Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft

Microsoft Rewarding Employees Who Phone It In 280

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-a-couple-bucks dept.
theodp writes "For developers who are all about the Benjamins, Microsoft has come up with an intriguing alternative to Google's vaunted 20% time. To boost the number of Windows Phone 7 apps, Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property and 70% of the revenue, as long as that second job is writing apps for WP7-based devices. The rule change offers an option for employees who don't want to leave for the insecurity of a start-up, but still want a shot at recognition and rewards for their own ideas."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Rewarding Employees Who Phone It In

Comments Filter:
  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beaviz (314065) * on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:23AM (#35330504) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property

    A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time. They deserve the Nobel peace price!

    Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mfh (56) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:28AM (#35330552) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

      You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

      This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by oliverthered (187439)

        does that work for errors on tax returns?

      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

        by arkenian (1560563) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:12AM (#35330848)

        Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

        You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

        This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

        To be fair, most employment contracts I've read are a little more specific than that. Specifically they own any IP on anything related to the work you do for them, fairly broadly defined. This tends to mean that, if you work at microsoft, any software you wrote would be covered. But if you wrote a novel, that would not be covered. Actually, the way I read the ones I've signed, they're more on the order of noncompete agreements than the company making any claims as to why you were able to do it. They don't care why, as part of your employment you agree not to compete with their products. The best way to PREVENT you from competing with them is that, if you do, they own it anyway. Likewise I'm forbidden from providing consulting services to competitors etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mfh (56)

          I think you're interpreting that too broadly. If they own the IP of the work you do for them, they own software you were ordered to create on company time. If they don't order it and you create it on your own time and it's different enough than what you're doing then it should be your property. But MSFT assumes if you do some software you got the idea from them, when in fact it could have been your own idea. They keep this water muddy intentionally, even if it appears to be spelled out properly. Watch what

          • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday February 27, 2011 @01:13PM (#35331698) Homepage Journal

            If they don't order it and you create it on your own time and it's different enough than what you're doing then it should be your property.

            That won't matter if the lawyers for the company you work for make it impossible for you to profit from "your property" or if the legal costs wipe out any possible profit.

            I think the intellectual property laws are as likely to hinder innovation than encourage it. That's usually the signal when a law needs to be repealed or changed. When when a law actually encourages lawless behavior, and results in rewarding criminal behavior, as in the drug laws, it's probably ripe for change or repeal. Considering that IP laws make criminals out of tens of millions of Americans and probably hundreds of millions of people worldwide, you have to wonder what benefit these laws provide in the first place.

            • by cdrguru (88047)

              You need to understand where these laws and employment agreements come from. Let's say you are working for a company that makes socket wrenches. You get a great idea for a different way to attach the socket to the wrench. After some time you decide that you aren't liking your job so much and quit. You then file for a patent on your wrench idea and a different manufacturer picks up the idea and pays you for your patent.

              The guy that actually did this was tied up in court for decades because of this and be

              • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

                by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @05:37PM (#35333338)
                I don't buy this concept in most cases, including the one involving the ratchet, with which I am somewhat familiar.

                The guy could have gotten the same idea from simply disassembling a socket wrench in his garage, or just from general knowledge about how they are built. I doubt that it takes years of work in a wrench factory to really have such ideas.

                My father worked for a carpet manufacturer once, teaching them how to install their own carpet (which was physically different from other brands). He was a leader and innovator in the field... he taught himself how to do it better than anyone else when they first started manufacturing the stuff.

                He invented a new kind of tool for trimming the carpet around the edges during installation (where it meets the wall). It saved a lot of time and effort. But his contract said that any inventions he made while in their employ would belong to them.

                That would be understandable if the company had really taught him the knowledge to do the job... but in fact HE was teaching THEM, and they had no part whatever in the invention of this tool. So they got ownership of it, manufactured and sold it, and he got nothing.

                I think scenarios like that are more common than many people think. Or at least where the company contributed little or nothing to the actual idea or its implementation, and doesn't deserve to own it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Lashat (1041424)

            This is not an attempt by Microsoft to co-op and then take over Windows Phone 7 apps that their employees develop. Microsoft wants WP7 apps to be developed and get to the consumer thus promoting the WP7 os and devices. Everyone know that the combination of devices ability and available apps are going to decide the smartphone os wars.

