Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Some Holiday Stuffing

Some random Thanksgiving holiday kibble and bits:

XBox 360 ring of fire: oh, no. It's one thing for VS2005 to have problems on ship. It's another for the XBox 360 to be hanging and crashing and creating any angry red circle of light for new 360 owners. What does that red circle mean? Catastrophic hardware failure, prepare to be exchanged. One of threads mentions that a military PX actually had some of their 360 recalled before they went on sale. I now glance at my unpacked 360 box, wondering what kind of beast might be lurking within.

First, XBox sucked up one billion dollars from our company and broke that division's wallet. Now is 360 going to break our heart, too?

I can only have faith that this is one place where Microsoft will endeavor for quick turn-around to get replacement units out, no questions asked. With a kiss... give the folks having to exchange their XBox a bunch of Live Points. And I hope this is just a small percent of units. One poll had 14% of people responding that they had a 360 brick shortly after playing it for a while. Oy!

Interesting that at the same time I'm reading more Deming and wondering how his approach to quality would apply to Microsoft, we have these defective units cropping up.

While BusinessWeek says that accountability is the new word at Microsoft, I seriously doubt anyone will be held accountable if we get bad press and take a dent in initial 360 adoption because our crazy consumers are a tad bit nervous forking over well over $500 for a system and a couple of games and risking that it might have to be returned shortly after hooking it up.

Shanghai: the same week various posts come out discussing working with Microsoft engineers in China, also noted by Dare, I took a moment to do a deep dive understanding how things are going over there and what kind of work is getting done. Seems as though most people are very happy with the high quality, hard-work, and ability to deal with Microsoft-Redmond's capricious rearchitecture du jour coming out of China. I haven't heard much in the way of complaints at all, as compared to working with Hyderabad. Microsoft India had best watch out - you guys might get outsourced to China, lending a whole new modern usage to Shanghaied.

Comments: some great comments as of late... first of all, another good one along the lines of being an executive level initiative to get the masses of Microsofties clamoring for a Reduction in Force (RIF), aka, mass firings. A snippet from the comment:

When is everyone going to get it that this blog is a science experiment on part of management? Has anyone even passively considered that this is perhaps a clever upper-echelon attempt at evangelizing people into welcoming a RIF?

Yeah! Stock price sucks!
Yeah! Bad middle managers!
Yeah! Let's cut back!
Fire 'em! Fire 'em!

An ex-Microsoftie looking back in retrospect:

I left because of poor management vision and accountability. However, the VP of my old division was Kai Fu Lee whose vision was somewhere else (Google perhaps?) and completely uninspiring. It makes me laugh as I look back. Realistically MS needs a revolution.

Another headed out the door:

I can't think of a single positive discussion in the last few years with other Services ICs, whether consultant, TAM, or other, concerning the state of affairs at Microsoft. Many Senior ICs in my org have left in the last few months stating the lack of opportunity to excel, a clear career path, incompetence of their management, the bureaucracy, and review process bullshit.

[...] I think Microsoft has given up on employee development, career opportunity, and retention of it's senior ICs.

[...] I've been working very hard this last year to find reasons to stay at Microsoft.....but time has come to move on.

A good pro-MBS rant has the following:

The culture within MS is just plain stupid. A culture that rewards people (the 4.0s) for taking risk and punishes the people (the 3.0s) who cover the asses of the first group, is just silly. I would not want to own a company of exclusively 'type A' highly motivated risk takers. You need a balanced and diverse employee base to make a succesful company.

Another from an MBS manager:

Personally I'm a techie gone manager, I can mentor and match any of my people technically, but my peers are most often completely innane morons who are good at playing the game instead using their brain. I was a happy camper at MS when I was an IC and small time lead, but with the increased scope I have seen the horrible state of management we have, and I just don't like it!

I'm probably going to leave the company soon. I refuse to use my time in meetings, trying to play politics, so I can't get my 4.0's anymore and that's it for me. MS has finally depleeted itself of interesting opportunities for me...

