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Microsoft or Google? 490

Posted by Cliff
from the better-working-environment dept.
Undecided asks: "I will be graduating next April, and I have been fortunate enough to receive job offers from both Microsoft and Google. This has left me with a bit of a conundrum, however — I'm having real difficulty deciding which offer to accept. Putting aside compensation and other personal circumstances that will factor into my decision, what is the Slashdot community's take on this? Am I crazy not to go with Google? I am especially interested in the insight of others working in the computer science industry, in particular those who may have experienced what it's like to work at both companies."
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Microsoft or Google?

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  • sony? (Score:5, Funny)

    by zebs (105927) on Friday October 13, 2006 @07:48AM (#16421343) Homepage
    Guess Cliff thinks Sony is the answer?
    • Re:sony? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moof! (95944) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:42PM (#16425155) Homepage
      The most important factor to look at is job satisfaction. Do you want to work for a company that is constantly defending its position against smaller more creative companies or a company that is creating the future internet? Microsoft buys competitors then kills the product. Google buys competitors, funds them and makes them better than they could have been on their own.

      The difference is easy to see.
  • by vistic (556838) * on Friday October 13, 2006 @07:49AM (#16421347)
    A professor of mine (who went away and came back to visit) said that if you work at Microsoft you'll have a life outside of work. If you work at Google, then work will be your life. At Google you'll end up being at work all the time, but you'll enjoy it, and you get really good free food. But at Microsoft you can at least go hiking or something on the weekends. They're both pretty demanding though, I take it.

    That's what I've heard as far as corporate culture goes. As far as business practices go and innovation, that's common knowledge.

    And what... no Apple?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NekoXP (67564)
      Microsoft also has free caffeinated soda machines and the food on campus is pretty cheap :)

      I would rather live in Redmond or Seattle than the Bay area.

      I think that should be the decision to make; given two identical job opportunities with practically identical pay and benefits, where do you want to live in the world?
      • by rk (6314) * on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:36AM (#16423981) Journal

        And if you take a job with Google, you can still live in Seattle [nwsource.com]

        . Google has a big operation in Kirkland.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lux (49200)
        Where in the world you want to work is flexible at either company. I turned down my MS job offer primarily because I didn't want to move to Seattle, and would have much preferred moving back to the Bay Area where I could reconnect with the friends and family I left behind when I went to college.

        My MS recruiter called me back a few weeks after I turned them down with an offer to interview with Hotmail at the MS campus in Mountain View, which is just a few blocks from Google's main campus. (It's the campus
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Miles (108215)
        Microsoft also has free caffeinated soda machines and the food on campus is pretty cheap :)

        On the other hand, living/working across from Google's office in Kirkland, WA, I can see a whole freakin' espresso bar through their office windows.

        The choice comes down to whether you want to play defense or offense, I guess. They're both decent, quality-oriented companies, but Microsoft seems to spend a lot of time and effort making their products do less with each release. These days, Microsoft's 'customers' --
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Dysantic (901927)
      But at Microsoft you can at least go hiking or something on the weekends.
      Well, THAT explains it! No wonder Microsoft's code is so buggy; their staff are always going out hiking or "something" on the weekends!
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:39AM (#16421727) Homepage
      Sounds like he'd be better off not working for some giant corporation. I work for a small company, and although I don't get paid as much as some of my peers, it's nice knowing that I don't have to stay at work until 7 pm every night, or work weekends. I also get to do work on a lot of different and interesting projects, instead of being pigeon holed into some tiny insignificant role in the company. I find that people who work for larger corporations end up doing the same thing day after day, refining a very small piece of code, while I'm always doing new things, getting to work on everything from the database right up to the UI of the application.
      • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:00AM (#16421851) Journal
        >I work for a small company, and although I don't get paid as much as some of my peers, it's nice knowing that I don't have to stay at work until 7 pm every night, or work weekends.

        Consider yourself lucky.

        I've worked for large and small companies and by far, the OT/weekend work are more common in small companies.
      • by jchenx (267053) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:52AM (#16424231) Journal
        Sounds like he'd be better off not working for some giant corporation. I work for a small company, and although I don't get paid as much as some of my peers, it's nice knowing that I don't have to stay at work until 7 pm every night, or work weekends. I also get to do work on a lot of different and interesting projects, instead of being pigeon holed into some tiny insignificant role in the company. I find that people who work for larger corporations end up doing the same thing day after day, refining a very small piece of code, while I'm always doing new things, getting to work on everything from the database right up to the UI of the application.

        As I've noted in my other posts, I work for MS and I'd have to disagree somewhat. It all depends on the groups you end up in. I definately know of people here that work on tiny, insignificant roles in the company. Most often, they seem to be in the "big divisions" (Windows and Office). But I know of many people (including those in my group), that work on a wide variety of "different and interesting" projects, that have a key impact on customers. Maybe not on MS overall, but if I had to choose between making MS happy, and making millions of customers happy, it's certainly the latter that I'm choosing.

