked "when can I get this?"

I wasn't privy to the user studies but WinCE for Smartphones (or whatever ridiculous name it had) got off to a horrible start. Microsoft could barely find a handset vendor to PAY to build a WM phone for them, then the final product was so late, buggy, and overall s****y that Sendo switched to Series 60 right after finishing their contractual obligations--I think Sendo ended up suing Microsoft for some reason? Anyway Stinger (nicknamed Stinker) was a joke in the tech news for a long time. So, no, nobody wanted Microsoft's "mobile offerings" except maybe some participants in a usability study you watched.

Thanks for reminding us about Stinker and Microsoft's long history of epic fail in the mobile market.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, whatever manager gets fired by MS, Amazon will hire them! Happened after Vista, I was gobsmacked when I learned they hired Jim Allchin.


Jim Allchin, is not he supposed to release his second album some time this year?

or you wanted to say Brian Valentine? Brian is doing just fine, stock prices more than tripled, and BTW, he told me sometimes he could not help laughing in the dream. hehe

Anonymous said...

Transparency is not in place everywhere inside Microsoft (by design), so accept the fact that you do not know everything about the company's strategies and do your specific job to the best of your abilities.

Sure, there's a secret master plan that Microsoft can't afford to explain to its cogs-in-the-machine employees.

Does that master plan include a long string of failed products, missed opportunities, declining market shares, and a stagnant stock price? Genius!

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with Windows Azure? I'm pretty comfortable in my current team, but I considering change.

Anonymous said...

1) How do you sell WP7 to a new user who is trying to decide b/w Iphone, Droid and WP7?

You let them play with one and hope they like it - the UI concept really has to sell itself. As a smartphone newbie trying out a phone, I'd much rather be confronted with the WP7 homescreen than the iPhone's sea of inscrutable icons (or nowadays, boxes containing sub-grids of tiny blobs) - it conveys more information and is visually much clearer and cleaner.

2) (If you want to go above and beyond) - how do you sell WP7 to an existing Iphone user whose 2 years contract is coming to an end and who is already used to using 5-10 iphone apps that may not be available on WP7?

You hope that they care enough about at least one of Office, XBLive, a physical keyboard, subscription music or the UI to make up for the missing apps.

Or that they're just bored of their phone and want to experience something new, I know that I do. As great as the iPhone is, 95% of what you experience on it is built out of the same flick-scrolled lists and webkit views. It does eventually get old.

Anonymous said...

What is going to happen with KIN devs? Not the stinky partner director of dev or that kind of stuff, but the actual working class devs: SDE2 and Senior SDE.
I am sure no one cares about the status mail sending PM turds and such but what is going to happen with the devs? Surely the poor devs should not be screwed with this, that is like directing war protests on the troops in front line

Anonymous said...

Brian Valentine was hired by amazon after Vista, not Allchin.

Anonymous said...

What could POSSIBLY be simpler and more user friendly than just tapping an icon in the grid'o'icons to run an app that does what you want?

Simple it may be, but you don't think it could be more user-friendly? Launch Twitter, check feed, back out, launch mail, check mail, back out, launch Facebook, check feed, back out, launch SMS, check messages, back out, launch calendar, check events, back out...ugh.

Again, this is from someone who really loves their iPhone, I just don't think that it's the final endpoint of smartphone evolution and I'm glad that someone's making a serious effort to move beyond its phone-as-a-big-bag-of-unrelated-apps model.

Anonymous said...

An Amazon employee writes, I've known other microsoft devs who have been similarly disgruntled, but they were all absolutely brilliant. So I just have to say, find a place that will value your skills!.

Been there, tried that. Because I had an overhead position at MS, the person I contacted at Amazon insisted on looking at me only for an admin position rather than dev despite my dev expertise, even though I opened the conversation by saying I was interested in investigating employment as a dev.

So to those who are going to join Microsoft, pick your discipline strategically with an eye toward the rest of your career, because your position title will follow you more closely than wil the technologies you get to work with. Yes, this means picking dev in a non-exciting team over a process PM role in a very exciting team. I found out that holding a non-dev title at MS cancelled out 6 prior years of excellent dev work as far as future employers are concerned.

