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Working at Microsoft, the Inside Scoop

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the belly-of-the-beast dept.

437

bariswheel writes "Responding to the public interest, a long-time Apple and UNIX user/programmer, and a JPL/Caltech veteran, writes an insightful, articulate essay on the good, the bad, and the in-between experiences of working at Microsoft; concentrating on focus, unreality, company leadership, managers, source code, benefits and compensation, free soft drinks, work/life balance, Microsoft's not evil, and influence."

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Dotted already... Impressive... (-1, Offtopic)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158763)

Stupid inter-web

MOD PARENT UP!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159124)

for realz! stupid slashdot, at least M$ is smart

embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158773)

Aside from the obvious puff-piece nature of this article, it's a bit of a Trojan Horse. Under the auspices of a broad view of what life at Microsoft is like, the author gets to air out the PR spin that Microsoft's Not Evil in seven contrite paragraphs (the average number of paragraphs for each segment is closer to four).

Also, assign credibility inversely proportional to the distance from the source. This guy works there, okay so the only way to describe "work at Microsoft" is to be there, but come on, are we going to get objective information?

For the record, I once worked at Microsoft, and agree with his observations that the people there are like people elsewhere, and they're bright, and they're hard-working, etc. But, to equate individual ethical behavior somehow with a collective corporate ethos doesn't add up, the calculus is flawed. In my opinion, Microsoft as a corporation exhibits behavior that could be considered evil, certainly some/much of its behavior has been found in a court of law to be illegal.

As for the some of the author's observations:

At Microsoft, I've had access to the source code for Halo 1 & 2, Internet Explorer, MDAC, MSXML, the .NET Frameworks and CLR, SQL Server, SQLXML, Virtual PC, Visual Studio, Windows, the Xbox and Xbox Live, and probably several other projects that I've forgotten about. Does it get better than this?

Yes.

Given that Microsoft's been convicted of monopolistic practices, it may shock you when I say that Microsoft's upper management strikes me as very ethical. They talk about ethical behavior all the time...

Thou doth protest too much.

On the one hand, I'm making more money now than at any other point in my life, and I have all I need so perhaps I should be satisfied and leave it at that. Overall, I think Microsoft's compensation and benefits package are still above average for the industry, and well above average for the typical American worker.

On the other hand, I and my coworkers have watched many benefits erode or disappear during the past five years. It's public knowledge that raises and annual bonuses have diminished, option grants have been replaced with stock awards, employee stock purchase plan benefits have decreased, and cafeteria and company store prices have increased. For new employees, vacation time has been cut from three weeks to two, and new parents have to take their parental leave within 6 months instead of 12. It's not a positive trend.

Microsoft's ill-gotten gains were long the easy way to sustain the talent pipe-line. Market forces are catching up, and Microsoft is starting to have to compete on more equal footing with other companies to get talent in the door (no more, "you're guaranteed to be a millionaire in fiver years" promises). And, it's a little annoying to hear the Microsoft have-nots whine about this -- join the rest of the world folks.

Author misses the point... (0, Troll)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158896)

...for me, at least. Bear with me for a minute, because it's going to get weird.

I don't give a shit about evil or not evil per se. In my world, good taste begets goodness, and poor taste, or lack of taste at all, necessarily leads to evil. For example, respect for the user in providing a tasteful environment is the direct result of an awareness of the designer's humility towards others, and that implies a sense of one's own place in nature. On the other hand, a developer who flings feces at you via his software probably won't have much respect for you in the non-binary world either.

As for the article, it screams shit taste. The page layout reminds me of the Los Angeles freeway. The content appears to have been vomited out of Microsoft's press organ. I think I'll pass, and pass judgment on those who imagined it'd reflect well.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158914)

At Microsoft, I've had access to the source code for Halo 1 & 2, Internet Explorer, MDAC, MSXML, the .NET Frameworks and CLR, SQL Server, SQLXML, Virtual PC, Visual Studio, Windows, the Xbox and Xbox Live, and probably several other projects that I've forgotten about. Does it get better than this?

My response to the above snippet: And?

It's not like you can take the code and write something of your own using it (without MS's approval, anyway). I guess some people just cream at the site of something other's can't see.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (5, Informative)

Procyon101 (61366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158930)

I've worked inside and outside of Microsoft as a Software Engineer in the greater Seattle area since 1996. Microsoft has always been on-par or below industry standards for compensation for the area in the Senior Level Engineer arena. Except for the crazy stock back in the 90's it hasn't been a "get rich" kind of job ever.

However, the work environment at Microsoft is so enjoyable, that personally, I would take a slightly lower wage in order to work there.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (3, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159210)

However, the work environment at Microsoft is so enjoyable, that personally, I would take a slightly lower wage in order to work there.

Gasp! To say such a thing in this forum??? Where are the peasants with their pitchforks and torches??? This proponent of pure, unadulterated EVIL must be dealt with!

Seriously, people need to check themselves before using the words "good" and "evil" when discussing software companies. Somehow Google's motto has driven discussion around MSFT and GOOG down to adolescent levels. MSFT is the biggest kid on the block, so of course they're going to catch flak from a certain segment - that goes with the territory. They also get to work on hugely important and ambitious endeavors, which would be intriguing for any curious techie.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159287)

Well, I do agree with the GP... the environment is enjoyable to work in... and most of the people you work with are reasonable. HOWEVER, group think and the amalgam of individuals can still cause some rather wacky distortions of well-intending personalities.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (5, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158964)

Microsoft's ill-gotten gains were long the easy way to sustain the talent pipe-line.

I wonder if it really has to do with sustaining the pipeline, as much being mired in corperate BS. Why is this company that makes money hand over fist with some of the best programming talent you can find putting out products that are hardly better than the last version?

I've given this some thought and I'm starting to think that Microsoft has spread their uber-talent too far across the board. Now before you say "what else are they supposed to do?" consider 8-10 years ago during Win95/98. The company was throwing out significant upgrades left and right with REAL improvments - about the opposite we see today. At the time however MS had a real focus on some core products that could in some respects tie together.

Nowdays Microsft is in everything from the Xbox to who knows how many software company aquisitions and trying to tie them together in a meaningful manor. It seems like in trying to use the MS engine (OS) to drag up new producs, they bit off more than they can chew and the engine (company) is being held back. MS can't sustain itself because the one hand literally cannot see the other. The company is too big, and lacks focus.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159086)

I was with you there until you mention how Win95/98 were significant upgrades. I actually used Slackware for a long time because I hated those two pieces of shit. I finally switched back to Windows (for the most part, atleast on my desktop machine) when NT/2000 came out. Although 95/98 might have looked significant compared to DOS or Windows 3.1, they really were pieces of shit. Today we are still seeing improvements to their products. I think that Windows 2000 (both server and professional) were great operating systems, but Microsoft has done a great job with Windows Server 2003. I find it to be their most stable OS to date. And I know that some people on /. find XP to be lame compared to 2000 Professional, but with improvements they have made with XP Service Pack 2, I like it a lot.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (0, Troll)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158969)

How about we just cut to the chase, fellows: M$ has always been about licensing others technology (or stealing it), then copying it into their source code (perhaps incorporating it would be a better phrase so as not to step on anyone's feelings), then blowing away the competition who came up with M$'s "newest technology."

I believe that's still considered unethical, and should still be technically illegal....

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159037)

Even that wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so terrible at copying. When they reinvent, they make it worse, particularly by finding ways to signify their lack of care for the people who inevitably must use their products. Microsoft's focus is on reimplementing cool engineering tricks (which they accomplish passably enough); user interface is an afterthought, and seems always to end up inferior to the original.