        The way MS works is that there are a ton of these little product units that almost act like a company within themselves. So you get a lot of the benefits of working in a small company (high visibility among your peers) along with the benefits of a large company (stability, etc). Granted, there are a lot of disadvantages as well (red-tape, paperwork, etc.).

        It's probably moot for the author, since I would imagine it's the same setup at Google as well. It appears they have many little teams as well, all working on their own bit of Google-goodness. So my advice: check out which groups gave you an offer, and decide what you would rather work on. Personally, I only chose to work at MS because I got to work in the games industry. I definately would not have come here just to work on Office or Windows, despite them being the huge drivers of the company.
    • by pz (113803) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:07AM (#16421919) Journal
      if you work at Microsoft you'll have a life outside of work. If you work at Google, then work will be your life.

      I visited the Google campus two weekends ago. On a Saturday. I counted only three working employees (in the Pirate group) other than the contractors who were setting up something in the main auditorium: the whole place was cavernously empty. The corporate culture is that life outside of Google is first, working at Google second. When it's time for work, everyone's there. When it's time to go home, people enjoy the rest of their life. And this makes for some very loyal employees.

      I don't know about the Microsoft corporate culture, but the one at Google is definitely not what your professor described in the least.
    • False (Score:5, Informative)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:18AM (#16422075) Journal
      I still have friends at MS and they are putting in 60+ hours because their managers insist on it. One guy hates it, but the pay is good (he makes 160K there) and the other guys stays because of what he does (not wild about the hour, but likes the job).

      At Google, from what I have heard, the members put in the hours because it is fun, not because it is demanded of them. Biiiig difference.
      • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:27AM (#16422193) Journal
        If you work in a tech position for a regular company, generally, you will put in 35-50 Hr/wk. They simply want a warm body in a chair and most companies view tech as a needed evil.

        OTH, if you work for a tech company, then the hours are demanded by releases. In general, higher tech companies have more and faster releases (i.e. more work, longer hours). They need things done and tech is EVERYTHING.
      • Re:False (Score:5, Funny)

        by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:55AM (#16423407) Homepage
        Umm.. I like where I work but I do NOT put in anymore work than what I am paid for. Putting in 4,5+ extra hours a week because it is "fun" does not put any more food on the table and keeps you away from family longer.

        Manager: You really like working here?
        Peon: Yep, this is a fun job!
        Manager: Great to hear! By the way.. there would even be more fun if you stayed 2-3 hours more each day.
        Peon: Great! Do I get paid for that?
        Manager: Err.. no. But it will be fun though, I promise!
        Peon: Ok!
        • Umm.. I like where I work but I do NOT put in anymore work than what I am paid for. Putting in 4,5+ extra hours a week because it is "fun" does not put any more food on the table and keeps you away from family longer.

          This assumes you have a family.

          I'm not being facetious. Most people right out of college don't have one, and to be honest, going home to an empty house/apartment can be a lot less attractive than putting in a few more hours at the office, if it's fun and interesting work.

          When I got out of college and was looking for a first job, I looked for something that was going to be fun, interesting, and expose me to a good community atmosphere (and give me a fat paycheck, that was a major concern at that point, too) -- if that meant I had to work 50 or 60 hours a week, fine. I didn't have any other responsibilities at the time; "work hard, play hard" sounded like a good time. (And it was, actually.)

          There aren't a whole lot of times in most people's lives when you can just throw yourself into work, the time right after college and before you get a family is one of them. If you can find work that you find really intellectually simulating and personally fulfulling, by all means, go for it. And if you end up eating copious amounts of chinese food and sleeping under your desk, at least you'll have interesting stories to talk about later.

          You have a lifetime of boring 40-hour-a-week-and-come-home-for-dinner to look forward to; at least do something cool while you have the opportunity and lack of responsibilities.
      • by jchenx (267053) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:40AM (#16424041) Journal
        I work in MS, and I can tell you that we don't work 60+ weeks where I am. It's the same way with other groups. But there are teams that are under crunch time, and I'm sure they might be putting in late hours (Vista anyone?). I'm guessing it's the same way with Google. Some groups are going to be under more pressure than others, or maybe it's the end of a milestone, etc.

        If anything MS is trying to push for a more "friendly, softer side" of things regarding work-life balance, etc. We've had some major HR overhauls and revisions in the past few months, and I can say that it is making a difference. Also, the benefits package in general for MS is amazing. I don't know what Google offers, but the author should definately take that into account.
      • Re:False (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CByrd17 (987455) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:10PM (#16425745)
        Something to consider if someone is putting in say ~63 hours a week and making $160K, is that their hourly rate (about $50.79/hour) is the same as someone who makes $101K for 40 hours a week. Yes, person 1 makes more money, but he or she also has about 1000 less hours to her or him -self in a year.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've worked at Google for the past 10 months, and this is blatantly incorrect -- particularly in comparison to some of my friends who were hired on at MS.

      Chances are pretty good that there are workaholics anywhere you go. Google strongly, *strongly* encourages life outside of work. This is what the craploads of vacation time and 20% time and so forth are for.
    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:11PM (#16424547)
      If you work at Google, then work will be your life. At Google you'll end up being at work all the time, but you'll enjoy it, and you get really good free food.

