Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Gone Fishin'

I'm spending my days singing that Bing Crosby + Louis Armstrong tune "Gone Fishin'" while I enjoy still waters, quiet trails, and generally sunny skies. As I sit on the hill in between family romps and watch the clouds go by (trying not to hear that Madonna launch music), it certainly causes the reflective "and what am I so concerned about?" moments to kick in.

So here's a quick post to keep the pot stirred. I hope you're out there, enjoying life, too.

Town Hall + FAM + Analysts Coffee Talk: damn, what a past week.

Regarding FAM, MSFT Extreme Makeover has the following post: MSFTextrememakeover Like us, or leave us. In the comments, Charles points to the following post off of Seeking Alpha: Microsoft Investment Requires Too Much Patience - Barron's - Seeking Alpha. Snippet:

Some of the issues that worry analysts:

  1. It was clear from the presentation that many of the growth prospects will take 5-10 years to bear fruit.
  2. The company overspends ("nothing would delight analysts more than a nice big round of cost-cutting.")
  3. The businesses MSFT says it's entering (e.g. advertising and consumer electronics) are far more cut-throat than its current mix.
  4. Microsoft's focus on building internet infrastructure rather than building sites that bring in users is "backward."
  5. Bill Gates's plan to pass control of product development to Ray Ozzie "will not be a smooth one."

Those are certainly all issues to be really concerned about, though #2 reminds me of something Dylan Yolles brought up a couple of times at the coffee talk: control expenses via cost efficiency. Now one grand way to start is to not blow a billion dollars here and there and to avoid any future money losing ventures. Brilliant, I know. Can I have an SPSA grant now?

While Mr. Bach has been appropriately contrite and saying "the billion plus buck loss stops here," the commitment I want is forward looking: we will no longer produce product lines that are sold at a loss. One fine day, the third generation of Xbox will be out there. How about committing to pulling a Nintendo here and making it profitable from day one?

Cost efficiency and controlling spending is a pretty broad area to improve in. I'm glad that head-count growth is so visibly discussed now and that Mr. Liddell is saying that it's not sustainable. Let attrition do its thing for a while. I think the analysts would be thrilled - thrilled I tell you - if we actually shrunk headcount and optimized employee career assignments. Around cost efficiency, I'm concerned that one of our new hires will look over the financial books and, with a twenty-five watt light bulb blazing above his head, say, "Hey, I know, we can save some money cutting back on this luxurious towel service here!"

Around our performance and wondering when our stock price will take off, I just have to ask, "If not now, when?" When will we emerge from the post-growth purgatory Charles DiBona mentions? Can we get a software plus services product line out that that resonates with everyone and makes clear the value of Microsoft rich-client applications plus on-line services?

I hope that the upcoming Windows Live Suite is the beginning of another Office Suite. For free. Hmm, wait a minute... well, anyway, it includes my favorite little application, Windows Live Writer, and given that the Office Suite story turned out so well there's an abundance of opportunity for another suite to emerge. Revenue around this, I can only assume, is built on advertising around the content you generate with the suite. That makes me feel a little dirty, still.

I'm glad that there's more focus on creating products for the consumer. Waaaay back, three years ago, it was part of my reason for launching this little blog. I was tired of all the IT-focused features we were so focused on vs. the forgotten home user. I want the cash and attention of everyone walking along the street. I want knowledge workers demanding to have IT deploy the new Office because it's so friggin' cool and because there are features in there they can't wait to use. I have hope.

Shields up: a while back, Ms. Foley asked if Microsoft can go silent running on features vs. blathering about them years and months before they come out. I hope so. I think everyone of us who has watched a Steve Jobs presentation has always felt envy when he unveils something surprising and new and then says, "And you can buy it at the Apple store this afternoon!"

Well played, sir, well played. Even if it's something I'd never want, my inner geek starts running around screaming OMG OMG OMG!

For anything consumer focused and small, yes, we should be able to do this. Obviously, features that are going to rile up the IT department need a soft landing. But I would prefer to announce the cool stuff right at launch or before launch, to avoid the months and months of discussion and criticism that leads us to, "meh" on launch day.

Other bits:

Okay, back to the hill. Ooo, that cloud looks like Ray Ozzie, confused, pondering, 'Dude, what is this bag, and why have you left me holding it?'


163 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem with going "silent running" on up coming features is that so many of the volume licences sold are based on a "pay now buy later" model. The Enterprise Agreement (EA) is essentially only of commercial sense if the customer believes he/she will get value from upgrades in the 3 year span of the agreement.

IMHO the whole licensing model needs a top to bottom revamp so people really pay for the value in things like the update services (XP today is a completely different product from its launch, yet you got all the new features free and delivered online). A model of low (or free, or very low OEM bundle cost) for base licence but a commercial charge for update service would make more sense for both customers and shareholders (revenue mainly subscription and annuity rather than lumpy purchaes when each "Wave" hits). For Consumer things where the market won't support a commercial subscription pay for it via the advertising model that SteveB keep lauding.

Anonymous said...

Is it really true that some poor guy was canned for this
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/01/ballmer_dances/

I don't believe it at all, but maybe it wasn't polite enough for the likes of Jon...

Anonymous said...

hmm, this is the 2nd post with a reference to "enjoying life" from mini. Coincidence?

c said...

On the topic of "enjoying life", who's got a good team these days? My current team has forgotten quality and forgotten the customer, and I want to enjoy work again. Somewhere, someone's gotta be customer-focused and shipping, right? http://career/ makes it easy to find out how many years of C# they want, but impossible to actually learn anything about the team you'll be joining.

... and if I had a dollar for every job posting advertising a "start-up environment!" it'd be like my own SPSA grant!

Anonymous said...

>"(XP today is a completely different product from its launch, yet you got all the new features free and delivered online)."

(I guess you mean it's lowered performance and decreased functionality forced on users by the updates. To wit, DRM, none of my movies work unless they are fifteen years old, WGA is an absolute abomination and to be honest, I intend to reinstall the original OS without updates using third party security to insure protection.)

Anonymous said...

Somewhere, someone's gotta be customer-focused and shipping, right?

Stay away from Office and (from what I hear) Windows and you should be fine. I left Office for Devdiv three years ago, and have had a fun work environment, yearly promotions and a life outside of work ever since. I am just kicking myself for not having left earlier.

Anonymous said...

The idea that we have been somehow focusing on IT to our detriment is pretty naive Mini. We've done just as poor of a job courting IT as we have done for consumers in the past 5 or 6 years.

Fact is, consumer "buzz" isnt going to push IT into doing anything (note - normal companies dont work like MSFT where you run what you feel like running), and we should be beyond guerilla marketing approaches like trying to get "users" to drive IT behavior. That just leaves us open to very saavy enterprise players to take away what little of that biz we have (we are currently like 1% of typical IT spend while IBM is like 60-70%)

As the company that made a LOT of noise around 01/02 about the transformational nature of "software services" we have delivered depressingly little. That we are now apologetically trying to play catch up with Google, in a space that SHOULD have been ours, is quite frankly embarassing.

Why are we incapable of defining a hollistic vision that is agnostic with regards to how the technology is delivered and consumed, agile in how the technology is packaged, and consistent across all flavors?

Why is it so hard to have a knowledge worker system, built on .NET, that ranges from a classic, feature rich, fat client install, all the way to a fully hosted, browser embedded, thin client delivered from a cloud, with various options for federation and hosting existing in between, and a consistent user experience throughout?

We are talking the talk and NOT walking the walk. IT (rightly) expects that by now, we would have had an Office experience that fully integrates with all of our management tools, gives them the flexibility to "right size" the build for classes of users (including stripped down to bare for commodity workers), is available as a classic deployed app, a cloud hosted web app or a federated web app, and has a rich suite of consoles to allow enterprise policy control and metering. Oh, and the range of solutions should have an equally flexible range of license options including classic, subscription and, gasp, subsidized and, for the average consumer, the experience should be no different (essentially) on their "free" subsidized Word.NET as it is on their classic, IT deployed, Word 2009 or their call center coworkers federated, subscribed, Word.NET - biz call center edition.

Why is this SO impossibly hard for us to manage to really execute on? Because we are IBM circa 1985 - culturally stagnant and bound to an aging cash cow that NO ONE will risk upsetting. Meanwhile, we chip away at the billion dollar cash stash on silly ventures and "R&D" for things like Surface.

Instead of blowing a few billion on the next "Zune", how about we accept a billion dollar *risk* and make transformational changes in the culture and mindset of the company that will keep us from being utterly marginalized long term by the likes of Google?

Anonymous said...

Re: cost cutting

Show of hands: how many of you have ever been to the office surplus on campus? You didn't know there was one? That's what I thought...

No need to order pens, pads of paper, staplers, etc. ever again. But wait, there's more. Cables, laptop batteries, blank CDs, unopened cases of jewel boxes, speakers, keyboards - it all piles up down there.

It rotates all the time; there's always something new. So, next time you need something along these lines, why not go over to 18 for lunch, and stop by surplus on your way out.

It's a small step, I know. But it all adds up...

jamie said...

WOW. I think that's the best post Ive ever read about MS issues in a few years.

Kudos!

Anonymous said...

Microsoft will start to have a clue when they announce Office for Linux. Otherwise, same old same old, with more funny disasters every year. Ahh well.

Meanwhile, in other news, I got my first Windows Mobile phone the other day (I had no choice, it was imposed on me). While the stuff like web surfing is fine as far as it goes, I have a question about the phone dialing software. Is that part of Windows Mobile, or is that created by the phone manufacturer?

I ask because on my particular gizmo, the T-Mobile Wing, the person who came up with the phone software part of it clearly is somebody that never actually had to use a cell phone ever in their life.

Anonymous said...

"...Why is this SO impossibly hard for us to manage to really execute on? Because we are IBM circa 1985 - culturally stagnant and bound to an aging cash cow... "

We are over matrixed. Functional responsibilities aren't defined - people essentially do whatever they want regardless of "strategic direction" or "guidance" or "commitments". Accountability simply does not exist if you belong to the inner circle. If it did our dear leader of X-box and HED or EDD or ED&D or whatever we're calling it today would have been fired already and we wouldn't have such a difficult time filling senior leadership positions and we wouldn't lose so much bright talent who gets tired of "making others great" up the chain for peanuts of compensation compared to those above.

We simply have no accountability at the senior layers and too much lazy rest-and-vest-because-I-know-best thinking that shuts out the really good ideas on technology and the business models around the technology. The sheer arrogance of some of our leaders is inexcusable and leaves us in a likely fall behind position in the market.

Solution: Clean house at the top. Clean up functional responsibility and actually PUT THE BUDGET WHERE THE DELIVERABLES LIVE and not in some other series of side organizations to foster "cross group collaboration" which ends up being a boatload of overhead to manage budget processes that don't need to exist in the first place. Not a small task and very difficult but at one point in time that wouldn't have stopped anyone at this company - in fact it would have made us try that much harder.

Anonymous said...

>"Instead of blowing a few billion on the next "Zune", how about we accept a billion dollar *risk* and make transformational changes in the culture and mindset of the company that will keep us from being utterly marginalized long term by the likes of Google?"

It probably won't happen for the same reason the US will not embark on an intense effort to transform from an oil based economy to a hydrogen/alternative energy economy. Too scary when the current SPSA grants are just too comfortable.

But as a customer, I agree with the writer's comments that has the focus of software, services and user needs is the missing MS vision.

Anonymous said...

>>Why is this SO impossibly hard for us to manage to really execute on? Because we are IBM circa 1985 - culturally stagnant and bound to an aging cash cow that NO ONE will risk upsetting. Meanwhile, we chip away at the billion dollar cash stash on silly ventures and "R&D" for things like Surface.