Companies and individuals that reinvent and add value in so doing don't attract nearly the vitriol or accusations of evil.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159010)

There is only one question that I want answered- A question that has dogged man since the begining of time, well at least since the advent of indoor plumbing... Why do farts in the shower smell so awful?
I have heard various explanations, including fart molecules sticking to the steam, and the fact that the hot water opens the nasal passages... But no one has been able to solve this mystery.
Can you help!?!?!?!

Titties is good,
to lick and suck
Asses is good,
to slap and fuck!!!

-1 Offtopic (0, Offtopic)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159068)

You sig has been bugging me for the past few days. If you are referring to XP solutions that make the uptime claim that you say is impossible, consider this. It's entirely possible to have 100% uptime running WinXP if you use either clusters and/or employ load balancing.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (2, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159076)

But, to equate individual ethical behavior somehow with a collective corporate ethos doesn't add up, the calculus is flawed. In my opinion, Microsoft as a corporation exhibits behavior that could be considered evil, certainly some/much of its behavior has been found in a court of law to be illegal.

It's interesting to note that legally speaking a corporation IS a person, and so it makes total sense to discuss a corporation using terms one would apply to an individual. You can't have it both ways, either a corporation isn't a person in which case we have to throw out most corporate law (not a bad thing imho) and we can make personal comments about it, or it isn't, in which case generalization would indeed be bad.

Is Microsoft, the corporate person, evil? I would say it certainly was in the past. Whether it still is or not is harder to judge, partly because it hasn't done a whole lot lately.

Why would I say Microsoft, the corporate person (as opposed to the people that make up that corporate person!), is evil? For me it's simple.

  • Internet Explorer
  • Internet Explorer
  • Internet Explorer

It's not that IE is a bad product, though by todays standards it is. It's that it was created for the sole purpose of destroying technical progress on the web, a job it has succeeded at admirably and still continues to do even to this day.

Google are working on an AJAX word processor we hear. They already have a rather spiffy email program. Microsoft feared this future in which Win32 might not be relevant and they destroyed the thing they feared by disbanding the IE team the moment it wiped out Netscape.

The web is perhaps one of the greatest and most important inventions of the 20th century, certainly, it's up there with TV and the motor car in terms of impact on our society. Microsoft deliberately throttled it and continue to do so. They were found guilty of this in court, and I find this behaviour bad enough to warrant the label of "evil".

Now this guy may protest that it wasn't him, and all the people he works with are lovely, and I'm sure they are lovely and wonderful and ethical and everything. But clearly a significant number of people are not because IE wasn't just magicked out of somebodies ass, it required the co-operation of hundreds of people over a period of years to build. What the fuck did they think they were doing all that time? Were they really all that surprised when the project was cancelled? And if not how can they claim to be ethical and only interested in customers?

This guy is living in the middle of a reality distortion field, and doesn't even know it. Sad.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159148)

It's interesting to note that legally speaking a corporation IS a person

That's not true, and even if it were, it would not change the fact that a corporation is not actually a person, and should not be anthropomorphized.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (2, Informative)

Kihaji (612640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159176)

Funny, I could have sworn that AJAX originated with IE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_(programming) [wikipedia.org]

I could have also sworn that at the time IE came out, the only other browsers were horrid and stagnant.

I could have also sworn that IE won a large portion of it's install base before it was integrated into the OS.

As for the other points in your post, well, I believe you have one thing right, someone is living in a reality distortion field, but it isn't the author of the article.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159136)

They talk about ethical behavior all the time...

That is the entire point right there. You don't talk about ethics. You have them and live by them. Talk is cheap.

I am also pretty sure that you could go to any evil company and find nice departments with nice people. You don't think everyone at Enron and Worldcom signed a contract with their own blood?

MS is evil from the top down. Not evil as in slave owner evil. I don't for a moment think Bill Gates would whip someone. Ballmer yes.

MS is evil as in not voting to abolish slavery because it would ruin the economy way.

MS would do anything for money and that boys and girls is evil. Not the intresting movie evil that puts the hero in chains above a shark tank but the simple evil of a person who does anything for money no matter what.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159234)

MS is evil from the top down. Not evil as in slave owner evil. I don't for a moment think Bill Gates would whip someone. Ballmer yes.

Steve Jobs already has done so in the past.... multiple times if you believe all the stories.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (1)

Bamafan77 (565893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159180)

"Aside from the obvious puff-piece nature of this article, it's a bit of a Trojan Horse. Under the auspices of a broad view of what life at Microsoft is like, the author gets to air out the PR spin that Microsoft's Not Evil in seven contrite paragraphs (the average number of paragraphs for each segment is closer to four)."
You're not being fair. The author does go into detail over some of the bad things at Microsoft including managers who are subpar, managerial "cults", and eroding benefits. That's not the kind of thing you see in a typical rose-colored, everything-is-great puff piece.
"Microsoft's ill-gotten gains were long the easy way to sustain the talent pipe-line. Market forces are catching up, and Microsoft is starting to have to compete on more equal footing with other companies to get talent in the door (no more, "you're guaranteed to be a millionaire in fiver years" promises). And, it's a little annoying to hear the Microsoft have-nots whine about this -- join the rest of the world folks."
So which is it? Is this a puff piece or is the guy a "have not"? It seems to me that you have a bone to pick with Microsoft personally and in your hurry to do so, you've written up a badly thought-out, contradictory post.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159181)

Not a bad article, but the author's rejection of "anthromorphizing" MS with comments like "MS is evil" ignores the fact that corporations are already given legal status as persons (Latin, corpus) and can sue for violations of rights. I'm blanking on the name, but at least one recent book investigated this concept and found that it is common for companies to behave in essentially sociopathic ways that wouldn't be socially or legally tolerated in individuals.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159191)

Aside from the obvious puff-piece nature of this article, it's a bit of a Trojan Horse. Under the auspices of a broad view of what life at Microsoft is like, the author gets to air out the PR spin that Microsoft's Not Evil in seven contrite paragraphs (the average number of paragraphs for each segment is closer to four).

Jeez, you guys never cease to amaze me.

Tin foils hat on again, I suppose. 7 contrite paragraphs you say? Oh my.

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159239)

<sarcasm>Of course! Anybody who has anything positive to say about Microsoft must be a "trojan horse".</sarcasm> I mean jeez, did you even notice his comments about middle management? Where he uses words like "cult"?

Re:embedded in this message (not surprisingly) (2, Insightful)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159245)

Also, assign credibility inversely proportional to the distance from the source. This guy works there, okay so the only way to describe "work at Microsoft" is to be there, but come on, are we going to get objective information?

Well, yes, if 100% of the people who work at Microsoft state that life is like X, then I would say it is X. Otherwise, you're just fooling yourself and making up stories about a company you know nothing about. Just because the information isn't agreeable to you doesn't mean it is not objective.


Working at Microsoft. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158774)

It sucks.

Slashdotted (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158780)

Before the first frickin comment.

Must be IIS on 2003.

No post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158781)

and no story, \. so soon?

His Micrsoft is not evil point.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158786)

What do you call a convicted criminal (monopolist, in this case)? A reborn and reformed model for society?

Re:His Micrsoft is not evil point.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158887)

What do you call a "convicted monopolist"? Why, by their company name. Perhaps you, like so many other idiots, don't seem to get that you can't be "convicted" of being a monopoly.

