Sunday, October 10, 2010

Microsoft Health Care Pops a Cap in One Big Week

Wow, what got in the corporate water for this week? Coming off the glow of last week's Company Meeting Koolaid we first got hit by the Goldman Sachs downgrade hang-over, then, to channel Mr. Ballmer, "Boom-Boom-Boom!"

  • Health care changes on the way.
  • Live Labs gets shut down.
  • Technical Fellow Gary Flake, one of Microsoft few-TED stars, resigns.
  • Technical Fellow Brad Lovering leaves.
  • A glassdor.com survey that shows a lowly 50% approval rating for Mr. Ballmer.
  • IEB gets re-orged.
  • Massive gets shuttered (like we were all looking forward to billboard ads while blowing crap up in Xbox).
  • Adobe acquisition rumors.
  • Matt Rosoff leaves Directions on Microsoft.

All this right on the eve of Windows Phone 7 being launched. Feels like one big... purge.

As for the Microsoft health plan changes: I haven't personally taken a bunch of time to figure it out yet. I had a fully scheduled Friday and I half listened to the Town Hall while working. My attention lapsed and the next thing I know they are talking about a Health Visa card against our Health Savings Plan we can use for paying our share of a visit to the doctor and roll-overs and portability. I realized I just missed some detailed stuff. Microsoft has set-up internal forums to help the employees figure this all out, so I encourage everyone to utilize that. But in the meantime, a commenter on the previous post added this:

OK, I just watched the Health Care Town Hall replay. Hard thing to do early on a Saturday morning.

Let's see if I have this straight. If I go with the Health Savings Plan:

  1. All my preventive care is still free (to me). Annual physicals, dental checkups, immunizations, etc. - no charge. Wellness programs are actually beefed up even more.
  2. For a family of 3+, the most we would have to pay out of pocket annually is $2500.00.
  3. At the beginning of each year, MS will themselves add $3725 or thereabouts to my Health Savings Account...so MS is more than covering my $2500 obligation anyway.
  4. Even if I have a catastrophic illness or injury, I'm still ahead $1225.

I hope more insightful minds will follow up to correct any misunderstandings I have about this, but my takeaways from LisaB's deck are:

  1. Switch to HSP.
  2. Lose both legs in a snowboarding accident.
  3. Profit!

A follow-up to that:

Not quite right on the healthcare costs. Worse case scenario for family of 3 is:

  • All your preventive care costs are covered 100% by MSFT
  • You pay 100% of the first $3,750 in non-preventive costs. This is your deductible.
  • After your deductible is paid, you pay 10% of non-preventive costs. This is your co-pay. You pay a max of $2,500 in co-pays per year.
  • So your max annual costs are $3,750 + $2,500 = $6,250
  • MSFT will pay $2,500 into your Health Savings Account each year, so your net out of pocket cost is $3,750. If you sign up for the HSP account in 2011-2013, then MSFT will contribute an additional "early adopter incentive" of $1,250. But after 2013, your max out-of-pocket costs are presumably back to $3,750
  • You could pay that $3,750 out of tax-free contributions you make to your own HSA account, but then that money is locked away and can only be used for health expenses. If you don't want your money locked away then you have to pay with after-tax dollars.
  • In order to come up with $3,750 in after-tax dollars, you'll need to earn about $5,000 in pre-tax dollars.

So, in the worse-case scenario this is equivalent to a pay cut of $5,000 per year. Maybe not too bad for someone making $200k, but that would be a 10% pay cut for someone making $50k.

Will increasing health care costs follow Ms. Brummel's charted path? It's interesting that the excise portion of the future ended up being a small little bump. Next: wellness - excellent idea. I love ensuring that we're all well and stay healthy upfront. But that includes affecting the ecosystem in which we live and ensuring people actually put time towards preventative health and making a place like Redmond a healthy place to live.

Sidebar: Just to whine a bit: for self-proclaimed bicycle capital, this is one hell of a scary place to ride a bike. Actually ensuring there's an infrastructure from the suburbs-to-work to safely ride a bike to encourage healthy living is some local influence Microsoft should have.

Sidebar two: Via DareO: The exciting nature of being ordinary - Sorting it all Out - one snippet: "Microsoft now looks ordinary to me."

I'm very supportive of whatever they can do about wellness (though the paranoid side of me hasn't liked the 'Know Your Numbers' campaign - who gets access to my numbers? Curiously, this extra overhead might prevent me from getting my flu shot this year).

Do I think the health changes will affect recruiting? Probably not. Do I think it will affect retention? Yes. See the above "ordinary" link. If other tech companies hold steady on their coverage then they close a big gap to hiring experienced people at Microsoft. Look, once you have a family and one or two big boo-boos (medical term) you realize: "holy crap, we are so fortunate... I love this company for caring for me and my family so well!" It's no golden handcuff, but it still anchors you.

Anchors away.

Given cut-backs like this, whether out of cost-saving necessity or not, the Senior Leadership Team has to realize there's zero tolerance now for major money screw-ups like KIN and Massive. The bumbling flushing away of millions or billions of dollars is going to be compared directly to the reduction in benefits: if this company was actually run by people who knew how to consistently achieve profits, we wouldn't be looking at these losses and saying, "Yep, that could have paid for US health-care for a while..."

All-in-all, though, I think (not having immersed myself in the details) our coverage remains a better-than-average benefit. And as long as we don't have to revert back to the Pacific Care Primary Care / Referrals model (talk about a time-waster during work-hours) I'm personally satisfied.

Regarding Live Labs being shutdown: so what's left that Ray Ozzie is running? FUSE labs? You know, the people who blew their internal reputation by hijacking and hacking the Office Web Apps for http://docs.com/ ? I would not be surprised to see Ray finding a new endeavor sooner than later. First Mesh, now Live Labs.

As for Live Labs going into Bing... what the? I've watched a lot of curious hiring and initiatives at Bing. All the best wishes to you Bingsters, but you're beginning to resemble an organization that has way too many people and now you're just creating work to keep them busy. We've seen this before, and curiously, with some of the same leadership that's in Bing now. Better to put them on a productive profit making endeavor or risk having them cut loose.

From the comments:

Let's see if the latest round of "This will bolster the stock price works." IEB re-org and benefit changes. Doubt it.

Checked with some friends in the Interactive Entertainment Business and they glumly report "We're getting Sinofskied." (Not reporting to Sinofsky, but picking up the same kind of management structure.) Ah. I've always been curious if the Sinofsky model holds up in a creative group. Now we have one big example in the making.

Looping back to Mr. Kaplan's ordinary comment: Mr. Matt Rosoff's parting post on leaving Directions on Microsoft expresses it in a different way:

In Seattle, Microsoft was where the all the best and brightest worked, had worked, or wanted to work. People even pronounced it with a particular tone of voice, hushed but awful, like people back East say "Harvard." All-caps. "Yeah, he owns a coffee shop now. But he used to work at MICROSOFT." [...] it's not MICROSOFT anymore. It's just Microsoft. Even in Seattle.

How do you feel about that? You're not ordinary and you don't live an ordinary life. You don't expect to do ordinary work for an ordinary company, do you? What needs to change?


-- Comments

376 comments:

1 – 200 of 376   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

>You can start with HR. When Google went public, the cost of Google R&D was lower than that of our entire HR group.

Dude, you got it wrong! Google spends less than Microsoft spends on HR as of 2009. Google spent 2.8 billion on R&D. Microsoft HR employs 3000 people. With an average salary of 100K, HR spends 3 billion a year.

Anonymous said...

The talk among my mid-tier execs is about how leadership is screwed up.

How many GMs will be voting against Ballmer in the proxy? I had a few volunteer their protest vote to me this week.

Would be great to give Ballmer the scorecard report on his leadership over the past decade.

Anonymous said...

Get your math right first, dude.
"Microsoft HR employs 3000 people. With an average salary of 100K, HR spends 3 billion a year."

It would have been 300 million a year instead of 3 billion a year.

Anonymous said...

>You don't expect to do ordinary work for an ordinary company, do you? What needs to change?

Microsoft's review and reward system must change. The system is nauseating to say the least. Partners must be held accountable for marker share losses.

Anonymous said...

To me, cost cutting is always a non-productive downward spiral exercise. To create more value for the shareholders, the right thing to do is to increase dividend and get out innovation out faster (not also-run copycat products) by

1) adopting Agile product development processes across all product units in the company

2) moving everyone out of single offices to cubicles with 4 or more people sharing the same cubicles
(offer people doing so a one-time pay in the amount equivalent to 1/2 the annual cost of maintaining his/her existing office.

3) embracing "we are all in for the cloud" wholeheartedly and beefing up online collaboration software suites to make working from home just as productive (if not more) as working in office. in the longer term, 99% of the employees shall be able to work at a location of their choosing instead of the current office/cubicle, and small building with offices for chief executives should be enough to meet all office space needs for the company.

Make it back to its root, Microsoft. Be brilliant agin.

Anonymous said...

LisaB showed an expense curve when she was making her case for transferring these costs from the company to employees. Is there an equivalent curve for after these changes go in to effect?

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but, does anyone know if there is a grace period for selling any remaining stock options once you're fired (escorted out)? Do you have to get rid of them all the same day you get an invite to that last meeting with HR?
Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Partner pay must be brought in line. It doesn't make sense for a researcher in math to be making 2 million/year. Generally speaking, the average researcher is overpaid compared to value added.

Anonymous said...

"...does anyone know if there is a grace period for selling any remaining stock options once you're fired (escorted out)?"

My husband says "basically, 3 months". This assumes of course that your options aren't underwater or so low-valued that you'd have to sell most of them off just to pay the taxes (most of his are).

Anonymous said...

I know my husband stayed at Microsoft as long as he did, through horrible managers, incompetence, being given projects he loved and excelled at, only to have them taken away and given to interns without explanation, and of course the review process which literally made him sick with anxiety twice a year...because of the insurance it provided the family.


I know they call stock options "golden handcuffs" but they've got nothing on the solid security of knowing your kid, born with a serious medical problem, is going to get the care he needs without the family having to live in a car.

It doesn't matter that "everybody else's insurance programs have always been like this, welcome to the real world, bitter snipe sour grapes etc". Those of us who have enjoyed this particular blessing have been grateful for it, and the idea of losing it, and bearing even more costs on top of our fixed houshold expenses (really? Where is the extra money going to come from? Big adjustment needed here and I wouldn't be surprised to see the local home foreclosure rate skyrocket when this kicks in - just because you need more money, doesn't mean you have it)....is frightening.

Maybe I should just be grateful that my child, born with real medical problems, is now completely done with surgeries and therapies. Because god knows, we'd not be able to afford them and still eat, under the New Improved Austerity Plan.

Anonymous said...

>it's not MICROSOFT anymore. It's just Microsoft. Even in Seattle.

It is microsoft. There is no respect for microsoft anymore. It is no longer horse power or value add.

Anonymous said...

How many people at Microsoft get to use the full extent of their abilities versus just being employed so a competitor cannot employ them?

People leaving Microsoft and working on something without the interference of someone else guarding their place on the performance evaluation curve would be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Good post Mini and I am sorry you had such a harsh awakening from the Company Meeting kool-aid overdose.
To your questions: " You don't expect to do ordinary work for an ordinary company, do you? What needs to change? "

5 steps in my humble opinion:

1. Fire Ballmer
2. Focus - give product units a very clear boundary for what they need to do by when. End the fiefdom building. If some big ego wants a bigger job, show them the door, they can look at the industry to play their CEO aspirations.
3. Impose an "extreme accountability model" for Executives - zero tolerance for missed commitments.
4. Revise R&D investment - Clean the org and establish a clear success metric for research based on product/technology brought to market, not the size of the sandbox.
5. Instill a culture of executional excellence - You fail to execute flawlessly, you take accountability.

All in all I don't really hold a believe that 1-5 is going to happen before is too late, so I am preparing myself for a different step: Accept and embrace the notion that as long as you stay at Microsoft, you'll be working for an ordinary company on a unavoidable path to irrelevance. Accept it or move on.

Anonymous said...

The plan was a big selling point for recruitment. I'd always tell friends about people I knew who had million dollar medical bills (very premie twins) and how they were completely taken care of. Not that everyone needs it but it was good when you did...

Anonymous said...

>You don't expect to do ordinary work for an ordinary company, do you? What needs to change?

How many execs, partners have side businesses other than their job? A large majority!. It starts with LisaB who owns the basketball team.

Anonymous said...

I left Microsoft a while ago. While I was working there I "enjoyed" the medical benefits as much as anyone--went to the doctor whenever, did whatever tests and took whatever drugs he said I might need without a second thought. Why think? It was "free."

Now that I'm paying for my own insurance and chose a plan with high deductibles, I have learned how irresponsible I was while working at Microsoft. Now I think twice (or three times) before going to the doctor. I ask him if there are generic or cheaper alternatives to the name-brand drugs he typically prescribes. I ask him if the tests he orders are necessary or just nice-to-haves, and if there are cheaper tests that would also be effective. Instead of going to the emergency room, I investigated and found local 24-hour clinics that provide everything I've needed for a small fraction of the price. Now my health care costs are probably 1/4 of what they were a few years ago.

I think this is the root problem with the American health care system. Insurance companies obscure the cost of everything, so the health care industry pushes expensive tests and procedures and drugs and consumers are less inclined to push back (shop around, etc.). Costs and profits skyrocket while people wonder why their premiums keep going up.

It will be interesting to see if the benefit cuts will encourage Microsofties to become more informed and conservative (and probably healthier) consumers.

Anonymous said...

Please post a reference for those 24h clinics?

Anonymous said...