Instead of blowing a few billion on the next "Zune", how about we accept a billion dollar *risk* and make transformational changes in the culture and mindset of the company that will keep us from being utterly marginalized long term by the likes of Google?


It would be interesting to hear some of our (or someone else's) business folks weigh in on this - perhaps it makes buisness sense to milk the cow until it is dead? Perhaps major investors want a "slow and steady" Microsoft, not one that does wild new stuff, or perhaps noone knows what the hell they're doing?

Anonymous said...


... and if I had a dollar for every job posting advertising a "start-up environment!" it'd be like my own SPSA grant!


About 90% of all the text found in the job descriptions can be considered boilerplate. Let's see if we can enumerate them and thereby recreate almost all job postings in http://career:

- Start-up environment.
- Must be highly motivated
- Come join one of the top teams/products at Microsoft
- Must be L63+ for L60 job description
- Must be able to multitask effectively
- Come change the world
- Must be customer-focused
- Must know how to ship with quality

I know I must be missing some things, but I've been out of MSFT for a while now and haven't checked out 'career' in a while. But I don't imagine much has changed in terms of the job descriptions.

I don't see why anyone bothers. They should just limit the description to 30 words and let the informational do all the talking. All you really need to know is what group and who the hiring manager is and that will tell you tons about what you're getting yourself into.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft will start to have a clue when they announce Office for Linux.

Excellent idea. I can imagine Linux users running at the chance to buy software.

Anonymous said...

so people really pay for the value

You seriously want to charge your customers for an "update service"? You issue software early to avoid DoJ (yes, you did do that with XP), inflict holes on us, then want to charge us for the mechanism to deploy the patches? Wow. One almost has to admire this hell-bound chutzpah.

You want to deluge my PC with ads from the core OS? Great idea! That - more than anything else - might finally kickstart Linux into becoming a credible competitor instead of the mess it is now. You certainly need the competition if this bilge passes for "how do we serve our customers better" at Microsoft.

As for the rest of that comment, words almost fail me at the contempt for customers exhibited in that executive-ish swill. The only sensible part was that your whole licensing model needs a revamp. That's true, at least, much as your SKUs need to be consolidated (I mean, look at the list of Office editions... do you have executives who lock themselves in a room with that at night for ten minutes or so...???) As with so many other (not all, admittedly) parts of today's Microsoft, not a shred of focus on the customer except as dumb cash-cow.

Anonymous said...

>"Excellent idea. I can imagine Linux users running at the chance to buy software."

Actually I and others would in a heartbeat if it has value and is reasonably priced. But your current valuation of Office is about threefold over price-point. The same goes with Vista and XP.

I had to chuckle when I saw this gem this morning on ZDNet:
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6200577.html
talking about how Microsoft more than halved its Vista pricing in China. And when software is $5 on a bootleg DVD a $118 price is going to make a difference over $238. Gimme a break.

Compared to the old days of business software costing tens of thousands of dollars, its a bargain, but in the days of commodity software of today, the price point on an OS worldwide is closer to $50 and the price point for an obsolete Office suite is closer to $29.95.

And for the expletive-deleted partners involved in trying to pawn Works as an ad based on line freebie, good luck with that. I am sure WC Fields will be on your side.

Anonymous said...

> perhaps it makes buisness sense to milk the cow until it is dead?

If you do this, then when the cow is dead, so is Microsoft, because you have nothing to replace the cow with.

> Perhaps major investors want a "slow and steady" Microsoft, not one that does wild new stuff, or perhaps noone knows what the hell they're doing?

No, investors want the insane growth levels that happened in the '90s, but that's a lot harder to do when you're as big as Microsoft is now.

MSS

Anonymous said...

Pasting an enlightening post from MSFTextrememakeover comments. This is ridiculous. Here I am thinking we are turning around a corner in search and actually getting excited about it. I just played one of the Live club games...chiktionary.......its scary how these queries are getting auto generated. Try for yourself. Its a shame if anyone is getting awarded for this nonesense.

http://club.live.com/chicktionary.aspx
-------
It is truly sad to see what our executive management has done to destroy this company. There is absolutely zero accountability across the board for our partner level executives. Even worse - it is well known within the company that the goals and metrics that partners sign up to are almost always totally sandbag numbers that they know they will hit. This guarantees that they will acheive their accellerated SPA's (restricted stock). It is also well know that when they look to be missing their #'s in any one of the business they will manipulate the measurement of the goal to make sure they get their fat paydays.

Take search as an example. SPSA awards had a goal of increasing seach share by some 5% or so this year. Now everybody knows that MSN/Live search share is totally in the tank. But somehow miraculously they made a 5% gain in search just the month before measurement for partner SPSA's. The dirty little secret is that this share was totally artificial. http://www.informationweek.com/internet/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201000338

Almost none of these new searches are people seriously looking for things on MSN or Live Search. And some people even say that most of these searches are not even done by actual real humans. They are bots that have been scripted to win prizes from MSN's over funded marketing machine. Does anybody remember MSN giving away $400 for every new narrowband subscriber? Here we go again on search.

But hey - you can't get to the truth. No partner wants the truth, it gets in the way of the million dollars they get every year no matter how many horrible a job they do.

Like somebody else here said. Being a Microsoft partner is the easiest million dollar job in the world. No accountability, tons of vacation, lots of fancy offsite meetings spent strategerizing, and never really having to do any hard work. It's a great gig if you can get it...

And for those of you who say "he's just jealous" you bet your ass I am!

Anonymous said...

"Start-up environment" is just short-hand for "can't manage project deadlines, expect months of hero hours".

Anonymous said...

You seriously want to charge your customers for an "update service"? You issue software early to avoid DoJ (yes, you did do that with XP), inflict holes on us, then want to charge us for the mechanism to deploy the patches? Wow. One almost has to admire this hell-bound chutzpah.

I'm not the OP, but want to comment on this. I think the idea is to charge for enhancements, not necessarily security fixes. A number of folks I know lamented XP SP2 for being such a noteworthy revamp, while the market, et al, did not pay it any mind. The same could be said of Win95 OSR2, Win98 SE, Windows 2003 R2, etc. Each of those releases had significant advantages over their predecessors (particularly from an IT and hardware standpoint), but customers didn't really notice because they were "free".

I think the subscription model is a great idea. I would go one further and have a sort of "volume license cafeteria plan" for feature sets as well. If your org will never use IIS, for example, why pay for it? You could even pipe the licensing through the 'Add/Remove Windows Components' applet.

The only problem is that Vista has something like this now, and Ultimate edition certainly hasn't delivered on it's promises; a Texas Hold 'Em game isn't exactly delivering value, IMHO.

But then, I'm sure smarter heads than mine have thought this through...

Anonymous said...

We are not matching the 80s/90s growth rates because we are underperforming in the areas of risk taking and innovation.

Evidence that we are no longer taking risks: how many commitments on your review have you failed in the last five years? How many has your management chain failed on?

My guess? Zilch.

We are not setting commitments aggressively enough. It is human to strive for security and behave risk aversely, and at MSFT it is not ok to fail. For a successful growth company, that trend needs to be counteracted from the highest levels of management down.

Innovation: we suffer from management paranoia, the desire to control the chaos of software development.

We execute on the portion of what we can plan for that fits into a 8h/5d schedule.

As a consequence, we miss out on the innovation we could harvest by employing selfmotivated, highly intelligent and creative people.

This is why Googles 20% time is so attractive, and it is something that management at MSFT doesn't get: If you hire smartly and allow your employees a day a week to play without supervision you reap unexpected benefits, like internet search, blogging software, voip, attractive extras and facebook possibly being developed internally first.

In addition, you win by the cool factor and geek appeal (reinforcing the brand: remember when MSFT was cool?), and it makes hiring as well as employee retention easier.

Anonymous said...

Ooo, that cloud looks like Ray Ozzie, confused, pondering, 'Dude, what is this bag, and why have you left me holding it?'

Of all the people you'd want holding the bag (and with both hands) is Ray. Building search from the roots up and creating (or otherwise acquiring) an ad delivery system is the thing that keeps us from being "the next IBM." We made the turn in the road - Ray's vision was key. More bags please ...

Anonymous said...

>> perhaps it makes buisness sense to milk the cow until it is dead?

>If you do this, then when the cow is dead, so is Microsoft, because you have nothing to replace the cow with.

Perhaps if you have most of the milk in your bank already, you just don't care if the cow drops dead.

Anonymous said...

Any word on reviews? The numbers must be locked by now.

Despite having a solid year and getting a solid message from management, I'm fully prepare for my achieved/limited, 2% raise, 4% bonus, and zero stock. Even though my old ***hole manager who screwed me for 2 years has moved on, I don't see much changing, sadly.

Let's post our numbers like last year. Here's how mine will look:

Title: SDET
Level: 61
Committment: Achieved
Contribution: Limited
Merit: 2%
Bonus: 4%
Stock: 0
Promo: 0

Boy, I hate August, it's the most depressing time of the year.

Anonymous said...

Evidence that we are no longer taking risks: how many commitments on your review have you failed in the last five years? How many has your management chain failed on?

My guess? Zilch.


You know why? Because by the letter of the HR/MyMicrosoft/whatever guidelines, if you fail a commitment, you're technically in danger of being labeled as "Underperforming".

Until the review system's risk/reward balance is fixed, and it becomes less of a "perception and self-promotion game", well, don't expect big risks anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Building search from the roots up ... Ray's vision was key.

The decision to build a competitive search engine was made years before Ray arrived on the scene. Even now most of the great ideas are generated from the bottom up.

Anonymous said...

>Perhaps if you have most of the milk in your bank already, you just don't care if the cow drops dead.

Yup, because the only person in the world with a desire to do a good job and a sense of personal responsibility is little old you. How special you are.

(As an aside, I'd like to see the HR drones altering InsideMS posts try and edit this one! Haven't they figured out that this is the internet age yet?)

Anonymous said...

Underpromotion nice folks is just as common outside of MSFT than on the inside.

Who da'Punk said...

Tune in next week

First of all, to the name-names comment I didn’t let through: you know, I do not want that here. VPs get paid to take heat and are big boys and girls and can deal with it. Line managers? Not here. You can start your own Naming-Names blog, of course, if you are that motivated.

Next up: I am going waaaay off the grid and I'll be a lot more focused on making the kind of noise that avoids surprising the native denizens. I had toyed with the idea of letting this place go unmoderated, but I don’t think that is a good idea. Comments will pile up waiting to be let through.

Here is the big pause button: click!

Anonymous said...

Those of you wishing for money to stop being pissed away on Xbox might be getting your wish (not really any inside information on this, just a knowledge of the people involved and what they've promised and how it's not going to come close to happening).

Robbie Bach and crew have stated that the Xbox division will be profitable in FY08. They simply have not sold anywhere near enough units for even a 100% attach rate on Halo 3 to make that happen. Even accounting for a huge (and unrealistic) surge in unit sales, they're going to know by the end of this calendar year that near-term profitability isn't going to happen.

So, my prediction: Starting in January, Xbox is going to be an even more uncomfortable place to be than it is already. People who survived the 2003-and-later RIFs and thought they were safe are going to find themselves on the street. Some token exec might actually get fired this time (sort of like how Ed Fries "moved on" around the end of 2003, never mind that he was much more on the ball than any of the GMs and higher that stuck around).

Somehow, some way, FY08 is going to be "profitable" for Xbox. But I think in making that happen, they're going to have to cut so many corners that they'll be even more dysfunctional as an org than they already are. And that "streamlined" headcount means even fewer first-party titles to differentiate them from the competition, which is already doing very well.

