Thursday, August 12, 2004

Comments on Recent Comments

Off biking in the backwoods, happy to find net access but without a USB drive reader... well, how about a quick review of recent comments and some comments on the comments...

You're dumb and you suck

(aka, "It's funny 'cause it's true!")

From a very Early Post comes this recent comment:

Upon reading most of your posts I have these comments. Most of your ideas are unoriginal and obvious, while some are plain stupid.

Getting rid of underperformers. - Obvious and being done. Focus has been there for several years.

Re-energize the home market. Umm we have a whole division devoted to this. Do you think that you are smarter that all of them? Then go apply for a job there.

Stop hiring - rebalance. You don't think these jobs will be posted internally? Of course they are. If you think we are being undisciplined in creating new jobs, just try to get new headcount approved.

Continue community efforts. We are doing that in a big way. Glad to see we have your approaval [sic].

Back to basics. Dumb. Why not go all the way back to assembler? Frameworks and abstractions help us develop more code better and faster. Yes not everything should run in the CLR. But a lot more can be acheived [sic] in many produts [sic] by using it. Let me guess - you are a Win32 C programmer? Can you say "job security worries"?

Working on IE again. Have you missed the whole web services thing? The whole industry has moved on to new things. Browsers are so 90's

Wow, nice. I'd love to read follow-up constructive ideas on how the company could otherwise improve. But a couple of things I'd like to follow-up on:

Obvious. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's dumb. It also doesn't mean it's been actioned on. The obvious stuff doesn't happen because it's too obvious. Do we think ourselves too smart? If it doesn't bring in a billion dollars or it isn't something mind-blowingly creative, walk on by...

CLR and .NET: yeah, I've put off that post and don't look forward to it. When I put that up I might as well soak myself with gasoline and hand out matches. The CLR is great for short, transient execution, like flickering flames. It so much sucks if you start wanting to associate it with something that needs to stay up and running. Have you actually tried to use a .NET app to get your work done while using Office or other Win32 (excuse me, "unmanaged" applications? Unless you have 512MB or 1024MB and a great system, things come to a grinding halt as memory is paged in and out. I love writing in C#. I'm ten times more productive. But my productivity and extreme joy doesn't compensate my poor end-user wondering what the hell is wrong with his computer.

IE and the Web. Well, Joel said it much better than I could. Please read some recent postings from Adam Bosworth. Google is so pulling its foot back to deliver a swift kick. And Microsoft is bent over, dithering in its Avalon / XAML garden.

Oh, and as for underperformers being moved on: I'll believe it when I see it. I'm blessed with a great job (and a super boss!) and get to meet lots of other Microsoft groups. The drop in quality I saw starting four-to-five years ago is still with us, if not worse for the high quality people moving on.

But the company meeting costs money...

So I bemoaned the scaled back company meeting recently.

Wait a minute! This is from the same guy who touts a lean, customer-pleasing, profit making machine? Most of the people on those buses probably deleted the e-mail and are just "following the crowd".

Well, look. It's a cost / benefit sort of thing. I guess I'm shallow, but I find it very energizing to go to the company meeting and blow off petty doubts and get re-centered and excited about what we've done and where we're going. It's like voluntary mind washing. But if they were going to reduce it and save money, they should have just selected Building 33 and web-casted it from there. I think there's a basic cost for having it off-campus and from there it's a smaller increment for each bus-load. So, costs savings not there, lack of motivation and disenchantment there in abundance.

Employees now, trends for the future?

Within my first review:

debated on posting this but I am a v-/a- type that has been in remora mode around Microsoft for about 15 years now. I saw an interesting trend on the upslope of the bubble. Folks whom I knew and respected from Microsoft were all retiring. I would come in for meetings and hear that the leader of the meetings last day was Friday because he was moving to the carribean. His "financial advisor" told him last Monday he had hit his F*ck you number and he was gone. The scary part about this was not that the folks I knew were leaving but the folks that replaced them were nothing burgers. It was as though they were trying to get any butt into the seat. The people just weren't of the same caliber.

More recently, in my Goin' OOF:

Probably becuase thats just about all thats left at the good ole msft ... that and uber backstabbing dot com-ers that were sly enough to get hired on. Those are the people driving a once great company into the ground.

There is life after msft and now-a-days its a bit better than the hanging with the wanna be's in redmond!

I like it: "nothing burgers" and "uber backstabbing dot com-ers." Right, hired during the age of entitlement and most likely the most offended by our scaling back. All I can hope and pray for is that these folks are the ones on the edge of leaving, just waiting for the economy to truly turn around and have a chance to blow out of this soggy burg (which I Love by the way). When things get Spartan and the shrimp gets replaced with weenies, we can only hope the real Weenies walk.

