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Why Microsoft? 236

theodp writes "Before a large crowd of students at the University of Washington computer science department, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was asked why students should care about Microsoft enough to want to work there. Aside from the ending, which begs for an if-you're-happy-and-you-know-it-clap-your-hands remix, Ballmer seemed to handle the question adequately for an MBA-type, although TechCrunch has a different opinion, suggesting 'maybe it's time for the great salesman to hang it up.' Oddly enough, a recent resignation letter from a Microsoft developer en route to Facebook ('Microsoft has been an awesome place to work over the past twelve years. In college, I never thought I'd work for Microsoft. Then I interned in 1997 and fell in love.') may be more what the skeptical CS student was looking for in terms of a Microsoft endorsement."
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Why Microsoft?

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  • Yes why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by js3 ( 319268 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:50AM (#33931328)

    4 stories in a span of a couple of hours. Why Microsoft?

  • Discounts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlexiaDeath ( 1616055 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:51AM (#33931332)
    ... and a fancy name on the good old CV :D
  • Oh, I dunno (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:54AM (#33931356) Homepage

    Maybe because if you have just a semi-successful career there, it looks awesome on a resume? I mean, let's face it...unless your office is run by an anti-Microsoft kind of person, the average company hiring IT folks (programming or otherwise) would likely be extremely impressed to see that on your resume, especially if you stayed there for multiple years and leave on your own rather than being fired.

    One of the biggest lessons you can't learn in college: sometimes, a job is worth taking for no reason other than how it contributes to future opportunities. Ditto for taking classes post-college.

  • Re:In the End... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spyware23 ( 1260322 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:55AM (#33931370) Homepage

    Who is this "we" you are speaking of? You and all the other Anonymous Cowards? You're called coward for a reason, you know. I know I wouldn't, just like I wouldn't assist most politicians, and dictators. If you want to force companies to change, you first have to change yourself.

  • "Not Sexy" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:59AM (#33931394)

    It doesn't even matter that this was Microsoft, other than the fact that if it were IBM we'd never have gotten an article about it. However, the kid in question may have been asking why IBM, or why Ford? Why not? Healthy, established companies with plenty of money that pay dividends. Everyone has heard of them and if you're "good enough" to work for them, then you should be "good enough" for anyone else later. Just because you and your buddy start a website in your dorm room and print up business cards declaring fancy titles doesn't mean that's going to be a good reference when you find out that becoming an accidental internet billionaire is harder than you thought and have to go find a real job.

    But, oh yeah, Apple is "changing the world" with their "magical" products (disclaimer, this is being typed on a Mac), so clearly everyone who is anyone should want to go work there. Or the new flavor of the week Rails shop. Or wherever. And for some people, maybe that's a better option and if they can make it work, good for them. I work for a small company practically no one has heard of, and right now it works for me. But, I'm to the point where I would much rather have the greater stability that working for a larger company would provide. In a few years the questioner will likely start to see the same thing.

  • Re:Yes why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Megaweapon ( 25185 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:01AM (#33931416) Homepage

    Perhaps Slashdot, slowly accepting their continuing decline in the web forum discussion arena, is trying to reinvigorate what they perceive to be their original driving force (shitting on Microsoft) instead of trying to fix the actual problems (that the site is stale, the "editing" still is non-existent after all these years, and that other outlets on the web provide more open ideas than the stagnant masturbatory groupthink).

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:03AM (#33931432)
    Microsoft wouldn't really be that bad to work at because all their problems occur in management. Everyone who I've talked to that works at Microsoft loves it, the reasons their products are crap is because they have terrible management, separate people into "teams" which have little communication with each other, then they have separate "teams" working on the same product... which ends up being a mess.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:08AM (#33931470)

    You would be surprised how much rationalization a higher salary can buy.

  • Re:In the End... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:18AM (#33931556) Homepage

    I wouldn't, even as a lowly intern (i.e. zero responsibility) for extreme amounts of pay. Make of that what you will. I did apply to Google for a datacenter job once but, let's be honest, so did a few thousand others no matter what the position. But MS? Beat a path to my door, offer me 50% stock, I don't really care - *if* I took the job it would be only to cash in on it immediately and I'd do the legal minimum necessary, but to actually WORK for them? Nope. Having said this I've probably ruined any chance of actually working for them anyway (as if being a Slashdot regular wouldn't rule you out immediately), and do I care? No, not really. Do they care? Probably not either.

