Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mr. Ray Ozzie and Microsoft's Chief Software Architect - So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu, adieu, adieu

A Microsoft position got retired this week: Chief Software Architect.

That used to be - quite unofficially - Mr. Bill Gates by the sheer nature of his intellect. And it led to many entertaining and terrifying BillG Reviews. A good friend of mine at the time, an architect for his team before we got all hung up about titles like that, bragged: "I've never been to a BillG review and I intend to retire without going through one." He did.

But I think he missed out. As have, unfortunately, many intellectually shallow PowerPoint B.S artists who rose up the ranks in the meantime.

When I was a teenager, one book I loved to contemplate over was a series of quotes by Robert Heinlein's character Lazarus Long. One goes like (courtesy the internet vs. hard-copy because the book is lost behind a stack of neglected Col Solare): "[...] Roman matrons used to say to their sons: 'Come back with your shield, or on it.' Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome."

The rigor of a focused, intellectually deep and sturdy software development declined with BillG's departure. No more technical assistants. No gauntlet of the BillG review. On his way out of the company, Bill anointed Ray to serve as Chief Software Architect. I don't think that was Ray's idea. In fact, I can only imagine him tilting his head and saying, "Wha-?" He didn't take a broad view of Microsoft at all, but rather focused on growing the Groove momentum into other areas for the future.

As part of any enduring legacy, it will be interesting to see what happens to Mr. Ozzie's groups over time, Windows Azure especially. And I can only hope to the Good Lord above that the "I'm all in" cloud claptrap takes a retirement, too. We get it. We have The Cloud as a platform. In my mind, it makes as much sense as saying "Compilers! We're all in!" or "Layered Windows! We're all in!"

I feel with Ray Ozzie's departure that Steve Ballmer has finally asserted his complete control over the company. We've had some house cleaning this year, ranging from Mr. Ozzie to Mr. Bach & Mr. Allard to Technical Fellows to continued targeted layoffs. Perhaps this is due to the big, contemplative review Mr. Ballmer had with the Microsoft Board this year. Mr. Ballmer has hit the reset button. Do we have a Hail Mary pass, or is this Ballmer 2.0?

We'll see how that goes. In the meantime, here's hoping that the technical Presidents reporting to Mr. Ballmer can take up the custom of intellectual rigor. Because that is one custom we can't let decline anymore.


-- Comments

211 comments:

1 – 200 of 211   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

It's a shame he wasn't effective in getting people to listen to his memo. It would have been awesome to be in 2010 with a Microsoft Marketplace, seamless experiences across all Windows devices, and simplified IT. He was right about these trends but the company didn't execute on them.

Anonymous said...

Isnt craig mundie's "unlimited potential" group the place where all washed out people end up? Ray, don't rock the boat by leaving the company...

You can guage the markets reaction to this - did the stock drop today? On the otther hand, it didnt drop when Bill left either. There you are.

Anonymous said...

"He was right about these trends but the company didn't execute on them."

When you get to that level in the company (and are making that kind of money), being right matters not all. Getting the company to execute on the right thing is what matters and in that Ray (and Craig) are pretty much disasters.

Anonymous said...

Ozzie leaving is a bad sign for Microsoft. It means that he failed in his mission to point the company in the direction the industry is moving, to a services model, while preserving some relevance of the PC. And that he didn’t fail for lack of trying but because the mission was impossible. Change on that level is impossible in Microsoft’s political culture where protecting friends and fiefdoms trumps sound technical or business decisions.

Ozzie was one of the few executives who was technically equipped to call bullshit on product managers and to revamp our dated development process. The man wrote one of the best selling software products of all time. How many of the other execs have written “Hello World?” This is a software company run by folks who for the most part don’t know the nuts and bolts of software.

Ozzie tried to bring in an engineering driven mentality and a more agile development methodology. You know, the same approach companies like Google and Facebook are employing to kick our ass? That flies in the face of the triad model, which no other successful company in the industry uses, but which excels at taking years to make incremental changes to existing products and employing as many dead weight PMs as possible in the process. As such, Ozzie’s plan was a nonstarter.

Let’s look at a couple of things that Ozzie did manage to incubate, Mesh and Azure. Both were/are highly technical, solid offerings that were developed from scratch in short time frames by developer heavy teams led by proven technical leaders, and both were very positively received. Azure has survived and is moving along well in STB, giving Microsoft’s server business a foothold in a critical new market. Mesh was neutered in its transition into Windows Live (big surprise), managing to piss off a loyal group of users and lose 5 very solid developers to Facebook in the process.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article - part of it comments that it's telling so many executives have left Microsoft and that it speaks poorly on Ballmer: Ozzie's Microsoft Departure Fuels Concern About Ballmer's Bench

Anonymous said...

I"m all for intellectual rigor, but i think the 'shield' mentality doesn't foster creative thinking, something MS could use more of. Billg's reviews sounded to me like a contest of whos smarter..

Anonymous said...

Ray finally found the door after wandering around aimlessly for 5 years (and managing to post a second blog post in this amount of time). Or, rather, Steve showed him to it. There has been a huge house cleaning in the upper ranks at Microsoft -- the big question is whether the board or Ballmer took this initiative, and if the latter, whether Ballmer is next on the list. My guess is the board is pushing for these changess, since if Ballmer could see these problems for himself, he would have acted years ago. Unfortunately, by the time problems get big enough for the board to force action, they've gone on way to long.

Anonymous said...

>> The man wrote one of the best selling
>> software products of all time.

I think you meant to say "The man was there while one of the best selling software products of all time was being written." And even that is, you know, questionable. Not that he was there, but the greatness of the product.

It always cracks me up when people attribute the success of the entire team to just one person whose main function was to just not get in the way.

Anonymous said...

>> The man wrote one of the best
>> selling software products of
>> all time

Exactly. He wrote one of the best "selling". And lotus notes did sell. And sold well.

But no END USER EVER LOVED LOTUS NOTES.

Think about that.

Microsoft already knew how to sell, so Ray Ozzie's addition to Microsoft created Zero value.

Anonymous said...

No matter what anyone says, Ms is betting BIG on AZure...and our man was behind it. Let's give him that credit for sure. yes, lotus notes was great @ the time (I was there) and Groove is still a great product. Although I did not appreciate him while he was here, I fee sad for him and us Microsoftees especially considering how much we depend on our success in the cloud. Good luck to Ray.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has Azure.

Google has Google App Engine.

OpenStack has:

NASA
Dell
AMD
Intel
etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, Infoworld has an interesting take on this, and why MS faied him (and itself, and us, and everyone basically).

http://www.infoworld.com/t/software-service/ray-ozzies-leaving-microsoft-what-took-him-so-long-123

So sure, he failed, but does that mean Ballmer, and Microsoft in general, are succeeding?

Anonymous said...

Ray who?

exactly

Anonymous said...

Liddell
Bach
Allard
Elop
Ozzie

Eliminating the competition one by one baby!!!!

I guess Sinofsky should feel insulted that Ballmer doesn't view him as enough of a threat to his job to fire him.

Anonymous said...

Let's celebrate, we have a new chief technical architect: Steve Ballmer.

We make the competition so happy.

Anonymous said...

No one can be effective in the role as chief software architect. It's a role with no authority. Ray was smart enough to figure out that the only way to have an impact here was to create stuff himself. This is a "code talks" culture...thus Windows Azure, Live Mesh, Docs for Facebook and some of the great incubations from FUSE Labs that bring life to Bing. If Ballmer had a clue, he'd have unleashed this creative power. Instead, it appears he's squashed it, and is retrenching by surrounding himself with the "old guard." Andy Lees and Kurt DelBene? Are you kidding me? The problem wasn't Ray, or Bach or J. The problem sits at the top of the organization. Everyone knows it except, apparently, the Board.

Anonymous said...

If I'm Sinofsky, I'll go right to the board and say: I am submitting my resignation one year in advance. If I'm not the CEO one year from now, I'll be leaving Microsoft.

Your move, Bill and the useless board.

Anonymous said...

My initial thought was 'I wonder if he's leaving because Ballmer won't...'

Anonymous said...

I work on the front-line of Microsoft’s corporate sales force. The company’s commercial Online Services offering has nowhere near the traction that the executives and others would like everyone to believe. In FY09 and FY10, the sales force gave away BPOS, so we could hit one of KT’s scorecard metrics. Customers took it because it did not cost them anything. In the last two years, the vast majority of these customers have not put it in production either. Now we are trying to figure out how to get our partners to help get it deployed. The problem, most customers are not ready. They are still waiting to see how everything plays out between the major players, including Amazon, Google, Sales Force and VMware, as well as Microsoft. One HUGE PROBLEM with Microsoft’s Online Services offering today, specifically BPOS, is that the most current version of it that is offered to customers is 2007 – not 2010, but 2007. Yes, the product groups missed the deadline and now we have another year delay. That means that customers can literally get newer versions of the company’s software with on premises software than they can with Online, but you hey, we are not supposed to know that. Couple that if all of the datacenter outages that we are having, but that are never publicized (confirmed through the BPOS sales team), and you have a real problem. No wonder Ozzie is leaving. Great vision with no execution equals frustration. I don’t blame him. He’s too rich to put up with all of the never-ending matrix inside of Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ray for 5 years in a ridiculously hard job, showing the company the way it needs to go. beyond the windows and office boxes.

Poopy for Ballmer for having no confidence to drive a vision and having to prove he's smart (sorry, your a great sales guy, but you're not ever going to be billg).

Apple stock soars and chrome usage explodes, while windows and office stay dull dull and in their boxes. and we somehow those orgs,in their tidy triads, have their head in the sand.

Kurt who.

Chris jones = windows dead. Took something with a lot of users and driving into the ground with 3 month planning cycles and zzzz

windows phone.

good thing xbox is still considered cool.

What kind of wake up call do people need? Sad day with an appropriate response from the market.

Meni said...

First, i'm not an employee, not even a dotnet user.

RE Ozzie and Azure:

I have no intimate knowledge of Azure, but i'm more then acquainted with Google App Engine. From what I understand GAE is years ahead of Azure. To make the point short, Azure tutorials talk about ROUTING! yes routing. Of course no such nonsense in GAE. It's all taken care of. Azure require thinking of the 2000's. Meaning YOU manage your VM.

My prediction: Microsoft will copy GAE in it's entirety, including NoSQL. [Here's an idea for some manager :-)]. Maybe it will be better, but it will still be a copy. And it'll take at least one more year.

Anonymous said...

@Meni - So in other words, "I don't know what the eff I'm talking about in regards to Azure, but hey, MSFT sux anyway!"

Keep showing your brilliance, moron.

jon said...

Ray's style -- respectful, quiet, deeply thoughtful -- wasn't a great fit for Microsoft, and he came in without a political base. It's impressive what he accomplished despite that although it could have been so much more. Time will tell whether this gets viewed as laying the groundwork for the future or yet another wasted opportunity.

Of course I look at this and Gary Flake's departure through my own personal lenses. More soon...

Anonymous said...

If Ballmer had a clue, he'd have unleashed this creative power. Instead, it appears he's squashed it, and is retrenching by surrounding himself with the "old guard." Andy Lees and Kurt DelBene? Are you kidding me? The problem wasn't Ray, or Bach or J. The problem sits at the top of the organization. Everyone knows it except, apparently, the Board.

