Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Microsoft Company Meeting 2006

Pre Company Meeting 2006

So, what were my wishes last year for the 2005 Microsoft Company Meeting?

  • Dates
  • Review System Overhaul
  • Management Flattening
  • Mea-Frickin-Culpa
  • Dissent

How did those wishes pan out during the meeting: "zip."

But, over the year? Well, the dates for Vista and Office are still presented somewhat fuzzy to the external world: now's the time to commit. The review system did indeed get a well deserved overhaul, though the glow of myMicrosoft is fading a bit and a few folks are looking around and saying, "Hey! There's still a curve, dude!" Management flattening? Appears to be happening in SteveSi's Windows org along with Office. Yah! Mea-Frickin-Culpa? The best we have is saying that we'll never take five years again to ship our operating system. Eh... hoo-raa?

As for dissent? Ha. Come on. SteveB is going to get on stage and run around and you're gonna to clap and cheer. And if any exec on stage asks internal Google users to raise their hand most of you Microsoftie-Google users are going to sit on your hands.

My topic wishes going into the meeting this year include:

Dates: yes, Dear Leadership, now things should be so sure you can actually commit to a street date for Vista and Office. It's neither brave nor brash at this point but come on, it's almost October already.


  • Talent within: time to unleash the talent within the company. Look, we're not going to be hiring too many super technical people for US jobs. It's time to focus on building people within for the challenges facing us. It's time to let job transfers inside Microsoft be simplified and let people quickly interview without getting permission first.
  • Talent nearby: some people whisper that Microsoft might be opening up to flexible work-at-home / work-remotely options. Hmm. Interesting, though I don't know how well that works in our corporate culture.
  • ESPP: bring back the old ESPP. Consider it Towels II.

Profit, not Revenue: everytime you see revenue on a financial slide, ask yourself, "But, ah, what's the profit today?"

Inspirational Roadmap: we've got clouds of unfocused chaotic ideas, but how does it come together as a game winning strategy that gets us from a stumbling cool chaser to innovative deliverer with huge profits and exceptionally happy customers and shareholders? Is this the year that we both get our act together and establish a profitable strategy?

Company Employee Size: I can't imagine anyone who wants to clap for hiring more people... but that's just me rocking back and forth in my own little bubble world. I especially can't see those crammed together with coworkers in buildings with zero parking spots clapping: yes, please, hire more rats to put in my box. Please, don't make Microsoft go through what Intel is going through now. Hell, yes, I want to downsize, but not through a crisis brought on by extreme mismanagement. Cool things down, efficiently rebalance the company from its internal employee base first (again, allow easy interviews so that people can take charge of their career), clear out the dead wood, and then see where we are.

Post Company Meeting

Well, I wasn't as pumped after this year's Company Meeting as I was last year. But I think that's because of two things:

  1. 2005: end of a dry-spell. It had been a long time, last year, since we'd really heard from our leadership and what they were thinking and how things were going. Plus, it was a slump time after the Forbes and BusinessWeek articles.
  2. 2006: we're in the loop. The ongoing Town Hall meetings have kept us connected over the past year. And that's a good thing.

I guess according to LisaB, in the portion of her presentation about blogging - and, uh, especially (uncomfortably tugging at my necktie) responsible blogging - I've become Microsoft's Voldemort. He who must not be named. Except by alluding pauses. Cute. Anyway, I do hope that InsideMS becomes a successful forum where people can freely exchange constructive ideas for improving Microsoft and feel as though their voice is being heard, versus just being explained to why it is the way it is. I look forward to seeing how it goes. I'm surprised it's taken this long but perhaps there's some convincing that needed to be done. LCA is bought into this? Anyway, inside voices can make good changes. But sometimes that constructive criticism has to be public in order for the change to be forced from the outside.

I appreciate LisaB laying down the foundation for myMicrosoft 2.0. I hope that the local listening tour mixes it up with Live Meeting and face-to-face because I recognized the power in the room of people seeing each other's reaction to what was being shared and exchanged during those meetings. That shared, connected experience was part of the reason respect, enthusiasm, and hope arose, meeting by meeting.

Two incoming comments:

(1) Mini - this is it. Either you start your constructive comments WITHIN microsoft, or please just leave the company.

(2) Lisa's internal blog is a brilliant shot to take the wind out of mini's sails. "If anyone's going to go online and talk shit about our company and what we're doing, it's going to be internal so we can make sure its legit." Brilliant. Lets hope it works out as well in reality as it sounds like it should in theory.

I will certainly participate on the internal site as one voice sharing my insights and suggestions. And, hey, when the time comes that no one is participating here because they are engaged in InsideMS or whatever is happening internally, then I'll gladly fade into blogging history as I turn back into that lone voice. Trust me, there are many fun things I've put aside that I will happily resume when that time comes.

And it will come.

As for the rest of the meeting: I'd say the biggest cheer went to the paper airplane that made it to the stage. And the Microsoft PC-man / Apple-boy parody ads were fun. Not as good as the parody shorts we've seen the past, though. I would have love to have been near the vocally enthusiastic Zune team to see their presumably horrified faces as the Zune tune transfer ad-hoc demo fizzled. I still want a Zune but... you guys are still writing the software? What the-? Hmm. Maybe this is the new agility and I should chill. We'll soon see. Given that the Company Store will be carrying the Zune for a discount, you're going to have lots of internal adopters ready to share their constructive feedback.

My biggest disappointment: Ballmer affirming that if we're not succeeding at something then the only option is to keep coming, coming, coming and driving it until we are a success. Oy. I disagree. There are times you know when to fold them and realize withdrawal is better than fist-slamming stubbornness. Second biggest disappoint: when you think Live, think ads.

PhotoSynth bah-lew my mind, along with the 3-D tourist composition (it would be interesting to integrate video of a scene for more 3D there, frame by frame). Let's ship it! And the [[wow, holy crap, guess I shouldn't have mentioned that!]] nifty little desktop feature for Vista was news to me. That's going to make for some interesting laptop moments. When does the Playtable ship? Or is it a perpetual demo? Cool, but it's time to grow up from demo to furniture. A lot of the rest of the demos I had already seen so I was busy watching the various airplanes sputtering about. One day - one day, I tell you - our wonderful and overworked admins will realize that no paper should be given out what-so-ever during the Company Meeting.

And Ballmer presenting with a 101 degree fever? Geez. He once again affirmed, post Vista, there would be no more gaps. "Yes," closing the door to the empty barn, "them horses aren't going to get out a second time." Fine. And I appreciate that we are focusing on the end user. Really? I've been dying for that. The consumer is back? Excellent.

Your Wishes and Reactions?

What do you hope happens at the Company Meeting? What are your post Company Meeting thoughts?

Updated: added some reflections under the Post Company Meeting section.

Updated #4: corrected grammar / terminology. Thanks. I think this post wins so far for most # of edits within 24 hours.

Updated #5: (I'll do my best never to revise so much ever again): As mentioned in the next post, I was worried I had revealed a bit more than I should have, but then I've been reassured nothing was shown that I touched on that hasn't been shown over and over again. Read the next post for more discussions on that topic. I will be going through later and cleaning up off-the-mark comments regarding this because it's just not so. I wouldn't have updated this post yet again if not for the Seattle Times making a reference to it.

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