Thursday, January 27, 2011

Microsoft FY11Q2 Results

A quick check from the last Quarterly Results leading up to today's Microsoft Quarterly Results:

  • What's great: Kinect. We sold millions of Kinects and it's full of cool! And we have a 93% customer satisfaction rate with Windows Phone 7. Looking around, I think that's also assuming that 93% of Windows Phone 7 handsets sold are the Samsung Focus.
  • What's good: our reputation is working through the bothersome-hated-defeated-spurned-ignored-renewed-respected cycle compared to Google.
  • What's okay: Windows Phone 7: we sold some to non-employees and two-million licenses are in the channel. I have no idea what that means with-respect-to actually sold hardware. But it's no KIN, so... success! Yeah.
  • What's really, really bad: the iPad is gnawing away our laptop market. And a new version is coming out soon.

Hungry Hungry Cannibals: reading Ms. Friar's last beat-the-hell out of Microsoft Goldman-Sachs report just about made me permanently hungry for human flesh given the repeated fixation on cannibalization. I swear, I'd look up from my print-out occasionally and longingly eye my more fit co-workers.

It's the iPad baby, and - booga booga - it's going to destroy Microsoft. Well, at least destroy Windows.

First all: sure, Microsoft leadership deserves all the head-bashing it gets for both mobile and small form-factor markets. We had the jump on these markets with inelegant, uninspired devices that never had a chance of taking off with consumers and no one was bold enough to reboot the product line without successful leadership from Apple showing us the way.

Next: our iPad-compete strategy is unspoken. For good reason. Just about any application developer at Microsoft can tell you that it's a secret wrapped in red. Most Microsoft-observers have put the pieces together and figured out our strategy could be and realize who could be on point to deliver something exceptionally cool to compete with Apple. This will certainly could be our bet-the-company chance to validate the tortoise-vs-the-hare fable.

How have our past tortoises fared? I can think of three recent late to market responses: Zune HD (iPod - remember those?), Kinect (Wii), and Windows Phone 7 (iPhone / Android). All great devices. In order for our possible iPad compete story to be a success, it has to pull a Kinect and be beyond the competition vs. a me-too or, well, me-kinda-sorta.

CEO Changes: Mr. Ballmer's respect meter in the ephemeral tech-business... news (?) world is still low. Kinect has helped, but questions linger regarding what he's doing with his leadership team given Muglia's upcoming departure. I had always remarked to folks that Bob's a survivor. His time just finally ran out. It will be intriguing to see what leadership steps in or up and what happens to Bob's current team. And who might be next. Bets? Unless HR is about to unleash something huge that's been in the making my first bet is on LisaB. Also, Craig, I'd love to know what successes you've brought to the company as of late.

In the midst of Google and Apple going through leadership changes, you've got to ask: who is on the bench to replace Mr. Ballmer? What is the Board's plan? I have to reject Ms. Foley's point of view that there is no-one that can replace Ballmer. That's a too big to fail leadership jail sentence. Perhaps the decision is that his departure immediately results in a broken up Microsoft and the presidents he is putting in place now would be quite capable of running those sister corporations. Given the convergence and consolidation that is happening internally on a number of fronts for future development, such sister corporations would be much more dependent on each other, so it's not as whacky - or dog-eat-dog cannibalistic - as it might have seemed in the past. Given that the consent decree is considered over, Microsoft self-breaking itself up will certainly help prevent penalties when the inevitable violation occurs.

From another angle: if the Sinofskyfication of the company continues (IEB now with its massive re-org complete, post-Muglia Server & Tools next?) then Mr. Sinofsky ascending over a whole Microsoft will be a moot decision.

Interesting coverage after the results:

In general, no surprise to people that Windows/Live was down and that Entertainment was up on the Kinect. Online (aka Bing aka Partner-Level-Palooza) lost over half-a-billion dollars. And gained a bit of market share.

Pulling out my crystal ball that's covered with dust along with all the other Mini implements used to write this blog (oooo, an unopened bottle of Col Solare! Score!): Microsoft product groups should feel good about WP7 and the influence Metro is having around the company. Like I said, there's a big convergence ahead of us, and it will be good to start aligning a simpler development story, both for Microsoft and its partners. The biggest obvious concern is the development path for the mobile platform compared to the development path for Windows, but even there you can squint and see on the horizon the possibility for that to be successful, too.

IE9 is great technology that yes, has a way to go to score some high compliance number across a bunch of random folk's assessment sites. Still: wow. WP7 is a modern joy to use and is slowly building an app catalog. Kinect. And a whole bunch of developers hunched over and hammering bits to create the next big "Wow." Yeah, "Wow" might be inscribed on the back of a tortoise, but sometimes... the tortoise wins in the end.

The only thing that concerns me right now is (and you're going to love this): hiring. We've got great successes that excite people about working at Microsoft, but really, how many more people are we hiring to work on Kinect? My friends and I have never been so courted by other companies. Not since 2000. And I've got to say, the culture that Ballmer and LisaB have created is really weary. It's enlightened for the mid-1980s. But if crazy stock price jumps are no longer enthusing your employees, you've got to reboot the culture.


-- Comments

715 comments:

1 – 200 of 715   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

For STB President, the truly dynamic guy within is Scott Guthrie. He has shown he can drive a change without wrecking existing business and he surely understands customers. But given that he is just a CVP (not even an SVP, let alone an SVP for many years), Ted Kummert is more likely candidate to avoid ruffled SVP feathers. I hope they don't get someone from outside STB unless they go outside MS.

Anonymous said...

STB President: true horror story would be bringing back EricR - tyrant micromanager who thinks he knows all and doesn't need any input. He prides on sending mails to L59 QA about individual bug. Would rather see LisaB, Craig or even a clown instead.

Anonymous said...

...hiring. We've got great successes that excite people about working at Microsoft

...but we are not paying them enough to actually come here.

I recently heard from hiring manager in Bing who was not able to recruit college hire because offered pay at L59 was way low. He would have to give him L62 to match expected salary.

Thank you Steve for telling me that you are going to kill my very nice medical plan soon. One less reason to stay at MS. I and more people I know are seriously thinking about leaving this/next year. With MS reducing benefits, only thing I have to negotiate with other companies is vacation time -- I use 4 weeks every summer -- but that's something negotiable...

I always think that people are crazy to say that they 'love' the company or product. For Christ sake, it is just a paycheck!

Anonymous said...

Can anybody give some hints about WP7 activation rate? If it is any good, we would probably brag to the sky...

Some numbers indicate that most of activations would be Microsoft employees and family...

Anonymous said...

Mini, safe to say you aren't in SMSG. The MYR cycle exposes once again how the company is just broken. There's a complete lack of leadership to simplify our sales and marketing for a consumer-centric world. KT and his gang simply can't hack it, and Ballmer can't control them. Worse yet, none of these folks who actually talk to customers are allowed to talk to engineering. The more I think about it the more I think it's a miracle so many things still work.

Anonymous said...

Did you see Kevin in "The Office" tonight do a *killer* takeoff Ballmer hitting the stage at MGX??? Followed by gasping for air, collapsing on the floor, and barfing into a wastebasket... MS culture under Ballmer may be weary internally, but it's still good for a big belly laugh to those of us who've moved on.

Anonymous said...

The convergence of Windows and Windows Phone (or parts thereof) will be a good thing - roll on Windows 8!

But Microsoft needs to get a move on.

Another thing HAS to be addressed - getting OEMs to make hardware with some semblance of decent industrial design. Yes, people do care about what a PC/phone/tablet looks like/feels like - Apple has taught everyone that.

Anonymous said...

I'm first so I get to pose the question: Will W7 powered tablets stave off the iPad monster in the long term?

Of course I realize no one knows but it's an interesting market to watch.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, LisaB? I was hoping for some more meaningful insight and commentary on BobMu's replacement. What does Lisa bring? What should be STB's focus and triage of resources relative to strategy? Who else is on the bench? Who under BobMu's team is on shaky ground?

Ted said...

Did you mean to say that the Zune HD was a success? Or that it was a good product? If you meant success I'd have to question that - have you ever even seen one outside of Seattle? It's not just about making a good product, it's about making a product people _want_.

In that respect, you're right, the Kinect is an all-around hit. And from the consumer standpoint, it's the only high point at Microsoft.

The only statistic being touted for Windows Phone 7 is satisfaction rate. And the only reason to exclude other statistics is because they're abysmal. Which means the only buyers are Microsoft fan boys (yes, they do exist). And that's not good news at all.

And if I were a Microsoft investor I'd be asking why the company continues to spend on an online business that operates in the red quarter after quarter with no possibility of profit in sight.

When I look at that earnings report, I see a business company with an entertainment division that should be spun off, an online business that should be shut down and a mobile division that should be scrapped.

Anonymous said...

Great Article... I am starting to get worry about our slate strategy; I hope we provide so guidance in the near future.

Anonymous said...

We all know what MS has to fix and it's not technology or available talent. Seems like there is a change in the right direction. It's certainly nice to see a more positive feedback from mini... not saying mini was wrong before.. I think MS is suffering from a general US corporate overmanagement disease that only a few managed to escape: Google (well they changed mgt), Apple , etc. Weary is a good expression, setting gray targets, distracting people or teams from their real responsibilities etc.

Anonymous said...

WP7 is pretty cool, but where's that January, oops; Spring update? Until we ship that first update and exercise the update system, it's still Zune v1.0. Also, sadly, iPhone is going to Verizon before WP7. Was that in the original tortoise plan? That org doesn't tell anyone shit, making it just that much harder to be rah-rah about the future.

Anonymous said...

RE: Acquisitions...Placeware ProClarity and UMT Portfolio Mgr were debacles....PlaceWare (now livemeeting) had decent market share and MSFT totally blew the field integration and allowed the competition to roll them over. ProClarity brought some needed technology, but the field integration was horrible, lots of egos and no direction from the top. UMT totally ripped off Microsoft...crappy product, lots of people transferred to MSFT and while they were on the product team, purposefully deprecated a feature that UMT now has a product for. Go figure.

Certainly KT and way too many old-timers that think they can capitalize on a new market with old approaches....Tablet PC? Management is concerned about their budgets and CYA more than product quality, that and a see what sticks approach doesn't promote growth.

... KT's moronic moves make it worse...Microsoft needed Enterprise Sales people and they still have these greenhorns who can't sell their way out of paper bag. Managers I know at IBM and SAP used to say to me that if they and a MSFT rep are in the same client meeting, then one of them is at the wrong meeting. They totally eat our lunch everyday.

On the consumer side, there just isn't a sexy brand.... Then you have decisions like Home Server/Vail (now called Fail) and a community that was very passionate, loyal and growing that is now going to linux boxes. Even when MSFT comes up with a good product, they still screw it up. A server in every house vaporized....SteveB even admitted there were problems, said he would investigate and he didn't follow through...

I still root for MSFT but not with my wallet...as an investor I made a lot more money on IBM, GOOG and AAPL as a percentage compared to Microsoft....

It's a big world out there!

Anonymous said...

Re BobMu: Pretty much a slap in the face when it is announced you will be replaced by "someone".

We don't know who yet but ANYONE must be better than you Bob.

Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Love(d) MSFT, made my money with your products for years. Had an interesting experience recently.

Client wanted to acquire new Office licenses for 20 hosted virtual desktops. Took three resellers and MSFT licensing involvement to even clarify what the client was - and was not - "allowed" to buy. MSFT licensing acronyms flew fast and furious... SPLA, FPP, Open License, Open License with Subscription, EA, SA, and more. Total horror show; client kept asking "can you please just tell me what licenses to buy so we can legally run Office in our hosted virtual desktops"?

A client WANTING to spend money, do the right thing, so they can run their business. It took weeks to get any answer; they wound up just buying retail licenses (CDs) and shipping them to the hosting facility to be installed. (There was even a question from MSFT's licensing person if this was allowed...)

That's how bad it is with your licensing. It was such a horror show that we even looked at Open Office. If that software were less awful, you would have lost a client for now and future, but you have at the least made several people in a small business as well as consultants be cynical and averse to Microsoft licensing.

Small wonder Microsoft is faring as it is when this is the experience of good, smart people who are not tech-dweebs, have businesses to run, and want to be legal and ethical and pay for their software. So much of the Microsoft ecosystem - like activation and WGA, and the licensing nightmare - is an 80s mentality... I still admire the company but you better pull head out of dark moist place fast. Make it easy and pleasant for customers to buy your products... don't punish them and waste their time.

Marcelo Negrini said...

Microsoft needs to make acquisitions like everyone else, and I would really like it to buy Adobe and Paypal. SharePoint "Digital Marketing" strategy is a joke, and Adobe Omniture would bring the products and mindset needed to steer SharePoint in the right direction. PayPal is needed because mobile payments are the next goldmine in mobile, and Apple already realized that. They have a great instant/micro payment system in the iTunes store, and Microsoft can't beat that alone (Google couldn't with Checkout).

But acquisitions need to be made because they make sense, not because the CEO of the acquired company is a fratboy who went into college with some high ranking executive.

AQuantive could be a good acquisition, but everything that goes close the the Online division (or whatever the name, I left Microsoft in 2006) is destroyed. It is one of the most clueless divisions in Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

"My friends and I have never been so courted by other companies"

Very true. The other companies also realize that modern employees might prefer to live in an urban environment and offer jobs in Seattle. When is Microsoft going to have a development center in Seattle that lasts more than a year or two and which gets to work on core products?

The open culture at Google and their Fremont office location make it a fairly compelling place to work. For now the people at Microsoft and my interesting job are enough to keep me there, but for how long?

Anonymous said...

MSFT is down almost 4.5% today outpacing the market... the investors have spoken

Steven Hodson said...

regarding your point about TechCrunch's post about Microsoft needing to pump up it's acquisition engine I pretty well pointed out why Wauters is wrong in a post yesterday ( http://wnx.me/Ml ).