Steve Ballmer is just a sales guy who admires G.E. (forced ranking) and Walmart (cost cutting) and growing the company.

He doesn't care about "technical stuff".

In the "technical stuff" video, he talks about how important it is to hire developers from China and India.

Steve Ballmer: "Technical Stuff"

Meni said...

To the guy who replied to me at 12:11:00, care to expend other then "You're a moron who hates MSFT..."

I don't know if you work for Microsoft, but you seems really stressed.

BTW it's easy to chose an alias on blogger

Also, did you have anything to do with the "5 aspects of the cloud" BS?

Anonymous said...

Ozzie leaving is a bad sign for Microsoft. It means that he failed in his mission to point the company in the direction the industry is moving, to a services model, while preserving some relevance of the PC.

Give me a break. We've been hearing the "services model" party line for the last 10 years. How many more years will it take for you to realize that it's never going to happen?

Anonymous said...

The only real impression I was able to get from him was a coulee of talks and in particular his interview at the D8 conference which he did together with Steve Ballmer. What was striking to me was that time and time again in that interview, he talked about very abstract things, with nothing at all to grasp on.

The abstract nature of his speech was such that technically OR from a business side you didn't really know what his point was. "The cloud" and "processes" were various terms that were thrown around but there was no picture being created either from the technical or a business viewpoint. I really noticed that because most interviewees, from Ballmer to Jobs, to Cameron created some picture, some sort of argument. With Ozzy it was just a weird sort of menagerie of cloud based initiatives with no concernible idea behind it. As a result, even if you were architecturally inclined it was rather boring. Perhaps I was just too stupid to get it…

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ray for 5 years in a ridiculously hard job, showing the company the way it needs to go. beyond the windows and office boxes.

Apple has taken its Windows competitor, adapted it for cell phones and tablets, and now they're the industry darling.

But please, go ahead, keep telling us how Windows can't possibly be the future.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is offering several cloud based services with WP7.

Are they using Azure to deliver any of them?

When Trust Matters said...

Microsoft totally dysfunctional, most disappointing (99-07) in my 31 yr career as a developer. Worked with terrific people, stymied by idiotic CYA want-to-be partner/sr. management people.

Also worked for Enron (bought a software company I was an engineering lead for). Microsoft and Enron had same management style.

Only difference - one had a monopoly granted by the FTC.

When Trust Matters

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you are so fond of the Gates-era past.

First, enterprise software (which is what we make) is exponentially more complex than it was 10-20 years ago. I dont care how smart you are, the products are too complex to have a meaningful Gates-style PPT grilling anymore.

Second, my understanding of Gates was that he was a puzzler. "Have you thought about this? What about this?" Every presentation was an opportunity to prove who could solve the puzzle faster and show who had the biggest brain in the room.

The result is our Rubik's Cube software that can be configured in a billions different ways. The result is pleasing to a small section of engineers and fellow puzzlers but has been roundly rejected by end-users. End users that complain about the complexity and vote with their wallets - at an Apple Store.

Times have changed and our company needs to as well but firing a few execs is not enough. We need to split into separate enterprise and consumer companies. I expect zero growth in our two mature cash-cow businesses until that happens.

Anonymous said...

Daimler (Mercedes) in Germany will migrate 180,000 PCs from Notes to Exchange 2010/Office 2010 in the near future. IBM has lost their #1 Notes customer in Germany.

Those things happen, but Wall Street and the press don't seem to take notice.

Anonymous said...

Most of the sales leaders and sellers that I talk to are super nervous about both Google and VMware. Google is going after the considerable base of Office 97 installations and winning! Many of Microsoft's specialists believe that GoogleApps is now compareable to at least Office 97 and improving every day, so the threat is very REAL! VMware is working to make Windows on the desktop a non-issue with the datacenter and VDI. Remember, back in the day when we (MSFT) went to war with both Novell and Sun (e.g., "Sun down!), unless we get serious with a frontal assault on Google and VMWare, game over.

Anonymous said...
I work on the front-line of Microsoft’s corporate sales force. The company’s commercial Online Services offering has nowhere near the traction that the executives and others would like everyone to believe. In FY09 and FY10, the sales force gave away BPOS, so we could hit one of KT’s scorecard metrics. Customers took it because it did not cost them anything. In the last two years, the vast majority of these customers have not put it in production either. Now we are trying to figure out how to get our partners to help get it deployed. The problem, most customers are not ready. They are still waiting to see how everything plays out between the major players, including Amazon, Google, Sales Force and VMware, as well as Microsoft. One HUGE PROBLEM with Microsoft’s Online Services offering today, specifically BPOS, is that the most current version of it that is offered to customers is 2007 – not 2010, but 2007. Yes, the product groups missed the deadline and now we have another year delay. That means that customers can literally get newer versions of the company’s software with on premises software than they can with Online, but you hey, we are not supposed to know that. Couple that if all of the datacenter outages that we are having, but that are never publicized (confirmed through the BPOS sales team), and you have a real problem. No wonder Ozzie is leaving. Great vision with no execution equals frustration. I don’t blame him. He’s too rich to put up with all of the never-ending matrix inside of Microsoft.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:38:00 AM

Anonymous said...

from the field, where code kudos isn't a pedigree component. What has Ozzie delivered?
- groove: interesting, ugly, niche market, and after 2 revs still works the same (e.g. no AD single sign on!)
notes: really ugly, and pretty much gone now
mesh: too many versions and no clear vision

Many in the field have been wondering what Ray's team are delivering. Plus the fact he manages his siblings in direct contravention of mspolicy never really gave the impression that he was credible - certainly not in terms of increasing our market share.

No loss.

DrDaMour said...

what i never liked about Ray's approach was it seemed like he always was coming up with (or more accurately approving & funding) new software/frameworks that glued MS assets together, as opposed to forcing some iron will into the divisions to "do it this way".

you can't have common UI feel if you don't force it to all teams. Building stuff on top or between products is an enterprise way to make things work together, but it sure isn't useful for the consumer.

How many times is a great feature in product A, but no equivalent feature in B? That's what he should have been working on, making it so products would rely on other product features directly and openly, so that the consumer didn't have to do all the hard work of conversion/federation/gluing/whatever.

Anonymous said...

The fact that the position of Chief Software Architect won't be filled says it all. This is a company with no credible technical leadership left. Engineers are no longer in charge. I for one would like to welcome our MBA overlords.

Anonymous said...

"If I'm not the CEO one year from now, I'll be leaving Microsoft."

He's already Windows President, and that's still Microsoft's biggest cash cow (Well the OS side).

I don't think Sinofsky needs to issue threats to the board. It seems to me he's already the person most positioned to take over from Ballmer, should the latter decide to leave.

And unless whole divisions go belly-up, or the company declares bankruptcy, I don't see Ballmer being pushed out anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

"It's a shame he wasn't effective in getting people to listen to his memo. It would have been awesome to be in 2010 with a Microsoft Marketplace, seamless experiences across all Windows devices, and simplified IT. He was right about these trends but the company didn't execute on them."

+1

Anonymous said...

MASSIVE executive departures, the CUT in benefits, it is not your father's Microsoft. Microsoft is Seattle's new Boeing. Big, bloated and mediocre.

Anonymous said...

I'll predict that by end of this fiscal year Steve will announce he is stepping down and will transition the CEO reigns to KT over a multiyear period.

Look no further than...

Bach leaving right before what would arguably be his finest hour?!?!?
Elop suddenly leaving just as he is starting to build positive momentum in Office??
Ozzie leaving as Azure is finally gaining traction across the company???
A handful of other senior leaders suddenly leaving without logical reason other than their horse wasnt going to win...
A few SMSG leaders NOT leaving even when there is clear reason to be shown the door... their horse is winning.
KT was given a glowing review this year from the board.

The only thing that makes sense is that KT is the chosen one, he is the last standing CEO candidate and "coincidently" the President slate has been rebuilt with future leaders just in time to avoid the nastiness of managing your former president peers...

Anonymous said...

KT CEO - that will be a nice touch indeed - walmarting of Microsoft-- how appropriate

Anonymous said...

"I'll predict that by end of this fiscal year Steve will announce he is stepping down and will transition the CEO reigns to KT over a multiyear period."

Agree with the Steve prediction. But KT won't get the nod.

"Look no further than...
Bach leaving right before what would arguably be his finest hour?!?!?"

Confirmation that he'd lost the tablet market in addition to the mobile one?

Anonymous said...

>> I don't think Sinofsky needs to issue threats to the board.

I heard that's EXACTLY what he did. He basically said something to the effect "either you make me the CEO within N years or I'm out". That was before he moved to Windows. He will ship Win 8, Ballmer will be shown the door and Sinofsky will take the CEO spot. Assuming, of course, that he doesn't screw up with Win 8, or at least that he doesn't screw up in a way that's obvious right away.

I think if Sinofsky takes over, Microsoft is fucked. He's a good manager (the most hardcore bureaucrat I have seen, bar none), no question there, but he has NO technical vision or insight. What Microsoft needs right now is someone like Steve Jobs. An authoritarian asshole, with a vision so bright you gotta wear shades. Someone who you don't necessarily like, but respect because he's right most of the time and he knows where the puck is going to be, and always keeps an eye on the profits.

Sinofsky is pretty much the opposite of that, and if he takes the top spot, he'll stay there for a decade or more.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has no heir-a-parent that can truly lead the company. Ballmer should have been shown the door years ago. KT? Great, run the company like Walmart, and given some recent changes we keep moving down that path. Sinofsky? A great program manager and expert in bureaucratic discipline, not a creative bone in his body, not an out of the box thinking brain cell in his head.

All hail our MBA leaders and analysis paralysis.

Apple now has the second largest market cap in the world, and Google is ready to catch up. With the iPad being carpet bombed into any retailer with a cash register its clear that Apple is planning to kill Windows based tablets before they can even get on the shelf.

We lost in portable music and entertainment. We're losing if not lost in the mobile space. The spiritual leader for cloud is gone. IW has had three leaders in three years. We are reactive to our competitors, instead of them follow our lead. Executives moving now through a revolving door. Low morale. Stealth layoffs continuing week after week. Get ready to pay for your benefits. Next thing you'll know the free drinks will get rationed, 10 cans a week.

This is not the same Microsoft I went to work for years ago.

Anonymous said...

First, enterprise software (which is what we make) is exponentially more complex than it was 10-20 years ago. I dont care how smart you are, the products are too complex to have a meaningful Gates-style PPT grilling anymore.


"Don’t ship the org chart." - Steven Sinofsky

Despite what Sinofsky says, Microsoft products resemble the org chart.

Microsoft products are also made more complicated by the performance curve.

Microsoft products end up like a Rube Goldberg machine because everyone has to make themselves more difficult to replace to avoid being dropped in the 10% bucket.

Anonymous said...

Muglia for CEO!

Anonymous said...

You can guage the markets reaction to this - did the stock drop today? On the otther hand, it didnt drop when Bill left either. There you are.

The markets didn't do anything because the market knows that MSFT can't change for the better or for worse.

MSFT will probably remain unchangeable while it becomes ever more and more irrelevant in the technology fields, unless huge changes are made in its organizational structure and the members of its management.

Anonymous said...