Anonymous said...

Free security testing ... sort of:

Microsoft opens source code to Russian secret service

NEWS
Microsoft has signed a deal to open its Windows 7 source code up to the Russian intelligence services.

Russian publication Vedomosti reported on Wednesday that Microsoft had also given the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) access to Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SQL Server source code, with hopes of improving Microsoft sales to the Russian state.

The agreement will allow state bodies to study the source code and develop cryptography for the Microsoft products through the Science-Technical Centre 'Atlas', a government body controlled by the Ministry of Communications and Press, according to Vedomosti.

Microsoft Russia president Nikolai Pryanishnikov told Vedomosti that employees of Atlas and the FSB will be able to share conclusions about Microsoft products.

The agreement is an extension to a deal Microsoft struck with the Russian government in 2002 to share source code for Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2000, said Vedomosti.

Anonymous said...

I'm still curious as to what percentage of the layoff pool fits in that magic range between 40 and whatever age it is (55? 59?) at which MS allows people to keep their vesting stock awards after being laid off.

Counting the people on my team let go last year, I know 5 out of 5 were in that range, all in our 40s.

Stuart R. Crawford said...

Microsoft Canada also got the axe...long time Channel Leader Carol Terentiak got the axe as well

Stuart Crawford
ULISTIC Inc.
Canadian Social Media Professional

Anonymous said...

Many of us left the Windows Mobile business when Andy came in and tried to turn it into an Apple business model. While Microsoft was having pretty decent success with a flexible Windows Mobile platform that offered room for both the OEM and the Mobile Operator (MO) to customize, the SLT and Andy in particular decided that they could do just what Apple did with the iPhone. Many of us tried to disuade them, but they insisted it was the only way to go.

Well, KIN's failure is a good start at showing them that the Soft is not Apple. The ecosystems are different, the approach is different, and the results are very different. Outside of the $1B wasted on KIN, the direction that they've chartered for WP7 is going to cost the company even more. WP7 is designed to be vertically integrated (like the iPhone and the KIN) and there aren't enough MS assets to drive that strategy to a successful conclusion. Meanwhile, the 20M/year momentum they had with the flexible Windows Mobile approach has been squandered. It's a sad story of senior management ignoring years of learnings and the advice of their embedded staff when they came in. It's a sad story about bringing in his own Yes men when everyone else was wondering why the emperor had no clothes.

Anonymous said...

This is why bill shouldn't come back to microsoft: http://www.viiphoto.com/detail-story3.php?news_id=448

Anonymous said...

I'm still curious as to what percentage of the layoff pool fits in that magic range between 40 and whatever age it is (55? 59?) at which MS allows people to keep their vesting stock awards after being laid off.

Counting the people on my team let go last year, I know 5 out of 5 were in that range, all in our 40s.


Ouch. Wish I hadn't have read that one. I was 39 when the hammer fell on me, and I lost what would have been a nice sum of vesting stock.

To the person who thinks the ex-Softies should leave the blog: There is some degree of bitterness toward the company that time will never erase. I had a long record of E/20 performance -- I lived, breathed, loved and evangelized this company -- and when I was called into that room to be given my paperwork, it was an utter shock. To boot, the timing -- in the midst of these economic times -- couldn't have felt more inhumane, especially given the stockpile of cash on which the company sits. My family was forced to make a lot of sacrifices to compensate for the failures of incompetents much higher up the chain, and those incompetents continue to bumble on as their riches swell.

For the most part, I have moved on, but there's much to be said for the little bit of schadenfreude I get out of each new company failure.

Anonymous said...

There will be no warn act filing because that means not able to file for labour certification for visas and green cards for a long time after layoff (law is that to obtain labour certifications for visas, company must prove that it was unsuccessful in recruiting qualified US workers).

These silent layoffs will continue,
get used to them.

Anonymous said...

I think you might mean Brian Valentine, not Jim Allchin. And Valentine didn't get fired, he quit.

Normal employees get fired or laid off. Management is asked to leave to spend more time with the family.