    I made a rule for myself when I left uni - never work for anyone that doesn't appreciate you. It's served me well through my own business (yes, I told customers to bugger off because I didn't like the way they were treating me - still made money, though!) and later employment and I've never had more than a week or so of unhappiness with a job in the 10+ years since - and you couldn't pay me enough to suffer that. I had workplaces change, even people change, to become less hospitable and almost immediately I provided the necessary minimum notice and left for somewhere else - usually for more pay, and more appreciation, and never have a problem finding the next job (I consider a 2-3 week window between jobs HUGE and the past three employments I've had my previous / new employers fighting over me for months and/or I have a definite job offer on the table before my existing employer even knows I'm looking - the new employer would know that I wasn't on notice when they offered the job, but they never cared about that, and I would eventually give due notice to my current employer, but I see that as my skills being in demand).

    I trash Microsoft for making shitty products. I do it as a living, in fact. I also avoid Microsoft products where I can because of this (unfortunately, I work with established AD domains a lot on a contract basis so I can't really avoid Windows, but I have converted several schools to much better products - latest was an installation of OpenOffice in a private school that could EASILY afford site licences for Office but saw the actual benefits of Open software after several little chats). I would also avoid MS as an employer, because I know that even if the job is interesting, the tech is cool, the project was the best in the world, the colleagues were fabulous, the money was ludicrous, that I would have to eventually follow some horribly contrived mission statement, or ill-thought-out company policy (can you use Linux machines as an MS employee without working in their "Linux lab"? What about Firefox? What if I deliberately choose not to use the MS tools and/or develop cross-platform tools to get my job done? Can't see MS releasing those to the public, or even allowing them in the first place), or whatever new management fad is doing the rounds in those-above-me's golfing circles.

    Not everyone sells out for the money. If they do, there's still a limit to what they would do for the money and that might be much lower than you think. But, to be honest, I hereby publicly state that MS can keep all their jobs. I actually make MORE money from going in, fixing up their messes and putting people on the alternatives, and I specialise in mainstream UK schools. The crappier they are, the more I make (Windows Vista and 7 "upgrades" have been an absolute god-send!). But, hell, I turn down jobs because I don't like the approaches of my predecessor there, or because the guy in charge that I would never have to talk to is a complete scumbag, or (another real-world example for me) because it means working for a school that think it's okay to spend £100,000 on upgrading a perfectly good network (and nearly the same again on a network manager) when the kids don't have exercise books to write in. That manager would have been me, but I told them to stick it and went to work for a primary school for 2 years.

  • Re:Yes why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:26AM (#33931632) Journal

    wait, so you're trying to say that the site magically declined?

    Is it hard for people to realize that slashdot hasn't really changed a whole lot from the start?

  • Re:In the End... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:29AM (#33931662)

    We all trash Microsoft for making shitty products, but in the end we would all work for them given the chance.

    I've trashed Microsoft's shitty products, but I don't trash the ones that generally work well. I'm quite happy with Windows 7, thank you.

    But I don't think I'd want to work for them. Partly because I hate writing code, and when I think of Microsoft I think of programming. Obviously they've got some kind of beefy network to handle all that coding... And they need someone to run it all... Which would potentially be the kind of thing I'm interested in... But that brings me to problem #2 - I don't want a giant organization where I wind up with an uber-specialized position. I like my little IT department where I can get involved in literally everything.

  • Re:Oh, I dunno (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:31AM (#33931676)

    Damage it to whom? Given, I'm a *nix admin type, not an application developer. Working at Microsoft would be sort of pointless for me, and since they don't likely have any jobs I'm really qualified for or interested in, however I fail to see how working at MS could be worse for your resume than working at some ridiculous 4square rip-off with a bunch of stoner kids who only program in Ruby.