Given the recent data on sales, I think it's safe to say the division's promise that they would finish first this generation if they could only launch a year early like PS2 did will never come to pass. Both Wii and PS3 are outselling the 360 right now and that's a trend that will only get worse as the PS3 eventually comes down in price. There will be no see-saw battle for the lead, at least not between the 360 and the others. No way the 360's getting back to first place once that's lost. There is just no momentum as there is for its rivals. Like a randy teenager, they shot their wad early.

If I were a betting man, I'd put money on no successor to the 360 ever coming to market. But then again, I'd have bet against a lot of things this company has done (note that none of these are things the company has done successfully, just things they've done).

Anonymous said...

The decision to build a competitive search engine was made years before Ray arrived on the scene.

Got it. In fact, I even heard that there were proposals to have search built long before it became competitive. What I'm saying is that from a philosophical perspective it helps to have someone of Ray's standing weigh in and say: "Yes, this is the right path. We should keep moving forward on this front ..." etc. He is a veteran known for his valuable insight (and not so much for extreme agression or outright bombast.) his approach seems to be more chess-like and introspective. If you're looking to put a new face on Microsoft, you could do worse than make Ray 'true North' on the company compass.

Anonymous said...

Despite the pause button having been pushed, I couldn't help but write. "That we are now apologetically trying to play catch up with Google, in a space that SHOULD have been ours, is quite frankly embarassing (sic)."

And here we have the epitome of MS hubris. Why should you have owned this? Aren't you guys about OS? and Office? Oh, and xbox. And this. And that. You guys are everywhere and no-where. No focus. Products with as much passion as my grandma's slippers.

There is no SHOULD in business-- there is what you can do. You guys are riding a wave from the 80s and let your egos soar with the rising stock price. It's (all) crested and is starting to crash. SHOULD. Good one. Geez. Ya'd think that owning a market segment would be discussed in terms of producing the types of products that consumers want-- and would ultimately lead to said leadership. Nahhhh. Entitlement. That's what it's about.

Holy, cow, you guys.

Anonymous said...

"A number of folks I know lamented XP SP2 for being such a noteworthy revamp, while the market, et al, did not pay it any mind."

There's only one XP operating system, SP 2. SP1 and RTM should never have been released - they were horrible produts and epitomised the philosophy of "good enough" that characterised MS's products since DOS.
XP SP1 and RTM were in reality a mass-beta of SP2.

The market doesn't give it any mind, because SP2 is where Microsoft should have been at RTM. Not 2 years later.

Anonymous said...

comment from msftextrememakeover

It is truly sad to see what our executive management has done to destroy this company. There is absolutely zero accountability across the board for our partner level executives. Even worse - it is well known within the company that the goals and metrics that partners sign up to are almost always totally sandbag numbers that they know they will hit. This guarantees that they will acheive their accellerated SPA's (restricted stock). It is also well know that when they look to be missing their #'s in any one of the business they will manipulate the measurement of the goal to make sure they get their fat paydays.

Take search as an example. SPSA awards had a goal of increasing seach share by some 5% or so this year. Now everybody knows that MSN/Live search share is totally in the tank. But somehow miraculously they made a 5% gain in search just the month before measurement for partner SPSA's. The dirty little secret is that this share was totally artificial. http://www.informationweek.com/internet/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201000338

Almost none of these new searches are people seriously looking for things on MSN or Live Search. And some people even say that most of these searches are not even done by actual real humans. They are bots that have been scripted to win prizes from MSN's over funded marketing machine. Does anybody remember MSN giving away $400 for every new narrowband subscriber? Here we go again on search.

But hey - you can't get to the truth. No partner wants the truth, it gets in the way of the million dollars they get every year no matter how many horrible a job they do.

Like somebody else here said. Being a Microsoft partner is the easiest million dollar job in the world. No accountability, tons of vacation, lots of fancy offsite meetings spent strategerizing, and never really having to do any hard work. It's a great gig if you can get it...

And for those of you who say "he's just jealous" you bet your ass I am!

Anonymous said...

>>You can start your own Naming-Names blog, of course, if you are that motivated.
If you haven't seen www.trenchmice.com, then definately check it out. It names names and then some!

Anonymous said...

On taking risks... I think MS should reward its researches and employees for admitting their failures instead of labeling them as "underperforming". If inventors of Zune were not afraid of canceling the project they might save company some money.

Anonymous said...

Fake Steve Jobs exposed !
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070806/wr_nm/apple_fakestevejobs_dc_1;_ylt=AihafwC31EqG7dUwzkJ.c6kE1vAI

Dan Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes, admitted to writing as Fake Steve after a New York Times reporter found resemblances between the blog and Lyons' published work and asked him whether he was behind the long-running satire.

Anonymous said...

Mini, since FSJ is unmasked do you think, and may be worry too, that you could be unmsaked too.

I loved how somebody noticed the FSJ's writing style. FSJ is extremely talented. Well you are extremely talented too. There are not many folks in Microsoft with your talent. You must be interacting with other Microsoftees in your day to day life. These Microsofteed can recognize your writing style. If I were nearby you, I would have recognized you. How? Because there is none around me who has this talent and style. If you were nearby me then you would be the one.

Anonymous said...

Let's post our numbers like last year.

Snr SDE 63
$Bonus: 10.5%
Merit: 4%
Stock: 700

It was ok, just that I'm leaving the company. I wish they can substitute my stocks with cash :-).

Anonymous said...

>>Let's see if we can enumerate >>them and thereby recreate almost >>all job postings in >>http://career:
>>
>>- Start-up environment.
>>- Must be highly motivated
>>- Come join one of the top >>teams/products at Microsoft
>>- Must be L63+ for L60 job >>description
>>- Must be able to multitask >>effectively
>>- Come change the world
>>- Must be customer-focused
>>- Must know how to ship with >>quality
>>
>>I know I must be missing some >>things, but I've been out of >>MSFT for a while now and haven't >>checked out 'career' in a while. >>But I don't imagine much has >>changed in terms of the job >>descriptions.
>>
HAHAHAHA!!! For someone who hasn't checked out the career site in awhile, you're still hitting the nail right on the head.

I have been looking around and have read a lot of JDs as of late and you have pretty much captured what all of them boil down to. Same shit, different job description.

That's one of the many reasons why I will be somewhere else within the next 12 months. Not enough of the right changes happening, and moving teams frequently results in the same pig, just with a slightly different shade of lipstick. I don't like the direction Microsoft is going, and if I can't change it I either need to shut up or leave. So in the very near future I'll be taking the red pill, and then I'll wake up in the real world, embark on a strange new trip, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Anonymous said...

It was ok, just that I'm leaving the company. I wish they can substitute my stocks with cash :-)

If the stock closes above $30.08 tomorrow, then we can see us getting closer to $31 or above in the next 3-4 days.

$30.08 is the 50 day moving average and technical traders will move in quickly to push the stock higher while shorts will be covering.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini - what's your take on Suzan Delbene leaving as Corp VP, Marketing of Mobile? Asked to go? Accountability finally? iPhone anyone?

Anonymous said...

To the poster who took exception to the "should" comment regarding web services.

You're completely missing the intent of that post. This blog is an MSFT self-critical blog. Maybe in whatever business you're in, you happily accept defeat and "know your place", never attempting to branch out into a new area and innovate.

That's not what the culture of MSFT is supposed to be. So it has absolutely nothing to do with "hubris" or "entitlement". When I say we "should" have owned that space, I mean that with the thinkers we had onboard at the time of .NET, and the passion that these folks have, the fact that they were hamstrung by management and, as a result, now have to accept playing catch up, really hurts.

Does that make it more clear to you? I think its funny that folks who have an ideological axe to grind with MSFT read ANY expression of ambition and passion as "hubris", yet happily rationalize the efforts of other tech companies to completely corner markets. I understand that YOU have decided that "MSFT should be happy with OS and Office", but see, there are a lot of people at MSFT who dont want to punch a clock and make widgets. We actually love technology and want to create new solutions that are innovative.

Did you see anything in my post about market tactics or marginalizing competitors unfairly? No. It was all about a lack of cohesive vision and willingness to take risks on TECHNOLOGY. For you, MSFT riding the tired OS/Office monopoly into the grave would suit your particular agenda. The fact that MSFT employees, shareholders and customers dont share your anti-passion doesnt equate to "hubris" or "entitlement".

Anonymous said...

SEATTLE (AP) -- Online advertising company aQuantive Inc. (NASDAQ:AQNT) , which is being purchased by Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) , said Wednesday its second-quarter profit fell 22 percent due to increased costs.

Good thing we paid a premium so that nobody else snapped up this bargain.

Anonymous said...

"Somehow, some way, FY08 is going to be "profitable" for Xbox. But I think in making that happen, they're going to have to cut so many corners that they'll be even more dysfunctional as an org than they already are. And that "streamlined" headcount means even fewer first-party titles to differentiate them from the competition, which is already doing very well."

I take issue with the accuracy of your accusation that the Xbox org is dysfunctional. Have you even worked in Xbox?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone noticed, but MSN (the portal) is ON FIRE. I can actually find interesting articles there, and whoever populates Hotmail landing page deserves a promotion (even though I hate both Hotmail and the landing page in particular). It's been a LOOOOONG time since I've read anything on MSN and as of late I find myself going there at least a few times a week. Good job, folks. I'm sure you're seeing the corresponding uptrend in traffic.

Anonymous said...


If the stock closes above $30.08 tomorrow, then we can see us getting closer to $31 or above in the next 3-4 days.

$30.08 is the 50 day moving average and technical traders will move in quickly to push the stock higher while shorts will be covering.


Too many technical analysis BS. Stock is moving towards $28 today. How can you explain that? Hey I sold options around 31.x. I'm invinsible :-).

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone noticed, but MSN (the portal) is ON FIRE.

You must be the PM on this team. This thing sucks. It's not using the screen space effectively and feels smaller then other more popular portals. The only reason anyone lands there is because they are FORCED to, not by their own free will and guess what that means they don't stay.

Keeperplanet said...

>"I don't know if anyone noticed, but MSN (the portal) is ON FIRE. I can actually find interesting articles there, and whoever populates Hotmail landing page deserves a promotion"

I said to myself, ok, I'll byte. Went there. Looked. Asked myself WTF is this person talking about? Then it hit me that the above is probably a troll. Sad IF true.

A couple of suggestions to said person:

A little color, less corporate hype n'type, take some risks, one click sign up for hotmail, one click free web storage, one click etc., live, etc., YOU are not in competition with LIVE. YOU are live. Same company. Forget the news. A link to Drudge would work better; pay him for the logo dudette.

Go to news.google.com and observe the value of aggregated news that works.

One click to buy (a) new notebook, (b) new xbox with HDMI (c) new umpc phone through any of your thousands of partners, (d) something really interesting and exciting.

Learn what TECH means. YOU are a TECH company. Make it interesting or at least link to Tom's Hardware and Gizmodo or Engadget, give them a freebie for a fixed period of time. You could do that ad infinity until you get a stable, solid paying group of advertisers chomping at the bit to place adds there.

Sign up for My Yahoo, customize your page to the max then go to your boss and say `Hey, lets make MSN a better place than My Yahoo, with cooler customizations, better services, more variety, better depth on the links (I want to see how many posts are on the latest Mini blog) etc. And on and on. and if you already have that, why is it not obvious on your MSN home page.

You have so much to offer through the vast depth of Microsoft and partners, yet it is all not there because you don't want to take any risks. MSN should be the Disneyland Future World of Microsoft, not some me-too just like every other portal place.

Anonymous said...

I take issue with the accuracy of your accusation that the Xbox org is dysfunctional. Have you even worked in Xbox?

Yes, I worked in the Xbox division for several years. In fact, I worked in PC gaming prior to that so I had a good front-row seat for the ensuing erosion of common sense brought on by the Xbox experiment.