"But no END USER EVER LOVED LOTUS NOTES.

Think about that. "

That's because the UI was crap. Mainly because Notes was (and is) the first truly cross-platform app and wasn't designed with Windows in mind. Having said that, they took way too long, especially with the email client, to update the UI to more accurately reflect their largest user base - Windows! (not some obscure Unix window manager that died 15 years ago). Notes 8 is actually very nice - but most people don't care any more. The damage is done and the perception, fair or not, lingers. And the Iris/Lotus/IBM "well, if you can't see past the ugly UI to the real value of Notes then your an idiot" wasn't helpful AT ALL. Notes still kicks the crap out of any other solution out there for unstructured, non-normalized data. Bar none. I can whip up *secure* workflows with *field level encryption* in minutes and blast them out via the client and/or the web. I don't have to integrate 5-10 individual server products like I will with a Microsoft "solution", and it will be far easier to administer. The new work they are doing with the new development environment is light years ahead of any one else in the market. But no one will pay attention because all anyone remembers of Notes is the gawd awful email interface from Version 7 back. It's IBM's own fault that they pissed away such a lead and mindshare by not putting the prima donna email template developers in their place years ago. Notes should have shipped with at least an alternate cc:Mail interface *years* ago - the search and some of the other UI features in cc:Mail are still light years ahead of what Outlook offers - and the Notes database and full text engines offer much more power than the cobbled together mish-mash of Outlook/Exchange/Windows Search. As someone who finally got past the UI issues and actually got to experience the real power of Notes, it's very frustrating to see Notes get dismissed because of the email client. And I don't blame people for that, it was horrid for the longest time - that's IBM's fault for waiting literally 15 years to do the obvious...

Anonymous said...

"With the iPad being carpet bombed into any retailer with a cash register its clear that Apple is planning to kill Windows based tablets before they can even get on the shelf."

Don't look now but Apple isn't just going for tablets - heck, they have already blown past windows tablets in market share and perception. That's a done deal. Apple is going for the jugular. They know they can't compete in the traditional space, Jobs even admitted as much years ago. Oh no, Apple is re-defining the war. The future expansion is in to personal, mobile devices and Apple intends to fully own that market - and I don't see anyone, even Microsoft, slowing them down any time soon. They have a tight, well integrated and well-oiled machine with the iPod and now iOS infrastructure - it's not just the device, the iOS, the appstore, the Apple Stores... it's the whole enchilada! I wouldn't be surprised if iOS devices outsell Windows and Mac OSX computers combined within five years. Heck, maybe as little as two with the growth Apple is showing! There is no question there is a huge, latent userbase for appliance computers like the iPad. Non-corporate customers who don't want the complexity of a general purpose Windows, Mac or gawd forbid Linux (LOL!) computer.

"What Microsoft needs right now is someone like Steve Jobs. An authoritarian asshole, with a vision so bright you gotta wear shades."

Yup. MS desperately needs someone who can tie all their products together, with a financial focus on making the end user experience with those products as easy and pleasurable as can be, while cutting through the inter-division crap and unifying all Microsoft products under one message and vision. I look at what it takes to integrate Exchange, Sharepoint, Communicator and encryption vs. setting up one Lotus Domino server and getting all that and more... it's ridiculous! I can understand a modular architecture and evolving functionality over time, but at some point you need to integrate and simplify some of this crap - it's freaking 2010 after all! I realize I'm "crossing the streams" comparing enterprise IT with what Apple is doing - but why not? Why do all of MS's enterprise products have to be as fragmented and hard to integrate as they are today?

I think the best thing that could have happened to Exchange was BPOS! I laughed at loud at many of the Exchange 2010 "advances" - things that were in Notes/Domino for decades. Funny what happens when you have to "eat your own dog food". Maybe there is hope for Sharepoint after all...

Look at the advertising for Windows Phone 7 - it's almost embarrassing. The subtext in their message is "our phone is so boring you won't have your head buried in it and appear to be a douche to everyone around you". To borrow a phrase from the adds - really? That's your best message? Our phone won't be nearly as engaging so you won't feel compelled to stare into it constantly?

Sigh... I want to like Windows Phone 7 - there are some good concepts hiding in there and I think there are lots of people who obviously poured lots of effort into it. But talk about a mixed up and incoherent message?!?

I could go on, but is it really necessary? I was hoping Ray could be that uniting force - but I think the Bureaucracy and political environment (as others have pointed out) simply overwhelmed him. Oh well, Microsoft's squandered opportunity :p

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"With the iPad being carpet bombed into any retailer with a cash register its clear that Apple is planning to kill Windows based tablets before they can even get on the shelf."

Don't look now but Apple isn't just going for tablets - heck, they have already blown past windows tablets in market share and perception. That's a done deal. Apple is going for the jugular. They know they can't compete in the traditional space, Jobs even admitted as much years ago. Oh no, Apple is re-defining the war. The future expansion is in to personal, mobile devices and Apple intends to fully own that market - and I don't see anyone, even Microsoft, slowing them down any time soon. They have a tight, well integrated and well-oiled machine with the iPod and now iOS infrastructure - it's not just the device, the iOS, the appstore, the Apple Stores... it's the whole enchilada! I wouldn't be surprised if iOS devices outsell Windows and Mac OSX computers combined within five years. Heck, maybe as little as two with the growth Apple is showing! There is no question there is a huge, latent userbase for appliance computers like the iPad. Non-corporate customers who don't want the complexity of a general purpose Windows, Mac or gawd forbid Linux (LOL!) computer.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"What Microsoft needs right now is someone like Steve Jobs. An authoritarian asshole, with a vision so bright you gotta wear shades. Someone who you don't necessarily like, but respect because he's right most of the time and he knows where the puck is going to be, and always keeps an eye on the profits."

Agree. Who is that?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"I could go on, but is it really necessary?"

No. Most of it was unnecessary the first time. And it only got worse after you repeated it five times.

Anonymous said...

>>Muglia for CEO!

Thanks for dropping by Bob!

The man that once said to the Seattle Times, with a straight face, "We're going to increase quality in Windows Vista by firing all our quality assurance people!"

Anonymous said...

While I think is really hard to evaluate Ozzie's contribution having been in the shade for so long, it seems a clear case of cultural defeat to me.
We have a company that has been ran by a jumping gorilla for too long, with a culture of arrogance and internal competition that has killed any possibility of honest collaboration. Where the politics and fiefdom wars are so insane that the higher you get the more difficult is getting things done.
I've never met Ozzie in person but I can't imagine him interested in spending his time in building the required alliances to get anything done in this so called "matrix" (code for political warfare). I think he's simply come to the realization that he hasn't have what it takes and that he is not interested in going for that hill.
It's very sad to say but i am starting to think that is too late for this company. The damage Ballmer has done is too deep. I think we might need to embrace the notion that no one can fix this place. It might be too late....

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I've never met Ozzie in person but I can't imagine him interested in spending his time in building the required alliances to get anything done in this so called "matrix" (code for political warfare).

Politics aside, what gave anybody the idea that he knew how to make a desirable product in the first place?

The main thing I know about him is that he made Lotus Notes, which by all accounts was a good product, but very boring and business-y and it had terrible UI, i.e., no consumer would go and buy it.

Apple is doing so well because they make simple consumer products with good UI. Google is doing so well because they make simple consumer products with good UI. Amazon is doing so well because they make simple consumer products with good UI. Does anyone else notice a trend?

Maybe the next visionary at Microsoft should have experience making simple consumer products with good UI.

Anonymous said...

"Non-corporate customers who don't want the complexity of a general purpose Windows, Mac or gawd forbid Linux (LOL!) computer."

Two notes:
1. iPad is being increasingly adopted by enterprises
2. Have you used Linux (like Ubuntu) lately? This stuff is no worse than Windows 7 - especially package manager. We'll be lucky if Windows 8 ships anything close to that (and not for web apps;-)

Anonymous said...

Mini, can you turn on moderation? All those stupid jokes about this Indian Sardar are driving me nuts

Anonymous said...
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Big said...

Productive or insightful, well lets see.
What did he produce in stock value? Nothing
Did he lead the charge in innovation?
Nothing
With his tenure as Chief Software Architect go to any company, accept payment on your phone for products or services?
Nothing
Without any microsoft software or hardware I can do that with my own innovation.
Mini, I hope you do not take the above comments for bashing, but its actually my own innovation. Cost ratio and customer support is the reason we are abandoning your company. You have over the last several years abandoned us. The infighting at your company has destroyed any r&d investments you have made with little or no return. This guy took you for a ride. and will retire a very rich man while your company is laying off regular people. It's like investing in a funeral of someone you loved but committed suicide, and now you as a consumer are left with the infighting and the damndable lawyers fighting over the corpse for what you once invested. It's almost like your company has terminal cancer. No cure, but those who are invested are telling you that everything will be ok, just like you are. You will live to fight again, but eventually there is nothing that can be done.
In the end your Customers will be left with
Nothing
Former Customer

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Mini please turn on moderation, what's with all this sardar jokes?

The day Sinofsky is made the CEO is the end of MSFT... word is that he was the one responsible for not letting Windows Phone 7 to be put on tablets... causing bach and allard to resign ...
Next year is going to be android on all the partners who could have built their tablet solutions on Windows Phone 7... get ready for the stock to be somewhere around $18...

Anonymous said...

Why aren't we doing tablets with the winphone 7 OS? I'm not looking for snarky politics responses - what do the people who make this decision actually give as a reason for using Windows?

Anonymous said...

Why aren't we doing tablets with the winphone 7 OS? I'm not looking for snarky politics responses - what do the people who make this decision actually give as a reason for using Windows?

Because 1 year from now (plus another 1 year for timeline slips), the great org of Windows might release a version of the OS with 75% of the originally planned features cut. In the end, we'll just make the start button bigger, and run it on a tablet with 4 fans to keep it from overheating.

Hehe... Just Kidding!!! GO WINDOWS!!! DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS!!!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"Agree. Who is that?"

Mark Hurd.

Who da'Punk said...

Please don't dork around posting (kind wording) off-topic comments. The first day of a new post goes unmoderated to help kick off the conversation. I'd like to keep it that way.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ballmer has hit the reset button.

Sorry, no banana. He needs to hit the eject button.

Agent Mulder Lives said...

When I heard we were acquiring Groove in '05, I was pretty damned excited to have ROzzie on the MSFT team. I actually used and loved Groove, FWIW.

After one meeting with ROzzie, I realized that, yes, he was a frackin' technical genius, but, at the same time, wasn't going to be the BillG-eist to lead this company on in terms of vision. There wasn't a business bone in his whole body. Billg had vision, business and technical strategy, amazing business acumen, and a the ability to get shit done (eventually). Ray didn't.

Anywho, a technical genius who contrives of something that doesn't solve a real painpoint...well, from a business perspective, who the heck cares. Go write a paper (better yet, instead of reviewing ThinkWeek papers...)

I actually don't blame Ray! I DO blame others who couldn't sic him across product groups to understand some customer(s') common painpoint(s) that could be solved with software innovation (SaaS/Cloud). That said, there are many across BUs/all levels who resisted some/all of the cloud work we were trying to accomplish to prepare MSFT for the inevitable future....I no longer have a dog in this fight.

