Daily Archives: April 27, 2006

Another test of “is Microsoft listening?”

Rod Boothby, a manager with Ernst & Young, has an awesome post about what he wants from a Web Office, among other things. He wants us to make a decent internal enterprise blogging platform. Why? When it's already done. It's called Blogtronix. I got another demo the other night and it's much better than anything I've seen to date. Oh, he already pointed that out in his post.

Wants me to send his paper on the next wave in productivity tools to Ray Ozzie. Oh, that way of convincing teams is SO yesterday! :-)

I'll just lay it out here. I bet Ray gets it within a few hours of my post. Seriously. Ray gets this new world better than almost anyone.

Regarding moving quickly (a point he brings up) I've been talking with teams about this a lot. And I'm noticing a lot of teams that are using the new "Scrum" methodology.

Here's what is going on. Old-style apps, like Excel, are developed using the "Waterfall" style methodology. You know, spec it out, develop it after that, then test it and fix stuff, then beta test it, then ship it. 18 month ship cycles (or four to six years for OS's).

Scrum says "do all that all together in eight week cycles."

The question is, can you move a massive team like the ones that develop Office and Windows to a scrum model where you ship every few months and get feedback on the new stuff that's added, and then turn around and ship again.

Can customers deal with such a model? I don't think so. Why? Deployment. Scrum is great for a model where deploying is just pushing new bits out to a small set of machines. Ala a Web site. But it's not good for when you need people to download bits, and install them.

But, it's fun to watch how the new agile models are getting played with and adopted inside the teams that build Visual Studio, for instance.

It's interesting times to be a software developer, that's for sure.

By the way, I'm in. I want better productivity tools. I can't deal with the flow of RSS feeds and email and phone calls and decisions and info and tasks and all that.

I'm finding I'm having to adopt to the new flow in my life and find ways to deal. I know others are dealing with the same thing (that's why David Allen's book is a best seller five years after he wrote it).

What do you think of Rod's ideas?

Microsoft misses earning estimates

Turns out that selling tons of Xbox 360's for a loss, and hiring lots of new Windows Live (er, MSN) employees, while doing something else that'll increase costs in the future (our execs just gave guidance, but didn't explain why they think expenses are going up), means that we miss earnings estimates.

Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Monitor has the most complete analysis of our fiscal 2006 Q3 results. The market doesn't like these results and is pounding our stock lower by around 6% in after market trading.

CNBC is reporting "Microsoft slammed on earnings report." More on Memeorandum.

The market is a mean and unforgiving place. Our profits are up 13%, but our stock is down. It all comes to expectations and stockholders don't like the increased expectations on the cost side of the balance sheet.

On the other hand, Xbox sales are higher than expected, and that will turn into profits in future years (the more games, and other things, sold on each Xbox brings in money that counteracts the money we're losing on each one sold).

As a blogger who works for a company, and is also a shareholder, I'm always wondering just what I should say about such events?

I know that talking about financials is about the biggest risk there is for those of us who live our lives in the public eye. I know people who've been fired from other companies for doing just that.

So, I'm just going to lay it out there and play it straight.

What would you like employees to tell you in situations like this?

Help Stefan get his Mac

Stefan Constantienescu has been a reader of my blog for a long time (and hangs out on Channel 9). When he told me about his plans for buying a new computer that he couldn't afford, I wanted to hold off on posting it and see if he could make something happen on his own.

He did. He raised $1,000.

Let's go further and get him a MacBook. That costs $2,000 plus taxes (I might be able to get him an employee discount via my brother-in-law which would help). I'll throw in a copy of Windows XP so he can switch back and forth every day (his whole schtick was "make me switch"). :-)