The last thing the company should be doing is acquiring anything.

Anonymous said...

Despite the results, never have I seen the culture at M$FT so toxic. Competitors must love us right now because we spend 99% of the time infighting and not fighting them. Microsoft’s sales force has been in complete disarray for two years. Selling at Microsoft is sure to be the next case study at HBR on being “way too matrixed.” Competing agendas, out of synch management, under resourced teams . . . it is no wonder the competition is killing us. Droid is gaining big time momentum over iPhone in corporate customers. WP7 looks nice, but it was not ready to release (no cut and paste, I mean, come on!). Look at the news, most of the WP7 press is where MS is based (most of its sales are to employees, not outsiders). Out East, our growth numbers are so big that leaders tell us just focus on selling Office. Even though doing this is the only way to hit the number, our competitors focus on everything else . . . that “everything” largely represents the future of the industry. I am still very worried about MS’s future. Ballmer has to go. I hope the next CEO is not an insider. We need new blood. Mark Hurd for CEO. He may be a prick, but he got HP in shape (we just have to keep him away from the marketing consultants).

Anonymous said...

Stock is down $1.10 again after we announce record profits. Why does this happen?

Anonymous said...

In looking at the numbers for the Windows/Windows Live division, is there any insightful way to separate the two to get a more accurate picture as to how much each is earning - or losing?

Anonymous said...

Nothing helps hiring when you know that any new talent we hire will leave the company once they realize the broken review system, reducing benefits, and poor management. I just had a manager change, and my new manager wants to micro-manage everything. He does not want me to challenge his assumptions and plan in a large meeting, and wants me to email a status update every couple days. He expects the same from every report and vendor resource he has. Needless to say, I am not gonna stick around too long.

Anonymous said...

I for one am very worried as a developer tied to MS technologies about the future of MS.

It's clear that MS doesn't get tablets. Not at all. Windows should not be ported down, WP7 should be ported over and the interface tweaked for the extra real estate. People don't want the complexities of windows. They want a simple UI that notifies them about things that matter, and otherwise is a good way to view the web and interact with tightly controlled apps that just work and store their data somewhere else.

Windows IS NOT THAT. Not even close.

Get WP7 ported and working in tablets yesterday and get ready to kiss Windows goodbye. In 5 years only developers and graphic designers will be using real computers, everyone else has no need nor desire to use them. Tablets are to MS what x86 was to IBM. Either jump in and do it right, or watch as your business goes away... by the market you created.

Next: Silverlight is the center of MS's future. This is the VB of the great shift in computing happening. MS has the power to control the developers and thus control the future because of Silverlight because of how much better it is than Android or IOS dev. Drop the rest, clear it out, and use WP7 as the basis for app stores for what's left of Windows 8 and make silverlight the first class API in Windows 8 and the only language apps are allowed in to be in the app store.

WP7 porting to a tablet is a 6-9 month proposition. Windows to a tablet that doesn't suck is a 2+ year proposition. If they don't get this and aren't working on it internally right now and ready for an announcement in about 2 months or less, MS is toast.

Next is leverage Xbox and put those same silverlight apps on xbox, share the app store, and get xbox doing IPTV to compete with directv etc. yesterday.

They even have to realize that Office is dead, they just haven't noticed yet. It can be small apps built on Silverlight, but the word processor is almost entirely irrelevant unless you're a paper pusher and Excel, who's primary purpose was to make lists, is marginalized to a small subset of people.

Again: WP7, XBox and Silverlight backed by MS's excellent server tech is the future. Everything else in MS needs to be dropped FAST.

As a company, we've given MS 2 months to show clear signs of getting this. If it doesn't, we'll be jumping ship to other technologies (HTML + Javascript/Ajax... yuk) because it's clear MS is about to become the next IBM.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and MS needs to buy RIM and Nokia yesterday. They're both going down, but it gives MS the ability to own the smartphone market and transition everyone to WP7 over time and maintain that market share. It's the only way that they're going to get to IOS + Android numbers.

Anonymous said...

As a jumior MSFT'r I am thrilled to come across this blog. Didn't know it was out there until it popped up in a commentary about our financial results.

On the hiring, SMSG, particularly MCS is on a frenzy right now. The problem, to link back to the KT comment, is foresight. We riffed so many good people because a line was drawn over utilization to date and poof, now we're short-handed. So now the pendulum swings the other direction and we can't hire enough folks. Then you start talking to folks about pipeline and I can see a bloat coming again.

As for who needs to go, I am surprised no one has targeted whomever runs our marketing?!? This has to be the poorest marketed company, ever.

To the point that Blogovsky(sp)took pity on us (in a Fast Co Article) for letting a competitor define our brand.

I was just visiting my dentist, who is a MS fan, and he always is telling me that SteveB needs to go. I asked him to consider us vs IBM or GE rather than Google or Apple and his response was that we were nothing like IBM. "They do all sorts of R&D". So, he knows that IBM is curing cancer, Intel's rockstars aren't like your rockstars, but our AWESOME MSR is completely unfamiliar to anyone who doesn't attend the Research Lunch and learn at TR.

We definitely need to work on better, customer driven, product enhancements as mentioned up and down the comments, but we also need to get our successes out there.

Wouldn't you like to see a campaign that talks to the fact that our anti-spam algorithms are being used to fight AIDS? What about our monitoring technology being used to track deforestation in the Amazon?

We need some serious rethinking of how we brand ourselves in the public / Wall Street eye.

my .02

Anonymous said...

I fervently hope that we bring in someone from the outside. It would really help if everyone that's been here > 5 that's not on the SQL Server or Azure teams moved on as well. I'm sorry but there's way too much of yesterday's concepts and concerns in STB.

MSFT_Mobile_Follower said...

@Ted is right on. If you take Mini's three examples, Zune HD is a design/critical success but a commercial failure. Kinect is a success on both fronts. Windows Phone 7 is a design success but likely a commercial failure, especially if you factor in the amount of money MSFT has invested in advertising and marketing. It's extremely telling that no sell thru numbers are being touted. And even if we assume a 2 million unit sell thru rate, given the number of partners that currently have a commercialized WP7 product across the globe, it could hardly be considered a commercial success. When you have partners like LG (who I admit are still trying to figure out the smartphone market) saying it was a commericial disappointment, that's telling. The frightening thing for Microsoft is that the relatively soft WP7 numbers, coupled with the runaway success each OEM is having with Android, means that while OEMs may not totally write off WP7, their best talent, effort and financial resources will be put towards Android, which further compounds the problem of uninspired WP7 hardware designs. Underwhelming performance also means you aren't going to see AT&T and other operators spending a lot of marketing dollars towards WP7 advertising or making their stores WP7 branded like many were for the initial launch. MSFT had one shot at making a huge splash to convince partners that the WP platform is profitable for them that's worth continuing to invest big dollars in. Unless things turn around witin the next month or two, I would say that has effort been a resounding failure.

Jorge said...

"This will certainly could be our bet-the-company chance to validate the tortoise-vs-the-hare fable"

are you being deliberate here? "This will certainly could" - which one is it - WILL or COULD - big difference and very curious to know which one is it from your point of view

Anonymous said...

bobmu dismissal is a fair and unexpected act of justice. it is way too clear that microsoft battle for the cloud right now is a loss. amazon web services has the mind share and services people care about. most, if not all, of today start ups are aws powered. customers want iaas (infrastructure as a service), and ms does not have a decent solution. bob just did not see the cloud coming. azure has nothing to do with him, it was ray who put it together and then was sent to stb. it is a great solution for 2015 (that is how ray does it), but msft has nothing to get things going till then. by 2015 ms may not have no customers to sell azure to. bob demonstrated some incredible lack of vision which will cost microsoft billions. imho, the succesor cannot come from within stb, they will all fail the same way. the person to be hired must be a field executive that can run a division, but knows what is going on out there with the customers. there is time to turn things around, but the next leader has no room for mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 6:21:00: do you have any base for claiming that "Placeware[,] ProClarity and UMT Portfolio Mgr were debacles"? I've been part of one of these acquisition and it has been considered one of the best in its class. Quality people joined Microsoft, the acquired product helped the company address scenarios that were not untouchable before, and the product has very successfuly been integrated into the Microsoft family.

Do you actually have any idea what the number of people that joined the company and the cost of each one of these acquisition was to even put them on the radar? I do know at least for the one I've been part of and you're very, very far off.

Anonymous said...

@ UMT Acquistion. I have actually implemented a 2010 EPM solution within my team at Microsoft and all levels of our leadership have recognized that the Optimization piece, that came from UMT, is the best thing about it. We have changed our entire process and approach based on what this tool can provide in terms of business insight. I think Microsoft in general and all companies would benefit from implementing this type of approach broadly around all the investment/funding projects. I don't see how anybody that has touched the product can believe it was a bad investment.

Anonymous said...

> Worse yet, none of these folks
> who actually talk to customers
> are allowed to talk to
> engineering.

Fully agree; Ivory Tower Syndrome is the root cause of most of our problems: I don't think anyone at Corp has spoken to a living customer in person since the mid 90s. They just waste money on studies which are set up only to prove what they want the world to be but has nothing to do with reality. Corp has no touch with the outside world at all.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft selects the wrong %20 to lead the company most of the times for the last 4-5 years. That's why the company is lagging behind Apple and Google

Anonymous said...


Will W7 powered tablets stave off the iPad monster in the long term?

W7 powered tablets are severely handicapped for the following reasons:

1) W7 is too resource demanding, compared to Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or HP's WebOS. As a result a comparable W7 tablet will cost far more than the competition, and will provide a tiny fraction of their battery-life

2) The competition (iOS, Android, WebOS) are all built with finger-touch centric UI. This is not true of W7. Designing a new shell for W7 that is finger-centric could help some. But then every W7 app would also need to be redesigned to have a finger-centric UI. This immediately neutralizes the main advantage of W7: the plethora of useful apps.

Porting W7 to the ARM architecture, will reduce its power consumption some, but not its bloat. But the x86 application base will be left behind. I cannot see how MSFT can carry the humongous existing x86 application base forward into the tablet form factor. So, to succeed in the tablet space, MSFT will need to innovate for that space, resulting in cannibalizing its Windows sales. If Windows sales shrinks, so does the MSFT stock price. Microsoft is going to need some incredible leadership to be a significant player in the tablet space while keeping the stock price above the low teens.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mini,

$8.5B profits pre-tax last quarter
7,889,184 seconds per quarter (60*60*24*(365.24/4))
=$1,077 per second of pre-tax profits.

Not too shabby...

I was just wondering. Since Microsoft's strategy of spending its net income on dividends, stock buybacks, and padding cash to its balance sheet doesn't seem to get any respect from investors, do you ever think Microsoft should attempt something more brash?

e.g. Taking our $51 Billion in cash and Investments, paying off the debt, so we have $41 Billion. And then perhaps, buying a 5-10% interest in the best companies on Earth, a la Berkshire Hathaway.

With $41 Billion, you can also own 5% of Exxon Mobil, 5% of Disney, 5% of Coca Cola, and 5% of Berkshire Hathaway.

Then, our business is more hedged, and if Microsoft's buybacks and dividends were temporarily suspended, in four years Microsoft would have $100B in cash on the balance sheet from our earnings, allowing us to increase buybacks and dividends again.

Brians said...

You mention Microsoft's "Tortoise" strategy...

The only reason the Tortoise won is that the Hare sluffed off, figuring he had the race won before it even started..

I don't see Apple or Google (or Sony or Nintendo) remotely acting like the Hare. Quite the contrary. They are so busy competing with each other, they're forced to continue with fast-paced innovation. The "Hare" in this race is not only racing the Tortoise, but another Hare as well-- and he ain't sluffing off. "Slow and Steady wins the race?" Not if "Fast and Steady" gets there first..

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is continously selecting the wrong 70/20/10, and then %20 percentage are selected as leaders soon. %20 are mostly people which does internal marketing extremely well. MSFT works as show place for internal marketing to make a career upwards. It does not matter whether you are doing decent work or not indeed. Unless you market yourself or your work, your career sucks at MSFT. So the focus is on internal marketing rather than delivering a decent solution. Therefore some part of MSFT is ailing, and some part of it is performing well. And the story goes on...

Anonymous said...

SteveB, KT & Vahetor, the perfect trio to kill One Microsoft Way.
Our potential is not their passion and I would not be surprised to see KT at STB and Vahetor at DPE.

Bill, please, don't let them destroy Microsoft

Anonymous said...

OSD loses are not fully accounted in the quarterly earning reports. More than half of MSR justifies its existance by research which is motivated by long term need of OSD. MSR, or at least half of it, is also the expense of running OSD.

The funny thing is if this half of MSR is subtracted from OSD P&L then there may not be any OSD in the long term.

Anonymous said...

---
Friday, January 28, 2011 5:55:00 AM said:
I am starting to get worry about our slate strategy; I hope we provide so guidance in the near future.
---

*Starting* to worry? I hope we provide a little more than "guidance" in the near future. How about a product? How about a SLT that has a demonstrate more long-term vision than the current cast of characters. Now I know why we are in trouble in tablets and phones when employees are walking around saying "I am starting get worry..." Sheesh! Redmond reality distortion field in full effect!

Kinect is a hit because it leapfrogs Wii by a mile. WP7 almost caught us up to 2010. It has some really innovative features, but we need some significant updates, we need them now and on an ongoing basis. They need to take their turn and leapfrog the competition. Fortunately with phones the smartphone (our term, btw) market is young. You may not believe it, but there are many more smartphones to be sold.

The problem is the current established install base. We saw this in players (iPod vs Zune). No matter how much superior a product we produce (Zune HD!), the pure mass of the install base for competing products (and their third party gear) is a big object to leap. Particularly when we only target the US market.