It's an interesting time for MSFT. Ok, to be clear, it's ALWAYS an interesting time. MSFT is losing the Client business...now, really known as tablet/mobile/thin devices (Apple, VDI players)...losing Servers-Apps...now, really known as SaaS (GDocs + 1000s of other apps, VMWare) ...losing Servers-Infra...now, known as Cloud (Amazon--slap in the face--Savvis, Rackspace, Hadoop, and too many others to name, VMWare)...losing Consumer Online Services (of which Search is huge)...now, known as online/web services (hmmm...who owns that today)...but, holding on niche devices like Client-Gaming-Cloud business, i.e., Xbox Live (hardcore gamers)...sounds like an SGI-type move (focus on engineering workstations)...

Good luck Mother.

Anonymous said...

Why'd Ray Leave? Probably pissed about having to pay for part of his healthcare.

Anonymous said...

Those things happen, but Wall Street and the press don't seem to take notice.

Wall street takes notice. That's why MSFT stock is not $10/share. Yet.

Anonymous said...

As other commentators have noted there is no natural successor in the current presidential ranks.

If KT gets the nod then the company is completely f.....d. The guy has the zero technical perspective, is hated by most other senior leaders and has one of the lowest LEI ranking of any exec at Microsoft. Could the board really be that stupid...on reflection yes they could.

My bet is that rightly or wrongly they go outside for the next CEO. The assumption will be that a huge organizational shift is needed when Steve gets replaced (Witness Elop at Nokia) so it doesn't matter if you bring in an outsider. In fact that may make the situation easier by forcing some of the embedded leadership problem to sort itself out.

Timing wise I think it happens either within the next six months or as someone else suggested after the ship of Win 8 when the loss of Sinofsky would be less of an impact.

Finally a comment for Mini regarding your classical reference. The origin of the saying you quoted was from Sparta. The original being 'Son, either with this or on this.' referring to his shield.

Anonymous said...

We never saw much of Ray. He was almost never seen at TechReady events. People simply didn't know who he was.
With all executives leaving these days I hope to see an announcement that SteveB will retire as well.
We sure need a visionary leader to get energized again.

Anonymous said...

"Mark Hurd"

Good operator. Not a visionary. Lower employee approval rating at HP than even Ballmer enjoys. Then there's that whole ethics thingy and of course he just went to Oracle.

Tony said...

Cruel but too the point

Steve Ballmer to emplyees

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJajOG9dL2s&f

Anonymous said...

Ray Ozzie's problems are along the lines of not making his products easy to use.

Kevin Turner's problems are more basic.

Bitten In The Ass: iPhone 4 Is Basically Apple’s “Vista” — Except The Opposite

When you compare it to a year ago, Apple sold nearly twice as many iPhones (14.1 million versus 7.4 million). When you compare it to the previous quarterly record for iPhone sold, Q2 of this past year, Apple sold well over 5 million beyond even that number (8.75 million). Any way you slice it, the iPhone sales, led by the iPhone 4, were amazing.

In other words, the iPhone 4 is pretty much the opposite of Microsoft’s Vista nightmare.

This is a little bit like when Palm investor Roger McNamee predicted that once the Palm Pre came out, no one would be using the iPhone anymore. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well either.

I’m also reminded of another Microsoftie’s comments about the iPhone around the time of its launch. “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance,” CEO Steve Ballmer said.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that makes sense is that KT is the chosen one, he is the last standing CEO candidate and "coincidently" the President slate has been rebuilt with future leaders just in time to avoid the nastiness of managing your former president peers...

Kevin Turner, like Bob Herbold before him, keeps the company from spending too much money on soda pop and office supplies.

He is not a potential CEO.

While I'm sure the crap they serve in the cafeterias is cost effective in direct costs, it does increase Microsoft's health care costs.

For Kevin Turner and Steve Ballmer, "technical stuff" like the effects of diet on metabolism are unknown unknowns. They aren't even aware of how ignorant they are.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Ozzie likely just got tired. No question about the fact he did not deliver anything. Not sure if anyone could in the bully-boy, old-boy network that is MS senior management.

As another posted stated, what is needed is an asshole CEO with a clipboard, and a strong creative technical vision. Someone who has the full backing of the Board and is not intimidated by 20+ year 'veterans' rolling around in their money like Scrooge McDuck, and telling anybody to take a hike. This latter group is the biggest problem the company has.

As far as candidates for CEO are concerned, KT would be a disaster, and Sinofsky would be a slightly smaller disaster. Outside hire is the only way.

Anonymous said...

Market caps today in billions

AAPL $285
GOOG $195
MSFT $218

Google will jump to #2 by the end of 2010. AAPL has more cash than MSFT. Also AAPL annualized revenues are rapidly approaching $100billion. All of which confirms that MS is doomed.

Meanwhile SteveB reminds me of Slim Pickens riding the hydrogen bomb in "Dr. Strangelove", shouting YEEHAH!

FARfetched said...

How do I say this without getting CRF'ed? Just go for it, I guess…

We used to use Lotus Notes at work. The only people who actually *liked* it were the IT people tasked to keep it running (most PC users had a "KillNotes.exe" shortcut on their desktops for when the thing hung). We're now much happier with Outlook. As an end-user, I could see there was a lot of power there, but I also saw little that couldn't be done with a standard POP-based email system using scripts or web apps. The interface didn't bother me all that much… the preferences UI was a little whacked, but I wasn't in it all the time.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, Windows has the worst thing in common with Notes: it takes a lot more IT staff to keep it running than it should, which engenders the attitude that end-users are there only to keep IT employed.

Given that, Ozzie was culturally a good fit for Microsoft — he was already familiar with developing IT-centric software — but the pendulum has about reached the "IT control" end of the arc and will soon start to swing the other way, toward the "end-user control" side, from whence it came in 1990 or so.

I for one am not ready to write off Microsoft just yet; you guys can easily remain relevant and even the market leader, but you'll have to jump on the pendulum and start making your products easier for the end-user to deal with.

sonofgeektalk said...

So there's another cool guessing game now, and that is: where is Ray going next?

Anonymous said...

if the board was competent, they would do succession planning for CEO -- that is one of their main jobs. even if they don't see themselves firing him, what if ballmer suddenly decides to retire one day? and the successor(s) has to be reasonably visible and obvious -- they should be making sure that s/he gets the broad exposure to microsoft business and technologies.

The fact that it isn't obvious who a credible successor of ballmer is is infact a huge failure of the board.

Anonymous said...

3 years ago Ballmer made the following comments on Android ... "it's just a press release". Wow. The strategic vision. The awesome insight!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLRtUGviSc8&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Anonymous said...

How is Roz Ho still employed by this company? She has 1 direct report, her admin. Her compensation package must be several hundred thousand dollars a year. Where is the accountability here?

Anonymous said...

The board should have replaced Steve at least five years ago. Leaving him in place has been one of the clearest and most costly examples of board failure in history. Ozzie may not have been a great fit in that role, but his overall grasp of where technology is going is far superior to Ballmer’s, as he ably demonstrated at D8.

Anonymous said...

After seeing iLife '11, it's obvious that Windows Live 2011 looks outdated. What we'd need is a WPF-based version of Windows Live Photo Gallery, for example. Since 2007, we've seen countless demos of great WPF-based photo viewers/managers but failed to ship a real *product*.

Anonymous said...

I an external, but work with several different parts of MS regularly.

I don't really know what you can do to change MS at this point. It is a big, sluggish, bureaucratic, old school company mired in doing things the exact same way that made them successful originally.

Not to beat you over the head with Apple, but i was working there when Jobs came back. before that time, they were making MS look like a focused machine. Once jobs got there, he pointed the troops in a common direction and got rid of the people who didn't want to head that way.

MS needs that same focus. However, the sheer size of MS makes it hard to generate new markets that are large enough to "move the needle" in terms of revenues and profits. Small projects, since they have to live with all of the MS overhead, in terms of costs and "playing with the rest of MS", aren't all that interesting.

And MS sucks at marketing. The ads for the WP7 devices don't really show what makes it better - the active icon UI. Simple ad showing WP7 phone side by side with an Iphone and having to keep switching apps on iphone to access the info i can get from active icons on WP7. Instead, we get another round of ads that don't talk to the advantages of WP7.

Anonymous said...


Billg had vision, business and technical strategy, amazing business acumen, and a the ability to get shit done

True, but Billg also is primarily responsible for the toxic culture in Microsoft: exceeding arrogance, building individuals rather than teams, win at all costs (cut off air-supply) attitude, who-cares-about-the-customer-when-the-quarterly-report-looks-good. These helped Microsoft become immensely profitable for almost 2 decades, but you are starting to pay the price for it now.

While I am not excusing the incompetence of Steve Ballmer, the seeds for Microsoft's decline were sown by Bill Gates way before Ballmer took the reins. They were even evident as far back as 1981, when I interviewed with an 80 person outfit named Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see Ray leave. It is no surprise that charlatans that talk of innovation and put together power point decks survive. There are many that fit this mould from MSR to OfficeLabs.

Anonymous said...

God (aka Walt Mossberg) has spoken - "Overall, I can't recommend Windows Phone 7"

Anonymous said...

For those who don't follow internal WP7 discussions at wptalk, here's another epic fail on that front:

"AFAIK WP7 does not support MSFT/Ford Sync. Not sure when/if that will change and I believe that was a deliberate decision. Also your WP7 device will not show up as a mass storage device. Dorado (Zune client) is the primary way to get media onto your device, followed by the marketplace."

Microsoft: today's Totally Awesome & Innovative Tech not working with yesterday's Totally Awesome & Innovative Tech - by design! (Because yesterday's one "was not written by them"?)

So, pray tell me, why should I buy a WP7 phone again, or recommend anyone to buy it, if, judging by this experience, it won't work with MS own hardware 3-4 years down the line, "by design"?

No wonder that Jobs didn't even feel the need to mention WP7 while dissing Android. It's so lame that the best you can do is just link directly to the marketing materials and technical specs with no further comments.

Anonymous said...

as a former MSFT employee, it concerns me to see that your market cap has been slashed from 488 B in 2005 to 198 B today. That tells me that the problem is your CEO and the lack of bench under him. Losses of top people are simply an indication of poor leadership at the top. It's about time Steveb leave once and for all...and the stock will jump 20% on that very same day

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just asked this on the next post. Meant to post it on this newer post to have a better chance at a response.
Looking to find out about MSA health plans vs. Cobra vs. ??? Looks like the MSA plans are just for small businesses, not individuals. Any advice on plans, post MS? We've got some pretty serious pre-existing conditions, and expensive prescriptions, in our family ... thx.

Anonymous said...

Little by little someone has continued to ruin the place I onced loved. No one cares anymore and I don't blame them. It is very sad.

Anonymous said...

How is Roz Ho still employed by this company? She has 1 direct report, her admin. Her compensation package must be several hundred thousand dollars a year. Where is the accountability here?

Are you kidding? She's a VP. She's easily clearing a mil.

Anonymous said...

The Garage initiative is being reviewed and will end up on the chopping block(a la Live labs).

Anonymous said...

Windows Phone 7 goes on sale in New Zealand.... but wait, there are no lines!

Anonymous said...

"No wonder that Jobs didn't even feel the need to mention WP7 while dissing Android."