            Usually, any MS employee would be hamstrung by the blanket IP policy, which is narrow enough that a novel would not be covered, but any Windows realated code would. The new p

            • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Znork (31774) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @02:01PM (#35332042)

              The new policies rally the MS troops with deepest access to WP7 source with incentive to develop specifically for the platform.

              Ah, yes, the incentive of taking 30% of the profit the employee makes on his own time. What's next, encouraging employee stock ownership by only requiring 30% repayment to the company of any profits (excepted upper management of course)?

              The humorous part is that management probably thinks employees should be grateful for such incentive, while it will only serve to educate the employees that their contracts shaft them, reducing morale and certainly not creating a desire to work for free in their spare time.

              Microsoft seems more out of touch every year, and this certainly won't help windows mobile. Poor Nokia.

              • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

                by VertigoAce (257771) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @03:13PM (#35332508)

                The 30% is the cut that Microsoft takes from every app on the WP7 marketplace (same as Apple does with their app store). Employees get the same 70% that third party developers get.

                The people I work with had the opposite reaction from what you suggest. The policy removed the uncertainty around moonlighting in this case and encouraged people to start developing apps. I don't think this would have been against policy in any case, but most employees aren't going to spend the time talking to their manager, legal, and HR just to get approval to release a $0.99 app.

              • Ah, yes, the incentive of taking 30% of the profit the employee makes on his own time. What's next, encouraging employee stock ownership by only requiring 30% repayment to the company of any profits (excepted upper management of course)?

                While I agree with your sentiment, holding this up as an example of Microsoft being "more out of touch every year" (as you say further down) is a bit much. Rightly or wrongly, the practice of claiming ownership over an employee's downtime work is standard industry practice, at least in the US.

                FWIW I have walked away from jobs where the employment contract required this - and I wish more folks would, because then these martinets would start to take notice. It is a ridiculous and onerous practice; one more ap

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              I could name a few mobile companies that should have done this exact rule(all the people who knew how to do for their os's were practically gagged from publishing anything).

              also ms should extend this to contractor companies, otherwise it's just an empty gesture towards very few.

          • ... If they don't order it and you create it on your own time and it's different enough than what you're doing then it should be your property ...

            Different from your work or the company's business? Your work could be on operating systems. Your company could be in the business of providing software for personal computer users. You could have an idea for a word processor. Its not related to your work but it is related to your company's business. Your salary may be compensation for both your directed labor and any ideas on how the company may further its business.

            Personally the companies I've worked for have been quite reasonable about this. Employm

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            Right, this is the key bit: and it's different enough than what you're doing

            Since Microsoft is probably the only one actually *paying* employees to write Windows Phone 7 apps so far, it would have been reasonable to expect that it's included in a Microsoft engineer's company IP ;)

            And another thing that REALLY muddies this is telecommuting. Many engineers work at home part of the time (and not always from 9-5) making it nearly impossible to distinguish paid work from "moonlighting"...

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            There is a reason it has to be muddy. Porting an app is a lot simpler than creating the original. If your app is doing well on windows mobile the employee would have to be an idiot not to port it to android and iphone.

            Contractually it would be difficult to deny the port as they have stated the employee owns the IP and gets 70% of the income implying greater control with the employee. Making it unclear leaves room for M$ lawyers to bluff employees when necessary.

      • This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

        Not necessarily. Sometimes an individual does not have the resources to bring the idea to market. Other times the company simply signs a waiver saying they relinquish any claim on this idea, IIRC as HP did for some of Steve Wozniak's idea. You could say Apple Computer was born from HP waivers to some degree.

      • by mpsmps (178373)

        Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

        You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

        This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

        The important thing is to make things clear. If you approach your employer (ideally) before starting your own spare-time idea that is clearly distinct from their business, most reasonable companies will give you a letter saying that it is your own. This simple step can save a lot of problems.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Giometrix (932993) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:32AM (#35330580) Homepage

      Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property

      A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time. They deserve the Nobel peace price!

      Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

      This is absolutely the norm. Some places are worse than others, making you sign a "everything you do belongs to us" agreement (how enforceable that is I don't know, IANAL). Most places just don't want you to compete with them, so anything you do on your time related to their industry belongs to them. In this case we're talking software, so MS is relaxing that restriction for wp7 apps.

      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:43AM (#35330658)

        I had to look into this when my previous employer wanted to change the contracts.

        Basically they added a catch all, anything you think or do belongs to us (first borns included). So if you are programmer but come up with a new clothes line peg they own the IP.