Lack of vision results in being late to the market OR blowing a market in which we already existed which lastly results in spending too many billions playing catch-up. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article mini, hope we catch up on the tablet train before it's too late.

Good acquisition lately: Fast Search in Norway.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy mini is back online. ;p

Anonymous said...

PSS has been given two goals for the rest of FY11 and FY12.

1. Do anything and everything to improve customer perceptions of MSFT and increase mindshare vs. Google/Apple.

2. Cut overall budget by 25%. Expect fewer tools and more RIF's.

Cognitive dissonance is the new motto.

Anonymous said...

Amazon is hiring too quickly for their size - not sure how tough their managers are but perhaps they are throwing people against the wall and seeing who sticks...

Anonymous said...

I've heard Amazon is generally a better place than Microsoft to work for people who really want to master software engineering. At Microsoft only the very best get exposed to good engineering teams.

Anonymous said...

"Stock is down $1.10 again after we announce record profits. Why does this happen?"

Different reasons depending on the quarter. Concern this time was Windows missing consensus, which reinforces the concern that tablets are eroding the PC and therefore MS's core.

Anonymous said...

A woman in Europe recently contacted me via Twitter, saying her husband is interviewing at MS and what could I tell her about affordable housing, commute time, and so on.

I told her Monroe is considered affordable and commutable by local standards, but that although there is a Microsoft commuter bus, the schedule and routes are not available on the internet. (If that information is available somewhere on an internal website, I'd like to know if there is a Connector bus coming from anywhere near Monroe, please, and the scheduled times.)

She says the employment situation in her country is "grim".

I told her to read this blog. Because even though (yes) a lot of it is quite negative, it would be even worse for him to hear ONLY what the recruiters gush at him - then move over here with his wife and four kids, and find out it's grim here too, and you can't make a lifelong career out of it. I told her, 10 years? Sure, excellent. Career? Not so much. Not for most people.

Anonymous said...

If BobMu is accountable for AWS, what about SteveSi? When Steve was running office, he wanted to kill Tablet PC and drove Dick Brass out of MS.

After he moved to run Windows, he could have made Windows Live catch up with Facebook. SteveSi said in public that social networking will be a fad. He never thought iPad would have been important anyway. Mr Sinofsky is a great follower and he is a smart detail-oriented guy. He has no vision and is a control crazy mad man.

When MS had the dominant position, SteveSi style would have been OK. Now the world has changed. He should be the next one to go after BobMu.

Anonymous said...

So, at this rate, we are looking at 4 Mini posts for 2011.

You're not just taking *your* sweet time, Mini; you're taking ours as well. All fine and good, but turn off moderation when it's going to be more than a month between posts, mm-kay?

Anonymous said...

Steve Sinofsky should be the next one to go since he missed both FB and iPad opportunities. He could have made Windows Live and WP7-based tablet on the market competing with FB and Android/Apple. He killed both efforts. Mr. Windows is a great GPM who can carry out order. It is sad we have a person without any vision on the top. This will suppress our stocks forever.

Anonymous said...

STB President is better than Windows President.

Anonymous said...

“WP7 porting to a tablet is a 6-9 month proposition. Windows to a tablet that doesn't suck is a 2+ year proposition. If they don't get this and aren't working on it internally right now and ready for an announcement in about 2 months or less, MS is toast.”

I know Mini hasn’t posted in a while, but I had to read this twice to confirm it was a new and not from a year ago. MS’s two month window to get something out was May/June 2010. That didn't happen and the tablet door officially closed with the non announcement at the recent CES. It’s now between Apple and Google. And that means Windows and Office revenue face huge headwinds.

Anonymous said...

"because it's clear MS is about to become the next IBM"

No, that isn't clear at all. IBM has successfully reinvented itself several times and survived at least one near death experience. MS has yet to successfully reinvent itself once, or prove it can avoid or survive what many feel is its own impending near death experience.

Anonymous said...

What's so hot about Juniper Networks? Why are we losing so many execs to Juniper?

Anonymous said...

In looking at the numbers for the Windows/Windows Live division, is there any insightful way to separate the two to get a more accurate picture as to how much each is earning - or losing?

Sure, if you can tell me the operating income/loss of the Notepad team and Solitaire group.

Not a huge fan of the web services, but Windows Live Essentials is required to compete with Apple iLife.

Anonymous said...

Hiring is a problem. Google just increased their base pay by 20% and we can't match it both for new hires and employees.
Quite often MS has to use level boosts to hire somebody with a competitive salary, but that will only cause frustration once these folks meet the review system(tm).

SHG said...

Anonymous said:

"Kinect is a hit because it leapfrogs Wii by a mile"

Sweet zombie jesus, Wii was released in 2006. TWO THOUSAND AND SIX.

Generals, always fighting the last war.

Anonymous said...

I love these mini posts. They're hilarious. There's a BIG SECRET plan to win the tablet war!

Here's your secret: the plan is to lose.

Q: Why would anyone lead 90,000 of the world's most brilliant geeks around in circles for a decade?

A: Because left to their own devices, they would get somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Comment re branding... right on. MSFT's marketing and branding is avert-face, make-it-stop-please bad. Those WP7 ads - "really"?? Cringe.

Disagree that AWS has all the cloud mindshare. Cloud is early and confusing to many non-dweebs and my clients are looking for clarity. Windows Azure is a horrible name: the "Windows" part is irrelevant and Azure is hard to say for many. Why not "Microsoft Cloud"? That's what people say anyway as I have seen.

Then come up with a GOOD campaign aimed at three constituencies: non-CIO CxO (avoid CIOs whenever possible, esp. the ones who came up through the techie ranks...), ISV, and entrepreneurs. Azure has a lot to offer AWS doesn't, but you need to get out there and sell it. Why can EMC put cloud banners in airports and MSFT as usual is incapable?

Really frustrating. I know MSFT people and they are seriously bright, good people. Why does the company's leadership and branding stink so? Where is the board and the big investors? Do you need a Carl Icahn or Chainsaw Al Dunlap?

Anonymous said...

@Microsoft selects the wrong %20 to lead the company most of the times for the last 4-5 years. That's why the company is lagging behind Apple and Google

very true. at least for MSIT, India.
not sure about rest.

Anonymous said...

@Microsoft is continously selecting the wrong 70/20/10, and then %20 percentage are selected as leaders soon. %20 are mostly people which does internal marketing extremely well. MSFT works as show place for internal marketing to make a career upwards. It does not matter whether you are doing decent work or not indeed. Unless you market yourself or your work, your career sucks at MSFT. So the focus is on internal marketing rather than delivering a decent solution. Therefore some part of MSFT is ailing, and some part of it is performing well. And the story goes on...

1+

groupism is badly involved into the system. you support me i will support u :)

ZERO professionalism.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that SteveB does not understand the tablet market:

1) Porting to ARM will lead to better battery life. So? Win7 is bloated and requires more hardware to begin with.

2) Porting to ARM does not make Windows touch friendly.

3) Porting to ARM does not make any APPLICATIONS touch friendly.

4) This 'solution' is being released in 2+ years??!!! Are you kidding? So about the time of IPad v4?

Guess SteveB learned nothing from the mobile experience.

Ranma said...

One minor thing which surprised me was that neither Microsoft nor the press made any mention of Halo Reach in conjunction with gains with the Xbox. Sure, Kinect deserves a lot of credit but no mention of Halo at all?

Anonymous said...

@Microsoft is continously selecting the wrong 70/20/10, and then %20 percentage are selected as leaders soon. %20 are mostly people which does internal marketing extremely well. MSFT works as show place for internal marketing to make a career upwards. It does not matter whether you are doing decent work or not indeed. Unless you market yourself or your work, your career sucks at MSFT. So the focus is on internal marketing rather than delivering a decent solution. Therefore some part of MSFT is ailing, and some part of it is performing well. And the story goes on...

few more point to the story from my side -

> Calibration has nothing to do with your actual contribution in MS.

> I doubt that MS is looking for people who believe in change.

> If you are smart and understand how things works then also you should not speak as you are nobody in front of your manager/leadership.

> Any of your feedback is cribbing. If you are asking something you are a duck and rest eagle(recently an article sent by some leader to all, i liked the article personally. but an article is an article. reality is different, investigate).

> Asking questions - a sin in MS as they follow open culture :) and you are asking it openly.

> If you want to be Successful follow YES minister culture don't apply your thoughts.


lets see how long the story is.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your analysis on what is great, good and really bad. The two really bad divisions are Windows and OSD. The former is run by a Microsoft veteran and the later is a Yahoo veteran and Microsoft newbie. We can give OSD chance since Qi is new, but what about Sinofsky?

Anonymous said...

Most Microsoft-observers have put the pieces together and figured out our strategy could be and realize who could be on point to deliver something exceptionally cool to compete with Apple.

Microsoft (Ballmer) has publicly stated that Windows (not Windows Phone) will be used for tablets. Since Windows is definitely not cool, or competitive with Apple, surely you mean that there's a different internal strategy.

The only thing left though seems to be Windows Phone, which is a couple generations behind Apple and there are no indications that it might leapfrog Apple.

So, not sure what you mean with this paragraph.

BTW, the sideshow distraction of Windows on ARM is ridiculous. What makes Microsoft think that anybody WANTS to use Windows? It's a necessary evil of the PC buying experience, not something that can compete with Apple's OSs on its own merits.

Anonymous said...

At some point MSFT will have to stop building on top of Windows and create a new branch of the OS.

I saw Ballmer speak early this week and he said: "Just because people want us to get into new areas doesn't mean we need to stop in the areas we are currently in."

Obviously he is talking about the iPad and getting into that market. Ballmer is a smart dude but I worry if he simply has MSFT in too many businesses. I'm sure there is some reason why it makes sense.

MSFT is much too large of a company not to have had a true iPad competitor. That is just a management failure. I'm not saying it's Ballmer's fault but someone needs to get axed for that. It's really inexcusable. I agree that the iPad ( and mobile in general) is the future form of computer for the high majority of people. The majority of people on Earth don't have computers. We need to get THAT market and have the software that powers it.

WP7 so far has been a disappointment for me. I see no compelling reason to switch from my iPhone 4. In fact I'm waiting for the iPhone 5. God forbid someone talks down about WP7 shortcomings on the WMAll alias....

Speaking of the internal Windows Mobile email group...I have never seen so much rabid defending of WP7 shortcomings. I really wonder how some of those WM SDETs that are spending all day astroturfing WP7 on the email alias get any work done.

To the WP7 team:

Admit that you guys have failed to release updates. Admit that no WP7 phone stands up to the iPhone 4.
Admit that your guys don't have the API's to allow people to create great apps.

Outside of the MSFT bubble no one gives a shit about WP7. Get your update story right! Show me something that will make existing owners of smartphones (that spend money on apps!) want to get WP7! "To the cloud!" doesn't cut it!

The shit I hate is how people on WMAll have the nerve to say that "WP7 beats the socks off the competition!" These are the disillusioned idiots who work at the company. It's a fucking disgrace!

MSFT should have given an unlocked WP7 phone to all FTE's. Life is short, why would I want a handicapped phone and live my life miserably? They probably just wanted to boost the sales numbers.

I'm sorry if I offended WP7 lovers but in your heart you guys know I'm right.

Anonymous said...

SteveSi isn't going anywhere. Do you think Balmer would move him between the two largest divisions if he wasn't the next potential CEO?

Anonymous said...

You know what Microsoft's problem is? You guys don't understand branding.

I'm not talking about the superficial surface embellishments that under-gird product marketing; I mean the deeper concept of what a brand means in the public consciousness. If you did, you would realize that dominant market share does not translate into brand loyalty (and in fact can translate into brand hatred).

Sure, the vast majority of computer users on the planet use Windows. But that doesn't mean that any of those people are going to look at a new tablet and exclaim, "Windows! My favorite! I've got to have that one!"

Millions of businesspeople all over the world have successfully mutinied against their own entrenched IT departments and forced iPhone into Enterprise environments. What does this mean? It's kind of like the Berlin Wall (if you'll forgive the grotesque comparison): if people fight to be "set free" and then flock to the competition once you've "set them free," you haven't got brand loyalty at all.

At this point, post-Vista and post-Kin, even if Microsoft created the perfect "Windows" tablet, with a magic battery that lasted a month and a billion apps, market penetration would be an uphill battle at best, since customers aren't especially fond of Windows and don't especially trust Microsoft to prolong, support, and extend technologies. Nobody looks at a a list of vendors and exclaims, "Microsoft! My favorite!" The fact that Microsoft behaves as if this isn't true (calling everything "Windows") is the reason I don't think Microsoft understands branding.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry if I offended WP7 lovers but in your heart you guys know I'm right."

That was pretty embarassing. It's sad that people like you are still on the payroll.

Anonymous said...

Nobody EVER wanted Windows on anything other than x86. I remember those ports in the late 90s, which all fell down with a dull thud.

The world wants Windows 7 on ARM about as much as it wanted NT on the DEC Alpha.

Anonymous said...

PSS has been given two goals for the rest of FY11 and FY12.

1. Do anything and everything to improve customer perceptions of MSFT and increase mindshare vs. Google/Apple.

2. Cut overall budget by 25%. Expect fewer tools and more RIF's.


PSS leadership reflects MSFT priorities: cut costs and ensure customer gets the least service possible, while remaining just north of acceptable. Barbara Gordon and Marlena Werder are on point to execute on these strategies. Move jobs offshore to India and China. If you doubt the preceding, just check how much vacant space exists in Charlotte and Las Colinas. If they could fire all expensive tier-3 engineers in the US and Western Europe, they would.

Anonymous said...

Something is *very* fishy with the 93% customer sat rate on WP7 -- I bought one and then returned it the next day after learning that there wasn't a single speaker docking station available for any WP7 phones... NOT ONE! That was a deal breaker for me as my phone goes into the speaker dock the second I walk through my front door. Add the fact that there's no way to actually search for apps without getting a thousand music results mixed-in and the fact that many must-have top-tier apps (like Pandora and Epocrates) aren't available, and it's just not worth switching from iPhone at this time.

