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Microsoft Rewarding Employees Who Phone It In

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the have-a-couple-bucks dept.

Microsoft 280

theodp writes "For developers who are all about the Benjamins, Microsoft has come up with an intriguing alternative to Google's vaunted 20% time. To boost the number of Windows Phone 7 apps, Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property and 70% of the revenue, as long as that second job is writing apps for WP7-based devices. The rule change offers an option for employees who don't want to leave for the insecurity of a start-up, but still want a shot at recognition and rewards for their own ideas."

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280 comments

Wow! (5, Insightful)

beaviz (314065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330504)

Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property

A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time. They deserve the Nobel peace price!

Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

Re:Wow! (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330552)

Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

Re:Wow! (2, Insightful)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330574)

does that work for errors on tax returns?

Re:Wow! (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330626)

They only claim things that benefit them, not hold them more accountable. Nice try though. :)

Re:Wow! (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330676)

you make the claim in reverse.

Whilst working for Microsoft business practise meant that we all put lots and lots of bugs into things.....
It's obviously their intellectual property leaking out onto my tax return.

Re:Wow! (4, Informative)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330848)

Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

To be fair, most employment contracts I've read are a little more specific than that. Specifically they own any IP on anything related to the work you do for them, fairly broadly defined. This tends to mean that, if you work at microsoft, any software you wrote would be covered. But if you wrote a novel, that would not be covered. Actually, the way I read the ones I've signed, they're more on the order of noncompete agreements than the company making any claims as to why you were able to do it. They don't care why, as part of your employment you agree not to compete with their products. The best way to PREVENT you from competing with them is that, if you do, they own it anyway. Likewise I'm forbidden from providing consulting services to competitors etc.

Re:Wow! (3, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331020)

I think you're interpreting that too broadly. If they own the IP of the work you do for them, they own software you were ordered to create on company time. If they don't order it and you create it on your own time and it's different enough than what you're doing then it should be your property. But MSFT assumes if you do some software you got the idea from them, when in fact it could have been your own idea. They keep this water muddy intentionally, even if it appears to be spelled out properly. Watch what happens when someone codes something they want to launch... 70% of the profits? Yeah right. They would try to buy you out or create something that oversteps your prior art and merely bypass you. They have heavy feet.

Re:Wow! (4, Informative)

Giometrix (932993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330580)

Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property

A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time. They deserve the Nobel peace price!

Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

This is absolutely the norm. Some places are worse than others, making you sign a "everything you do belongs to us" agreement (how enforceable that is I don't know, IANAL). Most places just don't want you to compete with them, so anything you do on your time related to their industry belongs to them. In this case we're talking software, so MS is relaxing that restriction for wp7 apps.

Re:Wow! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330658)

I had to look into this when my previous employer wanted to change the contracts.

Basically they added a catch all, anything you think or do belongs to us (first borns included). So if you are programmer but come up with a new clothes line peg they own the IP.

The actual law is actually more sensible, if you come up with something you'd be expected to do in your job the company owns the IP, otherwise you do. For instance as a programmer if I come up with a new piece of software the company could argue it is their IP, but if I make and sell some artwork I own it.

All been said it is a bit of a grey area and getting it tested in court would be expensive for any normal person.

Captcha:Stolen :)

Re:Wow! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330708)

And people actually sign this shit, that is the problem. It works against you because if you don't sign it, they throw you out. If EVERYONE refuses to sign it, the company is the one who is fucked.

Re:Wow! (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330838)

Most people sign it because:
1) They find reading difficult
2) They don't care or thinks it matters much
3) They aren't going to create anything new on their own anyway.

So a company that has such policies is selecting against employees that can read, care about following company policies, are able to create stuff and might want to do some creative stuff in their spare time.

Re:Wow! (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331036)

1)They find reading legal documents difficult
2)They really want a job,and so are will to sacrifice for it,
3) They aren't all that creative and don't have enough free time at home anyways.

Re:Wow! (5, Informative)

magical liopleurodon (1213826) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331164)

1)They find reading legal documents difficult
2)They really want a job,and so are will to sacrifice for it,
3) They aren't all that creative and don't have enough free time at home anyways.

1) It's pretty obvious that you're signing your soul away. I signed one of these myself, but they're not valid in Minnesota. A number of states don't allow this. California is another one where even if you sign something like this, it cannot be enforced.

And people actually sign this shit, that is the problem. It works against you because if you don't sign it, they throw you out. If EVERYONE refuses to sign it, the company is the one who is fucked.

So many companies do this. If you're not in a state where it's unenforceable, the only leverage you have is starting your own company. Which I encourage, and when you all do do that, don't make your employees sign contracts like this.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331078)

Or (at least in California) we know that clause is unenforceable, mark it as such and then sign.