Using your monopoly influence, yes...being a monopoly, no.

Re:His Micrsoft is not evil point.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159257)

Welcome to America.

slashdotted? (3, Informative)

freg (859413) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158791)

It's just unavailable if the referall is slashdot.com, try copying and pasting the link into a different tab.

Re:slashdotted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158850)

Yep... that did it...

Now actually slashdotted...

Thanks for your support everyone :)

Re:slashdotted? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159019)

try copying and pasting the link into a different tab.
I use IE you insensitive clod!

M$ != Evil (3, Funny)

Doc Squidly (720087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158823)

What??? You can't post a story about Microsoft being anything other than the Evil Spawn of Hell, sent to crush all who'd stand between it and the total domination of the world.

Don't they know? This is /.

Re:M$ != Evil (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159251)

Don't worry; we already have a Slashdotter above (currently +4 Insightful no less) that has concluded that a section about them not feeling so "evil" is around 75% longer than the average section length as an argument of things smelling fishy. I'm not sure if the general opinion here is already that this article was planted as as an operation to increase interest in working for Microsoft or not, and I doubt I really want to know. :-S

Barstow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158825)

Number One

[spoken] It's January twenty-six. I'm freezing. Ed Fitzgerald, Age nineteen. five feet ten inches, black hair, brown eyes. Going home to Boston Massachusetts, It's four p.m., and I'm hungry and broke. I wish I was dead. But today I am a man.

[sung] Going home to Boston, yuh-huh, Massachusetts. It's four p.m., and I'm hungry and broke. I wish I was dead. But today I am a man -- Oh-- O, I'm going home-- to Boston, yuh-huh, Massachusetts.

Number Two

[spoken] Gentlemen: Go to five-thirty East Lemon Avenue, Monrovia, California, for an easy handout.

[sung] Go to five-thirty East Lemon Avenue, in Monrovia for an easy handout, gentlemen. Yo-ho-ho -- Yoo-hoo-hooo -- Ya-ha-ha-- Yee-hee-hee-- Go to five-thirty East Lemon Avenue, in Monrovia for an easy handout, gentlemen. Yo-ho-ho -- Yoo-hoo-hooo -- Ya-ha-ha -- Yee-hee-hee

Number Three

[spoken] Marie Blackwell. Age nineteen. Brown eyes, brown hair, considered pretty. One-eighteen East Ventura Street, Las Vegas, Nevada. Object: matrimony.

[sung] Age nineteen, Brown eyes, brown hair, Oh, but I'm considered pretty. Here's where I live-Dah dah dah dah -- One-eighteen East Ventura Street, Las Vegas, Nevada. Taa -- Ta-ta-ta ta-ta-ta-ta-ta -- ta-ta-ta -- ta-ta-taa- My object is - Yoo-hoo-hoo - Matrimony!

Number Four

[intoned] Dear Marie, a very good idea you have there. I too am on the lookout for a suitable mate. My description -- No description follows, so he evidently got his ride.

Number Five

[intoned] Possible rides: January sixteenth, fifty-eight. January seventeenth, seventy-six. January eighteenth, nineteen. January nineteenth, six. January twentieth, eleven. To hell with it -- I'm going to walk!

Number Six

[ad lib] Jesus was God in the flesh.

[sung] Hey hey hey -- Jesus-- Jesus was God in the fle-esh Hey hey hey -- Hey hey hey -- Hey hey -- Jesus was God in the flesh. Hey hey hey - Jesus -- Jesus was God in the fle-esh Hey hey hey -- Hey hey hey -- Hey hey -- Jesus was God in the flesh.

Number Seven

[intoned] Looking for millionaire wife. Good looking, Very handsome, Intelligent, Good bull thrower, Etcetera. You lucky women! All you have to do is find me, you lucky women. Name's George.

[sung] All you have to do is find me -- You lucky women -- Name's George.
Number Eight

[spoken] Here's wishing all who read this, if they can get a lift, and the best of luck to you. Why in hell did you come, anyway?

[sung] Damn it anyhow -- Here I am stuck in the cold -- I've come, twenty-seven hundred miles from Chi, Illinois -- Slept along the highway, slept in open boxcar without top. Went hungry for two days (raining too) -- Dah dah dah dah -

But they say there's a hell -- What the hell do they think this is? Do they think about this? Dah dah dah dah dah
(and etc: more Dah-dahs here...)

I'm on my way, one half of desert to the east. Then back to El-lay, to try once more -- Car just passed by, make that two more, three more. Do not think they'll let me finish my story.

Here she comes, a truck, not a fuck, but a truck. Just a truck. Hoping to get the hell out, here's my name-- Johnnie Reinwald, nine-fifteen South Westlake Avenue, Los Angeles. Doh dee-dee
(and etc: more Doh-dees here...)

Here's wishing all who read this, if they can get a lift, and the best of luck to you - Doh doh doh doh doh doh -- dah dah dah -

Why in hell did you come, anyway?

Re:Barstow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159235)

Harry Partch was an interesting composer with a unique life experience, to say the least.

Your post is hardly "Offtopic" given the socio-economic factors leading to the desperate situations of those who wrote these passages and Microsoft's position in the vanguard of capitalism.

Your friend,

Pablo

I don't believe it. (5, Funny)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158830)

the good, the bad, and the in-between experiences of working at Microsoft; concentrating on focus, unreality, company leadership, managers, source code, benefits and compensation, free soft drinks, work/life balance, Microsoft's not evil, and influence.

Sheyah. They all say that until the chairs start flying.

interesting article (2, Interesting)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158834)

I wonder if he got permission to publish that? I know it's vaguely approving in an infomercial kind of way, but there is genuine criticism too.

Uh Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158836)

This is priceless, "Maybe I'm being naive, but I find Microsoft's upper management to be very trustworthy." No no no there is no maybe involved, you are DEFINATELY naive.

concentrating? (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158837)

The summary says: " concentrating on focus, unreality, company leadership, managers, source code, benefits and compensation, free soft drinks, work/life balance, Microsoft's not evil, and influence.

So, did he leave out anything? Oh yeah, the loos. :)

Text of article (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158840)

Working at Microsoft
Home Photos Writing Software Links About Résumé RSS

It seems like there's a lot of public interest in what it's like to work at Microsoft. Here's my personal persepctive on the good (+), the bad (-), and the in-between (=).
Background

As a long-time Apple and UNIX user/programmer, I never aspired to work at Microsoft. (And I'm still a little surprised to be here.) I've never despised Microsoft like so many people seem to do -- it's just that Microsoft products weren't a part of my world.

Then my wife got a job at Microsoft, so I needed to leave Caltech/JPL to work in Seattle. I didn't actually apply to Microsoft -- a friend of ours who worked there circulated my résumé and Microsoft responded rapidly and set up a last-minute interview. Although I had five other offers, Microsoft made the best impression.

And so, here I am. I've been working at Microsoft since October, 1999 as a full-time Software Design Engineer. In that time, I've worked for three teams in two divisions, and had six or seven different managers. Four products I've worked on have shipped, two more are in beta, and I've also "consulted" for many other teams across the company, thereby influencing directly and indirectly a large number of Microsoft's products.

Between my experience and my wife's, I think I've gotten a pretty solid feel for what it's like to work in a product group at Microsoft.
+ Focus

As much as I enjoyed working at Caltech/JPL, it wasn't until I got to Microsoft that I realized that there's an enormous difference between working for a software company and a company where software is just a step towards some other goal (space science, finance, medicine, retail, etc.).