If you wonder why we hire the smartest brains on the planet but behave like the dumbest company ever:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19530-social-sensitivity-trumps-iq-in-group-intelligence.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Anonymous said...

So you now have a company who admittedly doesn't offer the highest salaries and now doesn't even bother to offer the best benefits. Yet they ask you to go above and beyond and do your very best work. If I still worked there I sure wouldn't have any issues taking it easy.

Anonymous said...

Impose an "extreme accountability model" for Executives - zero tolerance for missed commitments.

Why do you think Brad Lovering is out? He built up a very high-level org (1 TF, 3 DEs, countless partners and more "architects" than chairs in your standard MS conference room), all to pursue some pet projects that were at best a solution looking for a problem, and at worst, an exercise in mental-self-gratification.

The problem with Microsoft is that egos & personalities are placed ahead of the business. Roz Ho may be a genius manager, but how her Kin strategy went forward at the same time as WP7 is beyond retarded. Similar thing with Lovering - he was a rock star, so he was allowed to pursue whatever he wanted, even if it was way too ambitious and didn't clearly align with business needs.

I struggle sometimes with the idea that people who take a risk and fail should be out of the company. I think microsoft needs to support risk-taking and encourage people to think big and have grandiose plans. I just get really frustrated when microsoft has to appease sr execs with a huge, multi-year project that doesn't fit business needs.

I want microsoft to get back to basic "block-and-tackle" business strategy & software development. There's lots of low-hanging fruit with Windows, WP7, Office, SQL, VS, XBox, that the company needs to focus on. GMs, TFs, DEs, VPs & partners need to align with these efforts, even if this means leading a team of 10 instead of leading a team of 200.

Way too much building an org/product/endeavor around a personality.

Anonymous said...

What needs to change?

Employee sense of entitlement – healthcare costs spiraling out of control but MS shouldn’t make prudent changes that still leave the company with one of the best plans in the industry? A worldwide recession and greatly diminished growth prospects didn’t warrant at least modest layoffs? More than a decade of negative stocks returns, along with some very significant market failures, and the company shouldn’t be cutting expenses wherever possible and shuttering unproductive groups? Grow up. Or make good on your threats and leave.

New leadership – the current one is a failure starting with Ballmer and the board. It’s incapable of succeeding against Apple (at all) or Google. It can’t deliver value from the high R&D $. There is no credible strategy for future growth. And it can’t make acquisitions work, which looks like MS’s best avenue for a turnaround given how far behind it has fallen.

Personal accountability – everyone but you is to blame. Ballmer. SLT. That other group. Your boss. The person in the cubicle beside you. A growing majority of 90K people all believing they’re underpaid for their talent and productivity.

If everyone is so incredible how come the organization as a whole keeps failing?

Start controlling the problem with you. If 90K others do that the problem will eventually take care of itself.

Approach - Ballmer’s: the Maginot line. Announce it in advance. Pour huge resources into it. Present a static target. Get crushed. Jobs: Secrecy. Meticulous planning focused on what could be, not just what is. Laughably small investment. Kill shot out of nowhere. Consolidate the victory and go into overdrive to put distance on the competition.

Options – reinstate in lieu of grants, at least for senior management. Accountability and intolerance for expensive failures will develop quickly once the ongoing damage to the stock price that has resulted from these endless episodes means no executive bonus. If a bunch quit over the change, great. Let them go and slow down competitors.

Beyond that (modified, but originally courtesy of Asus’s CEO):

Sharpen the sword. Pick your category, your technology, and your service and obsess about it. Don’t jump around, here and there.

Ride the right wave. Open your eyes and grab THE great opportunity, not hundreds of mediocre ones or great ones you can’t win.

Choose the right partners. Not just their technical or business skills but their character. You are going to work together for a longtime, hopefully, and their character is as important as their knowledge.

Recruit the best team leaders at the very beginning. Should be self evident but at MS isn't.

Drive the right strategy and confront the brutal facts. Not just the good but the bad. Confronting the bad honestly is what allows you to respond faster and change course if necessary. If something isn’t working, move on quickly. Persisting in lost causes, Ballmer’s personal favorite, isn’t admirable. It’s suicide.

Anonymous said...

What needs to change?

The answer is the same as it has been for years. Microsoft needs new, competent leadership. Ballmer's only "qualification" is that he was Bill's best friend at Harvard. C'mon.

Anonymous said...

...always tell friends about people I knew who had million dollar medical bills (very premie twins) and how they were completely taken care of.

And now if you have a million dollar bill, you pay $2500-$5000. Is it really that big a deal?

Anonymous said...

>moving everyone out of single offices to cubicles with 4 or more people sharing the same cubicles
(offer people doing so a one-time pay in the amount equivalent to 1/2 the annual cost of maintaining his/her existing office.

Hahha, who let Kevin Turner post here? Anyone thinking this is a good idea is an idiot. No one wants to work in cramped cubicles. If we go to this I expect massive defection of all competent people for other companies that actually understand that to get quality out you have to have quality process and people, and quality people aren't going to work in cubicle farms. If Execs want to move to cubicle farms to keep in touch with the peons great.

Anonymous said...

>If you wonder why we hire the smartest brains on the planet but behave like the dumbest company ever:

hahaha you really think we hire 'the smartest brains on the planet'? Wow...wow, well...wow. Look around, the exodus of the smartest is already well under way, there are pockets here and there of great engineers left, but very, very few and very far between. The company is run by clueless PMs / MBAs and staffed by fresh out of college engineers with lots of ambition and arrogance but little talent or history of success. The levels of arrogance are so out of whack with any realistic understanding of reality that it feels like I am in bizzaro world every time I come to work.

Anonymous said...

No one wants to work in cramped cubicles.

Nobody in his right mind would work in cubicles from "Office Space". However, I would gladly work in this kind of space:

Facebook Seattle Office

Before Microsoft, I always worked in open office plan (no cubicle partitions, just desks around), and I was always most productive that way.

Anonymous said...

For those of you driving Hybrid's with Obama and progressive talk radio stickers on the back - the CHANGE you ordered has finally arrived.

The era of the corporate Cadillac health care plan is now over. Welcome to Obama care softies.

With socialized medicine, you now get to pay for hundreds of goverment entitlement programs with out cost controls, for the tens of millions of lazy people that make stupid choices. The money has to come from somewhere, and it sure ain't going to be from the wealthy with infinite lobbying power.

You will now be getting the military style of medical service and paying very well just to get that.

Here is a glimmer of the wacko ideologies that will trash the best health care system in the world. This is just the start. Your 401K is coming up next.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/65950

Anonymous said...

Ballmer's only "qualification" is that he was Bill's best friend at Harvard. C'mon.

Another over-privledged ivy league pup that achieved great wealth on the coat-tails of others.

Sounds like the Microsoft way to me. To think people wonder why the management and review system is what it is. Just look who is charge.

Anonymous said...

Having worked at MS and other companies big and small, I can honestly say that the offices at MS are killing them. It forces the individual culture that's stifles teamwork and collaboration. I'm a manager, in a cube, along with the rest of our incredibly smart engineering team and it's the best environment I've ever been in.

Anonymous said...

@Sunday, October 10, 2010 1:59:00 PM

Best health care in the world, for whom? What percentage of the US population works for Microsoft? 90K out of 300 million? The other 299.91 million certainly aren't receiving "the best in the world".

The situation is more like: Having everything paid for makes some amount of softies unaware of how bad the system is for most people. Now that they'll have to pay *up to* $2500 people are shocked, shocked, that "socialized medicine" has ruined their privileged position! Nothing of the sort has happened, and our new plan for 2013 is still better than your typical HMO.

Anonymous said...

and of course the review process which literally made him sick with anxiety twice a year...

Apparently middle management thinks that working at Microsoft is still some sort of great privledge.

::rolls eyes::

At last review I was given a 2% pay increase on a stagnant salary and told that was "really good" by my manager.

After looking for three weeks I was offered a position for $35,000 a year more elsewhere and left. I don't have time for all the games. At the end of the day I expect to get paid for my work.

Anonymous said...

>I can honestly say that the offices at MS are killing them. It forces the individual culture that's stifles teamwork and collaboration.

Offices do this? No. You do this. It's a choice. So don't play the blame game.

It is always hardest to point the finger inward...

Anonymous said...

If everyone is so incredible how come the organization as a whole keeps failing?

Pointing the finger at the rank and file workers now?

Most American companies now are being managed to simply view the company as a cash cow for milking.

Microsoft is not special.

Anonymous said...

+1 on BradLo. So where's the exec accountability for those above Brad that allowed the org to grow without bounds for nearly a decade without producing anything of significant value? Someone was clearly asleep at the switch (i.e. BobMu).

Anonymous said...

[sarcasm on]
The reason why MSFT is changing the health benefit is because it simply costs too much for MSFT.

And the reason why it costs so much is because we (the empoyees) are too "productive". We give birth to N new babies per day. (To find out the value of N, watch the Town Hall video yourself).
[sarcasm off]

What is not clear to me is: Are they going to get rid of the PPO plan all together in 2013?
Or are they going to change the PPO to, say, we have to pay $X per paycheck and to pay $Y co-pay for each Dr's visit?

Anonymous said...

I think this is the root problem with the American health care system. Insurance companies obscure the cost of everything, so the health care industry pushes expensive tests and procedures and drugs and consumers are less inclined to push back (shop around, etc.).

Today if you are a dentist and want $100 for a teeth cleaning asa provider you have to bill the HMO nearly 4 times that amount in order to be made whole on the claim. That shows how well things are working.

Now, the new health care reforms will give these same big corrupt HMO's that are managing our countries health care today another 40 million non-paying customers.

Their stocks are up, but as a paying customer the price you pay for services will just go higher to compensate for those that aren't. It is really that simple.

Anonymous said...

There are too many HR managers, just too many of them. And they all work remotely from home. They are spread from San Francisco to Boston. Why do we need so many of them? Before any further cuts, let there be cuts in HR. TRUNCATE HR TO THE HALF OF WHAT IT IS TODAY?

Anonymous said...

Not clear why Lisa is so worried about my health all of a sudden?

She knows the drill. My eyes are tied to a computer screen 12 hours a day six days a week. I spend $140 per month eating over-priced fried foods in the cafeteria and drink a lot of coffee and soda.

Does she think I am going to be mentally or physically healthy here?

Lisa suggested she cares about the short-term health of her employees for productiity reasons; I doubt she really cares if you drop over dead the day after you are escorted out of Microsoft.

The fact is that it is easier and better for "share holders" to keep a younger workforce. You cancel the benefits, fire the employee when they get older & more expensive, and hire an intern at half the price.

She wants to talk about preventative medicine and long term health - it doesn't cost a thing Lisa. Do away with shuttle service and make the employees walk to their meetings. Cancel the contract and bring back good affordable food to our cafeterias like we used to have.

Less efficient but none-the-less the obvious morale choice.

Anonymous said...

Friends,

The turning point has really come for Microsoft. The company is back on track and is finally applying the mini mantra of reducing rank & files and becoming less bloated.

1: We have an awesome line of products coming up. The company meeting was one of the best in several years.

2: We are bloated and we need to reduce weight. The management finally realizes that. And therefore your 1-2% raises. Before you whine about that pathetic raise and then gloat about your 35% raise -- think again. This is what the management wants - they want the mediocre to leave so that we have a lean & mean 80% reduced microsoft.

Anonymous said...

in continuation of the above..

3: Reduced health benefits is again a great way to trim fat. Those who are here for the health benefits with multiple preexisting conditions are really not needed. The E/20% MSFT need not care about the 5k reduction in salary. The A/70 with their below average base and mediocre health benefits should LEAVE.

4: I expect mass exodus from MSFT in the next few months. With these thousands of talented (but not good enuff by MSFT standards) engineers prepared to work for 10% more - industry average wages for software devs will come down dramatically. The 20% msft crowd will realise how overpaid they are and will continue to work hard and hard as they would have no better options outside. And by this, MSFT will once again become the superpower it once was.

Anonymous said...

This is where Google excels: good food, subsidized massages (and free massage chairs), on-site gym, nurse, 30" monitors, $300 keyboards for folks who need them, lower stress environment.

Now that Microsoft doesn't have the gold plated health plan, I urge the E/20's to reconsider their employment there.

Anonymous said...

adopting Agile product development processes across all product units in the company

Oh, for Christ's sake. Yeah, we need more management fads! That will solve the pervasive management incompetence!

embracing "we are all in for the cloud" wholeheartedly

...and you want to resurrect mainframe computing. Hey, maybe Sun/Oracle has a couple other bandwagons you can jump on. How about "java everywhere"?

Anonymous said...

>>Is there an equivalent curve for >>after these changes go in to >>effect?

They are paying out $11,000 per employee. Now it will be ~$1,500 in an account?

I think you can do the math.

Anonymous said...

>You don't expect to do ordinary work for an ordinary company, do you? What needs to change?

Let us start with Sinofsky. He got promoted to become president for shipping Win7.

Win7 is losing Windows market share and is making about the same amount of revenue as Vista did.

Continued erosion of Windows marketshare will not only increase co-pays with the health plan, there will be cuts to other benefits.

The fan boys gloat about Sinofsky management. Be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

--The E/20% MSFT need not care about the 5k reduction in salary. The A/70 with their below average base and mediocre health benefits should LEAVE.

-- I urge the E/20's to reconsider their employment there.


Today's E/20 is tomorrow's A/10.

The continuing emphasis on internal competition is why Microsoft is failing. When are people going to realize that the competition is in the marketplace people!?

