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Microsoft Businesses

Satya Nadella At Six Months: Grading Microsoft's New CEO 151

snydeq writes The future emerging for Microsoft under Nadella is a mixed bag of hope and turmoil, writes Woody Leonhard in his review of Nadella's first fix months at the helm of Microsoft. "When Nadella took over, Microsoft was mired in the aftermath of a lengthy and ultimately unpopular reign by longtime CEO — and Microsoft majority shareholder — Steve Ballmer. Given the constraint of that checkered past, some might argue that Nadella hasn't had enough time to make his imprint on every aspect of Microsoft. Yet there have been many changes already under Nadella's watch, and patterns are certainly emerging as to the kind of company Microsoft will be in the years ahead." Leadership, product lines, financials — Nadella's scorecard shows strong strategic leadership, particularly around the cloud, but Windows and devices are murky at best, with Microsoft employees "taking it in the shorts, and not only in Finland."
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Satya Nadella At Six Months: Grading Microsoft's New CEO

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  • Re:Not that hard IMO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:19PM (#47601407)

    Some very astute comments.

    Apple has seen the light in not charging for OSX. They will make their margins elsewhere.
    On the othehand, Microsoft can't even give Windows 8 away so they have a precidence already to not charge for Windows.

    If they don't, where is the money (viz income) going to come from in the Operating System space?
    They don't seem to have a clue really.
    Their focus on the 'cloud' could have a big impact on their bottom line. Can they charge a $200-$1000 license fee for an Instance that may only last a few hours/days/weeks? Nope.

    so, once again... Where is the income going to come from?

    Satya is IMHO between a rock and a hard place. Balmer has left him up shit creek without a paddle.
    IMHO, it will be up to his successor to make or break MS. Satya will fix a few of the more obvious things that are wrong with MS. Then he'll head off to pastures new, a very rich man.

    Personally, I think MS is at a crossroads. They might do well to look at the maschinations of DEC in the 1994-1997 timeframe. I see a lot of similarities with MS in 2014.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:24PM (#47601435)

    What I find particularly interesting is that your argument applies, pretty much word for word, to Mozilla just as well as it applies to Microsoft.

    The importance of Mozilla is a thing of the past. It has been eclipsed in all major areas except its Desktop Browser software. It has tried frantically to wedge its foot in the door in such disparate areas as phones, games, personal electronics, media, and authentication. It has been out-competed at every turn by other, more agile and newer, companies. It is simply a matter of time before most people life their lives free of the Mozilla parasite and unless you are a political correctness lackey, you can actually do so right now.

    This probably shouldn't be surprising, though. Mozilla arose as a response to Microsoft's 1990s-era tactics. Mozilla's only remaining product that still sees any use, the desktop version of Firefox, was meant to compete directly with Internet Explorer back when it was the dominant browser. As the Microsoft of the 1990s has slowly faded, morphing into the rather different organization that it is now, the driving force behind Mozilla has lessened.

    This may explain why Mozilla is such a mess right now. Like Microsoft, their cause is gone, and they're being out-competed at every step by Apple, Google, and other organizations. Their new products are me-too responses to what others have been successful at doing years earlier. They've trashed their existing products through horrendously botched UI redesigns. Their leadership and mission is in turmoil. There has been one scandal after another, from all those shenanigans involving their former CEO offending certain small but vocal groups to the recent MDN email and password data leak.

    While some may have seen Microsoft and Mozilla as opposites, today I think they're more alike than they are different. They're both becoming increasingly irrelevant in a fast-changing world that really has no need for either of them. And neither really knows how to compete in this very different landscape.

  • Re:Not that hard IMO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:43PM (#47601583)

    It is even worse than you seem to think. The OS doesn't matter anymore. Everything is in the browser and cloud now.

    Microsoft has nothing left to hold us hostage with.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:06PM (#47601709)

    Been there. Done that. Yep, I sure worked a lot harder. But it was mostly on pushing resumes out the door and getting job interviews. Kissing your boss's ass and hoping not to be homeless next month is no way to live, especially when your boss and his boss are all in the same boat. Much better to spend your time finding a company where you have a future.

    Of course, everyone else feels the same way. A year or two down the road, the only folks left are the ones who can't find work elsewhere. Not exactly the cream of the crop there...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:13PM (#47601743)

    The hiring manager was a Director and had trouble understanding moderately clever/optimized solutions to CS200 problems.

    I fail to see why that's a problem unless he was the one conducting the technical portion of the interview.

    It's a problem for two reasons.

    1. Yes, he was conducting an interview that was partly technical in nature. So he asked me that lame CS200 question. Because the question was so easy I thought I'd present an optimized solution. Big mistake. The dude didn't have the chops to understand it. He was _really_ confused. Actually I suspect that he had learned the textbook answer and that's all he knew.