Jobs is a smart man and addresses the real threat out there. MS is not the threat for him anymore

Anonymous said...

Big Dumb Gorilla 1; Distinguished Intellectual 0

Anonymous said...

And MS sucks at marketing. The ads for the WP7 devices don't really show what makes it better - the active icon UI. Simple ad showing WP7 phone side by side with an Iphone and having to keep switching apps on iphone to access the info i can get from active icons on WP7. Instead, we get another round of ads that don't talk to the advantages of WP7.


Steve Ballmer marketing Windows:

Ballmer sells windows 1.0

Steve Ballmer Sells Windows XP

Anonymous said...

How is Roz Ho still employed by this company? She has 1 direct report, her admin. Her compensation package must be several hundred thousand dollars a year. Where is the accountability here?

Ballmer knows he wasn't paying attention to the "marketing stuff" on the Kin.

With such a spectacular failure that he could have easily prevented if he was paying attention, he has to wait until he can get rid of her quietly.

Once again, it won't be his fault .... in his mind.

Anonymous said...

There has been a huge house cleaning in the upper ranks at Microsoft

...except for the guy you most need to be rid of.

Anonymous said...

"True, but Billg also is primarily responsible for the toxic culture in Microsoft: exceeding arrogance, building individuals rather than teams, win at all costs (cut off air-supply) attitude, who-cares-about-the-customer-when-the-quarterly-report-looks-good. These helped Microsoft become immensely profitable for almost 2 decades, but you are starting to pay the price for it now. While I am not excusing the incompetence of Steve Ballmer, the seeds for Microsoft's decline were sown by Bill Gates way before Ballmer took the reins."

- Couldn't agree more, one of the best interpretation I have seen. Bill is a great technologist with amazing intellect with one flaw he (and his buddy) believes in "friends over fairness" and hence individual over team. As a result Gates picked his unqualified friend to run MS back in 2000 when clearly you needed someone with a technology vision. That was the biggest mistake of Bill's career as he set the company in a maintenance mode to milk office and windows (without even knowing that he was doing so) by picking a sales and marketing guy to run this amazing company.

His buddy has consistently proven that that mantra is ingrained throughout in the company. His ability to keep his buddies floating even if they fail (just like himself) is uncanny (e.g. Jon DeVaan failed flat with MS TV but was kept aside for 5 years before being hand picked for Windows, similar situations for Yusuf Mehdi, Hank Vigil, Andy Lees to name a few).

Anonymous said...

"God (aka Walt Mossberg) has spoken - "Overall, I can't recommend Windows Phone 7""

Wow, how shocking that Apple fanboy Goatberg wouldn't recommend it. Also, he said "Overall, I can’t recommend Windows Phone 7 as being on a par with iPhone or Android—at least not yet."

But I see you did some aggressive editing. I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

For the poster looking for a comparison on MSA vs COBRA. I was out about a year ago. At that time, the choice was clear. Obama offered to pick up 65% of the cost of COBRA (Microsoft gave me the cost break, and they get to write of the break on the corporate taxes). Unfortunately for you, the program ended in May -- meaning you needed to have enrolled in May, the subsidies are still continuing.

However, to your question, I think I would have continued with the COBRA plan in either case. The cost was not significantly different, in my case, between the two plans. My family was going through some recurring issues (meds, physical therapy for a young athlete, etc.), and changing insurance, and possibly care providers just seemed to be a pain. And the coverage under COBRA is the same as when you are a FTE (just that you have to pay the premiums).

That's my $0.02. Hope it helps. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Morgan Stanley thinks Kinect is going to do well.

Buy Microsoft Call Options on Software Sales Gains, Morgan Stanley Says

Anonymous said...

At the recent Gartner event Ballmer said: On Microsoft’s CEO succession plan, Ballmer said “I have plenty of energy.” “You have to be resilient. If I ever thought the company would be better off without me I’d leave that day,” he said.

He said if HE thought...well he will NEVER THINK that. Maybe the board, employees (read partners/principles) should help him with that THOUGHT!!! Say goodbye Ballmer and KT and bring in someone from the outside...I don't see anyone internally that would make a good CEO or COO.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ray knows that the engineers are getting taken for a ride and can't stomach that. Probably not but it would be nice if we engineers had someone who cared about us other than being treated like a required asset, yet replaceable.

Anonymous said...

Surprising how there was no email from the main Ozzie himself. Seems like he got a U/10

Anonymous said...

Oh hey, the HP Slate from Ballmer's long-ago keynote has finally arrived. And it has something the iPad can't match: a little slide out tray for a bunch of regulatory stickers and the Windows license.

http://www.engadget.com/photos/hp-slate-hands-on/#3494156

You can't make this stuff up!

(BTW, this is why MSFT is losing)

Anonymous said...

Why blame just SteveB when there's so many in the middle to upper management who equally share the blame.

Look at MCS, there's PDRM's at MCS who essentially don't do anything and in addition to these there are HR managers attached to each and every region. Why need such a bloated structure? Look at the other consulting organization, they are so lean and mean, but MCS, there is a GM for all the regions, there are area practice managers, there PDRM's, HR and other support admin staff. It seems there is much more cost adding staff than actual revenue generating consulting staff.

There are multiple organizations within MCS who just keep adding to the cost of the organization and make it completely incompetitive in the market.

We need a radical change in the outlook of MCS and for this we need a radical restructuring of the organization to be lean, mean and cost effective.

Anonymous said...

Engineers are no longer in charge.

I hate to break it to you but this has been true for at least a decade. Established companies are driven by sales and marketing. As long as we're supported by Office and Windows (which we will be for the foreseeable future) innovation and great engineering is just a cherry on top of an already very profitable and very safe sundae. Meanwhile, playing catchup and incremental improvements is all we need to keep the register ringing. (hello BPOS)

Anonymous said...

While I'm not particularly a fan of Ozzies (having lived through a Notes deployment) it's a sign that any pretense of a cross-org strategy has gone the way of other bright ideas... politics and the culture of shouting has claimed another victim and long term shareholders and employees will suffer.

Given the pressing need to replace Ballmer from outside the company the failure to support the one high profile external hire in a long while will make anyone of appropriate caliber think twice.

Watching Ray, Gary Flake and other smart people call it a day at the top - and the departure of more and more smart people at lower levels of the orgs leaving behind the political game players and self promoters makes me wonder what chance MS has to turn itself around

Oh, and it's nice to see that within hours of Windows Phone 7 appearing in the market the press has picked up on a bunch of great examples of what happens when you let committees of politicians drive consumer products (and lets face it... almost everything we expect an end user to use these days needs to be treated as a consumer product)

Anonymous said...

I agree with this. Steve is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the thousands of useless partners who get in the way of innovations.

Half of the partners (may be more) are in the way of people.

Getting rid of Steve won't solve this problem.

Half of the partners need to go!


Why blame just SteveB when there's so many in the middle to upper management who equally share the blame.

Anonymous said...

So who should be the next CEO?

One name stands out and the only one who can safe MSFT from itself: Guy Kawasaki

Anonymous said...

I hear so much talk about Steveb being pushed out, but no talk about who his successor would be that would make MS a much better place.

Agree that it's a toxic culture and seems to be getting worse. But it also seems that there's no alternative.

Anonymous said...

All of you are wrong. Qi Lu, the president of OSD, is the greatest developer you can find on the planet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to whomever weighed in on MSA vs. Cobra. But, is MSA even available to individuals, or just small businesses? Didn't see any indiv. plans up on the site.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat trustworthy source: All BobMu's org's 10s will not see another review cycle. Terminated in groups of under 500 each month to avoid Warn. Can anyone confirm?

Anonymous said...

>>Somewhat trustworthy source: All BobMu's org's 10s will not see another review cycle. Terminated in groups of under 500 each month to avoid Warn. Can anyone confirm?

That makes no sense whatsoever (I'm tryin gto convince myself). What if you joined the company midway throught the review cycle? You get fired?

Anonymous said...

"Half the Partners Need to Go!", etc... sour grapes. Don't blame them because they do less than you but are rich. MSFT culture died the moment 100 millionaires were minted. You want to be them, they know that, they love your hate.

You should be thankfull for the 1 in 10 millionaire who gives a crap still, not hate on the 9 in 10 that does not.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat trustworthy source: All BobMu's org's 10s will not see another review cycle. Terminated in groups of under 500 each month to avoid Warn. Can anyone confirm?

Heard from a friend in AdCenter that at least one of their partner engineering for this year managers has on their commitments (published for underlings to align to, so everyone saw it) that he will have at least 10% good attrition. So that matches what you heard - the unofficial policy is now official.

Anonymous said...

Under Steve Ballmer, Microsoft actually has a few strong leaders:

(1) KT, a great bean counter, not CEO materials.
(2) Steven Sinofsky, like KT, a decent execution guy but he really has no vision. He can deliver if we have someone like BillG or Qi tell him what to do. Steven can’t come up with anything new so he won’t be a good CEO candidate.
(3) Craig Mundie, the opposite of Sinofksy. A nice guy vs Sinofsky who is an asshole. Craig is too lousy on execution. He wasted too much money to let Rick Rashid burn tons of cash on random researchers.
(4) Andy Lees, the best marketing guy. He is also a great people leader
(5) Qi Lu, he is our best hope as our next CSA. He is better than Ray. Qi is more technical than any VPs. He can be our next BillG.
(6) BobMu, the best well rounded leader. Bob and Qi are the most likely internal CEO candidates.
(7) Eric Rudder. He is on the side line right now, but can come back to replace Sinofsky. Eric can be a better CEO candidate if he can improve his people skills.

Anonymous said...

I have been a partner at Micrsoft and have had the opportunity to work closely with SteveB. All you naysayers, be careful what you wish for. If SteveB leaves, the easiest thing for the next CEO to do is layoff people and cut benefits to boost profitability. Just take a look at what Elop did at Nokia.

Anonymous said...

For the person looking for insurance, you had me worried for a second. I just looked, and there is all sorts of insurance available. Individual health is listed just below Group health. Individual is through Aetna.

Hell, they even offer pet insurance.

Best of luck to you and any other alumni looking for coverage.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this. Steve is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the thousands of useless partners who get in the way of innovations.

Half of the partners (may be more) are in the way of people.

Getting rid of Steve won't solve this problem.

Half of the partners need to go!


Why blame just SteveB when there's so many in the middle to upper management who equally share the blame.


Why do they still have a job?

Answer: Steve Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, the speculation and guessing games continue.

I agree SteveB must go - he's far outlived his usefuleness and his uselessness is in over drive.

KT - also not a fan of his as he's completely messed up the field, our marketing and sales motions and has tried to make us all as disposable and non-cognizant as a typical Wal-Mart floor walker.

Sinofsky - ok smart guy but can he check his ego enough to not go the way of Veghte? Not sure on that one.

Elop leaving makes me sad as he had some very good product and sales ideas that could have pushed the company way forward in some critical areas.

So net net we have no exec bench, outsiders perpetually fail on the inside and the competition is driving a massive hole through this issue.

If KT is CEO it's time to run for the hills! He has no idea how to compete in a knock down drag out tech and biz fight. He only knows how to cut costs through the peanut-butter approach (another famous CEO called this the Chicken-Sh*& approach to financial responsibility) and kill morale.

Anonymous said...