Anonymous said...

you're beginning to resemble an organization that has way too many people and now you're just creating work to keep them busy

Agree 100%. what will happen is the partners go on a empire building spree and when things turn ugly the principal/partners would have already moved to a different org. and the low level employees will get the shaft.

Anonymous said...

We are bloated and we need to reduce weight. The management finally realizes that. And therefore your 1-2% raises.

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Microsoft employs 39,000 people in Puget Sound, 90,000 worldwide. Microsoft is a far cry from an IBM with 398,000 employees.

Anonymous said...

how much does a L63 make? are these numbers accurate?

Base - 120
Bonus - 20
Stock - 25

Total Comp = 165

Anonymous said...

So you now have a company who admittedly doesn't offer the highest salaries and now doesn't even bother to offer the best benefits. Yet they ask you to go above and beyond and do your very best work.

[sarcasm on]

I would sell that. I would sell that all day long..

Anonymous said...

how much does a L65 make? are these numbers accurate?

Base - 150
Bonus - 30
Stock - 50

Total Comp = 230

Anonymous said...

>>Now, the new health care reforms will give these same big corrupt HMO's that are managing our countries health care

HMO profit margin is very low, some where in the 3% range. HMO gets blamed as people face them when paying bills. There is corruption in the entire system from drug manufacturers to doctors.

Or to put it more bluntly, there isn't much competition in the market place.

The US spends 20% of GDP on healthcare but gets results comparable to developing countries which dont even have medical facilities.

Anonymous said...

and the low level employees will get the shaft.

This must be your first recession.

It doesn't matter how many billions management throws away. It doesn't matter how much your skip level manager makes.

Low-level employees are always the ones that get the shaft. If you are looking for employee loyalty at a public multi national corporation today you aren't going to find it.

You are like toilet paper to these people.

Anonymous said...

The move on health care makes sense to me - I think the goal is to have employees be more "cost-conscious" when making health-care decisions.

Imagine if Microsoft offered a "grocery plan" to employees - you could choose QFC or Safeway, and then whenever you want, you could go in and put whatever you want in your cart, and walk out the door with it without paying for anything. How would you shop? Would you ever buy anything because it is on sale? Would you have a "food budget"? No, you'd buy whatever struck your fancy - steaks every night (except you hindu/veggie freaks who don't know just how darn good a steak tastes... whatever... you can have your tofu & your veggie burgers... more steak for me...)

Well, we have a similar thing today with health-care - whatever you want is paid for, and you don't have to care about the cost of anything. I think Microsoft needs its employees to be more cost-conscious. Make better decisions about their own health, and make better decisions about how to consume health care.

Anonymous said...

Reduced health benefits is again a great way to trim fat. Those who are here for the health benefits with multiple preexisting conditions are really not needed. The E/20% MSFT need not care about the 5k reduction in salary. The A/70 with their below average base and mediocre health benefits should LEAVE.


Wow. Does working at MS mean you need to be a narcissistic insensitive ass or is that personality trait optional?

Hopefully you or someone in your family doesn't end up on the other side of that fence someday.

Anonymous said...

Reduced health benefits is again a great way to trim fat. Those who are here for the health benefits with multiple preexisting conditions are really not needed. The E/20% MSFT need not care about the 5k reduction in salary. The A/70 with their below average base and mediocre health benefits should LEAVE.

So anyone with say, a disability that requires continuing healthcare should just move along? That sounds a bit like anyone who is sick can just take a hike, and that, anonymous person, sounds an awful lot like discrimination.

In the Town Hall meeting I heard a lot about how "if you are under 30, healthy, and not planning on having kids" then you are all set and the new plans are AWESOME!

I heard nothing about anyone who is unlucky enough to get cancer, or to be predisposed to a medical condition, or heck just plain be disabled. Apparently all of those people just took an across-the-board paycut and everyone agrees: They are getting the shaft the most.

The executives should all be very proud. /sarcasm

Anonymous said...

This is what the management wants - they want the mediocre to leave so that we have a lean & mean 80% reduced microsoft.

By Microsoft's definition, the "mediocre" comprise 70% of employees.

Let's say your buzz word fantasy comes true.

How many mediocre employees do you have next year after you fire 80% of employees (70% "mediocre" and the lowest 10%)?

Answer: 70% of employees are once again mediocre. Microsoft grades on a curve every year.

Anonymous said...

Reduced health benefits is again a great way to trim fat. Those who are here for the health benefits with multiple preexisting conditions are really not needed. The E/20% MSFT need not care about the 5k reduction in salary. The A/70 with their below average base and mediocre health benefits should LEAVE.

-- I wrote this post and it was meant to be sarcastic. The sarcasm is on the execs, the review system and the new reduced benefits. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Anonymous said...

How many mediocre employees do you have next year after you fire 80% of employees (70% "mediocre" and the lowest 10%)? Answer: 70% of employees are once again mediocre. Microsoft grades on a curve every year.

It is pretty obvious by the blog posts that some people achieve a higher level/position for whatever reason, and in doing so they can't help but to look down on everyone else around them.

Pretty sad state of affairs. It is no wonder no one helps anyone else around here. The forced stack ranking means it is all about being better than the other guy. That is the bottom line at MS. Not executing on big goals. Not delivering great products that sell.

Anonymous said...

The studies have been done. The reason health care costs are out of control is because when people spend money on health services - it is not their money they are spending.

Prior to the advent of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, health care spending never exceeded 6 percent of gross domestic product. Today it is 14 percent. These two government programs unleashed a torrent of new spending and led to rising health care prices.

The new bill will take this problem to a whole new level.

Anonymous said...

when people spend money on health services - it is not their money they are spending.

+1

When was the last time you "shopped" for your doctor? No one does.

The health savings account option will change consumer behaviors and bring down costs. No question about it.

Unfortunately, costs cannot come down without quality as well. You always get what you pay for. No one is talking about that part.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
How did you go from "Microsoft has turned the corner" to suddenly all gloomy again?

Anonymous said...

This benefit change does increase the health care cost burden on each employee - somewhere between couple hundred to couple thousand. I control my expenses and I know a lot of Microsofties also control their expenses - I think I can afford this change. I hope this will bring some goodness to Microsoft bottomline in a positive way
- people won't go to ERs for cold, cough, minor sprains, muscle aches or atleast they would think twice about it. I happened to be in an ER once several years ago, and the doctor mentioned that a lot of their patients are microsoft employees who show up for really no good reason
- people would hopefully learn about health care, aren't we the smartest people on earth. a chiropractic doctor was constructing his $3m house on lake sammamish and he was thanking us (microsoft employees) for making this happen for him. Good for him and I believe in chiropractic care - though not to the extent that people are currently using this
- I was hearing from some folks (high up in microsoft) that mobile medicine costs are growing like crazy for microsoft. Com'on guys - this was meant to be an alternative to ER not to regular doctor visits.

I still like working at microsoft and I work hard. I see my manager, my reports and my collegues also working hard. This is my fourth job in last 10 years and I found this to be a much better place that previous ones.

Now, on the down side - I hope this is not Kevin Turner changing Microsoft to Walmart, where health coverage is slowly changing from fully covered to a teasing with HSA and then forcing with HSA and eventually taking to state funded health care. I like this guy for how potentially he can make microsoft a cost conscious business but who knows what the future is going to bring to us.

I loved the company meeting. A lot of us have put in a ton of hardwork to make these great products that were demo'ed. I hope this reverses the microsoft's downward trend.

Anonymous said...

The US spends 20% of GDP on healthcare but gets results comparable to developing countries which dont even have medical facilities.

Absolute nonsense. Sounds like someone saw "Sicko" without engaging his bullshit detector first.

Anonymous said...


I loved the company meeting. A lot of us have put in a ton of hardwork to make these great products that were demo'ed. I hope this reverses the microsoft's downward trend



Don't hold your breath. I left MS several years ago and I remember that post company meeting feeling of hope. Those hopes were invariably dashed.

One year I was sitting at Safeco field, listening to the same BS as usual, and I decided I wasn't going to get suckered again. A few months later I left. Better pay, better atmosphere at a successful and growing company.

Anonymous said...

Let us start with Sinofsky. He got promoted to become president for shipping Win7.

Win7 is losing Windows market share and is making about the same amount of revenue as Vista did.


I agree that Sinofsky didn't deserve to get promoted. Others got promoted to president by doing even less.

More importantly, it shows the defunct culture at the company. You get promoted for shipping no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Absolute nonsense. Sounds like someone saw "Sicko" without engaging his bullshit detector

Well, why don't you publish some numbers if you can? Here is the Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman writing in NYTimes. This was in 2004 and health care cost has continued to go up faster than inflation and GDP growth.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/runaway-health-care-costs-were-1/

Anonymous said...

agree that Sinofsky didn't deserve to get promoted. Others got promoted to president by doing even less.

Sinofsky did not get promoted; he got drafted to save Windows after the BrianV debacle that was Vista.

Sinofsky was happily running a $10billion annual business over in Office when the board showed up and tapped him on the shoulder, and told him he was "up" to go run Windows. In their eyes, who better to turn that org around after the chaotic BrianV years than the guy who ran the only other organization of that magnitude?

You may not think much of Sinofsky but try to remember he didn't ask for that job; the board drafted him.

Anonymous said...

Absolute nonsense. Sounds like someone saw "Sicko" without engaging his bullshit detector

Well, why don't you publish some numbers if you can? Here is the Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman writing in NYTimes. This was in 2004 and health care cost has continued to go up faster than inflation and GDP growth.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/runaway-health-care-costs-were-1/

And where in that very brief article is there any whisper of a claim that "The US spends 20% of GDP on healthcare but gets results comparable to developing countries which dont even have medical facilities?"

Go.

Anonymous said...

"...people won't go to ERs for cold, cough, minor sprains, muscle aches or atleast they would think twice about it. I happened to be in an ER once several years ago, and the doctor mentioned that a lot of their patients are microsoft employees who show up for really no good reason"

This is an awfully big brush to tar people with. Why would anybody go to the doctor, let alone to the ER, for a cold or muscle soreness? Don't most of us have Primary Care Physicians (PCP) who handle things like sprains? And yes, some sprains are worthy of a trip to see somebody, because it's hard to tell the difference between 'major swelling and bruising, with crippling pain but it's only a sprain' from 'something is broken inside here'. Depending on the hour of the night? That might make an ER visit necessary. My PCP isn't open all hours. But I've been to the ER once as a parent with a dehydrated infant, and I wouldn't go waste my time there for anything I thought could wait.

I don't know anybody who wants to go sit at the ER for hours for "no good reason". There's something else going on there. The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'. I suspect these are people who, for whatever reason, do not have PCPs, who were caught after regular clinic hours, or lacked the knowledge to do "home" triage on illness or injury, and wanted to leave the diagnosis to somebody with more experience.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time you "shopped" for your doctor? No one does.

I do. I am one of those unlucky people with a complicated disability and I have shopped for the best in-network specialists to keep me functioning and able to be productive and on the job.

Shopping for cheaper specialists who give sub-standard care is not an option for me. I am an informed medical consumer and I make educated choices about which doctors to see and when to see them.

These new changes amount to an annual $2500 pay cut for me that my healthy co-workers may not have.

Seeing a "cheaper" doctor often means having to see a 2nd doctor later to catch what the "cheap" doctor missed, which amounts to no savings for anyone.

This change has me thinking about leaving the company for the first time after many years, to find one that will pay better wages with similar benefits.

The thrill of working at Microsoft is gone.

Anonymous said...

"Imagine if Microsoft offered a "grocery plan" to employees [...]"

I already do buy whatever food I want. The difference between the food I want and the food that's cheap is nearly insignificant in terms of my budget. To be comparable you'd have to be talking about people who require velociraptor steaks with a side of dodo bird eggs to survive. The analogy just doesn't work.

I think it's funny that Anon @9:59 got two people to "agree" with him about offices despite the fact that their rationales contradict each other:

1. Anon @9:59 wants this as an alternative to cost cutting (how is this not meant to be cost cutting?), but also encouraging much more working from home.

2. Anon @1:57 pointed to the facebook office plan. Not bad, but that one still has lots of space per person, which means it doesn't achieve the other guy's goal of saving money. Also, there's no cubicles there so it's clear they aren't talking about the same things

3. Anon @2:11 complains that offices stifle collaboration. Remembering that the first guy was promoting working from home and cloud collaboration, that's basically a completely opposite argument. He wants people stuck in the office, but without the privacy that inhibits his teamwork.

Anonymous said...

Here is a glimmer of the wacko ideologies that will trash the best health care system in the world. This is just the start. Your 401K is coming up next.

"The best health care system in the world"? Really?

Would that be the same system that has the US 15th in the world on infant mortality? The same one that has us slipping on longevity? It's about results, not how much you spend. And we spend more than most, and get less than most. Or did the facts slip by you during the Palin lecture?

Anonymous said...

>Lisa suggested she cares about the short-term health of her employees for productiity reasons;

No one else finds it ironic a speech about employee wellness and being in shape and healthy coming from LisaB? I mean really? Were those two fat motorcycle twins from the Guinness Book of World Records too busy to give the speech?

Anonymous said...

>This is what the management wants - they want the mediocre to leave so that we have a lean & mean 80% reduced microsoft.

So give shit raises across the board because that will only cause the mediocre to leave? You must be part of the exec brain trust, I am sure it is the mediocre/whiners that are leaving and getting higher offers elsewhere...those superstars LOVE working for shitty pay, reams of undervalued stock and the chance to work on cutting edge technology like....ohhh wait never mind.

Anonymous said...

"The best health care system in the world"? Really?