  • Re:Oh, I dunno (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:34AM (#33931706)
    Depends on the person. Most college graduate have fewer obligations (no spouse, kids, mortgage) and can take more risks. They may want to take jobs that offer the most potential rather than stability. They dream of striking it rich when the company goes IPO. Of course, after a few years of reality, then they might take that MS when their dreams and world changes around them.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by halber_mensch ( 851834 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:38AM (#33931766)
    Um, no. No. A million times no. Microsoft's is losing their grip on all of their endeavors, and you can smell the fear and loathing. It's a juggernaut built on the backs of broken promises and stolen dreams, with an army of giddy fanboys clamoring for their turn to be chewed up and spit out by the machine. No thank you, I'd rather spend my days contented with a decent salary that pays the bills and affords some luxury, and a career that affords me the opportunity to solve interesting problems and leaves my soul intact for myself and my family.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:40AM (#33931822) Homepage

    OK, while personally I think the GP is a bit of an idiot for getting into Computer Science/Software Development with the attitude he has toward closed source software (which is, after all, by far the largest employment segment in software development) I also think your criticisms are ridiculously harsh. He doesn't like the company so he didn't take the interview. It's perfectly valid. I'd never work for Walmart (ignoring the fact that they could never hope to pay me enough below the executive level to even tempt me). His beliefs about F/OSS software are important to him and he chooses not to work for a company that in many ways represents to antithesis of those beliefs. Makes sense to me.

    Now I personally think that open and closed source products can and should coexist; and I will happily (and have happily) work with both. I also think that getting into software development while essentially deliberately cutting off three quarters or more of your most lucrative possible employment avenues is a little silly. Not impossible by any means, and if GP can make it work, power to him; but it seems a little like getting into medicine while not believing morally in the use of any drugs. Sure there's stuff to do in the medical field that doesn't involve drugs, but you've seriously cut into your possible employment opportunities before you even started.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:41AM (#33931842)

    Language evolves, as any linguist will tell you.

    I have my own list of pet peeves (such as "could care less"), but the fact is there's a good chance it'll go from being the phrase of choice among illiterate morons to something in common parlance within a generation. "Begs the question" is a phrase that I'd say is substantially further down that road, to the point where your explanation is probably less well known than the colloquial meaning of "raises the question".

  • Re:Oh, I dunno (Score:4, Insightful)

    by srussia ( 884021 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:48AM (#33931968)

    One of the biggest lessons you can't learn in college: sometimes, a job is worth taking for no reason other than how it contributes to future opportunities. Ditto for taking classes post-college.

    And ditto for college.

  • Re:Yes why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:49AM (#33931980) Journal
    He said "decline in the web-forum discussion arena" which means a relative decline. You don't have to change to decline at all if everyone else is improving around you.

    That said, my only problems with it are what seem to be an increasing number of Troll stories seemingly posted for the sole sake of getting a nice, hit-count generating flamewar going and a certain echo-chamber like quality amongst the mob where it seems people come here to tell each other that their ideas are radical and right (piracy group-think, I'm looking at you) and to shout at people who don't share the group think.

    On topic, why the Hell is this a story? Reasons to work at Microsoft? They pay you money. Or is that out of fashion these days? ;)
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:02AM (#33932186) Homepage Journal
    You can tell just by looking at their products that they obviously have management issues. They often times release products that compete with each other and yet are not compatible at all with each other(2 types of incompatible DRM, 3 different phone operating systems at the same time etc.) And even within products you can tell that there was very little cooperation between groups. The windows UI is such an incoherent mess I have trouble figuring out where anything even is. Everything looks different and to top it all off you often times have settings for the exact same component in more than one place. In XP the firewall could be configured in no less than 3(THREE!) different places and the way each configuration interacted/overrode the other ones was incomprehensible. Compare that with linux where I can just edit the iptables file and be done with it(ok, there is hosts.(allow/deny)....)