"Why blame just SteveB when there's so many in the middle to upper management who equally share the blame."

To be blunt, because sh** rolls downhill.

Without taking care of the problem at the top, trying to take care of the upper and middle is going to be worse than pointless.

Anonymous said...

One name stands out and the only one who can safe MSFT from itself: Guy Kawasaki


Funniest thing I've read all week.

I hope you're joking.

If not, why not add Robert Scoble and Chris Pirillo to the shortlist while we're at it, then?

Anonymous said...

Regarding COBRA, does anyone know if this also includes the Autism benefits?

Anonymous said...

You do realize that if someone is terminated for documented performance reasons (e.g. U/10 covers this), it's not a "layoff" and the WARN act doesn't apply.

Anonymous said...

"No one cares anymore and I don't blame them."

I don't buy that. Rank and file folks do care. We are investing our careers, and a portion of our lives, in the company. Our success is therefore tied to the company's success. We want to feel that sense of pride that once was when we said we work for Microsoft.

We need to:
- re-foster a culture of innovation within the company. This includes being able to take risky ventures that don't have a $1 billion return in the next 5 years. This also means failure is okay (not of the Kin variety), and should be expected. To pull this off, we need a special type of leadership quality of a different ilk than the Sinofsky model. We got the rank and file to deliver. Sadly, such leadership is uncommon within the company.

- embrace different styles. The deep and respectful thoughtfullness of an Ozzie, to the firebreathing manic-ness of a Ballmer. Again, this needs special leadership skills to pull these opposing forces together for the good of the team/product/company

- We need to break the silo mentality between divisions. This includes ending empire-building within a silo, and instead foster company-building via innovative high-quality products. This could mean the flattening of the org company-wide, causing many GMs and partner level people to lose their jobs, or take a demotion.

- career building should be directly tied to concrete results, especially level 67 onwards. No more godfather-based old-boys nepotism to get you to Partner, D.E. etc.

- most importantly, we need to have a sense of humility combined with our inherent competitive spirit. There should be zero tolerance for the current atmosphere of arrogant entitlement that is especially common with those in the high Principal and above career bands.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that if someone is terminated for documented performance reasons (e.g. U/10 covers this), it's not a "layoff" and the WARN act doesn't apply.

You do realize that there can be A/10's as well as U/10's. These indicate acceptable performance.

Anonymous said...

partner engineering for this year managers has on their commitments

ugh, late night editing foulup - that should read: "partner engineering managers has on their commitments for this year"

Anonymous said...

No matter how they try to frame it and snowballing people, it's still a layoff.

The WARN Act does apply, which is why they are trying doing these rolling layoff to get it under 500 people.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that if someone is terminated for documented performance reasons (e.g. U/10 covers this), it's not a "layoff" and the WARN act doesn't apply.



Absolutely, this is exactly the trick this management is playing….it is to cut....and just cut….but cut with cruelty. We all need to report this cruelty to the outside world so that the world knows about it happening at MSFT. This is completely in conflict with the rules and conscience of our civilized society.

Therefore this becomes everyone’s responsibility to report.

It’s a brutal MAFIASO that is currently in control.

Anonymous said...

but can he check his ego enough to not go the way of Veghte?

What happened to Veghte? What did he do? It looks like he's still a wanted executive. From HP.com:

Bill Veghte is executive vice president of the Software & Solutions organization in the Enterprise Business at HP

Anonymous said...

>"Half the Partners Need to Go!", etc... sour grapes. Don't blame them because they do less than you but are rich.

I could care less about the rich part, it is the 'do less than you' part that riles me up. If the only reason you could imagine people being upset by the sheer number of useless, partner level weight is jealousy, well, you should give it a little more thought. How about, every $ the company pays to them with 0 return on investment is one less they can spend doing something that would positively turn things around? Naw, must be jealousy.

>You want to be them, they know that, they love your hate.

If I woke up as one of those guys I would kill myself, honestly.

>You should be thankfull for the 1 in 10 millionaire who gives a crap still, not hate on the 9 in 10 that does not.

Yeah, we should be thankful for the 1 in 10 'not a complete douchebag', you're right, in fact I should also be thankful for the honest cops and not worry about the dishonest/power trippy ones, and you know what else, I should really appreciate the politicians that lie slightly less than all the other ones, yeah, what a great way to look at the world! The glass is always half-full, ALWAYS!

Anonymous said...

Regarding COBRA, does anyone know if this also includes the Autism benefits?

If you had Autism benefits under Premera as a FTE, you will have it under COBRA. All COBRA is, is a way to extend your current, 100% comprehensive medical plan (or whatever plan you had as a FTE), except that you pay for it out of your own pocket (the monthly check is mailed to Microsoft, and they forward your enrollment information to Premera every month. And for God's sake don't miss a payment by even one day, you'll lose it and cannot reinstate it.)

Anonymous said...

You do realize that if someone is terminated for documented performance reasons (e.g. U/10 covers this), it's not a "layoff" and the WARN act doesn't apply.

I suppose you're right. MSFT can eliminate the jobs of large numbers of people, using an arbitrary review system/forced ranking/rigid "grading" curve, and fly right under the radar as long as they can justify it on paper.

I've no doubt it's still going to hurt the local economy. The fact it is 499 people (for example) rather than 500 - which is why the WARN Act exists in the first place - is really quite academic.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to understand one thing:

At MSFT, you must continue to move ahead and up, striving to reach the higher levels which are by their very nature limited in number. It doesn't matter how effective you are at your lower level, how much you contribute, how reliable and trustworthy you are - if you're not suitable for a higher position, eventually there will be no place for you at Microsoft.

I cannot for the life of me understand this logic. That's like saying there's no place for foot-soldiers on the battlefield, unless they show themselves good enough to be Majors or Generals. Really? Who will man the guns, dig the trenches, fly the fighter jets, drive the tanks, and get their hands dirty? New recruits? Well, all right, but they lack the experience to do a lot of things that the career folks can do with their eyes closed. In the wars, they called such recruits, fresh off the training ground and dumped into the theater, "cannon fodder" for a reason. Some survived, but a horrible percentage of them didn't.

You want a better, less martial comparison? How about we just fire all teachers who demonstrate over time that they're not cut out to become school principles? After all, being a school principle is more prestigious.

I'm sorry. It seems such a waste of talent to me.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Baldmer gets a 5.8% pay hike

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/microsoftpri0/2013041646_microsoftceoballmerpayincreases.html?prmid=obinsource

Jon H said...

One name stands out and the only one who can safe MSFT from itself: Guy Kawasaki

How about Avie Tevanian? He's technical, and he worked for Steve Jobs for 20 years. And he's probably not doing much right now.

Anonymous said...

If SteveB leaves, the easiest thing for the next CEO to do is layoff people and cut benefits to boost profitability.

It seems that a scorched earth policy has already been instituted, although one can readily imagine that a new CEO would pursue such a course of action much more aggressively than is presently the case. How long before bets are being taken on when Microsoft will tilt into the "death spiral"?

Anonymous said...

Msft needs someone with balls to take over. Like Megan Wallent for example.

Anonymous said...

>Qi Lu, he is our best hope as our next CSA.

Qi, if he is a true leader, should reduce piracy in China. Microsoft gets more money from India than China eventhough China has four times the GDP of India.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am not sure whether to laugh or cry for MS. I am out now (after 12 years, first 6 being great and the next 6 spent hoping and praying that the madness would stop) but do still care for the company. I totally get when mini says "I love this company"... It is a great company: the WIMs, bldg 26 crazy paint party, exchange and sql becoming the next cash cows, xbox, .net beating java (to a certain extent), we had so much hope and potential. Lost it somehow...All the politics is killing the company.
1. change the review system to take the team's success and peer reviews into account directly (not as a peer feedback to the manager).
2. use open source: the whole world is using it, by re-writing the same pieces in every org we are wasting time
3. stop hiring except new grads (face it, if "experienced" people are good they are first applying to G, FB, Twitter etc.)
4. make devs do the test, pm and ops work to certain extent like AMZN.
5. fire KT
6. make MSR's review commitments to "ship or help ship" stuff and not publish papers
7. eliminate the transparent titles: just keep SDE, SDE lead and Dev mgr. This principal, senior bullshit causes too much pain on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

So say Sinofsky ends up as COO, and an outsider comes in as CEO. Maybe convince John Doerr or some other Silicon Valley technology venture person to come in?

Really the problem is that the culture needs to change, and it is hard to do that in general no matter who comes in.

Maybe breaking up the company would actually be better as Windows and Office are Microsoft's blessing and curse.

Anonymous said...

"(7) Eric Rudder. He is on the side line right now, but can come back to replace Sinofsky. Eric can be a better CEO candidate if he can improve his people skills."

Seriously??!!! It's a miracle, Eric Rudder is still in the company, can somebody please enlighten me on why is he still here?

Anonymous said...

Massive got shutdown ? they have opened positions in New York , how can that be possible? if someone can please comment..

Anonymous said...

Uhhh... Wasn't Bill doing billg reviews for Vista? How much, "intellectual rigor," was involved there? Hopefully at least as much as Bill dedicated to Microsoft Bob.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the poster who mentioned Steveb's successor would likely make really deep cuts.

The ones to date haven't been nearly big enough. If the idea is to make MS lean and mean, the cuts need to be a lot bigger.

It'll make mini happy (isn't it the point of the blog?), but it'll be really painful for thousands of people and their families. Many of the cuts will seem unfair to FTEs, and it'll be a shock to the Seattle economy. And it will seem unfair: lots of good, capable people will lose their jobs.

In short, we haven't seen anything yet. Steve has a deep passion for Microsoft and its employees, and I think he's been holding back the folks that would really cut deep. If he goes, we'll all be shocked at what happens next.

Anonymous said...

"As long as we're supported by Office and Windows (which we will be for the foreseeable future) innovation and great engineering is just a cherry on top of an already very profitable and very safe sundae. Meanwhile, playing catchup and incremental improvements is all we need to keep the register ringing. (hello BPOS)"

I wouldn't stay too comfy in your assumptions about the foreseeable future:

http://gcn.com/Issues/2010/10/Oct-18-2010.aspx

Of particular interest (esp. to long term earnings) is the unbundling of Office apps and billing only for applications used.

The cash cow days of old are clearly numbered...

Anonymous said...

"If not, why not add Robert Scoble and Chris Pirillo to the shortlist while we're at it, then?"

Probably because Guy has a demonstrated track record and can do one thing no one at Microsoft has been able to do - connect with regular people and not just IT Types?

Free Beer said...

"Regarding COBRA, does anyone know if this also includes the Autism benefits?"

It does. My son is on COBRA and using the Autism benefit for the ABA therapy.

Anonymous said...

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Ozzie-To-Microsoft-You-Cant-siliconalley-3694810350.html?x=0&.v=5

Anonymous said...

To: Executive Staff and direct reports
Date: October 28, 2010
From: Ray Ozzie
Subject: Dawn of a New Day

http://ozzie.net/docs/dawn-of-a-new-day/

Anonymous said...

Market cap (billions)10/25/2010

AAPL $282.1
GOOG $196.5
MSFT $218

With 2 analyst downgrades today, GOOG needs to be up just 10% to overtake MS, likely will happen before end of year. But hey! SteveB does not control the stock price, he is just the CEO and therefore an innocent victim of market forces.