Would that be the same system that has the US 15th in the world on infant mortality? The same one that has us slipping on longevity? It's about results, not how much you spend. And we spend more than most, and get less than most. Or did the facts slip by you during the Palin lecture?


Good.

God.

Maybe you should hold off on the sanctimony until you investigate the facts yourself. If you remove all pregnancies involving fertility drugs and instances where a mother's health was in jeopardy or the child died shortly after birth, you'll find that the US is at or near the top of the list. It's not as simple as quality of care.

Why? Because pregancies involving fertility drugs are risky. In the third-world countries you admire so much, those pregancies wouldn't occur. Do you think it's some triumph of quality for a country to simply not offer the fertilization option?

Likewise, in cases where there is some danger to the mother, those "developing countries" just perform an abortion. In the US, it's more likely that the unhealthy fetus is delivered prematurely. It counts as a birth. When it then dies, it's counted as an infant mortality statistic. But at least the child had a chance at life that it wouldn't have in your precious developing countries.

As to the longevity allegation, once again you make a correlation that's not logical. Americans on the whole have worse health habits than most countries. Obese and sedentary people tend to die early in spite of the quality of US health care, not because of it.

If you were actually comparing apples to apples, your snarkiness might at least have some validity behind it.

Please make some effort to educate yourself about the issues. It's obvious with both your lockstep adherence to the radical left's assault on the quality of US healthcare and the Palin crack that you see the world in shades of black and white, or D-good, R-bad.

It's not that simple.

Anonymous said...

The entire sentiment of "Before you criticize the company, why don't you look at your own performance and the people immediately around you" (that inevitably surfaces on every mini-msft comment thread) is really irritating and offensive.

There's always somebody who will point out that posters here are being presumptuous in assigning blame for Microsoft's problems on the company management. Who do they think they are? Why don't they focus on improving their own work, and then the company will thrive etc.

It's ignorant, facile nonsense. The whole point of hierarchical structures is that critical decisions are made by those at the top of the hierarchy. A boss can do more harm to a company than an underling, by definition.

If I have some great idea about how to improve something, either I get listened to or not (probably not). This distinguishes me from those running the company, and entitles me to critique the decisions made by those who (unlike me) have power. There's nothing presumptuous about it.

The idea that we can "all" collectively improve the company by improving our own small portion is nonsense. It's like shopkeepers in a town with a coal plant being told to concentrate on keeping the sidewalks in front of their own stores coal-dust-free rather than bitching about the big plant spewing pollution over the whole town. I don't know why so many people have such trouble understanding this.

Anonymous said...

>Also, there's no cubicles there so it's clear they aren't talking about the same things

Also Facebook just opened in Seattle and Seattle real estate isn't exactly cheap, makes sense at the initial opening to not splurge, keep that 'bootstrap startup' feeling alive a bit longer. Anyone that claims to prefer an 'open pit' style to an actual office either never has had an actual office or is lying, or both. The idea that offices 'close you off' from your co-workers is fucking ridiculous unless they don't have doors or you are too fucking lazy to leave your office other than to hit the head (you don't pee in your office do you??)

Anonymous said...

>or the child died shortly after birth

So if you remove infant mortality from the infant mortality stats then we are doing pretty good? Good to know. USA! USA! USA!

Anonymous said...

>or the child died shortly after birth

So if you remove infant mortality from the infant mortality stats then we are doing pretty good? Good to know. USA! USA! USA!


I should have known better than to expect you to be able to connect the dots on your own.

The point is, just like the premature birth who'd have been aborted elsewhere, a child who dies shortly after birth in the US would have been counted as "stillborn" in the developing world.

Still waiting for "facts" instead of infantile emotionalism from you.

Anonymous said...

"Imagine if Microsoft offered a "grocery plan" to employees [...]"

Umm.. if it is anything like the Company Store / Phone 7 experience I think I will pass.

Let me guess, I get to eat dinner but only after I spend all my personal time evangelizing the benefits of consuming Microsoft food products? Agree to an annual commitment to turn WinCalories into more work hours?

Anonymous said...

>Sinofsky did not get promoted; he got drafted to save Windows after the BrianV debacle that was Vista.

BrianV saved Windows 2000 just like Sinofsky saved Win7. There were many that had a hand in Vista including BillG, SteveB and JimAll.

Windows client revenues are comparable to where Vista was in 2008. And win7 is losing market share. Sinofsky is setting the stage for the next disaster which will be the end of Microsoft. His greatest legacy will be the triad model and giving career path to PMs who wouldnt have made the cut elsehwere.

Anonymous said...

>>The US spends 20% of GDP on >>healthcare but gets results >>comparable to developing >>countries which dont even have >>medical facilities.

>Absolute nonsense. Sounds like >someone saw "Sicko" without >engaging his bullshit detector >first.

And I suppose that your bullshit detector is Fox News. Everybody knows that the biggest contributor to the deficit is medicare and medicaid.

Anonymous said...

>This benefit change does increase the health care cost burden on each employee - somewhere between couple hundred to couple thousand

Well, it is probably going to be more than that, and either way you won't be comparing apples to apples here.

This is not just MS. This is industry wide reform. Their are estimates that up to 1/3 of all doctors will be leaving the profession once everything is phased in. This will be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Step 1 of public medicine = get rid of all of the private competition.

You will have less options to get quality medical care in the future than you do today. Less access to that MRI machine or that new cancer treatment. You will be making substantial co-pays on your prescription drugs. You will always be thinking twice before taking your kids to the doctor and will get less face time when you do. You will be filling out forms and dependent on big government for your life.

That is what is on the table here.

Anonymous said...

And I suppose that your bullshit detector is Fox News. Everybody knows that the biggest contributor to the deficit is medicare and medicaid.

You're right - I needed Fox News to brainwash me into thinking that the US might have better health care than Costa Rica.

I certainly wouldn't have done anything as objective as investigating the source and determination of the rankings that Michael Moore mischaracterizes.

The WHO rankings don't claim what Michael Moore wants you to think they do. But he knows you're too much of a sheep to ever investigate and figure that out on your own. Meanwhile, you'll continue to project that same gullibility and lack of objectivity towards people actually conversant with the facts.

I've never watched Fox News, but if people like you are against it, maybe I should.

Anonymous said...

we're all just frogs in the pot of water. the temperature has been gradually raised over the past 10 years. microsoft really is not special any more in any dimension except its inability to create shareholder value. it's funny, i am planning to leave in 2013 and insurance was my biggest concern. cool beans, one obstacle out of my way.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts:

1. This doesn't take effect until 2013. That's two years to adjust your budget and/or plan your exit strategy.

2. If the Executive Team want me to believe this was really because of Health Reform, and not because they wanted to get out of the way of continually rising medical care costs, I want to see them point to the exact portion of the law in question. "Health care costs continue an astronomical rise, so you're going to have to shoulder some of that", that I could believe. That they are doing this because of a change in the law, don't blow smoke up my ass.

3. It's a dumb idea for Microsoft. You can quantize the results -- $4k/US Employee/yr. The problem is, we can quantize the results too. "I never have to worry about my medical care" means I don't worry about my medical care costs. Once I have to put a price on it, that also makes it much easier for me to compare the cost of taking a job somewhere else with a lesser health plan. And since health packages are the single least customizable part of an offer package, it makes it much easier for employees to leave, or other companies to poach, which leads to the next "cost saving" problem. The hire package costs of a replacement for someone you want to keep dwarf the benefit you're saving, even if you ignore any domain knowledge not transferred.

4. A set of incentive plans for health care usage / health and wellness would likely have the same impact on health care cost control, but wouldn't have the negative impact on morale and recruiting/retention.

5. aQuantive? Massive? Kin? The failed attempt to buy Yahoo? When a tremendously profitable company does benefit cost cutting without showing any sort of penalty to executives for decisions that have cost far more than those benefit cuts will ever save, it goes down unpleasantly.

Anonymous said...

>Sinofsky did not get promoted; he got drafted to save Windows

Sinofsky is not President/CEO material. He picks fights with his peers and doesnt listen to even the CEO.

His decisions are backward looking. He conveniently left Office just when his approach started to fail.

Jobs, the Google guys, Ellison and Bezos will run circles around Sinofsky.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs its employees to be more cost-conscious. Make better decisions about their own health, and make better decisions about how to consume health care.

Wow that sounds really great. Now let's talk about the realities of being human.

While I have no doubt that Micro-snot has a few ass clowns that drive over to the pro club three times a week for frivilous elective crap, I would bet it is the exception.

Most people don't choose to get sick. They do not wake up and want to go to hospitals or dentist offices. They don't choose to have a child that needs a half a million dollars in care. They don't choose to get cancer or use drugs that cost $1000 per month. It is not a choice any of us make.

Don't buy the preventative hype.
When it comes to your health - most of you aren't in control of anything. Do you think under this new system that you will get preventative full body scan MRI's?

Get real. It won't materialize.

Anonymous said...

Curious... what was the company total payout of "merit" increase this review cycle and how does it compare to the healthcare plan savings?

Will our "merit" increases going forward simply be code for funding for benefits we now have to pay for?

I am fortunate to have a healthy family but I admit, the benefits was one reason I've stayed in the craziness this long. I'm a top performer (not in all the weed out categories mentioned so far) but I got to say the madness here is getting worse in recent years.

Anonymous said...

>You're right - I needed Fox News to brainwash me into thinking that the US might have better health care than Costa Rica.

No, you dont have to go that far. Check out the infant mortality rates in Taiwan and Singapore to that of the USA. Then compare the spending per capita.

Anonymous said...

If the compensation problem around here would get solved, I could afford to buy my own health care privately in the free market.

I was earning more as a contractor in 1995 at EDS then I do now after 13 years at the worlds richest software company.

Something is wrong with that picture. The middle class are being wiped out. I know I am one of them.

Anonymous said...

Likewise, in cases where there is some danger to the mother, those "developing countries" just perform an abortion. In the US, it's more likely that the unhealthy fetus is delivered prematurely.


As long as Jeebus is happy...

Anonymous said...

"Health care costs continue an astronomical rise, so you're going to have to shoulder some of that", that I could believe. That they are doing this because of a change in the law, don't blow smoke up my ass.
..

The new law is 1017 pages. Even the pros don't understand the full impact so I would never expect you to.

Anonymous said...

The new law is 1017 pages. Even the pros don't understand the full impact so I would never expect you to.

Well, if "the pros" want to claim that a company decision was made because of the new law, either they understand it enough to know where the law is driving the decision, or they are lying.

Anonymous said...

People, the job market for developer is really good right now, look around, you can easily get a 20% raise just by jumping to a competitor.

Anonymous said...

I love it when Mini turns off moderation on this blog because it gives the world a chance to see just how nasty it really is inside Microsoft. Pay attention kids, is this really the company you want to work for when you get out of college?

Anonymous said...

> (except you hindu/veggie freaks
> who don't know just how darn
> good a steak tastes...
> whatever... you can have your
> tofu & your veggie burgers...
> more steak for me...)

tofu ? veggie burger ??? Unfortunately, your imagination is lacking, what with all that steak you eat.

The medical benefit has been overly abused by employees such as yourself, who would like to fit in steak into their oversized gut everyday. That is why those employees who genuinely need it, just lost it.

Anonymous said...

>You're right - I needed Fox News to brainwash me into thinking that the US might have better health care than Costa Rica.

No, you dont have to go that far. Check out the infant mortality rates in Taiwan and Singapore to that of the USA. Then compare the spending per capita.


Again, you're picking two examples of countries with an extremely healthy populace by habit. What good habits the Singaporean culture doesn't instill, the extremist legal system will.

That's not to suggest the Singaporean health care system itself is subpar (it isn't), but to look at the infant mortality rate and give all the credit to the health care system is to ignore the very significant lesson that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Anonymous said...

The above is a thoroughly repellent sentiment.

[I'm tempted to break Godwin's Law but I won't]

Anonymous said...

Hitler. There. I did it.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting...the "repellent sentiment" I just complained about has been removed.

Anonymous said...

Most medical problems are genetically influenced. I'm talking about cancer, infertility, infant mortality, premature birth, peanut allergies, you name it. These conditions are hereditary, at least partially. Even non-genetic problems (let's say obesity due to poor diet) are still handed directly from parents to their children. In a balanced ecosystem, these problems are quickly weeded out by Natural Selection, i.e. failure to reproduce (death ain't the only cause of that). Certainly you'll find the occasional allergic squirrel or cancerous bird, but the trend stabilizes after a generation or two. It rarely becomes an epidemic.

The idea that everyone should be healthy, that every kid should grow up to have his own kids, is a noble and moral ideal – a useful inspirational guide. But modern healthcare seeks to implement that ideal as a direct policy. It completely disengages the brake of Natural Selection. By nurturing people with various ailments, in a way, we are nurturing the ailments themselves. This is why America, the country that seriously wants to treat every person and every medical condition (even infertility!) has these paradoxical trends.

We should pursue the ideal. I'm not arguing with that. But when "Doctors are confounded by an increased trend of premature births", you've got to realize that the doctors ARE the cause. Premature babies grow up to give premature birth. It sucks. Biology is a cruel system. Before you think I'm touting some eugenics plan, hear me out. I'm not saying that. I'm saying two things:

First, people who point to the superior health statistics in poorer countries need to realize that they're pointing to a higher instance of Natural Selection, not some brilliant government strategy. They might as well be pointing to a healthy squirrel population, by which I mean all those potential squirrels that you never saw, that didn't make it. America has chosen to support the unfortunate. It's noble, but it means our population of unfortunates will keep growing. Get used to it, or move to another country.

