Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Some Holiday Stuffing

Some random Thanksgiving holiday kibble and bits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An ex-Microsoftie looking back in retrospect:

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

Another headed out the door:

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

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

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

A good pro-MBS rant has the following:

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

Another from an MBS manager:

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

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

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

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

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

For the first time I have lost confidence in Microsoft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone feeling accountable?

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