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Great place to learn and make on impact on large enterprise products

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

I worked at Microsoft full-time (more than 5 years)

Pros

Great products, awesome team. Real smart people.
Products have gigantic user base, very rewarding to see your work being used by so many people

Cons

Need to be more agile. Use existing tools instead of trying to build everything, more efficient that way. Concentrate on software development processes/documentation also.

Recommends
Positive Outlook
Approves of CEO
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  1. Good people, but management is hit or miss.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Microsoft full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Working from home definitely makes it easier to balance work-life, especially if you have a long commute or a family that demands much of your attention.

    Cons

    Sometimes upper management gets annoyed by the empty offices during the day, even though the work is clearly getting done. The review process can be cumbersome, and even though you may have exceeded all of your goals for the review period, you just can't expect management to rate your performance fairly. It all depends on your manager, and whether or not he/she'll stick his/her neck out for you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take care of your employees, Recognize the sharp, hard-working individuals, before they go find another gig.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. Better than people think, worse than it could be

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

    I worked at Microsoft full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    One thing I should mention is that I worked at MS before they did their recent overhaul of the performance review system. If that old system was still in place, I would have spent a lot of time describing why it's bad.

    So I guess one positive thing is that they were able to listen to the feedback and make a change.

    Overall, I think it's a great company to work for. Different divisions and teams operate differently and can have different cultures. Where I worked, I think things were pretty typical of most software companies. You work with relatively smart people who enjoy their work and for the most part everyone wants to get good work done. Now, the old review system actually through some wrenches into this attitude, but I still had a positive time at work.

    The pay is good (it can vary greatly though), and the benefits are also very good. There aren't really any life altering perks that make you love the place though. There is free juice and soda, which probably seemed cool in the 90's, but it greatly pales in comparison to what's offered at places like Twitter and FB. Yeah, it's certainly not something that should be at the top of your benefits list, but still, the workplace feels very basic. I suppose the discount on MS products is a nice perk, but to be honest, it also felt like a burden as you have friends and relatives asking you to buy stuff. It's still a good benefit, but in the cons section, I'll explain something I didn't like about it.

    Most MS buildings are a mess of private offices and meeting rooms. So if you like private offices, then it's a pro (though not everyone gets an office). I had a private office, and there were definitely some benefits to it as compared to an open desk.

    Cons

    This is probably highly dependent on your team and division, but I felt I had little real world impact, partially because the higher-level strategy kept changing too often.

    As I mentioned before, you could work in a private office. It is nice to have your own whiteboard and you can close the door for discussions, etc, but overall, I felt that it was a huge waste of space. The space in my office was used primarily for display little knick-knacks. I would have much rather had the money spent on real estate to go to salary and perks we could have had, such as free food or extensive free snacks and drinks. Also, the offices make MS building seem sterile and outdated. A place of "business" rather than colloboration and innovation, and then, of course, there's also the political bs involved in moving, who gets their choice of which offices, do they have windows, are they close to the bathroom or etc.

    MS doesn't have good infrastructure in place for sharing code, ideas, or anything really. Because of MS's disparate businesses, MS can't have a singular vision. That is okay, I guess, but the real problem is how sharing is so antithetical to the culture. They don't allow open discussion within the company. Products are developed in secret. Code bases are rarely shared outside of a division. Engineers have to request access and provide justification to look at code outside of their org.

    Yeah, I understand that MS has 100,000 employees and so leaking confidential information anonymously is a real concern. I understand that as a big company, they are targeted for lawsuits and are worried that emails by every employee will be subpeonaed, etc. That said, I think this is a loss for them in the long run. I think what they would gain from being more open and collaboritive internally outweighs the risk of leaks. MS is way too risk averse, even when they think they are being bold.

    Too often, on internal discussion lists, I see that when someone posts something critical of some product that they did not personally work on, some one responds with something like, "That's easy for you to say. You didn't put the hard work into it. I'm sure they have important reasons for doing this" etc etc. In other words, criticisms are too often seen as attacks to defend against, rather than failures and feedback to be taken humbly and addressed.

    Regarding the Company Store benefit, it is of course, great to be able to buy stuff at a really nice discount. I also enjoyed being able to get MS published games a day early. That said, I do want to point out that Nintendo lets their employees buy games a week early. They also don't put those obnoxious stickers on the box which ruins the packaging. I absolutely hated this. It's like there's some kind of seperation between you and "the Company". Even though you're an employee, you're not to be trusted.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Open up internally. Allow employees to share more. Allow all FTE's to access basically anything (respecting of course the law and contracts with customers, etc). Encourage open discussion and feedback. Unlock the potential of spontaneous collaboration. You can gaurd against abuse by ruthlessly firing any one who does abuse their access.

    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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