The AT&T dude told me that WP7 phones had -- listen closely -- an 80% return rate.

What the hell? 80%?

Yep. I pretended to be trying to make up my mind and point-blank asked at another AT&T store and the rep confirmed that the return rate at their location was over 50%.

I wonder if this is why nobody's talking sales numbers?


Sidebar: why the HELL did WP7 not pay the Epocrates people to have that app available at launch? Every single physician I know -- and I know a lot -- uses Epocrates on their phones. No physician is going to buy WP7 without the must-have mobile apps available, and it seems spectacularly idiotic to not court that market with some apps at launch. Microsoft, who was planning your launch portfoliio?

There were some interesting features on WP7 -- the interface was buttery and sexy and grouping by person instead of by apps was very smart... but there are some basic not-rocket-science defects and problems (like the atrocious search, for example) that just make the platform an almost-ran.

I think Microsoft might have lost the mobile market for good, by the time they get it right nobody is going to care at all.

Anonymous said...

"One minor thing which surprised me was that neither Microsoft nor the press made any mention of Halo Reach in conjunction with gains with the Xbox. Sure, Kinect deserves a lot of credit but no mention of Halo at all?"

Halo is in trouble -- Reach was a disappointment compared to Halo 3, and after a reasonably big launch day it fizzled almost immediately. It's been hugely overshadowed by Call of Duty, which is cleaning its clock in revenue and total number of players online on LIVE.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that SteveB does not understand the tablet market:

More importantly, the other bald headed guy, Sinofsky get it?

Anonymous said...

Mini,

A fresh softie here. When it comes to marketing, MS does a rather dumb job. MSR is only known to grad school applicants @ my school (top 10 CS program). Most others (undergrads entering the job market) do not know it exists and do not know the benefits to the community (employing Haskell's creators, Tony Hoare, some of the EE and CS paradigms that are being explored etc).

Overall, someone needs to stop acting the goat and employ a good marketing division because frankly the current division is living in the 90s - people like to see what effort went into building their device / software. They want to be kept in the loop.

The kinect has improved public perception of the company a bit but outside of CS / Gamer circles, people think of MS as a talent-devoid organization that can't get shit done. This very same group has depended on MS software for over 2 decades and it has * just worked *. Marketing needs to do a better job.

Anonymous said...

Comment re branding... right on. MSFT's marketing and branding is avert-face, make-it-stop-please bad. Those WP7 ads - "really"?? Cringe.

Haha. No joke. The message of the WP7 ads seems to be to discourage people from using smartphones at all. Good luck with that.

The Bing ads have people riffing on search terms by shouting unrelated words in a startling way that makes me a little scared on a visceral level. More Google ads with adorable animated cats, please.

The "to the cloud" ads are confusing as s*** because I don't know where to go or how to do any of the things I see in the commercials. Let's say I'm sitting in an airport and I want to watch TV programs that are recorded on my DVR at home. Where do I go to even START do to this? And no, this isn't a hypothetical end user question, I'm asking as a computer and Microsoft expert. I have no idea how to do the things in these commercials.

If the goal of Microsoft marketing is to make me confused, slightly scared, and averse to using Microsoft products then they are doing a kickass job.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Oh, and MS needs to buy RIM and Nokia yesterday. They're both going down, but it gives MS the ability to own the smartphone market and transition everyone to WP7 over time and maintain that market share."

They might try to "transition everyone over to WP7", and spend lots of money in the attempt, but as soon as they do, they WON'T "maintain that market share".

Remember Kin, the Microsoft-ized product of the former engineering team from an acquired Mobile Phone Technology company called Danger?

Yeah, that strategy worked real well. Not.

Anonymous said...

I've heard Amazon is generally a better place than Microsoft to work for people who really want to master software engineering. At Microsoft only the very best get exposed to good engineering teams.

And I've heard that gonorrhea is better than syphilis. Amazon is probably one of the only Seattle tech employers more odious than Microsoft. Even LisaB wouldn't be forcing cancer patients off the payroll.

Anonymous said...

Amazon is hiring too quickly for their size - not sure how tough their managers are but perhaps they are throwing people against the wall and seeing who sticks...

And what has all the renowned Microsoft interview toughness gotten us? Other than arbitrary employees being able to quickly divide pirate treasure?

SHG said...

Kinect hardware sales to date: 8 million
Wii hardware sales to date: 86 million

Get this: the #1 selling WIi title has sold more than the top 20 Xbox 360 games COMBINED.

Something something horse something something barn door.

Anonymous said...

The review system and scorecard/commitment randomization are common themes here, in terms of what is hampering Microsoft’s execution and employee dissatisfaction. This is also reflected in WHI scores, sometimes in ways which punish good managers for systemic issues outside their control.

Another compliant is quality of mangers, from the most senior levels to front lines.

I think these are related in multiple ways.

If you are evaluating people on metrics that in many cases are outside their influence or irrelevant to the market, by definition a significant portion of high performers will be due to random events or skills unaligned (or worse mis-aligned) with the company’s long term success.

If these high performers are you pool of potential managers, then the quality of that pool is now at best randomized and potentially extremely poor.

You will also lose high quality people (regardless of their reviews or velocity), due to frustration with such a system. True high performers deeply internalize their execution and recognition, while seeking highly externalized accountabilities and metrics.

Irrelevant metrics are irreconcilable with their values, and random outcomes create unbearable anxiety, fear, and loathing. While you might say that isn't healthy, its the nature of highly driven and capable individuals in many professions.

Adding a stack rank and high degree of manager discretion further distorts results and quality of future manager pool.

Before going into the organizational dynamics, such a system will also drive out high performers. True high performers seek clarity in their assessment and areas for improvement.

Discretion to the point of arbitrarily/capriciousness doesn't allow such clarity, nor does the use of amorphous opaque peer groups. Again, all of this is reducing the quality of your potential manager pool.

A stack rank (tournament) creates competition for the e/20’s (high scores) not only between individuals, but also between managers for distribution to their teams.

Besides all the other downsides of this competition, it also creates a disincentive for management to intervene when an IC is being inaccurately assessed as a u/10.
A u/10 on another team in your group - means one less you may have to give to one of your people.

A direct consequence of suboptimal u/10 allocations is suboptimal e/70, e/20, and a/20 allocations - as everyone must be distributed.

Hence, the quality of future managers is further reduced or at least randomized – if this is assumed to be the pool. Management discretion removes most if not all quality control from the process, and further amplifies effects of bad managers.

Also each level of management is being stacked rank by the one above, hence there is actually an incentive for managers to populate the other slots at their level with low quality candidates.

Anonymous said...

> It is clear that SteveB does not understand the tablet market. Porting to ARM will lead to better battery life. So? Win7 is bloated and requires more hardware to begin with .....

I think porting to ARM is not to win a tablet market. It is just to find a scapegoat.

When Vista turned out a failure, Windows division blamed all the problems on .NET (even though there was practically ZERO .NET code in shipped product). Of course now everyone knows the blame is completely misplaced, but probably it let couple of VPs to survive several years.

Now Windows division wants to find a scapegoat for their failure on tablet market. Of course everyone knows they never invested in making Windows touch-friendly, and even existing Tablet PC was neglected. But I think they decided to blame this failure on ... Intel!

skc said...

>>So, at this rate, we are looking at 4 Mini posts for 2011.

You're not just taking *your* sweet time, Mini; you're taking ours as well. All fine and good, but turn off moderation when it's going to be more than a month between posts, mm-kay?
<<

WTF?

How about you make your own blog mm-kay? Mini doesn't owe you anything.

Geez.

Anonymous said...

Re
"OSD loses are not fully accounted in the quarterly earning reports. More than half of MSR justifies its existance by research which is motivated by long term need of OSD. MSR, or at least half of it, is also the expense of running OSD.
"
How do we expect to get better at matching users to advertisers without good research? Bings search is on par or better that Google for a lot of queries because of this research. Paid Search returns is better than Googles for Advertisers. We need to give it a couple of more years to reap the profits. The division is making the turn and can be a good revenue stream for us and a key bet as we go to advertiser funded business if the investment continues. Yes we are taking a hit now but what better time than when we have healthy cash flows from other divisions to make this bet? The pay off can be in billions over the years and what we lose now can be a drop in the bucket. Its a question of risk vs reward and when we have a healthy cash flow we should take more risks that can pay off well.

I used to work (past tense) in OSD and believe this is a key investment for the company. I moved to another division for various reasons which are not related to the division as a disclaimer.

Anonymous said...

Another issue affecting the quality of managers is that the job in general doesn’t attract our best and brightest.

That’s not to say there aren’t any good or great managers. However, there are fewer than there are good or great IC’s.

Managers come from this IC pool. Hence, you should assume the distribution of quality should at least be the same – even with all the random or mal-aligned outcomes of the last post.

While poor hiring decisions by low quality existing managers is certainty a factor, there is also a degree of self selection. You have to apply for the job!

So, my position is that the best and brightest are not applying for job – or at least not staying in it.

This is especially so in the field, and for front line managers.

A field person has much greater control over their attainment and other results as individual contributor, plus more opportunity to get deep into accelerators for RBI and even CBI.

You are inherently more leveraged when compensated on one territory, rather than 4-8 territories managed by your direct reports. Given 20-40% of on target cash compensation and up to 80% of potential comp (at 4-5x pay-out on s-plan) is related to RBI/CBI, a top IC can easily make more than their manager.

Now while comp isn’t the only motivator, it is a prime motivator – particularly for anyone in a sales or technical sales role.

Even other factors don’t appear to favor the management role, such as career advancement or industry visibility/impact.

Corp execs are most interested in meeting marquee customers and their account teams. Likewise being on such an account team or lead tsp/ssp for a hot product/district seems to have the most credibility when pursuing corporate jobs.

In the field front line managers are usually level 63-65, with many at 64. The second tier up is 65-66.

SSP (IC specialist sales) jobs usually go up to 63, with the occasional 64.

AE and ATS for large major and global accounts are routinely 64-66 folks.

TSP jobs in hot technology areas (growth/competition) may also be leveled at 65, or offer potential for promotion to 65.

Likewise there are multiple jobs in MCS that are leveled at 65, or offer potential for promo to that level.

While IC’s complain about the stack rank and scorecard randomization, a manager’s experience is multiplied by their number of direct reports.

They also have to deliver those u/10s, and less painful but potentially no less undeserved a/70s to high performers. One might say it is better to give than receive, but such a system favors sociopaths as the givers.

I have seen many posts here about people who were star ICs and became managers only to return to IC ranks or leave the company – due to disgust with being not only a subject of the system but an implement of it.

So, you wind up with a system that attract sociopaths and incompetents – from a potentially low quality or randomized pool of candidates.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy I was bought out by Microsoft and left almost two year ago now. I was "acquired" and worked there for 3 years banging my head against the wall. I'm now back at it with a $100 million software company as CTO again and can't wait for Microsoft to come snooping around again. I love how Microsoft overspends for ideas then after they buy you they let you just walk out the door and do it all over again to them. This time I have no intention of working for them though. Just let them buy the IP, completely destroy it, and sell them the same IP again in a few years.

Anonymous said...

While antidotal, I have also seen a marked tendency for the particularly incompetent to pursue manager slots – especially after 1-2 high attainment years.

Often the high attainment year, is a result of random/macroeconomic events (re ea true-up) or efforts of other team members or even past teams. The latter is the result of revolving door for sales people, and multi-year nature of some pursuits.

The other team members are confident in their ability to have future good years as ICs. However, the least competent members see this as a lottery ticket for moving on to “getting results out of others”.

If you assume a manager is at least in part responsible for team outcomes, then while both “good” and “bad” incompetents might pursue such a strategy,

It is the unethical ones which will be successful. Such a person who becomes a manager and doesn’t deliver results, but is of high character, will not assign blame for failure undeservedly to their direct reports.

Likewise, that person would not unduly assume credit for results which their leadership was not a factor.

However, someone without any moral qualms can survive medium to long term and even thrive short term by doing so.

Unbounded manager discretion also encourages such behavior. I have seen IC’s, of questionable ability/contribution, aggressively pursue a management position, after the manager(s) which they have preferential relationships move to different jobs or leaves company.

The apparent motivation being that they perceive IC roles to have more exposure to actual contributions, and they would no longer do so well under a new manager.

Now even if this only a perception and performance in management jobs is equally a factor of actual contribution (within randomness constraints), do you want people who took the job because of that perception?

Anonymous said...

on the acquistions, my comments were field based primarily...so much disruption, licensing nightmares, poor people integration...technology wise they all had their issues. Placeware took forever to get off java and still has technical issues. ProClarity people were sharp, but not managed well. What I had heard about the umt technology was that the optimization piece was the only good part of that technology in 2007 and it was severely deprecated in 2010.

FARfetched said...

Cloud is early and confusing to many non-dweebs and my clients are looking for clarity.

Non-dweeb explanation of cloud computing: you give all your data to a corporation and they rent it back to you. That may not be the most marketing-friendly description ever, but it's succinct and accurate.

Anonymous said...

I used to love working at Microsoft, and did for 10.5 years before leaving recently. Now I'm loving not working there. It took me a long time to realize that the Microsoft I had loved was long gone.

Now I'm spending my time at a much smaller company actually doing engineering instead of spending half my time managing the perception of those that would involved in my calibration.

The company has obviously transitioned from meritocracy (for the most part) to beaurocracy. Rather than some degree of technical acumen, senior leaders now use scorecards and "trios" to manage people and process that do not lend themselves well to such naive tools.