Re:Wow! (4, Funny)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330982)

People sign this shit, because: 99% of people out there are uncreative and just do whatever is needed to get a paycheck.

Do you honestly think that design-by-committee Java guy next to you has even the slightest spark of inspiration ? He probably can't even get it up without writing 4 support interfaces that describe the various ways one can (choose not to) interact with his cock.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331162)

If I had points, I would mod you up; I deal with these shitheads every, fucking, day.

Re:Wow! (2)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331142)

And people actually sign this shit, that is the problem. It works against you because if you don't sign it, they throw you out. If EVERYONE refuses to sign it, the company is the one who is fucked.

It's like the prisoners dilemma with millions of participants.

Re:Wow! (3, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331220)

This is yet another example of why programmers especially, but really all tech workers, would benefit from a union, but crony capitalist propaganda keeps people convinced that a union would lower their pay and benefits, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, workers get better pay and working conditions in a unionized environment.

everyone likes to consider themselves better at everything, so they think they can negotiate better for their own pay, but really who will do better, one guy who needs to pay his mortgage next month vs. a company who can keep a position open as long as they need to, and just keep leaning on the other programmers to make up the slack, since THEY need to pay their mortgage too, they shut up and put in their 70-80 hour/week deathmarch.

the reality of the situation is, even if you are in the top 10% of programmers, you are not going to also be in the top 10% of negotiators AND be in a position to hold out for as long as it takes to get compensation that is appropriate to the value you bring to the company.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330668)

A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time. They deserve the Nobel peace price!?

Some day you may actually get a job in the software industry and realise this is actually a highly unusual approach, hence why its news worthy to some.
But haters will always be haters.

Re:Wow! (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330812)

In the USA p.erhaps. In the free world, anything that's not ripped off from the company or competing with them is fair game.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331038)

I live and work in Germany and I had to sign one of these agreements. It's a germany-based company also.

Re:Wow! (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330836)

Really? Most smallish companies I've worked with only claim stuff relevant to things you've been asked to do. Even IBM only requires you to check with their legal people and jump through some non-compete hoops (obviously they don't want their employees working on stuff that competes with them in their free time, but they don't mind you working on other stuff - it's your own time).

Google's 20% time is overrated. People interpret it as meaning that you can work on anything you want, but typically it means working on any Google project you want, so you can spend 20% of your time hacking on Android or Google Maps if you're in another division (for example).

Re:Wow! (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331032)

I don't think it's overrated. If I had that 20% at my previous job, I think their network would be in much better shape because I'd have written better provisioning scripts, backup tools and whatnot. My employer would have benefitted, and I would have been a happier cog. Instead, my job was to put out fires rather than prevent them, so after a few years I burned out and left.

That 20% doesn't mean money down the drain, it's more like a slight gamble - give a little, to potentially get a lot. Sure, if someone works on a project that doesn't take off, well that potentially sucks, but you can think of it as your employee acquiring related skills or honing existing ones. surely that must count for something.

Re:Wow! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331086)

I mean that it's overrated for employees. Google obviously gets something out of it - they get their employees working more productively and gets a simple mechanism for putting extra manpower on projects without properly moving people people between them. A lot of people go to Google expecting to be able to spend 20% of their time working on their own thing, however, and this is not what ends up happening - instead, they end up working on understaffed parts of related projects.

Re:Wow! (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330692)

A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time.

You must have missed the "as long as that second job is writing apps for WP7-based devices" part. That is not "letting people do what they want". In fact, it places a fairly strict boundary.

Re:Wow! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330748)

If the company name was anything other than microsoft it would recieve nothing but praise.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330826)

doubtful, it's how business is done here, but they are seeing a lot of defections of good programmers, as are many major companies. This is done because it's cutting into their profits, it's only being done for selfish reasons, which has the added benefit to employees. If it didn't fit in the profit scheme then you wouldn't be reading it.

Not really. (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330956)

If Apple announced this, world+dog would deride them for the app restriction, claiming long and loud how 'Lord Jobs' is keeping tight rein over the 'peasants' in his 'domain'.

If RIM Announced this, world+dog would collectively yawn, save for some folks who would stand back in astonishment that the Blackberry actually had apps*

If Google announced this, world+dog would think it was normal, and point to that 20% thing they have.

--

Personally, I see it as Microsoft casting about to bolster its struggling product in any way that it can. They're having a pretty rough go of it, judging by the numbers so far. To give you an idea, I'm willing to wager that WP7 still has more phones in the channel than in customer hands... and there's very little prospect so far that WP 7 will do much more than eke out a presence this year, if they're lucky.

* (they do have apps BTW - I have/use a BB Bold).

