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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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  • In the End... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:52AM (#33931346)
    We all trash Microsoft for making shitty products, but in the end we would all work for them given the chance.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MoeDrippins ( 769977 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:08AM (#33931478)

    Well, yes and no. It'd be interesting, but I have a friend in the Bing group and he's turned so totally fanboy about it that it's sickening on the level of listening to a true believer evangelist. Perhaps he always was and I never saw it, and perhaps it's more him than the company, but if working there turns off your critical thinking so wholly... no thanks.

  • Answers: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Seth Kriticos ( 1227934 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:13AM (#33931510)

    Why Microsoft?
    Easy. Limited possibilities, so you don't have to think much, or solve real problems. Many mediocre job opportunities.

    Why not?
    Difficult, you are faced with real challenges, which some folks find positive. Also much better pay and growing market. You also get much less dispensable at some random downsizing. Ethically correct.

  • by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:22AM (#33931594)

    Microsoft will pay you well and you feel you are part of a community.

    The downside is that you have to hide your MacBookPro and iPhone from public view.

    You're modded funny of course but it has quite a bit of truth.
    Apple does not pay well. Microsoft pays better.
    Microsoft makes you part of their community, Apple does not, everything is segmented and you have no access to other's information.

    Arguably, Google is more Microsoft-like, except you're also allowed to bring your MacBook at Google :P (however, forget about the iPhone, it's N1!!)

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

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:22AM (#33931598)
    It makes a lot of sense not to join the army if you don't like/trust the president.

    It doesn't make sense to not work as a high-paid lower-level employee if you don't like the CEO because chances are, his decisions will only slightly affect you.
  • by TheUser0x58 ( 733947 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:30AM (#33931666) Homepage
    You joke, but I contracted there a few years back, and at one high-level meeting I sat in on, half of the managers present had iPhones and wielded them shamelessly. I was the only one with a MacBook Pro... but it was running Windows.
  • Re:In the End... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:30AM (#33931668) Homepage Journal
    If we had the chance is the issue. Although everyone makes a big deal about how the many of the leaders of Tech companies got that way because they were smart and motivated, not because they had a big degree, I find it interesting that such an emphasis is placed on recruiting from top tier colleges.

    If one believes that a mix of workers is best, those that have been trained in the status quo at top tier schools, those that have not been brainwashed by the top tier schools into thinking all their creative ideas are bad because they don' conform, and those that are just plain smart, then the problem with MS is obvious.

    They are controlled by what has been deemed a good idea by b-schools, not what are in reality good ideas.

    So yes, if MS did hire people who were innovative, and not just those that have awarded a degree, then it would be worth to be given a chance of working there.

  • Re:In the End... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:32AM (#33931692)

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

    I wouldn't. Interviewed there, got an offer, but decided I would be happier elsewhere.

    Please don't confuse yourself with "everyone". There is a huge amount of variation between people, and the assumption that everyone thinks or would act as you would is clearly wrong most of the time. True wisdom is having the courage and humility to say "I don't know" to almost every question that involves the actions of people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:34AM (#33931716)

    I once got asked by a recruiter to interview for a Microsoft job but, despite offering a better salary, I told the recruiter I simply didn't want to work for a software company where "proprietary" is the watchword. (I currently work in the telecoms industry for a company that does pretty much everything on Linux).

    However, I recommended a colleague (who I knew wasn't happy with his job) to the recruiter & he ended up getting the Microsoft job & a better salary. As far as I know, he's still there & happy.

    Just because you don't care much for what a company produces does not mean the company is not a good place to work.

  • Re:"Not Sexy" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:38AM (#33931786)

    I think you're kind of missing the point.

    Why should I work for X? is certainly a valid question. Depending on the company you have different pros and cons. Maybe they pay well, but they've got crappy benefits. Maybe they don't pay so good but they've got great benefits. Maybe there's tremendous name recognition. Maybe there's an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something spectacular. Whatever.

    What's vaguely interesting about this is that until fairly recently, nobody would have asked that question about Microsoft because the answer was flat-out obvious.

    They were, for a very long time, the IT company to work for. They were big. They were doing interesting things. They were turning out huge products. Everyone used their software. It almost didn't matter what they were paying, people wanted to work for them.

    That's changing. And that's why this is a story.

    It isn't flat-out obvious anymore. And there are plenty of reasons why you wouldn't want to work for Microsoft. Or why you'd rather work for someone else.

  • Re:Yes why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @09:59AM (#33932134)

    other outlets on the web provide more open ideas

    Those other outlets being? All technical web forum discussion seems to be in decline. Probably because you used to have to be technical to be on the web at all, now you don't.

  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:12AM (#33932338)

    Microsoft makes you part of their community, Apple does not, everything is segmented and you have no access to other's information.

    Another thing to consider is the country you live in and what influence it has on the product design and development.

    I know of quite a few people who work in big US-centric organisations (but are based outside of the US) and although they have a job title that implies that they have responsibilities, they really are only performing a sales/account management role and have to report back to someone in the US who really makes the decisions.

    I worked on the launch of a mobile phone a couple of years ago where we found out more about the product from the pages of Engadget than we did from the product team at that very company. It turned out that they didn't find out any information internally until the last minute - when often it had already been leaked throughout the internet and be seen by their clients.

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

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:12AM (#33932352)

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


    The careers person at the CS department at my university, when explaining the process for applying for jobs for our placement year, said something like "[because of how good this university is] Barclays will employ 50 of you, Morgan Stanley 60, Goldman Sachs 25, (etc, etc)". There were 48 students. She then seemed surprised when someone asked about working somewhere that wasn't a bank -- half the salary, but ten times as interesting. Some people are motivated by money (half to two thirds, IIRC), others will take something average, and a few will take something relatively low paid but very interesting (e.g. games AI or film industry CGI stuff).

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

    by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:40PM (#33934518)
    Defense contractor, where I primarily develop on OSS. I know it sounds strange since that line of work does conflict with others' political and ideological beliefs (see Bowling for Columbine), but it doesn't conflict with mine.
  • by JAlexoi ( 1085785 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @05:59PM (#33939424) Homepage
    Divisionised big companies tend to have that problem... They declare "Total synergy" in operations, but in reality different cultures in different divisions make it an internally hostile environment.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.