        The actual law is actually more sensible, if you come up with something you'd be expected to do in your job the company owns the IP, otherwise you do. For instance as a programmer if I come up with a new piece of software the company could argue it is their IP, but if I make and sell some artwork I own it.

        All been said it is a bit of a grey area and getting it tested in court would be expensive for any normal person.

        Captcha:Stolen :)

        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          And people actually sign this shit, that is the problem. It works against you because if you don't sign it, they throw you out. If EVERYONE refuses to sign it, the company is the one who is fucked.
          • by TheLink (130905)
            Most people sign it because:
            1) They find reading difficult
            2) They don't care or thinks it matters much
            3) They aren't going to create anything new on their own anyway.

            So a company that has such policies is selecting against employees that can read, care about following company policies, are able to create stuff and might want to do some creative stuff in their spare time.
            • by peragrin (659227)

              1)They find reading legal documents difficult
              2)They really want a job,and so are will to sacrifice for it,
              3) They aren't all that creative and don't have enough free time at home anyways.

              • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

                by magical liopleurodon (1213826) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:59AM (#35331164)

                1)They find reading legal documents difficult
                2)They really want a job,and so are will to sacrifice for it,
                3) They aren't all that creative and don't have enough free time at home anyways.

                1) It's pretty obvious that you're signing your soul away. I signed one of these myself, but they're not valid in Minnesota. A number of states don't allow this. California is another one where even if you sign something like this, it cannot be enforced.

                And people actually sign this shit, that is the problem. It works against you because if you don't sign it, they throw you out. If EVERYONE refuses to sign it, the company is the one who is fucked.

                So many companies do this. If you're not in a state where it's unenforceable, the only leverage you have is starting your own company. Which I encourage, and when you all do do that, don't make your employees sign contracts like this.

          • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

            by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:36AM (#35330982) Homepage

            People sign this shit, because: 99% of people out there are uncreative and just do whatever is needed to get a paycheck.

            Do you honestly think that design-by-committee Java guy next to you has even the slightest spark of inspiration ? He probably can't even get it up without writing 4 support interfaces that describe the various ways one can (choose not to) interact with his cock.

          • by migla (1099771)

            And people actually sign this shit, that is the problem. It works against you because if you don't sign it, they throw you out. If EVERYONE refuses to sign it, the company is the one who is fucked.

            It's like the prisoners dilemma with millions of participants.

          • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @12:10PM (#35331220) Journal
            This is yet another example of why programmers especially, but really all tech workers, would benefit from a union, but crony capitalist propaganda keeps people convinced that a union would lower their pay and benefits, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, workers get better pay and working conditions in a unionized environment.

            everyone likes to consider themselves better at everything, so they think they can negotiate better for their own pay, but really who will do better, one guy who needs to pay his mortgage next month vs. a company who can keep a position open as long as they need to, and just keep leaning on the other programmers to make up the slack, since THEY need to pay their mortgage too, they shut up and put in their 70-80 hour/week deathmarch.

            the reality of the situation is, even if you are in the top 10% of programmers, you are not going to also be in the top 10% of negotiators AND be in a position to hold out for as long as it takes to get compensation that is appropriate to the value you bring to the company.
          • Well if you (Americans in general) weren't so gung-ho about how unions are "evil" and want to do everything all on your own, you would actually have a way to collectively stop these practices.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:46AM (#35330692)

      A company letting their employees do what the want in their own free time.

      You must have missed the "as long as that second job is writing apps for WP7-based devices" part. That is not "letting people do what they want". In fact, it places a fairly strict boundary.

      • by TheABomb (180342)

        In in six months, when WP7 is a thing of the past, they'll be completely back under M$'s thumb.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If the company name was anything other than microsoft it would recieve nothing but praise.

      • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:30AM (#35330956) Journal

        If Apple announced this, world+dog would deride them for the app restriction, claiming long and loud how 'Lord Jobs' is keeping tight rein over the 'peasants' in his 'domain'.

        If RIM Announced this, world+dog would collectively yawn, save for some folks who would stand back in astonishment that the Blackberry actually had apps*

        If Google announced this, world+dog would think it was normal, and point to that 20% thing they have.

        --

        Personally, I see it as Microsoft casting about to bolster its struggling product in any way that it can. They're having a pretty rough go of it, judging by the numbers so far. To give you an idea, I'm willing to wager that WP7 still has more phones in the channel than in customer hands... and there's very little prospect so far that WP 7 will do much more than eke out a presence this year, if they're lucky.

