There are newer employer reviews for Microsoft

2 people found this helpful

Post-BillG Microsoft is great employment - for HR and Lawyers

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Lead+ Program Manager in Redmond, WA
Former Employee - Lead+ Program Manager in Redmond, WA

I worked at Microsoft

Pros

Microsoft is the new government job with better pay, better benefits, nicer offices, free starbucks coffee, flexible hours and fewer hours overall ... as long as you don't actually want to build software that serves a purpose, or make it work for customers. If you really just don't care about software or customers, this is the software company for you.

Microsoft today is an exercise in political correctness run amok, with leaders desperate for approval and well-sold (note I did not say GOOD) ideas and happy to throw money at them. If you understand that kind of environment and want to either run at the new-style Brass Ring or simply surf along the edges - this is the company for you. Go for it. If you can sell it, Ballmer will buy it. (If you need a primer, buy a copy of "Big Blues, the unmaking of IBM".)

Now, if you are a marketer and believe that actually building product is "someone else's problem" then this is absolutely the right place for you. Because Mr. Ballmer and all of his directs - believe the same thing. (unfortunately all the "someone else's" left with Bill). It's also a fantastic place for HR and PR, with it's high turnover and need to pretend to be an upscale software company and a great place for technical people to work, and nirvana for corporate lawyers. Check out the close links between Microsoft and Odell Guyton - the lawyer trying hardest to make "ethics" mean "legal compliance". (ie, if you're not actually breaking a law - right now, exactly - it must be ethical, right?)

To recap, MS is a great place for anyone in the business of PRETENDING to build software. Sad but true.

Cons

What? You actually have to build the things you advertise and make them work?

If you're a technologist and can't get hired directly into a research group - you really don't want to work for Microsoft today. Microsoft has suffered horribly since Ballmer took over. He's a marketer. He was always the guy who'd come stomping down the hallway going "I WANT WHAT I WANT". We'd explain that the products couldn't actually do that and the reaction would be along the lines of "AND WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?" If it was important, we'd take the technical facts to Bill, and Bill would intervene and shut him down. It was a decent balance of power. Ballmer's drive to do the impossible would get Bill to do things he wasn't inclined to do, but only if they were POSSIBLE. Yes, there was a time when I loved Microsoft and worked with great enthusiasm in that niche of the "not technically impossible". I did a lot of risky things knowing that I could always count on Bill to rein things in when I could prove they weren't technically possible, or so difficult they simply weren't practical.

But Bill is gone now. Since taking over, Ballmer has promoted other similarly-minded marketers around him, so now he's completely cocooned in layers of marketing fluff with absolutely no basis in reality. He doesn't know the difference between an actual product and a picture of a product. And just to improve the whole customer-focus and employee-focus thing - he's imported old IBM (Kevin Johson) and legacy Wal-Mart (Kevin Turner).

The company used to be better and simpler. Everything asking for millions of $$ went in front of Bill, who would look skeptically at everything at a technical level and go "um, I don't understand how this actually gets built at all, never mind on time or on budget. SHOW ME. CONVINCE ME." People dreaded Bill's reviews but he weeded out the crap and he fired the liers. Ballmer's a marketer. He believes the crap and promotes the liers.

After 8 years of Ballmer, you get Vista, Office 7, and Yukon (SQL2005) ... a suite of products that took 5-6 YEARS to release and on seeing them, users are waiting for the next releases on the feeble hope that they'll be better.

If you recognize this environment and you know how to manipulate it - you'll be in your element. But if you wanted to build software or do something positive, look elsewhere.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Bring back the harsh technology reviews (and the people who could do them). Let the managers and marketers lie. Then take every $$ they put on their slides and put it through review, and just fire the people who clearly didn't even try. You can start with the people who didn't even hire staff for projects they never intended to even start. Yes, it's that bad.

Doesn't Recommend
Disapproves of CEO
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  1. 1 person found this helpful

    Microsoft-The cure for what sales you

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sales Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Sales Manager in Washington, DC

    I worked at Microsoft

    Pros

    Benefits, probably the best in the industry

    Cons

    Not at all a sales environment. The opportunity to really sell does not exist, as the comp plans, managemnet, and company orientation are all mired in the mid-80's 80's belief that the stock price will grow and split over and over.

    The stock hasn't split in 8 years, and like many technology firms, has sat at roughly 1/3 of it's bubble peak. But unlike other companies, Microsoft believes that they do not have to face this reality. Accordingly, it hires, retains and promotes a sales culture that doesn't sell, but visits. There is no relationship between activity and closing business in the competitive server space, and worse, if you try to sell into that space, you are vilified by the "resting and vesting" culture.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Wake up! With your dominant position in desktop you could dominate server software if you would get rid of slaes managers who can't sell and only play politics.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful

    A Great Place for Computer Science Geeks

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Redmond, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Redmond, WA

    I worked at Microsoft

    Pros

    The compensation is amazing. While it's true that there are many companies doing interesting projects, the pay and benefits at Microsoft simply blow away other company. Their offers are almost impossible to turn down.

    Honestly, for a lot of developers, it's not the "evil empire" the outside world perceives it to be. Most folks are excited about delivering new benefits to the customers and don't concern themselves the supposed conspiracies bloggers like to discuss. If you get on a product team you really care about, your passion will help shape the solution from day one because everyone truly wants to deliver the best solutions.

    Microsoft lets you focus on your job with minimum overhead. You can actually spend the majority of your day writing code and not be bothered with administrative paperwork, irrelevant meetings, or any other kind of interference. Most developers meet with their managers to discuss their yearly goals, but that really is the majority of the non-programming responsibilities.

    A lot of product groups provide weekly or bi-weekly lectures on a technology they've been working on. These usually include an introduction, code samples and lessons learned. Not only is it very interesting to see what's going on in the company, you also get the chance to continue learning from other developers.

    Mobility in the company is great. If you want to change product teams, it's just a matter of an interview with the team of interest and you're set. There are no hard feelings or pressure from managers that may hinder you from pursuing your interests.

    Cons

    The biggest problem is that it's really easy to forget about your social life. Some days you get so into coding you lose track of the time and the whole day passes you by. Occasionally there's pressure to get something accomplished quickly (especially near the end of the release cycle) and you may find yourself working longer hours than you want.

    Social interaction throughout the day is minimal. Most developers sit in their offices and code and don't get a lot of daily interaction with others on the team. Some days this leaves you feeling very isolated.

    Traffic in the area is terrible. If you don't live in the right spot and plan your commute correctly, you can lose 1-2 hours a day just in travel.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Microsoft's solutions are too complex and inconsistent for the end user. Why does Windows itself have many different user interfaces (i.e. Control Panel, MMC, Explorer, IE, Live Messenger, etc.) and why do all of your applications also sport a unique interface (Office, Money, Visual Studio, etc.)? The company should not waste so many resources in redundant development. Instead, the Windows team should implement a user interface suitable for all of your products and available to third party developers.

    Apple has made a lot of smart moves that Microsoft should seriously study and apply. For example, the transition from Mac OS "Classic" to Mac OS X. Win32 is an embarrassing, clunky and inconsistent API. It's been crippled from poor design decisions and backwards compatibility. Clean up the API (including moving to LP64) and implement backwards compatibility in terms of virtual environments. Please also study the Cocoa frameworks and architecture and apply it to your future APIs. It provides so much more functionality and is implemented very elegantly. Apple's frameworks are designed to minimize boilerplate and redundant code. Win32 requires a lot of lifting to get going. The operating system needs to be overhauled and streamlined and your product teams should focus on making great applications, not re-developing components that should be part of the operating system.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
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