      As a Googler I can reveal to you that you are correct about the food, wrong about the work hours. Our work hours are perfectly normal, I have a life outside work, and my weekends are all mine.

      I suppose I could also add that Google is the most enlightened employer I have ever had, by far. Oh, and I have a dream job. Thanks Google.
    • by Wee (17189) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:26PM (#16424825)
      If you work at Google, then work will be your life. At Google you'll end up being at work all the time, but you'll enjoy it, and you get really good free food.

      You can most definitely have a life outside work at Google. Yes, work can be demanding -- but that's what makes it fun (especially if you like to be challenged). But "work will be your life"? Not by a long shot. That's a complete myth.

      Yeah, you definitely see people in the office late at night and on weekends. I've put in my fair share of long weeks, worked a couple weekends straight, etc. But that was because the work needed to be done, not because someone was behind me cracking the whip, or it would look bad if I wasn't there or whatever.

      If you need to put in some extra time, then you can. If you want to work a normal week, then you can. It's all results-based, not time based. A lot of the younger folks, or those new to the area, tend to work longer hours. But us oldish guys with families and stuff? We work as much as we need to.

      It was worse at my last job, a place that is known for being very laid-back. When I left after four years, I found I had only taken like 9 days vacation. I used to keep a cot and sleeping bag in my office. Not anymore. Last month, I took 17 days off to travel to various countries in Europe. I'm working all next week at a remote engineering office, just because I can (and I want to see my sister). They really encourage you to take your vacation time. I've traveled more in the past two years then the ten previous.

      I have no idea what the work is like at MS, but at Google, engineers are expected to be able to budget their own time, and set their own goals. Yeah, your manager will go over your goals with you, and if you've bitten off too much you guys will probably talk about it, but they'll let you reach if you want to. They also let you set realistic expectations for yourself, sort of a "I know I can get all X done, but I'm also going to try and get Y and maybe Z finished, too" kind of thing. But the hours you put in come from those goals you've set. Things can come up that mean you have to put in extra time or whatever, but there's absolutely no slave driving there. You basically set your own hours since you're the one that has to get the work done.

      As far as the perks and food and such, well, I've been there a while now, and I'm continuously amazed at how well they treat their engineers (and other employees). They just opened a juice and smoothy bar for crying out loud. Last Wednesday, we had a Hawaiian Luau for lunch, complete with a roasted pig in the ground and everything.

      Actually, the thing that appeals to me most is that the structure there is flat enough that if you have a cool idea, it can bubble up to the senior mgmt level very quickly. You can also check out everyone else's work, and if you see something you like, you can contribute. I was searching for a library the other day and got off on a rabbit trail that had me a couple hours later checking in a few hundred line changelist to this guy's part-time project. I may end up helping on a more formal basis. Did I get in trouble for goofing off? Far from it. Pitching in like that is rewarded (and rewarding). I'll work a few extra hours for that kind of satisfaction.

      -B

    • by Elladan (17598) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:33PM (#16424983)
      Absolutely the opposite of the truth. Your professor is utterly full of shit.

      Microsoft is notorious for trying to run employees into the ground with continuous 60-hour work weeks, never ending political battles, constant re-orgs, and in general an insane culture so absurd that books have been written about it.

      And let's not forget their sexist hiring practices, the thousands upon thousands of "temporary" employees who do all the QA in the nine months before they get hit with the yearly layoff, and the fact that dodging flying chairs becomes a survival instinct.

      There's a reason Microsoft is called "the evil empire" - and it's not just because of their products. People who work at Microsoft find it very hard to ever escape, or work at other companies. The psychotic work environment there rots their brain and gives them skills (dodge chair! dodge!) that don't apply at other companies, while ruining any general computer skills they may once have had.

      Yes, a person would have to be crazy not to take the job at Google.
      • Microsoft is notorious for trying to run employees into the ground with continuous 60-hour work weeks, never ending political battles, constant re-orgs, and in general an insane culture so absurd that books have been written about it.

        Wow, that's a lot of FUD there (go figure). I work at MS and I don't think I've ever had to "dodge flying chairs". :)

        I haven't read the earlier books regarding MS culture, but I can tell you that if they were true, then times have certainly changed. Or maybe it's just an indica

  • by jackb_guppy (204733) on Friday October 13, 2006 @07:51AM (#16421355)
    Seatle or SF Areas? That should be a better question. It is the quaility of life, not the job.
    • by beaverfever (584714) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:07AM (#16421445) Homepage
      "Seatle or SF Areas? That should be a better question. It is the quaility of life, not the job."

      Yes, quality of life is very important. As a recent grad, this might not be taking up a lot of your concern, but in a few years it will matter a lot more. As Marilyn Monroe once said, "A career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold night."