Everyone at Microsoft "gets" software -- the managers, the administrative assistants, the vice presidents... Even many of the "blue collar" workers (cooks, janitors, bus drivers) know something about software -- it's not normal! At NASA, most managers and even some scientists had no real understanding of software or software development. Elevating the common denominator in this way makes Microsoft a wonderful workplace for people who love making software (even if it's far removed from the reality of "the real world", which can cause other problems, like overinflating the importance of software).
= Unreality

As a parent, I've come to understand that there's a wide gray area between overprotecting your children and creating a nuturing environment in which they can develop.

I think Microsoft struggles with a similar problem with its employees. Microsoft provides its employees with a nuturing environment in which they can be most productive. But like children, these employees also need to be grounded in reality and exposed to ideas that can be disruptive or even disturbing. Otherwise a sheltered monoculture can develop that's unhealthy for everyone involved.

It's hard for people who don't work at Microsoft's main campus to understand just how unreal the experience of working there can become. Some employees forget that most of the world doesn't have broadband wireless networking, high-end consumer electronics, luxury vehicles, and enough money that they don't need to live on a budget. Some employees spend so much time using Microsoft products, that they forget about the competition and/or lose touch with typical customers' needs.
+ Personal Freedom

One thing that's worth losing touch with is the strict work environment.

Microsoft gives software developers a lot of personal freedom over both the work and the work environment. I order my own supplies, customize my office as I see fit, schedule my own trips and meetings, and select my own training courses. I choose when I show up for work and when I leave, and what to wear while I'm there. I can eat on campus or off, reheat something from home in the kitchen or scavenge leftovers from meetings. I can even work remotely from home (within reason).

For the most part, I determine what I work on and when I will get it done. There are exceptions -- tasks others ask you to do for them, external deadlines or dependencies -- but these goals are set cooperatively with your management and coworkers, taking into account your interests and abilities.

I have total control over my choice of development tools. Of course, there are advantages to matching the "official" build environment, and in a team environment there are also advantages to sharing tools and processes across the team. But ultimately the choice is mine: I can code with vi on a Macintosh, Visual Studio on a Windows machine, ink on a Tablet PC, or whatever I desire.

Except for semi-annual reviews, there's almost no paperwork for a software developer at Microsoft. There are no timecards to fill out, no requisition forms, no authorizations or permission slips.

Having so much individual freedom can lead to problems. It's well-publicized that Microsoft has historically exercised too little review over purchasing decisions. Also, the freedoms I've described can vary from one work group to the next; for example, one friend's manager gave him a very hard time over the unusual hours he worked (even trying to fire him for it). But thieves and jerks exist everywhere; they're just taking unfair advantage of the great personal freedoms the rest of us cherish.

I think Microsoft provides a great example to other corporations of what a productive work environment can be like.
+ Company Leadership

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer get most of the press, but it's an open secret that all of the division heads (and their staff, and their staff) are top-notch. I'm (happily) oblivious to how that circle operates, so I can only judge them on their results.

Given that Microsoft's been convicted of monopolistic practices, it may shock you when I say that Microsoft's upper management strikes me as very ethical. They talk about ethical behavior all the time, and as far as I've seen, lead by example. Maybe I'm being naive, but I find Microsoft's upper management to be very trustworthy. They're also thinking very far ahead, and doing a good job getting the information they need to make solid decisions.

Microsoft's leaders are also very generous, and frequently encourage the rest of us to make charitable donations (both money and time) a priority. Giving is a large part of Microsoft's corporate culture.

It's refreshing to work at a company where you can trust that the upper echelon is smart, hardworking, and making right decisions. I don't have to worry that my general manager or vice-president will drive our division (or company) into the ground through incompetence or greed. Microsoft's no Enron or WorldCom.
- Managers

In contrast, most of the middle management should be tossed.

Did I mention I've had six or seven managers in five years? I've only changed jobs twice -- the others were "churn" caused by reorganizations or managers otherwise being reassigned. In fact, in the month between when I was hired and when I started, the person who was going to be my manager (we'd already had several phone/email conversations) changed! It's seven if you count that, six if you don't.

None of these managers were as good as my best manager at NASA. Of the six-seven managers I've had, I'd relish working for (or with) only two of them again. Two were so awful that if they were hired into my current organization (even on another team), I'd quit on the spot. The other two-three were "nngh" -- no significant impact on my life one way or another. I'd love to think this is some kind of fluke, that I've just been unlucky, but many other Microsoft employees have shared similar experiences with me.

I think part of the problem is that Microsoft doesn't generally hire software developers for their people- or leadership-skills, but all dev leads were developers first. Part of the problem is also that (unlike some companies that promote incompetence) good leads are usually promoted into higher positions quickly, so the companies best managers rise to the top. Consequently, the lower ranks are filled with managers who either have no interest in advancing up the management chain (which is fine) or else are below-average in their management skills (which is not).

But it's more complex than this. At Microsoft, many managers still contribute as individuals (e.g., writing code) and are then judged on that performance (which is mostly objective) as much or more than they're judged on their leadership performance (which is mostly subjective). Because individual developers have so much freedom and responsibility, it's easy and typical to give individuals all the credit or blame for their performance, without regard to the manager's impact. Conversely, managers' performance often does not translate into tangible effects for their teams (other than the joy or misery of working for them). For example, I can still get a great review score even if my manager is terrible. I think these factors contribute to management skills being undervalued.

Microsoft also suffers from a phenomenon that I've seen at other companies. I describe this as the "personality cult," wherein one mid-level manager accumulates a handful of loyal "fans" and moves with them from project to project. Typically the manager gets hired into a new group, and (once established) starts bringing in the rest of his/her fanclub. Once one of these "cults" is entrenched, everyone else can either give up from frustration and transfer to another team, or else wait for the cult to eventually leave (and hope the team survives and isn't immediately invaded by another cult). I've seen as many as three cults operating simultaneously side-by-side within a single product group. Rarely, a sizeable revolt happens and the team kicks the cult out. Sometimes, the cult disintegrates (usually taking the team with it). Usually, the cult just moves on to the Next Big Thing, losing or gaining a few members at each transfer.

I think these "cults" are a direct result of Microsoft's review system, in which a mid-level manager has significant control over all the review scores within a 100+ person group (so it's in your best interest to get on his/her good side), and conversely needs only a fraction of that group's total support to succeed as a manager (so it's in his/her best interest to cultivate a loyal fanclub to provide that support). The cult gives the manager the appearance of broad support, and makes the few people who speak out against him/her look like sour grapes unrepresentative of a larger majority. After a string of successes, the manager is nearly invincible.

Fortunately, these managers are unlikely to move further up the ranks, due to the inherent deficiences in their characters (which are usually visible to upper management and enough to prevent their advancement, but not so severe as to warrant firing them).

These "personality cults" always negatively impact the group eventually (while they're there and/or when they leave), but counterintuitively sometimes these personality cults have a large positive initial effect. Many successful Microsoft products have come into existence only through the actions of such personality cults. Some of these products even survived after the personality cult left for the Next Big Thing.
+ Source Code

I love source code. I love reading it, writing it, thinking about it.

At Microsoft, I've had access to the source code for Halo 1 & 2, Internet Explorer, MDAC, MSXML, the .NET Frameworks and CLR, SQL Server, SQLXML, Virtual PC, Visual Studio, Windows, the Xbox and Xbox Live, and probably several other projects that I've forgotten about. Does it get better than this?
= Benefits/Compensation

On the one hand, I'm making more money now than at any other point in my life, and I have all I need -- so perhaps I should be satisfied and leave it at that. Overall, I think Microsoft's compensation and benefits package are still above average for the industry, and well above average for the typical American worker.