Looking back at VS2005 problems, some folks have added comments along the line of "Dude, works just fine for me." Paul Sorauer added a rather long comment on his experience with VS2005. A snippet:

I have spent the last seven years building up a career solely using MS development products.

For the first time I am seriously considering making a switch.

For the first time I have lost confidence in Microsoft.

If I released an application that had, for even one customer, as many problems as I have encountered with VS 2005 RTM, I would consider the product an abject failure. I have never encountered a product that is so difficult to give my continued support to. Until MS comes out with some hotfixes or a service pack for VS 2005, I WILL NOT be using, considering or recommending Visual Studio 2005 for new projects.

As for the HR back and forth, my favorite recent chuckle comes from this comment:

I have my occasional problems with HR (like forgetting to send out an offer and almost costing me a hire), but yelling at them about the current state of the company is like yelling at your cat because the laundry didn't get done.

Another comment takes a moment to remember the Three Degrees team:

Does anyone remember where the Three Degrees team used to be situated over in the downtown offices? I loved their shared workspace - it didn't have the typical drone-cube feel to it (no dividers) , it had a nice view of the city and I just liked the general layout of the room. They also had a quiet/meditation room (can't remember the actual term they used to call it).

Do you remember Three Degrees? Well, first of all, it was probably the first self-serving poster on campus that I noticed. Now it would be lost in the crowd of internal "lookie at us!" posters slapped up everywhere. Anyway, if I remember right, all the good positive pre-Web 2.0 Microsoft-finally-gets-it NetGen buzz on Three Degrees that came out was all but cheers at the wake. I'm pretty sure the team had already been told to break-up and disband or such by the time they shipped. And what revelatory reactions did Microsoft leadership have to those good articles praising Three Degrees and this surprising non-Microsoft direction for Microsoft? Zip.

Anyone feeling accountable?


Anonymous said...

An Xbox 360 article on ABCNews with a Microsoft interview on quality:
Is Microsoft's New Xbox 360 a Bust?

From that:

It's a sentiment echoed by Xbox senior product manager Molly O'Donnell.

"The vast majority of Xbox 360 owners are having an outstanding experience with their new consoles," she said. "As you might expect, we're hearing some reports of consoles not working as expected. But the important thing to note here is that the call rate is well below what you'd expect for a consumer electronic product of this complexity."

O'Donnell added that Microsoft is prepared for the calls they've gotten and have plenty of stock to replace any units that need replacing.

Anonymous said...

The most salient comment I've read on this comes from the Washington Post article (Gamers Seeing Glitches in New Xbox) questioning Xbox360 quality:

"Once [a game console] makes the transition from your back bedroom to your living room -- you're on Broadway now. You can't have any misfires."

Something like that should have been printed out and posted all around the design and production facilities and QA long ago.

But maybe this is just a few isolated cases.

What is an acceptable failure rate? Zero in my mind.

Anonymous said...

"The vast majority of Xbox 360 owners are having an outstanding experience with their new consoles,"

Aside from mine, which crashes after about an hour. Or my friend's, which won't lock as long as he keeps a foot of open space all the way around it, sort of inconvient, I guess, when you've just bought a flat screen TV in a bid to take up less room.

Anonymous said...

I too transferred out of Services recently. For a truly dysfunctional organization take a look at MCS. Yes, there is the continual jockeying for position by all the practice managers. The VP of Services has a sales background - no consulting or services experience to speak of. And before him was a revolving door of 'leadership' that changed every year or two. The latest idea is the idea of coming up with SKUs, or stock keeping units, for canned services offerings. Anyone with enterprise consulting experience should realize this is an idea doomed for failure. Slapping on a bar code is essentially commoditizing a differentiated service - a consultant with the Microsoft brand. Look at and imitate the competition - namely IBM. The state of our consulting expertise, communication skills, and business acument is laughable compared to IBM. Services is trying to hire 450 people worldwide in the next year, while HR is only providing 2-3 candidates per month to interview. And guess what happens after we hire those 450? Dead weight and over-capacity from clients aside from a select few unwilling to pay $225 an hour for variable-quality expertise.