As to the "dysfunctional" comment, perhaps I should amend that to say that as bad as the division is now, it's probably not much more dysfunctional than the average org at Microsoft so it may not seem so bad depending on what you're using as a reference. I mean, I've heard and read about as many anecdotal tales of people getting crucified for making valid points outside Xbox as much as I've witnessed it occurring within. If your contention is that the company as a whole is equally dysfunctional, I suppose I can't really argue.

Of course, the difference is that none of those other orgs have managed to piss away as much money as Xbox has.

Anonymous said...

>>I take issue with the accuracy of your accusation that the Xbox org is dysfunctional. Have you even worked in Xbox?

I have worked in Xbox for several years, and it is an extremely dysfunctional organization at the top (Sr Director levels and above). Crony'ism, political backstabbing, constant struggle for power and budget between Sales, Marketing, Product Development, First-Party Games, Third-Party Games, Xbox Live, etc. not to mention blantant issues with sexism, racism, and poor management of personnel which HR does NOTHING to fix. The departure of Peter Moore doesn't help any as the alignments of power continue to ebb and flow. But don't take my word for it, just look at the at the attrition levels of the star performers over the last year.

Anonymous said...

Never mind cost efficiency. With the Wii and iPhone we're at a crescendo of product embarrassment. We need direction to produce exciting products, but the guy who's supposed to give us that direction is only giving us intermittent handwaving about web services. Does Steve Jobs have a brother?

Anonymous said...

On the "MS should own search" idea:

There are many companies that try to branch out into another area besides the one they currently "own" (or are expert in). And most of the time it works out badly.

Example: You remember Pan Am? They aren't around any more. Why not? Well, Pan Am was an international carrier. They had no flights within the US. Then they bought National, a domestic US carrier. It destroyed them. They didn't know how to run the combination. It turns out that the domestic airline industry is different enough from the international industry to cause problems, problems that were fatal to Pan Am.

So: search is not like operating systems. It's different. It's really different. The idea that "Hey, we're Microsoft, we can write software, we can do that" is mistaken. Yes, it's software. No, you can't necessarily "do that", at least, not do it well. And it's hubris to assume that you can. (Note well: it's not necessarily hubris to try.)

Let's face it: MS has tried maybe a dozen things. They scored big in OSes and office suites. Servers they're doing well in. Set top boxes, phones, search, Xbox - not so much.

You seem to think that, if you had just moved earlier and unleashed the passion in your people, you "should" have owned search. I remain unconvinced. It would have upped your odds, though.

MSS

Anonymous said...

The market doesn't give it any mind, because SP2 is where Microsoft should have been at RTM. Not 2 years later.
---------------------------

Windows 2000 the same heart ache .. SP1 became what RTM should have been

but in reality thats called an RTM/Ship trade off decision for some teams. .... the mass majority had a good product ... few had problems .. noteabley with 2000 RAS was broken really bad and got worse in SP1 and subsequently in Sp2

Anonymous said...

So: search is not like operating systems. It's different. It's really different. The idea that "Hey, we're Microsoft, we can write software, we can do that" is mistaken. Yes, it's software. No, you can't necessarily "do that", at least, not do it well. And it's hubris to assume that you can.

Sometimes you can't do it first or do it as well, but you can attempt to be #1 or #2 in your category. (I would guess that we're ahead of Yahoo in that regard.) As well, search is fairly well integrated in Vista, so, as Vista becomes more prevalent so will live.com search.

Anonymous said...

>> You seem to think that, if you had just moved earlier and unleashed the passion in your people, you "should" have owned search

We will own it, eventually. One thing about us is that we never give up. Another thing is, I've seen what's coming in September release search-wise, and GOOG should be worried. And that's not even the best tech we have - that's just what we managed to implement so far.

Anonymous said...

hey Sr.SDE who posted numbers,

Post your - Exceeded/Achived -- wat ever crap they gave you as well ..

I am L61 SDE expecting an exceeded ..I have no clue what my #s are going to be ..Wating

Anonymous said...

Responses to different posts:

Sometimes you can't do it first or do it as well, but you can attempt to be #1 or #2 in your category. (I would guess that we're ahead of Yahoo in that regard.)

We will own it, eventually. One thing about us is that we never give up.

Microsoft has been in the internet search business for approx. as long as Yahoo and Google, yet has lost unbelievable amounts of money and has always run a distant 3rd in market share. The Live effort has run up the bill even more, reversed quarterly profitability, and LOST marketshare overall. So given nearly a decade of competition and this downward trajectory (ignoring the Chicktionary blip), exactly when do you guys think Microsoft is going to catch up to even #2, let alone make any money?

As well, search is fairly well integrated in Vista, so, as Vista becomes more prevalent so will live.com search.

Despite a decade of lost lawsuits about integrating web browsers/services into the operating system, you are still holding out hope that Microsoft can/should/will leverage our monopoly? That's wonderful.

Anonymous said...

>Another thing is, I've seen what's coming in September release search-wise, and GOOG should be worried.

You'd better deliver on that boast. The rest of MSN is tired of dragging your deadweight and would be real happy to see you guys cut loose.

Anonymous said...

>> Microsoft has been in the internet search business for approx. as long as Yahoo and Goog

Bzzzt. Wrong answer. Microsoft has been in Search business for around 4 years now (that's including development, first version was released in 2005 if memory serves). Before then we were buying search from Inktomi. AdCenter was started even later. We were way, way too late to the game. Given that Google and Yahoo have such an enormous lead (and suckage that is the rest of MSN portal), it's a miracle that we're even a distant third.

Anonymous said...

To the folks that took my comments on a tangent about "owning search".

I was speaking specifically about software as a service. Not search. It isnt hubris to say that MSFT "should" have owned that space. By "should" I'm saying that, as an insider criticism, with the thought leaders we have, the investment we've made, and the vision that floats around, there is no excuse for Google Writer being viewed as the killer app of web search.

Not sure why this is such a contraversial or hard to understand statement. I would expect possible argument from other insiders that I am being too harsh or don't see the "big picture", but arguments from folks outside the company saying it is "hubris" and takes a lot of nerve to imply that we should have delivered on key productivity apps being transformed into services and, thereby, been dominant in that space, is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Bzzzt. Wrong answer. Microsoft has been in Search business for around 4 years now ... Before then we were buying search from Inktomi.

Regardless of how it was being done, Microsoft was providing customers with internet search and was therefore in that business. So Microsoft was not late to the game, we just had the wrong strategy.

Anonymous said...

"Another thing is, I've seen what's coming in September release search-wise, and GOOG should be worried."

I doubt it. It does not matter how great your next search engine is. Microsoft has an unshakable reputation not for serving customers, but for serving themselves by leveraging business in disreputable (monopoly methodologies) ways.

I am starting to use lesser more customer friendly search tools like Ask and others for these reasons. And I certainly don't use IE.

And with your recent ad company acquisitions, it is wait and see how MS leverages that either for or against the customer. Which will it be? Data mining of personal information and distributed advertising to owners of that personal information or will it be passive advertising where the customer decides if he or she wants to respond without the data mining?

http://news.com.com/How+search+engines+rate+on+privacy/2100-1029-6202068.html?part=dht&tag=nl.e703

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how it was being done, Microsoft was providing customers with internet search and was therefore in that business. So Microsoft was not late to the game, we just had the wrong strategy.

Wrong again, unless you genuinely think AOL is 'in the search business' in a similar way to Google, Yahoo or us. We were late from an engineering, sales and strategic perspective. The fact that we're at third and somehow gaining market share is a miracle -- especially given how small the search team originally was!

Anonymous said...

You'd better deliver on that boast. The rest of MSN is tired of dragging your deadweight and would be real happy to see you guys cut loose.

Hah... I believe what you meant to say was: "The rest of MS is tired of dragging the MSN deadweight and would be real happy to see you guys cut loose."

In all seriousness, what services does MSN provide that are actually innovative or any good?

Spaces: Sucks! All PMs and Devs should be ashamed -- Facebook was started by an undergrad and look at it!
Virual Earth: Some cool features, but way too cluttered and slow. Typical MS overengineering with no ux studies.
All the other Craigslist, youtube, finance etc clones: Crap, crap, crap and more crap.

Historically it has been so easy to get promoted in the MSN org -- no wonder quality is down the drain.

Anonymous said...

> Not sure why this is such a contraversial or hard to understand statement. I would expect possible argument from other insiders that I am being too harsh or don't see the "big picture", but arguments from folks outside the company saying it is "hubris" and takes a lot of nerve to imply that we should have delivered on key productivity apps being transformed into services and, thereby, been dominant in that space, is ludicrous.

OK, I think I've got it now. I could agree with you if you took one more step.

"Key productivity apps being transformed into services" would not necessarily have dominated that space, even if it was done well. That is, it may be the vision rather than the execution that was flawed. "If we just do this, we'll own that space" may still be hubris, but hubris of the vision rather than hubris based on just being Microsoft.

That said, yes, somewhere "should" became "didn't", and it's perfectly valid to wave around that "should" and remind people of what didn't happen, and to try to get some recognition that things didn't happen as well as they were supposed to, and to try to get some accountability.

MSS

Anonymous said...

>> Regardless of how it was being done, Microsoft was providing customers with internet search and was therefore in that business

Yeah. Just like Ford is in tire manufacturing business. They sell their cars with tires, right?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone noticed, but MSN (the portal) is ON FIRE.


Click on news.google.com on an average laptop (say 1024 x800 resolution). The page comes up with all the headlines in view. Click on msn.com. Top 1/3 of page is links to and ads for irelevant msn services. 1/2 of visible remaining right hand side is devoted to 3rd party ad.

You need to scroll to see actual news or actual content and the top picks are meaningless fluff about some lightweight new movies (nothing that might offend anyone of course) and some sports filler content.
The difference is like USA Today vs. New York Times.

Hardly on fire.

Anonymous said...

>> Regardless of how it was being done, Microsoft was providing customers with internet search and was therefore in that business

Yeah. Just like Ford is in tire manufacturing business. They sell their cars with tires, right?


If there's some kind of breakthrough in tire technology and Ford fails to adopt it and consequently loses all their market share, would you also say, "hey, not their fault, they're not a tire company"?

Search was Microsoft's to lose. We realized it was important at roughly the same time as Yahoo and Google and consequently made the deal with Inktomi. That was a strategic decision. We could have just as easily invested into homegrown search and advertising and didn't. The only reason why other companies have a "head start" and why we have to "catch up" is because of a strategic failure, not an act of God as some seem to think.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Just like Ford is in tire manufacturing business. They sell their cars with tires, right?

Realizing that there is huge money in tires, Ford started manufacturing their own tires, right?

Anonymous said...

Catching up on brand awareness.

One of the issues with trying to catch up on Google is that they not only have a substantial lead in ads served etc, but also in brand awareness. Many people don't say they will search the internet anymore - they say they will google something or google it. Or say "look it up on Google" as if google was the whole internet.

With regard to search, beyond a certain threshold of performance and accuracy, it does not matter whether MSN provides faster searches, more relevant results etc. At this point it has become ingrained behavior to search via google for a substantial amount of internet users.

This is partly due to providing good technical solutions but also due to marketing to a wide range of consumers, many of whom, Microsoft does not actively engage.

Case in point - my ten year old was trying to show off her knowledge of the world of consumer electronics yesterday.

"I know what an iPhone is". What is it? "Its like a mix of a laptop, a phone and an iPod".

Ok, whats an XBox ? "Its a game thing like a playstation" was the reply.

Ok whats a Wii ? - "its this really cool game thing that you can interact with like to play tennis or fight and things like that"

Ok Whats a Zune ? - " I dont know that one"

Granted, that the related Microsoft products are all targeted at older age groups. But other brands such as Apple and Google are building brand awareness at a younger age in a way that will last. And that will affect purchase decisions and consumer behavior for years to come.

