Microsoft brain drain?

I just got a press release that Tjeerd Hoek, director or user experience design for Microsoft Windows, is now executive creative director of software and hardware convergence at Frog Design.

Tjeerd was well liked and well respected inside Microsoft.

Microsoft is seemingly in the middle of a full-bore executive cleanout. I’ve seen tons of executives leave, particularly in the MSN/Live division that’s struggling to compete with Google. Nearly every executive I knew inside that division is now gone.

Just a few days ago Mary Jo Foley reported that Dane Glasgow left, following Chris Payne. Mary Jo also has a report on Microsoft’s financial results, which were pretty darn good overall (they better be, a new copy of Windows and Office shipped). The question now is “will the sales of those sustain over several quarters?” Microsoft’s guideance says it will.

130 thoughts on “Microsoft brain drain?

  1. I agree with several post here, but let’s be honest with ourselves; MS is sliding. Full stop.

    Their leadership is stagnant and focused on the wrong things. So what if they have tons of money. They are still losing relevancy every year.

    Look at IBM. They, too, have billions in the bank, but they have lost so much power in the last ten years. They were once in the catbird seat as well, much like MS has been, but all things come to an end. The problem with most people’s thinking is that people assume there has to be a #1, an obvious market king. There doesn’t. The problem with MS is they care more about the money than their reputation. Look at Apple. Much, much smaller than MS, but they rewrote Mac OS and actually made it 100% better. If Apple can do it, MS can do it if they wanted to. People say it’s impossible. Not true. MS could focus on rewriting its OS and making it much better. MS’s problem is that they suffer from the “NIH syndrome” (not invented here). In other words, if they didn’t invent it, they won’t use it, but that’s a crap outlook. If MS really wanted to make their OS tops, they should take the FreeBSD kernel as a base and write their own GUI on top of it. This would give them a rock solid base to start with. They could do this in a couple of years with no problem if their leadership just wanted to actually make something good for a change.

  2. I agree with several post here, but let’s be honest with ourselves; MS is sliding. Full stop.

    Their leadership is stagnant and focused on the wrong things. So what if they have tons of money. They are still losing relevancy every year.

    Look at IBM. They, too, have billions in the bank, but they have lost so much power in the last ten years. They were once in the catbird seat as well, much like MS has been, but all things come to an end. The problem with most people’s thinking is that people assume there has to be a #1, an obvious market king. There doesn’t. The problem with MS is they care more about the money than their reputation. Look at Apple. Much, much smaller than MS, but they rewrote Mac OS and actually made it 100% better. If Apple can do it, MS can do it if they wanted to. People say it’s impossible. Not true. MS could focus on rewriting its OS and making it much better. MS’s problem is that they suffer from the “NIH syndrome” (not invented here). In other words, if they didn’t invent it, they won’t use it, but that’s a crap outlook. If MS really wanted to make their OS tops, they should take the FreeBSD kernel as a base and write their own GUI on top of it. This would give them a rock solid base to start with. They could do this in a couple of years with no problem if their leadership just wanted to actually make something good for a change.

  3. #63: Oh, I’m sure I don’t have the inside scoop. I know a few people who worked for Hillel and they liked him, though.

    But seems that Microsoft doesn’t listen to people who try to take UX further than what it already is. I’m actually shocked that Julie Larsen Green’s team pushed Office to a new UI. I think that’s really the biggest story I saw develop at Microsoft.

    It’ll be interesting if she can do something similar with Windows.

  4. #63: Oh, I’m sure I don’t have the inside scoop. I know a few people who worked for Hillel and they liked him, though.

    But seems that Microsoft doesn’t listen to people who try to take UX further than what it already is. I’m actually shocked that Julie Larsen Green’s team pushed Office to a new UI. I think that’s really the biggest story I saw develop at Microsoft.

    It’ll be interesting if she can do something similar with Windows.

  5. MSFT is an enormous tree that’s severed at the roots, and is just starting to topple. The brain drain has been going on for a decade now, the share price has been flat since the monkey-boy got the big chair, and any recruit who gets the choice between Google, Apple, and the Evil Empire would be nuts to move up to that intellectual desert in Washington state. The big payout days are gone, and all that MSFT shareholders and employees have to look forward to is a long decline,

    UNLESS

    The shareholders revolt right now, and fire Ballmer and at least his top six layers of cronies. For god’s sake, any company that lets a poseur like Allard ever speak to the press, that can actually imagine that the zune could make a dent in the music-player market, that can take SIX BLOODY YEARS before realizing that longhorn was a total loss, is in big, big trouble.