On the other hand, I and my coworkers have watched many benefits erode or disappear during the past five years. It's public knowledge that raises and annual bonuses have diminished, option grants have been replaced with stock awards, employee stock purchase plan benefits have decreased, and cafeteria and company store prices have increased. For new employees, vacation time has been cut from three weeks to two, and new parents have to take their parental leave within 6 months instead of 12. It's not a positive trend.
+ Free Soft Drinks

I sometimes joke that the day Microsoft stops providing free soft drinks, I'll quit. At least, everyone else thinks I'm joking.
- "Work/Life Balance"

Like most communities, Microsoft has its own language. One oft-used phrase is "work/life balance," which has many nuanced meanings. Taken literally, work/life balance is about finding a healthy balance between the time you spend at work and the time you spend away from it. It's about family relationships (for employees who are married or have children), and the problems that work and work stress cause. It's about the explicit demands that managers, teams, and Microsoft in general place on employees. It's about the implicit demands created when all your co-workers are themselves workaholics.

Microsoft starts off at a disadvantage here, because the people Microsoft hires tend to be driven and a little socially dysfunctional. So employees already tend to screw up their relationships with others and focus on work to the exclusion of everything else, without any encouragement from Microsoft. Also, the Seattle area is known for being somewhat isolating -- lots of young, ambitious professionals with no time for making friends.

Microsoft adds jobs that are very mentally challenging, sometimes aggressive product schedules, a campus that's a bit isolated (and isolating) from the outside world, and voilá -- you've got all the ingredients for poor work/life balance.

It's not all bad, however -- some teams within Microsoft provide extremely supportive work environments. I personally know several large teams in which almost all the employees have families, or in which the team is unusually diverse (for a software company -- e.g., >50% women). Naturally, the employees on these teams tend to experience significantly better work/life balance.
+ Microsoft's Not Evil

I'm probably the last person to end up defending Microsoft. I'm writing this on an Apple Powerbook. I've publically argued for more diversity in computing environments. But there's one thing people do that really drives me nuts: anthropomorphization.

I joined Microsoft at the beginning of the antitrust litigation against the company. My NASA coworkers made all sorts of derogatory comments about my choice. I remember one began a conversation with "So you've decided to go work for The Great Satan, huh?" A lot of people who ought to know better are convinced Microsoft is evil. Apologies if you're one of them -- because these people are idiots.

Companies (countries, races, etc.) are not "evil" or "good", and they do not have "intentions." Star Trek is science fiction -- there is no Borg mind. Companies, countries, races, and other groups are made up of individuals like you and me, who make individual decisions that determine the group's direction. People who speak of companies (or countries, or races, or other groups) as being good or evil are at best ignorant, and at worst bigots.

The reality is that Microsoft is made up of mostly honest, earnest, hardworking people. People with families. People with hardships. People with ordinary and extraordinary lives. People who make wise and foolish decisions. Some employees are bad apples, and some leaders make poor decisions (which their employees may or may not support). Both usually meet with failure. All the Microsoft employees I know are internally driven to "succeed," where success sometimes means outselling the competition but always means doing your personal best and improving people's lives with your work.

Although groups don't have intentions, it's true that group policies reward some kinds of behavior over others. So perhaps "Microsoft is evil" is shorthand for "Microsoft's policies are evil."

The thing is, I haven't seen any evidence of that on the inside -- and I'm usually very critical of these things. For as long as I've worked at Microsoft, ethics have been a real part of employee performance reviews. It's not just talk, but the way work goes each day. Most product designs revolve around addressing specific customer needs. No one ever says "Hey, let's go ruin company P" or other things that could be construed as "evil." Instead, it's "customers Q and R are having trouble with this, and I have an idea how we could fix it..." and other positive, constructive statements.

If anything, Microsoft seems to have the opposite problem, in which employees sometimes design or cut a feature or product without fully appreciating the huge impact their decision can have outside the company. When the media goes wild with knee-jerk reactions for or against something Microsoft did, often the employees responsible for the decision are caught off-guard by the disproportionate public attention.
+ Influence

Which brings me to: influence. Very few projects at Microsoft have "small" impact. Everywhere you turn, the projects people are working on are likely to be used by thousands or millions of people. You have the opportunity to earn, save, or cost the company millions of dollars through your work. It's an awesome responsibility, but an awesome chance to create widely influential software.

When you've worked in the software industry for awhile, you eventually come to understand that the vast majority of all software is narrowly focused on solving relatively trivial problems. You could go your whole career never working on anything of significance.

Microsoft is so different, and I love that. Your feature might sell 30% more units. Or it might have 8 books written about it. It might be something that millions of people use every single day, that even your non-technical friends and family understand. Or it might be so esoteric that it's impossible to explain even to your friends who work in the industry, and yet so influential that it changes the way software is written. I've personally had most of these experiences at Microsoft, and let me tell you: It feels great!

Microsoft has certainly had its share of useless products and project failures, but by and large it continues to focus on software that matters.

PARENT CONTAINS GOATSE LINK! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159015)

MOD THE TROLL DOWN!

PARENT IS LYING! NO GOATSE! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159061)

MOD THE REAL TROLL DOWN!

Shite for my theory. (-1, Redundant)

matt me (850665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158842)

I was just going some snidey comment about how only six minutes after the story was posted the site was down.. I was going to poke fun at Microsoft IIS - that piece of crap. I check and of course the site is running on Apache 1.3!! OS unknown.

(yet apache 2 is king, the BBC runs that).

Obviously an MS employee (3, Funny)

SQLz (564901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158859)

Service Temporarily Unavailable

Re:Obviously an MS employee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159174)

Please see the previous post- it's running Apache

You almost had me... (5, Funny)

mlheur (212082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158863)

Until I read the "Microsoft's not evil" part. This must be a hoax.

Are we expected to suspend disbelief? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158864)

Microsoft's not evil

Really they're very nice once you get to know them and I'm sure family members and personal friends will say the same about dictators who commanded regimes that murdered millions. Microsoft are a nasty company who should stick to selling software instead of lobbying governemnts.

Microsoft's not evil? (3, Interesting)

stinky wizzleteats (552063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158885)

Ah - a feel-good story about someone who has had a good experience working there and hasn't seen any nefarious activities during his or her time there.

Of what value is it to place any confidence in such accounts? It is quite possible to have worked for the mob, be well treated, and not see any nefarious activity. It is not only possible but likely (and therefore infinitely reasonable) that such activities will be concealed from such an observer. If the activities of the organization in question are well documented and proven beyond a reasonable doubt to -in fact- be evil, then such "insider" accounts to the contrary have absolutely no relevance.

Re:Microsoft's not evil? (1)

Silicon Jedi (878120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158938)

Exactly...

"It's not, lets ruin 'Construction Company A', its 'Cement Company B' has a problem, let's fix it."

Just because the head of the gamg seems so nice doesn't mean that he isn't ordering deathsquads... or throwing chairs in those closed-door meetings.

Re:Microsoft's not evil? Not exactly - RTWFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159020)

If you read through to the middle of the article, he's quite critical of middle-level management. Basically, he's consistently had a lot of bad managers, and so have others on other teams. A lot and bad are two things you don't want from your manager. It sounds like their influence/reward system at management level is screwed up, leading to stupid political games (he describes 'cult of personalities' managers who cultivate a few die-hard sidekicks and they travel around the company.