Anonymous said...

Here is an article about how Robbie Bach not only sold additional shares before the xbox announcement but how also none of these sales where part of a firewalled program.

I wonder if his defense will be that everybody knows that Microsofts Management is criminally clueless and the company is therefore on a downright spiral.

Keeperplanet said...

>"One of the issues with trying to catch up on Google is that they not only have a substantial lead in ads served etc, but also in brand awareness."

I was struck by your comment. One of those deep kind of nocturnal mind pressers that tends to have more meaning and depth than is obvious at first glance. Google and MSN have been around a while, but I believe MSN is much older as brands go.

What exactly is the problem? It is not the initials, as MSNBC has great brand recognition and is considered a rich news source on the net (though it's ad surge on loading the page is almost unbearable at low bandwidths). But the content is great, a good mix of form and utility with raw news.

But MSN has always suffered from a kind of Vulcan mind meld in reverse, driving away any customer or user appreciation of what it stands for--and I apologize to all you MSN people who are struggling with making a stand. Maybe its time for a change, (and I am no brand guru), like msNEWS or msNET, or msNaughty (which is probably the only way it would ever make money.)

Anything but MSN which at this juncture is like hooking a positive to a negative on a battery and a negative to a positive, instantly draining the battery. 'Whatever works' is the motto we used for building hand made product models to look like the real thing, until 'whatever works' was replaced by accurate digital renditions of the intended design. A certain loss of sculptural spontanaety occurred at that point.

In the case of MSN, the intellectual acumen needs to find a kind of shrewd perspicacity that blows your mind after gives you goose bumps, creating a sculptural piece of art on the web if that makes any sense. Sorry for the weird expressions, but really, Yahoo on without the yah or hoo is a difficult entreated strategy. Even Yahoo itself suffers from a kind of fingernails on the blackboard graphic identity these days.

Who da'Punk said...

Administrivia: "Mini" is back on the grid and back from going fishing. Now, when the real-world me is swamped with crunch-time work or needing a mental vacation, the Mini-persona goes on a virtual vacation and the Mini-laptop gets to rest for a week or so. Given some comments I've bit-bucketed from eager folks doing their own Nick Denton-esque hunt, let me just share that I don't post my OOF-age here and I'd feel really bad if someone got undeservedly harassed because they were on a real vacation during the past couple of weeks. I'm not them.

Who da'Punk said...

(crack the knuckles): so, what's interesting? We're now, what, 80,000+ employees with the AQNT acquisition going through? Holy-mother-of-my-goodness. Review models should just about be set in concrete so people can start looking for new positions with vigor. Facebook is still fun and all, though I'm not ripping through playing around with it near as much as I used to. And a very interesting and somewhat revamped Company Meeting is coming up next month. As always, I look forward to it. More so without the singing.

Anonymous said...

Mini - gotten wind of what one of the "big" announcements is gonna be at the company meeting?

Hold on to your hat....it looks like we're going to have a new company vision statement. This trumps everything. The old 15% discount ESPP program, real merit increases, having less bullshit, lunch delivered to your desk...it all pales in comparison to towels 2.0/new vision statement.

Looks like somebody will have to add a square to the Company Meeting Bingo Card!

Anonymous said...

We are not a growth company in wallstreet measures. Let us be a growth company in employee number at least. If we are not spreading the wealth among investors in their retirement saving accounts etc. Let us spread wealth among employees. Let us make a goal, be 100K in two years.

Our mission: work without accountability. Or we get the full benefit of our (hard) work.

Anonymous said...

Anything but MSN which at this juncture is like hooking a positive to a negative on a battery and a negative to a positive, instantly draining the battery.

Well, MSN is a portal. What do you expect? You get better bang from established properties like Vista. Across the board, we have to think more about quality. Whatever thinking is being used to punch-up MSN up should also apply to XBox or OS development. 100% quality and zero re-work (even if features get lost ...) What became the eventual working paradigm for Vista should be the paradigm for all products moving ahead.

Anonymous said...

"What became the eventual working paradigm for Vista should be the paradigm for all products moving ahead."

Yikes! So you are saying the paradigm of a)ignoring customer needs, b) putting products on a $6 bbbaaabbbillion development over five years, c) showing that Microsoft is so inept at understanding emerging and existing markets that pretty much everything in Vista was obsolete before it was released, is the BEST way to develop products? (Especially UI, DRM, reliability, and yes auto reboots are no fun).

Anonymous said...

>> What became the eventual working paradigm
>> for Vista should be the paradigm for all
>> products moving ahead.

God forbid. Vista is a steaming pile of buggy, resource-hogging, gaudy crap. It takes talent to deliver an OS that's worse than the previous release. We managed to do it twice - with ME and Vista.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article about managing employee qualification.

Anonymous said...


Anything but MSN which at this juncture is like hooking a positive to a negative on a battery and a negative to a positive, instantly draining the battery.

Well, MSN is a portal. What do you expect? You get better bang from established properties like Vista.


Respectfully, you're missing the entire point. The original poster (who is not me) is making a point about brand recognition and brand loyalty.

In other words, when you're in a store and the salesman is showing you products, he or she will say the name of the company making a certain product and you will react. In many cases, you make the entire decision right then (whether you admit it to yourself or not).

This is why companies spend millions putting their products into movies. So when the salesman says, "I have this Kenwood model" you think "yes" without realizing that you saw Bruce Willis using a Kenwood walkie and it conveyed to you that Kenwood makes "the correct" product to buy.

From this vantage point, "Microsoft" -- THE WORD "Microsoft" -- has become a liability.

It's nowhere on the Zune. It "drains the battery" of MSN (in the OP's excellent metaphor).

If you think that Vista is an "established property" in any sense beyond the fact that it is a "released product," then you understand none of this. Coca-Cola is an "established property." Sports Illustrated and Dow Jones are established properties. iPod is an established property. Vista is...Microsoft's buggy new operating system that nobody wants.

Keeperplanet said...

MSFT 27.81 -0.29

While most of the loss for the day was recovered, Microsoft is still in that trading range of 27-30. I don't know if its good or bad.

Regarding today's financial events, I was reminded of my favorite quotes from Taggart, by Louis L'Amour:

"It was a wild ride down the narrow trail which plunged down the mountainside and into Nugget Wash."

Anonymous said...

If you think that Vista is an "established property" in any sense beyond the fact that it is a "released product," then you understand none of this. Coca-Cola is an "established property." Sports Illustrated and Dow Jones are established properties. iPod is an established property. Vista is...Microsoft's buggy new operating system that nobody wants.

Perhaps not Vista, but Windows is.

Anonymous said...

We will haves 15000 people in search and ad business in couple of years beating google. This is the investments of the future and 80 billions business. Microsoft will have 200 million in revenue from this investment.

Anonymous said...

> We will haves 15000 people in search and ad business in couple of years beating google. This is the investments of the future and 80 billions business. Microsoft will have 200 million in revenue from this investment.

True, 15000 people may beat the number of people that Google has. But that isn't really the point, is it?

If you assume that by simply putting more people onto the problem, you're going to win competitively, then you haven't been paying attention to what's been happening at Microsoft the last few years...

MSS

Anonymous said...

> God forbid. Vista is a steaming pile of buggy, resource-hogging, gaudy crap.
If you don't like Aero, turn it off.


I keep seeing the average desktop Linux user running some absolutely barebones, text file and command line configured, window manager that stopped serious development in 1993.
And then they'll claim that it's superior to everything else.
And then the argument will follow (in sites like Slashdot) is a text mode user's idea of what a UI should be like. Bonus points if the someone mentions the common user is an old lady.

Anonymous said...


We're now, what, 80,000+ employees with the AQNT acquisition going through?


Wrong!!! We have to a lot more. Officially we have 81k fulltime with 14k more open fulltime positions. Then we have 9k contract workers and interns which MS have to pay too :-). Not to mention another 3k open contract positions.

By summer 2008 when they are fully hired, MS have 110,000 in the payroll.

Anonymous said...

"If I were a betting man, I'd put money on no successor to the 360 ever coming to market."

I wouldn't bet on that, myself. Not because I think MS will ever get it right, but because I don't believe Ballmer's willing to admit failure.

Anonymous said...

I keep seeing the average desktop Linux user running some absolutely barebones, text file and command line configured, window manager that stopped serious development in 1993.
And then they'll claim that it's superior to everything else.
... Bonus points if the someone mentions the common user is an old lady.


It's not Linux, but OS X runs on the also-unix-like FreeBSD, and suits grandmom just fine. It has the added advantage that, unlike Vista, it's snappy on 5+ year old hardware without memory or video card upgrades. Shame Apple doesn't sell it for non-Apple hardware. It wouldn't be hard to do. There are BSD hardware drivers for almost everything already. I guess they're content with selling a luxury product.

Anonymous said...

While most of the loss for the day was recovered, Microsoft is still in that trading range of 27-30. I don't know if its good or bad.

MSFT will continue trading in this range until we hear EU's decision on Sept 15th. There is a good chance that this stock will fall below $27.50 and stay there unless the company starts buying back shares aggresively.

Before all the volatility in the market, MSFT would trade perfectly using technical analysis. Now all the traders have moved to other stocks where the daily trading range is $10 while MSFT trades daily between $0.50 - $0.80

Anonymous said...

If you assume that by simply putting more people onto the problem, you're going to win competitively, then you haven't been paying attention to what's been happening at Microsoft the last few years...

You need to hire equal to the challenge. Counting heads is what happens after you're on equal footing with your competitor. Too bad the model isn't more elegant, but it requires taking on overhead now, allocating it rightly, and then figuring out what to do with it later. Its nice to think you can take on all challenges with the same finite group of smart people but its not realistic.

Anonymous said...

>MSFT will continue trading in this range until we hear EU's decision on Sept 15th.

Can't imagine why. The decision of the EU kleptocrats is a foregone conclusion.

Anonymous said...

I keep seeing the average desktop Linux user running some absolutely barebones, text file and command line configured, window manager that stopped serious development in 1993.

Well, some do, but others don't. Maybe some should take a look what's happening outside MS. If you visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lawkc3jH3ws

Notice that this was recorded a year ago and more features has been added since. You can search Youtube for "Beryl" and "Compiz" to watch other examples.

Also notice that the hardware used in some cases are quite modest compared to Vista requirements, and if you watch the window-thumbnails of movies in some of the videos; they are still playing in thumbnail mode.

You could argue though that this eye candy is really useful, nevertheless it's shows some potential. There have been some efforts to apply this to Vista and XP by third party's, but they are not quite there yet (too bad fundamental graphics architecture in Windows?).

Regarding old people and computers. Since i, besides being an administrator, also have support duties i can tell you that more people than you believe don't grasp the concept of programs/windows/activated windows etc.

You could actually argue that these people would be more comfortable using one application at a time as in the DOS days. I see older people struggling to maneuver the mouse, instead of "tabbing" to activate the next textbox (or whatever). This is regardless of OS (Linux/Windows/Mac/Whatever).

So the point that older people can't use Linux is as true as older people can't handle Windows or Mac or whatever. Maybe MS should do a special flavor of Windows for seniors?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is the guy who referred to Vista as a "steaming pile...":

PCMag: Passing the Torch

Another clueless newbie, no doubt. Vista rocks! :)

Charles said...

We will haves 15000 people in search and ad business in couple of years beating google. This is the investments of the future and 80 billions business. Microsoft will have 200 million in revenue from this investment.

15,000 people fully burdened at an average $150,000/year is $2.250B/year in operating cost, offset by an estimated 200M/year revenue, which yields an operating loss of over $2B/year.