Second, the concept of an average person with a MILLION DOLLAR PER YEAR medical need is just shocking to me. Everybody's going to die sometime. We're not "saving lives," but rather postponing inevitable deaths. At the cost of other things, some noble, some not. You have to draw a line somewhere. Personally, I would rather die a decade earlier, versus burning up my family's (or community's) finances in extended care. Can I please have a health benefits program that caps out well before the MILLION DOLLAR PER YEAR mark? I wouldn't expect others to pay that for me, and I'd rather not be payin' it for others either. I'm not saying you should do the same. Just that it should be a choice.

Anonymous said...

...and the crypto-fascistic comment is back, verbatim. Interesting

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky is not President/CEO material. He picks fights with his peers and doesnt listen to even the CEO.

His decisions are backward looking. He conveniently left Office just when his approach started to fail.

Jobs, the Google guys, Ellison and Bezos will run circles around Sinofsky.


100% correct! I've had the displeasure of actually speaking with him on numerous occasions. He is a quasi-intellectual, MBA-lovin’ buffoon. No offense intended to all of those who follow this man as if he were a deity, but he’s in way-over-his-head...a manager for management’s sake without a single ounce of innovation or market-making foresight.

One of his biggest contribution in recent years is the triad-ification of Windows. Yay! Now each discipline can focus on the two most important things:

1. Pleasing her/his manager.
2. Destroying her/his competition (peers competing for raises/bonuses).

Instead of dev/test/pm focusing on collaboration and team success, they now have the excuse, and are in fact openly encouraged, to subvert and rat-out their sister disciplines. Brilliant! Promote him to CEO!

Anonymous said...

> You're right - I needed Fox News
> to brainwash me into thinking
> that the US might have better
> health care than Costa Rica.

> I certainly wouldn't have done
> anything as objective as
> investigating the source and
> determination of the rankings
> that Michael Moore
> mischaracterizes.

> The WHO rankings don't claim
> what Michael Moore wants you to
> think they do. But he knows
> you're too much of a sheep to
> ever investigate and figure that
> out on your own. Meanwhile,
> you'll continue to project that
> same gullibility and lack of
> objectivity towards people
> actually conversant with the
> facts.

> I've never watched Fox News, but
> if people like you are against
> it, maybe I should.

A Michael Moore basher who has never watched Fox News. Ok, so watch Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, or listen to Rush Limbaugh. Typical fat cat republican tactic - try to discredit facts without any data, but pick faults with inconsequential things that are said.

Anonymous said...

The same people who want the "weak" 10 percenters to go away want your sick baby to die. What a surprise... Not!

Anonymous said...

>t gives the world a chance to see just how nasty it really is inside Microsoft.

And it is your belief all the 'nasty' people work for Microsoft why exactly? I hear on the interwebz there are these people called trollz, they hang out places like the 4 channels and do things for the lulls!

Anonymous said...

The same people who want the "weak" 10 percenters to go away want your sick baby to die. What a surprise... Not!

The flaw with this idea of the "weak" 10%ers is this: we've seen plenty of people here who report, first hand or second hand, that the review process is fatally flawed, that managers can write lies which the employees CANNOT REBUT, that once a 10%, pretty much always a 10%, and that a whole heck of a lot of people suddenly getting U's and being stealthily vanished from campus just happen to be 40-somethings...and you still say it's the "weak" being removed? I see no evidence of that. 10% are being removed, but the justification for their "weakness" is not obvious to me.

Is 40 the new weak? Do 40-somethings have nothing to contribute?

Or are they a convenient scapegoat that lets MSFT pat itself on the back for having gotten rid of the "useless eaters"? If they really believe the company is so much better off without those "weak" people, why are those people doing so well when they get jobs elsewhere? Why are other companies willing to pay them as well or better?

It's all nonsense. It's a flawed process based on a false premise. It's hurting people and I bet it's not even helping Microsoft. But it LOOKS like they're Doing Something!

Anonymous said...

Not sure how Windows is being run by Sinofsky but in parts of Office, you have dev/test/PM teams that are at least 4 levels of management deep.

That means even dev and test managers have literally zero official authority over the design of their product.

The PM teams really have complete control over the product design even though they're off in PowerPoint imagination land and the dev team actually makes the product and the test team has to use it day in and day out. Recipe for fail.

Anonymous said...

A Michael Moore basher who has never watched Fox News. Ok, so watch Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, or listen to Rush Limbaugh. Typical fat cat republican tactic - try to discredit facts without any data, but pick faults with inconsequential things that are said.

It's sad that you'd think I'd have to be a Republican to see through the shell games that Michael Moore engages in. Sorry, but it's not as simple as cheering on a football team ("Those guys over there SUCK! We're so cool and smart over here! Why? Because... we're over here!")

As for discrediting "facts" without any data, I'm waiting for "facts" to actually discredit. I acknowledge that Singapore and Taiwan have a lower infant mortality rate - excuse me for even daring to suggest that there's more to the story than simply "US healthcare sucks."

Do you honestly think that the healthier habits of the Singaporeans and Taiwanese in general have NOTHING to do with the health of their babies? Seriously?

But where is the example of the developing country whose healthcare is on par with the US? That's the Moore-inspired claim that sent me to the WHO's original report when his crockumentary first came out. It was in the WHO's methodology where I found out that they claimed nothing of the sort. Yet you're emotionally invested in that claim and will not be educated otherwise.

Go ahead, call me a fat cat and a "Republican" again while avoiding any substantive interaction and pat yourself on the back for how clever and impartial you are. It's not transparent at all, really.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon at 9:57: I have always wondered if there is any way to actually find out the stats for what age, race, gender are for people getting laid off or getting U or A/10s. Do you know if there is? I mean legally, of course - is there a way to inquire somewhere?

I've just hit over-40 recently and now I wonder: will my name be on the list to U/10 soon? I do know of a co-worker who unexpectedly got a U/10 and is over 40. The co-worker is furious and I have been idly wondering what their legal options are as far as finding out if they are part of a class of folks . . .

You would think one of the few things HR actually does effectively is manage EEOC violations .. . but how would one confirm that? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:12pm - Michael Moore is indeed over the top, and I don't agree with a lot of his methods.

That being said, I don't think he was completely off base in Sicko. I myself have struggled with insurance companies denying procedures that were clearly listed as covered in our plan documents. I've had insurance companies determine that I've had plenty of PT for my back and that it should be fixed now, so they were no longer covering any treatment. (Who decided? Some accountants in a room somewhere).

The grain of truth in Sicko is that our health insurance system is messed up, but good, and I would have to agree. Even with the heretofore excellent Microsoft health coverage I have personally experienced struggles to get the benefits the company offers.

I don't want to derail the topic at hand, which is the loss of the last set of golden handcuffs keeping a lot of folks at the company. Just saying - even if you are not a Michael Moore fan, he did have a point.

Anonymous said...

Stop conflating Vista revenues with XP. 7 has more market share in one year than Vista's peak after almost 3.

Anonymous said...

>But where is the example of the
>developing country whose
>healthcare is on par with the US?

It's me again - the one that called you a fat cat republican. Just wanted to mention that because the tone of this post is going to be a bit different.

It depends on what you mean by "healthcare". You are talking about the all the things that CAN be "cared for" using the "health facilities" available in the US. Unfortunately, many US citizens go to developing countries like Mexico and India to get treatment for things that would be treated in this country for 10 times the cost, even if you include the airfare and hotel stay in India. Healthcare that's inaccessible to a large section of the population is no healthcare.

This is usually because of the fat cat republican unregulated capitalist mentality of doctors, these days. They know you work for Microsoft and they recommend tests that are not required. Once they get used to making money that way, they treat people who don't work for Microsoft, the same way.

Anonymous said...

9:43:00 -

You are a sad, strange little man. You can see that Michael Moore is a dishonest dickhead while still agreeing with his ideals and thinking that all the other jackasses you mentioned are wrong (and also dickheads to various degrees).

"Typical fat cat republican tactic - try to discredit facts without any data, but pick faults with inconsequential things that are said."

Typical tactic of somebody incapable of arguing their point, whether because they are wrong, or just didn't do the requisite research, or just plain aren't smart enough to argue. It's a strawman argument that everybody who doesn't like Michael Moore loves the extreme right blowhards. It's a strawman to say that not liking Michael Moore makes you not left wing. I'm at least as far left than he is. He's still a dick who probably does more harm than good to good causes.

And ignorant, unthinking, divisive, prejudgemental, knee-jerk attitudes like yours are one of the biggest problems with society, throughout history. The football analogy is spot-on. If you behave like a sports fan in politics, you really aren't thinking at all and if you ever do anything morally right it's purely by chance.

Anyway, there's an obvious alternative in the overarching debate. The US system of healthcare is probably not the best in the world, while still probably being better than that of the poorest countries in the world -- especially given that we're Microsofties and thus really not "poor" by reasonable definitions of the term.

Anonymous said...

The problems with MSFT are:

- There is no accountability probably because MSFT has too much money sitting in the bank.

One example: BradLo team (which had so many principals, partners along with couple DEs and TF) worked for 8+ years without releasing anything. I am sure this is not an isolated incident in MSFT.

- Decisions were made to appease VP, GM or TF's ego at the expenses of customers.

- Instead of addressing customer's pain on the existing products. Resources are moved to work on new things. Why? because new things are exiting and what got them(middle managements) promoted.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:12pm - Michael Moore is indeed over the top, and I don't agree with a lot of his methods.

That being said, I don't think he was completely off base in Sicko. I myself have struggled with insurance companies denying procedures that were clearly listed as covered in our plan documents. I've had insurance companies determine that I've had plenty of PT for my back and that it should be fixed now, so they were no longer covering any treatment. (Who decided? Some accountants in a room somewhere).


I have no doubt that's the truth. It needs to stop, but it's not an indictment of the quality of US healthcare, which is my main contention with Moore's misrepresentations.

One step in the right direction would be allowing for interstate competition among insurance companies, something the crafters of Obamacare were dead set against.

The grain of truth in Sicko is that our health insurance system is messed up, but good, and I would have to agree.

Okay. Stop right there.

Which "Sicko" did you see and how did you manage to come away with THAT as the "grain of truth" in the film?

It is true, but it certainly doesn't resemble the sentiment in Sicko. If you see that as the grain of truth from that film then you managed to do so in spite of Moore's presentation, not due to it.

Michael Moore has advocated the complete gutting of our system because "it sucks" and replacing it with across-the-board Universal Health Care. He then quotes rankings from the WHO report that he knows don't mean what he claims they mean.

I agree with YOU - fix the problems that do exist in the system. It's a good system, but there's room for improvement.

I do not agree with Moore, who'd rather throw the baby out with the bath water. And it sounds like you don't either, quite frankly.

Even with the heretofore excellent Microsoft health coverage I have personally experienced struggles to get the benefits the company offers.

I don't want to derail the topic at hand, which is the loss of the last set of golden handcuffs keeping a lot of folks at the company. Just saying - even if you are not a Michael Moore fan, he did have a point.


I am morally torn between suggesting we simply agree to disagree or suggesting that you rewatch "Sicko" and pay closer attention...

Frankly, you sound like too nice a person to wish something as horrible as a repeat viewing of "Sicko" on, so maybe agreeing to disagree is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael Moore guy, if you have such a bone to pick with Sicko I'm sure there's a discussion board for that. This blog is about Microsoft, remember? Let's discuss health care in that context.

Anonymous said...

Realistically speaking, there has been a hidden 6%+ pay raise for every Microsoft FTE for years.

That's the annualized increase in health care costs in recent years.

That Microsoft has decided to pass costs on to employees (in part, no doubt, to try to shape benefit usage by applying a marginal cost to medical visits) is not entirely a surprise.

The way it was disclosed and the uncertainty as to what will happen in 2013 is, however, exceptionally ham-handed.

Anonymous said...

One of his biggest contribution in recent years is the triad-ification of Windows. Yay! Now each discipline can focus on the two most important things:

1. Pleasing her/his manager.
2. Destroying her/his competition (peers competing for raises/bonuses).


Pleasing my micro manager IS my new full time job. Sadly every decision I make is about being 'visible' and making my manager happy, not our customers. You just can't even breath here anymore.

The best thing that could ever happen to Windows is getting rid of many of these useless managers that add no value. They are such a drain on the org.

Anonymous said...

Realistically speaking, there has been a hidden 6%+ pay raise for every Microsoft FTE for years.

That's the annualized increase in health care costs in recent years.


I was surprised by how much Microsoft was paying on my behalf.

Being a healthy 20-something I wish they would have just written me a check all these years instead of getting ripped off.

Anonymous said...

The comments about Sinofsky are spot on.

At some point I got it. The weird dictums, the secrecy, the paranoia, the cult of personality. Why, that's the kind of behavior that would make someone drive around Palo Alto without a license plate. So it hit me: Sinofsky wishes he were Steve Jobs. Without the talent, of course.

SHG said...

Military spending is the single largest expense on the US balance sheet at 782 Billion or 23% of the entire Federal Budget.

So go on. Keep telling us all how Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupting the country.

Anonymous said...

Re: US health care efficacy:

http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/what-makes-the-us-health-care-system-so-expensive-introduction/

There's about a 30% gap compared to similar systems that's excessive cost.

Anonymous said...

The free healthcare was for US employees.

The employees in the rest of the world pay for their own healthcare. For most counties, 10-15% of your own salary goes to personal medical cover.

Anonymous said...

MSFT is broke and I don't think there is a way to fix it.

If you are over 40 and have kids, be very afraid. I guess you have the lawsuits and may be settlements to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

>> The employees in the rest of the
>> world pay for their own
>> healthcare. For most counties,
>> 10-15% of your own salary goes to
>> personal medical cover.

Bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the "perceived bias of the lay-offs towards 40+ year old employees", because of their health costs, with a level of skepticism. But after this health care adjustment I need no more convincing, smoke usually means fire. Quite disgraceful LisaB, I do hope someone successfully takes you to the cleaners!

Anonymous said...

>> The employees in the rest of the
>> world pay for their own
>> healthcare. For most counties,
>> 10-15% of your own salary goes to
>> personal medical cover.

Bullshit.


Not the OP, but just curious, how much do you think [typically socialized] health coverage costs in other countries? 10-15% sounds like it's probably in the right ballpark to me.

Anonymous said...


Today's E/20 is tomorrow's A/10.


Hey! I resemble that remark! And the only thing different about my performance from year to year was... uhhhhhh... thinking..... oh yea, my post-reorg new manager wanted to give his friends the E/20 so some of my old visible duties were taken away from me and given to his cronies. I protested and was told tough guano.

This pushed me to the bottom of the promo pile since the rest of my duties were at/below level, as was the case for most of the team at the time, and I'd been in level for 2.5 years, so the A/10 grim reaper came calling.

Anonymous said...

> Not the OP, but just curious, how much do you think [typically socialized] health coverage costs in other countries? 10-15% sounds like it's probably in the right ballpark to me.

The numbers below are given for South Korea. Personally I think that South Korea healthcare is good. I've converted everything to USD for better understanding. I think that it is enough for you to realize how US healthcare is overpriced.

Salary ~ 55.000$ (after taxes)

1) Visit a doctor ~ 3$ (with
health insurance), 10$ (without health insurance)

2) Visit an emergency room on weekends (including X-Ray and a few basic analyses) ~ 40$ (with health insurance), 50$ (without health insurance)

Basic health Insurance ~1000$ yearly (all dependents are covered as well).

And regarding your question. I think that 5% sounds much more realistic.

Anonymous said...

Former employee here.

I read through the thread and don't recall seeing a reference to what happens to the contributions to your HSA in the event you don't use them. I assume it's not much different from the HSA plan in which I'm currently enrolled in that the unused balance rolls over from year to year. There's no use-it-or-lose-it stipulation.

Additionally, when I turn 65, I can use that money not only for health expenses but also for other expenses. In other words, it can double as a retirement savings vehicle (albeit a small-scale one).

If I'm prudent with the money my employer deposits into that account on my behalf -- using, for example, $500 each year of a $2,500 annual contribution -- I'd have $40,000 in that account at the end of 20 years. It's not a huge sum, but that's certainly some incentive to be smart about visits to the doctor.

Know your options. One member of my family recently needed sutures. We paid $140 (covered everything) to a satellite urgent care facility. Meanwhile, a friend had a similar injury and paid $1,400 to the ER.

Long story short: If your plan is similar, you may be able to come out ahead (barring major illness or catastrophic event).

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should hold off on the sanctimony until you investigate the facts yourself. If you remove all pregnancies involving fertility drugs and instances where a mother's health was in jeopardy or the child died shortly after birth, you'll find that the US is at or near the top of the list.

Take a look at the latest available data using the link below. You will find that the US is headed to health spending of 20% of GDP, while people are not living longer. Obesity rates are rampant. An international comparison shows that the entire system should be scrapped. And BTW regarding infant mortality, check the numbers in this month's Scientific American.

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Surveys/2010/PDF_1371_Anderson_multinational_comparisons_hlt_sys_data_2008_chartbook_v2.pdf

Anonymous said...

Should be an interesting shareholders' meeting. The Blackrock Investment fund has increased its holdings from 2.49% to 5.63% of MSFT between June 30 and September 30. This may trigger changes in Board membership and increase pressure on SteveB.

Anonymous said...

Google 2013 recruiting drive proudly brought to you by Lisa Brummel.

Good grief every time she opens her mouth it’s bad news.

Anonymous said...

I haven't (yet) watched the town hall, as I was out of the office last week.

Question for all: is this change truly to pass on costs to employees, or is it a way to restructure the plan so that it does not meet the 'cadillac plan' definition?

Anonymous said...

I have been employed by MS for 6 years. I have one child and one on the way. With children you are willing to go through Hell in order to make sure they are safe and taken care of.

Now Microsoft wants to take that away from us. Over the last couple of years I have interviewed at the local competition and seen firsthand the salary comparisons (20%+).

Each time it has come down to comparing benefits that has kept me at Microsoft. Now LisaB/SteveB want to take that away and honestly I am relieved in some way, because it makes the decision to leave that much easier.

I don't hate Microsoft, or my time here. But I will not miss working 10 times harder at Microsoft than I have at successful startups.

I am not saying that the Microsoft medical benefit will be terrible per se, but it is definitely more on par and perhaps less than local competitors. Each of you will need to make your own assessment when the time comes.

I am not here to bash MS, they have been good to my family while I have been here, but I do look forward to returning to a job with a better work/life balance.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain why:

- I get a company car which I can also use for private purposes. This is taxable.

- I get a relocation package to move from Tampa to Redmond. This is taxable.

-Company pays health insurance of $18,000 annually for me and my family. This is not taxable.

Not taxing company health benefits is one of the reasons for the health insurance mess. Non-level playing fields always produce skewed outcomes.

Of course the basic reason for the mess is replacing the Hippocratic Oath with worship of the almighty dollar ... hence the shortage of PCPs as specialists make more money.

Anonymous said...

And it is your belief all the 'nasty' people work for Microsoft why exactly? I hear on the interwebz there are these people called trollz, they hang out places like the 4 channels and do things for the lulls!

You must not have any experience working at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Question for all: is this change truly to pass on costs to employees, or is it a way to restructure the plan so that it does not meet the 'cadillac plan' definition?

I think the challenge here is that right now we can't tell if we are being downsized to a Yugo.

Anonymous said...

>Anonymous said...
>Sunday, October 10, 2010 11:11:00 PM

> One of his biggest >contribution in recent years is >the triad-ification of Windows.

> The best thing that could >ever happen to Windows is getting >rid of many of these useless >managers that add no value. They >are such a drain on the org.

This is by no means constrained to the Windows organization. There are far too many mid-level managers all trying to add value by changing things constantly. It's only a matter of time before the triad model implodes, most likely as a result of people doing actual engineering work leaving underneath them.

This is already beginning to happen in multiple orgs, as people realize that these mid-level managers are giving themselves the 20% and upper 70% reviews and compensation....

Anonymous said...

>"The idea that everyone should be healthy, that every kid should grow up to have his own kids, is a noble and moral ideal – a useful inspirational guide. But modern healthcare seeks to implement that ideal as a direct policy. It completely disengages the brake of Natural Selection. By nurturing people with various ailments, in a way, we are nurturing the ailments themselves."

You must not be a parent. I wonder if you'd feel differently if you had a child born with a disability. Could you love that less-than-perfect child or would you view him/her as a burden on you and society? What a scary person you are. How you manage to stay alive without a heart is nothing short of a medical miracle.

Anonymous said...

The math behind your HSA (Health Savings Account http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_savings_account) quotes is missing an important variable. HSA's are an investment vehicle just like a 401k. They can grow by investing the money in mutual funds. Unlike previous savings plans like "flexible spending" the money doesn't dissapear at the end of the year. so you can accumulate a large amount of money for disaster scenarios over time. This is the true benefit of an HSA over traditional health plan. Their drawback is that you have to be in a high deductible plan (HDHP) (which is why your deductible just skyrocketed) but the money the company can put into your account is supposed to offset that, and even contribute to your overall account value. It can add up fast over the years, and you're free to add money as needed, so maybe you lessen your 401 contribution and move more to HSA. Lots of questions remain about the legislation and future of HSA's, but they're an interesting concept

Anonymous said...

"I don't hate Microsoft, or my time here. But I will not miss working 10 times harder at Microsoft than I have at successful startups."

Please provide names of these magic startups where you can do 10% of the work you do at Microsoft and make 20% more money.

Really, I'm all ears...

Anonymous said...

Ummm.

It would be nice if people took the time to understand ALL the healthcare ramifications before sounding off.

Even with the changes the Msft health plans are better than competitors (esp apple and google). I lived in Silicon Valley for 20 years. Companies there THINK they have the best plans when in reality they are mediocre. (my spouse is a PCP so I know what's good - or rather she tells me).

I see a lot of 'the grass is greener' type comments on this blog and I've been outside much more than in - and the grass IS greener. It's just greener in Redmond than elsewhere - literally and metaphorically.

Anonymous said...

Everyone here is spouting a dozen+ ideas to fix Microsoft.

Let me break it down for you - keep it simple.

Nothing, absolutely NOTHING, will change until the corporate culture changes.

EVERYONE from frontline employees, managers, executives, shareholders, and corporate CIOs should focus on NOTHING right now but changing the corporate culture.

You cannot easily change culture overnight, takes years. And you absolutely cannot change culture, or more importantly the perception of the culture, without replacing the leader of the culture and that's your CEO. Only then can real significant change take place.

The culture is tied to the CEO and the culture is what is killing Microsoft.

Focus on one thing right now. Getting rid of Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

The Cadillac or Yugo tax does not happen until 2018 and the first $27,500 are exempted.

I hope insurance won't be $27,500 by 2018!

Anonymous said...

"...Company pays health insurance of $18,000 annually for me and my family. This is not taxable."

To understand that, you have to understand the evolution of "health insurance" in the United States.

Basically, health insurance plans are not taxed because when the system as we know it evolved during WWII, when wage controls were in effect. Employers could not pay their employees more/what they were worth, and had to have a way to attract and keep them.

Since "health insurance" was not taxed, they began offering better and better health plans as incentives. You can read more at:

http://www.neurosurgical.com/medical_history_and_ethics/history/history_of_health_insurance.htm

Anonymous said...

>You may not think much of Sinofsky but try to remember he didn't ask for that job; the board drafted him.

BS. Sinofsky effectively blackmailed the board to get promoted to President.

Anonymous said...

How about the Phone 7 launch today?

MSFT is still down in trading. IBM, AAPL flirting with all-time highs.

Ballmer out in six months

Anonymous said...

The idea that we can "all" collectively improve the company by improving our own small portion is nonsense. It's like shopkeepers in a town with a coal plant being told to concentrate on keeping the sidewalks in front of their own stores coal-dust-free rather than bitching about the big plant spewing pollution over the whole town. I don't know why so many people have such trouble understanding this.

Thank you for providing such a spectacular example to prove my point. You could have discussed the merits of the ideas presented, suggested ways in which some or all could be improved, or supplied constructive recommendations of your own. Instead, you chose to defend your right to keep viewing the problem as unsolvable, your role as powerless victim, and whine. That won't help MS any more than not sweeping the sidewalks and bitching instead would contribute to improving your imaginary coal plant town. Go somewhere else where you can be positive, assuming it was ever in you. It will be healthier for you and much better for MS. MS's turnaround will be dependent on employees who can remain optimistic about the future and finding ways to continue making a positive contribution today, even while fully acknowledging the nature and extent of the current problems.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft’s Language Problem
by John Gruber

Microsoft announces Windows Phone 7, in a press release headlined “Windows Phone 7: A Fresh Start for the Smartphone: The Phone Delivers a New User Experience by Integrating the Things Users Really Want to Do, Creating a Balance Between Getting Work Done and Having Fun”:

The goal for Microsoft’s latest smartphone is an ambitious one: to deliver a phone that truly integrates the things people really want to do, puts those things right in front of them, and either lets them get finished quickly or immerses them in the experience they were seeking.

Who talks like this? This bureaucrat-ese is intended, I suppose, to sound serious. But it just sounds like bullshit.

Here’s how Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007:

Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone. And here it is.

And here’s Apple’s PR announcing it, headlined simply “Apple Reinvents the Phone with iPhone”. You can accuse Apple of hyperbole, but not opaqueness.

Anonymous said...

Umm, for all thos whining, why not just go to Google.

Jeez.

One would think that maybe you guys couldn't cut it there.

Oh...wait.

Anonymous said...

I've probably talked with 15 business people there over the past few weeks between L64-L67 in a bunch of different groups and my impression is that it's a pretty nasty place to work. The internal vitriol is amazing. When I was there, I recall a fair amount of politics and backstabbing (while the senior managers would pretend it wasn't happening). This year, it feels a more brazen, vindictive and intense. It's exhausting to even listen to, frankly.

I hear very little confidence or enthusiasm for new initiatives apart from folks that are obviously speaking directly from company positioning statements. There's deep skepticism about the company's ability to innovate or execute.

Maybe this is part of the process of shrinking down, but I'm baffled why anyone would go there right now. If you're looking for a great environment to work super hard but have a great time, it clearly isn't it, and it feels like it's getting worse, not better.

I guess any problems will show up in the attrition numbers, and until they do, it won't matter much. But certainly something does seem seriously wrong.

Jon H said...

"Prior to the advent of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, health care spending never exceeded 6 percent of gross domestic product. Today it is 14 percent"

Yeah, MRIs, stents, and all that good stuff were much less expensive in 1965.

Because they didn't exist.

Healthcare used to be a lot cheaper because they couldn't do much of anything, and what they could do was pretty low-tech.

Jon H said...

"Likewise, in cases where there is some danger to the mother, those "developing countries" just perform an abortion"

Latin American countries tend not to be very liberal on abortion.

Anonymous said...

Watching Ballmer on WP7 Press Conference, how much longer before we see him in jeans and black turtleneck?

Too bad he has to look at teleprompter on floor every now and then.

But overall, "delightful".

Anonymous said...

to the brilliant anonymous person who posted at Sunday, October 10, 2010 12:49:00 PM: I couldn't have said it better myself.

