Thursday, July 21, 2011

Microsoft FY11Q4 Results

(ring-ring, Mini, ring-ring)

How is this quarter shaping up? First of all, let's review some competitors:

  • IBM: Bang! Third base!
  • Google: Boom! Out of the park, home-run!
  • Apple: Ka-Blam! Out of the city. Game over!

We've already been given a small preview thanks to the Partner conference: good Windows 7 numbers and Windows Phone, as loved as it might be (especially compared to Android) just ain't selling much. And no one is holding out any hopes that current customers will see their Mango update until New Years.

The iPad continues to suck in consumer love and money... money that we'd prefer they send our way but there's nothing comparable for them to buy. Windows 8 ARM tablets? Sometime next year, but what we showed at All Things D is our take of squeezing an elephant into a VW bug. Here's some deep respect and chops to the folks doing all this work, but it's a subtraction game followed by many frustrating conversations about why it's okay not to have certain obvious things work... obviously. And I have to say it's fascinating watching Sinofsky wrangle the Windows organization in this long game of reshaping itself and the consequences it has for the rest of the company.

My one analyst question for today: when the hell is Bing going to stop losing money?!? It appears that the internal hiring spree has finally cooled down so that's good - the piling of warm bodies has stopped (well, only to be replaced by throwing warm bodies on The Cloud because, ah-huck, we're all in). Seriously though, now's the time to start shaking the Bing tree and let the goodness of the search eco-system keep on going and shed the remaining busy work. Come on, if Xbox did it, so can you!


Calibration cacophony: I owe a post about our new review system but I'm not going to put money down about when that's going to happen. In the meantime, I'd love to sit down with each and everyone of you that supposedly told LisaB that the previous review system, with its Exceeded and Achieved and its 20% this and 70% that, was just too durn hard to comprehend. Let's chat. This discuss (*whack* against the side of your head) your results for this year. I'd like to discuss (*whack*) what a peer relative result within a strict percentage based system means. As part of this discussion (*whack* *whack* *whack*) you'll learn that your results are less that what you're used to and the message and your rewards are strictly viewed through your percentile bucket, no matter if you're at the top of your bucket or the bottom. I do seem to have some feedback from your peers to discuss (*whack*) although the majority of it seems to spring from a glowingly content-free "I'll rub your back if you'll rub mine" point of view.

Be careful what you ask for, because the person listening might turn it into one big step backwards. Oh, and for some of you, here's a salary bump.


-- Comments

452 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Trust me people, no employee who posts to this blog is a good example of a top performer at Microsoft

No, don't trust him. I am, for example, I very high performer and I post on this blog. What a ridiculous thing to say.

Anonymous said...

No, don't trust him. I am, for example, I very high performer and I post on this blog. What a ridiculous thing to say.

That's just the delusions talking...

Anonymous said...

Trust me people, no employee who posts to this blog is a good example of a top performer at Microsoft

Steve Ballmer doesn't post here. Is he a good example of a top performer at Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is always hiring some new kid genius PHD from Berkeley

Is that why all of Microsoft's recent endeavours have been so wildly successful?

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the frustration here is related to the fact that Microsoft is very, very competitive [...]"

No, the frustration is related to the fact that Microsoft is very, very dysfunctional. You obviously haven't been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

You're right, I didn't go the support route. The battery issue started right after warranty period ended so that would have been useless. And I could have called support on the call issues (freezing UI, calls dropping, calls not coming through even though in service area) but I guess I just did what a lot of consumers do when they get a device/software that may be defective, I complained to everybody who would listen except the support professionals.

Battery charge capacity depletes gradually. If your "battery issue" started right after the warranty expired, then it was likely a software issue. The OS must have gotten itself into a bad state where it wasn't going into low-power mode. Might also explain the dropped calls etc. Fixing your phone might have been as easy as clicking the prominent "Restore" button in iTunes labeled "If you are experiencing problems with your iPhone etc." which you would have found out about if you had spent 2 minutes Googling pretty much any iPhone problem.

I wonder what will happen if/when you have a problem with your Windows Phone. Will you be so eager to complain about it and so reluctant to try to solve it...?

The people you know who were happy to complain about the iPhone but not do anything about it must be related to the people who complained about Vista but didn't bother to update their hardware/drivers.

Yes and no. Even when functioning as designed, Vista was a memory and CPU hog and had usability issues. Ballmer and other executives have admitted publicly that it was basically a crap product.

The closest Apple has come to such a situation is "antennagate" with the iPhone 4, which was more smoke than fire since Apple is still selling millions of iPhone 4s more than a year later and nobody is complaining about them anymore.

Anonymous said...

"Trust me people, no employee who posts to this blog is a good example of a top performer at Microsoft"

ORLY.

L66 E20 here, and I know at least one Partner who posts frequently.

Believe it or not, there are still a few talented people at Microsoft who are both doing well in the broken system and furious at the leadership of the company.

Many of the "top performers" at Microsoft these days only have skills in the political arts, and those are the people who never utter a critical word against the Mother Ship. Those of us with real skill who have decided for whatever reason to remain here in the current climate don't have anything to lose by speaking plainly about the rot.

Anonymous said...

Left Windows earlier this year and feel sorry for friends who may still be tramped. There are still poeple who are happy working at Microsoft, I was the same way, until the Windows W8 re-org put in a lead who has been with Windows for too long. He did not try to be a good lead, I was too proud to kiss ass, good projects got assigned to others. His boss is worse than him, so I got out. Other people quit before I did and at get together since I left, people are saying that they don't see a path to Senior or Lead in their current group and wondering which group should they jump to to get a better shot at being promoted.

People who quit seemed to have done pretty well. It all depends on our personal situations and what we bring to the table.

Still have shares, glad to see it going over $28. I compensated myself by buying ARM's to offset the MSFT shares I left on campus.

HR was useless, one thing to consider is to use GPA over an employee's tenure so that one bad boss does not doom a star. For me, my E20 in the prior year had zero value when they decided to throw me under the bus. Like I said before, I have names but it's not fair to name them here.

Anonymous said...

There are certainly some issues at MSFT but some of the people that post in this blog are just over the top in their pessimism and whining.

As I see it right now, the good, bad, and ugly of MSFT are:

The good:
* XBOX Kinect blew it away this past Holiday, over 35M customers now pay for the priviledge of XBox Live
* The enterprise business is strong, committed revenue is higher than it's ever been (MSFT has a global enterprise business that is really unmatched by anyone)
* Office365 and Dynamics both are rapidly growing businesses with a ton of upside
* MSFT now has 11 distinct businesses that do over $1B in revenue - I can think of maybe one or two other businesses on the planet (GE, etc) that can say the same
* Largely because of this diverse portfolio of businesses, MSFT was able to grow revenue, operating income, and net income in spite of *declining* PC sales (MSFT is not a one-trick pony any longer, if it ever was)
* Even with weakness in the PC market the past couple of quarters, it's hard to argue with the success of Windows 7 with over 400M licenses sold
* MSFT's Cloud offerings collectively are second to none
* Bing has a long ways to go but has actually made some progress in the US search market against Google, which was once thought impossible
* As an employee, unless you are a bottom 20% performer, the new comp plan is a win. If you don't think so, then you don't really understand the change
* Say what you will about Ballmer, there are some senior execs at MSFT that are truly outstanding. Mattrick, Satya, KT, Qi Lu, PK, Lisa B - you won't find anyone better than these folks anywhere
* The Nokia partnership will be instrumental in getting a WP7 device in a lot of people's hands

The bad:
* As mentioned, PC sales actually declined in Q4
* MSFT still hasn't figured out a way to win in India or China and doesn't seem to have a cohesive strategy for emerging markets
* WP7 is a good product but as others have alluded to, MSFT is way late to the party in terms of highly functional / attractive UI / rich app eco-system smartphones. The Nokia deal only allows MSFT some hope at playing catch-up at this point
* Employees will soon have to pay a contribution (and deductibles) for health care (thank you very much ObamaCare and the Cadillac Tax for bringing that to us)
* Although there are talented people still there, a lot of talented folks have left MSFT senior leadership in the past 18 months or so - Liddell, Elop, Muglia, Bach, etc, etc. Although Elop was instrumental in getting the Nokia deal up and going

The ugly:
* AAPL sold 20M iPhones and over 9M iPads in a quarter. In. A. Quarter. Let that sink in a moment
* While MSFT has plenty of other viable businesses, none is as profitable nor as core strategically as Windows. Windows was once an impenetrable fortress, but in the past year, AAPL has penetrated it with a single product launch. MSFT is destined to play catch-up in slates, and it sounds like nothing serious is coming out until Windows 8 in another 12 to 15 months (maybe)
* MSFT is still very strong in the enterprise but to the consumer, MSFT seems completely dead. MSFT has no consumer mindshare any longer
* Yes, there are some interesting possibilities with Skype and Lync and XBox (etc), but it is still not at all clear that shareholders will reap anything close to $8.5B of value
* GOOG still dominates search in the US and will for the foreseeable future. And their dominance is even greater internationally
* OSD as an org continues to bleed money and will continue to do so for at least another couple of years

There it is, from a high-performing L63 employee in a broad-based business role, trying to lay things out in a truly fair and balanced manner. Take it or leave it.

Anonymous said...

"* As an employee, unless you are a bottom 20% performer, the new comp plan is a win. If you don't think so, then you don't really understand the change"

No, it's not if you're a bottom 20% performer that you're hosed. It's if you're RANKED in the bottom 20%. The problem is that those are two very different things. Haven't you paid any attention here?

"* Say what you will about Ballmer, there are some senior execs at MSFT that are truly outstanding. Mattrick, Satya, KT, Qi Lu, PK, Lisa B - you won't find anyone better than these folks anywhere"

Lisa B brought us the "fabulously new and improved" performance system that resulted in the Kim problem. Don't tell me she's one of the best anywhere unless you want to back that up with actual data that shows that most other companies don't have WORSE HR systems than we do. Have you ever explained to someone that no, you can't get promoted when you get a new job here, even if the new job has uber more responsibilities, would have a higher level (IF you did yourself, naturally), etc.? No, no pay bump either. You just get the "privilege" of moving to a new role (after all-day interviews just as if you were an unproved outsider) where you get to spend a year "proving yourself" before you can get jack. I've never worked at any company that foists this kind of nonsense and career-dampening falderal on what they claim is their "most valuable resource:" their own employees.

Anonymous said...

My Last review was 70/A.
My midyear review was bad, and manager wrote "your job is at risk".
I expect to be in bucket# 5 this review.
Manager has been suggesting me that I should be looking for another job.
How much time would I have before they fire?

Anonymous said...

Why does Microsoft still pretend to care about its employees, their careers, or their personal development at review time? Clearly, the company doesn't give a damn.

Anonymous said...

Is this thing on?

Steve Jobs

Anonymous said...

You just get the "privilege" of moving to a new role (after all-day interviews just as if you were an unproved outsider)

Unless the person you are interviewing is a known quantity, any group worth their salt is going put them through the same interview process as an external hire. There are just too many idiots running around at this point that you cannot assume every FTE would be a good hire.

Anonymous said...

""* Say what you will about Ballmer, there are some senior execs at MSFT that are truly outstanding. Mattrick, Satya, KT, Qi Lu, PK, Lisa B - you won't find anyone better than these folks anywhere"

OMG, Lisa Brummel is a joke in the internaltional Human Resources community. There's nothing about Microsoft's review or compensation system that anyone in the HR community is using as a model... indeed, most people watch Microsoft for what *not* to do in these areas.

Anonymous said...

Those of us with real skill who have decided for whatever reason to remain here in the current climate don't have anything to lose by speaking plainly about the rot.

If you are an elite talent and your level of comfort around speaking out against the company is as high as you say then why do you post anonymously?

Anonymous said...

The bad:
[...]
* MSFT still hasn't figured out a way to win in India or China [...]


You are a "high-performing L63 employee in a broad-based business role", and you think that's merely "bad"?

I would have thought that it's an absolute unmitigated disaster, and something that is clearly symptomatic of Microsoft's comprehensive failures in every critical area.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the frustration here is related to the fact that Microsoft is very, very competitive and some employees ... Trust me people, no employee who posts to this blog is a good example of a top performer at Microsoft.

Wrong. There are 4 groups of employees who post comments here:

1) the average employee, who is frustrated and stifled by the company's toxic politicized culture esp in Redmond. Their comments are useful feedback for gauging the mood, even if their remedies are sometime - but not always - off-target.
2) the obvious losers, who are weeping into their beers at the lack of appreciation. These aren't bad guys; but yeah, they are pissed off because they didn't make the grade. You can give less importance to their comments.
3) Genuinely insightful comments from folks - both great and small - who have analysed Microsoft's many problems and come up with genuinely interesting perspectives and ideas.
4) commenters who pretend to be employees but are obviously trolls. Any genuine employee can spot these, although outsiders may be fooled.

On the whole, I find that around half of employee comments are very interesting, accurate and insightful.

FWIW, I was a true MSFT believer for many years. I joined the company in 1993 and worked my way up from grunt in the field to PM at Redmond. I was distraught when the DOJ decision was handed down in 1999. I met (brielfy) both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer - face-to-face, shook hands, chatted, etc. I still own a bunch of MSFT stock. I *want* the company to do well, even now. But MSFT is truly a troubled company, on a path to irrelevance and failure. It makes me sad ... but it makes me even sadder to see a new generation of Yes-Men, saying that the Company is going great and anyone who complains is a loser.

Anonymous said...

Trust me people, no employee who posts to this blog is a good example of a top performer at Microsoft (although they may be delusional enough to think so).

If you're an employee, a self-admitted mediocre performer, why haven't you had the decency to resign yet?

Anonymous said...


If you are an elite talent and your level of comfort around speaking out against the company is as high as you say then why do you post anonymously?


OP here.

Let's be super-clear, since you seem to have some difficulty with nuance:

I didn't say I was an "elite talent". I said I was an E/20 at Microsoft and actually good at what I do, not just a political shark. I was rebutting the point that only poor performers at Microsoft post here.

Second, I post anonymously because it would be TOTALLY FUCKING RETARDED to slam the company and use my name. Are you daft? The point is that the Microsoft yes-men have so totally embraced the toxic culture that they won't even criticize the company in an anonymous forum. They don't have skills and are 100% tethered to doing well at Microsoft, because they're going to have a very difficult time landing another job elsewhere. This does not mean that those of us who CAN land jobs elsewhere would be wise to use our names when saying Microsoft sucks.

Dude. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

For those (like myself over the last.. 2 years) debating whether to leave Microsoft, let me give some positive words of encouragement...and say DO IT.

I just signed an offer with another major company making $24,000.00 more than what I'm making now. It was unreal. More importantly it is a company that has a completely different culture than Microsoft. Granted, a company is a company but it's at the point where ANYTHING is better than where I'm at, and to make more for a better position in this economy I feel lucky/blessed.

In any case, I suggest performing introspection on what your best skillsets and passions are, and selectively seek out opportunities that match that. Try and skip safe bets such as going to become a "SDET" or a "SDE" or "PM" just because that's what you did in your last job.. This is what I underwent the last 3 months and so far real happy..