Words fail, not only that someone would post such ludicrous cheer leading, but that based on MS "investment" history it might even be true :-/

Anonymous said...

"But MSN has always suffered from a kind of Vulcan mind meld in reverse"

And what about that "MySpace" thingy eh? Wow! Talk about an invasive piece of software! A privacy nightmare. You have to watch it like a hawk. I placed an ad loggin in with my Hotmail address on ExpoLive and had I not been careful, it was fowarding it automatically to all my registered Hotmail contacts.

Getting rid of the entire thing. And don't get me started on Vista. The new Windows Millenium OS.

Keeperplanet said...

>"A privacy nightmare."

Every competitor, no matter how good they are, offers an opportunity to procure market share not to mention to establish great place in the halls of cutting edge technology. Your customers will find out sooner or later if you are serving their needs. I not, somebody else will. This is true whether you are selling donuts or web 2.0 services.

Anonymous said...

Got my review numbers on Friday:

Positon: SDE
Level: 62
Committment: Achieved
Contribution: 70%
Merit: 3%
Bonus: 7%
Stock: $18,000 (100% Target)
Promo: 0%

Not bad at all, I'm obviously pleased. I had a solid year, and this was a solid review, no surprises, my manager and I were on the same page all year, so I'm very thankful. Salary is now in the high 90s, one more decent review next year, and I should break into 6 figures with my base salary.

How are people's numbers looking? Please begin sharing them.

Anonymous said...

After listening to the last couple of conference calls, my opinion is the best catalyst for the stock is cost cutting.

Analysts have been pounding their fists on the table asking for cost cutting. Of course, that does not mean that what analysts want is in the best interest of MSFT.

But if Balmer announces the start of some cost cutting the stock will become a rocket.

MSFT investor.

Anonymous said...

I thought MSN Search and Ad combined had 1500, not 15,000

Can someone verify that number?

Anonymous said...

"GOOG should be worried"

Yeah, right.

Sorry to burst your bubble here, but google is now the generic term for an internet search. MSFT isn't going to beat them, because unseating Google will require not merely matching or exceeding their service, but going as far beyond Google as Google went beyond Alta Vista.

Someday, that could happen, but the chances of the Google killer coming from Microsoft are about the same as GWB winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 08.

Anonymous said...

I'm a L64 SDE and got an "achieved". My percentages exactly match those of the L62 above, but with twice as much stock awarded (I got over 100% target!)

Anonymous said...

Another clueless newbie, no doubt. Vista rocks! :)

I guess you're being sarcastic, but your comment reminds me of an important point:
Being newbie-friendly has in the past been an important advantage of Windows. Where Linux and similar systems required significant manual-reading and sometimes editing configuration files, Windows was much easier to get started with.

I think losing this advantage could hit Microsoft hard, because it would mean using Windows is no longer the easiest system to get started with as a new computer user.
And to some extent it seems to already happen:
If you google for recent market shares of Apple or Linux, the prevailing message is that they are growing. You can verify this with using the "advanced search" and restricting your search to articles from the last six months.

Anonymous said...

> Too bad the model isn't more elegant, but it requires taking on overhead now, allocating it rightly, and then figuring out what to do with it later.

Look. If you don't "figure out what to do with" your headcount, and figure it out right, you are going to lose, no matter how much headcount you have. So the key point is not getting the headcount, but figuring out what the right thing to do with them is.

And from the sound of your post, the plan isn't there. You're assuming that if you can get the people, the right plan will magically appear. I suspect that, yes, a plan will be concocted, and after a couple of years and a lot of money, it will become evident that the plan is not working as expected...

First get the right idea. Then worry about implementation.

MSS

Anonymous said...

http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/biting_the_bullet_on_windows_v_1.php

Anonymous said...

Level: 69
Salary: ~220K ( 10% raise )
Bonus: ~200K
Stock: ~400K
SPSA: ~200K

Anonymous said...

We will haves 15000 people in search and ad business ... Microsoft will have 200 million in revenue from this investment.

Hmmm...if you make 200 million a year and used only that money to pay those 15000 employees you could only pay them each ~13K per year and that doesn't even include benifits and most importantly profit. Yea, that sounds like a great business plan.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to burst your bubble here, but google is now the generic term for an internet search. MSFT isn't going to beat them, because unseating Google will require not merely matching or exceeding their service, but going as far beyond Google as Google went beyond Alta Vista.

Much of Google's ballyhooed success is based on strength of brand. If you do an apples/apples comparison with live.com you'll find, technically, that live.com is comparable. Microsoft doesn't have to unseat Google, they only need to gain on them. In terms of brand, overall, Microsoft's is quite durable - on par with Coke or McDonald's. Google was the first out of the gate but its a long race ...

Anonymous said...

I thought MSN Search and Ad combined had 1500, not 15,000
=
Aquantive 7000 + 1000 open
old msn search 2000 + 1000 open
marketing 5000 + 2000 open

total = 14000 + 4000 open

Headcount target is 20,000 to beat google.

Anonymous said...

>"Hmmm...if you make 200 million a year and used only that money to pay those 15000 employees you could only pay them each ~13K per year and that doesn't even include benifits and most importantly profit."

Maybe its time for a colorful metaphor of Balmeresque management style when confronted by 21st Century medicine (Old? yes, but good. from Star Trek IV :) ):
BONES
Tearing of the middle meningeal artery...
DOCTOR
What's your degree in, dentistry?
BONES
How do you explain slowing pulse,
low respiratory rate and coma?
DOCTOR
Fundoscopic examination --
BONES
Fundoscopic examination is
unrevealing in these cases!
DOCTOR
(condescendingly)
A simple evacuation of the expanding epidural hematoma will relieve the pressure.
BONES
My God, man, drilling holes in his
head is not the answer. The artery
must be repaired without delay or he will die! So put away your butcher knives and let me save the patient!

The young Doctor gives Bones an icy stare.
DOCTOR
I don't know who the hell you are,
but I'm going to have you removed.


Even trekies read mini.

Anonymous said...

This will make everyone feel better I'm sure.
Commitment Rating - Achieved
Commitment Ranking - 70%
Merit - 0%
Bonus - 6%
Stock - 0
Company knew I was leaving well in advance but don't tell me that bonus completely retroactive it's not.

Anonymous said...

Level 64 Marketing Manager
Commitment Rating: Exceeded
Contribution Rating: 70%
Merit Increase: 4.5%
Bonus: 11%
New Base Pay: $127K
Stock: $25K

It bugs that I had a great year, got an "exceed" (big deal...) and my bonus is only 11%. And the $25K stock award is totally underwhelming.

The good news? I love my job. I'd rather have a lot more $$ but I wouldn't trade more money for a job/company I hate. Well...maybe for a LOT more money. ;)

Anonymous said...

Much of Google's ballyhooed success is based on strength of brand. If you do an apples/apples comparison with live.com you'll find, technically, that live.com is comparable.

They more or less have the same features but that ignores the subtleties that make Google a superior service. Live pages (e.g., maps) are more cluttered, take longer to load, require more clicks to do common actions, etc. Also, in the rare case that I'm not finding something with Google, I will often try Live and get even worse results, so I am not convinced that the basic search engine quality is on par.

The other issue is that Google seems to invent cool new stuff all the time: SMS search, ability to drag driving directions around, cool news customizations, etc. (BTW, is Live.com's news feature broken or is it supposed to show a blank page?) The goal of Live seems to be to copy all of Google's ideas. Why would I want to use the knock-off service when the original is free too?

Anonymous said...

"If you do an apples/apples comparison with live.com you'll find, technically, that live.com is comparable. Microsoft doesn't have to unseat Google, they only need to gain on them. In terms of brand, overall, Microsoft's is quite durable - on par with Coke or McDonald's. Google was the first out of the gate but its a long race ..."

Ha ha ha ha! Wow. Another resounding cheer for the home team! Hey everyone, we're comparable! We don't need to win, we just need to be on par! This is a long race, and we're not set to win!

If you're always chasing, when someone zigs or zags, you won't even know they turned until they've either chased the whole race dynamic, or you're ready to go off course. But hey, so when does that matter, right? We enter EVERY race. We're bound to keep winning and be on top forever. Right?

Anonymous said...

to the person that wrote Aquantive 7000 + 1000 open

I'm unaware those numbers are correct. Atlas (technology side of ad serving for aquantive) only has about 200 developers, last I heard Aquantive had under 2000. And I thought I heard the division head say that msn search and ad serving combined before the merge was 1500 including marketing folks.

And our headcount is open thanks to the merger, we'll probably get to double our team of 12.

Anonymous said...


Level 64 Marketing Manager
Commitment Rating: Exceeded
Contribution Rating: 70%
Merit Increase: 4.5%
Bonus: 11%
New Base Pay: $127K
Stock: $25K


For a marketing position - 11% bonus is really really lame. Most marketing folks get 20%+. All other numbers look fair.

Anonymous said...

Position - TAM
Level - 61
Commitment Rating - Achieved
Contribution Rating - 70%
Merit - 3.5%
Bonus - 10%
Stock - $8500 (85%)
Base - Mid 90's

Somewhat expected (got 4%, or was it 4.5% last year) but was hoping that a promo would have come through this year since I took on a lot of new business and fulfilled other commitments outside the scope of my position (because I was asked to).

I'm beginning to tire of the self promoting BS of people around here; you can talk a good game to the big shots but when it comes to doing the real back breaking work you rely on everyone else cuz you don't even know how the work is actually done. Screw it; call me Kim and make sure my friggin paycheck gets deposited every 2 weeks.

Oh and to the person who said they're a L69 you're full of crap troll. If you are the real deal then what exactly did you do to add 10's, more like 100's of millions to the bottom line? IMO not enough because the lips of the stock are still solidly locked to the exhaust pipe.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat expected (got 4%, or was it 4.5% last year) but was hoping that a promo would have come through this year since I took on a lot of new business and fulfilled other commitments outside the scope of my position (because I was asked to).
-----------------

Mr TAM -- yah that is the nature of the field for sure .. i was a TAM long ago and the shit has not changed there at all ... its no different than your cust-sat model you kiss customers bums .. for perf review you do the same for your boss and his boss and respective peers .

Anonymous said...

Charles,

Are you a shareholder or just a basher? You sound a lot like a guy who goes by the alias hawcreek and has been posting anti-MS stuff daily on the YHOO Microsoft message board since apparently '99.

Anonymous said...

Google Sky just drives my point home. When was the last time Live was in the news for anything other than losing market share? There must be people in Live with these sorts of cool little ideas, but Microsoft is just not organized to recognize their value.

Anonymous said...

If you're always chasing, when someone zigs or zags, you won't even know they turned until they've either chased the whole race dynamic, or you're ready to go off course. But hey, so when does that matter, right? We enter EVERY race. We're bound to keep winning and be on top forever. Right?

Referring to it as a race is a bad analogy. Let's just say that MS and Google own parts of an expanding pie. Microsoft's objective is to gain a larger slice of that pie. This is not a zero sum game where if Microsoft gains a point Google loses one. They are both nicely positioned to take advantage of an ad-search-services future. MS is focused on being competitive across all categories and taking advantage of any sorts of 'synergies' that develop between categories. There are old-line monopolists hanging around to be sure, but there is an entire new young generation of hard-working employees that love technology and want to be part of a wonderful company and a wonderful industry. They have youth on their side and that speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

L69 compensation is in line. I am a partner myself but wont divulge my numbers in this forum.

Charles said...

Anonymous asks:

Are you a shareholder or just a basher?

Neither. I'm a customer and observer.

Anonymous said...

> There are old-line monopolists hanging around to be sure, but there is an entire new young generation of hard-working employees that love technology and want to be part of a wonderful company and a wonderful industry. They have youth on their side and that speaks volumes.