        * (they do have apps BTW - I have/use a BB Bold).

        • by billcopc (196330)

          Sure RIM has apps. They put apps on the map, centuries ago when they were billed as a "corporate mobile communications device". What I'm astonished over is that the Blackberry actually has users.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by uganson (1173241)

      The view of Joel Spolsky [onstartups.com] regarding the issue.

      ...

      Suppose you have a little game company. Instead of making software, you knock out three or four clever games every few months. You can't invent all the games yourself. So you go out and hire a game designer to invent games. You are going to pay the game designer $6,000 a month to invent new games. Those games will be clever and novel. They are patentable. It is important to you, as a company, to own the patents on the games.

      Your game designer works for a ye

      • by Nursie (632944)

        I disagree with his stance there. If the employee claims the copyright/patent for something then they shouldn't be just handing it over to the company they work for.

        If I invent something after hours and I consider it mine I don't take it to work the next day and write it into a product. Because that would be retarded and (IMHO) should count, as in every other instance with stuff I do at work, as the company's IP.

        It's not difficult...

    • by brunes69 (86786)

      This is a common clause in employments contracts, but it has been found by the court to be invalid in many states and made ruled illegal/unenforcable in others with legislation (such as California).

      No idea on if it is still valid in Microsoft's home state of Washington, but knowing it's influence on local politics, it likely is.

    • by foobsr (693224)
      in their own free time
      With an emphasis on free, with the assumption that your workforce will be weaker if you split attention between jobs.

      CC.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:24AM (#35330512)

    You rephrase it the other way: "Go ahead and start a business in your free time, as long as you're getting all your work done here including meeting time and face time. Oh, but that business has to be for Windows Phone 7 apps, and we'll take 30 percent."

    • by billcopc (196330)

      If you're actually making use of that meeting time (and space), corporate equipment, insider info, and proximity of like-minded developers and engineers, seems to me I'd rather get 70% of something big with no up-front investment besides my time, than 100% of something I had to subsidize myself and do on my own.

      You know, the hardest part of turning an idea into a business isn't the creation/production aspect, it's usually the motivation. If you have significant start-up costs, a hard time finding skilled p

  • Employees get to work on stuff that inspires them and learn stuff in the process, and the WP7 app portfolio broadens in the process.

    Then again, it's not unheard of that companies let their employees moonlight on stuff that doesn't conflict with the company's interests. But I have to confess I don't know the US job market that well.

  • So, say I work for Microsoft, and have a WP7 phone. Each nigh, while the misses is watching 'the biggest looser' on TV, I mess around with the SDK, and come up with a game..... which becomes a bigger hit than angry bird.....

    And, then Microsoft, my employer, come and take 30% of the revenue?

    BASTARDS!

    • by devxo (1963088)
      Just like for everyone else, and just like Apple does...
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      sounds like app store. If you put an app in the Google app store they take 30%. The iTunes app store? 30%.

      • Maybe I misunderstood... Paying 30% to a store, for listing my application I do not have a problem with, be it apple, google, or microsoft...

        However, Revenue, I assumed would be the amount of cash I receive after the store commission has been taken.

        I sell something for $100
        Microsoft store takes $30 leaving me with a revenue of $70

        Microsoft then take a further 30% of this, $21, because I work for them... Leaving me with just $49

        BASTARDS

        • by rainmouse (1784278) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:51AM (#35330724)

          >Microsoft then take a further 30% of this, $21, because I work for them... Leaving me with just $49

          BASTARDS

          When you work for a software company, the norm is to take complete ownership of any related software you create in your spare time, the idea is that so you cant just steal company secrets and sell them in the form of your own products. In practice its a way of completely owning their staff as though they were property (assets is the word they like to use), I have even seen contracts that stipulate ownership of the content of your dreams; however enforcing such dubious practices is another matter....

          • When you work for a software company, the norm is to take complete ownership of any related software you create in your spare time

            The important word in this sentence is 'related.' If you're working on the Windows NT kernel, and you produce a mobile phone game, claiming that it's related is quite a stretch.

            • by billcopc (196330)

              Sure, it's a stretch, but can you out-lawyer Microsoft if and when they argue otherwise ?

        • by peragrin (659227)

          nope MSFT would take their 30% from the original sale.

          You get left with $40.