The guy seems pretty honest to me.

Conspiracy Logic (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159064)

is quite possible to have worked for the mob, be well treated, and not see any nefarious activity. It is not only possible but likely (and therefore infinitely reasonable) that such activities will be concealed from such an observer.

...And on the other hand, such a wonderfully circular logic loop cannot be debated. 'If I cannot see any source of wrong doing', says the conspiracy nut, 'Then it must be deliberately concealed from me, hence a conspiracy!'

Re:Microsoft's not evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159271)

You don't have to work very hard to conceal anything from someone with a money hat [penny-arcade.com] pulled over their eyes.

Well, this is new.... (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158886)

The first 1 sentence article I have seen in a while.

that didn't take long.... (2, Informative)

nacks1 (60717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158888)

The site referenced in the article is already giving out 503's. Here is a google cache of the page:

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:ILiHKIGJa_oJ:w ww.qbrundage.com/michaelb/pubs/essays/working_at_m icrosoft.html+&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=fir efox [72.14.203.104]

I'm willing to bet that working at Microsoft is... (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158892)

... 1000 times better than working at most jobs these days. And, if it really sucks at least you can put it on your resume for a better location and position at your next job.

work and microsoft (2, Funny)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158905)

I'm sure working at microsoft is a great career, running microsoft software is a different story.

good, bad,... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15158948)

the good, the bad, and the in-between experiences of working at Microsoft; concentrating on focus, unreality, company leadership, managers, source code, benefits and compensation, free soft drinks, work/life balance, Microsoft's not evil, and influence.

otherwise known as the good, the bad, and the ugly.

work/life balance (1)

5Wresistor (659626) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158950)

The work/life balance was a big watchword at HP about a decade ago. Unfortunately, it is somewhat shortsighted. It might be a good view from a company perspective, but not the perspective that an employee should have. I contend that it should be a "work/life/me" balance. And if you want an example take a look at all the harried "supermoms" out there that try to juggle the work/life so much that there is no "me" left in them! Setting realistic boundaries between the outside forces against your personal space requirements lets one feel that one is in control of at least part of his/her enviornment. And you DO have to set these boundaries. If not either the "work" or the "life" will suck all the resources out of you! I'm an old fart engineer whose kids are almost out of college. During their growing up, there was a constant battle between the job and the family life. Plus, throwing in some time for myself. For awhile, I let the job/life consume my full resources. I suggest that it's not worth it. So what if the boss or the kids are a little mad by you saying no (if it doesn't make the job review THAT bad, or that the kids run away from home.....). The point, YOU have to take the initiative to set the boundaries from the external forces in your life to keep your sanity. It seems to be a constant 3 way battle. Life is too short. No, I'm not going to work the weekend on your little project. No, that is a good enough pine wood derby racer, I'm not investing more work and effort on it to make it the very best. Yes, I am working on my pet open source project......... Again I suggest it's not work/life balance. It's work/life/me balance.

Re:work/life balance (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159192)

"Life" is the "me" part. Why do you make it separate?

Open Source (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158961)

I've had access to the source code for ... Internet Explorer, MDAC, MSXML, the .NET Frameworks and CLR, SQL Server, SQLXML, Virtual PC, Visual Studio ...


So? We all have access to the source code for Firefox, PHP, Python, Perl, MONO, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Xen, KDevelop, Code::Blocks, ...

It's interesting. What this guy claims to be advantages, are precisely the FLAWS. Specially with Internet Explorer. Right now it would be much more secure if MS had open sourced it 6 years ago.

suckup? twit? (0, Troll)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158962)

The author is either a bigtime suckup, a twit, or too overpaid and comfortable to work for a company that is truly not evil. Hey, just admit that evil pays better and we'll respect you more. These hollow justifications sound more like he's trying to convince himself.

Re:suckup? twit? (3, Funny)

msblack (191749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159099)

Before you attack a person with Ad Hominem charges, check out his CV. The gentleman has more scholarly awards than a roomful of SlashDot readers:

Awards

2003 Microsoft Gold Star Award
2003 US/International Patent (Pending) 304064.1 Common Query Runtime System and API
2003 US/International Patent (Pending) 303845.1 Query Optimizer System and Method
2003 US/International Patent (Pending) 301638.1 Query Intermediate Language (QIL) Method and System
2002 US Patent 1911574.1 XML Views Over Relational Data Using XML Schema
1996 NASA Grant NRA-96-10-OSS-055, A Collaborative Environment for the Space Interferometer Mission
1994 Caltech Hinrichs Leadership Award
1993 Caltech Don Shepard Essay Contest Winner
1992 Caltech Robert Andrews Millikan Scholar (again)
1991 Caltech Robert Andrews Millikan Scholar
1990 National Merit Scholar
1990 Oklahoma Academic All-State
1990 Valedictorian, Midwest City High School
1989 1st in seven-state region, American High School Mathematics Exam
1989 Principal Mallet Percussionist, Oklahoma All-State Band
1988 Principal Mallet Percussionist, Oklahoma All-State Orchestra

Re:suckup? twit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159158)

what does scholarly awards have to do with him being a suckup or not?

Brainwashing (5, Interesting)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158963)

My friends and I knew a guy at our college (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) that was hired on at Microsoft. Prior to leaving, he was always very open-minded about software usage, willing to try various options, be they proprietary or open source. After a while, he came back a changed man. He simply couldn't fathom how it was that we (as students) were using anything but Microsoft products, and would argument, sometimes vehemently, that we shouldn't be using *NIX or anything of that nature. It was truly scary.

Re:Brainwashing (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158994)

It's called "selling out". Everyone has their price. The trick is to recognize it and work within it.

He came back spouting the virtues of MSFT because he basically sold his values and convictions [the good kind] for a paycheque and status.

Tom

Re:Brainwashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159094)

Not all their "conversions" go in the same direction. One of my friends went to Microsoft for a summer internship, full of enthusiasm, but came back swearing that he would never have anything to do with them again.

Re:Brainwashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159107)

Back when I was in college (oh, 1989 or so) I saw a similar thing happen. Guy was interning at Microsoft over the summer. He came back a little *too* defensive about Microsoft. Ha ha I thought, what a loser. The guy ended up retiring before 30. He rock climbs for a living now.

Re:Brainwashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159132)

"Prior to" ... reading SLASHDOT every day .... "he was always very open-minded about software usage, willing to try various options, be they proprietary or open source. After a while, he came back a changed man. He simply couldn't fathom how it was that we (as students) were using anything but" ... !Microsoft ... "products, and would argument, sometimes vehemently, that we shouldn't be using" ... !*NIX ... "or anything of that nature."

(Just 3 minor corrections for clarity/illustrative purposes)

Re:Brainwashing (2, Interesting)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159188)

Then he's a sell-out, with little backbone. He probably WON'T last long at Microsoft (and from your comment, it sounds like he didn't). I've worked at MS for a couple of years now, and know quite a few people here. Yeah, there are a few idiots here that are pro-MS everything and anti-anything-else no matter what. But the rest of us are much more practical and open about things.

Am I going to declare that Linux is the best and that everyone should ditch Windows? Or that the PS3 is going to own all? No. If I felt so strongly about that, I wouldn't be working here in the first place. But I'm not going to say Linux is horrible and no one should get a PS3. (I've had Linux boxes in the past, and I will be getting a PS3, since I'm a big fan of Square-Enix games that are often PS-exclusives). Nothing is ever so cut and dry. I especially hate FUD in general, when its used against MS or for MS.