Wow. How's that kool-ade taste?

Cheerleading doesn't cut it with me. It annoys me. It annoys me even more when it's contrary to reality.

Reality: I would bet that Microsoft does not "have youth on their side". I would bet that Google does. Anyone have the data to prove it, one way or the other?

MSS

Anonymous said...

Position - Services/Field
Level - 62 -> 63
Commitment Rating - Exceeded
Contribution Rating - 20%
Merit - 6%
Promotion - 6%
Bonus - 16%
Stock - $28000
Base - Low 100's

Meh. Stock was decent, but the rest was underwhelming.

Anonymous said...

Level 63 (MCS)
Commitment Rating: Achieved
Contribution Rating: 20%
Merit Increase: 4%
Bonus: 9.75%
Stock: $33K

About what I expected. But I noticed that a those who posted "exceeds" ratings aren't doing considerably better on the actual numbers. Where are the top 5% that were supposed to be eligible for the really big numbers. Maybe they just aren't here; maybe they don't exist. Either one is believable.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for everyone/anyone:

I've had this opinion for my entire career:

It's my responsibility to provide my management chain with the most accurate information I can, to arm them with my perspective to consider when making decisions. I don't believe it's my responsibility to force my management to change their minds. I mean, they are in charge and are supposedly intelligent decision-makers, right?

I've ended up working for several people over the past five years who totally disagree with this. Three or so years ago, I worked for someone who literally said "No! You're not leaving this conference room until you convince me that you're right, or you admit that I'm right." (I believe my response that day was shock and an ill-conceived "Wanna bet?" response.)

This is a strange attitude that I never encountered until Microsoft (and I'm no spring chicken).

So, what do people think? Do I have a responsibility to change the minds of people who stubbornly cling to ideas that I disagree with, or merely to offer them an alternate point of view and let them decide what they want to believe?

Anonymous said...

For all of you doubters out there, xbox 360 really smokes the competition

Anonymous said...

It's my responsibility to provide my management chain with the most accurate information I can, to arm them with my perspective to consider when making decisions.

I couldn't agree more with you. I feel and done the same way.
They need to take the decision based on their judgment, I won't spend cycles on convincing them. That's the reason that they are paid more than me.
When I see that they take bad decision ignoring my opinion repeatedly I will just leave. I don't want to work for a loser.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where we can go internally to get numbers like targets for certain levels/ratings? I got my rewards numbers back and was told they were "stellar" etc. but I'd like to see for myself where they fit into the bigger picture. Maybe I have to go through my manager? Seems like the way HR is so hush-hush about this stuff that they'd hardly be likely to post anything helpful. And yet many people seem to know what the range was for a Level 61 Achieved, etc. Clearly I need better networking... (but that's why I have Mini!)

Anonymous said...

Mini, is this it for your August posting? Are you going to post anything about the upcoming Company Meeting? Review rating vibes or hallway talk? How the "other" blog is doing (or not)? It's gonna be rainy this weekend in Redmond so you'll have time to catch up on your posting. :-)

Anonymous said...

Base pay - what's the definition for it? Minimum pay for a level? Salary when at 100% of target?

Anonymous said...

Base pay is simply how much money you earn per year from your salary alone. It's what you *did* earn, not what you could have earned, or what someone coming into the position would earn, etc. So if you take a leave of absence, for example, your base salary is lower that year.

Anonymous said...

HR Manager
L64
Salary - 3.2%
Bonus - 8%
Stock - 32K

Anonymous said...

So, what do people think? Do I have a responsibility to change the minds of people who stubbornly cling to ideas that I disagree with, or merely to offer them an alternate point of view and let them decide what they want to believe?

I don't like to repeat myself, so I offer my opinions once, maybe twice at most. But when faced with intransigence from above, I also make sure one of those offerings are clearly documented and as widely distributed as possible so when it hits the fan, there is a paper trail that I called it from the get go.

Anonymous said...

MSS,

Been away for a while trying to figure out how Im going to survive yet another fiscal year turnover, but after reading your follow-up re: web services, hubris, et al, I would agree that assuming you will win if you follow a certain vision can be considered hubris of vision. Of course sometimes a little hubris of vision can go a long way. God knows MSFT seems to have completley lost it, or perhaps never had it, and now seems to be little more than an aging beuracracy wrapped around a tired monopoly.

I'm not one to blindly put the onus on "management", but in this case, there *is* a significant culture change and course correction needed. The last vestiges of folks who achieved 8 and 9 figure personal net worth by milking a monopoly either need to rediscover their passion and shake up the culture, or move on and let the company adapt.

Isn't it just a bit sad that with the resources and talent that MSFT has, all we seem able to do is copy the innovation of much smaller companies? Isn't it even more sad how Apple is somehow able to use its weight to transform the business models of stodgy industries like wireless and music and all we can do is marvel? Maybe it can be argued that this is really the FIRST challenge MSFT has faced and so, since it is failing, perhaps MSFT *never* had the ability to innovate. After all, we havent really been first with *anything*. Windows followed the Mac UI (which followed PARC), AD followed NDS (which followed ENS), and on and on. The one real MSFT "innovation" has been in locking in a monopoly. Or, being a bit more kind, one could argue that MSFT's great success has been in making technology more accessible - that would be fair. There are also some great technologies that emerged within MSFT and were allowed to wither and die only to later be made "essential" up by some other company (metasearch is a good example here.

The thing is, I really believe that we DO have the talent to do truly revolutionary (or I'd even settle for truly evolutionary) work, but on the current path, it isnt going to happen.

So in a nutshell, I think that yes, we are in agreement. Next stop, world hunger!

V said...

Anyone know where we can go internally to get numbers like targets for certain levels/ratings?

Check out hrweb under compensation (on the left). You can get possible ranges on the bonuses and stock there. As for merit increases and promotions, I don't think that's widely available internally and I think it changes from year to year. You can get an idea based on the old rating system here: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/library/MSCompGu.jpg

Of course that can't be directly translated into the new ratings and it's a few years old. There's also an overall promo number on there, but since most people don't get promoted it's hard to extrapolate that to get accurate numbers.

You can get an idea from the postings last year at this blog (http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2006/08/looking-forward-reviews-company.html). Certainly the people posting there are not a representative sample, though, so that's more interesting than helpful.

I did some simple analysis, discarding some of the obvious trolls (bonuses that didn't make sense, partners people questioned the validity of), and one post that listed a bunch of reviews in an org that may not be accurate and would throw off the numbers if inaccurate. I may have missed some that weren't formatted in the standard format, or if they were given on a different post. Also, some basic interpretation was required. For example, "a little better than expected" translated into "Exceeded Expectations" to get meaningful comparisons.

Sample Size: 38 respondents, some omitting answers to some of the questions

49% of people posting exceeded expectations, while 46% met expectations and only 5% underperformed.

Despite these high scores, only 25% said their reviews exceeded expectations, another 25% said "As Expected," and the remaining 50% rated their review as "Worse Than Expected."

21% got promoted, and less than half of those who also stated their assessment said their review exceeded expectations.

For an excel file with details you can play with however you'd like, see:
http://cid-f6d93b092e200294.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/mini_review_scores.xls
(This doesn't include the HR numbers for expected stock targets. Since the commenters have different levels, adding these along with a "% of target" column would be more interesting. However, that's not something that can go in a publicly shared file, so you'd need to add that yourself.)

Either the non-exceeds employees were not as motivated to post their numbers, lots of people are lying, or the visitors to this site represent an above-average sample.

If you just want to be motivated or compare against one of the best reviews, you might want to read my favorite comment from the last review postings:
http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2006/08/looking-forward-reviews-company.html#comment-115690868903818743

Anonymous said...

Base pay - what's the definition for it? Minimum pay for a level? Salary when at 100% of target?

base pay simply means your annual salary minus any additional bonuses or stock awards.

Anonymous said...

So, what do people think? Do I have a responsibility to change the minds of people who stubbornly cling to ideas that I disagree with, or merely to offer them an alternate point of view and let them decide what they want to believe?

Lol, shutup and get along or get out. There is NOTHING worse at Microsoft as being perceived as not being a team-player, and making any criticism of management, implied or otherwise will put you in that category.

I've seen folks that I otherwise respected shamelessly praise management for decisions that were obviously idiotic, and I've seen those folks get promoted.

The rules for success at Microsoft are:

1) Always cheer, no matter how ludicrous - everything from management is super-duper!

2) Shamelessly self-promote yourself. Announce important milestones (preferrably by getting up at 3am and clicking send on the pre-written email). Grab as much credit for things as you can, anyway you can.

3) Even if you're not putting in 100+ hours per week, make it appear that you are via things like early morning emails mentioned above. Most management comes in late - find out when and make sure you're there and noticed when they show up.

4) Write code - most source at Microsoft is pretty crappy stuff, so don't worry about being good, just try to be copious.

That should work well for you if you plan to make a career at MS.

Anonymous said...

SDET L59

achieved, 70%

merit 4.5%
bonus 3.2%
stock $3600

I'm pretty pissed any work beyond my commitments get added to commitments in Jan, so I bust my ass and now only achieve since my commitments move along with my workload.

Why does management now take into account past stock awards and projected career ceiling in order to determine bonuses? *That* is bs.

Anonymous said...

The rules for success at Microsoft are:

Unless you're a PM, in which case you need only follow steps 1-3.

Anonymous said...

The rules for success at Microsoft are:

1) Always cheer, no matter how ludicrous - everything from management is super-duper!

2) Shamelessly self-promote yourself. Announce important milestones (preferrably by getting up at 3am and clicking send on the pre-written email). Grab as much credit for things as you can, anyway you can.

3) Even if you're not putting in 100+ hours per week, make it appear that you are via things like early morning emails mentioned above. Most management comes in late - find out when and make sure you're there and noticed when they show up.

4) Write code - most source at Microsoft is pretty crappy stuff, so don't worry about being good, just try to be copious.


This post struck a nerve with me because I can see why a person might feel this way about Microsft, although it does not mostly capture my experience on the Windows team. It seems like the abolutely least nuanced and most negative way one could view working at Microsoft (Win7 WEX team dev) at least from my experience.

Here's my attempt at a balanced assessment of these 4 important points:

1) Upper management will usually cheer, no matter how ludicrous - everything from upper management is usually super-duper! However, if you build good rapport and trust with your closer-level management, and you express your negative feelings in a balanced and productive way, you'll get the "non reality distortion field" version more often.

2) Shamelessly self-promote yourself when you do a good job, and, when your coworkers help you and things run smoothly, promote your coworkers. Do enough good work that you always have something to take credit for. It's a necessary communication skill to bring the good things you do to your lead's notice, and your lead will appreciate the positive feedback regarding your coworkers.

3) Sadly, this probably is an effectve tactic sometimes. As you build trust and confidence with your coworkers, this shouldn't be necessary and honesty will work better and help you build necessary rapport. I joke (truthfully) that I point my desk to the office door so that my boss' boss won't see me browsing the web when I take a break.

4) Write code. Absolutely! The first lesson a new dev needs to learn is to be fearless: On the old shell team, my boss used to say that the whole team owned all the code, so I should learn as much as I can and not be afraid to modify anything. Should you talk to experts before you modify a new area? Of course! And get a thorough code review and write/get appropriate tests before you check in. But be fearless! CODE WINS.

- David

Anonymous said...

Unless you're a PM, in which case you need only follow steps 1-3.

Have you never known a PM who worked hard? Have you never known a PM who added substantial value?