      As for whether you'd be living in the SF or Seattle areas, it's not just a matter of which pastimes and entertainment are available, but how your salary compares to the local cost of living. Besides that, no matter where you live, if you don't have time for yourself, then the greatest location in the world doesn't mean much. It's up to you how important free time is or isn't.
  • Seattle Rain (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jazman_777 (44742) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:08AM (#16421449) Homepage
    It rains a lot in Seattle. Not steady rain, but dripping and drizzle. In the winter it gets light late and dark early and is cloudy and gloomy. A great place to be a mushroom.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mrmittens (866293)
      Sounds like quite an easy place to transition yourself to from good old blighty (England would be the US translation!) :o)
    • Re:Seattle Rain (Score:5, Informative)

      by thefoobar (131715) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:09AM (#16421943) Homepage
      I have to ask, are you even from Seattle? I've lived here all my life and can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been in. No matter where I travel (and believe me - quite a few places...) I am always thankful to return home to the fresh air, mountain ranges on both sides, comfortable weather, abundant trees, etc.

      We have actual seasons, as opposed to many cities that seem to only have two, with a range of decently hot weather, to not-too-cool winters. In regards to rain, we had a nice long stretch of 60 or so days (someone correct me if I'm wrong) just a little while back where there wasn't any rain at all. One thing I can say about the rain though, is that it makes the air amazingly fresh.

      Not exactly a technical topic, but Seattle's constant rain is an overstated load of hooey.
      • by Joe Snipe (224958) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:15AM (#16422861) Homepage Journal
        Idoit! Don't tell them that! What are you going for, the first slashdotted city?

        Everything he said is a lie. It's a miserable place with lots of rain and overcast days. Seasonal depression sets in hard and fast. It takes all my willpower not to spend my time painting my nails black while listening to The Cure.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by thefoobar (131715)
          Damn! I fell for it! Now the whole city is doomed!

          Yeah... bad city. Lots of rain. Move away. Earthquakes. Weak beer.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Morphine007 (207082)

            Weak beer.

            I'ma get modded troll for this one for sure, but that sounds like any other place in the US...

            Come to Canada where we have real beer, and some absolutely insane shit(*) [unibroue.com]

            (*) - yes, it really is 9% alcohol beer. It's called La fin du monde which is french for The end of the world

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by What'sInAName (115383)
        I always thought that Seattle's notorious rain was just a smokescreen (rainscreen?) to keep people from moving there! I have to say that both times I've visited (ok, both times it was summer, but still...) the weather was gorgeous.

        One question: Are the drivers there more courteous than in other big cities? That was the impression I got last time, even on the highways, people seemed more patient. Perhaps that was just my impression because I was on vacation and feeling relaxed.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dr. Smeegee (41653)
          Just last week I just took a sunny trip from Seattle down 101 to Portland (college buddy's wedding + vacation). My spouse and I were both shaking our heads at the abundance of speed-limit-driving, turn-signal using, let-you-ining, smiling, waving humans from all socioeconomic groups populating the highways. For folks used to the NASCARphilic, carpet-chewing arsetulip driving in southern indiana it was like floating on a cloud of soft, soft boobies.

          We rented a Yurt in a state park on the beach. We were agog
      • Isn't the 20% growth rate we already have enough for you? You want MORE Californians coming up here and clogging up our freeways?

        *ahem* Yes you are right the weather is terrible and all the people here are really rude and there are not any hot chicks! PLEASE STAY IN CALIFORNIA AND TEXAS!
      • My wife is from Portland Oregon and she gets mad when I say there are 2 seasons: Winter and Almost Winter and that "winter" is just a drizzle for 6 months. She's the only person I know who gets happy when it rains.

        Anyway, as much dislike the rain, the Northwest is a great area...

        And for the Story parent - accept the offer from Google but request to work in the facility you want.
  • by kalidasa (577403) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:12AM (#16421481) Journal
    Google is still in its early days, and it has a reputation for innovation and intelligence (the same reputation that Microsoft had in the early 80s). If you like Google and stay for a long time, you might have a lot of room to move up the ladder. Microsoft is where IBM was in the 80s, but with cheaper tailors: they dominate the industry, but not the mind share, and it's a mature organization with less room for advancement.
    • reputation for innovation and intelligence (the same reputation that Microsoft had in the early 80s).

      I'm not sure that buying someone else's product and slapping your name on it is the sort of innovation the original poster had in mind...

      If it were me, there would be some shame in admitting that I worked for Microsoft... but maybe that's just me. You could always tell people you are working to bring the system down from the inside.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        Yes, MS has and does operate that way. But back in the 80's, the company had the reputation as being innovative. Keep in mind that even today, many ppl on /. regard MS as innovative (they will be in another 5 years as their RD lab takes hold). I guess there a number of groups out there that will believe anything that they are fed and ignore the facts.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Kuciwalker (891651)
        I'm not sure that buying someone else's product and slapping your name on it is the sort of innovation the original poster had in mind...

        Picasa? *cough*Writely*cough* Google Docs? YouTube?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by michrech (468134)

          I'm not sure that buying someone else's product and slapping your name on it is the sort of innovation the original poster had in mind...

