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Microsoft or Google? 490

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 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?

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:innovation (Score:3, Informative)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:31AM (#16422257) Journal
    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:innovation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kuciwalker ( 891651 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:46AM (#16422425)
    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?

  • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:46AM (#16422435) Homepage Journal
    It's got nothing to do with conjugation.

    "Microsoft were" and "Google have" assume that company names are collective nouns. This is common in non US English. "The government are" vs "The government is", etc. Not everyone here speaks US English.
  • 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
  • by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:04AM (#16423531) Homepage Journal
    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, then pick Microsoft.

    The myths you hear about "mandatory overtime" at Microsoft are bullshit. I work there as a developer, and I can tell you that the amount of overtime people put in varies depending upon what group they choose to work in and how efficient (or not) they are at getting their work done quickly. There are very few times of year when I have to put in more than the typical 40-hour work-week. Of course, some people I know who are working on Vista are putting in tons of late hours these days. So it varies a lot. I suppose the same is true at Google -- lots of variation, depending on what you choose to work on, your working efficiency, and the culture of the group you choose.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:46AM (#16424109)
    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 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.
  • 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 Drew M. ( 5831 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:08PM (#16424511) Homepage
    Actually, there's much much much more than just Mountain View and Kirkland. Take a look at all the locations for the job reqs:
    http://www.google.com/jobs/ [google.com]
  • 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 Lux ( 49200 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:21PM (#16424739)
    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 to which most of the Sillicon Valley companies MS buys wind up moving.)

    Both MS and Google have offices all over the world. Though I would imagine MS has more.
  • 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.
  • by alexphred ( 1013147 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:45PM (#16425219)
    I work at Microsoft and have been here for over 10 years as a developer.

    There is more to consider than the company. The group that you work for and the city that you live in will have a larger impact on your life.

    There has been some concern over hours. At Microsoft you work the hours necessary to get your job done. If you are efficient this should be 8 hour days. I typically work from 7:30 to 4:30 and many of my coworkers work from 9:30 to 6 or so. During crunch times the days get a little longer, but they shouldn't get much longer. Of course this will differ depending on the group. Some people like the environment here and will work longer hours, but that isn't required.

    I'd think for a long time about the two areas, and perhaps visit both again if you have a chance. I've spent time in both and would much rather live in Seattle than the Bay Area, but others will disagree. The Seattle area has much cheaper housing. If you want to live in the city instead of suburbs it is more practical to live in Seattle and commute to Redmond than to live in San Francisco and commute to Silicon Valley. Both have excellent outdoor recreational activities (hiking, cycling, skiing, etc).

    It sounds like you have two great options.
  • Conundrum (Score:2, Informative)

    by Vanth Dreadstar ( 794008 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:54PM (#16425423)
    I wish I had your problems :) However, I will tell you this: I have known three people who worked at Microsoft, some better than others, and only one liked his job, the others tended to use phrases like "slave drivers" and "sweat shop". I have known only 2 people who worked at Google, and both loved their jobs. The question you really have to ask, sicne you have such great opportunities, is this: Given the reputation and actions of each company, which is the type of company you wish to work for?
  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:28PM (#16425991)
    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 start a family.

    Well, I will admit that I'm quite new but if there is such pressure it's somehow passed me by. My manager hasn't mentioned this once, there is no culture of "don't be the first to leave" and I routinely see people leaving even at around half 3, though of course they come in early too. If there is pressure to work long hours it's completely invisible in my department.

    If your friend is working insane hours I really doubt that's because he is forced to, more likely, he is making himself do it for personal reasons.

    Personally, the main reason I considered Google and not Microsoft is due to the ethical histories of the two companies, but also the fact that MS seems to be stagnant and suffering from directionless management right now. Google is, in contrast, anything but stagnant and bureaucratic.

  • MS Employee's views (Score:2, Informative)

    by SA3Steve ( 323565 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:56PM (#16427871)
    Before I get into the comment, let me preface this by saying I am sure I will be biased towards Microsoft because I work here although I like to think I do my best to keep an open mind.

    As many of the other posters have mentioned, you need to look at the teams that made offers to you from both Microsoft and Google. Despite Microsoft being a large company, being on a team that you enjoy is what makes all of the difference. I work in the Microsoft Office division and have never felt that I am not making a large difference to the product I am working on. I get to talk to customers once in a while, help with usability studies, decide on new features, and code the new product. The last point there is my main job so I spend most of my time coding and desiging...but I get to help in the process from start to finish and really feel that my opinions are heard and considered when directing the new product. That said, I have been in Office for 5 years and am considering a move to other teams in Microsoft. Microsoft is very understanding here and encourages moves internally so that an employee doesn't become bored and burnt out with their current product.

    I find that I work with extremely smart people every day here and I get to work on programs which are used by millions of people (which is usually a good thing :-)). I would expect the same at Google...I know people working there and have heard the same things about the employees there.

    The benefits are great at both companies...the employees are smart...the products are new and exciting to work on...the flex hours are great so I can have both a life and a career.

    Basically, it is going to come down to the teams you have offers from. Look at them closely and consider which product seems more intersting and has a better feel for you and your passions. If you think the Google teams are better aligned with you, go there and have a great career. If you think the Microsoft teams are better for you, come here and have a great career.
  • 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 Wee ( 17189 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @04:55PM (#16430043)
    It doesn't matter how much you make right now, I guarantee that I make the same as or more than you.

