Tuesday, May 29, 2007

End of May Conversations

Checking in on some recent conversations here... break-out the Welcome Mat for AQNT: okay, Mini-Microsoft is probably not your first preferred Microsoft-focused blog to read:

Thanks for making us feel so welcome!

(An aQuantive employee)

You could drop by MSFTExtremeMakeover and, ah, see if that helps. And helping to provide some perspective comes this comment:

To the poor aQuantive employee feeling unwelcome after reading posts here:

Don't take it too seriously. This is a blog devoted to making Microsoft smaller; we'd complain about an acquisition of 2,000 employees even if they were all super-geniuses carrying big carts of gold bars. People commenting here aren't going to be too happy about it.

Microsoft is so big it varies a lot from team to team. Personally, I've found that joining Microsoft's online services division brought me a substantial salary increase (15%, though my previous employer was admittedly underpaying and bleeding employees like crazy as a result) and a pleasant working environment where performance is expected but the rampant workaholism that plagued Microsoft in years past is not. It's not all bad by any means.

This said, it's not all good, either. The stock's not a good investment (and may never be), the review process is schizophrenic (we can't decide if we're a company of stable, career engineers or genius workaholic alpha males, so we end up pleasing neither), and the fastest way to move up the salary scale is still to quit for a year and come back at a higher level.

I'll go on record with stating I'll welcome anyone coming to Microsoft with big carts of gold bars and that I'll hug 'em long-and-hard right after they drop off my bar. So let's turn to our future co-workers with open arms and --

I'm not looking forward to having to work with Microsoft employees. From what I've seen, all you do is bitch about your jobs.

We ship software, alot of it, and hardly ever have to work more than 40 hour weeks. And our products are highly reliable and actually work.

I don't look forward to having a bunch of Microsofties working on our products, bitching about our processes, because thats all you guys seem to do, I'd put one of our offshore developers against 10 of yours, attitude is everything. Your egos are sickening.


What makes our company great is teamwork, and positive attitude, and Microsofties, all I see here is attitude, the bad kind. Its just like in life, if you think negatively, you get what you think, and you think your company is so aweful to work for and broken, guess what, IE7 is broken, office is broken, your OS is unreliable.

One thing good about the aquisition, it will be one if the few pieces of microsoft software that actually works.


InsideMS impending restructure: a number of comments about the change around the internal Microsoft discussion blog:

There has been lots and lots of constructive, on-point, substantive commenting on that blog (though why people bother is a good question) and she has systematically ignored just about every bit of it. No mention of people's honest and realistic questions of her when she's posted new entries. No mention of the influence of people's suggestions or concerns when she rolled out MyMicrosoft 2.0 (uh...yeah, well 1.01 or whatever you want to call it).

Now she complains that it's just degenerated into a mess. Well, honey, if you're not going to pay attention to the kids or listen to their concerns after setting them up to expect that, then you get what you get. Take some of the responsibility.

First of all, I hope beyond hope that the recent myMicrosoft post (with comments) never slips outside of Microsoft... it's shaken my confidence in my comfy wardrobe. Second, I expect there will be a common sense re-org for InsideMS. More interaction with the posters, certainly, if the conversation is valued. Comment moderation, perhaps? I think even the threat of moderation would help. Third: I've written about the need for sophisticated comment handling in blog infrastructure and this internal comment flame-out is a classic example of how entropy sets in within a linear, unmoderated, untended world.

I can't imagine the top priority for any blog technology provider beyond innovating in community managed comments (e.g., something like what Slashdot uses). Personally, I would also prefer the case where there's a feed for the most recommended comments for those comment jewels that come in that surpass the original blog post contents. That happens here quite often.

Re-org Intrigue: some speculation regarding what the recent re-org might mean:

Interesting re-org in putting STB under Jeff Raikes. Does anyone else think this looks like a pre-cursor to a break up? I mean, now we can cleanly carve off Windows into its own company, MBD into another and then whatver we do with Live and Entertainment. Honestly, that would be cool. I want the company broken up. I'm in Raikes' world and I'd love that group to be decoupled and given some more freedom to innovate.

As for MSFT insider trading this comment notes:

Robbie Bach dumping a s--t load of shares on the market today...what a shocker!!!!

Everyone pales in comparison to Mr. Gates, but it looks like Mr. Bach and Ms. Brummel are in hot competition for #2.

New Microsoft is Just Fine for Me: here are a couple of positive comments around compensation at Microsoft and the strategy going forward:

Once you factor in the few grand from stock and occasional bonus, even measly ones, the salaries at msft are pretty damned good in the Puget Sound area. I was lucky and bought my house in 1999 when I moved here, so I have zero complaints about the numbers. Coupled with working on software that is run by hundreds of millions of users, I really don't see what all the complaining is about.

New Microsoft:

The new Microsoft is willing to enter new markets, very quickly, and do quick iterations or quick acquisitions. The journey and the learning is important - not duplication of someone's existing product. This generates the insight which enables building something people will want to have versus the old way of rebuilding something they already have. XBOX, ZUNE, Windows Live, MSN, and its incubations (under Ray Ozzie & Gary Flake) have all internalized this. The leadership is willing to quickly make the changes needed to ship current versions and add the right functionality to new versions of projects.

Rank-my-Yank: And here we are on the verge of the major review season. And by season I mean the entire summer, 'cos it sure seems to take that long. Do you know when your stack-rank aka rank-and-yank aka calibration meeting is? Somewhere along the line, we'll figure out that having co-workers compete against one-another for their differentiated compensation lessens our teams, our innovation, and our ability to compete externally (how can we compete in the market place while we're competing internally?). This comment from Simon G notes a study:

If rank-yank is still a hot button with you, here's something for Stanford about it "Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer ... faults businesses for spending too much time in rank-and-yank mode, grading and evaluating people instead of developing their skills."


I'd expect it to be one of those revelations that changes Microsoft completely for the better. In the meantime, let the ankle kicking begin...

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