          Picasa? *cough*Writely*cough* Google Docs? YouTube?


          Google.com? Gmail? Google maps? Google Earth? Google News? Google Pages? Google Talk?
  • Just read my sig, I think it speaks for itself.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:16AM (#16421503) Homepage
    There's a small company called SCO that you may be interested in. They used to make a Linux workalike called SCO OpenServer. It's almost the same as working at Microsoft, except without the gyms and free coffee.
  • by acvh (120205) <geek.mscigars@com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:17AM (#16421513) Homepage
    ...on what they each want you to do, and what you want to do. If you want to be the guy/girl who codes the next Excel interface (or more likely the one who chooses the next font for the Excel Help menu) go with Microsoft. If you want to develop applications that start with "g", go with Google.

    Or, seriously, if you want/need a somewhat more traditional (all relative of course), go MSFT. If you want to be hip and work more flexibly, go GOOG. Google is obviously hot right now, but where exactly are they going? Will they survive and prosper through the Web 2.0 collapse? Microsoft, regardless of our personal opinions, has product, and cash. Lots of cash.

    If I could offer a third alternative: skip them both for now and take a year off to walk across Tibet, or kayak down the Nile. You'll be working for the rest of your life. Do something fun with your youth.
    • You must be kidding. "Choosing the next font for the Excel Help menu" is going to require at least 10 rounds of meetings with the development, marketing, tech writing and art departments.

      Hence, go with Google.
    • When was the last time that a nobody started a project for MS? It was back in the 80's. All the other items have come from Marketing and strategy groups. The days of a nobody geek developing a product for MS that they take to the market are LONG over (not that MS really had been innovative).
  • So crazy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Feefers (985994) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:27AM (#16421627) Homepage
    Tell both companies the other has noted in an interest in you working there and ask the question that most job interviewees hate; but not "Why should you work for us?" but "Why should I work for you?" It's the question they will be least expecting and the answer may be somewhat telling.
  • Google, no question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blackjackshellac (849713) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:30AM (#16421657)
    I've been working in the industry for 25 years and IMNSHO I would recommend that you take the job from google. Microsoft's business model is a dying entity, and with Vista in an eternal state of delay, history has shown that these sorts of companies have a very hard time of changing directions and coming around. This is not to say that Microsoft will not turn around, there's just a lot of momentum in the other direction, and it will take time for them to put the brakes on and come around. Enough with the metaphors.

    Web 2.0 is almost certainly the future, and chances are very good that neither Google nor Microsoft will provide the first real web 2 killer app, but with google you'd be on the right side of the technological dividing line.

    Go with google for a few years. And for some real fun, if you like working long hours, join a startup, cause thta's the only way to make big money, although your changes are only slightly better than winning the lottery.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      Of course, Microsoft is adding new business faster than Google, but they are already so huge, it is difficult to notice. Take a look at absolute revenue growth. And that's with Vista 'in an eternal state of delay'.
    • by eric76 (679787)
      I suspect that the only way Microsoft will be able to survive and prosper in the long run is if they break it up into a number of smaller companies, many of which may not last long.

      The very size of the company not only gives it an "inertia" that makes it difficult to change, the very size and wealth of the company probably gives it a false sense of security and a feeling that it doesn't have to change.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      What about Microsoft Games? Microsoft Hardware? Microsoft Software for Macintosh?

      Even assuming that Office and Windows are going to crap, there's still a LOT in Microsoft to excite a new programmer. Microsoft Games is basically ruling the industry at the moment, Microsoft's Macintosh software is great, and their hardware is always top-notch. Microsoft is bigger than just Windows and Office.
  • My take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:33AM (#16421679)
    I'd say Microsoft would be better for your CV, Google for your career. A subtle but important difference. In the early days you need a big safe 'corporate' name to gain credability, that would be MS. After that you need a firm like Google to actually allow you to grow and advance.
    That said, If I was young, I'd go for Google but then I have zero career sense when it comes to myself.
    I'm amazed that someone said MS got you the weekend off, I always got the impression they were hard workers and everyone there was burned out.
  • Come on.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:39AM (#16421725) Journal
    If you have job offers from both Microsoft and Google, you're obviously orders of magnitude superior as a programmer to 99.99% of the dullards here. What the hell do you care what they think? Ask your professors if they can hook you up with some alumni who work at one company or the other and see what they say.
  • by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrangeNO@SPAMalumni.uchicago.edu> on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:43AM (#16421759) Journal
    You've already made up your mind by asking Slashdot in the first place. Obviously, you have some kind of wish to work with Google and not Microsoft. Similar questions include "should I get a job lobbying for the EFF or the RIAA?" and "should I invest in SCO or Red Hat?"
  • Third option (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kjart (941720) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:44AM (#16421763)

    Pick neither. If you can, try to find an interesting small company to work for. Having worked for both large and small companies I much prefer the atmosphere that you can only get in a more intimate work environment. It's only a matter of time before bureaucracy and HR catch up with Google, and I'm sure Microsoft is already there.