        • I believe the person above you is correct, MS is just taking the normal 30% listing fee. A more interesting question is: You do everything above and then think "This is huge" and try to port the app Android and/or iPhone... You're fired? In theory MS can't claim to own the work, because they already waived their claim to the original work, and this is just a "copy" (it's much more of course, but the essential algorithms, models, etc are all the same). It'd be interesting to see how they word the contract

          • I'm sure they can claim that the IP agreement was just for the W7 app and these new ports are exempt from the agreement. So now they own the IP for your ports and still get 30% from the revenue of the original W7 app. They most likely also charge a 30% fee for the apps listing.

            Of course, you could always use the W7 app as a litmus test for popularity and if you then think you can make some real cash, leave you MS job and then write the ports.

        • However, Revenue, I assumed would be the amount of cash I receive after the store commission has been taken.

          I sell something for $100 Microsoft store takes $30 leaving me with a revenue of $70

          Microsoft then take a further 30% of this, $21, because I work for them... Leaving me with just $49

          No, they take both take 30% off sales. So from your $100 app you realize just $40 in gross revenue. Unlike actors, musicians, and other artists, they're not going to fall for that 'net revenue' thing.

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          Yeah, you are misunderstanding.

          Occam's razor, take the obvious answer, which is they instituted the same policy as pretty much *everyone* else, and just want 30% of the gross revenue from app store sales.

          Plus, if you RTFA, they even state this explicitly:

          "The company is offering what Mr. Watson said was a standard split on app sales: 70 percent to the developers, 30 percent to Microsoft."

      • Google take around 10-15ish %.
        • by ZankerH (1401751)
          Google take ZERO unless you want to publish your app on the android market. Unlike Apple and MS, you don't have to do that in order for your users to be able to install said app without having to hack their own phones.
          • by Zarhan (415465)

            Could you point me to such alternate repository, please? I'd really like to get some better source for Android software than the Google marketplace that is stuffed with crap.

            • by billcopc (196330)

              Well, given that the app your IDE spits out is unencumbered by any sort of DRM, you can put it on a web site and have people install it directly from you. It is simply a file. If you want to tie that into a payment process of some sort, you're free to do pretty much anything, and since security is very lax on Android apps, you could potentially associate an app license with a hardware ID and roll your own rudimentary copy protection.

    • by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:51AM (#35330722)

      watching 'the biggest looser' on TV

      Is that the show about people who go around with a wrench and screwdriver and work on loosening nuts and screws, or what? Reality TV at it's finest. Loser.

    • Since reading the article is a unforgivable sin on slashdot, I committed this blasphemy on your behalf :P

      Mr. Watson of Microsoft said the policy change emerged in part because of a push from his group. âoeWe tend to have strict moonlighting rules,â he said of the company. âoeBut weâ(TM)ve changed those rules so developers can do this in their spare time, and have the financial benefit and outcome of the work.â

      The company is offering what Mr. Watson said was a standard split on app s

  • I'd never work for any company that puts restrictions on my out-of-hours work. My time, my IP, my money, period. It is offensive that they think 30% of the money their employees make in their own time should go to Microsoft.

    Just goes to show how big and evil most companies in the US have become - almost seems like yanks have accepted their fate as indentured slaves. Just sitting like a good little boy waiting and hoping that the big powerful executives will one day select them for some power.

    Ban on
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Um. All the app stores take 30% even if you don't work for Google, Apple, or Microsoft...

    • by obarel (670863)

      If you read future predictions from 1950, you get the following picture: By 2010 people would have a lot more leisure time and they wouldn't know how to cope with it. Work will be done by robots and the factory would only need one employee to turn them on and off. So the rest will have all the time in the world for study and recreation.

      That's still true, but whoever gets the money (and it's not like in a recession someone is burning money - if you have less, someone has more) is not sharing it with you. So

    • by drzhivago (310144)

      I'd never work for any company that puts restrictions on my out-of-hours work. My time, my IP, my money, period. It is offensive that they think 30% of the money their employees make in their own time should go to Microsoft.

      The reason they do this is to prevent their employees from competing against the company. WP7 apps that get put on the WP7 app store would compete with Microsoft's own apps.

      What if your free time was spent creating an Office-style suite that would directly compete with Microsoft for dollars. Should they just turn a blind eye to that?