Maybe it's just me because I work in MGS (MS Game Studios) and it's a different culture than those "guys on main campus". :)

Re:Brainwashing (1)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159224)

I'm not trying to imply that all Microsoft employees are like that. As far as I know, he still works there, though. Not for sure, it's been a coupla years. Either way, sell-out or not, it was still downright scary at the time.

Microsoft Dynamics (2, Interesting)

tallsails (549200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15158982)

With the new "live" approach, the new boss from Lotus Notes trying to turn the company, I really think MSFT (and I am no rabid fan) will compete well with SAP and peoplesoft. To bad its the wrong way to go... http://blog.tallsails.com/2006/04/19/google-hooks- up-w-salesforce-and-oracle.aspx [tallsails.com]

Slashdotted already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159013)

As usual, the most interesting articles are ALWAYS slashdotted and unavailable. I don't suppose someone could post a mirror site - I really want to read this article. COuld someone please just post the article here?

THAT many managers, THAT bad... but he's HAPPY? (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159066)

"Did I mention I've had six or seven managers in five years? Two were so awful that if they were hired into my current organization (even on another team), I'd quit on the spot."

One has to wonder why he didn't "quit on the spot" previously... say, about the time the second was assigned to supervise him.

In thirty years, working in mid-sized nonprofit, one Fortune 500 company, one ten-person startup, and two mid-sized for-profits, I've only had no managers "so awful that if they were hired into my current organization (even on another team) I'd quite on the spot." I've only had one so awful that if they were hired to supervise me, I'd quit... and when he was, I did. (Honesty compels me to say that it took me a year before I did... but I did).

Re:THAT many managers, THAT bad... but he's HAPPY? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159143)

WHen I had a manager so bad it made me want to quit, the first thing I did was write a paper with why he was bad, and then present it to his bosses boss. I figured eh, I'm leaving anyways, and it's this guys fault what harm could it have.

Two days later I was called in, we talked about it. Put me in a different team. Month later that manager was gone.

I was an f'n hero to the other team members. Sadly, I gave notice two week letter becasue I was given an offer that paid 75% more.
I miss the 2000 job market.

Re: Well, either way, we didn't stay. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159236)

So, I dealt with it slowly and passively, you dealt with it quickly and actively, but in both cases we treated it as a big deal, and we dealt with it, and the end result was... we were gone.

Michael Brundage says, "28% of the managers I had at Microsoft were so awful" that in future, there wouldn't be room for him and either of them in the same organization... but it's not big deal.

But then again, I notice he's posted his resume [qbrundage.com]

Re:THAT many managers, THAT bad... but he's HAPPY? (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159247)

I was in a similar situation. I was on a project that ended up just screeching by on funding (big funding war at the time between two internal groups - one had the money and wanted to pay for it, the other group said they didn't have the money but it was their place to pay for it...whatever). Anyway, I was pretty much the last person on the team, doing 5 people's job trying to get an online store live. After a few management backstabs...I turned in my notice, effective IMMEDIATELY. I didn't care, I wanted out bad. One manager had lied about a meeting I had with her while speaking with *my* manager. I got back from lunch, everyone told me he was on the warpath and what was said. I talked to him, he blew up at me and I was gone.

Any way, I was a contractor - no one else knew the system and if I left without any warning the whole thing was set way back - they offered to double my rate for another month and promised he was to have no contact with me. A few months later, he was gone. Not a single group got a long with him.

Personal Freedom (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159070)

Microsoft gives software developers a lot of personal freedom over both the work and the work environment. I order my own supplies, customize my office as I see fit, schedule my own trips and meetings, and select my own training courses. I choose when I show up for work and when I leave, and what to wear while I'm there. I can eat on campus or off, reheat something from home in the kitchen or scavenge leftovers from meetings. I can even work remotely from home (within reason).

Out of Office Reply: I'm not currently in my office, which is being rennovated to accomodate a swimming pool and a helipad, but am instead on a business trip to Hawaii, for a training course in pearl diving. Once I return to Redmond, I'll be happy to get in touch with you, after sampling the fine quailty pizza left over from the last meeting about Vista. Take care!

Re:Personal Freedom (1)

zyte (896988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159147)

That's what I'll do with my furniture budget for this year!

I like his title at work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159092)

Emulation Ninja :D

-W

I Wonder if (1)

Uosdwis (553687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159093)

I wonder if we are going to find this in a previous press release kinda' like the 'switcher' from clip art

what the hell (1)

observer7 (753034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159114)

why a pr for microsoft ? this mole planted by microsoft to wander into our enclosuer and lie to us about microsoft isn't doing anything ...when there actions prove outherwise . trying to soften there tone with there losses in european courts , there sucking up anywhere they can suck

Digged. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159122)

So, does slashdot just get all of its stories from Digg these days, or what?

Here goes my excellent karma (3, Insightful)

endrue (927487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159140)

I have to admit that even though I could feel the slant of this article I could not help but feel a little bit excited by this. Knowing Microsoft technologies is what pays the bills for me (C#) but I have tried to avoid becoming a fanboy for all things Microsoft. However, after reading this article, I cannot help but think that Microsoft is a pretty cool place to work. The .NET Framework is a massively impressive codebase that I would be psyched to work on. Not to mention that the environment is painted as more Google-esque than I previously realized. How many of us (who have all bashed Microsoft fairly and unfairly) would not drop our current job to take a position at Microsoft? I know that I would.

- Andrew

Right there with ya (1)

robipilot (925650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159216)

I'm right there with ya. I'm spent my 15 years of development for non-software companies. Working at a shop that actually understood what we were doing, and having my work impact the bottom line would be nice.

But I'm sure Microsoft has a case file on me already, given the fact that I've typed discouraging words about them using one of their products.

I almost believe him (2, Insightful)

theolein (316044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159164)

Until he said this: "No one ever says "Hey, let's go ruin company P" or other things that could be construed as "evil.""

He must have missed the news about Steve B, chairs and Google.

Sure.. (4, Interesting)

bmajik (96670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159167)

I was going to comment that I thought it was interesting that this guy was mentioned as being from a mixed UNIX, Apple, Caltech, and JPL background. I thought about why that might be relevant.

In any case, this guy is just one data point in trying to get a picture of "life on the inside" of Microsoft. You might find other pictures by reading my (and other MSFTies here - there are many) slashdot posts on the subject, or by reading the minimsft blog, or by trying to decipher the publicly-made statements by our PR people (or by PR agencies working on our behalf). All will paint slightly different pictures.

Unfortuneately i haven't been able to read the article - thanks slashdot effect - but I'm always curious to see MSFT people talking about "life on the inside", to see how their experiences compare to my own.

As far as my own background - as recently as college, i was saying things like "I will never work for a company that expects me to use NT - it's shit", as I coded away infront of my work provided SGI Indy. I gave up Windows after 3.1 and used OS/2, linux, and Solaris at home until college, when I switched to exclusively solaris and irix.

When I joined MS about 6 years ago i was still very anti-MS. I was joining to light a fire under the people that had burdened the world with so many bad things. I figured that peoeple just didn't have the unix expertise and outside world view that i brought to the table. If they only knew, I thought.