  • by div_2n (525075)
    By all accounts, Microsoft has become internally mired in middle management and ineffeciencies while also stagnating quite a bit in innovation if they ever had it to begin with. But that is another discussion altogether. Google is nimble, making waves and doing very exciting things.

    So who do you want--the company that views the world as its domain or the company that views the world as a world of information and possibility?
  • by mzs (595629) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:09AM (#16421939)
    But be very careful figuring how much it will cost you to live in the Redmond vs. Bay areas. Also consider how soon you could get married and have kids. It gets WAY more expensive to house a family in the Bay area.
  • by Vokkyt (739289) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:11AM (#16421965)
    What exactly does each company want you to do for them if you were to work for them? Are either going to drone you? Are either going to put you into a position where you are going to be able to have some freedom and personal satisfaction in your work? Job satisfaction, as well as life satisfaction, will be important. Which job looks as if it's going to allow you to really experience what you need in life? Which is going to allow you to grow as a person outside of work? (If that is a desired result, that is) Also, and I know this is trivial, which is going to offer you better benefits right away?
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:38AM (#16422349)
    You didnt say what your work area will be:

    If you are a janitor, then pick the one with the least floor area.
    If you are a security guard, Google is probably safer from disgruntled customers or workers going postal.
    If you are a window cleaner, go with Google. I hear the chicks are hotter.
    If you are a chef, go with Google, cos their food sounds pretty good.
    If you are a maintenance tech, go with MSFT - rigid corporates are less likley to ride their scooters into the wall.
    If you are a russian spy, work for MSFT. They are evil.
    If you are an X-ray technician, WTF are you doing in IT....


    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by supersat (639745)
      If you are a maintenance tech, go with MSFT - rigid corporates are less likley to ride their scooters into the wall.

      Ah, but they're much more likely to throw chairs around. ;)
  • by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:59AM (#16422623) Homepage
    Microsoft's actually not one big monolithic Borg culture as Slashdot likes to jest. I have made many friends with Microsoft people over the years, and have one friend who works for Google. So, take what I'm about to say somewhat at face value; it's all second-hand information anyway.

    Google might be a good place to work if you just really feel that their products and services are going to be part of the next big wave of technology. They are doing a lot of cool stuff with network computing which I think people failed to predict a few years ago, and they have a culture of "doing the cool stuff". However, they're a small company. Despite their significant resources, they are still as susceptible to the mood of the market as any other relatively small company. Sure, they can liquidate resources if they get in a pinch due to the whims of the marketplace, but to do so would invariably affect their deliverable services and drive more people away. That's a hard place to be and could lead to a devolution of Google within a very short timeframe. They've been lucky so far, and I have to admit I do like their products a lot. However, I don't pay for them. At least not directly.

    Microsoft is a big company with deep pockets and wide reserves that can weather a storm in the economy much better than Google. Sure, again they can liquidate resources in a crunch but it would take an economic disaster far worse than the Dot Com crash to kill a company like Microsoft. We as the Open Source / Apple / Tech crowd might want to believe Microsoft will be beaten by , but that's not really going to happen any time soon.

    Google has a monoculture. Sure, they're a small company doing some cool stuff but they're still quite focused on a particular market. When you work for Google, you work for the company. Microsoft surprisingly has many different cultures depending on where in Microsoft you work. Microsoft is not one company, not really. It's a gestalt entity that shares the umbrella name of "Microsoft", but each division is run differently by different people with different management styles and personalities. This makes sense because each division does something very different. Even different areas of the country provide different cultures; I find the Microsoft guys I work with and know in St. Louis are VERY different from the Microsoft friends of mine in New York, at least in terms of business. They work differently, they think differently.

    Bear in mind also that a job at Microsoft doesn't tie you to Redmond. You can pretty much work anywhere in the world. Last I checked, Google is in SF and that's about it. Bear that in mind; at Microsoft you can transfer your job to any of the other communities where they perform that function. Especially Microsoft Consulting Services... you can pretty much pick your location after you've been at MS for 6 months to a year and really proven yourself.

    On the down side, I do know that Google tends to be an easy-going work environment, though with a veiled sense of pressure. Employees are subtly pressured to work far beyond 40 hours a week and thus it's not a good career in my opinion for someone with a family or someone intending to start a family. However, it *is* a fun place to work with lots of dynamic individuals who work hard but also play hard. Microsoft... well it depends where you work. There are fewer chances for advancement within Microsoft because people do tend to stay there. That also to my mind speaks to how good Microsoft actually are to work for; people tend to start there and stay there. However, the chances to "make it big with MS Stock" are over and have been for years. There may still be room for Google millionaires for real rock-star employees... MS... less so. However, the lack of advancement in my opinion is more than made up for by the flexibility of work location I mentioned previously.

    I have to say that those friends of mine who work for Microsoft really enjoy their work. Many of them are as much of a geek as I am... running Linux and Vista on thei
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by whatnotever (116284)

      Last I checked, Google is in SF and that's about it.

      Well, last I checked [google.com]...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Last I checked, Google is in SF and that's about it.