Good luck! I'm excited! 10 years, bye-bye and good riddance!

Anonymous said...

"There are certainly some issues at MSFT but some of the people that post in this blog are just over the top in their pessimism and whining."

Former 65+ now in the bay area - let me offer some perspective to a high-performing 63 from a former hipo


The good:
* XBOX Kinect blew it away this past Holiday, over 35M customers now pay for the priviledge of XBox Live
Cool product, hard to believe 35M customers chose XBox live because of that (vs. e.g. Halo) ... unless the growth post-launch was 35M ... no? In the meantime a company called Zynga is about to IPO having created a slightly higher amount of shareholders value with a fraction of the resources.
* The enterprise business is strong, committed revenue is higher than it's ever been (MSFT has a global enterprise business that is really unmatched by anyone)
Have you looked carefully at MSFT's licensing model? What's in the pipeline for the next 3 years to have me pay for an EA?

Anonymous said...

* Office365 and Dynamics both are rapidly growing businesses with a ton of upside
Office365 is rapidly growing taking share from a business called Office which a company called MSFT had the monopoly for. Unfortunately its share is not as high, on the plus side it will require way fewer sales/marketing/dev resources in redmond once customers have finally migrated to it. Don't know much about Dynamics
* MSFT now has 11 distinct businesses that do over $1B in revenue - I can think of maybe one or two other businesses on the planet (GE, etc) that can say the same
* Largely because of this diverse portfolio of businesses, MSFT was able to grow revenue, operating income, and net income in spite of *declining* PC sales (MSFT is not a one-trick pony any longer, if it ever was)
The market doesn't seem to agree with you. I'd suggest reading Goldman's report as a starter on why .... Hint: tomorrow's platform is called cellphone - doesn't run on windows or require MSFT's backbone. Guess what that will do to margins hence employment?
* Even with weakness in the PC market the past couple of quarters, it's hard to argue with the success of Windows 7 with over 400M licenses sold
Ominously though the one company president you didn't mention below is the one who shipped it ... why?
* MSFT's Cloud offerings collectively are second to none
except in sales where they're going nowhere or in marketing - where they're the laugh stock of the valley
* Bing has a long ways to go but has actually made some progress in the US search market against Google, which was once thought impossible
Bing is paying one dollar for every extra dollar in revenue - AFTER "achieving scale". The search business is quickly moving into irrelevance and your social story is "let's give the house keys to Facebook and hope they'll let us sleep in the cellar"
* As an employee, unless you are a bottom 20% performer, the new comp plan is a win. If you don't think so, then you don't really understand the change
Do the math before telling others to do theirs. As a high performer (top 20%) you lose out more in stock than you gain in cash - unless you're planning to leave within the next 2 years. So the company has successfully screwed the very people it should try its best to retain ... again assuming it was good at identifying top performers :-)

Anonymous said...

* Say what you will about Ballmer, there are some senior execs at MSFT that are truly outstanding. Mattrick, Satya, KT, Qi Lu, PK, Lisa B - you won't find anyone better than these folks anywhere
Haven't work with Mattrick and PK long enough to comment. Funny you're missing the one guy who saved the company (SS). Lisa B is incompetent. The rest are smart but not the choice I would have made (e.g. Ayala should have KT as his errand boy).
* The Nokia partnership will be instrumental in getting a WP7 device in a lot of people's hands
How's that working out for you lately? ;-)

Good news: you're high-performing (and smart enough to know to keep your mouth shut) so ... that may still be the right choice for you (devil's wages aren't that bad, trust a former Hipo). Bad news: your external market is unlikely to expand as you spend time there. People recognize a culture of fear and question folks who lived in it for too long as of why they didn't leave before (lack of ability being the underlying assumption).

Anonymous said...

* Office365 and Dynamics both are rapidly growing businesses with a ton of upside
... you seriously think Office365 will capture new markets or are you talking about the upside from getting rid of a bunch of folks in Redmond once on-premise becomes obsolete ...?
* MSFT now has 11 distinct businesses that do over $1B in revenue - I can think of maybe one or two other businesses on the planet (GE, etc) that can say the same
I can think of hundreds (any bank with a decent credit card offering ... I think profits is what usually matters) anyway I'd give a look to some of those analyst reports if I were you to understand why the street thinks otherwise ...

* Largely because of this diverse portfolio of businesses, MSFT was able to grow revenue, operating income, and net income in spite of *declining* PC sales (MSFT is not a one-trick pony any longer, if it ever was)
See above - BTW did you know that IBM's most profitable year ever was two years before they had to bring in Gestner to prevent it from going under?
* Even with weakness in the PC market the past couple of quarters, it's hard to argue with the success of Windows 7 with over 400M licenses sold
Or IBM's success with their cool mainframes just as the first PCs were coming out .... I hope you're getting close to retirement (though as a 63 it'd be sad): the platform is shifting to mobile. You have no play. Wake up.
* MSFT's Cloud offerings collectively are second to none
Except in revenues. I agree thought nobody would have ever spent that much to achieve that little on the marketing side (I'm talking about you "cloud power" comrades)
* Bing has a long ways to go but has actually made some progress in the US search market against Google, which was once thought impossible
Interesting business one in which you pay $1 for every $1 in incremental revenue at scale ... no? BTW, remind me, what's your social play (other than praying to God Facebook will not kick you out)?

Anonymous said...

MSFT is still very strong in the enterprise

In the enterprise, IBM is wiping the floor with Microsoft. For ent customers "Microsoft" means: desktops, Office, and Exchange ... with SCCM and SQL Server in supporting roles. BizTalk has fizzled, very little traction for .NET LOB apps, no-one wants to install Windows Server if Linux can do the job; heavy-duty DBs are mostly Oracle or DB2. Dynamics are SMB-oriented, little traction in enterprise. IBM's market cap has now caught up with MSFT and will soon overtake it, just like AAPL did in Consumer space.

Anonymous said...

Tick tick tick. That's the review clock BTW.

Why all this cloak-and-dagger with this childish game of 1s and 5s? It reminds me of pick-your-reality-show where someone gets voted off the island or whatever once a week.

All these differentiation tests are ridiculous, and unnececssary. It is perfectly possible for everyone in a team to exceed their goals, or fail to do so. Recognize exceptional performance as just that - an exception. There is no need to build it into the review model, use gold star or whatever as the mechanism. Write clear goals and don't mandate distributions. Gee it's not that hard.

Of course KT is an unpleasant little man from an unpleasant retail company, and he just loves to sweat the peons.

Anonymous said...

To those posters who defend Microsoft and its poisonous culture, and who refuse to see that the company is in a slow downward spiral, I have only one to say: "Stockholm Syndrome".

Wikipedia describes it as a "paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors; sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness."

A lack of abuse is considered an act of kindness. Is there anything that better sums up the relationship of Microsoft to its employees?

Anonymous said...

A lack of abuse is considered an act of kindness. Is there anything that better sums up the relationship of Microsoft to its employees?

That characterization is as accurate as it is succinct.

Anonymous said...

Unless the person you are interviewing is a known quantity, any group worth their salt is going put them through the same interview process as an external hire. There are just too many idiots running around at this point that you cannot assume every FTE would be a good hire.

True, but note that the very same people will read the persons reviews for the past two years, ignore anything positive, but take anything negative to heart.

This seems like an odd mismatch to me: Place trust in other people's opinions, but only on the negative side, and at the same time run intense interviews.

Someone interviewing internally has a DISADVANTAGE from an external candidate. If any of your last bosses didn't like anything about you and put it in a review, an internal candidate has that against them. There are no such things for external candidates.

Anonymous said...

I left Microsoft three years ago to join Apple. I was exhausted and demoralized when I started my new job but now three and a half years later, it's the hardest, most challenging thing I've ever done but I love it. The stock of course is a pleasant surprise but working in an environment that's collaborative, honest and creative - where people are proud of what they are putting out - where you can't find space in a public room when there is a product announcement and the atmosphere is electric - there is nothing like it. I love and respect my friends at Microsoft and I want a better experience for them, for all of you.

Anonymous said...

>>I have been here less than a year and have come to feel that I have made a grave mistake in my career.

+1 -- we must have started around the same time, and your evaluation is certainly close to mine. I came from a fairly different line of work to see the Msft circus, and at this point I've concluded that the high-wire artists are far outnumbered by the clowns (and the piles of elephant poop). I expect to be gone within six months -- under my own power and back to my previous profession, as I was careful to leave the bridges unburnt -- but I'll leave with an immense sadness at the amount of wasted talent at this once-remarkable company. The only question left is how high to set the sell price on my wee puddle of vested stock; I expect a wonderful eruption of optimism on Wall Street and off when Ballmer is finally ousted...

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, who are now disappointed with working for Microsoft. From what I have seen here, most of you joined Microsoft because of the passion you have for the company and the great products and services it provides. I want to know what has made you lost the passion and what would help you regain it. As I am going to join the company soon, I would like to hear some constructive suggestions on things to do and most importantly things not to do. Thanks, softies.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, who are now disappointed with working for Microsoft. From what I have seen here, most of you joined Microsoft because of the passion you have for the company and the great products and services it provides. I want to know what has made you lost the passion and what would help you regain it.

For a while, mostly in the mid 90s to early 2000s, Microsoft was putting out some good (even great) stuff. Win95 was great for its time. It came out at a time when Mac OS didn't have preemptive multitasking or protected memory, and Linux had terrible GUIs. WinXP was similarly pretty solid--more manly file system, multiprocessor support, etc. Visual Studio was relatively lightweight and fast and produced much better code than Borland or gcc/g++. IE6 may not have been perfect but it was certainly better than Netscape.

So I joined at the tail end of this heyday thinking it would continue but everything went to crap instead. Vista was an abortion. VS became bloated and unstable and the .NET schizophrenia made it unclear how to develop Windows apps any more. Firefox showed us how backwards IE6 really was. And this was all happening long before the iPhone/iPad debacles.

So there was a reason at one point to join Microsoft (other than the stock options) and a reason to leave, too.

Anonymous said...

There it is, from a high-performing L63 employee [...]

Given that many of the points you made have been comprehensively rebutted, the following question arises: are you "high-performing" in your own estimation, in the estimation of your fellow Microsoft employees, or according to your reviews at Microsoft?

MS Manager said...

Thank you for calling out the disaster that the new review system is.

I am a manager in Microsoft and remember the huge sigh of relief when the old fixed distribution system was finally binned. But here we back with a new one in the name of "simplification" and all the old evils are back - game playing, "curves" being forced on tiny organisations, good people being ratcheted down because a bad person left just before calibration so is no there to get the sacrificial "5". Dark room with closed doors where heresay is used ot rubbish people in favour of favourites of senior manager. The list goes on and on and on.

Lazy managers who could not be arsed to divide up bonus, stock and raise pots sing its praises of course.

"Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad".

Anonymous said...

Being an ex-Microsoft employee and having worked in another company for a year, I have a few observations to share:

* I think the culture in Microsoft is somehow overemphasizing (inflating) the necessity to keep loyal to the company for years. Look at the comment from someone above: he used to have OK review, and then got a hint he'll be placed in the lowest bucket ("#5") at midyear discussion (wow!). 4 months later (July) he only started to inquiry whether he'll keep his job. Looking at it outside of Microsoft culture this is absurd. 4 months is more than enough for an OK engineer with Microsoft background to find a good place in a different company that fit his interests and skills. Why he didn't even start looking? Of course, one possibility is that he is an H1 visa holder, but I don't think it's the only one. I can imagine this behavior as a result of a strong cultural effect: people (for an unexplainable reason) look at Microsoft as at some kind of a family. Hey, open your eyes, it is just a job!

* One more possible explanation: they look at it as a game. Like in a school: teacher gives you C, so you work harder to get A next time. Again, from the outside of Microsoft it looks naive and absurd, but I can understand this feeling.

* Curves are bad. Workplaces that don't employ curves (like "regardless of what you do, X% of you are losers") tend to have much friendlier athmosphere. People don't have incentive to show themselves better at cost of others, but have incentive to have the whole department (or company) to succeed. So they can be helpful, friendly, approachable and share engineering values. (Yes, it's possible!)

* Micromanagement is humilitation and overhead. Just look at how much time you spend on the whole review process throughout the year. While in reality it may take 15 minutes per year to gather reliable peer feedback, look at actual achievements and have a conversation. Any extra time spent on micromanagement is taken away from: strategic thinking, designing, featurework, bugfixing, refactoring, learning, building relationships, resting.

* Microsoft actually has very complex projects, high-standard engineering processes and talented people. By working for Microsoft, you gain a lot of skill. It's just culture that lowers self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time to really game the review system. What is needed is a bunch of people who are willing to be "professional fours and fives" and cheerfully accept those buckets. For it to work long-term managers need to make up some crap about them being a bad fit but still great material so they can trade them around between teams. This would increase morale a lot. What is in it for the fivers? They can slack off a lot while still getting paid.

Anonymous said...

What's the date when reviews start going out? I'm curious about the mapping of A/70 E/20 will map into 2s, 1s, and 0s.

Anonymous said...

* MSFT now has 11 distinct businesses that do over $1B in revenue - I can think of maybe one or two other businesses on the planet (GE, etc) that can say the same

Revenue is nice and looks impressive, but means little.

How profitable are these businesses? That's what really matters.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Thursday, July 28, 2011 9:03:00 AM:

You think fivers can slack off? If a group doesn't have enough attrition, those fivers are going to be laid off or fired, possibly as early as the next review cycle especially if the fiver "slacks off."

As a long-time (13 years) manager at Microsoft who left the company earlier this year, I can't tell you the number of times I had to fight in calibration meetings for my 10 percenters to not be kicked out of the company. A few were just having a down year and some were at the top of their pay scale/level but still contributing. Yes, there were two kinds of "10 percenters" (labeled 1 and 2) but anyone with a 10 percent score was potentially on the chopping block.

Without significant attrition at a company, cutting positions is one of the top ways to trim budget. Giving low review scores is the top way to get rid of employees because now you have firing for cause (or the employee just leaves).

Anonymous said...

I think it is time to really game the review system.

DirectX team members did this back in the day. They traded around who got a bad score. But back then, no one was getting let go and everyone was flush with vested stock so why not.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is systematically destroying it's brand with foolish decisions that only worked when they had a monopoly. The post-PC era is here, and MS meets the challenge with a cheesy phone OS,, and clunky tablets running Windows 7. Sure, Win8 will come out in the next year or two, but so will multiple versions of Android, IOS, etc.

Welcome to Microsoft, the GMC of the tech world

Anonymous said...

So the calibrations are all locked in and loaded. Probably wont be announced till late August, but what is the inside scoop from managers/people in the know?

Anonymous said...

What's the date when reviews start going out? I'm curious about the mapping of A/70 E/20 will map into 2s, 1s, and 0s.

It's pretty damned obvious that you don't work at MS.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time to really game the review system.