Brian was asked to spend more time with his family.

Anonymous said...

According to this 20 year Microsoft employee ("Don Joe") who posts at Horseass.org regularly the company gives salaried employees free rein to post all day on blogs like HA. He writes @31 here:

http://horsesass.org/?p=28191

". . . your employer has no problem whatsoever with your daytime rollicking on HA.

Yup. Indeed, in that same thread, I posted a link to clear and convincing evidence that Microsoft doesn’t care. It’s part-and-parcel of being a salaried employee"

I was surprised by this lax company culture, especially in view of the mistakes and miscues over the years. I have an idea investors and customers wouldn't be so forgiving. Is this Microsoft employee correct regarding the company's policies?

Anonymous said...

"You let them play with one and hope they like it - the UI concept really has to sell itself. As a smartphone newbie trying out a phone, I'd much rather be confronted with the WP7 homescreen than the iPhone's sea of inscrutable icons (or nowadays, boxes containing sub-grids of tiny blobs) - it conveys more information and is visually much clearer and cleaner.


You hope that they care enough about at least one of Office, XBLive, a physical keyboard, subscription music or the UI to make up for the missing apps.

Or that they're just bored of their phone and want to experience something new, I know that I do. As great as the iPhone is, 95% of what you experience on it is built out of the same flick-scrolled lists and webkit views. It does eventually get old."


Hmmm. OP here. Thanks for your to the point answer.

Your point about iphone experience getting obsolete might be true 5 years down the road. But right now it is the standard. Majority of people love it.

Your point regards to apps on WP7 to me indicates the same wrong thinking that drowned windows mobile 6.x. They thought that world revolves around Microsoft ecosystem and never tried to think outside the box. Who would need a subscription music service when you have pandora app? Who needs a physical keyboard - that "feature" will make the device bulky and uncool. W.r.t. office - IPhone opens word document and excel files properly without trouble. An ordinary smart phone user does not need more than that. W.r.t. XBLive - that belongs to geek universe which may comprise 1% of the population, but in no way represent the majority. Seriously - why and who would want to connect to XBLive using their smartphone?

An ordianry Iphone user is one who is browsing internet while on his one hour commute to work in NYC subway or wants to be cool by owning the gadget that everyone else considers cool. These users would need an internet browser which works fast (unlike IE) and apps such as Bloomberg, nytimes, yelp, map service for directions or small games such as diner dash. I'm still hard pressed to think why such users would switch to "Microsoft" phone. I probably need to remind you that Microsoft is still considered a Goliath in world outside Redmond, is universally hated on university campuses and is considered pretty uncool. If the name of the phone is "Windows" Phone 7 - I'm hard pressed to think how it can ever be considered cool by masses.

Dont get me worng - I too want Microsoft to succeed and would not want IPhone to have no competition at all. I just think that WP7 or Microsoft is not the one that will give it competition.

Anonymous said...

Then when someone asks what office product I use, I can reply:

Bing O


That the game them old ladies play, ain't it?

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to number the post, its hard to find the post that i last read...

Anonymous said...

"Serious question. What is Ballmer good at? I know his reputation as a wacko from various notorious videos. What I don't know is, what *positive* reputation does he have? Is he good at negotiating? Strongarming? Fiscal discipline? Marketing? What are his best known accomplishments?"

Befriending Bill Gates at Hard in the mid '70s

Anonymous said...

I think this company sucks due to wrong HiPos, ExPos, and %20 selection. Apple and Google will be better than Microsoft in the next ten years. They have much better managers and HR. I would not invest in MSFT any more for growth.

Anonymous said...

I'm in MCS and DIDN'T get my walking papers even though I was in the bottom 5% of my group and missed my numbers 2 years in a row. Annual reviews are coming up soon so I don't know what to expect but I was certain I'd be laid off this week...

Maybe its because I'm only been with the company for a couple of years and I'm relatively cheap compared to those who got laid off and been with the company for 8+ years.

Anonymous said...

@The only cuts we plan are custodial staff! You people will simply have to empty your own trash cans now!

Is this REAL Steve B?

Anonymous said...