In the past 2 years I reported to THREE different professional development managers and consequently got screwed on review (3.0). I guess I have a bone to pick, but you're going to continue to see lots of turmoil in Services that won't end any time soon.

What do I suggest? It may sound harsh and draconian, but separate Services into its own subsidiary and let it own its own culture and profit model. Profits are getting eaten by using the shared costing model and salary structures as Microsoft corporate - and there's a strong culture and processes mismatch between a product company and servces company. The really good consultants have left MCS, or transfer to a corporate position when the opportunity arises. Creating a separat subsidiary would let management enforce policies restring transfer until a 'tour of duty' is complete, say 3 years.

Anonymous said...

"What is an acceptable failure rate? Zero in my mind."

Economics dictates that the acceptable failure rate is greater than zero. At some point it becomes cheaper to just exchange/replace equipment than to invest in quality.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. We sell half a million new consoles in a matter of hours and what does mini focus on? The 0.5% with defective units.

He immediately infers that official statements on the matter are false, and instead uses anticedal evidence of some random internet poll where you can't distinguish between the Sony "fanboys" making crap up and people having actual problems.

I'm beginning to wonder if mini is capable of seeing anything positive at all.

Anonymous said...

He immediately infers that official statements on the matter are false, and instead uses anticedal evidence of some random internet poll where you can't distinguish between the Sony "fanboys" making crap up and people having actual problems.

(Aren't you the one who needs to make sure to throw in a "You pest" with every ding?)

What the hell kind of crack were you smoking when you read this post? You're dinging Mini for being concerned about Microsoft having a customer-focused reaction to people posting pictures and videos of their crashing 360s? When did Mini say anything in reaction to an official Microsoft statement?

Or are you confused and unable to distinguish a post from the comments?

And I'm sorry, what's's URL for the offical response?

Your over-reaction and insertion of conclusions goes to the limit. You're certainly on the other end of the scale looking for things to complain about here and, lacking that, making crap up.

You're just as bad as any /.'er.

Anonymous said...

Well, the best way to find true Xbox users giving their feedback is to look for the gold members on the official xbox forums. Two threads of note:

Defective 360's & The Treatment People Are Receiving

Official: Send the useless Xbox360 Back to MS List!

Hey. They are some kinks. Probably something jiggled loose in transit in a bunch of units.

And it's not a ring-of-fire but rather three-red-blinking-lights that indicates all heck is broken loose.

Anonymous said...

So. Managed code is still not used by Windows or Office. Managed parts of Visual Studio is the worst part of the application: slow, memory hungry. And people like Avalon team in general and Chris Anderson in particular are keeping trying to make themselves \"visible\" on their way to great review scores while those in trenches keep debugging crap they have left behind in their creat carereers? Fantastic achievements. Did we ship ANY managed apps since the advent of .NET in 2000? I mean, anything significant? Something that is using managed stuff because it is good, not because it was crammed down their throats like in VS?

Anonymous said...

Exactly. What did we do to help those shipping our cash cows? New NATIVE code technologies anyone? Or native code is not visible enough to get to architect position? When exactly that visibility crap is going to end? 500 people in Avalon team, in technology which is not used by anyone. Same people who wrote IE and left it with all its security holes behind. Right.

Anonymous said...

I left Microsoft recently and a lot of it had to do with embarrassment--the embarrassment of working for a company that ships half-assed products. Hearing stories about VS8 and XBox 360 just reaffirms my decision to leave.

Anonymous said...

Do they even have quality gates over there in XBox?

Anonymous said...

I used to like your blog, but it's just getting to be ridicolous ms bashing of the type you read on every mac and linux forum there is.

I am deleting this blog from my rss reader now.

Anonymous said...

Mini-sizing organizations tends to favor the incumbent management to the detriment of line workers. And the problem remains once the ‘right-sizing’ is done – because those same managers are still in place.