Trios in particular are the *death* of empowerment and innovation - the only advantage Iwas ever able to perceive was a business one - the commoditization of skills such that individuals are restricted to the confines of their own discipline. Moreover, the loss of the local cross-disciplinary manager means that no one person is now able to give an across-the-board picture of engineering progress.

Still - its not all bad news for employees - there are plenty of alternatives to what Microsoft has become, which are far more what Microsoft used to be like. I'm enjoying the change.

Anonymous said...

When Ballmer heard the news of Jobs taking sick leave again, can anyone else picture him high 5'ing his inner circle? If you can't beat 'em, wait them out...

Anonymous said...

Why oh why do we keep throwing good money down this hole?

http://tips.vlaurie.com/2011/01/microsoft-loses-big-online/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+ThePcInformant+(The+PC+Informant)

Anonymous said...

"When Vista turned out a failure, Windows division blamed all the problems on .NET (even though there was practically ZERO .NET code in shipped product). Of course now everyone knows the blame is completely misplaced, but probably it let couple of VPs to survive several years."

There was indeed a reason there was practically zero .NET code in the shipped product. We had to cut almost all that we wasted time on writing due to perf concerns. If we had left it in, we'd never have won big in the netbook space.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry if I offended WP7 lovers but in your heart you guys know I'm right."

That was pretty embarassing. It's sad that people like you are still on the payroll.


No, it's sad that people like YOU are still on the payroll, trying to silence anyone who dares to try and shine a light on the goo.


I thought that dude's comment was spot-on, WP7 has some serious defects preventing it from being competitive with iPhone and Android, and if they're not fixed right away then WP7 will go the way of KIN.

Anonymous said...

STB President is better than Windows President.

He he. Our president kicked out your president ; - ).

Anonymous said...

"When Vista turned out a failure, Windows division blamed all the problems on .NET (even though there was practically ZERO .NET code in shipped product). Of course now everyone knows the blame is completely misplaced, but probably it let couple of VPs to survive several years."

You do realize that the Windows team tried to use .NET (specifically Avalon) for 2 years before giving up on it because Avalon was designed so poorly.

Anonymous said...

----------
"Kinect is a hit because it leapfrogs Wii by a mile"

Sweet zombie jesus, Wii was released in 2006. TWO THOUSAND AND SIX
----------

Agreed, but I was thinking/comparing us to the PS Move when I wrote that.

To January 29 @ 7:19: In early 2010 I asked around to see if we were working with the Epocrates for WP7 and received zero response. Doctors love this app on WM6 and it is a good sized market missed that its not on WP7.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the internal Windows Mobile email group...I have never seen so much rabid defending of WP7 shortcomings. I really wonder how some of those WM SDETs that are spending all day astroturfing WP7 on the email alias get any work done.

I think I know these SDETs :) I unsubscribed from this group early in December, after inflow of these WP7 guys who were very defensive, totally unhelpful to USERS, but complained all the time how USERS discussing WP7 are not helping THEM. It is the worst user attitude I've seen in MS.

I thought I'll get WP7 and re-join the email group soon when they release first update - they've promised in this group the best update experience across any mobile platform. Since both Apple and Android release first update less than a month after making phones available, I thought it would not take long. But apparently, this is N-th time the team overpromised and underdelivered, and these is no update in sight.

Anonymous said...

I am a partner engineering manager under Harry. MSR is in great misconception if they think they helped Bing in any significant way to match Google relevance.

The only moderately useful help from MSR is only from those folks who are directly sponsored by Bing (ISRC). In other successful companies that's how research is held directly accountable. Microsoft should consider changing the funding model of MSR if it wants to remain significant in the future.

Anonymous said...

Have to admit I'm really getting scared when I hear Steve Balmer say we need to use Windows for tablets. One of the thing I really like about the Android phones (no I bought a WP7 like a good boy but have seen others) is the snappy new UI. Let's buckle down, fork the code base and write a new mobile device OS.

Anonymous said...

I've heard Amazon is generally a better place than Microsoft to work for people who really want to master software engineering. At Microsoft only the very best get exposed to good engineering teams.

Actually I found it to be a step down for the most part. Take one part large corporation politics and innovation stifling, add one part startup frugality, one part managerial incompetence, one part ivy league superiority complex delusional thinking. Add explosive growth and a high number of visa employees and under-funded internal startup efforts and you have the makings of an HR nightmare that plays out on a daily basis. People generally work longer hours at Amazon and are typically more stressed than their Microsoft counterparts. Upper management is far more ruthless and they have higher attrition and less respect for the individual (not sure if they have a blog similar to this one for employees, when I worked there I was never aware of any such). They've had several violent incidents among staff members which they've managed to keep quiet for the most part. Not sure where all the great engineering teams were, I must not have been up to par so I was excluded or something. My experience having worked at 3 large software corporations are that you need to be part sociopath to thrive in these environments. Using people is a requirement in order to enjoy your little slice of Americana and its easier to use people when you're convinced of your own superiority (some are more easily convinced than others).

Don't go to Amazon if you are looking for greater autonomy, they track your every move and posing is just as important as it is in Microsoft. Managers typically lack the requisite intellectual capacity to understand what you are doing so kissing ass in the board room is more important than checking in quality work in the office.

Anonymous said...

That was pretty embarassing. It's sad that people like you are still on the payroll.

It's sad that attitudes like this remain so prevalent within MSFT. If more employees had been flinging their WM6 phones on the ground and shouting "This is not good enough, we need to build a better phone" the company would be in a healthier, more robust position today. Instead, those cries and others like them about other lacklustre MS products were treated like heresy; we're all expected to be total fanbois for every product MS makes. I DO love SQL Server and Exchange, I DO NOT love WP7, Bing or XBox. Learning to recognize our weaknesses and mistakes is not a sign of failure or disloyalty - and certainly not grounds for being thrown off the payroll!

Anonymous said...

To the WP7 team:

Admit that you guys have failed to release updates.


Oh, they know it. But it's coming soon and will Fix Everything! Stop complaining. Be happy you have a phone that isn't WM 6.x. Going to the moon takes time.

Admit that your guys don't have the API's to allow people to create great apps.

You should talk to the fearless leader (cough) who led Windows Home Server and used to lead AppPlat about the API surface area. He's racking up an impressive list of teams he used to lead.

I'm sorry if I offended WP7 lovers but in your heart you guys know I'm right.

What part of v1.0 product are you not understanding? WP is the new group to loathe. Just look at the leader.

Anonymous said...


And I've heard that gonorrhea is better than syphilis. Amazon is probably one of the only Seattle tech employers more odious than Microsoft. Even LisaB wouldn't be forcing cancer patients off the payroll.


Hey, do you mind expanding on this a bit? I have a full loop scheduled with Amazon. From what I heard its a decent place to work for SDEs. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The AT&T dude told me that WP7 phones had -- listen closely -- an 80% return rate.

What the hell? 80%?

Yep. I pretended to be trying to make up my mind and point-blank asked at another AT&T store and the rep confirmed that the return rate at their location was over 50%.


Very interesting information; it confirms what I heard, but had difficulty believing. The sister of one of my workmates is with Optus (one of the telcos out here in Australia), and she says that a lot of Windows Phone 7 handsets are being returned. A common reason being given is that they are "too hard to use"! (So much for having developed a straightforward UI, eh?)

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous at Saturday, January 29, 2011 7:19:00 PM

Yup, not having Epocrates at launch time is stupid. no physician will use WP7

Anonymous said...

It's good to see some SteveSi bashing here. Steve should get some props for planning, but his one size fits all approach to development is going to be the death of many great products some day. The Waterfall methodologies that are required in a plan, code, debug, integrate cycle have been thrown out by all of the companies that we are currently chasing yet his approach is gathering steam in the company. WP7 is a perfect example. While the first release was likely more successful than people would have predicted, there is no follow-up. The entire team has to re-coordinate and go through another long cycle before there is a chance to iterate on their work. Meanwhile, Apple and Google are moving more quickly and pulling further ahead. This approach might work well (for now) for the legacy, monopoly products like Office and Windows and the slow-moving corporate products like Sharepoint and VS. It isn't a solution for any area where MS is trying to catch up. WP7, Bing, Windows Live, IE, etc. aren't good candidates for this approach.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the posters commenting on the quality of Microsoft managers. I thought I was going crazy or perhaps suffering from self-induced depression. It is a relief to find out that others see exactly what I am seeing. I would love to find a more dedicated forum where sincere MS managers/leaders can (openly) discuss their frustrations and help support each other if only in spirit. Does anyone know of something like that out there?

I’ve been struggling for years as a front line manager trying to figure out how to move ahead in my career. I was a high performing IC who hit the ceiling of my discipline and thought going into management would be good for my career. It seemed like a good move for me because I enjoy the people aspect and I believed I have the skills to be successful as a people manager. But...It soon became apparent that the Microsoft people management system has little to do with managing people and is mostly just a formality.

I tried moving groups and even divisions a few times, large and small, but it all seems to be the same story. I naively pursued the goals that managers are supposedly measured by for success. My poll scores were almost always in the 90s and my employees consistently said (not just to my face) that I am the best manager they ever had in terms of being connected and providing career growth. To date I haven’t received one word of recognition or encouragement from my managers for good people management. I’ve realized that getting noticed as a manager is about the projects for which you can take credit, whether you had anything substantial to do with their success or not. The more credit you can transfer up the chain to managers that need it the more you are recognized, at least in the short term. I understand now how incompetent managers can survive and even thrive by controlling the flow of information to and from their employees. That is the result of a system which inherently rewards controlling perception at the expense of substance.

I’m starting to think I’m just not cut throat enough to grow as a manager at MS. At this point I’d rather just go back to being an IC. I can work with people on my own terms and get back to doing the technology work I love. The little control I gain by being a manager just isn’t worth the headaches and disillusionment. A friend told me once that I’m too smart to be a manager at Microsoft. I’m starting to believe him, though maybe not smart enough since I stayed in it for so long.

Anonymous said...

Right decision to go away those old leadership people from old Microsoft. It would be nice to see external smart people or homegrown from the field who hears the voice of the customers.

While in SMSG we have 63 level for Analists and Controllers and level 62 as maximum for Account Managers and SSPs then it is hard to expect high level of proffesionalism in sales organization.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING..Android Grows To World's Biggest Smartphone Platform -Canalys
* JANUARY 31, 2011, 6:43 A.M. ET
By Gustav Sandstrom
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110131-705538.html

STOCKHOLM (Dow Jones)--Google Inc.'s (GOOG) open Android platform turned into the world's most widespread smartphone operating system in the fourth quarter, surpassing Nokia Corp.'s (NOK) main smartphone platform Symbian, research firm Canalys said Monday.

Shipments of Android-based smartphones surged sevenfold on-year to 33 million, driven by strong sales from handset vendors including South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (005930.SE) and Taiwan's HTC Corp. (2498.TW), Canalys said.

That growth gave Android a 33% share of the worldwide smartphone platform market in the fourth quarter, ahead of Symbian's 31% and Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone operating system with a 16% market share, the research firm said.

The overall smartphone market soared 89% on-year to 101 million units, Canalys said.

Finland's Nokia remained the world's largest individual smartphone vendor, with a 28% market share, the research firm said.

4Q10 units 4Q10 MktShr 4Q09 units 4Q09 MktShr
Google 33.3 mln 32.9% 4.7 mln 8.7%
Symbian 31.0 mln 30.6% 23.9 mln 44.4%
Apple 16.2 mln 16% 8.7 mln 16.3%
RIM 14.6 mln 14.4% 10.7 mln 20%
Microsoft 3.1 mln 3.1% 3.9 mln 7.2%
Others 3.0 mln 2.9% 1.8 mln 3.4%
Total 101.2 mln 100% 53.7 mln 100%

-By Gustav Sandstrom, Dow Jones Newswires; +46-8-5451-3099; gustav.sandstrom@dowjones.com

Anonymous said...

>> The Waterfall methodologies that are required in a
>> plan, code, debug, integrate cycle have been
>> thrown out by all of the companies

Hmm. No. The companies you're currently chasing are Apple and Google, and waterfall is alive and well at both. I'm at Google, and we use what I'd call "soft waterfall". There's some planning (but not nearly as much as at Microsoft), quite a bit of coding, integration/debug. All ingredients are there, except we ship every quarter because it's easier to do so.

Anonymous said...

>> MSR is in great misconception if they think they
>> helped Bing in any significant way to match
>> Google relevance

Dude, MSR people invented your freaking RANKING ALGORITHM. Just STFU and be thankful they exist, because if it wasn't for them there would be no Bing.

Anonymous said...

Android tablets sales skyrocket, a clear sign that they'll dominate the iPad
January 31, 2011 - 9:33 A.M.
http://blogs.computerworld.com/17736/android_tablets_sales_skyrocket_a_clear_sign_that_theyll_dominate_the_ipad

Android tablets skyrocketed in the fourth quarter, increasing their market share by nearly 1000%, even though they're based on a version of Android not even built for tablets. In doing so, they've taken market share away from the iPad. It's a clear sign that one day, Android tablets will outsell the iPad, in the same way that Android phones have overtaken the iPhone.

Bloomberg reports that according to market research firm Strategy Analytics Android tablets boosted its market share nearly ten times in the fourth quarter, and ate into iPad's share of the market.

Bloomberg reported:

Android devices captured 22 percent of global tablet shipments in the three months to Dec. 31, up from 2.3 percent in the preceding quarter, the Boston-based researcher said in a statement today. The iPad accounted for 75 percent of shipments in the period, down from 96 percent, it said.

This happened even though the current version of Android is not quite tablet-ready. Some apps, for example, can't run in full tablet size. The fact that people are buying Android tablets insuch large numbers shows there's a tremendous pent-up demand for them. Once Android 3.0, Honeycomb, hits, expect sales to spike even further.