The more code you write, the more bugs you generate naturally, and later the others will use these bugs against you, and the “poorer” your “performance” will be.
I had written some codes and was maintaining it. A new person joined into my team and my manager told that this 'X' is going to be the technical lead of this part. Consequence, I started spending all of my times to explain the codes to that incompetent individual. Whenever I was going to make any change I had to just fight for his permission. I needed to do some extra work like implementing his suggestion to show him that it will not work. I mentioned this situation to my manager and he was silent. When I was put into PIP I explained this situation to my skip. He tells "since you are lacking he is going to be your technical mentor". All the success were being credited to that new "X". But all of the bug responsibilities were being rendered upon me. In that particular team the codes need to be reviewed by a senior developer before check in. So even I was finishing all of my codes or fixing my bugs with reasonable speed, I had to spend all of my times in begging those persons to review the codes. They always showed the excuse of being busy. When you write lots of codes they not only use the bugs but they also point out many silly things like comments/coding styles ... In one of my last moments my managers commented "you write too much codes and then waste the time of our senior developers for reviewing them". I could challenge him to implement any of those features in simpler/shorter codes. But yes those managers are the kings in microsoft. Whatever the facts their assertions are always true. Eventually I was fired.

To the guy who is telling that we are loser for visiting this forum, I cannot guess about most other fired msfties. But for my case msft did some initial damage my career. Although I have reached a better position by now but yes it is an unforgettable humiliating experience. What I can do is to have a great hatred towards this arrogant company. When we see that this arrogant company is underperforming it gives us some kind of peace of mind.

Anonymous said...

I had the opportunity to be interviewed by MS about 2 yrs ago. I had a great time meeting and sparing with 5 different folks over the course of a long day. All were smart, engaging, interesting and interested... but the head of the small group was an arrogant, self important twit. He was texting and emailing while conducting his part of the interview. This was a marketing group, not engineering. I was not offered the job due to lack of "enterprise" experience. I was hoping to get an offer so that I could reject it - bad vibes from the boss man. I live in Seattle but they flew me to NY for the interview since this where the big man was located. Strange company, glad I sold my stock at a high point. MS should have OWNED the smart phone market, someone's head should roll. I have several friends who work at MS, the folks who are deep into the technology seem happiest, management and marketing is best suited to sociopaths.
ef

Anonymous said...

What really motivates us... Pretty accurate, I believe.

Anonymous said...

"Your lesson is this: no matter how much you love your job, DO NOT SACRIFICE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE FOR IT. Nights/weekends/vacations? You have only yourself to blame for that level of idiocy. And, of course, you've done your wife and children a huge disservice. Shame on you."

+1 Working 7 days a week only makes sense if your stock options will make you a millionaire in five years. That will never ever happen again at MS. I cashed my stock out as soon as they vested each year.

As for the 4 year employee who loves his job - I loved mine the first 4 years - I'm betting the kool-aide will start to turn bitter this next year. You will have been around enough that if you have paid attention, you'll see the standard corp politics and lots off good people you work with fired, laid off or forced out.

And to the utter loser who says the a certain executive "quit" after making a crappy OS on his tenure, get a clue. At that level, you seldom get fired, you are given the option to quit to save face and reputation, (and save the company money).

I loved MS, loved working there for about the first 5 years, then slowly my soul got sucked out, the last 4 watching MS re-invent the wheel over and over and over and over. Now a year outside, I am embarrassed and saddened that MS can't seem to get its sh&t together and release a cool consumer product that isn't just a "me too".

In case after case, MS gets the technology right early on, but following through to completion and then driving market excitement never happens. Empire building is killing MS.

Anonymous said...

Murali Krishna is knocking on everyone's door in Redmond for a role, unfortunately no one wants him. He has no talent, leadership or technical skills. He survived in MS IT India because of Moorthy's blessings, Murali Krishna may not escape this time. He had no role for more than a year and survived so far, he can start the count-down.

Several MS IT India leaders alreadt started searching for jobs. Sreeni Simhadri is approaching Google and Amazon, no luck yet!

Anonymous said...