Re:Not really. (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331048)

Sure RIM has apps. They put apps on the map, centuries ago when they were billed as a "corporate mobile communications device". What I'm astonished over is that the Blackberry actually has users.

Re:Wow! (2, Insightful)

uganson (1173241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330802)

The view of Joel Spolsky [onstartups.com] regarding the issue.

...

Suppose you have a little game company. Instead of making software, you knock out three or four clever games every few months. You can't invent all the games yourself. So you go out and hire a game designer to invent games. You are going to pay the game designer $6,000 a month to invent new games. Those games will be clever and novel. They are patentable. It is important to you, as a company, to own the patents on the games.

Your game designer works for a year and invents 7 games. At the end of the year, he sues you, claiming that he owns 4 of them, because those particular games were invented between 5pm and 9am, when he wasn't on duty.

Ooops. That's not what you meant. You wanted to pay him for all the games that he invents, and you recognize that the actual process of invention for which you are paying for him may happen at any time... on weekdays, weekends, in the office, in the cubicle, at home, in the shower, climbing a mountain on vacation.

So before you hire this guy, you agree, "hey listen, I know that inventing happens all the time, and it's impossible to prove whether you invented something while you were sitting in the chair I supplied in the cubicle I supplied or not. I don't just want to buy your 9-5 inventions. I want them all, and I'm going to pay you a nice salary to get them all," and he agrees to that, so now you want to sign something that says that all his inventions belong to the company as long as he is employed by the company.

...

Re:Wow! (2)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330960)

I disagree with his stance there. If the employee claims the copyright/patent for something then they shouldn't be just handing it over to the company they work for.

If I invent something after hours and I consider it mine I don't take it to work the next day and write it into a product. Because that would be retarded and (IMHO) should count, as in every other instance with stuff I do at work, as the company's IP.

It's not difficult...

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330964)

Or I could have just told him in the first place that he will use the version control system to check in his code and that anything he checks in belongs to the company. And that he is not to work on personal projects during business hours and anything produced during that time belongs to the company. If he marches up with a pre-written game and refuses to check it in to version control then questions get asked about the code and its ownership.

There are plenty of ways to ensure that anything produced during company time or outside of normal business hours but on company projects are protected, while not being a bastard and claiming ownership of everything an employee does in their spare time.

This is how my employer operates. I can work an 80 hour week if I like (I'm salaried) but I'm getting paid for 37.5 of them and everything I produce that is related to my duties at the company is owned by the company. Basically, I can do what I like outside of paid work time and keep the ownership, unless it's something I was already doing as part of my employment. If I were going to write a product that could be thought of as related to my day job duties I would be an idiot not to go get an agreement from my employer that they would not own it. All other software projects belong to me without question. I also play it safe and make sure none of my personal code touches the companies equipment or gets worked on at any time I am on company property.

Re:Wow! (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330904)

This is a common clause in employments contracts, but it has been found by the court to be invalid in many states and made ruled illegal/unenforcable in others with legislation (such as California).

No idea on if it is still valid in Microsoft's home state of Washington, but knowing it's influence on local politics, it likely is.

Re:Wow! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331044)

"Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?" Welcome to the real world, yes it is quite common everywhere. It is uncommon to let an employee to own his IP if it is in the same type of business as his work even if it is done in the free time. This is in fact INVENTED by US computer companies.

Re:Wow! (0)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331096)

Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

It's common in certain industries everywhere. It's even common (though I'm not sure if it's legal anymore) to have non-compete clauses in your contract, that you cannot work in a similar job or for a competing company for some period of time after you leave. Software especially, since well, most people who develop software for work would in turn develop software for extra on the side.

Lots of businesses have anti-moonlighting clauses, prohibiting you from working for anyone else (competitor or otherwise) without their permission. I'm at a university in canada, and while I'm not 100% sure about my current school, the last one had rules that you could work for whomever, but if you had a job off campus you were limited in how much funding you could get (as a grad student) on campus, and you were limited in hours for on campus work that wasn't directly related to you studies. That sort of thing is pretty normal.

You can sort of see some point here. If I pay you 150k a year, I expect that you're working for me, and the time I've spent training and preparing you for this job is going to have some return. I don't want you worrying about some side job you're doing when you're in the office. I also don't care if you work 4 hours a day, or 14, as long as your task gets done. If I keep assigning you tasks that can only be done working 14 hours a day, well then you'll leave, which would be bad management. Also, while you work for me, I want to not tarnish, or confuse the BrAnd (tm) we have established. If you go off on your own and make something that is crap but still put down that you are an 'active MS employee' well that reflects poorly on us. You are also benefiting from our brand by being one of our employees. Oh and I don't want you working on any material that might be controversial or objectionable or might compete with our official products, because that might imply (since the work was being done by an active employee) our endorsement of your activities.