  • But if they wrote their own iPhone or Android apps they would implicitly own all rights and earn more revenue.
    • by tepples (727027)
      iOS is locked down; you can't distribute an app at all except A. through the App Store which takes the same 30% cut or B. to jailbreakers, and then you have to handle your own payment processing and the like. Google takes the same cut of Android apps distributed through the Market, which is required if a sizable percent of your English-speaking audience is on AT&T with its policy of hiding the Settings > Applications > Unknown sources checkbox.
  • That seems to be the last word twist of microsoft of anything related with security, right to the mind of their workers. Work by yourself or for anyone else is insecure, so keep working for us, uh, and, you must give us a share of whar you make in your own time for "protection".
  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:43AM (#35330660) Homepage Journal
    It is sad when you have to bribe employees to develop for in house devices. It is even sadder when your vaulted cadre of third party developers refuse to develop for a new device. We are told that due to restrictions on the iPhone, developers are leaving in troves to develop on other devices. Maybe that is true for Android, but the android boosters also admit that developers are largely not being paid by the end user for their work,, so I wonder how many of those apps are ads or simple portals to paid services.

    Compare MS desperation to RIM, which is only interested in serious developers delivering serious apps. They are not focused on numbers, but, even more so than Apple, want useful Apps.

    If MS wants apps, do what apple does. Offer one button on the web site that will download a complete, unencumbered, and free as in beer development kit. Do not play games such as 'students get it for free' or 'you have to develop for us because we are the best' Just give us the tools.

  • by Foredecker (161844) * on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:23AM (#35330914) Homepage Journal

    Gah! This kind of thing drives me nuts!

    Here is the truth. Microsoft has one of the most liberal employee moonlighting policies of any high tech company. This includes yours. Microsoft has long allowed moonlighting. There are many employees that moonlight. Of course, a lot of moonlighting is writing software. This is often to extend Microsoft products. But there are others as well, some people write books, some write and perform music, some build furniture and some teach.

    I have first hand knowledge of several examples, one of which I can talk bout. I hired the guy that develops Paint.Net/a>.. He worked for me a while and we are currently on the same team. Getting permission for him to continue Paint.NET development was easy and a no-brainer. [internetnews.com]

    The only things Microsoft has ever ask of any moonlighter is/p>

    • Ask for permission first. People get it in most cases directly from their manger, or a director. No VPs or HR needed.
    • DDont compete with Microsoft. People will not get permission for this. For example, I wouldnt get permission to write a new word processor thus competing with word.
    • Dont let it impact your Microsoft job. Note, moonlighting often benefits a persons day job, and often their team.
    • Microsoft gets an implicitly license to your stuff. Note this doesnt encumber the employee in any way - they can sell and license their stuff too. But Microsoft can use it with no royalties. After all, were funding it indirectly. Its only fair.

    Again, moonlighging is very common at Microsoft. Our policies are quite liberal and have been for a very long time. I understand Bill put them inplace himself.

    Here, Microsoft is simply making a very liberal policy even more liberal.

    -a href="http://foredecker.wordpress.com/about/">Foredecker

    • by DamonHD (794830)

      "After all, were funding it indirectly. Its only fair. " In whose universe, or at least in whose time?

      Goodness.

      And people ask me why I stay freelance.

      Rgds

      Damon

      • Freelance is cool and I've done that in the past (liked it too...). But how good is your health insurance? Mine is pretty darn good. Working in a big company has its advantages. Its great for some poeple, not so good for others. Its great that you enjoy freelancing, but it certainly isn't for everybody.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          I work at a more normal size company, they don't think they own me.
          Good health insurance, and if they want some of my after hours software, they are stuck buying it like everyone else.

          • Really? Have you looked at your employment agreement or corporate policies carefully? Even if there are not any expclity restrictions in either place, there are state and federal laws that protect your eomployer against many employee behavirs they may not like. What would your employer do (and I'm not asking you to reval it, I know you don't want to be a paid shill) if you started competing directly with them in your off time? I suspect they wouldn't be too happy abou tit. I'm also pretty sure they c
      • Feh - I hit submit instead of continue editing. My apologies. I didnt address your comment "in whos universe". In the vast majority of these cases, nobody could quit their job and pursue their moonlighting work. This is especially true of for ad-hoc mobile app development. They only reason most people can do this kind of thing is because they have a day job.

        In most moonlighting situations (not just at Microsoft), the moonlighter cannot just quit their day job and pursue their dream.

        I think the m

    • by smurfsurf (892933)

      > I hired the guy that develops Paint.Net
      > Don't compete with Microsoft. People will not get permission for this. For example, I wouldnt get permission to write a new word processor thus competing with word.