    That's fine. Corporate salaries aren't a zero-sum game. And I'm happy you have a job you like that pays well. But I don't really do what I do for the money. As long as my family's needs are met (with a little extra for toys and savings), then I'm happy. I do my job because I find the work interesting and rewarding, and I find working with smart people to be enjoyable. Hence, I like where I work.

    there is *always* work that "needs to be done". If that is going to be your excuse, why do you ever go home? When you are done with one project isn't there *always* something else you *could* be working on? "needs to be done" is a BAD excuse, because it does NOT *need* to be done. Unless you will actually save lives by working those extra four hours, then that work can, in fact, wait for tomorrow.

    Oh, be serious. You're grossly overstating my point and undersimplifying the issue. While it's true that the bulk of my work load (and therefore my hours) is self-determined, the reality is that I also have coworkers. I work with them on one or more teams, and together we accomplish smaller tasks which contibute to the success of the overall project. And it's also true that sometimes dates are set which have to be met. I do what needs to be done in order to succeed. If I have to work over a weekend once in a while, put in a few long nights, then I do.

    What I meant originally was that my managers don't pile on extra work or set unreasonable deadlines and expect 80 hour weeks. That isn't to say that I haven't worked an 80 hour week or two recently, because I have. I did so by choice, because I didn't want to risk letting my team down (and I was trying some new things). But that's the exception to the rule, by far. Normally, I'd say I put in between 40-50 hours. Sometimes I get an itch that needs scratching adn wind up doing some work from home at night or whatever. But I do that because I like what I do, not because I'm a wage slave struggling under the bootheel of The Man.


  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:31PM (#16430503)
    That sounds a bit ominous to me. I've worked at a company with a similar policy before, and what translated into was, "the project is due in 2 weeks, we don't care how much you work as long as it's done by then". This, inevitably, translates into, "I have to work 24/7 or I fail".

    I haven't seen any of that here, to be honest. I've been on the working end of such dictates before, and I'm pretty sensitive to such things nowadays. For sure the folks here are pretty well motivated and dedicated, but there's also a level of autonomy (at the individual engineer level) which would probably cause to the engineer being worked to death to call shenanigans. It would probably boil down to the engineer saying something like "That's not a reasonable request which doesn't fit into the task list you and I ahve already worked out and agreed on, so please refigure your dates and get back to me".

    But the thing you need to realize is that more likely than not, the person saying "this is due in two weeks" has not only decided on that date after talking with all his coders, but he's also probably spending half his day coding as well.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the process by which statements like "this is due in two weeks" are generated doesn't really exist here. There are deadlines and such, but they are derived less obtusely than that. Things tend to go from the individual coder on up.

    I understand that at Google the motivation to work comes from you, not from the management (at least, not directly), but if that still translates into the same work hours, then maybe life at MS is better.

    I can't say how it compares to MS, never having worked there. But you can work a normal 40 hour week (using the free shuttles that take you all over the bay area are good for keeping you on track, as it "forces" you to leave at 5:40 or whatever) or as many hours as you want. Also, a lot of people work from home (one manager always seems to send mail shortly after 10pm; probably she's done with dinner, kids are in bed, she's checking up on work email for the morning).

    But I can say that the "life" here is pretty good. I'm sure MS is very nice, but I couldn't imagine better perks, or a better company to work for. The level of caring for and understanding of the employees continues to be very refreshing.

    Basically, how many engineers at Google really do keep regular hours all the time ? I'd like to know the answer, just to satisfy my curiosity.

    I'd say not keeping regular hours is by far the exception rather than the rule. We have some guys on weird schedules who come in at noon and work until 11pm or whatever. The hours are intentionally very flexible so they can do that. However, the parking lot starts emptying at about the usual time, and fills up in the morning like you'd expect at any other company. The notion of several thousand people putting in 18 hour days, day and day out, is a complete myth. Some people put in long hours, but it's neither required nor expected.

    Though like I said earlier, if you come in on a weekend, you will see people coding. But they're also probably just getting some work done until their laundry is finished. :-)


  • Seattle Area (Score:2, Informative)

    by YuGagarin ( 1013301 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:40PM (#16430629)
    Here is my 2 cents. Area around Microsoft is becoming second to California in terms of cost of living. Prices for houses and condos continue to rise and with a starting entry-level salary of ~80K at MS not everyone can afford a decent place to live near Redmond campus. Many Microsoft employees bought 2-4 houses extra as an investment venture to cash out in the future. So, what you left with is an overpriced old junk you would not want to live in or will become a cash cow for your co-workers who started earlier then you and invested in real estate around Microsoft. Also, to tel lthe truth 80K would be a good salaray elsewhere but Seattle. Another thing to consider, work environment - there is no such thing at MS as a team. Everyone thinks he is a smart just because he works at MS and think things should be done his way - as a result no work is done and everythign is a mess. Don't get me wrong - technology is great at MS and there are like 4 companies like this in the whole world (MS, Oracle, IBM and maybe Google), but all things considered monetarily life is not sustainable in Redmond area. If you want life and family, consider either moving to a subsideary or work as a consultant for MS. Work for a development group will be tough - I can assure you that. Personally, I would want to live in neither Silicon Valley nor around Seattle.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!