Anonymous said...

Another likened Ozzie's departure to a political assassination, and saw this memo as a kind of slap on his way out the door [...]

But at least one employee thought the memo was important enough that every Microsoft employee should close their door, turn off their phone, and read it from start to finish--so tweeted Matt Rogers, who's a director of sales and marketing for Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform for developers.


Good for you Matt, surely a CLM, however you will enjoy spending more time with your family.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Microsoft-Insider-Ozzies-Memo-siliconalley-1813420878.html?x=0&.v=4

Anonymous said...

As a MS Gold Partner, I think your support stinks. If like me you are looking for assistance with partner hosted applications, good luck with that. CSS/CTS does a woeful job in this space - is it any wonder when actual support engineering has been pushed to China, India, Romania? And BPOS/Office365 support is fully vendored out, so the folks that actually understood the platform are SOL, and the campuses in NC and TX are gradually emptying. This is the Wal-Mart model in action folks. Outsource the toxic-toy production to others and then wash your hands when customers complain. Good job!

Anonymous said...

I have been a partner at Micrsoft and have had the opportunity to work closely with SteveB. All you naysayers, be careful what you wish for. If SteveB leaves, the easiest thing for the next CEO to do is layoff people and cut benefits to boost profitability

"If SteveB leaves", you say. Has not the current administration laid off people and cut benefits? How exactly would employees be worse off if he leaves? I'm just sayin', bro ...

Anonymous said...

This should be relevant:

http://ozzie.net/docs/dawn-of-a-new-day/

Whatever you think of him, at least he gets the Windows gravy train isn't going to last forever.

Anonymous said...

We need to:
- re-foster a culture of innovation within the company. This includes being able to take risky ventures


OMG, you guys are driving me nuts. You innovation monkeys can't stop this drivel about innovation. You're like the cloud monkeys who won't shut up about how everything is moving to the cloud.

Can't you see what's going on around you? It's clear as day. Other companies are getting ahead BY MAKING GOOD PRODUCTS.

For the love of god, Microsoft is killing itself to "innovate" by making the confusing and controversial Kinect while Apple just knocked another one out of the park simply by making A REALLY SMALL LAPTOP.

The absolute last thing Microsoft needs to do is get distracted with faux-innovation and lose focus on making good software that people want to use.

Anonymous said...

How about Avie Tevanian? He's technical, and he worked for Steve Jobs for 20 years. And he's probably not doing much right now.

Avadis Tevanian is pretty savvy. But my experience with him which is admittedly 20 years old is that he's more of a technical guy than a business guy. Because so much of MS' current income depends on clever business execution (instead of technical innovaton), the top guy needs to have business savvy as well as tech vision.

The person who mentioned John Doerr might be on to something. I'm still thinking about that. If you can't be a complete tech visionary yourself, at least have a track record of recognizing tech vision by others and not be afraid of taking a risk or two.

Anonymous said...

I cannot for the life of me understand this logic. That's like saying there's no place for foot-soldiers on the battlefield, unless they show themselves good enough to be Majors or Generals. Really? Who will man the guns, dig the trenches, fly the fighter jets, drive the tanks, and get their hands dirty?


It is not so much based upon logic as a belief.


The Peter Principle is the principle that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence".


The competencies that Microsoft lists for each level suggests the following is supposed to happen:

- refrain from promoting a worker until they show the skills and work habits needed to succeed at the next higher job

while "up or out" is what eventually happens:

- terminating a worker if they fail to attain a promotion after a certain amount of time


Since more people are always filling the lower ranks and they want to give workers in the lower ranks hope for promotion, they fire you instead of putting you back into the position at which you excelled.

Regardless of anyone's actual performance, there are fewer positions higher up in an organization you go, so, to give people hope of promotion, you have to get rid of people one way or another if you believe the workers in the lower ranks are better or as good as the workers currently holding those positions.

For example, Steve Ballmer fires a bunch of vice presidents to make room for other employees who are talented to get promoted.

The belief is people have to keep moving up for new people to believe they have a chance at moving up the organization.


An alternative approach is presented in this video:

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

The idea being you pay people enough that money isn't an issue so workers are focused on getting better at their jobs instead of being focused on getting promoted.

Anonymous said...

I've worked for Microsoft for over 10 years now. I was here well before Ozzie became the CSA and have been here the entire time he was in that position. I have to say that from my perspective, he was completely invisible. I don't recall ever seeing any type of communications coming from him and honestly never heard anything from him. I was in a meeting about 6 months ago and his name came up for some reason. There were a couple of MSFT people who didn't even know who he was!

I'm not saying that he didn't do anything, maybe he did. But, for someone in that level of position, you would think everyone would know of him and he would be in the spotlight...but this was not the case! All I've seen were a couple of "memos" that basically stated what practically every analyst was saying at the time. For example, the web services memo that he published 5 years ago simply stated what everyone else was saying at the time. Is this supposed to be insightful? The recent memo seems to me just to be some type of parting shot rather than insightful or productive.

Will Ray Ozzie leaving MSFT be any issue for the future of the company?...Very doubtful!

Anonymous said...

MS is facing typical Monopolist's Dilemma, similar to what Standard Oil went through in early 20th century and IBM in 1990's. To protect the monopolistic cash flow, it is not taking risks on new business models both on existing and new technologies. New technologies espcially need new business models and by being risk averse to new business models (to avoid cannibalization to existing cash flow) monopolists often mess up entries in new tech and become irrelevant in longer term.

I am sure Harvard Business Review either has or working on a case study on MSFT talking about this. IBM managed to get out of this mess successfully by going after consulting in a big way and putting mainframe in the back burner and now their stock is all time high. Others like Standard Oil and GM couldn't do it.

MS has only two ways out: 1) get a new CEO who accepts this and thinks differently, takes business risks to lower short term revenue for the promise of longer term success 2) split the company (which does #1 anyway) into 3 parts: a) Software: Windows and OFfice b) Entertainment and Gaming (XBox and what Ozzie calls smart devices) c) Web 3.0 (social, search etc.)

Till the time the current CEO is running the company he will still try to call everything Windows, e.g. why the hell the new mobile OS called "Windows Phone 7", shouldn't it be branded differently just like XBox was (can you even imagine if he had called it Windows Box :-)).

Ozzie leaving is very symbolic and is foretelling above changes are coming even if the current cash sucking management is in a denial mode. Wake up board and stay relevant!

Anonymous said...

"If SteveB leaves", you say. Has not the current administration laid off people and cut benefits? How exactly would employees be worse off if he leaves? I'm just sayin', bro ...



I'm not the OP but let me respond to that. I think most MS employees, especially those who've never known anything else, are sheltered. The recent cuts, as devastating as they may be to some, are minimal. Do yourself a favor and go research what happened at places like IBM and HP in the past 20 years. Then imagine the same taking place at Microsoft.

There is no doubt in my mind that if an outsider is named CEO, it will be a bloodbath. Layoffs company-wide will not be in the thousands but in the tens of thousands. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Seattle workforce alone reduced by 10,000.

I used to work for Microsoft when it was a 30,000 people company. It now employs 90,000+. Most of the extra headcount is either doing busy work or engaged in money-losing ventures. Almost all the products that make money today existed back then (Windows, Office, Exchange, SQL, VS, ...)
MS could easily go back to being a 50 or 60,000 people company without any adverse effects on the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Things that would be good for Microsoft:

- Get rid of all of the Walmart people. Squeezing the last cent out of the supply chain and out of the employees is not the way to get the best of anything.
- You have to spend money to make money. R&D, finding great people and getting them to agree to come and work, freedom to do something worthwhile, give something a try to explore the opportunities for the business.
- Don't worry so much about whether you managed to get someone to come and work for you with a crappy compensation package and a weak stock grant - how about you try to get them to be happy about coming to MSFT?
- Dump the plan to make employees pay part of the medical premiums - don't cut people's compensation this way. Keep benefits at excellent levels, designed to get great people to come, and to stay. The idea used to be that you would make it so employees have nothing else to worry about but their work. Microsoft benefits lifted the benefit plans of other area employers, and tech employers all over. It's supposed to be something that makes life better, hence the inherent nature of a "benefit."
- Keep the pop flowing.
- Have fewer meetings, and actually get something done.
- Everyone get rid of the 10 stupidest things you do in a day, that waste your brain and keep you from being productive.
- Ask "what does the best look like" and then move towards that.
- Never get tired of doing things right.
- Figure out a way to do something amazing.
- Be kind every once in a while (go ahead, laugh that off as useless, I expect it).
- Try to raise someone up instead of knocking people down.
- Hire talented, bright, thinking people, both experienced and the young who still think everything is possible.
- If there is $4.52Billion (or so) net profit from last quarter, surely there's enough pocket change around to quit fighting over budgets. Go ahead and spend it if you think it's useful to do so, and be able to explain yourself afterwards.
- Get some rest, and come in fresh enough to make a difference. Don't be so bedraggled mentally - think big.
- Say something true to the big dogs - not just what you know they want to hear. Someone should be brave enough to point out when the emperor has no clothes.
- If you are not in marketing: Smoke and mirrors is not reality, it's just how we make things look like they matter. Make things really matter.
- If you are young and new: Learn the history, don't make the same mistakes, respect what's been done right. Get to work early and stay late. Work hard. Find people you respect and band together.
- Team: It's something that does more together than can be done separately. Think soccer, football, basketball. Think win. WIN. What does it take to win? How can we learn from our mistakes and do better next time? How can we swoop in and cover for each other when someone runs up the field/court in a brave effort? Back each other up? Help think things through? Brainstorm? How about going for some glory? Come on, some of you must have played sports and loved it. Remember what it felt like to win?
- Repeat: Get rid of all of the Walmart people.
- Get rid of at least half of the mean people.
- Get rid of all of the stupid people.
- Do better.
- Try again.
- Walk it.
- If you can't come up with a great idea yourself, learn to recognize it when you see it.
- If you are tired, take some of that vacation.
- If you are a manager, ask what impediments you can remove for your people, to free them to do their best work.
- Think "best" not "good enough."

Anonymous said...

"On Microsoft’s CEO succession plan, Ballmer said “I have plenty of energy.” “You have to be resilient. If I ever thought the company would be better off without me I’d leave that day,” he said"

Ballmer has let his ego cloud his judgment. There is now overwhelming evidence that he has failed as CEO. $350b in lost marketcap. Losing the mobile and tablet markets. Anemic current and future growth prospects. The shocking decline in competitive positioning and relevance. His inabilty to be objective is somewhat understandable. But the board's isn't. By not acting, they're clearly disregarding objective data points and their legal mandate and instead putting personal loyalty above the interests of the company and its shareholders.

Anonymous said...

"I have been a partner at Micrsoft and have had the opportunity to work closely with SteveB. All you naysayers, be careful what you wish for. If SteveB leaves, the easiest thing for the next CEO to do is layoff people and cut benefits to boost profitability"

Notice how even Steve apologists can't come up with positive reasons for keeping him? It's like a political campaign: no vision, just here are the negatives if you go with the other guy.

Yeah, let's keep Steve even though he has wrecked the company because his replacement might actually try and fix things instead of pretending they're not broken. Great example of "partner" logic there.

Anonymous said...

So when is Ballmer being ousted?