"Counting the people on my team let go last year, I know 5 out of 5 were in that range, all in our 40s."

Duh - at that age we are well aware that skipping family events for a job is stupid and a waste. Better to hire a college grad who still feels immortal, will work long hours, and will never ever say in a meeting "why the f*&% are we doing it that way again? We tried that 3 years ago and it won't work because of....." and in the process stepping on the toes of the wide-eyed PM and upper management who have all gotten in a circle and patted each other on the back, telling themselves how great the new product will be.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Danger and Microsoft and was one of the first employees to see the writing on the wall and left after I was given my stock payout. First off, Microsoft pretty much lied to the Danger management about what they had in mind for Danger. Danger was going to go public and enhance the Sidekick brand but instead sold itself to Microsoft because of the market rollover in June 2007. The employees were told that MICROSOFT would give Danger 500 million,rocket propelled dollars to put the Sidekick on the top of the heap. Apple and Google had stolen ideas and employees to make their successful products.
Instead, soon after the announcement, Roz Ho laid the bomb on Danger that the Sidekick was dead and we were shown absurd videos of concepts for PINK by Frog Design.
Microsoft had no idea how to make a phone and acquired us for patents and a ready-to-wear engineering team. They were shocked at how a small company could be effective like Danger.
Unfortunately for MSFT, Danger lost a good deal of talent under the lack of leadership by CEO Hank Nothaft. The remainder of the staff were very good, but not particularly innovative and also very, very burnt out.
The Pioneer Square Creative Lab for Microsoft was upset about the aquisition. Neophyte Designers such as Jon Friedman(fresh out of RSDI) had no idea how to ship a product and were exceptionally condescending about the Sidekick-not appreciating that the device was innovative when he was in diapers. Neophyte,greenhorn managers were placed on top of Danger staff and that was offensive. Microsoft would push unrealistic goals and designs onto Danger without any concept of Hardware limitations and the challenges of making an FCC-approved mobile device.
Roz Ho managed the division like a high school and encouraged backbiting and poor teamwork. She talked more about her r-8 AUDI and clothing choices than about how to ship the product. Meanwhile, there was also a caste system of Danger on the bottom and Microsoft on top. The MSFT management played politics all day and the successful employees brown-nosed Roz. It was a lapdog culture-not a fast start up culture. Roz, Bencke,Matheny and the management were all odd, weird characters with strange behavioral quirks and rumors about their deviant sexual tastes were abound.Ho reportedly called in management from a LanSat phone from her African Vacation just to lord over them how beautiful the hike was to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The remaining Danger Founders were castigated endlessly when software and hardware issues were raised. Both founders were given terrible reviews by Roz Ho-just to show them who's boss. The horizontal management style of Danger did not mix at all with the numeric, pyramid hierarchy of MSFT.
MSFT could be defined(at least PINK MSFT) as product management heavy with a smattering of engineering workforce.The paperwork and marketing generated for PINK easily cost the company millions-whereas Danger tended to build first and ask questions later.
It was all wrong from the start and the only reason to have stuck around was for retention bonuses. There was no call to arms or tracking of productivity for the remaining employees to even keep their bonuses.
The big winners were Danger's upper management and investors. They had an extremely hobbled and tired company to sell. It's hard to tell how Danger would have fared if the Sidekick was the premier product but I can tell you that the braintrust lost to Apple and Google Android devastated the company and innovation was stalling out badly. So, Microsoft didn't get a great deal either perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Not showing up in the company meeting sounds like a good idea. I'm in

Anonymous said...

I'm still curious as to what percentage of the layoff pool fits in that magic range between 40 and whatever age it is (55? 59?) at which MS allows people to keep their vesting stock awards after being laid off.

The magic numbers are 15 years tenure and age 55+ ... I was 2 years short.

Anonymous said...

HiPo: Best 2% of the company, always E/20, but it has to be earned - IE your entire management chain on board.

Close but no cigar. Contribution ranking must be 20%, and a maximum of 4% of employees can be HiPo. HiPos are distributed in the usual bands ... <=60, 61-62, 63-64, 65-67. I have not seen, but would not be surprised by, a skewing toward the higher ranks.