(ex-softie here)

That's been going on for a long time. After we were acquired and integrated into MSFT, I saw plenty of gaming and other things complained about here. In the level 65-67 band, where the curve had a lower required percentage of 3.0s and it was basically an old boys club, the low scores were rotated around the managers from year to year, and their stock was tweaked to offset somewhat. When someone got the 3.0 they more often than not got the "sorry, you drew the short straw" speech instead of the list of failings made up to justify the score.

In our lower levels, instead of firing people or letting them quit around mid-year, a few people were offered "deals" where they turned in their badge, went home not to come back, and got on with their lives and looked for other jobs, but stayed on the payroll and were present as far as HR was concerned until review time came around. Then they got their 2.5's and their long prepared letters of resignation were turned in.

The guys getting those deals usually weren't necessarily such bad performers tech-wise, but rather had been on the wrong side of some wicked politics that we had. So they got what amounted to a much better severence than usual, and we got to better protect some groups of high performers that we had built up.

Evolution in action. Is it any surprise?

Anonymous said...

eight years under my belt and finalizing my plans to leave. Working for Microsoft was a goal of mine in the 1990's, and while I had a good run, it is very much time to leave. There is such a degree of bureaucracy, control and group think that it is just a motivation killer. The insularity and internal focus has gotten much worse, all eyes are focused within the company on the political games and maneuvering rather than on customers and partners. To get a partner level person to meet with someone external requires a briefing doc and an hour long prep with silly questions (q: what is my role in this meeting a:we are trying to sell some software so try to be useful). Every l62+ has 2 or 3 v- minions to actually do their jobs for them. Alternative opinions and real/open discussions are not welcomed. As much as it sucks to be in the field, dealing with Redmond, it must suck more to be in Redmond, unless you are a completely cynical person. What bums me out the most is that on occasion you connect with people inside of Microsoft who are like the old Microsoft - smart, driven, pragmatic and more interested in getting things done than the political implications. I can deal with entrepreneurial douchebaggery, it is the bureaucratic douchebaggery and the endless suck up that literally just turns my motivation off. Bummer as it was a great experience for me my first few years and a great feeling to tell people you worked for Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

The company is in decline. WP7 was dead on launch, and Windows 8 is shaping up to be a complete disaster from every angle. It is Microsoft's answer to the Boeing 777

Anonymous said...

As a former Softie after reading the comments it seems that things haven't changed much for you all and I feel for you. I really hope for you and my friends and former colleagues still there that morale improves soon with better leadership and less politics. If you don't feel that those things are going to happen I suggest looking externally. Life outside MS has been both different and better in many ways for me. Most people I talk to outside of MS in technology view it as an irrelevant company in a slow death. I wish that wasn't their response but it's true and I cannot disagree. Think about it - how many tech companies can grow their business with such old core cash cow products with real competition in so many other areas? Even with more R&D $ than almost any company on the planet, MS cannot out-innovate any of its competitors at the moment. I think that has more to do with politics and weak execution/positioning than innovation but it is what it is. Don't even get me started on the damage done by Ballmer, KT and LB. Some of these aforementioned comments I hear often from some industry colleagues even without them knowing the uglier internal politics and toxic environment that is all too familiar to you and I. I sincerely wish you luck no matter what path you choose. I'm rooting for you Microsoft and hope that you can turn some things around, but those who post "everything is great and everyone else is a troll for criticizing" have no place in a forum where constructive criticism and some venting is needed.

Anonymous said...

Back when I started in windows they gave all of the rookies a 3.0. That was how they spread around the bad score. That worked until HR told them to stop.

I'm just happy to be out of that hell hole. If you get a 5, management and HR have no interest whatsoever in seeing you get a better score next time--they actively encourage you to quit instead. That's messed up. If a manager doesn't want you on the team due to being a bad fit, they should encourage you to transfer to another team. After you get a 5, you're screwed.

Anonymous said...

3 to 5 after notification of moving to another team

A friend of mine got a 5 after he told his manager he planned to move to another team. Originally, he was privately told that he would get a 3. He just got promoted during the middle year review and his current manager is a new manager joined after middle year review.

What should he do? Fight back? How? Talk to HR?

Anonymous said...

MM has hired a stand-in/impersonator while he quitely leaves.

Anonymous said...

Q3: Very likely. 5 means you're not a Microsoft fit.

That just plain isn't necessarily true.


+1. It means that your manager is considered a Microsoft fit, whether or not they are.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time to really game the review system.

DirectX team members did this back in the day. They traded around who got a bad score. But back then, no one was getting let go and everyone was flush with vested stock so why not.


Well gee. My opinion of those guys (and women) just went up if it was explicit on their part instead of informally done by their management without their consent, as happens on numerous teams.

As numerous posters have pointed out, it's a great idea, and a way for the staff to work around a flawed system.... but it only works as long as the 4's and 5's are not being so aggressively managed out.

But regarding being managed out for being a 10%er being "for cause", it's not. "Cause" looks like "embezzled from the company", "deliberately put a back door for personal use into a driver", "offered a promotion in exchange for sex", not "didn't do well on someone's subjective rating scale".

The number of checks Microsoft has written to such people over the years, and the total amount of the payments, indicates that Microsoft knows this as well as I do.

Anonymous said...

"With any other company, maybe. But Apple is so far the other direction they're barely on the same axis."

Yeah, tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases. If this had happened at any other company there would have been a full recall.

Anonymous said...

"Unless the person you are interviewing is a known quantity, any group worth their salt is going put them through the same interview process as an external hire. There are just too many idiots running around at this point that you cannot assume every FTE would be a good hire."

This, in my opinion, is an awfully short sighted and self-defeating attitude. On one hand, there are people who fly through interviews that have no business developing software, but if you don't trust that this is the exception rather than the rule and don't make the leap of faith the Microsoft hires "for Microsoft first" then all this approach does is make it harder for people to hook up with the projects they are really passionate about. All it takes is one fuck-up during the gauntlet of whiteboard questions and someone in the candidate's loop sends up the no-hire flare. Because of the ongoing back-channel emails, it's pretty hard for someone to recover from that. I'm not saying an internal candidate should get a free pass, but then again... Google doesn't make people re-interview.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases.

In my experience and according to what I've heard from several friends, Apple is very quick to issue replacements for broken stuff or otherwise dissatisfied customers. They probably put a lot of money into this to fight any potential negative perception, and can afford to do so because their margins are big. If your hardware breaks and you take it to the Apple Store, you'll be so delighted with how quickly it was replaced that you'll forget the pain of the thing breaking. And since you happen to be in the store you might as well buy more gadgets on the way out, while you're there.

Anonymous said...

I've heard stories and read stories here, but didn't really get it until now. At Msft, you're always one reorg from Hell.

I'm a long-time, consistent high-performer expecting a 1 for FY 11.

For FY12, I have a new "manager" who embodies most of the bad things you read about managers on this blog. I'm too busy to play games, and I'm totally screwed. The saddest part is that his new "boy" is the SDE that the rest of us think is useless. He's willing to play the game, so he's a "rock star" even though his peers think he == null.

I love what I do and I love most of the team, but there is no way I will tolerate his crap and play his BS games, so I'm going to leave my favorite job ever.

On our team, the race is on to see who can get out fastest. At some point, he will play the "business need" card to stop the mass exodus. Once we're sure the review model is locked, we're sending the intent to interview email. I can only imagine the fallout from that.

It's a totally broken culture when one dickhead can ruin an otherwise great team. I was totally in denial thinking it couldn't happen to me. Depressing.

Any great teams for an SDE that wants to focus on writing great code?

Anonymous said...

hearing from the grapevine, there is going to be a big round of layoffs after September... if your team reorged into a bigger group recently, you might be in the "redundant" bucket and targeted first...

Anonymous said...

""Unless the person you are interviewing is a known quantity, any group worth their salt is going put them through the same interview process as an external hire. There are just too many idiots running around at this point that you cannot assume every FTE would be a good hire."

This, in my opinion, is an awfully short sighted and self-defeating attitude. On one hand, there are people who fly through interviews that have no business developing software, but if you don't trust that this is the exception rather than the rule and don't make the leap of faith the Microsoft hires "for Microsoft first" then all this approach does is make it harder for people to hook up with the projects they are really passionate about. All it takes is one fuck-up during the gauntlet of whiteboard questions and someone in the candidate's loop sends up the no-hire flare. Because of the ongoing back-channel emails, it's pretty hard for someone to recover from that. I'm not saying an internal candidate should get a free pass, but then again... Google doesn't make people re-interview."


+1

I've been at Microsoft for 15 years -- the first 6 were pretty awesome, the last 9 have been a mixed bag. I've interviewed internally quite a few times and have switched teams 4 times during my tenure. I've had offers from all but 2 of the loops I've gone through.

Internal transfers should be based on a hiring manager reviewing your Microsoft reviews and experience, talking to you and your manager, and then setting-up peer conversations -- not interviews -- with the new team to make sure it's a good fit.

Where the above breaks-down is the garbage Microsoft review system that puts people into "desirable", "questionable" and "undesirable" buckets based on just about every factor other than actual performance. Until that goes away, internal transfers will continue to be bidding wars for the top 20% of the review stack.

Anonymous said...

"Q3: Very likely. 5 means you're not a Microsoft fit.

That just plain isn't necessarily true.

+1. It means that your manager is considered a Microsoft fit, whether or not they are."


You're reinforcing my point -- being a "Microsoft fit" has exactly nothing to do with being a good employee, and everything to do with being popular with your management.

Being a "5" in the new system means that you're either on the way out by force, they're trying to get you to quit or they're teeing-up an easy layoff. 5 is clear message that you're not a "Microsoft fit", where "Microsoft fit" means "your managers don't like you, so your days are numbered one way or the other."

Anonymous said...

"3 to 5 after notification of moving to another team

A friend of mine got a 5 after he told his manager he planned to move to another team. Originally, he was privately told that he would get a 3. He just got promoted during the middle year review and his current manager is a new manager joined after middle year review.

What should he do? Fight back? How? Talk to HR?"


Why do people continue asking if they should talk to HR in these situations? Does nobody listen? HR is never EVER your friend. If someone is given a 5 it's already been reviewed by the HR team and they're already working with management to cover all the bases.

NEVER TALK TO HR UNLESS YOUR LAWYER TELLS YOU TO, otherwise it's always a trap that will not end well for you. The end.

And in most cases it's not worth fighting back over a 5 -- 99.9% of the cases you will gain nothing, in the history of the company very few review scores have ever changed.

If you get a 5, the best thing to do is brush up your resume and get out of dodge.

Anonymous said...

* As an employee, unless you are a bottom 20% performer, the new comp plan is a win. If you don't think so, then you don't really understand the change


--------------------
Wow! Used to be bottom 10% was "bad"
Now it is 20? just make the bottom 80% and be done with it

Anonymous said...

Its a cycle in the Windows evolution and the company is tied to that.

Windows 8 is longhorn all over again and we will soon be in cutting is shipping stage. We will get a release like Vista that takes too long and provides too little.
The current management will get fired and the new management will ship a release which will be a service pack in disguise but will look great comparatively. Then the new team will undertake their longhorn.

Our only prayer is windows phone taking off as the central platform for the future like what happened with Apple for their turnaround.

Anonymous said...

the leap of faith the Microsoft hires "for Microsoft first"

Does this fly in the face of the 4-or-5-and-out convention or what?

How can a group possibly hire "for Microsoft first" if they know they're condemning someone who isn't a fit FOR THEIR PARTICULAR TEAM to maybe a 12-month "career" at the company courtesy of an initial 4 or 5?

Since the middle of the past decade, our team's needs have been so precise and for a time so desperate due to bad management planning and resourcing that taking the luxury to hire the best "Microsoft hire" would have meant we would not get our goals met. This would have had drastic consequences for the company as a whole. Instead, we had to hire the person who had the best skill set to be productive IMMEDIATELY even if gut feel was that they didn't have the passion and that 18 months down the road, any of several other candidates would likely have done better at the company.

In the best of all worlds, that type of backfill is what you'd use contractors for. In reality, you get allocated headcount when your (piss poor negotiator) manager in a tight division finally smiles at the right VP at the right time. And then, that manager will be sweating bullets until the head is filled so that they don't look badly for not being able to make a hiring decision. Yes, the perception (or at least fear of it) is still there even if there are no good candidates because, well, leads can get screwed over on stack ranks, too, so best not give anyone any easy plausible excuses.

Anonymous said...

-728 billion for Online Services

A tiny 32 million for Entertainment and Devices.

Now that Apple has left Microsoft in the dust in market cap, revenue, profits, its time for Ballmer to grow up and start focusing on the only thing that matters, stock price.

It is long past time to dump the garbage products like:

* Xbox
* Bing
* Windows Phone

Xbox is now in last place in worldwide sales. The hardware is still so costly that even the 100s of millions in online fees being charged can't cover the losses resulting in a joke 32 million profit for E&D this past quarter.

Windows Phone 7 has a might as well be dead 1 percent worldwide marketshare and Microsoft's overall cellphone marketshare is plummeting every quarter.

Other than the silly PR stunt of paying Yahoo to use Microsoft as their search provider to artificially inflate marketshare, Microsoft has roughly the same search marketshare as they had years ago with previous incarnations while blowing 2.5 billion over the past year.

This Ballmer 'we can't afford not to be in this market' or 'we'll throw billions at it' idiocy must come to an end. It has been over a decade now with this clown in charge.

There needs to be a two stage process to clean up Ballmer's decade long mess. First some interim CEO needs to come in and replace him and cut deep, cut hard, and cut merciless. Clean out every bit of the mess Ballmer created over the past decade. Close entire divisions. Reduce the head count by tens of thousands.

Then when he is done, let a visionary come in and rebuild Microsoft from its leaner and more efficient base. Get the stock growing again and attract the type of people who use to come to work here a decade ago when going to Microsoft meant quite possibly getting rich off stock.

Anonymous said...

@A friend of mine got a 5 after he told his manager he planned to move to another team.

How he is aware that he got 5. reviews are not disclosed yet.

Anonymous said...

tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases. If this had happened at any other company there would have been a full recall

Apple had a problem and they responded appropriately. Cracked Macbook cases can be repaired free-of-charge, even for machines out of warranty. A mass recall would have been a bad move, because the vast majority of Macboks did *not* develop this problem. Apples does recall hardware when it needs to; like recalls of laptop batteries and some recent iMacs.

I've seen thsi many times - some MSFT supporters inside the company seem determined to believe that Apple's success is somehow a swizz: Apple actually have a lousy product but have successfully hoodwinked buyers. This is more like a kids sports team, slapping each other on the back and telling each other the other team has pimples. In fact, Apple has executed extremely well, sold high-quality products that people WANT to buy, and have been successful as a result. There *are* some issues that Apple still need to sort out (eg responses to security vulnerabilities). But Microsoft can't take much comfort from that. AAPL market Cap has risen 50% since AAPL overtook MSFT last year - in other words, Apple has grown by half-a-Microsoft, in 12 months. AAPL are doing great in Consumer space, IBM is gdoing great in Enterprise, Microsoft is doing great in Windows and Office (and not much else).

Anonymous said...