I probably made a lot of enemies those first few years, especially people on the outlook and exchange teams. But I also got a few private emails from product support guys saying "i loved reading that.. thank you for flaming person blah...our customers run into this all the time.. somebody should have said this sooner"

I was fond of pointing out that i used Pine against exchange-IMAP because at least Pine knew how to not block its UI threads while trying to access a message. (This is fixed in Outlook XP, Outlook 2003, and works pretty well in Outlook 12 betas, btw)

For a while, it seemed, my strategy of badgering MSFT people about how great *nix was and how much MS sucked was working. I was involved in some of the "how do we compete with {linux,solaris,apache} conversations even though I was some lowly tester off in Visual Studio. I was obnoxious, antagonistic, and I claimed big street cred working in the unix side of the industry. We were struggling at first to get dedicated, experienced people in place to understand the unix-competitive landscape, so much so that it made sense for "them" to talk to a bozo like me about it. Things are better now - there are smart people that work on understanding the *nix landscape full time.

The culture change I've observed here has been pretty satisfying. When I first complained that VB6 didn't work for debugging DLLs if you didn't have admin rights, a PM for VB told me "the NT security model is too hard, we're not going to bother figuring it out". That kind of crap doesn't fly _at all_ any more. We've really "got religion" around non-admin, secure-by-default, etc. That stuff keeps getting better and we're chipping away at the debt of design and code deficienies we have in the face of an always-on, hostile internet that nobody expected years and years ago [historians will note that the _first_ internet worm worked on unix machines.. and unix collectively has had a spotty and evolving approach to practical security.. ]

Naturally, MSFT has changed me as well. I used to come into discussions with the "UNIX roolz, MS suxx0rz" point of view. I was interviewing with a guy in NT and he was trying to ask me technical questions and I was trying to tell him how the NT design sucked because i read it in BYTE magazine. (i flunked that interview)

I've since learned that, actually, when I used to make those sorts of generalizations, I actually didn't know enough about anything to be running my big mouth. I was having an argument with some guy where I was talking about how the SGI Numa architecture is the hot sauce and their Kernel scales to 512 or 1024 procs and blah blah (basically reciting their marketing literature) and he responded with something to the effect of:

"ok, we'll se should talk some time, because in my experience you have to be a genius programmer to get real app performance out of them, so it's not much better than MPP in practice. By the way, I designed this part of this Cray machine"

A few other experiences like that really taught me to focus on what I was sure of, and what I had first hand experience with, and to leave my proselytizing and "comparitive" type statements at home.

A lot of the posting I do on slashdot now is finding posters that say the same stupid crap I used to - baseless comparisons or allegations about technical matters that they're not qualified to speak on. I wish someone could have spared me the embarassment of being a know-it-all youth. Maybe I can do someone the favor ? :)

In any case, I'm still a software tester. It's my job to tell anybody that will listen that I think what they're doing sucks, and why, and how it could be better. When i run into something I don't like, i track down the right people and ask them why it works that way. I'm not concerned with stepping on toes - i want better software selfishly for myself, but for 95% of the entire world as well. But I try to leave the "i know best", and "you suck because you're not unix" baggage at home. Those techniques have outlived any usefulness they may have had.

Thanks for reading. :)

Ignorance (1)

Aetas (969463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159169)

This article is written with nothing but gross ignorance. Companies (countries, races, etc.) are not "evil" or "good", and they do not have "intentions." Star Trek is science fiction -- there is no Borg mind. Companies, countries, races, and other groups are made up of individuals like you and me, who make individual decisions that determine the group's direction. People who speak of companies (or countries, or races, or other groups) as being good or evil are at best ignorant, and at worst bigots. Last time I checked, stockholders and the board make the main decisions of a company. He even states further up the article that he has no idea how the division heads work. He uses an example of the Borg to illustrate his point but didn't one of the TNG movies show it was led by a pasty white chick? Microsoft is made up of individuals....sure.....just like the Nazis. Even if they are an ethical bunch, something doesn't need to be inethical to hurt the market.

Re:Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159250)

He uses an example of the Borg to illustrate his point but didn't one of the TNG movies show it was led by a pasty white chick?

You sexist bastard! What do you have against pasty white chicks?

Source (1)

Ninjy (828167) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159182)

At Microsoft, I've had access to the source code for Halo 1 & 2, Internet Explorer, MDAC, MSXML, the .NET Frameworks and CLR, SQL Server, SQLXML, Virtual PC, Visual Studio, Windows, the Xbox and Xbox Live, and probably several other projects that I've forgotten about. Does it get better than this?

I can't help but wonder how many software development companies would still hire him after that, at fear of lawsuits.

groupthing != conspiracy (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159204)

Companies (countries, races, etc.) are not "evil" or "good", and they do not have "intentions." Star Trek is science fiction -- there is no Borg mind. Companies, countries, races, and other groups are made up of individuals like you and me, who make individual decisions that determine the group's direction. People who speak of companies (or countries, or races, or other groups) as being good or evil are at best ignorant, and at worst bigots.

I actually read the article, found it mostly informative and unbiased. But I have to take execption to the above. He castigates people for making broad generalizations, then goes and makes one himself.

I am willing to belive that Microsoft's board of directors and it's executive management don't have a nefarious plan for world domination. After all, they don't need to go to all that trouble, they really just want our money. However, if even half of what I've read that's been attributed to Mr. Ballmer is true, the man is not exactly ethical. And in his position, he is the company, for all practicle purposes, Mr. Gates notwithstanding. And again, while I don't think there's an active conspiracy going on at Redmond, I do think that Microsoft exhibits an inordinate amount of groupthink, drawing from Mr. Ballmer's statements and reflected in their advertising.

My Experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159249)

My girlfriend works at Microsoft's Redmond Campus. And being a non-Windows user, I've had some interesting talks with a few MS employees and developers at an occasional party or two hosted by her.

My observation from the few I've talk to is that many are clueless to the world of computing experience outside of the Microsoft sphere. From these employees's perspective, they are working hard to meet goals and objectives. The Company is good. They don't even think about things like not being able to share files with anyone you want because, of course, everyone they know uses the same tools.

And I've observed these employees forget how much a complete suite of Microsoft tools costs to the average consumer because they get all of it a big discount.

They have no say in the EULA or any of the political or legal matters that give Microsoft its bad rap. They think the company should come first before their customers' needs (ie closed file formats, protocols, etc).

These things, I feel, is what outside viewers see but most MS insiders tend to lose focus on.

But I must repeat, this is from observation from a small sample of MS employees.

It's in the preposition (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159253)

Working AT Microsoft is probably quite nice.
Working WITH Microsoft (products) isn't.
And having to work AROUND Microsoft (bugs) most certainly isn't!

What a tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159255)

What a tool -- Microsoft is his first software company for Christ's sake. What does he have to compare it to?

I worked at Microsoft for exactly two weeks. But unlike the author, MSFT was *not* my first software company. And I found it to be much less than I'd hoped for. In the end it was worth taking a pay cut not to work there.

My favorite part of "working" there was when they told me I couldn't use any open source software, including stuff I had written that was licensed under Creative Commons! Bleh, you can keep the free sodas -- they'll kill you faster than .NET will anyway.

YMMV

O RLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15159270)

So perhaps "Microsoft is evil" is shorthand for "Microsoft's policies are evil."


Somebody give this man a cookie.

Conformism at its absolute finest. (0, Troll)

mattgreen (701203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15159276)

I realize this may be completely impossible to believe, but before you start saying this guy is a shill, did you ever stop to think that this just MIGHT be a real article? And there just MIGHT be people who enjoy working at Microsoft? Is it really that hard to believe?

Or are you so bound by your narrow worldview of a particular company being 'evil' that you have to figuratively cover your ears and scream, "I'M NOT LISTENING!" even when something innocent like this crops up? How naive can you get?
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