    2. I don't know if you've ever worked in software development under a technically incompetent manager but I can assure you from personal experience (10 years at MS) that it's horrible. Basically you can see asinine decision after asinine decision being made. You _know_ the project is headed for the cliff and there's very little you can do to fix it because the guy in charge who's smarter than you (Why would he be your boss if he wasn't? The all powerful "system" is infallible) doesn't know any better.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:13PM (#47601747)

    If they don't, where is the money (viz income) going to come from in the Operating System space?

    Windows is going to be a cash cow for some time to come. I really don't see that changing even with the debacle that is Windows 8.

    Satya is IMHO between a rock and a hard place. Balmer has left him up shit creek without a paddle.

    Not really because he has one HUGE card he can play. Microsoft has approximately $100 billion in cash and cash equivalents. They can simply buy other companies if their core business starts to erode faster than they can build up new businesses. They have almost enough cash to buy both General Motors and Ford at their current market caps. They could buy Hewlett Packard in cash and have enough left over to buy Best Buy, Blackberry, and the wildly overpriced Tesla Motors.

    Microsoft may have serious problems in their Windows and Office business but they are by no means stuck for options if they care to exercise them.

  • Great Job So Far (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:23PM (#47601809) Homepage
    From 18,000 job cuts m$ has a fine leader at the helm. Maybe we can see more reasons to flush the H1B visa?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:46PM (#47602017)

    how you characterized the dysfunction in how MS identified its top performers

    When a director in a software development org can't wrap their head around a CS200 type exercise, it is pretty clear that they do not belong. People like that are now the norm at MS. It wasn't the case 15 years ago. It is now.

    I have worked at MS. I have interviewed MS employees who were trying to leave. I have worked with / for ex MSFTees. My rule of thumb is, anybody who was at MS in a management role is useless. My first job after MS was across the lake. I saw 3 managers come there from MS (two of them directors) and be told to pack up within a year. They all went back to the mothership.

    I have since moved to the Bay area and the worst manager I've had here was from .... surprise, surprise ... MS. So incompetent it was comedic. The most technically advanced feedback I got from him was "can you add color to that chart?". He was unsurprisingly dismissed after less than a year and went straight back to MS.

    That's not to say there aren't good people at MS. I've met some. But almost without fail they're individual contributors. And the review system almost always fails to identify them as valuable employees. Actually some of the best people I've ever worked with I hired during the early 2009 MS layoffs. Somehow that round of cost-cutting seemed to target individual contributors with 10+ years of experience. Those guys were great. Much higher caliber than our typical MS interviewees. That alone tells me that Redmond HR doesn't do a good job.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @04:02PM (#47602165)

    Not really because he has one HUGE card he can play. Microsoft has approximately $100 billion in cash and cash equivalents. They can simply buy other companies if their core business starts to erode faster than they can build up new businesses.

    You're underestimating Microsoft's ability to destroy everything it touches. I have two words for you: aQuantive and Danger. Both wiped out completely. Ms had to write-off every last cent of goodwill from those acquisitions that they had on their books.

    The thing is, the culture at MS is toxic. The inmates are ruling the asylum. Anything they attempt to right the ship is likely to fail because no matter how logical and well intentioned the strategy is, it will have to overcome internal politics, empire-building, technical incompetence and all the other ills that plague MS. That place makes Lord of the Flies look like a vacation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @05:27PM (#47602725)

    I used to believe a "purge" is what they needed. Then came the 2009 layoffs.

    I had left MS several years ago and in my new job, right across the lake, I would see a steady flow of MS candidates, most of them mediocre.
    Then in late January 2009, MS announced its first ever mass layoffs. We got a tidal waves of resumes and spent a few weeks doing a lot more interviews than usual. To my surprise, those candidates were WAY BETTER than anything we'd seen out of Redmond. We literally had our picks. I had to turn down people I would have killed for 2 weeks prior.

    What that told me is that the system is so screwed up, politics are so ingrained, that in the event of a purge, the troublemakers will be the ones to save themselves. The rules of the purge will be decided by those who are the problem.

    Even assuming that they changed their review system, I don't think people will alter their behaviors. They've been tricked before. I think it was in 2005 that Lisa Brummel, VP of HR, announced that "the curve" was dead (i.e. there wouldn't be a required quota of underperformers anymore). That was a lie. Anybody who believed it and let their guard down got hammered at review time. At this point any attempt to end the political chicanery will be seen as yet another dirty trick.

    Working at MS is like going to the Thunderdome every day of your life. You have a stick or a knife, or a chainsaw, and the guy in front of you has a weapon as well. And all the sudden Tina Turner yells "it's over, put down your weapons, no more fighting, from now on everybody wins". Would you feel comfortable being the first to let your guard down? There's no coming back from a culture where backstabbing, lying, stealing and taking credit for your colleagues' work are everyday occurrences.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982