      No, not at all. There are offices all over the world and new ones are being created all the time. For instance I'm moving to Zurich in a few months, which from what I've seen is a wonderful city. Sure, MV is a big office but there are also large offices in other parts of America, Dublin, etc.

      Employees are subtly pressured to work far beyond 40 hours a week and thus it's not a good career in my opinion for someone with a family or someone intending to s

  • I've no direct experience with either company. But this much seems obvious: as the Vista and VOffice roll-outs begin, much of Microsoft's resources are going to be turned from these major development projects to other things. There will be a lot of reassignment of duties, especially at the team leader level-- the people who will have the most influence on your daily work environment as a new hire. In other institutions I have personally seen how this leads to an increase in the amount of hidden, personal ag

  • I'm surprised at how rational most of these posts that I've read in this thread are! I was expecting to see a long string of posts bad mouthing the MS corporate culture at every turn and praising Google at every chance. I've seen posts that actually rationally compare the working environment, the actual corporate culture, and what factors this guy should use to make his decision. Most of the best posts that I've read state that Google is a workaholic company at the moment, but with lots lof long term potent
  • The fact that you're wondering which to work at means you should work at Microsoft. I'm not going to clarify why. You'll figure it out. Or you won't. But you're way past old enough to know why already, and you don't.

    You'll be happier at Microsoft.

  • If you are one of those people who "lives to work", has no ambitions of settling down or starting a family, isn't risk-averse, and likes Arnold Schwarzenegger and the laid-back stoner-headed culture of California, then pick Google.

    If you are one of those people who "works to live", has a family or plans to start one, prefers the stability of a company that focuses on revenue and profit over being an R&D lab, and likes being surrounded by polite but anal-retentive liberal environmentalist organic vegans,
  • How much do you value your free time and do you have a girlfriend? Do you want to keep her? Is salary important or is job satisfaction?

    I very much doubt you will find a cut and dry answer to your question here.

    Try to find out about both companies and the culture as much as possible. Don't be afraid to ask - it shows you're interested and enthusiastic.

    There's two polar ways to work, and I've experienced both:

    - The jobs where you're above it and life is easy, and you have lots of free time.

    - At the other e
  • My Perspective (Score:3, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:04PM (#16424433)

    I'm not really a developer. Sure I code occasionally, but that is not the core of my job. I do, however, work at a development house. We're a small company and we are really, really picky about who we hire. There are a handful of people who have come to us from MS. They all seem to like it here much more and have settled in for the long haul and occasionally grumble about how bad things were at MS by comparison. We don't have anyone from Google, but we've had several people leave here to go work for Google. They all seem pretty happy with it there.

    Based solely on my impressions from these people, I'd much rather be at Google than MS. I'm sure, however, that your experience will depend upon what you'd be doing at each place and with whom. Good luck.

  • by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:14PM (#16424601) Homepage Journal
    Dear Slashdot,

    I am thinking of settling down, and I have been fortunate enough to receive offers of marriage from both a Brazilian supermodel and an Italian supermodel. This has left me with a bit of a conundrum, however - I'm having real difficulty deciding which offer to accept. Putting aside the life of incredible wealth and sexual satisfaction I am sure to receive either way, what is the Slashdot community's take on this? Am I crazy not to go with the Brazilian? I am especially interested in the insight of others who have married supermodels, in particular those who may have experienced what it's like to date models of both nationalities.

    Undecided
  • by slim (1652) <john&hartnup,net> on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:14PM (#16424605) Homepage
    I worked for IBM for about 5 years. What I found out was that a corporation is not homogenous. In IBM, you could be an egghead in one of the research labs working on cool cutting edge stuff, or you could be a suited consultant plugging software components together on a customer site, or you could be buried in an obscure backwater maintaining 30 year old mainframe code.

    I bet MS is the same. I even bet Google's approaching that stage: I've already read one Slashdotter refuting the statement that Google engineers can move projects any time no questions asked. Of course, if you're in the right bit of Google, it might appear that way.

    So, look at the job, not the company. And, I agree with everyone who's mentioned location too.
  • I don't know you. I don't know working at Google. (The rumors sound good, but I haven't checked them out.)

    It's not that your crazy not to go with Google. You might not be a good fit.

    It's that you ARE crazy to go with Microsoft.