Because of the ongoing back-channel emails, it's pretty hard for someone to recover from that. I'm not saying an internal candidate should get a free pass, but then again... Google doesn't make people re-interview...

The back-channel email network, as well as the ability of a hiring manager to look at an internal candidate's review info makes it more difficult for an internal candidate. When I was a lead, I tried to hire a guy that I had worked with on a previous team. He was a good, solid employee. He got all "hires" on the loop. But my skip level manager knew the candidate's current manager. Through the back channels, the current manager smeared the candidate- so the skip level manager ("as appropriate") rejected the candidate.

I didn't know of the relationship- or the attributes of this skip level, who was new to the group- or I would have not put this candidate through this ordeal. Chances of this happening to an external candidate are much slimmer.

Another manifestation of how broken the system is.

Anonymous said...

"Windows was once an impenetrable fortress, but in the past year, AAPL has penetrated it with a single product launch."

Accurate, and should really be #1 on your list since everything else pales by comparison. Windows is still *the* driver of MS's overall success despite a decade and around $100B of Ballmer's so-called diversification efforts. This past year alone, MS effectively lost more share there to Apple than it did over the entire last decade. It makes even the spectacular mobile failure look like losing a minor skirmish.

Without healthy Windows growth, the company overall can't grow at a reasonable rate (as we've seen from last quarter and the forecast for next year). And since iPad hurts both Windows and Office, it's a double hit to both revenue and particularly profit. Profit from these two units provides the bulk of funding for all of Ballmer's assorted other losers, including Online. So it destabilizes everything.

It was only a matter of time before Ballmer exposed the company to a mortal blow. He'd already subjected it to nearly a decade of flesh wounds. It was obviously at least five years ago that he wasn't the right guy to lead MS to the next level, especially against a resurgent Apple and Steve Jobs. But the board refused to act.

And predictably, despite Ballmer being specifically tasked by the board to improve MS's position in mobile and tablets, they'll look past this mortal blow from iPad, the near total failure of the $400M WP7 launch, the continued and indeed increasing losses in search, and of course the continued downward spiral of MS's valuation, and one again back Steve so that he can fuck the company up even more.

At some point shareholders will have had enough and will kick Ballmer and the board out. It's inevitable given the company's trajectory and frankly unbelievable that it hasn't already occurred. Unfortunately, it looks like that's now going to be far too late to avoid the painful consequences of a decade of mismanagement and competitive failure.

Anonymous said...

I think the culture in Microsoft is somehow overemphasizing (inflating) the necessity to keep loyal to the company for years. Look at the comment from someone above: he used to have OK review, and then got a hint he'll be placed in the lowest bucket ("#5") at midyear discussion (wow!). 4 months later (July) he only started to inquiry whether he'll keep his job. Looking at it outside of Microsoft culture this is absurd. 4 months is more than enough for an OK engineer with Microsoft background to find a good place in a different company that fit his interests and skills. Why he didn't even start looking? Of course, one possibility is that he is an H1 visa holder, but I don't think it's the only one. I can imagine this behavior as a result of a strong cultural effect: people (for an unexplainable reason) look at Microsoft as at some kind of a family. Hey, open your eyes, it is just a job!

I agree with the OP here because I am in the same boat. I have been working here for 3 years now and since last year I have been twitching to change jobs but I haven't because sometimes it feels that I may be letting down my team. What I feel about the company hasn't changed at all..i.e, I feel resources are not managed properly and people are so stuck thinking about their part of the "feature" that they never try to deliver an experience.
So why am I here, I keep on asking myself...and can't find any justification. I think the OP is dead on.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases. If this had happened at any other company there would have been a full recall.

If you mean cracks to the edges of the "top case" assembly (keyboard, trackpad, and surrounding plastic) then there IS a full recall. You can take your MacBook to an Apple Store and they will replace the top case for free in a matter of minutes regardless of warranty status of the MacBook. (I assume you can also send your MacBook to Apple if you don't live near an Apple Store.) If you take your MacBook in for any other reason and your top case is cracked, they will offer to replace it.

Apple suffers somewhat in terms of perceived quality because they are one of the highest volume computer manufactures and they only sell a few models, so if there's a problem with any given model then millions of people may be affected and it will make the news on tech blogs etc., whereas nobody would give a second thought to the same problem occurring with a particular model of PC laptop.

Anonymous said...

"With any other company, maybe. But Apple is so far the other direction they're barely on the same axis."

Yeah, tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases. If this had happened at any other company there would have been a full recall.


I agree. HP did it with their broken hinges on their notebooks (after courts kicked their behinds with a class-action) Or Dell did with their Inspiron notebook problems (after class-action lawsuit).

Anonymous said...

"I agree. HP did it with their broken hinges on their notebooks (after courts kicked their behinds with a class-action) Or Dell did with their Inspiron notebook problems (after class-action lawsuit"

Um, Apple made their repair policy more liberal after a law firm started requesting participants for a class action. Before that, they were refusing to fix any cracks to the bottom of the case.

And to the other shill saying cracks on non unibody polycarbonate MacBooks are rare, get real.

Anonymous said...

It's a totally broken culture when one dickhead can ruin an otherwise great team. I was totally in denial thinking it couldn't happen to me. Depressing.

I know of a team not long ago that decided they were not going to be collectively screwed any more by their mentally unstable manager. They all did informationals and outside interviews, they all had jobs pending, and walked into their manager's manager's office as a group and gave an ultimatim - fire him that day or they all quit on the spot. There was no room to debate as they were all ready to leave. The manager in question was fired that day.

It is very rare that people have the guts to do that, but they did and they kept the group together.

Anonymous said...

Our only prayer is windows phone taking off as the central platform for the future like what happened with Apple for their turnaround.

I was under the impression that windows phone was that smoking mess that crashed not far from the end of the runway, and that Nokia are ready to hose down the wreck with petrol. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

I've heard stories and read stories here, but didn't really get it until now. At Msft, you're always one reorg from Hell. (snip) It's a totally broken culture when one dickhead can ruin an otherwise great team. I was totally in denial thinking it couldn't happen to me.

Welcome to the club. It happens to the best of us. Max-possible-stock-award-for-level, multi-OOB-bonus, multi-gold-star former FTE speaking from experience. Yeah, lost out on my favorite job ever over it - not that it was ever the same job once the dickhead had his way with my commitments....

And don't feel bad about not getting it until the shoe was being forced onto your foot. If you're in a role that seems to be a perfect fit, and you're an engineer, one's brain just doesn't stretch in the direction of, "so of course I will lose it tomorrow for no good reason," very easily because it doesn't pass the common sense test. "Knowing" that common sense isn't necessarily relevant, and "living" it, are two different things.

Anonymous said...

On our team, the race is on to see who can get out fastest. At some point, he will play the "business need" card to stop the mass exodus. Once we're sure the review model is locked, we're sending the intent to interview email. I can only imagine the fallout from that.

Why would you do that? Unless you are looking internally, I'd not tell until I gave notice.

Anonymous said...

What's the date when reviews start going out? I'm curious about the mapping of A/70 E/20 will map into 2s, 1s, and 0s.
--
It's pretty damned obvious that you don't work at MS.


Not since 2 weeks ago, when I left on my own for better opportunities elsewhere. Prior to that, 8 years @ MS, 4/5s then E/20s, hipo/bench program, all that jazz. If you don't know that there is actually a level 0, your loss. They talked about it at the last bench training session. It's the top 3-5%, and it has the same numbers that the high top of the curve for the prior e/20's had, 300% bonus targets and so on.

Anonymous said...

"Windows Phone 7 needs to hurry up and die already."

WP7 ROCKS! My wife has an Android and my step-daughter has and iPhone. Both are constantly complaining about how they work and don't work. No complaints from me. It's simple to operate and does everything I need. Looking forward to Mango!

Anonymous said...

So the ugly fat lady sings 2.3 million into the bank.

Lisa Brummel sells Microsoft shares

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else finding it interesting that Lisa B keeps selling stock? Almost $3 million sold since mid-May...

Anonymous said...

At some point shareholders will have had enough and will kick Ballmer and the board out.

That sounds to me like wishful thinking. Frankly, I don't think you have any shareholders left who care. People looking for higher returns moved their portfolios to AAPL and GOOG, and now your shares are mostly in the hands of pension funds and index funds.

Anonymous said...

"tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases. If this had happened at any other company there would have been a full recall."

Funny that should come up -- I had guests in town last week and his 4-year-old macbook stopped working -- the drive seemed to be hosed. We went to the local Apple store (he decided to buy a new mac) but made an appointment at the Genius Bar just to see if anything could be done.

Long story short they got his computer working again AND offered to replace the cracked palmrest for free. He ended up with a better machine than he went in with, spent NOTHING when he was expecting to spend $1k+, and couldn't be happier.

The idea that Apple succeeds because they somehow hypnotize customers and turn them into iZombies is TOXIC to companies like MS. You guys have GOTTA take the threat seriously, not just say, "Well, Apple is crap but they always get a pass." That's just not what's going on.

Anonymous said...

@hearing from the grapevine, there is going to be a big round of layoffs after September... if your team reorged into a bigger group recently, you might be in the "redundant" bucket and targeted first...

source?

Anonymous said...

I keep seeing comments like this:

* AAPL sold 20M iPhones and over 9M iPads in a quarter. In. A. Quarter. Let that sink in a moment.

As if Apple were your only worry. And my response is, "You guys are worried about the wrong target!"

Seriously, people. A month ago Android's boss announced that (a) they were seeing more than 500,000 activations per day and that rate was growing at 4.4% per week!

Forget the incredible growth rate for a minute. At that rate you're looking at more than 42 million new Androids In. A. Quarter. If we assume that the growth rate is constant, you're looking at something like 54 million new Androids In. A. Quarter. And you guys are worried about Apple???

Anonymous said...

How he is aware that he got 5. reviews are not disclosed yet.

Managers already know what has come back down the chain, and sometimes they're letting their people know before the official review discussion. Or the victim might overhear a conversation and figure out due to other tidbits that they are the subject who is getting shafted.

BTW, getting a 5 (or even a 4)doesn't mean that your immediate managers think you're not a Microsoft fit, that you didn't do a great job, that they want to get rid of you, or any of that. It means that you didn't have the right visibility compared to everyone else you were ranked against at the GM level and above.

So your managers might very well have given you a 3, after some hard choices on their own team. They might be thrilled with your work and desperate not to lose you and have to start over with hiring and bringing up to speed Yet Another FTE. But because of the stack rank and the "higher importance" of some job types in the company culture, you (and your team) just got thrown under a bus.

I would venture to say that at this point, after all the layoffs and 10%'ing and Kim'ing, that a large number of the 5's (remember, that's 10% of the people who are left, year in and year out, that most of them are good, solid workers that we NEED to ship products.

Microsoft doesn't care. They'd rather go through the charade of pretending they're "weeding" when they're actually shooting themselves in the foot, repeatedly, by making teams go through unnecessary hiring, training, and newbie pain. Not to mention the personal impact on the people now under the bus.

Not that Microsoft should care about them, of course - it's a business. Though those of us here witnessing this will remember and tell everyone else. You think I'd recommend hiring on here? Not on your life.

And the inevitable question: Why don't you leave? Golden handcuffs, that's the ONLY reason at this point. Kids, house, school tuition, health care - all that jazz. So much for passion, commitment, delighting customers, etc. Microsoft doesn't care if I have that, so why should I?

Just keep collecting that paycheck and making sure I get visibility and kiss a** enough to not get the boot. So far, so good.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, tell that to a few million owners of Macbooks with cracked cases. If this had happened at any other company there would have been a full recall.

Well, buddy, tell us all please what happened with Vista. OEMs lied to customers who wound up with a busted computer, or at least, one that did not function as promised. The head of Windows, Will Poole, lost his head. As did many others. And what did SteveB do? Why, what he does best: dodge the bullet, blame others, and fire some underlings. I have not heard of MSFT compensating customers or replacing anything.

BTW billg is selling at record numbers, guess he knows he knows the jig is up thus needs to get the money behind his phoney-baloney charity.

Have a nice day,

B. Kevin Turner

Anonymous said...

I've talked to 3 different GMs who have all told me the same thing - if you get a 5, you get walked to the door. This will result in about a 5% reduction in headcount because there are people in the 5 bucket that are "untouchable" for HR reasons.

All 3 GMs *hated* the new review model. All 3 thought that it took longer and they got worse results. All 3 had stories of their numbers changing even after CVP level calibration.

Stay off the ridges and travel at night my friends ...

Anonymous said...

re: "Level 0"

This was in the original documentation that I read, but I thought it was referred to as "1 +". Basically the top 10% of the Level 1 Bucket. I did not see the awards detailed, but I expect that 300% of target is pretty accurate based on historical numbers. I'm not sure if it's still in the HR docs or not, but I definitely remember reading it when the changes were first announced.

Anonymous said...

Its a cycle in the Windows evolution and the company is tied to that.

Windows 8 is longhorn all over again and we will soon be in cutting is shipping stage. We will get a release like Vista that takes too long and provides too little.
The current management will get fired and the new management will ship a release which will be a service pack in disguise but will look great comparatively. Then the new team will undertake their longhorn.

Our only prayer is windows phone taking off as the central platform for the future like what happened with Apple for their turnaround.


You got that right except the last part.

The Sinofsky method to suck the joy out of engineering has made sure that the windows organization is now run by the process elite instead of the technical elite. That works to maintain a monopoly where the goal is not screwing up but not in a market with active and viable competition. Look at how IE and Windows Live are losing share constantly.

Windows Phone have a product that was behind to start with and improving slower than the competition. The better strategy for them would be to merge with Windows and help find some niche in the enterprise with seamless integration of desktop and phone.

The OS centric world is over. Its a services and devices centric world. Currently Microsoft is trying to shoehorn everything into the old OS centric universe due to classic innovator dilemma. Microsoft should orient itself to win in the new world with IEB and OSD, while STB and Windows milk the current business models to their end. The clowns in IEB and OSD need to be replaced by better leaders if this is to succeed.

Anonymous said...

OP> Once we're sure the review model is locked, we're sending the intent to interview email. I can only imagine the fallout from that.

Why would you do that?

OP again> Several of us are looking internally and have already done informationals where we've gotten the "wink" (i.e. apply and the job is yours). My understanding is that you have to give your manager notice of intent to interview before HR will schedule an official interview, which is necessary to get an offer.

The reason we're waiting until the review model is locked is very simple - if we don't, we'll move down a bucket. Almost guaranteed.

There are a ton of people on the bubble, so if you give your management chain a reason, they'll flip you for one of those on the bubble in a heart beat, particularly if you're close to the bubble. It happened in the old system, and everything I'm hearing is that the new system causes even more cut-throat behavior.

I'm not willing to risk it. Maybe I'm paranoid or cynical (or both), but, if I am, the poisonous culture is what is driving me there. I used to pretty much be a pollyanna...

Anonymous said...

not that it was ever the same job once the dickhead had his way with my commitments....

OP - I'm living this right now. I had a verbal agreement with my old manager on my commitments (pretty close to last year's), but DH wants to totally redo everyone's commitments. Wants to "standardize across the team". Wants to "seek input from outside teams". Wants "firm commitments" around "visibility". (A few of you just figured out who DH is - didn't you?)