On the first question, I believe anyone on my team (WEX dev again :) would have to say: Most PM's work very very hard. Probably more hours than devs. This is especially noticible now since we just completed a long spec-writing phase. Several years ago, our PM team (not everyone, but a sizeable cadre) was sort of a "favored elite" that set the cultural tone and direction for the entire team. And that direction wasn't productive. But at this point PM != free lunch.

For the second question, I can see how a dev could have never had experience with a useful and effective PM. But in my view many of our PM's are useful and effective, in addition to undeniably working hard.

One problem with PM is that Microsoft hasn't yet instituted effective ways of tracking and quantifying PM work. Dev work is tracked and quantified by work items, bugs, etc.

But spec writing is not broken up into measurable and specific tasks. Just months and months of "planning" time with little scheduling until the devs get involved. As a result, PM's often don't have developed work estimation and task-breakdown skills and don't have enough oversight from senior members to avoid harming the engineering process and eventually the product.

For example assuming best cases only, designing too much at too shallow a level of detail, not consulting with devs early and often enough in planning, changing requirements and not understanding the resulting tradeoffs in terms on schedule and engineering effort.

The good PM's I know are good at this. But the system (from what I see from the outside) is not designed to ensure PM's know these practises.

David

Anonymous said...

The rules for success at Microsoft are:

Promise vaporware - deliver some nonsense and claim success. Fight turf wars and lie about your co-workers. Behave like a pre-schooler and pick fights. If you are partner, then there is nothing to fear.

Anonymous said...

On the old shell team, my boss used to say that the whole team owned all the code, so I should learn as much as I can and not be afraid to modify anything. Should you talk to experts before you modify a new area? Of course! And get a thorough code review and write/get appropriate tests before you check in. But be fearless! CODE WINS.

Many of your colleagues stopped at "not be afraid to modify anything."

If I had a nickel for every regression I had to cleanup when some shell do-gooder wasn't afraid of modifying stuff that worked just fine, I'd be buying and selling partners on the open market. Worse yet, when shell reimplements some other functionality because they seem unable to call an API whose name doesn't start with SH.

Anonymous said...

"Where are the top 5% that were supposed to be eligible for the really big numbers. Maybe they just aren't here; maybe they don't exist. Either one is believable."

At least last year, they existed. I was one of them.

Time will tell, this year. My own evaluation is that my performance justifies a similar level of reward this year. I'm a bit concerned about another poster's comments that last years's stock award was taken into account when determining bonus this year. (Poster, where did you hear that?) If that's the case in my group, within two weeks I could be a very unhappy camper.

Anonymous said...

Don't be fearless. Being fearless is stupid - you're guaranteed to fuck up. Be confident. "Can't do" should disappear from your language. It's just code, you can do ANYTHING. It's just a matter of confidence and time. Be smart and get shit done - you'll do well. Being smart assumes you keep your management informed about the shit you're getting done, though.

Anonymous said...

Seeing these sad salary numbers makes me VERY happy I went into finance instead of working at microsoft.

Anonymous said...

RE: The rules for success at Microsoft are:

This may come as a shock, but buried in those rules are the keys to success for just about anyone, anywhere. Granted, they are taken to the absurd extreme in the original post, but when taken in moderation, they will serve you well--not only with your management chain, but with your own self-esteem.

1) Always cheer, no matter how ludicrous - everything from management is super-duper!

You don't have to always cheer, but being a constant grumbler or complainer with a negative attitude (regardless of how justified you might think said attitude is) is not going to enhance your promotability or your credibility. This is a continuum, not a binary choice. If you see it as a binary choice, then you have some self-help books to read. If you're so damn smart, help people come around, don't just hit them over the head with your criticism (er, I mean genius).

2) Shamelessly self-promote yourself.

You will get rewarded for your efforts but only if someone knows about them. Sure there are the extreme cases of people who do nothing but promote themselves but they are, for the most part, the exception. If you are a concienscious worker, then do your best work AND KEEP A RECORD OF IT so you can show your boss what you've done. He/she is probably just as busy or more busy than you and, while it would be nice if they could keep up with every little thing that every one in their group is doing, chances are they are human and might forget a thing or two. It's your responsibility to remind them (and their boss, as well). There's more to doing the work than just doing the work and there's more to writing code than just writing code.

3) Even if you're not putting in 100+ hours per week, make it appear that you are via things like early morning emails mentioned above.

This is a cheap fallback for those who have selected "Shameless self promotion" as their primary job skill. Yeah, that gets noticed and for some managers that's WHAT gets noticed. Your choice is to:

a) decide if you want "shameless self promotion" to be your career field (and it can be a good one, if you are good at it) or if you want to be judged by some other criteria (e.g. engineering excellence and productivity)

b) decide what kind of manager you work for and whether or not your choice from (a) is compatible with that manager.

If you have a bad (or at least incompatible) manager, then change managers (i.e. move or wait them out). Going back to the first point, constant grumbling will not do you any good.

Finally,
4) Write code - most source at Microsoft is pretty crappy stuff, so don't worry about being good, just try to be copious.

Write code. Of course, In the engineering dept, that's the top spot. MSFT is a big company so that doesn't work across the company, for example, the Sales org values other skills. But the bottom line is that to get ahead the furthest you need to be in the core career field for the org or comany. While I've seen my share of WTF code at MSFT, I've also seen some code that was incredibly elegant and not just in that "Write this function in 10 characters or less" sort of way. You choose which example you want to aspire to. That choice says more about you than it does MSFT.

Microsoft certainly has room to improve, but the din from the constant whine of "I don't make enough money," and "my boss is a political hack" really gets old. To those people I say go bother someone else's company. If you can get a better deal somewhere else then what's stopping you? If you can't get a better deal somewhere else then maybe what you're getting from MSFT IS what you're worth and you need to accept reality.

And don't give me the "I'm passionate about my job" excuse. If you're passionate about your job, then you should be equally passionate about getting along with the other people who are there to make it all work. Otherwise, you're just passionate about yourself in which case you should just start your own company.

Anonymous said...

Many of your colleagues stopped at "not be afraid to modify anything."

If I had a nickel for every regression I had to cleanup when some shell do-gooder wasn't afraid of modifying stuff that worked just fine, I'd be buying and selling partners on the open market.


What team are you on (I assume you're a dev)?

I have no doubt what you say is true. Sorry you had to fix careless breaks. I can see how "fearless" could be interpreted as careless or "cowboy", but in my original post I provided context on the activities such as learning the code, learning from experts, design and code reviews from experts, and testing.

Worse yet, when shell reimplements some other functionality because they seem unable to call an API whose name doesn't start with SH.

I'd argue that this is often a consequence of fear and inexperience: "I'm just going to do my own isolated work rather than get out there and talk to experts, get reviews by them, etc." In this case it's social and technical fear. It isn't lazyness, since writing your own version and fixing the bugs is a LOT of work.

Another perspective on who suffers from who's regressions, it's the shell team that often has to investigate bugs in lower-level components because they show up in the UI - and shellhot - first. And RI's from other teams break us all the time too. So we do our fair share (or more) of suffering through other people's breaks. There is always going to be this cost with large projects. All we can do is work to minimize it - which I think we are doing effectively across WEX and COSD (and have done for several years).

- David

Anonymous said...

Don't be fearless. Being fearless is stupid - you're guaranteed to fuck up. Be confident. "Can't do" should disappear from your language. It's just code, you can do ANYTHING. It's just a matter of confidence and time.

Being fearless and thinking you can do anything with code are both stupid.

Good software has a certain zen to it. A purpose and a way of coding things and a UI that's straightforward and simple and accurately reflects the design of the software.

If you're fearless and just "do anything" with the software without understanding its "soul," you will end up adding features to the software that don't belong, code them in the "wrong" way, and break up the natural flow of the UI.

If thousands of people are doing this, you end up with Microsoft software, i.e., software with a bunch of odd features and unnecessary dialog boxes and confusing wizards, with dependencies on strange DLLs and config files and reg keys scattered across many locations and performance hiccups in unpredictable situations. It really feels like a bunch of fearless devs (and PMs) proving that they can "do anything" without much concern or passion for the elegance of program XYZ.

This is why people get so fanatical over OS X, Linux, open source software, etc. Objectively speaking, you may be able to prove that Microsoft program XYZ is faster, more stable, more secure, more feature-rich, and even more user-friendly than its open source alternative, but people will still prefer the latter if it appeals to their sense of elegance and beauty and design.

Many MSFT employees just don't get why customers buy iPods instead of Zunes, TiVos instead of Media Centers, Wiis instead of XBoxes, etc., when the reason is actually pretty simple. But understanding this reason will require a culture shift and I'm not sure it's something that can just be taught in a class.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen a company with more "i love this company" kind of employees than this company. My money is in the safe hands. This company is going to stay for a very long time. Any change in time will bring the best and change this company too.

Anonymous said...

@ Sunday, August 26, 2007 1:49:00 AM

Good to see that they exist and are here (on Mini), or at least that they did exist last year. I just remember seeing something that stated some people (less than 5%) could be eligle for 400% of the stock target. However, the numbers seem to be closer to 125-150% of target.

Either management is spreading the wealth (sic) around or those folks at the top of the 20% contribution margin aren't talking.

Mini,
Every year, we've had this ad-hoc mechanism for posting review numbers. When are you gonna make it official, so they are all consolidated?

Anonymous said...

>> Many MSFT employees just don't get why customers buy iPods instead of Zunes

I know why. Because their engineers are confident and don't pull the "it can't be done" excuse too frequently. There are entire teams of PMs in Windows and Office busy explaining why something can't be done. Great ideas get swept under the rug, shitty but cheap ones get implemented. I know where this path ends. It ends in market- and mindshare loss. If you say cool stuff "can't be done" there will be a competitor to prove you wrong. We've been burned by this numerous times already.

Anonymous said...

SDE lvl60.
4%/12%/125% target
I'm totally pissed off. Already working hard on finding new team or company.

Anonymous said...

in response to post at 1:49:00 AM about past grants being used when determining awards:

It's printed right there at the bottom of my performance numbers. There is a big section on the bottom detailing how many grant shares I have left to vest and how many shares I am awarded this year. It's their way of saying "we wanted to give you $5000 in shares, but since you are vesting $1500 this year from past awards we only have to give you $3500."

Anonymous said...

>> Many MSFT employees just don't get why customers buy iPods instead of Zunes

>I know why. Because their engineers are confident and don't pull the "it can't be done" excuse too frequently.

Tell Steve Jobs that "It can't be done" and you'd better have an ironclad reason why not.

*That's* the real difference. The other companies have people who have solid visions of what they want, and they make their engineers create it to their vision. The engineers are critical, but they don't drive the product and they don't have the overview.

Attempting the impossible can only result in two things - confirmation that it really is impossible, or better yet, realisation that it was merely very difficult. Until the attempt is made, the two can often be hard to distinguish.

Anonymous said...

Level 62 Services/Field
Commitment Rating: Exceeded
Contribution Rating: 20%
Merit Increase: 5.0%
Bonus: 15.5%
Stock: $28.8K (160% of target)

Anonymous said...

Level 64 Services HQ
Exceeded
5% merit
20% 55K shares

Anonymous said...

Level 64 (sales)
Commitment Rating: Achieved
Contribution Rating: 70%
Merit Increase: 3.0%
CBI Bonus: 50.0%
Stock: $25.5(100% of target)

Anonymous said...

Position - SDET
Level - 59
Commitment Rating - Achieved
Contribution Rating - 70%
Merit - 2.5%
Bonus - 7%
Stock - $5000 (120%)
Base - 77's

You know what bugs me is there are lots of people who get promoted once per yr and I have no idea why. I had a test manager who is "Prinicipal" and he was basically promoting his leads every year for a couple of years since his level needs to have other test managers report to him but he had none... Thanks to the title change now I know why I never got a promotion for such a long time.