    You can tell that many managers at Microsoft seem to still think it's 1998 and Microsoft is it's own biggest competitor. They will do ANYTHING they can to keep their own little empires, and the bonuses that come with them, alive.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:17AM (#33932442)

    You would be a hypocrite to work for a company that conflicts with your moral and ideological beliefs; however, I suspect when you look back in ten years you'll think that your current moral and ideological beliefs were some combination of naive and misguided. Probably not that they were wrong, exactly, but more likely that some things that you thought were very important actually aren't important at all.

    Then kids ten years younger will call you a sell-out and the cycle will repeat.

    That's not to say that you should work for Microsoft (or any specific company) or that you would be happier if you had gone there. There are lots of reasons to like or not like a job, and there are lots of reasons to choose one job over another.

  • Re:In the End... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:39AM (#33932780)
    I'm not surprised. I haven't applied to work at MS nor would I likely do so. The reason is that they abuse the H1-B visa program and for the longest time most of their employees were classified as temps and I don't think that anybody worth hiring deserves to be treated like that.
  • Re:Yes why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:47AM (#33932932) Homepage
    "group-think" aside, I remember signing up here because it seemed to me that slashdot would get the tech news before it really showed up anywhere else, and would cover a lot of the smaller stories that other outlets would let fall through.

    These days I'll hear about tech news through co-workers, radio news, and gawker blogs not just earlier but usually by days or even a week or two. 9 times out of 10 when I see new stories pop up on the Slashdot RSS my reaction is "oh, they're just NOW reporting that?".

    The coverage has dropped down dramatically too, news used to pop up on Slashdot so frequently that I wouldn't have time to read it all and I could pick and choose the articles that interest me the most. The articles on the first page of a given section would only contain news from the last few hours, now those same sections you can see a weeks worth of news on the first page. No longer do I find any hidden gems in terms of news, but instead I only get the stories that have been beaten to death by all the other major outlets. This is the kind of stuff I'd expect to see by a no-name blog with a couple editors working on the break time of their day job... not the supposed king of "news for nerds".

    I don't think the problem is submissions either, but the review and approval process. since the more open firehose/peer voted system it seems the only stories that get through are those that have already become popular elsewhere. it's good in theory but it's clear that in-practice, the system is broken. I'll weed through the poor editing and group-think comments, but goddamn, at least give me some fresh news, as opposed to CNN's sloppy seconds.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:53AM (#33933008) Homepage

    A complete and total lie. Not every one can be bought at least not with money and of course the price some tricky geeks would demand no company is often willing to pay. Sure M$ could change from being an importer of cheap foreign labour, an out sourcer of the first degree, a employer who keeps staff on sack on a moments notice contracts, a company with a terrible reputation for monopolistic abuse and standards skullduggery, a company that prides itself on the bullshit in it's marketing, a company that doesn't understand creativity and kills it with demands for bean counting pseudo proofs and, a company with Steve 'Uncle Fester' Ballmer at the helm.

    At least he was sober enough this time to avoid doing a 'developers, developers, developers' monkey dance but not sober enough to be able to tell the difference between board room waffle and what really motivates computer students to seek employment with a company. A good salary, an exciting and dynamic work place, a healthy and full featured work environment, lots of holidays, full health benefits, taxation assistance, employee purchasing groups, a varied work routine, global employment opportunities, real long term career positions and a supportive and sharing management team - OK Uncle Fester, now that's what future employees want to hear. Now is Ballmer speech his way of saying none of those thing will be on offer any more as M$ seeks to continue to grow profits as revenue looks to be coming under threat.

  • Re:Yes why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Requiem18th ( 742389 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:33AM (#33933556)

    But we come here for the comments anyway.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:04PM (#33934078) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft wouldn't really be that bad to work at because all their problems occur in management.

    And yet all my jobs which have turned into nightmares were because of problems in management.

    If your manager is ineffectual you can't work. If your manager is a bastard you may be thrown to the wolves. A bad manager is the number one thing to fuck up a good job.

  • by lalena ( 1221394 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:05PM (#33934092) Homepage
    For those wanting to discuss the article instead of Microsoft bashing...
    I liked the insight into How to get ahead the best. - Maintaining skills, performing good work, meeting commitments, act on your ideas, no unnecessary gossip...
    I would hire this guy if I could based on that one blog post.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.