I would be astounded if Microsoft announced deep cuts to staff because Microsoft can’t innovate into the next business cycle. If I remember right, a fellow named Brad Silverberg was trying to give Microsoft a lift in this direction some years ago:

"steve needs to do something so that the company ends up with an org that essentially is a separate company within the company. it has to be free to do what it thinks best. it has to be so that its energy can be 95% focused externally. rather than 80% internally, as is the case today. the company is so wrapped up in its shorts that it can't get anything done. it has an incredible amount of iq yet is getting only pennies on the dollar -- so much iq is wasted. …”

Where is Silverberg today? Who knows. Hopefully, not far off.

Anonymous said...

We sell half a million new consoles in a matter of hours and what does mini focus on? The 0.5% with defective units.

We don't know the defect rate is 0.5. Some gamers may try to live with the defects short term (only to report them later).

Anonymous said...

"First, XBox sucked up one billion dollars from our company and broke that division's wallet. Now is 360 going to break our heart, too?"

Actually, it's lost over $4B to date with no end in sight. So agree that the reports about defective 360's are very concerning. Would like to believe MSFT that these are "isolated" incidents but when you see multiple problem troubleshooting scenarios posted on even MSFT sites and hear folks talking about 3/6 units within a group of friends being DOA or otherwise flaky, you really have to wonder whether due diligence was done in testing these units before releasing them. I'd also have more faith in MSFT's response if they waited before claiming that problems are isolated. First off, they probably haven't received most of these units back yet to analyze and second, many may have been bought for Xmas and not even used yet. So the exact nature and scope of the problem would seemingly be impossible to determine yet.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Microsoft, or Sony for that matter, is able to ship millions of units without any defects in them. With the net, all defects become highly visible, and when the defects comes from Microsoft, well.. let's just say that Microsoft is not the most popular company right now.
But the damage has been done, and people who were considering buying an XBOX360 for christmas, will probably wait for the PS3, before making up their minds.
At that time, we might even see some mod-chips for the XBOX360, the hardware bugs are probably fixed, and suddenly the XBOX360 looks a little more tempting.
What worries me though, is that the XBOX360 uses DVDs. This is a problem, because if mod-chips comes out, everyone will be able to make copies. It will probably take some time before Blu-Ray burnes become commonplace. Now people will buy XBOX360, inflicting a loss, but no ROI because no games are bought.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini - here's a great article from The Economist on executive compensation.

Three choice quotes:

"[...] investors typically have a different sort of concern. They are happy to pay for exceptional performance; but less delighted when mediocre managers get lavishly rewarded."

"Michael Eisner was an outstanding manager during the first part of his more than 20 years at the top of the Walt Disney Corporation. But as Leo Hindery points out in a new book (“It Takes a CEO”), he was also paid $800m over a 13-year period during which the company's shareholders would have done better by investing in Treasury bonds."

"Many experts see the continuing rise of executive compensation—and the continuing lack of a demonstrable link to performance—as a symptom of a massive failure of corporate governance. Greater pressure from shareholders is generally regarded as the only real antidote. But critics of perceived executive excess have been frustrated by shareholder passivity, which is sometimes blamed on the short time horizons of many investors."

Anonymous said...

So. Managed code is still not used by Windows or Office.

Not true. There isn't much managed code shipping in the old guard (Word, Excel, etc) but all the servers and services (SharePoint,, and a bunch of new servers products I don't think we've announced) are written in managed code.

Also, a huge amount of internal tools and processes are written in managed code. That stuff is very important to shipping the release, and it's one place where the Framework really shines. Being able to quickly develop this internal stuff gives us more time to polish the hard stuff: the native code we ship on CDs. Even if Joe Sixpack's Word 12 doesn't run a drop of managed code, huge amounts of it were used to get Word to him.

Anonymous said...

"I am deleting this blog from my rss reader now."

Ok just do it .. no need to announce since it has no relevance to the blog.

In the immortal words of "yoda" ... do or do not.


Anonymous said...