It's a big tradeoff. MS pays it's employees well (as does google), they are are a top tier software developer on the payscale. If you want to be on that salary you sign their contracts. If you want to work on the side you have to decide how much you can make, and if it makes up the difference between your no-moonlighting vs moonlighting contract. I found a few places, if they allow to work multiple places, you pretty much have to to make a decent living.

Re:Wow! (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331114)

in their own free time
With an emphasis on free, with the assumption that your workforce will be weaker if you split attention between jobs.

CC.

sounds generous, until (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330512)

You rephrase it the other way: "Go ahead and start a business in your free time, as long as you're getting all your work done here including meeting time and face time. Oh, but that business has to be for Windows Phone 7 apps, and we'll take 30 percent."

Re:sounds generous, until (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331130)

If you're actually making use of that meeting time (and space), corporate equipment, insider info, and proximity of like-minded developers and engineers, seems to me I'd rather get 70% of something big with no up-front investment besides my time, than 100% of something I had to subsidize myself and do on my own.

You know, the hardest part of turning an idea into a business isn't the creation/production aspect, it's usually the motivation. If you have significant start-up costs, a hard time finding skilled partners, or even the controversial drag of a whiny wife & kids at home, any or all of these will stress you out and endanger the business in its most vulnerable nascent state. Being able to piggyback on Microsoft's establishment for some of those steps, and yet even telling the wife "I gotta work late" just to get some peace and quiet, can make the difference between failure and success.

I'm not saying I'm 100% behind this scheme, but it's better than nothing, and if you don't like it, you can always get a completely unrelated gig elsewhere.

Seems like a win-win (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330530)

Employees get to work on stuff that inspires them and learn stuff in the process, and the WP7 app portfolio broadens in the process.

Then again, it's not unheard of that companies let their employees moonlight on stuff that doesn't conflict with the company's interests. But I have to confess I don't know the US job market that well.

Re:Seems like a win-win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330766)

I'd say it was a good idea if these are part-time employees. If not, I just see this as a salve for a gaping wound: MS has decided they can't solve their employees being unhappy at their job, and so they throw them this bone which will most likely eventually hurt their job performance due to fatigue. (You can't moonlight indefinitely and not have it hurt your day job as a developer.) And we're talking about developers who I'd guess have a base salary above $90k and are more often in the $105-$120k range, in a state with no income tax and much more affordable real estate than around Apple or Google. Some of the people moonlighting may be overly ambitious types, such as myself, or simply be addicted to coding, but for most there's probably a less happy reason for doing this.

70% if the revenue? (1)

tonywestonuk (261622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330542)

So, say I work for Microsoft, and have a WP7 phone. Each nigh, while the misses is watching 'the biggest looser' on TV, I mess around with the SDK, and come up with a game..... which becomes a bigger hit than angry bird.....

And, then Microsoft, my employer, come and take 30% of the revenue?

BASTARDS!

Re:70% if the revenue? (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330578)

sounds like app store. If you put an app in the Google app store they take 30%. The iTunes app store? 30%.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

tonywestonuk (261622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330616)

Maybe I misunderstood... Paying 30% to a store, for listing my application I do not have a problem with, be it apple, google, or microsoft...

However, Revenue, I assumed would be the amount of cash I receive after the store commission has been taken.

I sell something for $100
Microsoft store takes $30 leaving me with a revenue of $70

Microsoft then take a further 30% of this, $21, because I work for them... Leaving me with just $49

BASTARDS

Re:70% if the revenue? (3, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330724)

>Microsoft then take a further 30% of this, $21, because I work for them... Leaving me with just $49

BASTARDS

When you work for a software company, the norm is to take complete ownership of any related software you create in your spare time, the idea is that so you cant just steal company secrets and sell them in the form of your own products. In practice its a way of completely owning their staff as though they were property (assets is the word they like to use), I have even seen contracts that stipulate ownership of the content of your dreams; however enforcing such dubious practices is another matter....

Re:70% if the revenue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330782)

It's not universal, though. If your company does this, it might be an indication that you work for a shitty company. My agreement with my employer spells out in fairly precise terms what they consider to be theirs - and it consists only of things that they pay me to think about and work on during the day.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330908)

When you work for a software company, the norm is to take complete ownership of any related software you create in your spare time

The important word in this sentence is 'related.' If you're working on the Windows NT kernel, and you produce a mobile phone game, claiming that it's related is quite a stretch.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331146)

Sure, it's a stretch, but can you out-lawyer Microsoft if and when they argue otherwise ?