    MSFT doesn’t matter anymore. It’s nothing but the vendor of the second-rate legacy crap that we’ll all be helping our clients move off of for the next decade. The customers who care whether their systems actually work will go to Linux and Mac OS X, with Linux grabbing most of the servers, and Mac OS X grabbing most of the desktops.

  6. MSFT is an enormous tree that’s severed at the roots, and is just starting to topple. The brain drain has been going on for a decade now, the share price has been flat since the monkey-boy got the big chair, and any recruit who gets the choice between Google, Apple, and the Evil Empire would be nuts to move up to that intellectual desert in Washington state. The big payout days are gone, and all that MSFT shareholders and employees have to look forward to is a long decline,

    UNLESS

    The shareholders revolt right now, and fire Ballmer and at least his top six layers of cronies. For god’s sake, any company that lets a poseur like Allard ever speak to the press, that can actually imagine that the zune could make a dent in the music-player market, that can take SIX BLOODY YEARS before realizing that longhorn was a total loss, is in big, big trouble.

    MSFT doesn’t matter anymore. It’s nothing but the vendor of the second-rate legacy crap that we’ll all be helping our clients move off of for the next decade. The customers who care whether their systems actually work will go to Linux and Mac OS X, with Linux grabbing most of the servers, and Mac OS X grabbing most of the desktops.

  7. Tjeerd: meh. Jenny: big deal. I know who they are, and I’ve never been snowed by Flash demos of an operating system, unlike some people I know.

    Congrats to Maryam, btw.

    I’ll say hi tomorrow in Vegas. You’re right about them bolting when Sinofsky came in, but I don’t think you have the full story.

  8. Tjeerd: meh. Jenny: big deal. I know who they are, and I’ve never been snowed by Flash demos of an operating system, unlike some people I know.

    Congrats to Maryam, btw.

    I’ll say hi tomorrow in Vegas. You’re right about them bolting when Sinofsky came in, but I don’t think you have the full story.

  9. The problem with Linux( and opens source to some extent) is that all the for-arguments are theoretically flawless. But the practical aspect is nowhere as good as the ‘vision’.

    Theroetically, Linux can be recomipled to support native langugaes, modified to fit the social life of a country like India, available for free…But note that this hasn’t happened. Why?

    In India, the OEMs hold a much smaller pie in the PC market. A lot of local vendors thrive on assembling and selling a PC. I would guess about 50% of the PC market is handled by these guys. The long arm of MSFT marketing doesn’t reach these vendors. In theory, this is a great opportunity for Linux to come in and take a big chunk. But this never happened. There are a huge number of educational institutions that would rather run pirated copies of windows than install Linux.

    May be the problem is the absence of a commercial entity thats willing to push Linux. But then, for that entity to make money he needs to do something un-GPL so he is not going to dive in at all…

  10. The problem with Linux( and opens source to some extent) is that all the for-arguments are theoretically flawless. But the practical aspect is nowhere as good as the ‘vision’.

    Theroetically, Linux can be recomipled to support native langugaes, modified to fit the social life of a country like India, available for free…But note that this hasn’t happened. Why?

    In India, the OEMs hold a much smaller pie in the PC market. A lot of local vendors thrive on assembling and selling a PC. I would guess about 50% of the PC market is handled by these guys. The long arm of MSFT marketing doesn’t reach these vendors. In theory, this is a great opportunity for Linux to come in and take a big chunk. But this never happened. There are a huge number of educational institutions that would rather run pirated copies of windows than install Linux.

    May be the problem is the absence of a commercial entity thats willing to push Linux. But then, for that entity to make money he needs to do something un-GPL so he is not going to dive in at all…

  11. Things have changed dramatically since then.

    One of the greatest strengths of Linux now is its documentation. Some areas are still shaky, but remember, most open source software is written by people like me and you, not corporate interests with bankfuls of money.

    Let me explain the problem to you. Not all Indians speak English. The ones I’m concerned about probably don’t even speak Hindi, Tamil, or Telagu. They speak some ancient dialect that has absolutely no software written for it.

    The closed source Windows environment prevents them from extending the program to suit their languages and needs. It’s also not at a price point that matters to people like these — free.

    You could make the analogy of the man and the fish here very easily.