> The company is run by clueless PMs / MBAs and staffed by fresh out of college engineers with lots of ambition and arrogance but little talent or history of success. The levels of arrogance are so out of whack with any realistic understanding of reality that it feels like I am in bizzaro world every time I come to work.

Anonymous said...

Now, on the down side - I hope this is not Kevin Turner changing Microsoft to Walmart [...]

From what one can read of Mr Turner on this blog, the suspicion arises that this is the only thing he knows how to do.

I like this guy for how potentially he can make microsoft a cost conscious business [...]

Microsoft's "cost consciousness" is a case of "penny wise, pound foolish", with *billions* of dollars having been flushed down the toilet on futile attempts to regain some market share / mind share / respect and also in handsomely rewarding politically adept management hacks for their repeated failures.

[...] but who knows what the future is going to bring to us.

Those of us with our eyes open know what the future is going to bring to you, because the future has arrived- and it doesn't look too compelling.

I loved the company meeting.

Newsflash: no one has thus far figured out how to monetize Microsoft company meetings, nor are they ever likely to.

A lot of us have put in a ton of hardwork to make these great products that were demo'ed.

All the hard work is commendable, but it would be helpful to remember that:

(a) It is the *market* that decides whether or not the products are "great", and

(b) What counts is not demos but *sales*.

I hope this reverses the [sic] microsoft's downward trend.

Just remember that informed optimism and self-delusion are not the same thing.

John Smith said...

Regarding discrimination when you’re over 40: I utterly disagree that it happens at Microsoft. I do see older people getting 10% from time to time, not because they are older, but because they haven’t been able to keep up with the technology. You gotta keep yourself sharp, keep yourself on the edge, if you don’t want to do that, if you want to work from 10 to 5 and forget about work after that, you’re in the wrong company – worse, you’re in the wrong business. Keep yourself sharp, hungry. Gets harder when you age for sure, but you gotta have determination.
The problem that I see at Microsoft is not so much upper/middle management (yes, that’s part of the problem), but the fact that we’ve been hiring people with no talent, and no hunger. We should only hire people from Computer Science, E.E. (very few, though), Physics and Mathematics. Everybody else: out, I’m sorry, but that’s the reality. Also, we should only hire folks from prestigious universities, or at least good, solid ones. Hiring an average dude from an average school not from Computer Science is turning the company into an average company. So let’s stop complaining, whining about this, about that, questioning who makes more money than who (btw, I’m a Principal and the figures that I’ve seen in this thread with regards to compensation for Principals is way over what we really get). I’m not rich, I will never be rich, I think MS has some(many!) issues, I think we’re the underdogs now, which sucks big time, but you know what, I’ll try my best to help the company, and I still think we’re treated very well there compared to other technology and non-technology companies. C’mon guys, you guys ARE the company, the more you expose the bad things about the company the worse its image will be out there. Microsoft has a lot of bad things, sure, but it does have a lot of good things too – let’s talk about those too, let’s show to the Google boys that yes we ain’t perfect, but you know what, we have the guts to make things better. Forget about the last 10 years, call it “the lost decade” and move on, and let’s build a better future for Microsoft, even if we have to pay 2500 per year for healthcare. Sorry for my tone, but all this crying/whining/complaining/yada-yada is making me sick.

Anonymous said...

Non-Microsoft person, but I had to reply to the comment
Not the OP, but just curious, how much do you think [typically socialized] health coverage costs in other countries? 10-15% sounds like it's probably in the right ballpark to me.

Here in Australia you're looking at around $2/day for a single and $5-ish per day for a family. That's including dental and other extras.

The average wage is around $60K I think, so $750-$1600/year is nowhere near 10-15%.

There's a gov't rebate of 30% of private healthcare costs and the average visit to a doctor might leave you $20-30 out of pocket.

Subscription medicines cost between $2 (for pensioners) to $30 in my experience, but I don't buy medicine often. I had to buy morphine for my son recently and that was $20 for a fair amount (which is still thankfully unused as his surgery pain receded soon after we bought it).

Australia has a standard of healthcare equal to the best in the world, and the above is roughly what we pay.

Anonymous said...

A question for all the disappointed people.....if you're so unhappy with Microsoft, the one armed manager that is keeping you at A/70 or U/10 and your (perceived) low pay why don't you just leave? I'm not trying to flame but if you guys are so in control of your life then I'm sure other companies are breaking down your door....right?

Anonymous said...

Being a healthy 20-something I wish they would have just written me a check all these years instead of getting ripped off.

Yeah, when I was in my 20s, I thought I was indestructible too. You'll find out differently in just a few short years...

Anonymous said...

"You pay 100% of the first $3,750 in non-preventive costs. This is your deductible. "

Anyone with kids knows what this means: $3750 down the tubes.

MSFT folks are getting older, and having kids. The EXTREME super FIT twenty something mob is gone.

We all have kids with ear infections and broken legs and what-have you.

Nice pay cut.

Anonymous said...

Also, we should only hire folks from prestigious universities, or at least good, solid ones

People from prestigious universities (and many just solid ones) are not interested in working for Microsoft. Wake up - the world has changed in 10 years! There are many opportunities for people from "prestigious universities" that they consider to be better than Microsoft. I've seen this many times when the company loses a candidate with multiple offers. The quality of the talent pool available to us is way down.

Microsoft is playing with fire managing out the bottom 10%. The replacements are worse than many of those let go, provided the company can even find them.

Anonymous said...

>Umm, for all thos whining, why not just go to Google.

There are many better places than Google to go, though Google isn't a terrible option, certainly better than current (and for the foreseeable future) Microsoft. Don't worry, people will be leaving. Some of us have to wind down commitments, wait for the next review season to get one more vesting of already earned stock (I will be leaving a substantial amount 'on the table', but I don't view it as real money until it hits my brokerage, so whatever) and then put in our notice. I am getting giddy just thinking about it. The saddest thing? This is the most excited I have been (thinking of leaving) in the last couple years or so, and I have worked here much longer than that.

Anonymous said...

>but if you guys are so in control of your life then I'm sure other companies are breaking down your door....right?

Many here probably do get random fishing from recruiters and friends at other companies, if you have talent people know. Many *are* leaving or planning to leave if my recent conversations are representative (pretty broad cross section, so I think it is more likely than not). The fact that we pass our time here bitching while we plan an exit / wait for vesting stock / product shipping /etc... doesn't mean what you think it does, but keep telling yourself that, soon you will have lots and lots of room to 'grow' when all that remains is you, your slacking team mates and your sociopathic management chain. Enjoy. And could you move some deck chairs for me? It is kind of cluttered here on the deck of the Titanic.

Anonymous said...

> Yeah, when I was in my 20s, I thought I was indestructible too. You'll find out differently in just a few short years...

Bitter much?

I don't think he was claiming he was indestructible, just saying that as a 20-something he is statistically less destructible than he will be in the future. I got from that post that he is fully aware of what's coming, but saying that for now he isn't getting much from the plan as others. It's a fair point.

Anonymous said...

>>How many people at Microsoft get to use the full extent of their abilities versus just being employed so a competitor cannot employ them?

People leaving Microsoft and working on something without the interference of someone else guarding their place on the performance evaluation curve would be a good thing.

great comment.

When I was first hired (> 10 years ago), I was pretty much told, "We need to do this, don't know how to do it, go figure it out!" And I did, and it was wonderful.

Lately, its more like "We pay you to do, not to think!!" regarding trying to mkae improvements to broken processes or infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Regarding discrimination when you’re over 40: I utterly disagree that it happens at Microsoft. I do see older people getting 10% from time to time, not because they are older, but because they haven’t been able to keep up with the technology.

Every time I hear about people "keeping up" with technology it makes me want to throw up.

It's a uniquely Microsoft thing that every 2 years you have to learn a new language and a new set of libraries to remain viable in the Microsoft-ecosystem workforce.

To program an iPhone, it's basically the same as OS X, which has been around for 10 years. And before that, it's largely similar to a NeXT which was around since the late 80s. And for the most part you can just program it in regular C or C++, the former of which has been around since the 70s.

The basic design of computers and operating systems really hasn't changed for the last 40 years, so if you were a good programmer back then you should be a good programmer now, without having to constantly learn large amounts of s*** every year or two.

This whole idea that programmers have to keep learning s*** all the damn time instead of just doing useful, valuable, productive work is foreign outside of Microsoft. I would not be proud of holding the mindset that you always have to "keep up" in this worthless, contrived way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing such a spectacular example to prove my point. You could have discussed the merits of the ideas presented, suggested ways in which some or all could be improved, or supplied constructive recommendations of your own. Instead, you chose to defend your right to keep viewing the problem as unsolvable, your role as powerless victim, and whine. That won't help MS any more than not sweeping the sidewalks and bitching instead...

Okay, so let's say you have a terrific, amazing idea for improving your product. You tell your boss and he says great, but just do your job for now. You tell your PMs and they say great, but we're going to "try" our design first. You tell your devs or testers and they agree with you but it doesn't matter because they don't have any more influence than you do.

So what are you supposed to do? Maybe you can take it to the next level. Tell your manager, or spend your free time working on prototypes. And if that goes nowhere, then what? Take it to the VP? Start to do some social engineering where you befriend the PM manager, go out drinking with him, etc. In other words, start pursuing truly heroic measures to get your idea noticed?

You could go all Machiavelli with it, work for 80 hours/week to get your idea noticed, and still not be successful. Or you could complain, quit, and join another company that's less bureaucratic and more receptive to good ideas. Given those choices, anyone who chooses the former seems like kind of an idiot to me. So I would hardly think less of people who complain on this message board... maybe they are just discovering a smarter route for their efforts.

Anonymous said...

A question for all the disappointed people.....if you're so unhappy with Microsoft, the one armed manager that is keeping you at A/70 or U/10 and your (perceived) low pay why don't you just leave?

Because when I was working for better managers I had a couple years of six figure stock awards at L63. Yeah, I was one of those people who got the crazy awards so many people fantasize about, and did so twice. I worked my arse off and got a high-vis project done. That work/results helped mint three partners, and they knew it, hence the crumbs thrown my way. Had I to do it over, I would not have even bothered, and would likely still be employed.

My mistake was in not realizing that when those in power changed, and some middle manager objected to how much extra comp I had sitting in the virtual bank, likely to the point of eclipsing their own pending award pile, I'd be out. And that those partners would still be, yea, partners.

I shouldered more future compensation risk than they did. Backwards from how you'd expect it in management theory, where the higher the person, the more uncertain their compensation package due to being tied to future results, but that's how it is.

Go ahead, flame away. It'll entertain the other readers. But understand that I was not in a financial position that made it prudent to walk away from over a remaining 150-200K in additional earnings over the next 4 years that was still sitting in the hopper, plus salary, plus any bonus, plus any other stock awards. So leaving was out of the question until after vesting.

Before you suggest it, mine wasn't a case of rest and vest. At the time I was U/10, my stats were still higher than 80%+ of the team. Yeah, I admit it, I wasn't #1 on that team any more, but I was still far from being on the low end of it. People were telling me to give up and rest and vest because nothing I did would please that manager, but I enjoyed my product to much to shaft the team and the product that way.

Low pay? I personally never griped about that unless you take overtime hours into account when determining what one's hourly rate was during the year. At that point most any a- or v- pay rate would be higher than mine even if you only counted their straight time rate, unless my E/20 spoils were factored in. Overall considering those stock awards, if I keep myself from thinking too hard about the hours I had to work to get paid, MS was quite generous to me and my only complaint is that when political winds blew, they were able to play Indian Giver with the stock awards by sacking me in Layoff 2009.

Anonymous said...

I dreamt of working as software developer at Microsoft in Windows division... but you guys are drawing a very bad picture of the company: stealth layoffs, cuts in benefits, bad politics and bureaucracy in management... Is this just too pessimistic? Or should that dream of mine be cancelled?

Tony said...

For those of you driving Hybrid's with Obama and progressive talk radio stickers on the back - the CHANGE you ordered has finally arrived.

The era of the corporate Cadillac health care plan is now over. Welcome to Obama care softies.

With socialized medicine, you now get to pay for hundreds of goverment entitlement programs with out cost controls, for the tens of millions of lazy people that make stupid choices. The money has to come from somewhere, and it sure ain't going to be from the wealthy with infinite lobbying power.

You will now be getting the military style of medical service and paying very well just to get that.

Here is a glimmer of the wacko ideologies that will trash the best health care system in the world. This is just the start. Your 401K is coming up next.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/65950


Do you realise how much of a literally sick joke the US health care system seemed to the rest of the developed world? I live in the UK (where our average life span is longer by the way) and nobody has to fret about paying for health care, you can lose your job, hit hard times or just retire on a low income and you still get first class health care. Wake up - its the 21st century - stop acting as if a modern health care system was some sort of assault on your liberties. It's not. It's a new sort of freedom.

Meni said...

Not an employee, in fact i'm more of an open-source guy, but RE "The company is run by clueless PMs / MBAs",

I've seen this from Microsoft:

1. The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities
2. The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
3. The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions
4. The cloud wants smarter devices
5. The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud

WTF?? i mean really, WTF? If I was working for MSFT i'd be woried. Is the ratio of engineers to managers/marketers is getting stupid?

Anyone near the guys who made this up care to comment?

Anonymous said...

When leaving MS to go the vendor/contractor route, and the agency offers medical insurance, I assume that it just covers the employee and not his/her family. True? If true, what kind of options can you recommend for covering the rest of the family?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is FREAKING awesome!

Microsoft, I don't get it how some of microsoft people dont believe in themselves.