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330742)

I believe the person above you is correct, MS is just taking the normal 30% listing fee. A more interesting question is: You do everything above and then think "This is huge" and try to port the app Android and/or iPhone... You're fired? In theory MS can't claim to own the work, because they already waived their claim to the original work, and this is just a "copy" (it's much more of course, but the essential algorithms, models, etc are all the same). It'd be interesting to see how they word the contract to prevent this, if they do.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331016)

I'm sure they can claim that the IP agreement was just for the W7 app and these new ports are exempt from the agreement. So now they own the IP for your ports and still get 30% from the revenue of the original W7 app. They most likely also charge a 30% fee for the apps listing.

Of course, you could always use the W7 app as a litmus test for popularity and if you then think you can make some real cash, leave you MS job and then write the ports.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330772)

However, Revenue, I assumed would be the amount of cash I receive after the store commission has been taken.

I sell something for $100 Microsoft store takes $30 leaving me with a revenue of $70

Microsoft then take a further 30% of this, $21, because I work for them... Leaving me with just $49

No, they take both take 30% off sales. So from your $100 app you realize just $40 in gross revenue. Unlike actors, musicians, and other artists, they're not going to fall for that 'net revenue' thing.

Re:70% if the revenue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331240)

You misunderstand. The app store sales are where the 70/30 split happens. Employees pay MS the same rate on sales as other developers.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

teh31337one (1590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330656)

Google take around 10-15ish %.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330686)

No it's 30% for apps, 10% for (the new) OnePass subscription/micropayment service transactions. Always been 30% for apps.

Re:70% if the revenue? (2)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330790)

Google take ZERO unless you want to publish your app on the android market. Unlike Apple and MS, you don't have to do that in order for your users to be able to install said app without having to hack their own phones.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330944)

Could you point me to such alternate repository, please? I'd really like to get some better source for Android software than the Google marketplace that is stuffed with crap.

Re:70% if the revenue? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331166)

Well, given that the app your IDE spits out is unencumbered by any sort of DRM, you can put it on a web site and have people install it directly from you. It is simply a file. If you want to tie that into a payment process of some sort, you're free to do pretty much anything, and since security is very lax on Android apps, you could potentially associate an app license with a hardware ID and roll your own rudimentary copy protection.

Re:70% if the revenue? (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330722)

watching 'the biggest looser' on TV

Is that the show about people who go around with a wrench and screwdriver and work on loosening nuts and screws, or what? Reality TV at it's finest. Loser.

Re:70% if the revenue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330842)

>>watching 'the biggest looser' on TV

>Is that the show about people who go around with a wrench and screwdriver and work on loosening nuts and screws, or what? Reality TV at it's finest. Loser.

No, it is about weight loss through having the loosest bowels.

After RTFA (2)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330916)

Since reading the article is a unforgivable sin on slashdot, I committed this blasphemy on your behalf :P

Mr. Watson of Microsoft said the policy change emerged in part because of a push from his group. âoeWe tend to have strict moonlighting rules,â he said of the company. âoeBut weâ(TM)ve changed those rules so developers can do this in their spare time, and have the financial benefit and outcome of the work.â

The company is offering what Mr. Watson said was a standard split on app sales: 70 percent to the developers, 30 percent to Microsoft.

In other words, before this policy change, MS employees couldn't even write a WP7 app in the first place, they wouldn't be allowed to sell it on the marketplace AFAIK, but now, they can, just like any non-MS employed developer, following the same rules.

MSFT is dieing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330544)

This just shows the world what every MSFT employee already knows; MSFT is not the great place to work. People are leaving for smaller, better companies and they are starting to have a issue keeping its best people because not even the prime card and health benefits is worth it anymore.

Fuck off, 70% (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330550)

I'd never work for any company that puts restrictions on my out-of-hours work. My time, my IP, my money, period. It is offensive that they think 30% of the money their employees make in their own time should go to Microsoft.

Just goes to show how big and evil most companies in the US have become - almost seems like yanks have accepted their fate as indentured slaves. Just sitting like a good little boy waiting and hoping that the big powerful executives will one day select them for some power.

Ban on out of hours work? IP theft? No holiday time? Insanely expensive medical? Crazy 8-6, 8-8 working hours? Weekends? What the hell is wrong with Americans. How long as they going to let this go on?

Re:Fuck off, 70% (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330584)

Um. All the app stores take 30% even if you don't work for Google, Apple, or Microsoft...

Re:Fuck off, 70% (1)

teh31337one (1590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330662)

Google take 10-15% ish.

Re:Fuck off, 70% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331160)

No it's 30% for apps, 10% for (the new) OnePass subscription/micropayment service transactions. Always been 30% for apps.

Wage depression (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330682)

I'd never work for any company that puts restrictions on my out-of-hours work.

Good luck supporting a family on the wages of a job without such restriction.

Crazy 8-6, 8-8 working hours? Weekends?