In the long run, it's inevitable that Android tablet sales will overtake those of the iPad. The iPad is essentially a one-size-fits-all device. Android tablets, by way of contrast, will come in many sizes, shapes, form factors, and price points. They'll be aimed at many different markets. Buyers will have more choices with Android tablets than when faced with the iPad. And ultimately, choice will win.

These most recent sales figures are only the first small sign of that. Once Honeycomb arrives, and with it a plethora of tablets, Android tablet sales will really start taking off.

Anonymous said...

"Hiring is a problem. Google just increased their base pay by 20% and we can't match it both for new hires and employees."
Add to that for anyone with a family and/or an illness 2013 will bring in medical co-pay which effectively amounts to a $6k+ *PAYCUT*.
I understand that costs cannot be allowed to rise unchecked, but a base adjustment at the start, to level it out, would at least have put us on an even keel.
So Mini still wants a smaller, lighter MSFT? Well its coming. People are starting to leave already, and many more are considering their external options over the next two years. Of course the great people will get great opportunities outside, leaving the mundane rest here to languish.
So thank you Lisa+Steve for unshackling the golden handcuffs. Be assured that I personally am looking at my resume, and the market, very closely for the key skills to polish in the next 18months.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING..Android Grows To World's Biggest Smartphone Platform -Canalys

I have been saying this for some time. MS goes where the puck is, not where it's going. That's why you guys fail! MS is so into chasing the iPhone that they missed who the real player will be - Android.

MSFT_Mobile_Follower said...

With regards to WP7 having an 80% return rate, I find that hard to believe. A 50% return rate, however, would not be surprising. WM always had a high return rate relative to other smartphones. On average, it ran 10-20 points higher than the next platform/device. I know of some devices whose return rates topped 50% (the Motorola Q) but that was about as high as it ever got.

Anonymous said...

Culture change is needed. Completely agree.

Anonymous said...

Oh, they [WP7 team] know it. But it's coming soon and will Fix Everything!

Right. They've promised WM6 will come and fix everything wrong with WM5. Then they promised the same with 6.1 and 6.5. We know the results.

After that they've promised it with WP7. It released with bugs that make one pull the battery every day if you ever use Marketplace, and tons of other bugs.

And one specific promise they made in WMALL was the best update story across all smartphones. Of course they failed again - more than 3 months after release and no updates. Apple released one update about month after every iPhone release (fixing less significant issues). When Google released first Android on T-Mobile, it released updates like every 2 weeks. And of course Android had OTA updates. WP7 "best update ever" turned into no updates for 3 months, and no OTA updates at all.

Should anyone trust their next promise?

meni said...

You do realize that the Windows team tried to use .NET (specifically Avalon) for 2 years before giving up on it because Avalon was designed so poorly.

Please, can some more developers corroborate this? Is this common knowledge?

Anonymous said...

Well, this is a little embarrassing...

Surprise: Windows Mobile beats Windows Phone in initial quarter

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Apple or Google have a public forumn like mini?

Anonymous said...

WP7 is a dud. There goes the $300M in marketing spending.

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/01/31/microsoft-still-waiting-for-liftoff-with-windows-phone-7/

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous said ... Sunday, January 30, 2011 8:13:00 AM ... I used to love working at Microsoft, and did for 10.5 years before leaving recently. Now I'm loving not working there. It took me a long time to realize that the Microsoft I had loved was long gone.

+1. I'm a former Principal SDE who, like the above-poster, enjoyed working at MS for over 10 years. I decided to leave after a toxic reorg last autumn despite an Exceeded rating. I have been waiting for "Mini" to become active again to share a few "Leaving MS" tips:

1) I'm almost 50 and although age did make a difference to a few potential employers, only my skill set mattered too many of them.

2) I studied like crazy. It was hard to discipline myself to do this while working so many hours at MS, but I set aside weekends to study...and it paid off. There are many books available, such as "Cracking the Coding Interview," ( www.careercup.com ).

3) I heavily utilized LinkedIn and my contacts. I also did some things out of my comfort zone like attending a Salesforce "meetup" (that I became aware of through "Mini") which resulted in an onsite interview.

4) I was willing to be flexible with my compensation (i.e., take a lower salary in exchange for a higher share in the company). In the end, my salary and stock compensation are higher than I had at MS. (MS is aware of the compensation issue as it was the topic of greatest discussion on the HR exit interview checklist.)

5) Do a few "throw away" job applications and interviews before you apply to the companies that you really want to work at. I applied to one of my top choices first and was absolutely not ready for the interview because I was out of practice.

6) Enjoy learning about new companies and opportunities. It's a big world out there.

Finally, now my days are filled with coding instead of managing the perception of my work. Believe it or not, I once had a skip manager tell me that leaving the office blinds open all of the time was a key to success at MS. (I guess he was interpreting “visibility” literally.) In retrospect, I should have left MS immediately after that sage bit of advice.

Anonymous said...

"There was indeed a reason there was practically zero .NET code in the shipped product. We had to cut almost all that we wasted time on writing due to perf concerns."

The problem is that .NET bloating is now transferred to VS2010 IDE. In Windows Div they learned the lesson about .NET perf, but unfortunately in DevDiv the VS IDE guys are injecting lots of slowness in what once was a snappy IDE (e.g. VC6):


http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/eu/vseditor/thread/a6d500a2-d4ea-43e2-8460-9283ea5c1d89

It is sad to point out that the C++ compiler and libraries get better and better at every new release, but unfortunately the WPF IDE which comes in VS2010 is a hog (try loading a non trivial C++ solution in VS2010 IDE: VS2008 is faster).

Instead of rewriting the IDE in WPF, they could have spent their precious time optimizing the existing C++ native IDE, improving the debugger visualizer stuff, etc.

I wish the Windows Div write an IDE for C++ development for Windows, entirely written in native code, snappy and a pleasure to use.

Anonymous said...

Non-dweeb explanation of cloud computing: you give all your data to a corporation and they rent it back to you. That may not be the most marketing-friendly description ever, but it's succinct and accurate.

That is ridiculous. Using this logic everyone should be responsible for storing and protecting their money because banks can't be trusted to do it. The companies that succeed in cloud computing will be the ones that earn the trust of their customers.

Anonymous said...

she says that a lot of Windows Phone 7 handsets are being returned. A common reason being given is that they are "too hard to use"! (So much for having developed a straightforward UI, eh?)

Doesn't surprise me too much.

A common UI design pitfall is thinking that if something LOOKS simpler, then it will be easier to use.

Metro certainly LOOKS very simple, with minimal labeling of buttons, minimal indications for when you can or should swipe left/right, nothing to indicate what will happen if you press the back button, search button, etc. It shouldn't surprise any actual UI expert if people are finding this hard to use.

Anonymous said...

STOCKHOLM (Dow Jones)--Google Inc.'s (GOOG) open Android platform turned into the world's most widespread smartphone operating system in the fourth quarter, surpassing Nokia Corp.'s (NOK) main smartphone platform Symbian, research firm Canalys said Monday.

80s history repeating itself. Apple comes out with a revolutionary OS that only runs on its own proprietary hardware. Microsoft/Google (depending on the decade) makes a cheap clone and licenses it to dozens of clone hardware manufacturers. Eventually Apple ends up with ~10% market share and its competitor owns everything else.

If history is any guide, Microsoft will continue to be irrelevant. Sort of like IBM making OS/2 2.0 to compete with Windows.

Smartphone OSs have quickly made the form factor leap from phones to tablets, which many would have considered unlikely a year ago. If they are able to jump to laptops/desktops then god help Microsoft because nobody will buy another PC.

Anonymous said...

"BREAKING..Android Grows To World's Biggest Smartphone Platform -Canalys"

Oracle must be licking their lips thinking about how much they're going to make when Google loses the lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Re a previous poster on Amazon: "They've had several violent incidents among staff members which they've managed to keep quiet for the most part."

I'd like to hear more about this. A web link would be just fine. They called me the other day and this is quite discomforting.

Anonymous said...

>At Microsoft only the very best get exposed to good engineering teams.

Hahaha, good one. Good engineering teams at Microsoft, wow...they must be well hidden. Between TFS, our incredibly LONG release cycles and the horrendous bugs that come with lugging along 200 years of decrepit code written by people that thought saving one byte of memory totally justified all the retarded shit they did I really don't think ANY team in Microsoft knows anything about quality engineering.

Anonymous said...

It's MYCD time at MS IDC!

http://jayaram.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/mid-year-career-discussion-time/

So glad I left MSFT. I see the same attitude carried on when these folks come to the states.

Anonymous said...

>He could have made Windows Live and WP7-based tablet on the market competing with FB and Android/Apple.

Sure he could have, cause all it would have taken is making 'Windows Live' into a 'social network'. Everything is pretty obvious in hindsight isn't it? It is amazing with such clear powers of hindsight you aren't already a massively successfully entrepreneur or business leader...

Anonymous said...

>Why would anyone lead 90,000 of the world's most brilliant geeks

First there aren't 90,000 'geeks' at Microsoft as that number includes HR, marketing, business folks, finance, etc... Also, if you imagine that every Microsoft employee (or even most of them) is among 'the world's most brilliant geeks', then you need to get out of Redmond more often, really...wow.

Anonymous said...

>The AT&T dude told me that WP7 phones had -- listen closely -- an 80% return rate.

What the hell? 80%?

Yep. I pretended to be trying to make up my mind and point-blank asked at another AT&T store and the rep confirmed that the return rate at their location was over 50%.

Well, it sounds like you have done an exhaustive survey and asked 2 AT&T sales folks, that sounds like a good sample size to make a decision off. I guess it is time to pack in the WP7 division, thanks for the 'real' data unlike all that BS they are trying to shovel.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is continously selecting the wrong 70/20/10, and then %20 percentage are selected as leaders soon. %20 are mostly people which does internal marketing extremely well. MSFT works as show place for internal marketing to make a career upwards. It does not matter whether you are doing decent work or not indeed. Unless you market yourself or your work, your career sucks at MSFT. So the focus is on internal marketing rather than delivering a decent solution.

Absolutely correct!

Anonymous said...

MSR is in great misconception if they think they helped Bing in any significant way to match Google relevance.

Per friends in Bing, they did a complete revamp of the core ranking algorithm in 2010. It was transferred from MSR and allowed them to catch up with Google in relevance.

Anonymous said...

To first line manager:

I would love to find a more dedicated forum where sincere MS managers/leaders can (openly) discuss their frustrations and help support each other if only in spirit.

While the comments in this blog aren't exactly a 'forum', they're about as good as you'll get to infer what's needed to succeed.

Outside of getting a higher level mentor, there's not a lot out there that can decipher the HR mumbo jumbo.

Couple core pieces of thought: In 19 out of 20 instances, any like level manager you are seeking this kind of dialogue with in your sphere is your competition. I don't mean this in the theoretical sense of career growth, future opportunities, etc. I mean it in the most literal manner - they are your sole competition for everything. Almost no M1 has meaningful external competition. Usually it doesn't matter how the business performs, how green the VPs metrics are, how much share or revenue or units are shipped. What matters is how you are perceived in your M2s eyes vs your peers.

It's a harsh and not fun truth.

Given the above - having 'open' discussion and 'getting support' is a bad bad idea unless you know/trust these folks unbelievably well.

Anonymous said...

I so sympathize with the Microsoft managers here. I know you ICs think they are all so terrible, but I did that job for many years and it's just impossible, and I'm sorry for any pain I caused.

And yes, it's true, you have to be incompetent to be a Microsoft manager, because no company hates their managers more than does Microsoft -- who in their right mind takes on this work?

For less pay, you're basically a hired stooge that has to repeat what HR tells you to say -- it's literally scripted. Performance reviews and KT-style "differentiation" curves are so mathematical now that there's almost no point in writing a review -- the manager has almost no discretion anyway. The written review was just a way to cover the numeric ratings in some plausible way. How many times has your Microsoft manager told you you have to "raise the bar?" Right from the script!

Then there's the "WHI survey" which allows your employees to get back at the manager. Guess what? 70% usually say their manager is "okay" which is exactly how many people a manager is allowed to give an "Achieved" rating. Review ratings come right back as manager ratings. But I've seen teams conspire to downgrade a manager on the MSPoll, and it worked!

The enemy really isn't your line manager. He or she is a puppet, who thinks he has a career, but does not.

The real issue is you've got a bunch of worthless Seattle bureaucrats riding on the backs of your labor -- all those people with titles like "Director of Role Clarity" and the people in "Worldwide Incentive Compensation" figuring out schemes to manipulate you with empty promises of money if you behave properly.

Are you really getting anything done? Is this all there is for you -- bitching about Microsoft on Mini?

There are so many good places to go. You're smart. Vote with your feet. Enjoy the time you had at Microsoft and wish them well.

Anonymous said...

>We had to cut almost all that we wasted time on writing due to perf concerns.

After seeing some managed code written by Windows devs that was probably for the best. It is amazing to see developers that can write C++ in any language, not bother to learn the perf characteristics of their tools and then berate them because they are doing patently idiotic things like pre-allocating lists with 1000 elements and then using 8 of them, or not even using the built in collections because they can write them better (which they never manage to actually do), or any number of other boneheaded things.

Anonymous said...

>You do realize that the Windows team tried to use .NET (specifically Avalon) for 2 years before giving up on it because Avalon was designed so poorly.

This coming from the team that gave the world Win32? Now that is rich, holy shit let me recover my breath a bit here, it hurts to breathe from all the laughing.

Anonymous said...

I was going to buy a WP7 phone, but after reading the users alias for that for a month, it seems to be best described as alpha quality - glaring bugs (camera, anyone?) and missing features galore. And now the update is delayed with no comments? What a miserable failure. At present terms, even with the refund, I'm not willing to get one.

What's even worse is that I am not aware of any new WP7 phones - i.e. other than those presently being sold - announced. This is especially worrying as CES would be the place to do that - even if the stage was taken by Android, someone, somewhere would have mentioned it in a "by the way" manner. But, no. Not a peep. There's this talk about devices coming on Verizon "later this year", yes, but no specifics whatsoever.