MS gave us windows 7, silverlight 4, bing, bing maps, office 2010, ie9, wp7 and soon KINECT. ALL of the cool, all of that full of innovation!

I am AMAZED!

go microsoft!

Anonymous said...

Australia has a standard of healthcare equal to the best in the world, and the above is roughly what we pay.

+1. Expatriate Aussie here, have lived in the US for past 15 years. To torture myself I priced the highest level health insurance in Australia, and it came in at $270/month for the whole family. I no longer work for MS, and the health plan I now get costs $1000/month, of which my employer pays about 75%. That said there are additional costs that the insurance does not cover amounting to about $4000/year.

The really scary thing is if one becomes unemployed, there is no safety net in health coverage except for COBRA, which is incredibly expensive and of limited duration. Australia: please resist any attempts to replicate the broken and heartless system that the US propagates.

Anonymous said...

Regarding discrimination when you’re over 40: I utterly disagree that it happens at Microsoft. I do see older people getting 10% from time to time, not because they are older, but because they haven’t been able to keep up with the technology.

TechCrunch - Silicon Valley’s Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

(a) The harsh reality is that in the tech world, companies prefer to hire young, inexperienced, engineers.

And engineering is an “up or out” profession: you either move up the ladder or face unemployment. This is not something that tech executives publicly admit, because they fear being sued for age discrimination, but everyone knows that this is the way things are. Why would any company hire a computer programmer with the wrong skills for a salary of $150,000, when it can hire a fresh graduate—with no skills—for around $60,000? Even if it spends a month training the younger worker, the company is still far ahead. The young understand new technologies better than the old do, and are like a clean slate: they will rapidly learn the latest coding methods and techniques, and they don’t carry any “technology baggage”. As well, the older worker likely has a family and needs to leave by 6 pm, whereas the young can pull all-nighters.

At least, that’s how the thinking goes in the tech industry.



(b) In their book Chips and Change, Professors Clair Brown and Greg Linden, of the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics and census data for the semiconductor industry and found that salaries increased dramatically for engineers during their 30s but that these increases slowed after the age of 40. At greater ages still, salaries started dropping, dependent on the level of education. After 50, the mean salary of engineers was lower—by 17% for those with bachelors degrees, and by 14% for those with masters degrees and PhDs—than the salary of those younger than 50. Curiously, Brown and Linden also found that salary increases for holders of postgraduate degrees were always lower than increases for those with bachelor’s degrees (in other words, even PhD degrees didn’t provide long-term job protection). It’s not much different in the software/internet industry. If anything, things in these fast-moving industries are much worse for older workers.

For tech startups, it usually boils down to cost: most can’t even afford to pay $60K salaries, so they look for motivated, young software developers who will accept minimum wage in return for equity ownership and the opportunity to build their careers.



(c) Companies such as Microsoft say that they try to maintain a balance but that it isn’t easy. An old friend, David Vaskevitch, who was Senior Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer at Microsoft, told me in 2008 that he believes that younger workers have more energy and are sometimes more creative. But there is a lot they don’t know and can’t know until they gain experience. So Microsoft aggressively recruits for fresh talent on university campuses and for highly experienced engineers from within the industry, one not at the expense of the other. David acknowledged that the vast majority of new Microsoft employees are young, but said that this is so because older workers tend to go into more senior jobs and there are fewer of those positions to begin with. It was all about hiring the best and brightest, he said; age and nationality are not important.

Anonymous said...

We should only hire people from Computer Science, E.E. (very few, though), Physics and Mathematics. Everybody else: out, I’m sorry, but that’s the reality. Also, we should only hire folks from prestigious universities, or at least good, solid ones.

What would the pitch to new hires be?

(a)

"At Microsoft, we only hire the best from the most prestigious universities.

We then pay 20% of them really well, tell 70% that they are just average and they should feel lucky to just have a job and fire the lowest 10%.

We do that every year.

I know awesome right!"


(b)


"Our CEO is one sweaty crazy dude.

Right now we're hiring "red shirts" that can be sacrificed every year to the gods of our CEO's "keep it fresh" religion.

I see you went to Stanford.

Let's face it.

You didn't graduate at the top of your class but you can still be useful.

We can use you to pad the lowest 80% of the performance curve to protect the top 20%.

You won't go far at Microsoft but someone else better than you will because of your sacrifice."

Who da'Punk said...

Please re-read the text above the little comment box before submitting your comment. I'm dropping a lot of comments because they are just attacking another commenter vs. providing a reasonably written counter-point-of-view.

Don't waste your time typing attacks.

Anonymous said...

Google will buy out your not yet vested stock with a huge sign-on bonus. You do not need to wait for the next review cycle.

Anonymous said...

>> Or should that dream of mine be cancelled?

Dude, as a new employee you will be working on a 20 years old turd of a codebase in an extremely political, bureaucratic org. But if you feel the fire in your belly, sure, go ahead. 20%'s need 70%'s to remain in the 20% bucket.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was claiming he was indestructible, just saying that as a 20-something he is statistically less destructible than he will be in the future. I got from that post that he is fully aware of what's coming, but saying that for now he isn't getting much from the plan as others. It's a fair point.

I think he said he was willing to opt out now and take the risk that something unforeseen will happen and have a devastating impact on his finances. Worst case he declares personal bankruptcy and leaves the rest of us paying for his unpaid bills at the hospital.

Further, he's willing to pay a whole bunch more when he's older and has a greater need for health insurance since the insurance pool will be comprised of older, proportionally sicker people who are also paying for higher medical costs created by the uninsured not paying their bills.

Got it. This is just like what we call the "individual insurance market" and those of you enjoying the health benefits at Microsoft have no idea just how bad that market can be. Be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

Also, we should only hire folks from prestigious universities, or at least good, solid ones

I tend to think it was hiring people from prestigious universities that got Microsoft into the mess that it's currently in. Too many big-egoed prima donna's and not enough team players.

skc said...

>>There are many better places than Google to go, though Google isn't a terrible option, certainly better than current (and for the foreseeable future) Microsoft. Don't worry, people will be leaving. Some of us have to wind down commitments, wait for the next review season to get one more vesting of already earned stock (I will be leaving a substantial amount 'on the table', but I don't view it as real money until it hits my brokerage, so whatever) and then put in our notice. I am getting giddy just thinking about it. The saddest thing? This is the most excited I have been (thinking of leaving) in the last couple years or so, and I have worked here much longer than that.<<

At least you're taking the bull by the horns. I bet there are people in this comments section that have been whining here for years...and still they remain at Microsoft.

It's pathetic really.

Anonymous said...

Their are estimates that up to 1/3 of all doctors will be leaving the profession once everything is phased in. This will be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Yawn. This sounds Considering that the top 8 spots on CNN's high paying list are for healthcare jobs, I'd say there will be plenty of people looking to get in and replace them. In my view, employees will get more money in their paychecks if employers do not have to fork the raises over to the healthcare extortion racket.

Anonymous said...

So the Walmartification of Microsoft, or would that be microsoft, continues.

1. Salaries are average, at best
2. The stock is flat lined for a decade, the stock awards is just a way of trickling out a cash bonus and provide a dividend payout to large shareholders, legacy options expired mostly worthless
3. The review system is completely broken, rewards favoritism
4. Endless "stealth" layoffs which have continued month after month after month have created an atmosphere of fear
5. No pay increases for FY09 and many complaining about a lack of investment in pay increases for FY10

Now, despite one of the core corporate goals was more employee investment in the area of compensation, I'm left scratching my head, asking employees to take a potential $2K to $5K haircut in after tax, and non-deductible dollars a year represents an investment?

You can't run a technology company filled with high performing college educated managers and ICs like its Walmart.

I can't say I'm shocked. I was upset when the Company Picnic was killed, and saw it as a benefit being taken away from me. I also saw it as the door cracking open on what else can Microsoft can take away.

There is so much that needs to happen to save Microsoft from itself, I just don't see it happening.

Anonymous said...

Several asking about vendor health insurance coverage.

Varies from vendor to vendor. At least one vendor provides 100% paid premiums for the employee, and 50% paid premiums for dependents. That is probably the best case example. On the other extreme some require you to pay all of the premium.

Most of these plans are PPO or traditional plans with very similar deductible structures to the coming Microsoft plans.

If you're thinking about becoming a vendor make sure you explore pre-existing condition coverage and wellness coverage.

Anonymous said...

What is not clear to me is: Are they going to get rid of the PPO plan all together in 2013?
Or are they going to change the PPO to, say, we have to pay $X per paycheck and to pay $Y co-pay for each Dr's visit?


Yes - I believe strongly that is where it is going. You will have to pay for part of the premium (probably for spouse and children - not the employee) to then pay growing deductibles to pay the doctor.

If you break both legs snowboarding you're still covered beyond deductibles.

This is a downhill slide in the overall benefits package. I would expect further cuts as management squeezes the rank and file tighter.

Anonymous said...

Here in Australia...

You folks also pay more in taxes than us Yanks. 45% (top bracket) compared to 39%. That's much better than what you mates had to pay a few years back (60% !!!).

We could have cheaper/subsidized health care too if we paid more in taxes.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft's review system is the most stifling - removes any humanity and turns everybody into ruthless piranhas. Behind the scenes everything is about 'visibility', options and promotions; externally people keep chanting company's name.

Innovation is impossible in this environment. The people in the higher rungs of the ladder are experts in just that 'climbing the ladder'.

Anonymous said...

On health insurance:

+1. Expatriate Aussie here, have lived in the US for past 15 years. To torture myself I priced the highest level health insurance in Australia, and it came in at $270/month for the whole family.

I'm an Aussie guest worker visa holder, ex-Microsoft expat American. Health insurance in Australia is a tad more pricey for someone who isn't a permanent resident or citizen there. For a couple, we pay $340/month for a plan that allows us access to both public and private hospitals.

It's not quite as good a deal as the poster suggests, but it does cost less for the two of us than I paid for just myself years ago in the US. Drug co-pays are higher. My plan pays only the first $35 (approx) of a prescription's cost, which it claims is the same subsidy that Aussies on public health receive. Who knows what that means if one of us eventually requires a very expensive heart medication that runs $1500/month retail in the US, and when I directly asked this question the insurance agent could not tell me. From experience when people provide an "I don't know" answer, the answer is likely not one I'd like. I'd like to have more definitive information, but no one has been willing to provide it. Not reassuring.

Aussies who do not pay extra for private cover use public hospitals. If you're not in a major metro area, get used to waiting lists. Non-major-metro areas are chronically short on health care workers and facilities, so a bed or the specialist you require might not be available this week. So even in Oz, there is the free or nearly free care, and the care with more options which costs more. We opted for a more costly plan that also covers private hospital stays, on the advice of an Aussie friend.

Once a citizen earns over a set amount, I think around $80,000, the govt expects them to take out private insurance coverage. If they don't take it out, there's an extra fee to pay at tax time. Look familiar?

Anonymous said...

Hiring in Silicon Valley is picking up.

VMW vs MSFT

Anonymous said...

All this talk about cost-cutting, and NOBODY is mentioning Kevin Turner? You SERIOUSLY cannot believe that KT wasn't in some way behind this? The guy should end every presentation with his usual "Thank you for all that you do" & just append "...but I wish I could pay you less!!"

Jon H said...

Anonymous wrote: "And before that, it's largely similar to a NeXT which was around since the late 80s."

Speaking as someone who wrote NeXT code from 1992-2000, it was VERY hard to find work in 2001 when I was laid off from a dot-com. Nobody had any clue what NeXT was, nobody had heard of Objective-C. And I only had 10 months of full-time Java experience.

I suppose it'd be easier now, due to the iPhone work. But still... Even if you're not at Microsoft, you're on a treadmill trying to stay employable.

Anonymous said...

I'm the guy who wrote about health costs in Australia earlier. I forgot to add: My son was diagnosed with a serious condition one day after birth (tracheal oesophogeal fistula) and required an operation immediately to literally save his life. Later he needed a second operation to resolve an issue that caused his breathing to stop. He's fine now, at five months of age.

That's not the point though. The point is that my private healthcare was still in the waiting period, and all of this was done on the public system that I pay for with my taxes. There was no up-front cost, no bills and I only paid for later prescriptions.

That's a solid healthcare system. It's funded properly, there's a free public system and a paid private system that gives you extras (and tax rebates).

I cannot understand the US healthcare debate, nor the massive costs associated with it. It's like a horrible joke that's been played upon your entire population.

Jon H said...

John Smith wrote: "but the fact that we’ve been hiring people with no talent, and no hunger."

To the extent that might be true, I suspect there's an element of Microsoft attracting such people.

People with hunger, talent, and an appetite for risk are going to go to smaller companies, or start their own.

People with talent but who prefer safety are going to go for Microsoft, hoping to put in their time for a few decades and then retire.

Anonymous said...

The one-armed manager has re-appeared in this thread. I thought that he was just a figment of someone's imagination, but now I'm starting to wonder - is he the one who will single-handedly save Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

"I dreamt of working as software developer at Microsoft in Windows division... but you guys are drawing a very bad picture of the company: stealth layoffs, cuts in benefits, bad politics and bureaucracy in management... Is this just too pessimistic? Or should that dream of mine be cancelled?"

First of all realize that there is an 80/20 rule at work here. 80% of the comments come from the 20% who are disaffected for one reason or another. That's excluding the trolls and outsiders who have a bone to pick with Microsoft, Ballmer, immigrant engineers or corporate America.

If you want to work in an organization that is stable, make a world class salary and write code that impacts hundreds of millions of users, then I would still highly recommend the Windows division. The comments section of this blog can be like the blind man at the rear end of the elephant.

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