Such working conditions are common in other parts of the world. In order to compete with firms based in India, firms based in the United States are going to have to cut costs somewhere.

How long as they going to let this go on?

It will last for several years, at least until the rising tide has lifted all boats [wikipedia.org] and the currencies of countries currently classified as developing countries are no longer terribly undervalued [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Wage depression (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330902)

Good luck supporting a family on the wages of a job without such restriction.

I have a "day job" of around 24 hours a week that pays me a comfortable wage, more than enough to support a family. They are fine with me freelancing in my spare time. I don't know where you got the idea that control freak companies are the only ones who pay a decent wage, but in my experience, the exact opposite is true. The companies that are more pleasant to work for generally pay more too, because happy developers are productive, profitable developers.

In order to compete with firms based in India, firms based in the United States are going to have to cut costs somewhere.

Only the firms that put out shitty work have to do that. It's not hard to compete with firms based in India on quality, in fact, it's quite profitable (if tedious) to make a nice chunk of money out of fixing things for people who thought it would be a good idea to outsource to India. If all you've got going for you is low cost, then yeah, you're in trouble, but then again, you always were.

Re:Wage depression (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330938)

Such working conditions are common in other parts of the world. In order to compete with firms based in India, firms based in the United States are going to have to cut costs somewhere.

I'm suspicious of any claimed correlation between working for longer and achieving more, in software development. In my experience, expecting someone to work longer hours just increases their bugs-per-line-of-code ratio. Given the oft-quoted statistic that 90% of development time is debugging, I'd expect the number of hours spent programming to start to have a negative net impact on the code after a certain number. I seem to recall a study on Slashdot a few years back claiming that there was no improvement in overall productivity between 20 and 40 hours a week, and over 40 the overall productivity started to drop.

Re:Wage depression (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331082)

Good luck supporting a family on the wages of a job without such restriction.
Bullshit, most places only care if you compete with them, not make other unrelated software.

Re:Wage depression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331210)

Supporting a family on wages from a job where such ridiculous restrictions are placed on employees is simple: step outside of the US. I'm not in the US and if I asked about IP ownership in an interview and got told that everything I did, even off the job, was going to belong to them, I'd say "thank you for your time" and leave the interview. It wouldn't be thought of as an odd reaction here.

Yes, crazy working hours are common in other areas of the world, but in those areas starvation because you can't afford food is also a real risk.

Re:Wage depression (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331252)

simple: step outside of the US.

Which country do you recommend, and how easy would it be for an English speaker to learn its native language?

Re:Fuck off, 70% (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330728)

If you read future predictions from 1950, you get the following picture: By 2010 people would have a lot more leisure time and they wouldn't know how to cope with it. Work will be done by robots and the factory would only need one employee to turn them on and off. So the rest will have all the time in the world for study and recreation.

That's still true, but whoever gets the money (and it's not like in a recession someone is burning money - if you have less, someone has more) is not sharing it with you. So the factory still needs a single employee, but you have to find the money to feed your family.

You want a job? Fine. But your "free time" is ours, the day is long and you work weekends when we need you to. Paid overtime? We'll find someone who's not that picky - there are enough bright people in the world that can live on less than what you're asking.

So it's not "How long are they going to let this go on". This is the reality, and if it ever changes it's only for the worse. What went wrong with the 1950 prediction? The fact that it was ignoring 90% of the world's population because they weren't competing for your job back then.

Re:Fuck off, 70% (1)

drzhivago (310144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330804)

I'd never work for any company that puts restrictions on my out-of-hours work. My time, my IP, my money, period. It is offensive that they think 30% of the money their employees make in their own time should go to Microsoft.

The reason they do this is to prevent their employees from competing against the company. WP7 apps that get put on the WP7 app store would compete with Microsoft's own apps.

What if your free time was spent creating an Office-style suite that would directly compete with Microsoft for dollars. Should they just turn a blind eye to that?

Re:Fuck off, 70% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330946)

Yes, if it's not done on company time. Kill all the control freaks.

Passive Aggressive (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330582)

This is a passive aggressive move by Microsoft and I think they are going to lose even more people to Facebook for doing this. They are essentially forcing their people who want to earn extra money to do it in a way that beneifts Microsoft, by creating the appearance of false demand on WP7. Clearly not enough people are doing apps for that, because it's probably shitty or there are issues with how Microsoft is handling it. But this isn't a good move for MSFT and it reaffirms that it's one of the companies to be in continual decline until it runs out of money or loses its titanic grip on the OS market. People in the world want democracy and this is an undemocratic company.

IP + 70% ? (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330614)

But if they wrote their own iPhone or Android apps they would implicitly own all rights and earn more revenue.

