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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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  • 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 NekoXP (67564) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:03AM (#16421417) Homepage
    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 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.
  • YMBFJ (Score:1, Insightful)

    by metamatic (202216) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:10AM (#16421469) Homepage Journal
    You've been reading Slashdot how long? You must have seen all the articles about how Microsoft's toxic and dysfunctional culture destroys innovation and quality. When's the last time they shipped something truly innovative, or even better than the competition?

    One of the ACs has it right. If you even have to ask the question, you deserve to end up at Microsoft.
  • 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.
  • by acvh (120205) <<geek> <at> <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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 maxume (22995) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:06AM (#16421905)
    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 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 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.
  • by whatnotever (116284) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:58AM (#16423457)

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

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

  • by sphealey (2855) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:09PM (#16424515)
    > but I had to try three times before I managed to
    > get past "Microsoft were a..." and "Google have
    > constantly...", etc.

    That is the standard British English usage. Makes more sense IMHO.

    sPh
  • 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) <<ten.puntrah> <ta> <nhoj>> 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Philip K Dickhead (906971) * <folderol@fancypants.org> on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:49PM (#16425321) Journal
    So. You want to work at General Motors, or the NSA?

    Seriously, that's the kind of decision you have. I would read archives of Robert Scoble's blog for some additional cutural and world-view. http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

    I work for one of those companies (MSFT, GOOG), and I spend many hours working in person, with the other.

    If you want to know where GOOG will be in ten years, spend some time at Yahoo! If you want to know where MSFT will be, visit Redmond.

    Both are a good deal, really. Both are arrogant - Microsoft is arrogant and basically insecure. Pick which environment will make you happy - screw what the geek-street talk is about the company.
  • by huckamania (533052) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:08PM (#16425721) Journal
    I would take a hard look at who is going to be managing you at your new place of employment. I've been lucky to have good managers. If you don't know who your manager is going to be, I'd be more then a little worried. The first week of my first job after graduation, my new manager decides to leave the company. For 6 months I had no manager and no responsibility. I could feel the rust sinking in. Luckily I ended up doing the 3 year development project that I was initially hired to do.
  • 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.
  • by mrcpu (132057) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:19PM (#16425869)

    People change jobs, what, 5 times on average? You're young, pick what you think will be the most fun. Chances are, 10 years from now, you'll be doing something different anyway.
  • by jchenx (267053) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:50PM (#16426419) Journal
    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 indication that the group that I work in has been "fortunate". I haven't worked 60-hour continuous work weeks, nor does anyone else here does, and nor do many of the people that I've talked to. Political battles? Sure, at times, but I wouldn't call it "never ending". (And MS is not the only place where I've worked with those type of battles, I reckon any larger-size company is going to have them)

    Re-orgs, that may have some truth in. But again, it really depends on where you work. I've heard of many groups going through "re-orgs" and then it's gone, with all the folks being given opportunities to look elsewhere within the company. But I've gone through several re-orgs where it really does help the group (and no, people don't lose jobs), and people are satisfied with how it worked out. Again, I would have to imagine other larger companies go through similar phases as well.

    Finally as for the "insane culture", that might be true ... although I don't really know what you're referring to. :) The MS culture definately is different, and I wouldn't say its a bad thing. It's nice having co-workers that are genuinely smart, hard-working, and passionate. I have certainly worked in other companies where that is NOT the case (especially certain government contracting firms). It's also fun having co-workers that love the same types of things: games, geek culture, tech trends, etc. And most of us have great work-life balance too, with many of us having families, or doing lots of outdoors stuff (skiing, snowboarding, biking, even scuba diving).

    I have heard stories about the "old days" from my bosses, who have been in MS far longer than I have. In some ways, it's exciting because that's when MS was still new, the stock was soaring, etc. But there WERE lots of work-life balance problems, and many people really getting disgruntled by "the grind" (which explains why so many people left and retired, as the stock started settling). The MS nowadays is a lot "softer" (which ironically, some of the older folks dislike), which I vastly prefer.
  • by HiThere (15173) * <charleshixsnNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:37PM (#16427443)
    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 John Miles (108215) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:45PM (#16427641) Homepage Journal
    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' -- the people they go to work every day trying to serve -- are media conglomerates rather than end users. Maybe that's sustainable, maybe not. Google, on the other hand, makes little effort to hide the fact that their real customers are advertising buyers.

    The fact is, neither Google nor Microsoft ultimately exist to serve the end user. That's something I'd think about fairly carefully if I were just coming into the field.
  • by Saige (53303) <evil,angela&gmail,com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @03:36PM (#16428661) Journal
    Perhaps the most damning thing I can say about Microsoft is that I always wonder which is the real face of Microsoft, and which is dictated by necessity. Is Microsoft a large corporation that paints a false face of camaraderie and caring, or a fraternal group of motivated engineers who have grudgingly accepted the need for large corporate structure? I can't really tell. I don't think anyone can. Like economics, the peculiar synthesis of Microsoft's corporate culture is the result of human action, but not of human intent... so you just pick the one you'd like to believe and believe it.

    I'm tempted to believe that a lot of the negatives we see highlighted are in many ways just a natural outgrowth of a company built by and full of software geeks that just want to make the best product they can. I haven't met anyone that hasn't seemed to genuinely just want to put together great, useful software.

    And I know there's definitely legitimate caring in the company. Someone I know had a son with very serious Crohn's disease. At one point, they had to buy a special nutrient solution or something like that for feeding, since he couldn't even eat. It was VERY expensive - on the order of 10k a month. Combined with all the medical bills, they had hit the insurance coverage cap at that point. She sent an email to HR about the situation, how serious it was. The email went up and up the ladder - and the matter eventually got the attention of BillG. His response? That it was his company, he'd decide what insurance covers, and that he doesn't need his employees worrying about paying for things like this. The cap was removed, and they had no further troubles. (Sadly, their son passed away a couple months ago...)
  • 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.

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