"Greater pressure from shareholders is generally regarded as the only real antidote. But critics of perceived executive excess have been frustrated by shareholder passivity, which is sometimes blamed on the short time horizons of many investors."

Yes, as a long term shareholder, the level of passivity bothers me too. MSFT's multi-year stock performance has been abysmal, executive compensation (in a majority of cases) is completely disconnected from results, the industry-leading level of insider selling is an embarassment (not to mention a flashing sign to others saying "Don't buy") and the ongoing level of dilution is simply unacceptable (note the little covered fact that shares + share equivalents actually went UP last year despite the massive buyback - so shareholder ownership was further diluted). But I guess most shareholders feel like they can't really impact things especially in a company where the leaders are also major shareholders and founders. So they just vote with their feet and find better investment vehicles - which over the past three years, is just about anyone vs MSFT. See relative performance chart is this article:

Why It Doesn't Pay to Buy Tech's Big Boys

Anonymous said...

>XBox 360 ring of fire

The XBox 360 is manufactured by Flextronics and Wistron on MS's behalf. If there are manufacturing defects, there's a significant chance that it's an issue on their part, not ours.

Why jump to conclusions?

Anonymous said...

The XBox 360 is manufactured by Flextronics and Wistron on MS's behalf. If there are manufacturing defects, there's a significant chance that it's an issue on their part, not ours.

Since the Microsoft name is on the box, Microsoft must take the blame regardless of who manufactured the system. Just ask Dell and HP about all the heat they take on their laptops, desktops, because of mediocre Microsoft software that ships with them.

Anonymous said...

A 10% failure rate is not unusual for tech goods. Think of all the DOA or faulty stuff you've gotten over the years. I'd estimate it to be about 10% of the time. Too likely, if you ask me, but it's made to be cheap stuff. Hope that you aren't among the 10%. You will be eventually.

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Anonymous said...

"First, XBox sucked up one billion dollars from our company and broke that division's wallet. Now is 360 going to break our heart, too?"

Mini, Mini, how do I help you out here? As an old MSoftie (yes one of the early millonaires - don't hate the player, hate the game), there has always being a mantra of giving away razors and making a killing with razors. We can afford the money xbox is losing. When the ubiquity can no longer be denied, you will see that other MS personality that sucks up every available penny in the area.

I was in Office when we were losing money too because the price of Office with several bundled apps was the same as the price of one of apps alone (say Excel). But see where the story is today. MS is not alone in this. HP, Canon and other printer manufacturers lose money on every printer they sell. Wait till you go back for ink replacements. Have you ever wondered why the ink costs as much as the printer?

Anonymous said...

there has always being a mantra of giving away razors and making a killing with razors.

Meant to say:

there has always being a mantra of giving away razors and making a killing with blades.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft provides a very "safe" environment--good job security, good salary, good benefits, etc. I guess if you're conservative or insecure it may be hard to imagine somebody leaving such an environment willingly. But if you're a frequent reader of this blog, you will notice that a lot of posters have quit Microsoft even though they were getting good (sometimes great) review scores, and so far I haven't read about any regrets. I don't have any.

Who da'Punk said...

Just finished a small scrubbing of comments.

As for the first-gen 360s, the wisdom that's growing on the forums (snatch a grain of salt) is give the 360 unit plenty of open breathing space (do not put it in a rack or such) and lay it down horizontally vs. standing it.

Hopefully it is indeed a very small percentage of units. It's more of a lesson to me regarding Microsoft hyped-products (how many of those do we have?) and the grumbling that can build on online forums that easily support pictures and videos now combined with how quick this all turns into news stories.

How do you integrate this lesson into future business / product launches? You can't be perfect. Zero defects isn't something Microsoft is capable of, and that's okay. As long as the defect rate for consumer hardware approaches zero. Anyway, something is going to go wrong, some percent of the wronged will complain online, and then folks will start to propagate this.

Which companies succeed at dealing deftly with this quickly (getting replacements quickly and acknowledging the issue, even if marginalizing it, is good handling imho) and which companies go and pull a Sony DRM or an Intel Pentium math-bug screw-up?