Re:IP + 70% ? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330714)

iOS is locked down; you can't distribute an app at all except A. through the App Store which takes the same 30% cut or B. to jailbreakers, and then you have to handle your own payment processing and the like. Google takes the same cut of Android apps distributed through the Market, which is required if a sizable percent of your English-speaking audience is on AT&T with its policy of hiding the Settings > Applications > Unknown sources checkbox.

Insecurity (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330618)

That seems to be the last word twist of microsoft of anything related with security, right to the mind of their workers. Work by yourself or for anyone else is insecure, so keep working for us, uh, and, you must give us a share of whar you make in your own time for "protection".

Bribe (2)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330660)

It is sad when you have to bribe employees to develop for in house devices. It is even sadder when your vaulted cadre of third party developers refuse to develop for a new device. We are told that due to restrictions on the iPhone, developers are leaving in troves to develop on other devices. Maybe that is true for Android, but the android boosters also admit that developers are largely not being paid by the end user for their work,, so I wonder how many of those apps are ads or simple portals to paid services.

Compare MS desperation to RIM, which is only interested in serious developers delivering serious apps. They are not focused on numbers, but, even more so than Apple, want useful Apps.

If MS wants apps, do what apple does. Offer one button on the web site that will download a complete, unencumbered, and free as in beer development kit. Do not play games such as 'students get it for free' or 'you have to develop for us because we are the best' Just give us the tools.

Re:Bribe (3, Informative)

jeffgeno (737363) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330852)

The tools are free. You just have to pay to get your apps listed in the marketplace. $100 a year for up tp 100 apps.

http://phone.microsoftplatformready.com/?CR_CC=200001192&WT.srch=1&CR_SCC=200001192&WT.srch=1 [microsoftp...mready.com]

Re:Bribe (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331176)

Do not play games

Visual Studio Express is a game MS plays to lure people into the barbed wired fenced and armed patrolled prison yard. Google does not play this game. It uses Eclipse which is a professional IDE that caters to professional development and integration, a consistent environment that a professional can use on many different platforms. Apple uses XCode, another full featured IDE without the $1000 subscription fee to access basic documentation. Blackberry seems to also provide Eclipse plug ins and free simulators.

So it seems that MS is the only major smart phone that requires upfront payment for full development tools. This was good business in Windows with 90% market share and when IDE were a cool thing. Now, when the IDE is basic functionality, and MS mobile devices sell in the thousands, not millions, it seems like a bad idea.

Don't make assumptions... (2)

Foredecker (161844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330914)

Gah! This kind of thing drives me nuts!

Here is the truth. Microsoft has one of the most liberal employee moonlighting policies of any high tech company. This includes yours. Microsoft has long allowed moonlighting. There are many employees that moonlight. Of course, a lot of moonlighting is writing software. This is often to extend Microsoft products. But there are others as well, some people write books, some write and perform music, some build furniture and some teach.

I have first hand knowledge of several examples, one of which I can talk bout. I hired the guy that develops Paint.Net/a>.. He worked for me a while and we are currently on the same team. Getting permission for him to continue Paint.NET development was easy and a no-brainer. [internetnews.com]

The only things Microsoft has ever ask of any moonlighter is/p>

  • Ask for permission first. People get it in most cases directly from their manger, or a director. No VPs or HR needed.
  • DDont compete with Microsoft. People will not get permission for this. For example, I wouldnt get permission to write a new word processor thus competing with word.
  • Dont let it impact your Microsoft job. Note, moonlighting often benefits a persons day job, and often their team.
  • Microsoft gets an implicitly license to your stuff. Note this doesnt encumber the employee in any way - they can sell and license their stuff too. But Microsoft can use it with no royalties. After all, were funding it indirectly. Its only fair.

Again, moonlighging is very common at Microsoft. Our policies are quite liberal and have been for a very long time. I understand Bill put them inplace himself.

Here, Microsoft is simply making a very liberal policy even more liberal.

-a href="http://foredecker.wordpress.com/about/">Foredecker

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330974)

"After all, were funding it indirectly. Its only fair. " In whose universe, or at least in whose time?

Goodness.

And people ask me why I stay freelance.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

Foredecker (161844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331004)

Freelance is cool and I've done that in the past (liked it too...). But how good is your health insurance? Mine is pretty darn good. Working in a big company has its advantages. Its great for some poeple, not so good for others. Its great that you enjoy freelancing, but it certainly isn't for everybody.

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331104)

I work at a more normal size company, they don't think they own me.
Good health insurance, and if they want some of my after hours software, they are stuck buying it like everyone else.

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

Foredecker (161844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331122)

Feh - I hit submit instead of continue editing. My apologies. I didnt address your comment "in whos universe". In the vast majority of these cases, nobody could quit their job and pursue their moonlighting work. This is especially true of for ad-hoc mobile app development. They only reason most people can do this kind of thing is because they have a day job.