Anonymous said...

From: Friday, July 09, 2010 5:01:00 AM
"I found out that holding a non-dev title at MS cancelled out 6 prior years of excellent dev work as far as future employers are concerned."


Off course it does. That’s how it is everywhere. Your last job title is the most important item on your resume, so never take it lightly.

Anonymous said...

"It's been said here before but obviously needs to be repeated for the benefit of the less intellectually gifted among us: XBOX will never ever make its losses back."

That is total nonsense. It is based on inflating so called losses and ignoring where the money is made. It might be true that the XBOX *hardware* sales never shows an overall profit, but even that may not be true.

XBox Live is now over $1B/year in revenue and growing. Then there is the software sales for XBox. These are strong growing businesses and where the real money is made.

Intellectually gifted? More like narrow minded. XBox is a whole ecosystem and growing like a weed.
Microsoft has a true winner, any gamer knows it.

Anonymous said...

" I found out that holding a non-dev title at MS cancelled out 6 prior years of excellent dev work as far as future employers are concerned."

6 years experience? You were just getting started as a dev when you became a PM. That isn't much experince to fall back on. Now you are also out of practice. You should go back into a dev role in Microsoft and then look for a dev role outside.

Steve Ballmer said...

... again the staff cuts are only custodial!

Trust me people!

Anonymous said...

"There's one way to show disagreement peacefully and such in a strong way that the message will get so across that the very next day you'll see chairs flying and changes coming.

Don't show up at the company meeting. Just stay at home that day."


My team has been told in no uncertain terms by our GM that not attending the company meeting is a career limiting move.

Anonymous said...

Here's the gender/age breakdown of the people I know who got laid off this week.

F:early 40's
F:mid 50's
F:mid 50's
M:mid 40's
M:mid 40's

Anonymous said...

How do other groups deal with the 10%?

I can tell you how mine is dealing with it:

Last year, I was the unhappy recipient of a 10% with no rational explanation.

This year, I understand that I should expect another 10%. The reasons why were not only subjective, they were warped. (They didn't land far from 'Doesn't smile enough.') The truth, as far as I can tell, is that it's easier to justify a 2nd undeserved 10% than a 1st undeserved 10%.

Anonymous said...

I'm still curious as to what percentage of the layoff pool fits in that magic range between 40 and whatever age it is (55? 59?) at which MS allows people to keep their vesting stock awards after being laid off

Is this true about old folks (speaking for myself) continuing to vest after layoffs? I'm not familiar with this, certainly can't find anything like this on HRWeb.

Also, regarding calibration, my impression (from my manager) is that this is done way ahead of reviews - like mid-year - February /March - if you haven't differentiated yourself (made yourself "visible") by then, forget it...

Anonymous said...

"I will make sure not to hire any MS leaders" says one of the writers. That would be wrong, once a MS leader leaves the company they no longer get the perks and things that go with finding themselves in a situation of infinite busy work and direct reports who can succeed without them. This is good and bad. The manager does not learn to work with their directs and the independent nature of the ICs means the manager can now do more "managing up".
The managers or leaders are fine, they just have to band together and get rid of the busy work. Then they can solve the real problems, not the ones of managing upward.

Anonymous said...

As a concerned MSFT employee and shareholder, on the recent layoffs - who from HR or from the MSFT Executive Team has the courage to honestly post on here how many L65+ (especially incompetent L68+ partners) were let go on July 7th? The focus was sales and marketing for this round, right? With that logic, if you are a totally incompetent CVP/GM in some sort of sales / marketing capacity with an underperforming team, were you helpd accountable or did you just go home on the evening of July 7th and consume your $500+ bottle of wine or $1000+ single malt and feel bad for the sorry folks you had let go even though it was your fault???

Anonymous said...

I'm still curious as to what percentage of the layoff pool fits in that magic range between 40 and whatever age it is (55? 59?) at which MS allows people to keep their vesting stock awards after being laid off.

Counting the people on my team let go last year, I know 5 out of 5 were in that range, all in our 40s.


You would never be able to prove it.

Microsoft can lay off equal numbers of employees - half over 40 and half under 40.