As if we don't know wtf we're supposed to be doing ... Our team is at the top of their game and exceeded every one of our metrics for the year (yes, I admit, some of our metrics were cream puffs, but others were pretty tough)

At first, I was pissed, then I realized that I'm not going to be here for another review (one way or another), so why fight a losing battle?

I just became a "yes man". Thank you DH - I love you - you're an awesome and inspiring leader!

I need to go scrub the slime off ...

Anonymous said...

To the poster above expressing worry about Android growth in comparison with iOS growth.. at least Microsoft is getting revenue on some of those Android licenses moved, through patent licensing.

Anonymous said...

"Long story short they got his computer working again AND offered to replace the cracked palmrest for free"

Yeah, this one went pretty well too:

Ghost in the machine; or, the saga of my crashing MacBook Pro

Anonymous said...

That sounds to me like wishful thinking. Frankly, I don't think you have any shareholders left who care. People looking for higher returns moved their portfolios to AAPL and GOOG, and now your shares are mostly in the hands of pension funds and index funds.

The majority of all large cap stocks are held by funds,so not sure what your point is there. Two have recently circulated letters calling for Ballmer's dismissal or at least a major restructuring of the company. And I'm talking current shareholders. What former ones have subsequently done with their portfolios is immaterial to that. Ballmer's removal is now inevitable. I give it two years at the outside.

Anonymous said...

"BTW, getting a 5 (or even a 4)doesn't mean that your immediate managers think you're not a Microsoft fit, that you didn't do a great job, that they want to get rid of you, or any of that. It means that you didn't have the right visibility compared to everyone else you were ranked against at the GM level and above."

ABSOLUTELY FALSE.

Nobody gets a 5 without a thorough HR vetting and a coordinated message that generally goes up through GM. Microsoft wants to be aware of its 5s and make sure that there aren't legal risks, and a 5 will always come with a "you are not meeting the expectations of your role" message... otherwise it's legally risky.

You get downgraded from a 2 to a 3, or from a 3 to a 4 due to visibility issues. You get a 5 because Microsoft is telling you to move on.

Please don't post information unless you have the facts, which clearly you did not.

Anonymous said...

"Not since 2 weeks ago, when I left on my own for better opportunities elsewhere. Prior to that, 8 years @ MS, 4/5s then E/20s, hipo/bench program, all that jazz. If you don't know that there is actually a level 0, your loss. They talked about it at the last bench training session. It's the top 3-5%, and it has the same numbers that the high top of the curve for the prior e/20's had, 300% bonus targets and so on."

LIES. If you were around for the old system and had even a single 5 you would have been a Partner long ago and you wouldn't be posting these inane questions here. If you had multiple 5s in the old system as you claim, you'd have risen to VP as fast as people like Rudder, Treadwell or Julie Larson Green, all multiple 5 recipients (and there have been damned few of those in our history). The entire company would know your name.

Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

"I know of a team not long ago that decided they were not going to be collectively screwed any more by their mentally unstable manager. They all did informationals and outside interviews, they all had jobs pending, and walked into their manager's manager's office as a group and gave an ultimatim - fire him that day or they all quit on the spot. There was no room to debate as they were all ready to leave. The manager in question was fired that day."

Microsoft would never, ever terminate on the spot based solely on employee feedback, even if an entire team stepped forward -- it's too legally risky. At most a full HR investigation would kick off to determine what was going on. If there was serious concern such as sexual misconduct then the manager would be put on leave pending the investigation, but certainly that wouldn't happen on the same day the complaint was lodged. And if the employees were just saying the manager sucked then the process would drag on (and indeed has in the past) for many months. Or years. Or the manager would simply be moved to another team.

People don't need to hear wishful thinking, they need the truth. Stick with it please.

Anonymous said...

"Is anyone else finding it interesting that Lisa B keeps selling stock?"

Not particularly. She's been a frequent seller for years, like most of SLT. Look, these people may talk about the virtue of patience and need to take a long term view, but that's just for public consumption and to avoid the personal accountability that we're all subjected to. Privately, they all expect to be rewarded today, and long since conceded that they're incapable of reversing the stock's decade long slide. So the objective is to cash in as much MS as you can, as quickly as you can, and then reinvest that in something that actually appreciates or at least won't continue eroding. She also knows that the Glassdoor results are making Ballmer look bad. And probably realizes that if he needs to save himself, she might be a logical sacrifice. Most of SLT may be ineffective, but they're not stupid.

Anonymous said...

(Just another douche piling on) Having left when the leaving was good. Best thing I have done in my life...

Been a few years, but still sad. This was one of those few places that could actually change the world. The projects I was fortunate to be involved in were absolutely amazing. Now I get to read about the same efforts reaping rewards at other companies.

Could have changed the world (more in a Gates Foundation way than a "partners get rich" kinda way) - not losing money, but not a million dollars per head.

I will always carry a little sadness because of that...

(I still miss those days.. Ian running over interns... SQL people getting arrested trying to take down a server banner... Viva le trying to make a difference)

Anonymous said...

more than 500,000 activations per day and that rate was growing at 4.4% per week!
About those activations...
They don't seem to be showing up where you'd expect them to.
Like at Facebook or such.
It's one thing for Google to brag about activations in a press conference. Quite another for Apple to disclose sales numbers to shareholders.
Maybe those activations are "in the channel".

Anonymous said...

If we assume that the growth rate is constant, you're looking at something like 54 million new Androids In. A. Quarter. And you guys are worried about Apple???

Yes, because remember, Microsoft makes money from nearly every Android handset sold, at least in the US, thanks to patent licensing deals. So financially speaking, the Android numbers aren't as scary as the Apple ones.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft doesn't care. They'd rather go through the charade of pretending they're "weeding" when they're actually shooting themselves in the foot, repeatedly, by making teams go through unnecessary hiring, training, and newbie pain.

It's like shooting yourself in the foot and then bragging about your marksmanship! I work at a government office and we do that all the time. The parallels of the politics and power hoarding practiced at my US Govt. institution are the same that I read about in this blog. It's a shame that Microsoft has lowered itself to the Machavellian machinations so very prevalent in the government sector. (Without the job security though!)

Anonymous said...

And to the other shill saying cracks on non unibody polycarbonate MacBooks are rare, get real.

I have three white MacBooks, 1 at home, 2 at work. All bought 3-4 years ago. I haven't noticed any cracks on any of them.

So I would say, it's rare (at least for me!).

Anonymous said...

Seriously, people. A month ago Android's boss announced that (a) they were seeing more than 500,000 activations per day and that rate was growing at 4.4% per week!

....And you guys are worried about Apple???


That's because MS makes more money from chasing Android manufacturers for patent licensing fees than it makes selling WP7 phones.

Let Google do all the hard work and just sit back and rake in all that money!

Anonymous said...

"How he is aware that he got 5. reviews are not disclosed yet.

Managers already know what has come back down the chain, and sometimes they're letting their people know before the official review discussion..."

+1 Yes, heard from two people in two unrelated areas, that their managers have told them in the most friendly way they could muster, that they needed to find a new role or post 9/30 - poof! I think some manager's might be sympathetic and are giving the 'heads up' early on.

Anonymous said...

I am eager to hear about the experiences of former MS FTE SDEs that decided to leave and become contractors. I am at that point after my skip level decided to throw me "under the bus" for what I consider a PM f*c*up. I have had it with politics, I just want to develop code. I am willing to work for less. My attitude is shot and I am tired of bad management all around. Sorry for the rant but I want out of shark tank.

Anonymous said...

Now that H1-B visa holders can work for their own company, how many will start one?

On immigration, a step in the right direction

Anonymous said...

@Just keep collecting that paycheck and making sure I get visibility and kiss a** enough to not get the boot. So far, so good.

well explained the culture.

Anonymous said...

10 years+, never below A70, looking good at mid year. Decided it was time to move on - started looking, but stayed engaged and productive in my current role.

My manager found out and now I'm a 5. Do not EVER let your manager find out you're looking elsewhere. Don't even LOOK elsewhere between MYR and the model lockdown.

On the bright side I've been looking outside the company and it's a breath of fresh air out there. I'm looking forward to working somewhere technology driven.

Anonymous said...

Now that H1-B visa holders can work for their own company, how many will start one?

Not too many since it requires starting a large enough company to have a Board that can then fire you like a regular employee.

...could work for their own companies, provided that they work full time for the company and are treated like an employee. For example, the company could have a board that is able to hire, fire, pay, supervise or otherwise control the worker like they would any other staff member.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft only made $21 million from selling WP7 phones last quarter. Makes 3x more from Android royalty payments.

Dediu says Microsoft made approximately $21 million from 1.4 million Windows Phone licenses at $15 a piece, while the company’s $5-per-device royalty from sales of 12 million HTC Android phones brought in $60 million in the quarter.

http://www.bgr.com/2011/08/04/microsofts-q2-revenue-from-android-estimated-at-three-times-its-windows-phone-revenue/

Anonymous said...

"I am eager to hear about the experiences of former MS FTE SDEs that decided to leave and become contractors"

Be careful of this. I did the same and it has now come out, during a legal discovery process, that a Partner level person, of all things, didn't like the idea that I left their division (working as a lvl 63 Blue Badge) and then found contractor work in another division after I left. According to testimony, the Partner then decided they should let my new FTE manager of my contract (non partner, but hopeful in the next promo) know about their "concern" that I was "making more money" as a contractor (but only a fraction of what a Partner makes and no benefits), and poof, my contract was not extended for unclear, and non-related reasons of course, none of which were performance based as one of the partners involved (2), even called my work "expert", and the non-partner contracting manager then replaced me with someone who has been contracting for over 10+ years with zero experience in the subject matter. Retaliation? The MS Lawyers seem okay with Partner backchannel retribution, and what a shame that we replace experts with passion in the field with those with no experience simply due to politics. There were actually no budget issues here either.
Another item you may wish to look up is I heard, but am not sure, that MS may have since insitituted a policy that Blue's cannot return as Orange badges for 6 months, but if you work offsite for a contractor, and don't need badge access, it shouldn't be a problem.
YMMV, Check with a labor atty, and of course any other opinions you see posted on Mini who may have different experiences than mine.

Anonymous said...

The OS centric world is over. Its a services and devices centric world. Currently Microsoft is trying to shoehorn everything into the old OS centric universe due to classic innovator dilemma.

Typical, arrogant Microsoft complacency. You already made Windows, so what's the point of lame boring operating systems, right?

The main reason Apple has been successful for the last 4 years is because of their operating system--small, fast, portable, and modular enough to run well on any device they care to make.

If Windows wasn't such a bloated pile of interdependent DLL goo, maybe Microsoft would have something competitive to sell for phones, tablets, and all the other devices you think are the way of the future.

Anonymous said...

The Sinofsky method to suck the joy out of engineering has made sure that the windows organization is now run by the process elite instead of the technical elite.

Sinofsky's way might not be good, but the "technical elite" are the losers who delivered Vista.

Anonymous said...

New round of RIF's in emerging markets done this July/August. I am surprised that the company is not talking about this internally or externally like how Cisco has done recently.

One example I can site is after the recent SLT org changes in MS India, most of us in SMSP have been asked to reapply for our roles. Obviously they have reduced the footprint by a factor of 3, meaning atleast 2/3rd of the people are out of the job. To avoid the sour feeling, all of us are pursuing opportunities outside the company. Inspite of the knowledge management systems, the field relationships and teaming cannot be easily replicated. It is surprising that the company doesn't bother about all this. This is inspite of the fact that our team has grown the revenue 5 fold in the last 5-6 years.

Why are we doing RIF silently these days?

Anonymous said...

When they decides to throw one under the bus, there is pretty much nothing we can do.

Not getting along with Mgr, had informational in another product group, invited to apply, notified the current dick head, letter sent to HR and to the dick head, went no interviews, did well, went on to "as required" with director.


What did the dick head do? Back channeled to the hiring group and hiring group HR! How do I know, the dick head told me himself. Dick head had support of his boss, a bigger dick head.

I'm saving all the evidence, don't think I can win through the court though. Asked the hiring mgr why the offer fell through, he is toeing the company line already, the job was offered to another candidate.

HR is working with the dick head, no win situation.

Advise? Suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Does one need to sign off on the review to get the bonus or does the bonus amount get paid as part of final paycheck ?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the poster that gave me the feed back on converting to contractor. Great advice. I had not considered the legal aspect or the potential for retribution.

Well if the RIF rumors are true I'll just wait for the bullet with my name on it.

Anonymous said...

Notice mini (or ?) is letting the site run wild with unmoderated comments. Honey pot for tracking corporate dissension or the lunatic fringe?

Anonymous said...

oops spoke too soon - someone must have started getting inappropriate (at least as far as mini is concerned) These, of course, are the most enjoyable posts to read. When I see some nasty name dropping negativity I feed off it, makes my day.

Anonymous said...

Outsider looking in here. Let me get this straight - if you're in a team of ten, the no matter how good the individuals are, two of them are going to get a 5 rating, and are destined to be managed out. is that correct?
That sort of indicates that sooner or later, everyone will be getting a 5. New hires would have to be given a free pass on their first rating, so that means the second round will take two more of the remaining eight. 40% of the team gone in two rounds, regardless of their performance relative to the rest of the business. Managers must be clamouring to get a few bozos on their team so that they can assign the 5 ratings to people they're happy to lose. You certainly wouldn't want a team of all-star performers - you'd have to throw a few under the bus every year!

Wow.

It's an impressive way to ensure people are highly focused on being the top few in the team, rather than whatever they're developing.

Anonymous said...

Should the review model be locked by now? I am planning to move out of my current team asap.

Anonymous said...

A few quiet RIFs in the Aussie sub this week. Shhhh....

Anonymous said...

Microsoft only made $21 million from selling WP7 phones last quarter. Makes 3x more from Android royalty payments.

Dediu says Microsoft made approximately $21 million from 1.4 million Windows Phone licenses at $15 a piece, while the company’s $5-per-device royalty from sales of 12 million HTC Android phones brought in $60 million in the quarter.


To all the posters saying that Microsoft shouldn't be worried about Android because of the patent royalties:

First, don't assume that those U.S. patents are safe forever. They are being challenged in court, after all.

Second, note that even if the patents are held up, they are recognized only in the U.S., nowhere else. That inherently limits how much you can expect to make from them, especially since the growing market is mostly outside the U.S. anyhow.

Third, note that the total take for Microsoft from HTC, the leader in Android devices, was only $60 million. Is licensing for a tablet OS really going to replace the lost income from not having a successful platform of your own? If the marketplace is shifting to emphasize tablets and smartphones first and other client devices second, where does that leave Microsoft? What happens to your applications division? Entertainment division?

If I were you, I'd be very worried about Android.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a two stage process to clean up Ballmer's decade long mess. First some interim CEO needs to come in and replace him and cut deep, cut hard, and cut merciless. Clean out every bit of the mess Ballmer created over the past decade. Close entire divisions. Reduce the head count by tens of thousands.