And lastly: do folks out there know how incredibly hard it is to hire qualified Microsofties? Right, first it's hard to get the headcount. I'll acknowledge that. And then when you do? My group hasn't had headcount opened for a while (we rock!) but I help other teams interview. What's scary is that the folks we find to interview can't code / design their way out of a binary tree. Folks start asking (seriously): "Should we lower our bar?" (No!)

But it's not getting better and now the qualified people we want to hire (a dwindling group) are considering Microsoft very low on their potential Great Places to Work list. Why is that?


Anonymous said...

"Stop hiring - rebalance. You don't think these jobs will be posted internally? Of course they are. If you think we are being undisciplined in creating new jobs, just try to get new headcount approved. "

Nope.. this is definitely not accurate. I've seen specific departments conducted layoffs, and 95% of the laid off folks get rehired within 2 months into other departments. Talk about maintain a good place for the staff.

Anonymous said...

Why are truly talented people considering Micro$oft to be low on their list of places to work?

Speaking from experience (having worked at PSS-East down in Charlotte, NC for 3 1/2 years), it's becuase of the bullcrap that management has gone to. Back in the mid 90's, Microsoft was probably one of the best companies to work for in the IT industry. The working enviornment was great, the people were great, I honestly didn't feel like I was going to work in the mornings... I actually looked forward to going to work.

Then, Gates stepped down, Ballmer stepped up, and the bean counters took the reigns... Instead of everything in PSS being all about customer satisfaction, it became how many customers could you fly through in a day without pissing them off... Numbers became everything, with customer satisfaction taking a back seat.

At that point, it was far more adventageous to be an ass-kisser than somebody that actually knew the technology. They started losing some of their best talent at PSS-East becuase the best & brightest were just waiting for enough stock options to vest, and they were out of that B.S.

And then, the witch hunts began... M$ stock started tanking, and they decided to thin out the head count to help lower their costs... If they laid people off, their stock would sink even further, so they started coming up with any and every bullshit reason to get rid of you. Once again, they lost some of their best and brightest becuase they weren't playing the stupid political games like the ass-kissers...

I've been talking with some of my friends that actually survived the firing sprees, and they said that things SUCK in PSS-East now... A good few of them said that the only reason they were still there is becuase M$ people down here in Charlotte are a dime-a-dozen, and the IT labor market still sucks down here.

Anyhow... Microsoft was once a great company to work for... Not quite so nowadays... I can't blame the truly talented people out there for NOT wanting to go to the evil empire...

Mike H.
(ex., PSS-East Desktop Systems escalation engineer)

Anonymous said...

First of all I never said that you are dumb and you suck. I said your ideas are either obvious or they are stupid. The fact that you take this personally gives me some insight into why you are doing this (and your maturity level).

I also did not say your obvious ideas were dumb. I said they were obvious and were being worked on. Things may not happen as fast as you like but there are efforts underway to eliminate poor performers. If you are a manager in Microsoft then you must know this, if not take comfort; there is a focus to do this.

Your comments on the CLR are especially interesting. The CLR and .NET are being used in a large number of performance critical server applications written both by Microsoft and by our customers. And I have seen CLR applications running on the desktop with very good performance. I do agree with you that the CLR and .NET are not for every application, just as C++ or C are not for every application.

There are many factors to consider when determining a platform and language to build an application on; existing code base, developer skills, time to market, etc…. The nice thing is that with the Microsoft platform we give the developer a choice. For many of our customers (and internal developers) the productivity gains of the CLR and .NET framework mean the difference between delivering an application in time to make a business impact and delivering nothing.

Finally, you say that you’d like to see follow-up constructive ideas on how the company can improve. I do have a number of those ideas. And I’ve had many of them in the past. My ideas differ from yours however in that they are ideas that are within the scope of my control, and I don’t publish them in a blog for the world to take note of. Rather I apply them to my workgroup or submit them to my GM or VP and have internal discussions as to their merit. You might think about putting your energies to work in the same way.

Anonymous said...

Mike H.. Bringing in a difference perspective I spent my time working with MCS. Like you described it felt like I was getting paid to play, not work. At the end of the day I was there to have fun and enjoy what I do and work with customers to execute projects that make their lives easier. From day one to the last that view never changed and I look forward to going back one day. Now I'm off in the music industry not because I disliked my time at Microsoft, but because this is one project I needed to focus 100% on. There are many challenges facing Microsoft in their bid to diversify their product portfolio while still retain excellence in the core product set. The outside challengers will only help keep them on their toes. After all, that's part of the fun of competition in my mind.