They could then let them interview for other positions.

Then, they could rehire most of those under 40 and only a few over 40.

The net effect is they got rid of more employees over 40 but laid off just as many employees under 40 (but turned around and rehired most of those under 40).

If anybody asked, they would just say those they rehired had the best skills for those positions.

Microsoft doesn't have to rely on any conspiracy. People want to work with people they can relate to. If you're in an interview loop with younger employees chances are they just want to work with someone closer to their own age.

Microsoft gets to save money on health care and payroll and you get a difficult case to prove.

Anonymous said...

Are there good healthy orgs within Windows Azure or OSD? I am a PM and am looking to make a transition in the next couple of months. Anyone happy with their group and would recommend it?

Anonymous said...

"Transparency is not in place everywhere inside Microsoft (by design), so accept the fact that you do not know everything about the company's strategies [...]"

Yes, but there are inklings of the strategy here and there, scattered bread crumbs that give mere peons some limited insight.

For example, we know that part of Mr Ballmer's grand plan is to "f***ing kill Google" (don't you wish *you* had a Harvard education and could express yourself in terms so sublime?). We also know that Mr Ballmer "likes Microsoft's strategy", in fact we know that he "likes it a lot".

We can perhaps deduce that this episode with Kin was not a costly debacle at all; rather it was a cunning tactical feint designed to improve WM7's chances in the market place. Microsoft will no doubt crush not only Google's Android but also Apple's iPhone, and thus emerge victorious!!!

This is why Mr Ballmer is so handsomely remunerated, while those nasty, nasty 10%-ers are shown the door.

I hope, dear readers, that this clears things up for you.

Anonymous said...

It's Friday and I am depressed! I need scotch to getthe doomsday pall off of me!

Anonymous said...

Anyone else noticed that the OSD all hands had all the presentations on a Mac? What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

Is Roz Ho already out? The only direct reports I see are her business manager and assistant.

Anonymous said...

"Are there good healthy orgs within Windows Azure or OSD? I am a PM and am looking to make a transition in the next couple of months. Anyone happy with their group and would recommend it?"


Program Management in Bing is good. Brian MacDonald is one of the only leaders in OSD I highly respect. His boss, Satya, not so much but that may not affect you. Avoid adCenter PM at all costs. A third-rate org at best.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't Roz Ho be on this list: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/leadership/default.aspx ? Also, even despite that, it seems to me that this video: http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/WM_IN/Roz-Ho-Reflections-On-Leadership-and-Believing-in-Yourself/ has some added value now (Silverlight required which I have not installed). (Btw, following these comments here I feel the company and its culture as a whole and not a single person is to blame here.)

Anonymous said...

Simple it may be, but you don't think it could be more user-friendly? Launch Twitter, check feed, back out, launch mail, check mail, back out, launch Facebook, check feed, back out, launch SMS, check messages, back out, launch calendar, check events, back out...ugh.

As if the "tap-flow" on WP7 is any better? From the screen shots I've seen it's identical. It shows you have some unread SMSs, for example, so you tap to see them. How is that different from launching the SMS "app"?

Again, this is from someone who really loves their iPhone, I just don't think that it's the final endpoint of smartphone evolution and I'm glad that someone's making a serious effort to move beyond its phone-as-a-big-bag-of-unrelated-apps model.

Windows has the model you seem to be advocating and it's an unmitigated disaster. Any program can interface with any other program, share libraries, inject toolbars and extensions and system tray icons, steal window focus, change your desktop wallpaper and upload your files to the Russian mob.

Is this really what you're advocating for your cell phone? A world where average people need to pay the Geek Squad $50 every few months to clean up malware and viruses and unwittingly-installed software from their phones? Where even expert users feel the need to start from a fresh OS install every couple years to clean out the cruft?

The "big-bag-of-unrelated-apps" model is the best thing to happen to computing in the last decade. Apple is creating a world where computers don't require maintenance, don't have security problems, and don't get bloated and crufty over time. And instead of recognizing the obvious superiority of this approach, you are writing blog comments about how we should go back to the bad old days.

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