Anonymous said...

...Guy has a demonstrated track record and can do one thing no one at Microsoft has been able to do - connect with regular people and not just IT Types?


That sounds like a reason to put him in charge of Marketing, then, not place him at the company's helm, if I'm understanding you correctly. I don't think taking a Fireside Chat approach to steering this company is going to help.

Maybe you can explain more about what you mean by suggesting him. I might be missing your point.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft's consumer brand is dying:
http://bit.ly/cyQSeo

It's clear that new leadership is needed. We need a visionary.

Anonymous said...

Another nail in the coffin.
http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/27/technology/microsoft_pdc/index.htm?cnn=yes&hpt=T2

I have been in the company for 5 years now and have just seen it totally going in the wrong direction. I am ready to jump ship....

Anonymous said...

One name stands out and the only one who can safe MSFT from itself: Guy Kawasaki

NO. Just, NO.

Guy is a great PR guy. He knows good stuff when he sees it. He's an interesting and engaging public speaker, but he would tell you himself that he's not the guy who can crack heads, fire the fools, bring in the new talent, or any of the myriad other things that the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company has to do.

If MS hired him to run marketing, that would be great, but you sill have to come up with something that's good enough for Guy to sell.

Anonymous said...

>>When you get to that level in the company (and are making that kind of money), being right matters not all. Getting the company to execute on the right thing is what matters and in that Ray (and Craig) are pretty much disasters.

You need both the thinkers and the doers. And reality is that thinkers are not doers, and vice versa. It's the thinkers job to dream up the next-big-thing. It's the doer's job to take the thinker's idea and make it a successful reality. Trying to get the same person to do both will not work.

And that I think is one of the core problems with the culture in MSFT and its review system. We use a cookie-cutter means to evaluate people, rather than using the unique traits they bring to the table, and rewarding them for how effectively those talents are used to help deliver on getting the job done.

Anonymous said...

Sleepy in Seattle, Microsoft learns to mature

A great article indeed!

Anonymous said...

Lots of random suggestions around making things better. Most simply talk about fixing symptoms, not the disease.

Steve or not - the root of our issues are the curve and differenciated rewards - period. All other troubles and weirdness stem from this.

As long as there is cash flow - my competitors are my peers. It does not matter how the company performs against other companies. It only matters how I'm evaluated againt my internal level band mates.

This is why taking a risk is risky. It's why teams and groups and businesses don't play nice. It's why we're not all in it together, etc, etc.

Dude who put the armed forces analogy had it mostly right. Imagine if we were a hospital & one of your loved ones needed a big risky operation. Would you come to our hospital & which of the folks you met and relied on would you trust to have your interests ahead of all others.

Anonymous said...

A bit off the beaten path, but my Steve replacement would be Carlos Ghosn from Nissan/Renault.

Anonymous said...

2010 Performance Review
AAPL E/20
GOOG A/70
MSFT U/10

Anonymous said...

I am sick of seeing all these 9-5 managers take home the big bonuses instead of the people on the ground that do the real hard work putting these features together. Most are completely clueless, and just seem to go out of their way to make my job that much harder.

Thinning the ranks of lower and middle management should be the first and only priority at the company today.

We could run this company with half the number of managers, easily.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am tired of hearing people whine about the stock price... most of all Goldman and Wall Street.

Their mind set is 6-12 months, quick and easy money. Period. They are living in 2007.

Having a conservative CEO, with a 5-10 year plan is a real good thing.

Be happy you have Steve right now. Yes, we missed some opportunities- but it is going to happen anywhere.

Anonymous said...

>Guy is a great PR guy. He knows good stuff when he sees it. He's an interesting and engaging public speaker

Chris Pratley, the greatest visionary produced by Office in the last twenty years should take over Ray's spot as CSA. He has visions for every group in the company. Take a minute and check out his awesome vision videos.

Anonymous said...

Dude who put the armed forces analogy had it mostly right. Imagine if we were a hospital & one of your loved ones needed a big risky operation. Would you come to our hospital & which of the folks you met and relied on would you trust to have your interests ahead of all others.

When I worked at Microsoft, someone resorted to crashing the hard drive on one of my PCs (not in a subtle way).

I had several fixes going through the check-in process.

They trashed the wrong PC so it did not affect my work.

If a hospital operated like Microsoft, doctors would just not work there. They would not want to risk their malpractice insurance rates going up.

Anonymous said...

"This principal, senior bullshit causes too much pain on a daily basis."

So true. We have a partner sde in our group that nobody dares contradict. He keeps spewing the stupidest of opinions and as a result entire projects tank and huge ugly workarounds are implemented instead of straightforward solutions. It's sad.

The worst part is that while the guy is a complete net negative, his compensation is obviously way out of the ballpark of everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Chris Pratley, the greatest visionary produced by Office in the last twenty years should take over Ray's spot as CSA. He has visions for every group in the company. Take a minute and check out his awesome vision videos.

Chris? Chris? Is that you?

Anonymous said...

Having a conservative CEO, with a 5-10 year plan is a real good thing.

Be happy you have Steve right now. Yes, we missed some opportunities- but it is going to happen anywhere.


Steve Ballmer has been the CEO of Microsoft since January 2000.

Time is almost up on the 10 year plan.

Or, are you giving him a "mulligan" on the first 10 years?

Anonymous said...

I am sick of seeing all these 9-5 managers take home the big bonuses instead of the people on the ground that do the real hard work putting these features together. Most are completely clueless, and just seem to go out of their way to make my job that much harder.

Amen brother.

I have never understood why we have come to need all of these dedicated "people managers" and "test managers" and "senior leads" and "principle managers" - each replicated across three cookie cutter triads in every group, in every org, in every division...

You can sniff out these corner office clock punchers from the reception desk. If you asked half of them exactly what it is that they directly do - you would just get some arm chair BS. I bet many of them haven't so much as filed a bug in a decade.

My thought. We have lost some good people, but the engineering talent at MS still is top notch. People are *expected* to be able to work autonomously, and/or within their feature teams to deliver direct results here.

I think the triads need to go away. Their should be "a" feature team. Dev, Test, PM- nothing more than roles. One person is nominated as feature team lead. Everyone has direct accountability to the team for doing their part. If you don't, it is real easy. You can be voted on or off- and check this - it doesn't require a 1:1 - your work is your 1:1 - Done.

Want lean & mean - try this. If you are not a direct member of a feature team that is directly delivering value at this company, or in a designated support division (Infrastructure, Payroll, Marketing, etc...) then I say get out!

Anonymous said...

Lots of random suggestions around making things better. Most simply talk about fixing symptoms, not the disease.

Steve or not - the root of our issues are the curve and differenciated rewards - period. All other troubles and weirdness stem from this.


The #1 career trick I have learned at MS - how to appear courteous and helpful, while actually witholding vital technical information from my review competition. :>

Mark Lucovsky said...

Wow, what a dissatisfied bunch. So much has changed since I my time (1988 - 2004)

I'm reaching out two two of you and offering a 180-degree change in your job satisfaction trajectory :)

I'm Mark Lucovsky, Microsoft Alum 1988-2004, Google 2004-2009. I have been at VMware now for a bit over a year. It reminds me of Microsoft back in the early 90's (a.k.a., the good old days...)

I'm flexible on location between Palo Alto -OR- our brand new Eastside Engineering Office.

Looking for two experts in AD. One must be an expert in topology, testing, etc. Make sense? Can discuss more via phone and email.

If you are interested, send me (markl) and krishnag an email

markl@vmware.com
krishnag@vmware.com

Thanks

Mark Lucovsky
CTO, Cloud Services Division
VMware, Inc.

Anonymous said...


"Why blame just SteveB when there's so many in the middle to upper management who equally share the blame."


There are a bunch of reasons to blame just SteveB:

1) As the head of the organization, he needs to be accountable for its failures not just the cash cow successes.
2) He sets the governing guidelines, policies, edicts, and pushes them down.
3) He has brought in to MS the Jack Welch people management philosophy. Broken by design. GE needed to shed literally over 100,000 employees. It was not a sustainable philosophy then and it is not now.
4) He set the tone for what he wants in leadership for the company he runs.
5) Ultimately, he approved the various acquisitions that contributed to explosive employee headcount. How many of the acquisition's products still exist? How many of their employees are still at MS?
6) Failure to give adequate credit to the competition and be on the watch to make sure they didn't leap ahead.
7) He a changed the culture to one where employees are conscious of potentially being terminated daily instead of how they can make their product better and cooler.
8) He is the key force behind the stock's value. Obviously, the company's amazing history of making YOY growth in penetration and units sold of Windows and Office. That would suggest that Microsoft is a great investment with high returns and growth. Yet, the stock price does not reflect that. Whatever is different w.r.t. how the market perceives Microsoft, it has been in the dumper since the dot-bomb bubble burst. Coincidentally or not, on his watch. Our incremental quarterly profits are growing the size of many companies. How is that not indicative of a solid investment?
9) IF our goal is to drive "shareholder value" aka "the stock price" up, what is it that the market wants from us and why haven't we delivered that? Surely, if we did, the stock would be at an all-time high like those other guys.
10) The partner situation if not created under or by Steve, it certainly has been abused.

In all fairness to Steve,
1) The review system has sucked for decades, and before he took over the reigns. When LisaB presented the now current review system, it was positioned as a change for the better that would evolve over time to address its shortcomings.
2) Bill's handing over CEO responsibilities to Steve happened at an amazingly bad time. Steve cannot be blamed for the bubble bursting, but the lack of recovery since 2000-2001 is another story.
3) It is a damn hard job to be tasked with managing a 100,000 employee company AND do it well? Whom else does that GM? GE? Boeing?

To those whom provided examples of products that failed and slammed Steve, middle managers, or partners for the failures are failing to see that bets were made with the hopes and analysis that the upside was worth the risk. The failure would be to have not learned why it failed and to let history repeat itself.

IMO, some of the lessons not learned well are that:
1) Sometimes, "me too" is the right product. Differentiation can be do what they did, just better.
2) Our products cannot be all things to everyone. This brings needless complexity and grows products to be huge and slow with little benefit for the vast majority. Featuritis is a disease.
3) Sometimes the competitor has a great product and we should "embrace and extend" instead of building a competing product. How much have we made on Mac Office? As I recall years ago, we made more money per Mac than Apple did. From just selling Word and Excel.
4) Treat all employees as highly valued partners whom do not need to compete against each other to succeed and they will bring their best game to work, give more of themselves, and have a hell of a lot more fun doing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

The #1 career trick I have learned at MS - how to appear courteous and helpful, while actually witholding vital technical information from my review competition. :>
Friday, October 29, 2010 11:11:00 PM
This is so true on the business side too. Information is like gold at MS, you don't share it. I used to share it as the 'right thing to do' then found out that the people who do not share, or collaborate, but sit in their bosses doorway, while stomping on their team mates, were the one's that got promoted. So much for a company that builds tools for people to collaborate more effectively.

Anonymous said...

I was not very impressed by him--remembered once my manager said about his Billg review experience--no one in the room (with all the executive types) understood what is going on except him and Billg. Of course Ray did show some interests in the technology and said that he did/heard of something similiar about 20 years. Not very encouraging to people who worked so hard just to keep themselves up on the top of what was going on in the real world.

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