      So what will happen in his involvment with Paint.Net when MS buys a image editor and starts to sell it? Must he stop or can he continue?

      • It is highly unlikely that Microsoft would screw Bob (the real name of Paint.NETs author). Its just not the right thing to do. It is very unlikely that Microsoft would tell Bob to stop working on paint.net. First, it would make Bob very happy, second its very, very unlikely that Paint.NET would be materially impactful to anything Microsoft would do. Of course, I cant say this with authority, but I know Bobs management chain really well (I used to be his skip manger) and we just wouldnt do this.

        I know slash

    • Since I don't live in the US I've never heard of absurd restrictions like this, and I was pretty shocked to see so many people defending it in the comment section.
      Are these kinds of "we own you" employment policies really that common over there?

      Microsoft gets an implicitly license to your stuff. Note this doesnt encumber the employee in any way - they can sell and license their stuff too. But Microsoft can use it with no royalties.

      Really? That's bullshit. What I create on my free time belongs to me and MS can go fuck themselves.

      After all, were funding it indirectly. Its only fair.

      "Funding it"? Bwah?

      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        in soviet russia, the workers own the means of production.

        in crony capitalist america, the means of production owns the workers
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:42AM (#35331034)

    For 20% of your company work time you can work on something still company related but of your choosing rather than dictated by your manager.

    versus.

    You can work on stuff related to the company's product on your own personal time at your own cost and you bear all the risk, but the company will have 30% of the revenue. Oh, and we'll give you a slice of pizza once a week.

  • by Andy Smith (55346)

    "employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property and 70% of the revenue"

    Is the remaining 30% for Apple?

  • Make that 70% of our base.
  • 20% time? Not really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adenied (120700) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @12:35PM (#35331426)

    Someone from Google can correct me if I'm really wrong here, but I've asked a number of Google developers if they really get to use their 20% time. The general answers have been either "Yeah right. Hardly anyone does." to "Sure! I can use 20% of the 60-70 hours a week I regularly am at the campus on whatever I want."

    Not sure if that's really what people think about when they hear about the 20% time philosophy. Seems like it's more of a marketing / recruiting thing.

  • by Aquitaine (102097) <{gro.masmai} {ta} {mas}> on Sunday February 27, 2011 @02:58PM (#35332424) Homepage

    There are obviously shops out there that try to say that they own everything the employee does. In most places this is not legal and even if it is, you're an idiot to sign them.

    I run a shop that does youth sports management web applications. The only time I care about what my employees doing in their spare time is when it's directly relevant to their job. If you work for me and then you turn around and write your own youth sports application in your spare time, I'm going to sue your pants off because you have access to our code, our libraries, our ideas, and our clients' business needs and you can't pretend that you aren't using any of those things in your new and competing product.

    But if you write a game or a web app that clearly has got nothing to do with your job, such that the only tenuous connection I can establish between your work for us and your free time project is that you became a more competent programmer while working for us, that's awesome for you and good for us because it means you're improving yourself and making an extra buck. If you make so many extra bucks on the side that you quit your job, well that sucks for me, but you earned it.

    There are definitely some gray areas here. Like what if you start working in your spare time on an app that competes with us and then quit your job a month later? Then you get the 'hair salon migration rule' - if you took our stuff (even our abstract stuff) or solicit any of our clients to leave with you, then we go to court. But let's say you quit your job because you think the company sucks or that I'm a jerk and then a year later you start working on a competing product. Forget the law for a moment -- what does your gut tell you is the right answer here? For me, if you've been gone for a year, the only connection between what you're doing now with what you did for us a year ago is that you clearly learned a lot about the business from us, but unless you actually swiped any of our code, 'knowing how the business works' is not a crime. I don't want to police what you do after you stop working for us unless there's a very real concern that you've stolen our mojo.

    The analogy to what MS is doing also seems to be a little bit of a gray area. Our company makes niche software so there's not a huge sphere of relevant work out there. but if your job for MS is WM7 development, that's a bit different. It's tough for you to say that your free time WM7 development has got nothing to do with your professional WM7 development, and MS is basically saying that we'll compromise with you -- rather than having to figure out (probably in court) whether or not your work is yours, theirs, or a conflict of interest, they're just saying 'go do what you want, and if what you want happens to be similar to your day job, we'll sign off on it and let you keep most of the revenue.'

    From a business perspective, that seems pretty reasonable to me.

Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.

Working...