I can't say I disagree but what, exactly, do you propose? Cutting out of mobile devices entirely, in the middle of a paradigm shift towards those devices? Cutting out of online solutions (esp. for businesses) when there appears to be a similar, if slower, shift there as well? At some point you have to choose your long term investements even if they don't have immediate returns. If we make the cuts based on near-term revenue generators, those will slowly dry up as the shift happens. I'm really interested in what you people think should go and especially why.

Anonymous said...

Curious about all the objections to the "Sinofsky way." Are these people who don't work in his org? Or people who thrived in the toxic every man/team for themselves Longhorn environment?

Nothing's perfect but our team is great, the work is exciting, the cross-team culture is generally one of cooperation and partnership versus dependency. The org structure helps insulate you from cross-discipline politics and let's you focus on being good at *your* job. I think more of the company should work this way.

Anonymous said...

Does the increase from 5% (10/U) + 5% (10/A) to 7% (5) + 13% (4) suggest that the company is forcing more attrition (unable to transfer / soon to RIF) to lower the overall payroll costs? (And resupply with fresh college blood - given the strong intern budgets?) Sure industry hires are welcomed, but it's a large population at msft so there's always exceptions. What are the strategies at play - retain visible talent, manage out the rest? If so, then how does a manager staff a high performing team? What does saying that you wouldn't hire 20% of your division indicate? One strategy managers might use is to pad the team with 20% of the bodies to take the hit YOY.

How many managers hire (or re-org) to fill 4/5 review buckets?

ICs how many of you are re-org'd in May/June? How can your new managers calibrate unknowns?

How does this effect the overall caliber of the company?

Sure the reward system is better at compensation. However, it's still a highly political stack rank that favors highly visible individuals. How many of R&D + MSR have real commitments with measurable performance results that are realistic, providing business value and actually stretch? And how many of those actually trickle down to ICs?

Are most of these questions rhetorical?

Solutions anyone? - How about 2 stack ranks? The tried and true current calibration. And an IC calibration. Every IC ranks everyone on their team (with a no visibility list on the side). Combine the two. Top Down + Bottom Up. Sure there still would be issues - i.e. guanxi. (Bing it) Maybe this is too complex, but I bet there are smart enough people to handle it.

Another addition. Find the right fits. Take the 4/5s and match them to a better fitting team - yes HR actually protect the company. This is a people business after all with the largest R&D budget. Would this save some recruiting efforts and actually imply that the hiring managers and process is highly effective (rather than suggesting that 20% of your hiring is ineffective). (Obviously ignoring all the bodies that jump at the wiff of a negative review and seem to do fine elsewhere - raises that 20% a bit)

Maybe the current method forces those that have been re-org'd until they don't fit to find a better fit? I would say that it can if managers inform them. I've heard of too many stories with surprise reviews that are fitted to calibration results. While I've also heard of many stories where managers reach out let their people know to find a better fit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, because remember, Microsoft makes money from nearly every Android handset sold, at least in the US, thanks to patent licensing deals. So financially speaking, the Android numbers aren't as scary as the Apple ones.

It is this kind of lack of imagination that is going to sink this boat.

The engineers will not see a penny of this. The same lawyering attitude behind this shakeup is also responsible for treating employees like crap. Please do not cite this as a good thing unless you are personally benefiting from it. In which case, all I want to say is that you are a lucky bastard.

This is metaphorically mooching off android's success. If there is a PR push from Google, we will look like really bad guys. They are already calling the patents "bogus" in press releases.

A one-time patent fee per device is significantly less lucrative than having a satisfied customer who uses a whole bunch of your services, who buys content and apps from you. You also can gather tons and tons of data from the customer device. This difference in revenue is similar to the difference between what HW makers make and what SW makers make.

Think. People.

I believe in good engineering and take pride in my work. I worked my tail off last year and can only hope I am paid what I deserve. I am not a political person, hence the lack of confidence in the outcome. Just a few more weeks to go before the reviewpalooza.. I cant wait!

Anonymous said...

The system is coloured in an interesting way as soon as senior managers that didn't reached their targets themselves put subordinates on a "5" that have shown excellent performance as it happens in one subsidiary in Western European Area HQ.

Anonymous said...

You get downgraded from a 2 to a 3, or from a 3 to a 4 due to visibility issues. You get a 5 because Microsoft is telling you to move on.


From your definition, Microsoft is telling 7% of the employee base every year to 'move on'. Is that your belief?

Anonymous said...

As part of mini's new promotion he came out to his current management chain and agreed to use the minimsft blog as a tool for Microsoft management. They will post topics where they want to determine employee attitude and also attempt to determine the identities of posts that concern them.

Anonymous said...

Frustrating to see execs like Walid A-H appear to be resting and vesting offshore while his team is floating without direction in Redmond. Why do we allow execs to live 1000's of miles away from their teams?

Anonymous said...

Process is replacing common sense in so many things we do at MS. My team is more concerned about hitting quarterly targets for spending than on the actual ROI of that spending. Commitments have become so prescriptive that it removes the need for people to think on their own. We don't want smart and creative employees but rather average ones who follow instructions and don't talk back. We are running down Microsoft day by day.

Anonymous said...

Saw a quote today from Jeff Raikes, former MSFT exec who is leading the Gates Foundation. He said that it's hard to get honest feedback from recipients of funding from the Foundation because they fear retribution. He wants to figure out how to get honest feedback so the Foundation can make improvements. Microsoft is full of people who fear giving honest feedback. I wish we had leaders like Jeff Raikes who sought honest feedback so that we could improve the many problems our company faces.

Anonymous said...

@Why are we doing RIF silently these days?

Simple. Microsoft do not want to compensate and would like to save money.

Anonymous said...

You get downgraded from a 2 to a 3, or from a 3 to a 4 due to visibility issues. You get a 5 because Microsoft is telling you to move on.

Please don't post information unless you have the facts, which clearly you did not.


Believe what you want, but when you see this happen - a solid, high-performing employee get smacked with a 5 despite solid reviews from his manager (and his skip level) - it doesn't mean his team doesn't continue to need his skills desperately every single day. That team will have to go out and rehire someone who will have lesser skills, less experience in general, and certainly far less experience with this team and its deliverables.

What makes you think the managers didn't go to HR and tell them exactly that? What makes you think HR didn't just stick up for the upper-ups who have no clue what the team will now have to do to replace this person and his skills? The upper managers didn't spend months trying to get the right people in place in the first place, and clearly do not care that the team is now back to square one. Or worse, because now the team is demoralized (high performance gets rewarded with...a 5??), wondering who is going to be next on the "5" block, and why anyone should care about the quality or quantity of work if that's how it's rewarded.

If Microsoft doesn't think that THAT is the message they're sending by smacking 5's on whoever didn't get the right level of visibility, it's smoking crack.

Sure, there are teams that still have some people who need to be managed out. But most people I know are looking around at what's left of their teams and just hoping they won't draw the short straw after putting in hours of OT, sweating bullets to try to deliver the best experience possible for customers with restricted resources and impossibly short timelines. Why the hell should they keep caring?

Anonymous said...

"HR says managers are not to tell ICs how they're tracking..."

Ok, that's just insane. The definition of a manager at any functioning business is to direct the work of those reporting to them, and letting them know if they're doing it well or badly is far and away the most important thing they should be doing.

Anonymous said...

Dark room with closed doors where heresay is used to rubbish people in favour of favorites of senior manager

This is 100% true. I got a heads up from my manager about my impending review and it's ludicrous. They admit my work is excellent. So it's all about making a mountain out of small mistakes and straight up gossip. I almost feel bad for my manager having to own a message like this. She's doing the best she can but both of us know it BS.

I feel sad to be in a company the people above me actually sat in a room slinging mud around so that their teams could come out on top. Then not only feel justified in their behavior, but actually believe that the (mis)perceptions they created through this process are valid and now have put it on me to correct..feels like a losing proposition. Drives home how Machiavellian the place is.

Anonymous said...

Of course you must have realized that the phone was "broken" (either software or hardware), right? What did they say when you took it to the Apple store? Or called Apple? Where is the thread you started on the Apple Support Forums?

For some reason I know a number of people who are happy to complain about their iPhones but they aren't unhappy enough to actually take any steps to resolve their issues.


This blog is so full of Apple shills I've stopped reading it. I came back today to see if Mini had anything to say and unfortunately was dumb enough to click the comments link. Page after page of transparently obvious Apple shilling. At least 50% of the comments here must be Mac fanboys. Unreadable.

Do you guys think you are fooling anyone? Lol it's like a klan rally where everyone is an FBI informant.

Notice how several people raged about some guy who simply reported that his iPhone was no longer working so well and he was happy with the switch to WP7. In the sane universe, just another user story. On this blog, A CALL TO ARMS! FELLOW SHILLS, ARE WE GOING TO ALLOW THIS DISGRACEFUL SLUR ON THE REPUTATION OF APPLE GO UNCHALLENGED????

I mean, seriously, blow me. The iPhone is not solid gold, witness the inroads that Android has made. I switched from the iPhone to WP7 (not an MS employee btw), and unlike all the Apple shills here I can tell you what its selling points are (this is hard to do for people who have never once touched a WP7). They start with the fantastic social network integration, which is now my preferred way of keeping up with facebook contacts (the facebook app sucks on every mobile platform), the very solid built-in apps (iPhone's mail client BLOWS), a spell check that is miles beyond iPhone's crappy and broken auto-correct, wonderful tiles to replace static icon grids, a really swell Zune app that embarrasses iTunes, pinnable content...need I go on?

In conclusion, a big F YOU to the shills here who pretend this is a crappy phone because their internet egos force them to go out in search of blogs to bitch about Microsoft on (I've only ever noticed Apple zealots who do this, btw).

Anonymous said...

The closest Apple has come to such a situation is "antennagate" with the iPhone 4, which was more smoke than fire since Apple is still selling millions of iPhone 4s more than a year later and nobody is complaining about them anymore.

Another commenter eager to defend Apple. I'M SHOCKED.

I have a friend in Dallas who can barely use her iPhone 4, reception is so bad. I've resorted to calling her on the POTS line when we need to talk business. It's really embarrassing when you brag about your smartphone and then screw up the phone part. And Apple told some huge fibs when the press got hold of the issue. But you're alright with that, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

They don't seem to be showing up where you'd expect them to.
Like at Facebook or such.
It's one thing for Google to brag about activations in a press conference. Quite another for Apple to disclose sales numbers to shareholders.
Maybe those activations are "in the channel".


lmao!!! and yet another shill speaks

notice how you can't even praise GOOG on this blog without an Apple shill dogpile forming: THOSE ACTIVATIONS ARE PHONY!!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!

fanboys, don't you think this level of obsession with Apple I mean Microsoft is unhealthy?

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry as some of the comments here. A large number (not sure how large) comes from people who have some sort of agenda and who are not or never have been employees. Certainly many people who comment on reviews have never been managers.

Here's some advice to existing employees from an ex-FTE: grow up! Stop whining. You are supposed to be professionals for chrissakes, and you wah-wah-wah on about how bad your lot is. Well guess what? If you don't like it, get a job elsewhere. There are plenty available if you know your stuff. If on the other hand you are a 15-year SMSG PowerPoint veteran, best kiss some more ass and say your prayers diligently.

Believe you can make more money, lots more, elsewhere. Sure you have to pay for health benefits, but there are many more normal, or at least less dysfunctional places to work.

As a case in point, I made $160k + bonus + stock as a L66 in 2008. My job was principally to shoo away corporate BS, sit in pointless, endless meetings, and judge people so my team would meet the endless differentiation tests Mr. Buraucracy aka KT generated as part of his relentless ahreholder value-add. This year I will make $350k in cash; I have clear goals; access to senior people who make decisions without dithering.

So many people demonizing Ballmer. You are far better off with a dipstick like him than an actual CEO, because in the latter case you would be in a world of hurt ... loss-making businesses and marginal ones would go poof.

Anonymous said...

Hello AAPL fanboys and Softies,

I just replaced my phone with an Android device. Apple's products from a hardware perspective are not very reliable - I had an iMac break that was replaced; an iPhone that fried its radio stack; and a Mac Mini that randomly reboots. If I wanted the latter I could have just bought a Microsoft product :)

Windows Phone's exposure in AT&T and T-Mobile stores around Seattle was abysmal. IMO Windows phone as a business is swilling around the toilet bowl, and will shortly go blub-blub - another Ballmer 'strategy' that, despite a significant lead in having a smartphone to market, is a failure.

Anonymous said...

I'm saving all the evidence, don't think I can win through the court though. Asked the hiring mgr why the offer fell through, he is toeing the company line already, the job was offered to another candidate.

HR is working with the dick head, no win situation.

Advise? Suggestions?


There are many cases like that against Microsoft that go through the KC court system. Most settle for around 40k. Few go for over 100k. Even in the event of a settled case, you will typically be required not to ever seek employment with the company and discuss your specific case.

You may want to save the all the evidence and write clear and short messages to your manager (and above) to show where he is engaging in unlawful practices or simply misrepresents the facts. Being in any protected class (race, religion, sex, etc.) helps the case.

You may consider filing a complaint with EEOC. That takes about an hour of your time and doesn't cost anything. At the time of filing you don't need to have any specific proof. Having filed a complaint BEFORE you're terminated will likely prevent immediate termination. If Microsoft fires you, there's an argument that the termination happened because you filed a complaint with EEOC which is a serious violation. Microsoft is well aware of it, and will likely leave you employed until HR figures out how to get rid of you with you.

Going the legal route is also possible and is not hopeless, but because Washington state does not have punitive damages, the compensation will not be significant.

Whatever you decide to do -- good luck. Most companies do not have the toxic culture of Microsoft and pay better.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous poster calling people Apple shills: disagreement is not 'shilling' and sometimes you need to step outside the circle of furious agreement to see why it is that (for example) WP7 is not faring so well in the world.
When people post about how Apple makes lots of stupid mistakes, or how their products are crappy, you need to wonder if they're right (and if so, why are Apple still doing so well and growing so fast) or if maybe they've got hold of the wrong end of the stick.
Expect to be called on little factoids, and be thankful for that. After all, Microsoft could've done with dissenting opinions back in the day of the Kin debacle, but too many people were cheering on the train for the drivers to notice the impending wreck.

Anonymous said...

I wish we had leaders like Jeff Raikes who sought honest feedback so that we could improve the many problems our company faces.

Sure, and I wish we had Bill G.'s philanthropic ... wait ... aren't we talking about the same guys who CREATED the #@%$! suck-up culture we live in?

Anonymous said...

Re Apple vs. Android.

IMO it boils down to: once Android will pay you to be on the device how many people will stick with Apple?

History says <5% so who gives a %$#@# about iphone?

Anonymous said...

You get downgraded from a 2 to a 3, or from a 3 to a 4 due to visibility issues. You get a 5 because Microsoft is telling you to move on.

Please don't post information unless you have the facts, which clearly you did not.