In most moonlighting situations (not just at Microsoft), the moonlighter cannot just quit their day job and pursue their dream.

I think the moonlighting policy at Microsoft is more than fair - its excellent. As I said, it is very likely the most liberal of any high tech company. I know it is much more liberal than Google and Apples polices.

Remember, the 20% time thing at Google has nothing to do with moonlighting - its time spent on projects for Google. Its also worth noting that while Microsoft doesnt have an official delineated 20% time policy, that kind of time is common for many people. But, its different than Google. For example, when my team is in the middle of a Windows development cycle - we focus on that 100%. But, when we are not focused on finishing a coding, integration or stabilization milestone, we very often have time to work on 20% kind of things - often way more than 20%. We call this prototyping. It is quite common for prototype code to productized and used in products. Ive done this several times. So have many others I know. This is true for minor things and some big things. For example Superfetch [tomshardware.com] was heavily prototyped. So where some key cold boot optimizations. We could not have included these things (and many others) in Windows without considerable prototyping time. Note that prototypes are very often the idea of a single person, or a small group of people. Program mangers often come up with great prototyping ideas. Prototyping ideas almost never come from management saying "Hey guys, go prototype this thing" (but that does happen sometimes).

As further illustration, many of the projects on Codeplex.com [codeplex.com] are from Microsoft people and are great examples of moonlighting and 20% time kinds of things. Heck, Cineplex itself started out (long ago) as an internal side project.

-Foredecker [wordpress.com]

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331124)

> I hired the guy that develops Paint.Net
> Don't compete with Microsoft. People will not get permission for this. For example, I wouldnt get permission to write a new word processor thus competing with word.

So what will happen in his involvment with Paint.Net when MS buys a image editor and starts to sell it? Must he stop or can he continue?

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

Foredecker (161844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331248)

It is highly unlikely that Microsoft would screw Bob (the real name of Paint.NETs author). Its just not the right thing to do. It is very unlikely that Microsoft would tell Bob to stop working on paint.net. First, it would make Bob very happy, second its very, very unlikely that Paint.NET would be materially impactful to anything Microsoft would do. Of course, I cant say this with authority, but I know Bobs management chain really well (I used to be his skip manger) and we just wouldnt do this.

I know slashdotters love to assume that being a developer at Microsoft is a mind-numbingly boring, tedious, manual, excruciating, soul-crushing bureaucratic exercise. This couldn’t be further from the truth – especially in Windows.

People that work at Microsoft , like Bob, work for real people. Human beings. Nice folks. Mangers, like myself enjoy treating people fairly, liberally, and nicely. It makes us happy. It engenders friendships. It is essential to making work fun and enjoyable.

I know folks just dont want to believe it, but Microsoft has some of the most liberal and supportive policies of any company, not just high tech companies. We treat our people really well. Yes, yes, not everyone is happy - just go read the Mini-Microsoft blog. But, I claim this is a very small minority - compare the number of posts on MM with the number of blogs on blogs.msnd.com [msdn.com] and blogs.technet.com [technet.com] . Whats the factor? 1,000 to 1? Higher?

-Foredecker [wordpress.com]

Re:Don't make assumptions... (2)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331158)

Since I don't live in the US I've never heard of absurd restrictions like this, and I was pretty shocked to see so many people defending it in the comment section.
Are these kinds of "we own you" employment policies really that common over there?

Microsoft gets an implicitly license to your stuff. Note this doesnt encumber the employee in any way - they can sell and license their stuff too. But Microsoft can use it with no royalties.

Really? That's bullshit. What I create on my free time belongs to me and MS can go fuck themselves.

After all, were funding it indirectly. Its only fair.

"Funding it"? Bwah?

Re:Don't make assumptions... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331244)

in soviet russia, the workers own the means of production.

in crony capitalist america, the means of production owns the workers

Article summary is incorrect and misleading. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330950)

This "new" moonlighting rule is new in the sense it's been in place at least since I started working at Microsoft 3 years ago. Also, moonlighting is in no way restricted to Windows Phone 7. I was actually quite shocked how amazingly fair and modern Microsoft's intellectual property agreement is. As long as what I'm doing doesn't use company resources or secrets and isn't in competition with the product I'm specifically working on, my free time spent and the results thereof is mine to keep.

Yeah a great alternative (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331034)

For 20% of your company work time you can work on something still company related but of your choosing rather than dictated by your manager.

versus.

You can work on stuff related to the company's product on your own personal time at your own cost and you bear all the risk, but the company will have 30% of the revenue. Oh, and we'll give you a slice of pizza once a week.

30% (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331046)

"employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property and 70% of the revenue"

Is the remaining 30% for Apple?

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