Following the above comment: I want the razor to be so great that we sell blades for a very long time. Because we've got a hell of a lot of blades, or Polaroid film or whatever analogy you want to use, to sell.

Anonymous said...

The XBox 360 is manufactured by Flextronics and Wistron

Right. Daystar make Powerbooks. So what? People see "Powerbook", think "Apple", and think "cool product".

This box has "Microsoft" written on it: the customer has to think "cool product", not "potential burn-out".

There is a point where Spyglass Software stops being to blame, and the internal browser team has to shoulder some of the burden...

Anonymous said...


I've seen this company become a LOT more open in the age of blogging and transparency, and we have Scoble to thank for a lot of that, as dweebish as he is. Early adopters even tell us that they are starting to like us for it!

But what happened with the U.N. fiasco (on /. now) proves there are still dunderheads who don't get it, who don't want to compete on merit.

Let's fire the marketing loser who did this and use the cash to pay for a prominent blogger to have it included in his goals.

Christian H. said...

Sorry Mini but,

In the midst of the Xbox 360 "issue," a very prominent IT person - namely me - has decided that until Firefox stops stealing all of my RAM ( I have 2GB ) I will not be using it anymore. My new browser choice is IE x64. It is MUCH faster than ALL 32bit browsers under x64 and 32 bit IE leaves something to be desird.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. We sell half a million new consoles in a matter of hours and what does mini focus on? The 0.5% with defective units.

87.3% of statistics are made up. Meanwhile, the X-Box 360 defects are getting a lot of press. Reports of people suspending their power supplies from the floor using string to get rid of the crashes.

I saw a commercial on today showing the new basketball game. It showed the Shaq game character, and you could see glimmering sweat on his head. Otherwise, the game looked like other basketball games of today. Two young narraters talked about the sweat. Then the X-Box 360 logo appeared.

Disappointing and ineffective TV marketing happening, in my opinion. What's with the jump rope one?

The launch titles could have been better. Halo 3 should have been planned long ago and ready on launch. Probably should have just made Halo 2 a 360 title and held it until now.

Anonymous said...

Do you remember Three Degrees?

Whaaa! Netgen! Some folks used to hang out at Le Pichet late at night, those were good times. Some even still work for Microsoft, in the Redwest campus though :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's moan orgasmically about threedegrees, they could have saved Microsoft.
Bullfrackingshit. The reason threedegrees isn't around any more may have something to do with the fact the NO ONE gave a crap about it when it was released (beta ?). Kazaa and their ilk outlasted it because people used them.

And I'm sorry, but a mention in cnet is not good buzz. Cnet is usually the last to latch on to any trend.

Anonymous said...


I have an offer from MS to join. What is your suggestion on that. From the posts here, the situation in MS does not seem to be very good, but still it is a good company ?

Maybe you can give some thought on this and have a post with your thoughts ?

Thanks !

Anonymous said...

3 degrees was an expirement of various methodologies to be "agile" ...

Their PMs were useless (e.g. CJ) and no one wanted their crap. The only reason they got some support from Windows networkign was due to trying to promote the ill-fated/premature IPv6 strategy Christian Huitema was responsible for putting together.

That comic-chat experience was just downright laughable.

Oh person who has an offer .. use your inner fealings ... if you have other options weigh them closely


Curious Cat said...

Demings' ideas are being applied in parts of Microsoft, see The influence of W. Edwards Deming on Project Planning and Tracking in MSF v4.0.

Anonymous said...

A note below regarding Sony-related employees going online to spread "anger" about 360 units in order to kick the 360 in the groin:

It's a whole new battlefield out there. Is overheating really that bad? Do you need to hang your power brick in the air? Are disks really getting scratched?

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness someone chimed in on Three Degrees - that software was a peice of crap and crashed constantly. Makes sense that Mini would covet it. Puke... oh, go mini, yeah

Anonymous said...

... that software was a peice of crap and crashed constantly. Makes sense that Mini would covet it.

