Thoughts after Microsoft's Company Meeting
I don’t normally talk much about internal happenings but there’s been lots of chatter following the company meeting yesterday. Even Mini-MSFT (who doesn’t know what an employment agreement looks like) was happy. Sanaz was wowed. Scoble was impressed. Even the unauthorized Microsoft blog nets out positively.
To put things in perspective, I’m no longer a newbie but recognizing I’m becoming a seasoned veteran at Microsoft (who joined post-“stock payout” by about 12 months). This was my ninth company meeting. I’m working on my fourth OS launch and have two “Ship It” awards filled with over a dozen products and technologies I’ve played a part in shipping. It could be easy to become jaded. I prefer the term “pragmatic” in my approach as I’ve tasted kool aid and briny water alike over the years.
Yesterday, Bob, the manager at my local grocery store saw my Microsoft hat and asked me,
“So, you work for Microsoft?”
“Yes” I replied”
“I read this morning you’re having some trouble?” he said
“We’re staying the course” I responded and smiled.
You know what? I was wrong. We aren’t staying the course. The course is different, the “ship” is finalizing a major refit. Two years we stood-down to re-engineer our security processes. A year ago, we did the same for engineering the OS. This is responsible engineering, which takes more time but puts a premium on the customer experience. The recent reorg further clarifies who is in command, and the controls they will use to speed up the pipeline in a responsible way.
Further cementing this, after reading the surprisingly frank article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal detailing what went wrong with the first incarnation of Longhorn, the thought kept popping into my head, “The first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem and the will to do something about it.”
So what are my thoughts after the company meeting?
Two words: Hopeful and focused. Hopeful that others will recognize the changes that have been made to the customers’ long-term benefit, and hopeful that the recent reorg will focus efforts on the challenges both near and long-term. What I’ve seen is encouraging so far and our team has managed to stay largely focused on our charter.
What’s more, the “shock and awe” of products as Scoble describes it is just starting (as early as Monday ;)). And when you consider what’s coming down the pike, the largest and most focused set of releases – from Xbox 360, to Windows Vista, to Office, to Visual Studio, to our server, small business, and enterprise solutions and more are all coming. Microsoft has never had a compelling product pipeline like this before.
A few weeks ago, another article, this time in The New York Times (08/28/05), noted:
“On Wall Street, however, a recent tally by Thomson Financial showed that of 34 security analysts following the company, 30 recommended that Microsoft be bought. Only one advised selling … [T]he dominant sentiment on Wall Street is upbeat, Mr. Friedman said. “The word people are using with Microsoft right now,” he said, “is ‘renaissance.’ “
I wondered the first time I read this article whether Mr. Friedman knew something I did not. After seeing it lined up at the company meeting, it’s starting to make sense. I just hope that for others like Bob, they don’t have to wait too long to see it too.