All in all, it sounds like my next phone will run Android, just like my current one does. In fact, I'm not sure that WP7 will still be around by the time I'll have to make that choice.

Anonymous said...

I really wish people would stop referring to Windows Phone 7 as a "1.0 product" because it's a 7.0 product. Sure it's not the exact same team who created earlier versions of WinMo and it is almost a ground-up product but MS has years of time and tons more people invested in mobile than its competitors. Don't make excuses for organizational and strategic dysfunction, the marketplace doesn't care.

Also:
There was indeed a reason there was practically zero .NET code in the shipped product. We had to cut almost all that we wasted time on writing due to perf concerns. If we had left it in, we'd never have won big in the netbook space.

Microsoft won the netbook space with Windows XP. Vista almost cost them the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

NPD: iOS U.S. market share sinks while Android skyrockets
by Ina Fried
Posted on January 31, 2011 at 10:36 AM PT
http://mobilized.allthingsd.com/20110131/npd-windows-phone-7-off-to-a-slow-start-while-android-continues-to-gain/?mod=ATD_skybox

Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 operating system got “off to a slow start,” according to market researcher NPD, with phones based on the software accounting for just two percent of U.S. consumer smartphone sales in the fourth quarter.

That is a slower start than either Android or Palm’s webOS had in their debut, NPD said. Windows Phone 7's sales put it not only behind Android, Apple and RIM, but also behind its own, older Windows Mobile operating system. Windows Phone 7's two percent share was roughly equal to what HP’s Palm share was for the fourth quarter.

“With its mid-quarter launch, Windows Phone 7 entered the epicenter of competition between iOS and Android at AT&T,” NPD analyst Ross Rubin said in a statement. “Both competitors offer mature feature sets and large app libraries. Microsoft has made the case for Windows Phone 7's differentiation and improved integration. Now, the company must close the feature gap, offer more exclusive capabilities, work with partners to deliver hardware with better differentiation, and leverage its extensive experience in driving developer communities to increase its app offerings.”

Microsoft has said some two million phones running Windows Phone 7 were sold to carriers worldwide, but has offered no data on the rate at which the devices were actually leaving store shelves.

AT&T, which sells the broadest array of Windows Phone 7 models, also hasn’t given specific sales figures but said that the numbers have been growing steadily since launch. LG, one of the phone makers that built Windows 7 models, indicated its sales were less than it had hoped.

Microsoft downplayed the meaningfulness of early sales figures.

“Sales are an important measure of success, but for a new platform customer satisfaction and active developer investment can be even more important leading indicators of long-term success,” a representative said in a statement, reiterating comments that the company made last week noting high customer satisfaction numbers and a growing base of applications. “These early signs of satisfaction from customers and developers are reason to be bullish about the foundation for long-term success for Windows Phone 7.”

Overall, NPD said that Android grew its share nine points during the quarter, grabbing 53 percent of the consumer market, while Apple iPhones accounted for 19 percent of the market, down four percentage points. RIM also had a 19 percent share, a drop of two percentage points.

The five top-selling handsets included three Android models and two versions of the iPhone–the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. The iPhone 4 was the top-selling device, followed by the Motorola Droid X and HTC Evo 4G. The iPhone 3GS was the fourth-best-selling model, followed by the Motorola Droid 2. Motorola has already said it expects to take a hit this quarter, as its top-selling devices are on Verizon, which is now getting an iPhone of its own.

Anonymous said...

RE: I’m starting to think I’m just not cut throat enough to grow as a manager at MS. At this point I’d rather just go back to being an IC.

Do not go back to being an IC. I was in the same situation and moved back into an IC role. My reward was getting an A/10 at my next review because I no longer had enough "impact" within the organization. There really is not a career path for an IC above level 65 -- most of the Distinguished Engineers and Technical Fellows are also people managers. I have been interviewing outside of MS for a few months and hopefully will “mini-mize” myself shortly.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man. Really Bing? OSD can't come up with anything useful after pissing away billions, so they copy Google? I'm embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Here's an example of what's wrong with MS. You all remember the incredible Seadragon and Photosynth demos at TED a few years ago. It received a lot of press and a lot of praise. While MS is figuring out what to do with it Google completes their "Art Project" that allows you to tour museums around the globe and view the collections online. It even includes a nice zooming feature very similar to the demo at TED. MS should have been all over this a long time ago. Sure, there's no money in this project, but it's a huge amount of good publicity. So, once again, Google looks cutting edge with a product MS could have done years ago.

Anonymous said...

Now Scott Prevost has bailed to join eBay. I strongly suspect he found MSFT culture too stifling and lacking in innovation, after all that initial excitement when MSFT acquired PowerSet in 2008. Obviously there isn't enough good stuff at MS to keep smart, successful folks who come in from other companies.

Anonymous said...

I work for a telco in Australia. Two things:

1. Sales of WP7 phones have been shockingly low. We knew WP7 had an uphill battle, but these phones just aren't selling.

2. The WP7 phones that ARE selling? At least half of them are getting returned. "Too hard to use, no apps, look just give me an Iphone 4 please".

Anonymous said...

BING = Bing Is Now Google

Anonymous said...

When Ballmer leaves (on whatever terms) there will be distract changes. The new CEO will have to take actions to separate himself what Ballmer has done. Expects the cuts and do what you can for your position right now.

On another note...who actually uses OfficeTalk?

These smug PM's who invented a "Twitter clone....FOR THE OFFICE!" now seem to be getting more server space for something that hasn't proven to be of any value. What's the story here?

I check it out from time to time and it's always the same handful of PM's/OT Product related people talking about NOTHING. Everyone has to be PC as to not offend another's feelings so you can't really say what's on your mind like we can here at Mini. These people think they are actually innovating. Can anyone really justify this?

Anonymous said...

>but unfortunately the WPF IDE which comes in VS2010 is a hog (try loading a non trivial C++ solution in VS2010 IDE: VS2008 is faster).

You do realize the project system in VS has nothing to do with WPF right? Though along those lines, try doing pretty much anything in Vista or Win7, XP is faster.

SHG said...

"Eventually Apple ends up with ~10% market share and its competitor owns everything else."

Take a look at a stock chart of AAPL over the past ten years and then a stock chart of MSFT over the past ten years.

If there's one thing that Apple learned from the Mac/Windows years, it's that market share is neither a feature desired by users nor does it count towards the company's bottom line.

Apple presently has 4.3% market share in mobile phones. If you care about market share, that number means Apple is a failure. 4.3% is pathetic.

However that 4.3% of the market generates 51% of the revenue. Iphone, ONE PHONE FROM ONE MANUFACTURER, generates more revenue than all the other handsets made by all the other manufacturers COMBINED.

http://www.asymco.com/2011/01/31/fourth-quarter-mobile-phone-industry-overview/

Anonymous said...

Can we just buy Netflix?

Oh hell no!

Don't take one of the services I like, let unqualified PMs f**k it up, rebrand it Zuneflix and create umpteen million licensing options to confuse everyone and their grandma.

Ok, maybe a tad overboard, but this is what the Kiss of MS Aquisition usually means.

Anonymous said...

Upcoming MSPoll should be interesting, especially around confidence in the executive leadership and liking where the direction of the company is going. Too bad "Hell no" is not one of the choices for an answer.

Anonymous said...

That is ridiculous. Using this logic everyone should be responsible for storing and protecting their money because banks can't be trusted to do it.

Perhaps you haven't been following the U.S. or world economies lately, but there is a lot of strife going on because banks have acted foolishly and in some cases with what can only be called a criminal disregard for their duty of care. So no, banks certainly haven't proved very trustworthy in recent times.

The companies that succeed in cloud computing will be the ones that earn the trust of their customers.

That's quite correct, and it doesn't take a genius to join the dots and understand that this doesn't bode well for Microsoft (admittedly among others; I for one wouldn't let Google get hold of my data in a fit).

Anonymous said...

I'm first so I get to pose the question: Will W7 powered tablets stave off the iPad monster in the long term?

Of course I realize no one knows but it's an interesting market to watch.


But we do know how it will turn out - Microsoft won't be able to compete with the iPad at all (as made plain by the on-going MS train wreck in the mobile phone market). The really scary thing for Microsoft is that that Apple is not their biggest problem - *Android* is the OS that is really going to clean up in the tablet arena.

Time for Mr Ballmer et al to move on.

Anonymous said...

>> BING = Bing Is Now Google
Typo...
Bing Is Not Google.

Anonymous said...

Now Scott Prevost has bailed to join eBay. I strongly suspect he found MSFT culture too stifling and lacking in innovation, after all that initial excitement when MSFT acquired PowerSet in 2008. Obviously there isn't enough good stuff at MS to keep smart, successful folks who come in from other companies.

Uh... or his couple of years were up and his retention bonus was secure. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

> decade lost working at MS. 2011 will be the year I finally put Microsoft behind me, and I am so excited I can barely contain myself! Leaving Microsoft will be like stepping out of an abusive marriage. The only question in retrospect will be - why didn't I do this sooner!?

No more 1% pay raises. No more being strung out in reviews by the useless 9-5ers. The end of putting in long hours - release after release - so that some holier-than-thou smug L65 weenie can stand on my back and take credit for my hard work/ideas and get the big bonus.

No more days waking up - thinking to myself- whose idea can I steal today? No more helping management ship another useless feature buried in a bloated desktop OS that has a future about as bright as AOL 4.0

Most of all- just the personal satisfaction of knowing that I am not feeding my talent and creativity into another wall street corporate machine - that sure as shit hasn't done its employees and American families any favors.

Priceless

Anonymous said...

Per friends in Bing, they did a complete revamp of the core ranking algorithm in 2010. It was transferred from MSR and allowed them to catch up with Google in relevance.

How many MSRs does it take to scrape Google results?

Anonymous said...

Yes you can say sinofsky kicked out bobmu, ray ozzi and j Allard etc. It is time he kicks himself out missing out two important biz opportunities on fb and ipad fronts.

skc said...

For all the people joyously posting about the "Bing copying Google" even a former Google engineer thinks Google are idiots.

http://www.quora.com/Did-Bing-intentionally-copy-Googles-search-results

Former WM Employee said...

Does anyone remember the terribly distasteful, self aggrandizing iPhone funeral thrown by the Windows Phone team? With the reported share growth, sell-in numbers and OEM comments that funeral is starting to look even more delusional.

Anonymous said...

"Well, it sounds like you have done an exhaustive survey and asked 2 AT&T sales folks, that sounds like a good sample size to make a decision off. I guess it is time to pack in the WP7 division, thanks for the 'real' data unlike all that BS they are trying to shovel."

You don't work with business intelligence much, I'm guessing.

Two separate niche stores at random in different states, both of which said there was a >50% return rate on the same product.

That's enough to base some conjecture upon.

Anonymous said...

How the hell can a WP7 be hard to use?
It has a fantastic UI. Typing on my focus is easy without a keyboard. The diplay kisks ass over the iPhony.

I say get the update out fast to clear up some of the issues like with Bluetooth and Marketplace and for god's sake FIRE THE MARKETING GROUP AND ASSOCIATED ADVERT FIRMS WHO'VE DONE SUCH AS PISS POOR JOB!!!

Anonymous said...

"Dude, MSR people invented your freaking RANKING ALGORITHM. Just STFU and be thankful they exist, because if it wasn't for them there would be no Bing."

Thank you MSR to help loosing 500 ml every quarter for how many years god knows. Microsoft doesn't need these people who don't understand any iota about cost benefit analysis. It it doesn't make money it has no use whatsoever. Only reason you are still here because there are more idiotic people above who don't unserstand to get rid of money loosing ventures and concentrate on new business to make money.

Anonymous said...

>> BING = Bing Is Now Google
Typo...
Bing Is Not Google.

-------------

Looks like someone doesn't get the joke!

Anonymous said...

Microsft is facing what IBM was facing when Gerstner came in to transform it from its legacy state to whre it is today...

Anonymous said...

"As the rise of smartphones has demonstrated, the longer a company stays out of a particular segment, the more money and effort it takes to establish a presence. Microsoft’s attempts at an iPhone and Android smartphone competitor, Windows Phone 7, has yet to attract a substantial audience despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on development and marketing.If Honeycomb increases interest in Android-based tablets, and Apple improves the iPad with new hardware and software, it could make any of Microsoft’s future designs on a crowded tablet market that much harder to execute."

MSFT_Mobile_Follower said...

"I really wish people would stop referring to Windows Phone 7 as a "1.0 product" because it's a 7.0 product."

Completely agree. I worked in MCB starting with WM 2003, launched WM 5.0, then 6.0, 6.1 and finally 6.5 before leaving. Each and every time we told partners and consumer that this versin of WM would be THE release that got it right. You can only do that so many times before you start getting ignored.

Anonymous said...

I'm a stupid guy from Eastern Europe and here is my stupid question:

why Microsoft has to spend on R&D about 10 times more than Apple just trying to catch'em up on iPod/iPad trend ??

or, in general, why Microsoft has to spend on R&D 10 times more than the key competitors just for BECOMING #2 ???

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We are seven months into MS' fiscal year, and its sellers have no idea where they stand right now against their quotas. MS is having to pay them at 100% quarterly commissions because internal systems are so messed up. Frontline morale is really, really low. People are distracted and not focused on competitors or customers. How can MS sell BI solutions with a straight face when they themselves cannot get it right. Seems like the place is coming a part. :(

Anonymous said...

Forget enterprises, we need to reach out to consumers.
Off late, we've been killing a lot of the consumer tech (WHS et al.)
Regarding tablets, the potential to be leaders is not by competing with iPad, but by competing on price. How about a $150 slate vs. iPad for emerging markets?

Anonymous said...