Looks like one of us can't read. What did Mini say in particular about the three degrees software? Looks like he was discussing more of the buzz, earned or not, that the product achieved, and how that buzz wasn't leveraged.

Could you paste in the specific comment that points to the software coveting?

Just so, you know, it doesn't look like you're making stuff up and being another one of those shallow critics too timid to hang out on /.

Anonymous said...

Re-read mini's post, read the two comments on the thread. Do you really need to have some extract it out for you again?

Anonymous said...

It'd be cool if more MSfties could say "We honestly screwed up here. Let's do what we can to fix it" rather than "there are no problems here. It's all your imagination."

The increasing numbers of videos and posts about the crashes show that there is increasing anecdotal "evidence" that something is wrong. MSft would be better off saying "We recognize that some customers have received bad equipment and we are replacing these units free of charge as soon as we hear of them." Much better press than "you're lying, it's not that bad."

Giving away free XBox 360s can't be much more expensive than selling them, anyway - I hear MSft is losing ~$160/unit. (I suppose they'll make it up in volume?)

Anonymous said...

Wow, this xbox bashing is idiotic. Has it crossed anyones mind that maybe the vast majority of people that are happy with their boxes are too busy actually playing xbox games instead of logging on to some random forum? Anyway, visit, seems most people think the console is great (since we're taking random forum posts as evidence that the machine is a dud)

Anonymous said...

>> I'm probably going to leave the company soon. I refuse to use my time in meetings, trying to play politics, so I can't get my 4.0's anymore and that's it for me.

I'm schizophrenic when it comes to MS. A significant portion of my work is cross group, and I see all this politics, meetings that sap me of the will to live, incompetent managers who are only managers because promotion was the only way MS knew how to remove them as incompetent ICs.

But then I look at my own group. STU (the org formerly known as SBTU) gets it fair share of critisim, and the unit deserves it. But if you look deeper there is one group in the unit that stands out. That's a group that's grown from 8 to 80 in 3 years, yet has only lost about 7 people in that time - 2 to the outside world, 2 to other groups and 3 were loosers who needed to go. It's a group where the GM's calendar is almost always free because he refuses to attend inane meetings - even if they are called by his VP. It's a group where frankly you get to have an impact, do cool things and not worry about risks not paying off. The pain is that unfortunately that we have to work with the rest of the lunatics in the asylum. Sometimes I wish 'they' would spin us off into our own little division...

So there are groups where there is 'life', but they are few and far between. I've had a couple of years here and thought it might be good to get exposure elsewhere in the company, but couldn't a single group that got me excited or where I felt i could be 'me'.

Anonymous said...

>>Wow, it sounds like MSFT has hired the same marketing goons as WMT to naysay any negative posting<<

Actually, what I was trying to point out was the idiocy of accepting one set of reports from gaming forums and not accepting another. Why are negative reports valid and positive ones invalid? I think it's safe to say that the biggest issue with the xbox is the limited number of units, not the small number of defective units. Oh and by the way, it's clear you work for Google (see how that works?)

Anonymous said...

Not sure i agree with that.

Some units had QA issues, some were not. These issues may have happened in transit, storage or unpacking in the store. I doubt ANY unit left the folks crafting them up with issues.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft provides a very "safe" environment--good job security, good salary, good benefits, etc.

That is how it seemed to me 6 years ago. I must admit, it was a good place to ride out the dot-com bust. Unfortunately, politics get to a point where all of my peers said "you are doing a great job" and my manager said "you suck". At that point, the job is no longer "safe".

I was fired last year for performance reasons as I was starting to interview outside of MS and just before my manager got the worst feedback score in the division. Funny, he still has his job at MS and I found a much better job outside of MS two weeks after I left to "Pursue other career opportunities".

Speaking of which, why is it that when you get fired, the only options you have are to have your fellow co-workers be told that you either left "for personal reasons" or to "pursue other career opportunities"? I don't remember lying to remaining team members being an official company value.

MattyDread said...