    I'm sorry, but I can't count of MS as either a good place to work OR a secure job. It's one of the few companies that has been busted by the feds for abusing their computer personnel. Now partially this is because they're the biggest, and partially it's because they used stocks to pay them. But mainly it's that they wanted to avoid paying benefits. They wanted to refuse to honor an agreement that they were still using to pull people in to work at MS. You might think a bit about what that implies about both the corporate culture and how you'll actually be treated if you accept that job. (I.e., not only can you not trust the salesman's promises, you can't even trust what was agreed to and signed for. They'll hold *you* to every implied letter on the agreement, and a few more, but don't expect them to honor the deal without a legal fight that you won't be able to afford.)
  • by dantheman82 (765429) on Friday October 13, 2006 @03:39PM (#16428713) Homepage
    OK, so I'm basically your age (finished a year ago from college). It would be a no-brainer to me to choose Google over Microsoft given the choice. I used to be a Student Ambassador to Microsoft and I became the dispenser of Microsoft gifts and paraphernalia at my college. It was good for my resume and helped me get a job, but the way I was treated (or not treated) by Microsoft totally turned me off to working there or even trying to apply for that matter. They outsourced all interaction between students and MSFT in the Student Ambassador program to a temp agency with considerable churn and lack of structure. And they never encouraged us to apply to Microsoft either or treated us like we were really all that important, but rather exhorted us not to sell our giveaway software on eBay. Instead we had to promote some Imagine Cup contest they ran which got more and more complex/convoluted (maybe run by the people who helped design Vista). And now, they dumped our Tech School entirely because apparently they'd rather hire from gen-ed and/or we're too small for them to care anyway. We also had an alumni from the school who was working at Microsoft give us a presentation for the senior class, and we got a real sense that he works very long hours and it's really not all that interesting, even if technically challenging. Yeah, working on the new Age of Empires or XBOX game is probably interesting within MS, but little else is...

    I have a pretty good friend working at Google, and I queried her about how it was there. She wrote up a little piece on her blog [glaak.com] on the differences between Google and Microsoft and why she chose Google. She loves it there working on Google Talk, and the 80/20 rule is strictly enforced. She has also experienced that it is not a grueling work schedule, but in fact a joy to do your work there and the 20% is a nice thing to look forward to in a given week as well.

    I'm now at a financial company in NYC doing .NET programming which is cool. Furthermore, I'm completely sacrilegious/traitorous from Microsoft's point of view as I've recently bought (and sold recently) AAPL stock, purchased a Macbook laptop, and have registered and plan to attend a Java SIG at Google campus in NYC. I've stopped attending the Microsoft .NET events because I'm sick of the "Rah-Rah" mentality and low level of techie goodness at the .NET user group events in NYC. Oh, and I recommend to people to short MSFT right about now...as I believe they are going the way of the dodo bird in the next 10-15 yrs (or perhaps much sooner).
  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Friday October 13, 2006 @03:40PM (#16428725)
    If you are so uneducated, and have such low outlook on your own life that you need "help" to choose between Microsoft and Google, you should not be allowed near a computer.

    Working for microsoft can not be excused (unless you are an illiterate cleaning person that does not even know s/he is working there).

    Working for Google is suspect but might be compatible with a modicum of personal morality.

    Working for anybody else is probably safer.

    To be precise the job of Microsoft is to make our field totally uninteresting while providing the tools necessary to destroy what is left of democracy.
  • Go with Google. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Almahtar (991773) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:10PM (#16430269) Journal
    I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror knowing that I was contributing to the success of a company that has shown such poor ethical and legal practices as Microsoft. I've always wanted to make a difference, and no matter how convenient or lucrative the other options, I hope I'll always choose to make a good difference, and consider all the other factors as secondary.
  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Friday October 13, 2006 @07:16PM (#16431701)

    With Microsoft, you clearly have a management who believes that producing a truly better product is too hard for them to either implement or effectively comprehend and therefore must resort to underhanded lock-in or other anticompetitive schemes. Either that, or they're simply too enamoured with creating such schemes. And in this regard Microsoft looks to be a really poor loser, though in their favor they're known to come out then winner often.

    On the other hand, there's Google, whos management appears to be quite confident in their ability to innovate. They seem to encourage experimentation and freedom within the corporate culture. On the downside, it's really not very clear what their success rate is-- at this point it's too soon to tell. Working for Google might be riskier, but could be very rewarding.

    Having worked in IT for about 25 years though, I would say that no matter who you choose to work for, there are a couple of things you should be aware of:

    1. A company hires you because they need to fill a position, and am looking for a best-fit for that position. It is often the case that you may have far more abilities than the company you work for can readily utilize. While you might get really lucky and find an incredibly great fit, the situation may be more typical and you will find out that you have all kinds of abilities that they have either no particular use for or they may not be equipped to take effective advantage of them. While your job could be a life-long profession, and you may find a good company willing to hire you to do a job that you're well suited to do, keep in mind that you could spend much of your life underutilized because you have talents they don't know what to do with. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but idealists right of college may be picturing how they can do all this wonderful stuff for a company that they're excited about but end up appreciated for far less than that they feel they could contribute.

    2. It's often the case that you get hired for one thing but by the time you walk in the door they need you for something else that has higher priority. That's not particularly a bad thing but I've had it happen to me at virtually every programming job I've ever had, so all I'm saying is don't be too surprised if that happens. In my case, every thing I ended up doing was just about as interesting so I had no problem with it.

    3. Younger companies tend to be more unstructured-- often you have to invent procedures for doing things for the first time. Older companies often have their "way" of doing things that you may have to conform to. Depending on your own personality, you have to decide what makes you more comfortable-- and, that might change as you become more "seasoned".

"Morality is one thing. Ratings are everything." - A Network 23 executive on "Max Headroom"

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