    Give these people MS and they compute for a while.
    Gove these people Linux and they can change their whole life by altering the software to meet their specific needs of language, other nuances.

  12. Things have changed dramatically since then.

    One of the greatest strengths of Linux now is its documentation. Some areas are still shaky, but remember, most open source software is written by people like me and you, not corporate interests with bankfuls of money.

    Let me explain the problem to you. Not all Indians speak English. The ones I’m concerned about probably don’t even speak Hindi, Tamil, or Telagu. They speak some ancient dialect that has absolutely no software written for it.

    The closed source Windows environment prevents them from extending the program to suit their languages and needs. It’s also not at a price point that matters to people like these — free.

    You could make the analogy of the man and the fish here very easily.

    Give these people MS and they compute for a while.
    Gove these people Linux and they can change their whole life by altering the software to meet their specific needs of language, other nuances.

  13. “They deserve freedom to innovate and join the 21st century. Windows doesn’t allow this freedom”

    I don’t get why a closed OS automatically implies lack of freedom. Personally, MS technologies helped *a lot* during college days. In fact for a country like India with low tech awareness windows is a better option to start learning tech.

    The first ever OS i was exposed was SCO. I was ‘learning’ C using ‘vi’ and ‘cc’. In thos pre-internet days the product documentation was everything. I had a really really tough time figuring out even simple APIs like printf and scanf using ‘man’. Then came MSDN and Visual Studio 4. It was like paradise…This was not an isolated experience, almost everyone in the my batch went through this.

    On the job, my first GUI programming was with GTK and RHL 6 (maybe 7). It was so hard that i had to spend 90% of my time trying to fight with these tools than do the job i was paid for. That was the last time i used Linux….

  14. “They deserve freedom to innovate and join the 21st century. Windows doesn’t allow this freedom”

    I don’t get why a closed OS automatically implies lack of freedom. Personally, MS technologies helped *a lot* during college days. In fact for a country like India with low tech awareness windows is a better option to start learning tech.

    The first ever OS i was exposed was SCO. I was ‘learning’ C using ‘vi’ and ‘cc’. In thos pre-internet days the product documentation was everything. I had a really really tough time figuring out even simple APIs like printf and scanf using ‘man’. Then came MSDN and Visual Studio 4. It was like paradise…This was not an isolated experience, almost everyone in the my batch went through this.

    On the job, my first GUI programming was with GTK and RHL 6 (maybe 7). It was so hard that i had to spend 90% of my time trying to fight with these tools than do the job i was paid for. That was the last time i used Linux….

  15. “I notice you conveniently avoided discussing the political ramifications of the world and where it is heading”
    Yes, Noway i am getting in to a political argument…

    “Again, please remember that 99% of the people out there are not geeks”
    Exactly, all they need is something that will just run, easy to use and learn. This is where i feel Linux has let down users

    “Look at our own government. Vista has been banned from almost all government networks, and not only here”
    Untrue. LOT of gov agencies have said vista upgrades have ben put on hold for the time being and they also said this is very much a normal practice that happened with XP also. See this – http://news.com.com/2008-1016_3-6169494.html

  16. “I notice you conveniently avoided discussing the political ramifications of the world and where it is heading”
    Yes, Noway i am getting in to a political argument…

    “Again, please remember that 99% of the people out there are not geeks”
    Exactly, all they need is something that will just run, easy to use and learn. This is where i feel Linux has let down users

    “Look at our own government. Vista has been banned from almost all government networks, and not only here”
    Untrue. LOT of gov agencies have said vista upgrades have ben put on hold for the time being and they also said this is very much a normal practice that happened with XP also. See this – http://news.com.com/2008-1016_3-6169494.html

  17. @50 “Even if I’m wrong about Linux gaining in popularity, which I am not, since I read news from around the world daily, MS is still in trouble.”

    BZZZZZ! Sorry! Not good enough. Please provide actual data.

  18. @50 “Even if I’m wrong about Linux gaining in popularity, which I am not, since I read news from around the world daily, MS is still in trouble.”

    BZZZZZ! Sorry! Not good enough. Please provide actual data.

  19. @43 “I would be interested to know why Jim Allchin left MS. Could you post a little here? I’m sure many people would be interested to know.”

    Could it be nothing more than the fact that he had more money than he knew what to do with and the fact that he had some personal health issues he was dealing with and simply wanted to enjoy life a little. Perhaps devote more of his time to the Prostate Cancer Foundation?> You think that could be even REMOTELY possible?

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