Where's Brad Silverberg today?

Same place as John Connors, the CFO who quit in January.

Anonymous said...

There has been a new attempt at open space in RedWest A. The team using it seems to really like it, so maybe there is still some hope for that idea. When the NetGen team disbanded, we all really hated having offices.


Anonymous said...

what blows my mind is that the xbox team had a ship party at the showbox without actually delivering their product to the vast majority of customers who wanted to pay money for it.

Anonymous said...

OK moron Microsoft Mini, been there done that, got many T shirts to prove it. The problem is they can't have a company work with the Jack Welch model and grow expoentially as they have. They have pushed too many moronic people into positions of power. They will eventually re-org the company, but Ballmer does not have the balls to do it. He will eventually bring in a hatchet man to do it. This will happen, I've seen it at over 5 fortune 100 companies that I've worked for. It's a matter of time!


Anonymous said...

I was recently hired at Microsoft and came to know of a select group of new hires from a peer called the "High Potential Candidate" program who are fast tracked for promotions and executive positions. Does anyone have any information on this? What is the criteria for being inducted into this program and how does Microsoft ensure that these fast tracked candidates are promoted without impacting hardworking normal potential candidates.

Would appreciate any feedback.

Anonymous said...

Goal: when someone is justly fired, someone else on the team should not have to have their review suffer.

- Indeed. The goal should be to remove the driftwood, an encourage the performers. Not to steadily cycle through employees

Goal: people are rewarded based on their results and not relative to their peers.

- yep. If I'm judged against my peers, then there is no teamwork. It hurts me to help someone else get better (and helps if I make them look worse). But, If I'm rewarded for my results alone, I'm willing to help others achieve the same results. They may help me someday when I need it. One question: how does bonuses work? There is a finite pool of bonus money, does it get harder to determine who gets a peice?

Goal: you should be able to give true, encouraging feedback anytime.

- Yes, but you can't change human nature. Most of us avoid conflict. Must allow anonymous feedback.

Goal: dump the loose-structured Word review document and make someone's performance a living website.

- Be careful. Our internal tools and websites SUCK. Ever used roleguide? I'd rather use Word (in fairness, roleguide is getting better). Have it built by people that actually know about useability and make it simple and fast.

Goal: anyone can provide positive or constructive feedback anytime, and not have to deal with consequences in the stack rank arena.

- Anonymously

Goal: managements commitments are public.

- Indeed. a good manager would do this already, and you should know how your commitments help their commitments. I had a manager like this, and it worked very well. I knew exactly what they expected from me, and where I needed to focus.

Goal: management feedback is broadly open.

- Again, good managers do this. another sign of bad managers ;)

Goal: if stack ranking stays around, I can find out where I am in the stack rank and why.

- The answer would be "your not visable enough." How can other managers rank you if they never heard of you. So you focus on networking, not your job.

Goal: reward for individual excellence.

- yeah! But should be a smaller reward than team excellence rewards

Goal: reward for team excellence.

- This is key. A team will never get better if I'm stacked against my teammates. But, if I can bring home more bacon with a team reward, then I will help the strugglers. If they can't be helped, they get voted out Survivor style. but you may still have team vs. team issues. Competition is healthy, but stacking teams is bad too. Imagine how powerful the company would be if we could all band together for the same goal, helping each other. What about a Company-wide profit sharing reward (a formula based on profit, ship targets, release dates, etc??? -- with public target numbers so we know where the bar is). A tiered reward system from the very top, down to employees, would be nice. In fact, our sales organization has very mature reward systems. You should look into it - amazing and not just monetary (cruises, family trips, retail goods - you name it).

Goal: more transparency.

- Indeed. Even Google is losing it's tranparency (see Xooglers). Hard to do in a big, public company with way too many press leaks. But for individual performance, why not?

Anonymous said...

Mini, an idea: Slashdot does guest chats where the top 10-12 questions are asked to a guest.

Maybe you can formerly invite Lisa Brummel to answer our top questions? Sort of the blog listening tour?