MSFT Manager for 5+ years. Having had to 10% multiple folks in the last few years and 5-ed two in this last round I side with the original poster. You get a 5 for all the good reasons (incompetent, moving to a different team, I really don't like you) plus if we need one and you have the lowest support in the room. I don't really need facts to make it happen (see rumors/gossip and management support) I just need the majority of us to agree on ONE guy: your boss can try protect you but he will not cross the majority of his peers - least he ends up in the "difficult to work with" bucket. Not pretty. Not good. Same for all so ... welcome to real life.

To the external poster commenting on 40% getting removed within 2 years. You're right on, the catch with hiring bozos is that you run the risk of being in that bucket (can't hire good folks == bad manager or manager who has to work his butt off to ship).

0.02: we're simply cutting cost in a smarter way. Layoffs are expensive. Add $$ to the rank & file (you'll see next week how the "increase" for 65-67 is non-existent while <65 got a nice bump). Kill the good old A/70 floaters ASAP (see 40%). Over-compensate the top ~20% so there's a hope to keep a few decent folks around.

Goes without saying if your culture is one of cronyism (starts at the top unless anybody believes SteveB got there for any other reason than being BillG's buddy) the "decent folks" you keep around may be simply the "good old boys" but ... it's life. Leges sine moribus vanae. (any rule is useless without morality)

BTW: good to see our HR folks paying attention to this blog again (I'm talking to you "Please don't post information unless you have the facts, which clearly you did not." what's up, fearing somebody will finally do the math of our HR/FTE ratio?).

Anonymous said...

To the guy (or girl) screaming about the Apple shills: Could you just calm down for one second so I can make a small point?

I was one of the commenters you're complaining about, and I, like most of the others, was making a simple statistical point not just about Apple but about the entire industry: Anecdotal evidence is not meaningful. Any single person "preferring" any brand of phone over any other brand of phone is expressing a statistically insignificant opinion. The only meaningful discussions of smartphone "preference" are discussions of statistical data.

That's why individual harrowing stories about failed phones or about people falling in love with their phones (however personally true, meaningful, or significant)should have no bearing on this board's discussion of those products or the companies that make them.

For God's sake, this is basic capitalism. The market speaks! Loudly! All other "preference" discussions are moot.

Anyone (

Anonymous said...

I have been with MS for less than a year. I know I need to stay in this role for at least 1 year before I can start interviewing - this is according to hrweb. Are there any exceptions to this rule? I like what I am doing, and the team/product is nice, but my passion lies else where. Appreciate your input.

Anonymous said...

"You get downgraded from a 2 to a 3, or from a 3 to a 4 due to visibility issues. You get a 5 because Microsoft is telling you to move on.


From your definition, Microsoft is telling 7% of the employee base every year to 'move on'. Is that your belief?"


Yes, that's exactly what happens.

And it has nothing to do with how good you are or how much the company needs your skills, but it has everything to do with how popular you are and how effective you are at playing the corporate game.

In case you haven't been paying attention, let me state it for you clearly: Microsoft often forces the wrong people out of the company in favor of the douchebags who know how to play the system. This is why so many of our Partners are incompetent and so many good people have been driven away.

Anonymous said...

...system is coloured in an interesting way as soon as senior managers that didn't reached their targets themselves put subordinates on a "5" that have shown excellent performance as it happens in one subsidiary in Western European Area HQ...

Yes I agree with that, Austria is an example as GM and senior leadership team has failed to achieve their contribution margin as well as meeting their revenue objectives and therefore don't make their PPI this FY - it sounds hard but from their prospective it is logic to protect at least some CBI for themselves by putting a few sucessful IC's and Manager's below them under the bus

Anonymous said...

"more than 500,000 activations per day and that rate was growing at 4.4% per week!"

About those activations...
They don't seem to be showing up where you'd expect them to.
Like at Facebook or such.
It's one thing for Google to brag about activations in a press conference. Quite another for Apple to disclose sales numbers to shareholders.
Maybe those activations are "in the channel".


Activations don't happen 'in the channel.' Activations happen when a user first connects their phone/tablet to a network and establishes a link to an account. So, that means that an activation means the device has been sold to an end user.

Anonymous said...

A question for 'those in the know':

A person gets a '5', and the term used for what happens next is that they are 'managed out'.

Please define 'managed out':

Fired on the spot?
Given a severance package?
Given x weeks to find a new job in MS? [And if they don't, what happens then?]

Thx
(Someone who believes a 5 is headed their way as a sacrificial lamb in a new org...and who doesn't mind leaving, but just wants to plan for what's ahead)

Anonymous said...

To those who are complaining about the number of Apple 'shills' on here...please be aware

We're generally tech-aware people on here.

In the last 5 years, Apple tech has vastly overtaken MS in just about every way.

I used to be dyed-in-the-wool MS, because MS operating systems, development tools, frameworks etc. allowed me to have a fantastic career. Over the last 5 or so years, all of the above have deteriorated horribly, and the Post-PC world is upon us. Now Apple operating systems, development tools and frameworks are what will allow techies to have fantastic careers.

And maybe Android. I'm not sold on that yet.

Not a shill, just the facts.

Anonymous said...

Another commenter eager to defend Apple. I'M SHOCKED.

*facepalm*

You just don't get it do you? This has nothing to do with "defending Apple". This has everything to do with Microsoft needing to ACCEPT REALITY.

Apple makes products that people WANT, and takes care of their customers. The antenna issue, for the vast majority of people, is a non-issue. Because you know full well the blogosphere would be erupting with controversy if this were truly still a problem. And others here have already adequately documented how well Apple takes care of the "cracked white MacBook" problems at their stores.

You need to stop sticking your head in the sand any time these facts about Apple are presented. If Microsoft is going to turn things around quickly enough to make a difference, the "Apple sells junk to brainwashed people" meme MUST DIE.

It's truly depressing to see the pro-Microsoft posters here resorting to outright denial to maintain their worldview...

Anonymous said...


At least 50% of the comments here must be Mac fanboys. Unreadable.

Do you guys think you are fooling anyone? Lol it's like a klan rally where everyone is an FBI informant.
.
.

Another commenter eager to defend Apple. I'M SHOCKED.
.
.
lmao!!! and yet another shill speaks

notice how you can't even praise GOOG on this blog without an Apple shill dogpile forming: THOSE ACTIVATIONS ARE PHONY!!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!


Good heavens, what on earth did Apple do to make you so frightened and bitter?

The quality and quantity of your rage is quite scary...

Anonymous said...

I can't say I disagree but what, exactly, do you propose? Cutting out of mobile devices entirely, in the middle of a paradigm shift towards those devices? Cutting out of online solutions (esp. for businesses) when there appears to be a similar, if slower, shift there as well? At some point you have to choose your long term investements even if they don't have immediate returns.

Not the OP but interesting question.

First, for mobile, I'm not sure if WP7 is a lost cause. It's not competing well with iOS or Android, but that's probably because Microsoft hasn't done anything to differentiate WP7 from the latter. Microsoft needs to come up with a gotta-have-it feature for WP7 and if THAT doesn't work, then it's time to try to exit from the market gracefully.

As for "services" -- keep cutting the budget of unsuccessful online services until it gets to a maintenance level. Actually this might be a pretty good business strategy anyway because people are at their most innovative when under budget/resource pressure.

As for what Microsoft SHOULD be doing, it wouldn't hurt to improve the operating system which is supposedly Microsoft's bread-and-butter. If it were small, fast, and elegant, it could be sold effectively for all sorts of different devices and appliances and so forth, in addition to making a ton of money from laptop/PC users upgrading.

Anonymous said...

I switched from the iPhone to WP7 (not an MS employee btw), and unlike all the Apple shills here I can tell you what its selling points are (this is hard to do for people who have never once touched a WP7). They start with the fantastic social network integration, which is now my preferred way of keeping up with facebook contacts (the facebook app sucks on every mobile platform), the very solid built-in apps (iPhone's mail client BLOWS), a spell check that is miles beyond iPhone's crappy and broken auto-correct, wonderful tiles to replace static icon grids, a really swell Zune app that embarrasses iTunes, pinnable content...need I go on?

This is not persuasive. You are just saying that certain iPhone stuff sucks, BLOWS, or is crappy, whereas WP7 stuff is fantastic, wonderful, etc. without going into ANY specifics. Personally I have an iPhone and I like it, so instead of selling me on WP7 you are just confusing and annoying me.

I do have some pain points with the iPhone. I really wish it could be used as a USB mass storage device. Does WP7 do this? Also, I wish the iPhone would let me change the shutter speed of the camera for low-light photography. Does WP7 let me do that? Some Googling indicates 'no' for both. Anyway I think having these sorts of features is a better way to sell the phone rather than try to convince me that WP7 does the exact same stuff as an iPhone but in an intangibly better way.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the reward structure in many companies and especially MSFT are defined around motivating assembly line type employees rather than for the creative technically challenging work:

The Surprising Science of Motivation, a 10 min thought-provoking video.

Anonymous said...


I have been with MS for less than a year. I know I need to stay in this role for at least 1 year before I can start interviewing - this is according to hrweb. Are there any exceptions to this rule? I like what I am doing, and the team/product is nice, but my passion lies else where. Appreciate your input.

Anonymous said...

Curious about all the objections to the "Sinofsky way." Are these people who don't work in his org? Or people who thrived in the toxic every man/team for themselves Longhorn environment?

For me:
#1 Triads:
It's management by committee and it puts the brakes on everything. Stopped individual decision making and yields more politics.

#2 Milestone cadence:
Putting every team on the same schedule puts massive pressure on pre-planning and provides extremely little room for adjustment. Big core infrastructure changes must be done on the same schedule as UI tweaks and are followed by mind-numbing amounts of stabilization (then even more of planning).

The process sucks the artform out of software. Result is uninspiring work.

Comparing to Longhorn isn't fair- the baseline isn't to be better than Vista. Software is my career and I want to be in the best damn software environment around.

6 year Microsoft employee (experienced Vista, experienced Win8), decided to vote with my feet and recently moved on. Now rediscovering the joy of creating software and loving it.

While I'm at it- screw Microsoft's office culture as well (everyone with their own offices)- keep your crazy meeting calendars and overflowing email inboxes. I'm off to create some great stuff.

You know what? I had a great idea of a feature the other day, implemented and checked it in the same day. How often does that happen in the Sinofsky model?

Anonymous said...

A large number [of posts] (not sure how large) comes from people who have some sort of agenda and who are not or never have been employees.

Bwahahahahaha!

Tell you what, I wouldn't be so worried about the agenda of those posting here, I'd be worried about the agenda of your senior management.

As another poster has already pointed out, the senior people at Microsoft have long since read the writing on the wall, and are well aware that Microsoft's waning fortunes are unlikely to be reversed.

The spectre of corporate implosion looms a little larger each day, and your masters are interested in sweating the peons and milking the cash cows for all they're worth. In the meantime there is an ever-mounting toll of hapless underlings who are being sacrificed on the altar of managerial greed.

Anonymous said...

(Someone who believes a 5 is headed their way as a sacrificial lamb in a new org...and who doesn't mind leaving, but just wants to plan for what's ahead)

If you think you are going to get a 5, go and immediately update your resume and get it out there. You're screwed, and MSFT doesn't use vaseline.

Good luck out there.

Managed Out basically means your life is going to be hell for about 90 days before they boot you. No severance, you just get paid your unused vacation.

Anonymous said...

A question for those of you who are managers and have gone through this process this year.

I'm getting hit with the "how" as others have discussed in these comments (rumors/low visibility, etc). But because my work is outstanding I'll get a chance to "turn it around" this year.

Assuming I decide to stay and get a *lot* smarter about playing politics, is that actually possible? If they are weighing about 1/3 on past performance, doesn't this 4 or 5 then immediately downgrade me next year no matter what I do? I was heavily praised at midyear, so this has been a huge surprise...I have zero trust in the system, and don't want to stay if I'm already in a losing situation no matter what.

Anonymous said...

re: Many posts about people unhappy with their review score

People, in case you were not paying attention, it's a forced curve . Visibility, how good your management chain can defned your work, and the competition from others in your band will heavily determine the outcome. Fair? No. But as a manager who sat thru calibration meetings, this is the reality. Defending my people who did high profile level appropriate work that didn't piss off others was easy. Less visible, level questionable work, or having conflict (even if the conflict may have been appropriate)... Not so much...

Anonymous said...

Thanks to: Sunday, August 07, 2011 4:38:00 PM
Whatever you decide to do -- good luck. Most companies do not have the toxic culture of Microsoft and pay better.
EEOC is a route that I didn’t think of. Discussed with a friend in other group, she said: “You are just an easy 5, especially since you attempted to leave the group, there is no way out now, just leave Microsoft.”
Feel violated around those who are in the calibration meetings who might have heard those lies that were slung my way, the dick head will not defend me and I have no voice at all at these meetings. How can one go from E/20 to a “5” in two years? Is management partly responsible?
Got to get out!

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the reward structure in many companies and especially MSFT are defined around motivating assembly line type employees rather than for the creative technically challenging work.

And the nature of the reward structure tells you exactly what your senior management thinks of you: that you are nothing more than drones, cogs that can easily be replaced. They really do believe that they are smarter than you, and far more important in the scheme of things.

That's why they treat you with such disdain, why they toss you out on the scrapheap without a moment's thought, why they show you no respect or consideration whatsoever. They are a toxic synthesis of cluelessness and amorality. Beats me why anyone would want to work for them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the reward structure in many companies and especially MSFT are defined around motivating assembly line type employees rather than for the creative technically challenging work.

At Microsoft it isn't even designed to motivate anyone except the rock stars whom they are desperate to keep. It's certainly not very motivating to the poor saps who get stuck with a 4 or 5 after busting their butts for a whole year. Nor to their peers who know that it's likely to be their turn, if not the next year then the year after that - or the reorg after that - or the flakey new manager after that.

Motivation of any kind is clearly not the goal. What IS the goal? Good question.

Anonymous said...

When you're on the doomed list there are basically 2 options: 1) fight it hard higher up -or- 2) packup and leave, there's plenty of work out there again and if they don't want you they'l get you out someday. Refreshing to be out there in the real world FYI. I knew friends who went through a near death experience trying to keep their job and actually made it, but at high personal cost.

Anonymous said...

Please define 'managed out':

Fired on the spot?
Given a severance package?
Given x weeks to find a new job in MS? [And if they don't, what happens then?]


It depends. Could be on the spot to months. Severance package is doubtful.

You should move your personal stuffs home and schedule all necessary medical appointments.

Anonymous said...

Any layoffs these days, due to economic downturn? Please post if you have heard of anything about them?

Anonymous said...

Seems about time for a review results post! I, for one, would be REALLY interested to measure the self-selection bias of people on this blog based on their review results by comparing the reported percentages to the "fixed" distribution. My hypothesis would be that 1 and 4 are most likely to report, followed by 5, then 2. Threes are probably more likely to be oblivious or uninterested in posting.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any details on the process driven IT reorg that is supposed to be coming in October?

Anonymous said...

This is not persuasive. You are just saying that certain iPhone stuff sucks, BLOWS, or is crappy, whereas WP7 stuff is fantastic, wonderful, etc. without going into ANY specifics. Personally I have an iPhone and I like it, so instead of selling me on WP7 you are just confusing and annoying me.