First off, yes, I own a WP7 phone. Second, I like it a lot. Third, you guys who poo poo anyone who questions the market viability of it should stop snorting the freaking Kool-Aid right out of the packet, sober up and take a short trip to Costco and Best Buy. (Never ventured out to talk to real people? Heck, give it a try. It's amazing when you stop talking to yourself). Look for docking stations for WP7. None. Look for cool accessories for WP7. None. Note that some of the consumer devices can use the iPhone as a controller. Look for three freaking seconds at the ecosystems around our competitor's products and realize we may have shipped a really good product, but we do not have anything else to back it up. I played games on the first GameBoy that are far more compelling than what I'm getting on the WP7 and they were in black on white on a crappy screen. Am I giving up my WP7 phone and switching? No, I got it for free. But I'd like to come home, put it in a dock and play music off it like my brother does with his iPhone. Ya, ya, I get it. We just have to give it time. [Snort] I get it now... time is like... all bendy and stuff and we'll be fine. God that Kool-Aid is good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Amazon is hiring too quickly for their size - not sure how tough their managers are but perhaps they are throwing people against the wall and seeing who sticks...

My experience was worse. I interviewed there a few years ago. The first phone interview was so random and weird that I didn't want the job and figured since I hadn't been able to understand what they wanted I likely didn't have a chance at an interview anyway. A week later I was asked to come in. I went through 9 interviewers, half of which were so frazzled they couldn't remember answers from one minute to the next. Halfway through the day they decided to switch the job I was interviewing for ("because you seemed like a better fit for the other one"), without telling me. I discovered it when I said I was confused by a question as it wouldn't pertain to the area I was interviewing for. The last interviewer was a witch and when she told me she was the hiring manager I walked out of the interview. My take: They still believe that "Netscape Time" is cool, but it belies a complete lack of planning. Managers pride themselves on having no time, no specs, no resources, and conniving their way into success. If you think it's bad at Microsoft, you haven't seen anything from what I saw through 9 interviews. While my experience with HR at Microsoft on both sides of the fence has sometimes included real irritation, it never came close to the zoo that was Amazon. Even if disgruntled here, if you interview at Amazon keep your eyes wide, wide open.

Anonymous said...

Why can EMC put cloud banners in airports and MSFT as usual is incapable?

Ah, been to SeaTac lately? The entire length of the terminal is hung with Microsoft cloud banners... Makesa fella proud...

Anonymous said...

When Ballmer heard the news of Jobs taking sick leave again, can anyone else picture him high 5'ing his inner circle? If you can't beat 'em, wait them out...

I don't care for Ballmer but he's not evil and uncaring. That comment is just petty nonsense. Besides, do you think Ballmer actually sees Jobs as a specific threat?

Anonymous said...


How the hell can a WP7 be hard to use?
It has a fantastic UI. Typing on my focus is easy without a keyboard. The diplay kicks ass over the iPhony.


At software conference in December, I sat at lunch watching an experienced software professional trying to figure out how to adjust the volume on his new WP7 phone.

He never could figure it out. He finally gave up, and declared that he was returning the phone and getting an Android-based model as soon as he got home.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that the Windows team tried to use .NET (specifically Avalon) for 2 years before giving up on it because Avalon was designed so poorly.

Please, can some more developers corroborate this? Is this common knowledge?


It's true. To be fair, Avalon was not the only problem, but it likely wasted some 2 years of development time all by itself.

Anonymous said...


Regarding tablets, the potential to be leaders is not by competing with iPad, but by competing on price. How about a $150 slate vs. iPad for emerging markets?

If you put W7 on the slate, because of the Windows bloat compared to BSD/Linux, you will need to price the hardware way beyond your $150 price, more like $800-900 for functionality comparable to a $500 iPad.

Jon H said...

Anonymous wrote: "Android tablets sales skyrocket, a clear sign that they'll dominate the iPad"

Note that they don't seem to mention any brands or models.

That suggests to me that the "Android tablets" in question are the Nook and similar single-purpose ebook tablets, and possibly things like the cheapo $99, barely-functional Android tablets that showed up in Walgreens pharmacies at Christmas time as cheap iPad clones.

The ebook tablets are not general-purpose Android devices, and the vendors are unlikely to support users upgrading the Android OS as new versions coming out.

And the cheapo tablets are quite unlikely to do so either, though you really wouldn't want to anyway.

Anonymous said...

WTF? There are dedicated hardware buttons for adjusting the volume, same as the iPhone.

Anonymous said...

"How the hell can a WP7 be hard to use?
It has a fantastic UI. Typing on my focus is easy without a keyboard. The diplay kicks ass over the iPhony."

At software conference in December, I sat at lunch watching an experienced software professional trying to figure out how to adjust the volume on his new WP7 phone.

He never could figure it out. He finally gave up, and declared that he was returning the phone and getting an Android-based model as soon as he got home.


+1 -- I bought a Focus and found the overall experience to be disjointed and not especially intuitive. The WP7 "organize by person" model is much more complex than the iPhone "organize by app" model. This doesn't mean it's inferior -- I actually believe that organizing stuff by people is a superior experience -- but once you leave the home screen on a WP7 device things frequently get confusing, as managing all of the inputs and feeds that contribute to a contact gets crazy pretty fast.

I exchanged my Focus for an iPhone 4 for a number of reasons, and while complexity wasn't a driving factor I must admit that iPhone's UI model just makes much more sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Well I can talk for Amazon now, since I am here for almost 10 months now since I left Microsoft.
Amazon is too frugal to give u decent mice or monitors.
They just use open source and dont even think about giving back to that community. They just know using it.
Moreover zero to none planning, Politics is here too. Benefits are shitty as compared to MS.
So whoever is thinking Amazon is better than MS, then think again.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone remember the terribly distasteful, self aggrandizing iPhone funeral thrown by the Windows Phone team? With the reported share growth, sell-in numbers and OEM comments that funeral is starting to look even more delusional."

I remember you wallpapering over the half dozen sites you troll daily. Now you're an ex WM employee? LOL.

Anonymous said...

Kinect is great, but why label it a "great" success so soon? I guess the eBay re-sales will help decide long term stickiness and success to some degree.

My point: Microsoft has to decide how to measure the performance of its mission, its stock and its people in a consistent,clear, transparent and fair manner. If I was on the board of Microsoft, this would be my number one area for concern given the personalities involved in the leadership at MS.

Microsoft people probably did think of the iPad, youtube, groupon, years ago. But the mechanics of the systems of reviewing success clearly kept those thoughts from becoming MS products in the market. Customers won by going elsewhere and that does not help the stock price.

It is a leadership issue, plain and simple. It is a tough job, but you get paid to get it right. You should also get paid for putting someone in your job who can do it better.

Anonymous said...

"Besides, do you think Ballmer actually sees Jobs as a specific threat?"

If he doesn't, then he's even more clueless than is already apparent.

Anonymous said...

The experienced software professional couldn't figure out to use the volume rocker?

Sounds like his phone was broken (as in, hardware-broken) because otherwise I find this difficult to believe.

Anonymous said...

>You don't work with business intelligence much, I'm guessing.

Basing multi-million dollar product decisions off of anecdotal evidence of two people is beyond retarded, unless the population size is say 3. If that is what you qualify as 'business intelligence'...well, it explains a lot about Microsoft's current predicament.

Anonymous said...

>At software conference in December, I sat at lunch watching an experienced software professional trying to figure out how to adjust the volume on his new WP7 phone.

I use the volume button on the side of the phone, not terribly hard to figure out, then again I suppose it depends on the model, another problem with our foray into the mobile space, we make the OS and then let the mobile carriers dick it up with capacitive buttons which ALWAYS trigger when you don't want them too, shitty cameras, confusing controls for simple tasks, etc... Not that we haven't had our own boneheaded moves (Hi lackluster API, why yes, you do make it very exciting to develop apps when I can't access anything on the phone or do...well much of anything, thanks for that!!) I think the PM braintrust looked at early iPhone stuff and said 'we should do that, focus on the core scenarios', which isn't terrible, but that train long ago left the station, to have almost NO interesting apps for your platform is now the kiss of death, and trying to attract developers to the platform with pitches like 'yeah, you can do WAY less on here than you can on iPhone or Android AND our market share is WAY smaller!!', surprisingly, isn't yet working. Here's to hoping the monolithic update that is coming 'any month now' will address some of these issues and spur some cool app development for what COULD be a cool phone, given some time and focus.

Anonymous said...

27.65 -0.29 (-1.04%)

Nice meltdown. Honeycomb, BinGGate, iPad 2 rumors, or because we're taking on more debt?

Already negative for the year. Rinse. Repeat.

Anonymous said...

do you think Ballmer actually sees Jobs as a specific threat?

As in meeting him on the street and wrestling him to the ground? No.

As in taking his job as CEO of Microsoft? No.

As in doing such a good job as a CEO he'll be remembered for decades and called out in business classes as a positive example of what a CEO can do for a company and an industry over Ballmer at about a 1000 to 1 ratio? Yes.

I'm sure Ballmer doesn't care about Jobs or Apple. But then again, Ballmer doesn't care about Microsoft either.

Anonymous said...

>You do realize that the Windows team tried to use .NET (specifically Avalon) for 2 years before giving up on it because Avalon was designed so poorly.

This coming from the team that gave the world Win32? Now that is rich, holy shit let me recover my breath a bit here, it hurts to breathe from all the laughing.

Monday, January 31, 2011 11:00:00 PM


Its nice to bash Win32 today, given I have 8 Gb RAM in my box and all kinds of bloat that wouldn't even be entertained in the past, but the Win32 system was cleanly designed and well implemented. Yes, it was. There were a few design constraints that you had to take into account, 1995 PCs having 4MB RAM back then, so you couldn't just bloat objects to many KB each, for example so I can see why you kids think it was no good, but you're wrong. Go ahead and look at the early documentation and be amazed at how well its put together.

If you look back at the early days of it, you'll understand how consistent and organised it was, how windows and controls did make a lot of sense. It was only later when teams added all the bloat and mis-designs that they're good at and still doing (eg extension methods in .NET anyone? Reference probe paths in .NET? The GAC? Side-by-side hell?) Sure, things like MFC didn't help, and then they added c**p like explorer Shell almost-COM objects.

Don't get confused between the original good engineering that happened, and the mess when it is extended later.

Still, I guess the same slow death applies to all of MS, start off with something good, then let the mediocre slowly screw it up.

Anonymous said...

Aug 2, 2010
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told analysts last Thursday that his company can compete with Google when it comes to making tablets, making the argument that his company had the better data, better resources, and better track record than Google. He went as far as to say that if Microsoft couldn’t compete with Google, “shame on us.”


Well Steve, it’s shame on you. Because all that data, resources, and track record went unused, and now MS won’t have anything for TWO MORE YEARS, plus another year or two to get even a marginal inventory of optimized apps. While Honeycomb is now feature complete, shipping starting next month, can run an existing stable of touch-centric apps, and is already getting great reviews as the first real iPad challenger.

Still looking like the netbook recovery from Linux to you? Or more like mobile?

It was always a matter of time before one of your mistakes proved fatal for the entire company. But the board let you continue anyway and now you’ve done it.

RIP MSFT. RIP.

Anonymous said...

Since we're kicking WP7, what genius deserves credit for the decision to (a) use squinty little fonts for email, then (b) zoom without reflow?

Unusable by anyone with borderline eyesight.

Anonymous said...

Using Google's Android 3.0 Tablet, the First Real iPad Fighter(PHOTOS,VIDEO - click link)
Feb 2, 2011 03:01 PM
http://gizmodo.com/5750148/using-googles-android-30-tablet-the-first-real-ipad-fighter


This is how an Android tablet should feel. Android 3.0 running on Motorola's Xoom tablet is almost iPad-like, a legitimate threat to the only successful tablet on the market right now. It's about damn time!

You can tell that the Motorola Xoom tablets running Android 3.0 are fast just from demo videos, but it's not until you actually use them that it's clear that these are responsive and usable enough to compete with the iPad. It really does feel like a tablet designed for people who prefer Android to iOS.

App switching is done via a soft-button on the tray, displaying the last 5 used apps in a column. Tapping it immediately takes you to the app in a way that's at least as fast, if not faster than switching apps on an iPad. It took until version 3.0 for Google to design a user interface explicitly for tablets, and their first effort is a good one just from the way you can get around the tablet quickly.

All the apps are modified to be on the tablet-sized screen. Gmail has two columns, one for the message list and one for the actual message you're viewing. Google Talk is similar, with your contact list on the left and the messaging window on the right. YouTube has many more thumbnails and videos to browse through, defaulting the video to playing back in a smaller window that you can then maximize. A lot of consideration has gone into how to expand each user interface element to better fit the largest screen and have more things you can do at once.

What's also adapted is the widgets, which I can imagine people will be using quite a bit, instead of switching back and forth between modal applications unless they really need to focus on one thing. Having a calendar, your inbox, marketplace and chat widgets visible all at once gives you desktop-like multitasking ability, and when you want, tap into each widget to take you to the app itself. Everything is fast and smooth.

Small touches like expanded notifications (again, because of the larger screen), and improved graphics performance in the core 3D UI elements go a long way to making this not suck.

All the problems found in the two Android tablets running version 2.2 should be solved, or at the very least, reduced. It's much faster, much more responsive and actually reach a sophistication level so you won't get constantly pissed off using them.

Even though Google won't talk about how Android 3.0 Honeycomb will be on Android phones, or whether or not it's coming at all, it's a pretty huge step for Android tablets. Those of you who are looking forward to the iPad 2 might want to check out the Motorola Xoom as well.

Anonymous said...

First off, yes, I own a WP7 phone. Second, I like it a lot.

That's fine; we all respect your brave admission, and you're certainly entitled to your opinion.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, it appears that there are many, many people around the world who disagree with you.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 715   Newer› Newest»