So in other words you've never so much as demoed WP7, or even read a review of it, meaning you don't work for MS and probably don't even use Windows. Why are you here again? Oh right, the same reason a hundred other Apple shills are here--to spread FUD and make over-the-top claims about Apple. Well you keep beavering away, I'll be back in a few months to see if Mini has another post up and if it is the same crowd of Apple fanboys in the comments. Ta ta!

Anonymous said...

I saw the science-of-motivation video months ago and imagined making it required viewing for all MS managers. (Silly me; I expect most managers would brush it aside as some kind of stupid, juvenile fantasy. Everyone knows, after all, that only committees of PMs are capable of coming up with worthwhile new ideas.)

The comments in this and other 'mini' threads about a toxic culture are spot-on. For some years I worked with a team that was a tight, cohesive group. We had a clear picture of our goals -- how and why we mattered to our customers. We were loyal to and supported one another, and the team was good about letting its members know when they had done valuable work. And the key? Not just good "line staff" but also outstanding managers -- management that said, in effect: "You know what we need from you and we trust you. Do your best work and we'll stay out of your way." IMO, it doesn't get much better than that.

Then we were re-org'd into another department entirely. We knew we were in trouble from the first time we met with them. Our teams were broken up -- lorded over by micro-managing "process" freaks whose jobs were clearly as much about building and protecting their careers and their private fiefdoms as anything else. The contempt our new masters often displayed toward their reports was palpable. On several occasions I witnessed these bureaucrats actively preventing teams from doing cooperative work -- they wanted teams isolated from one another, with only select PMs or other managers allowed to convey information from one team to another. Of course, the "process" had to be constantly tweaked; the number of required (and invariably time-wasting) meetings went up dramatically. On the face of it, limiting communication channels seems like a move toward efficiency. In real life, these "efficiencies" became bottlenecks that ended up only impeding communication and producing considerable frustration. We went from a group that had been pretty agile and active, to one that might as well have been swimming in molasses.

It became a toxic, depressing culture of career-growth psychopathology the likes of which I had never before seen. People who had been star performers were being told that they were at risk of "failing" because they weren't attending to "career growth" in the new required fashion. The exodus began -- some of the best and brightest got fed up with the stifling bureaucratic atmosphere of the place. And I'm sure their (former) managers couldn't have cared less when they left. As long as all the little numbers fit neatly into the little boxes, the career-growth paths look just right on paper, the PowerPoint smoke-screens are beautiful, and senior leadership teams remain convinced that all's well -- what matter who works there, really?

What a sad thing to see. And there is no end to it in sight. If this group is representative of what goes on in the rest of the company, then God help the company...

Anonymous said...

mini - when are we going to get review results?

Anonymous said...

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/microsoftpri0/2015885548_worldwide_sales_of_smartphones_running.html


Worldwide sales of smartphones running Microsoft Windows Phone have dropped so much that they now lag behind sales of phones running Samsung's Bada, which are sold in the international and emerging markets.

Sales of phones running Microsoft's mobile operating systems (which includes primarily Windows Phone 7 but may include its predecessor, Windows Mobile), captured 1.6 percent of the market in the second quarter of 2011, according to technology company Gartner.

Anonymous said...

This is shocking. Mr Terry Myerson (the great "reset" guy) even organized an iphone funeral and all in campus after phone 7 shipped, how could this happen?

Reality is , MS needs a cohesive strategy here. Pulling "reset' stunts and the traditional exec“ I wanna bring my people in to fix this" stunts and going through a cycle of massive favorite promos only gets you go so far before reality hits.
Time for yet another 'reset" stunt within windows phone to save some people’s asses (like Terry and his favorite Exchange clan, congrats on yet another promo to the Nelson family of Exchange btw), oh wait that is already happening within windows phone...
Disgusting…

Mike Morgan said...

My brother-in-law is a Microsoft Executive, so I hear more than I should.

Investors wonder why Microsoft stock just floundered for years, while new companies and Google had so much success.

Oracle stock ran from 15 to 35 during the past five years.

Google stock ran from 380 to over 700 during the five year period

Microsoft stock traded from 28.84 DOWN to a current price of 25 during the five years.

Why? Microsoft is too soft. Their executives are soft as compared to associates and executives at Google, Oracle and other successful competitors that steal their secrets . . . build their own companies . . . and then sell them to Microsoft! I know. My brother-in-law, Peter Leonard, is an executive at Microsoft, so I've seen first hand just how soft and lazy these guys can get, not to mention the "who cares" attitude. Not to mention talking too much and dragging projects out so long, that the competition is ready to go to market by the time Microsoft is ready to go to Beta.

All Microsoft execs and managers care about is a cushy job, nice dining room with great benefits and tons of time off. And when they don't get enough time off, they create it. Yes, I kid you not, they create time off hours off and fun time. They have the benefits of working at home . . . or from a beach in the Islands or anywhere they please, as long as there is a phone and an Internet connection. Believe me, I've been on those trips when he was "working" on the beach, in the pool, sipping pina coladas and enjoying the life of leisure.

If Larry Ellison caught one of his executives on a "working" day like this, he'd probably hang him from the top floor of the Oracle Building or from the mast of his sailing yacht, maybe even drag him behind he yacht as shark bait. But when he is really on the ball, he finds them a job at Microsoft.

Look at all the time Microsoft has had to catch Google with a Search Engine. Their first attempt failed miserably. Second attempt was to buy Yahoo, but Ballmer bungled that with an ego as big as his head, and probably a hundred execs and managers below him advising him . . . we can do it better. How? On the beach? At home? In the hot tub? Now they have Bing. Well, Bing This, because Bing is a complete failure because of guys like my brother-in-law who are there for the benefits, and not willing to take any chances or come up with anything new that might rock the boat of their executives that care more about the security of their positions than the guys and gals below them.

They talk about things they should not be talking about, so the competition can either leap frog them or incorporate their good ideas into their development, and avoid the mistakes made at Microsoft. I've heard things I should not have heard, so I'm sure others have. If you can't keep your trap shut at Microsoft, you've got problems.

So my advice to Steve Ballmer is to go out an hire as many Googlers as you can and start canning your army of drones, even if that means a short set back in Microsoft plans. Why? Because sooner or later, Microsoft will go the way of Sears, IBM, Kmart and others that refused to kick their managers and executives in the butt or out the door.

I guess that's why my brother and sister decided to forge new Wills for my parents and keep all the inheritance for themselves. My brother-in-law probably knows his time at Microsoft is limited. With his loose lips, low productivity, failure to produce, expensive nothingness, Caribbean Island working days, Ireland working days, hiking working days, sitting at home working days, and lack of being in touch of reality . . . guys like him will be out of work, and eventually Microsoft will hire Google Smart or Oracle Smart managers and executives with fire in their bellies, instead of how to beat the system in their heads.

Anonymous said...

1 (not 1+)
L63
P to 64
Major R&D Bonus
Otherwise the same fixed numbers as others.

Anonymous said...

she said: “You are just an easy 5, especially since you attempted to leave the group, there is no way out now, just leave Microsoft.”

If you have an offer from another company, then it doesn't matter what your review score is -- leaving will likely put you in a better environment.

If you don't have an offer, what would be the problem of doing your 9-5 and keeping your cool? Remember, Microsoft does not control you, no matter how your manager acts. The manager is just executing his script. It really is a game, don't sweat over it. Do not try to hold on to the company as if this is the only one out there. Microsoft has not been the first choice for a long time. And if one day the decision comes to fire you... so what? Take time off, enjoy the life, file for unemployment benefits and see what life gives you. You might be surprised.

You don't have to leave if some manager tells you some silly lies just to be able to place you in the 5 bucket. For one, leaving on your own will likely prevent you from getting unemployment.

Unless you have some work visa, being fired might be a better option than staying in a toxic environment.

Anonymous said...

The spectre of corporate implosion looms a little larger each day, and your masters are interested in sweating the peons and milking the cash cows for all they're worth.

Hello, glad to see some of the slashdot crowd in here too. The same guys who've been calling the last nail in Microsoft's coffin for ten years and counting. Hey, at least you didn't pretend to be an FTE.

Make yourself at home. You're in good company.

Anonymous said...

Got my review today - a 1 ..
I believe the new system is better than the old.
Linking performance to actual results is a good thing, by the old system I would have been expecting Exceeded 70 and the 20% would be for the moon walkers (or management ass kissers).
I got a 1 because the ass kisser in the team didn't achieve the actual result. Our manager tried to get his pet an exception- it didn't work!
+ 1 for the new system

Anonymous said...

Can someone clarify whether one needs to stay till the review with manager is complete and signed off before you get the bonus ?

johnpagenola said...

For Microsoft supporters who think that all of the pro-Apple comments on this blog are from fan boys and shills, you should visit some colleges and universities: the shift by students towards Macs in the last 5 years is stunning. Morgan Stanley said in 2008 that 40% of student purchases were of Macs and Global Equities Research says so far in 2011 that “Our research indicates that ~80% of incoming students are buying Apple Computers vs. Windows computers.” I am also seeing (other) faculty move to Macs if they need to do much Website creation, such as for large conferences. I am certainly no Apple supporter: their control tactics are unacceptable and iTunes is a bloated wreck, but those glowing apples on the backs of open laptops are everywhere on campuses now. What that means for Microsoft in the future is unclear, but I don't see any positives.

Anonymous said...

Re: Does anyone have any details on the process driven IT reorg that is supposed to be coming in October?

According to the consultant speak, it's not a reorg, it's an "alignment" ...

My understanding is: take the VLIT model and apply it across the other business lines - with a few horizontal groups. Basically, BUIT all over again (but don't say that out loud as "it's different" - how else can we justify the boat load of money we're spending for consultants and directors to tell us what to do?). Personally, I like the VLIT model better than the SD / Engineering / Ops model.

It's interesting watching GMs throw each other under the bus as they jockey for the key leadership roles. Rumor mill is rampant with which GMs win big and which ones are out on their arses - it's entertaining as a spectator sport.

From what I can tell, not much work is getting done as people wait to see how the reorg (I mean "alignment") plays out. Yet another example of decision by committee paralyzing an organization. In the end, if you're not a director or above, there probably won't be major changes in your daily job.

Anonymous said...

Your question about when Bing is going to stop losing money is really irrelevant. Bing is the future, and Office/Windows is the past. They are the cash cow for the moment, but if everyone just focused on them, Microsoft would be dead in 10 years. Office is being seriously threatened by other online products already (that are much cheaper) and the OS that you use is become increasingly irrelevant.

Bing is the only thing that gives Microsoft any hope in the future, and that's what wall street needs. See the article below for some proof:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2011/05/03/why-not-all-earnings-are-equal-and-microsoft-has-the-wal-mart-disease/

My opinion: if you can throw $8.5 billion down the drain on a whim for Skype, you can sustain Bing for 4 more years (at which point they'd reach at least 20% an become profitable).

Anonymous said...

http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2008/05/whats-up-with-microsoft-india.html

This was an earlier blog done 3 years back. It is time for another blog on MS India. Since the last time, all the people who were expected to be gone have left MS India. Following that, the new management took over and we are seeing Part2 of the earlier movie.

Anonymous said...

To all US based ex-softies,

It’s time to form an association of us all who can share thoughts and take some good advice from each other.....there has been a lot of blood letting in the past few years and much of it was not necessary.

Can someone take the lead to form such a group, I would strongly request someone to take the lead?

Look forward to hearing from others.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is always hiring some new kid genius PHD from Berkeley who is already as good as you with a year or two of experience compared to your 12.
Being part of the hiring process, I am afraid that the genius kid now goes to cooler companies. For years I am seeing weaker and weaker candidates. I had to change my interview questions so that we can hire somebody this year.

Anonymous said...

Time to take a machete to the bloated Windows org, especially those who gave us "Vista" and missing the whole tablet segment:

http://www.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=viewThis&etMailToID=862679493

The criteria should you: are you part of Vista "development" if you are and you are still in Windows, you are fired on the spot!

Windows 8 is not shaping up well, everyone will know by PDC, we are becoming IBM faster than anyone thinks---at least the downward slope, the question is whether we can transform ourselves like IBM, that near death experience should be right around the corner---sync with the sales number of W8.

Anonymous said...

Can they change my review at this stage? I have offers and would like to resign.

Anonymous said...

I have been with MS for less than a year. I know I need to stay in this role for at least 1 year before I can start interviewing - this is according to hrweb. Are there any exceptions to this rule? I like what I am doing, and the team/product is nice, but my passion lies else where. Appreciate your input.



Your manager can approve you to apply for another job. In fact there is a process in place that will require your boss's approval if you formally apply. That said, start having informal interviews (informationals)... that way hopefully when you hit 18 months you know exactly what team you want to join. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Good reading:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nvidia-and-amd-well-prepared-for-downturn-in-pc-sales-2011-08-15?reflink=MW_news_stmp

Good Luck !

Anonymous said...

OP here
@ Tuesday, August 09, 2011 1:31:00 AM

OP said "A large number [of posts] (not sure how large) comes from people who have some sort of agenda and who are not or never have been employees."

You said [snip] ...
The spectre of corporate implosion looms a little larger each day, and your masters are interested in sweating the peons and milking the cash cows for all they're worth. In the meantime there is an ever-mounting toll of hapless underlings who are being sacrificed on the altar of managerial greed.

Don't disagree, however "my masters" are actually my ex-masters as I quit over 2 years ago.

My goodness BTW that is a lot of metaphors packed into a single paragraph. And in 10 years at MSFT I never saw a single peon sweat except maybe after shooting some hoops. Further I think you mean sacrificed on the altar of Partner greed, not managerial greed, as managers actually don't get paid all that much more than ICs.

Anonymous said...

Worldwide sales of smartphones running Microsoft Windows Phone have dropped so much that they now lag behind sales of phones running Samsung's Bada

What do you expect from a phone OS that combines the disadvantages of the iPhone (extremely restricted hardware and app abilities) with the disadvantages of Android (managed code, horrible update process that is gated by manufacturers and carriers)? Add a UI that's serviceable but hardly intuitive, an app marketplace that's 3 years behind Apple, and a flash-in-the-pan marketing campaign that seemed to be focused on rectangles (tiles), and the sales numbers are even less of a surprise.

Anonymous said...

"You know what? I had a great idea of a feature the other day, implemented and checked it in the same day. How often does that happen in the Sinofsky model?"

A lot during the prototyping phase, which is the only time such a thing would make sense in any large scale software product.

Sounds like your objection isn't to Steven's organizational structure, but rather to the realities of a working on a project at the scale and quality bar of Windows.

All options for org structure have trade-offs. The PUM model could work well if you had a great PUM. But if your PUM used to be a PM they might favor that org. Or they'd reward cross-disciplinary skills because that's what worked for them. Triads mean PMs manage PMs and will reward good PM work first and foremost. Devs manage devs and will focus on dev work. It also means each discipline pushes on the other to keep things centered, in evenly matched triads (which aren't all of them, but on average should be, especially as you go up the chain).

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