Happy at work at Microsoft

Michael Brundage has written a very interesting piece on what it’s like to work at Microsoft.

The good includes personal freedom, the top leaders, free soft drinks and the fact that Microsoft contrary to popular belief is not evil. For instance:

Microsoft gives software developers a lot of personal freedom over both the work and the work environment. I order my own supplies, customize my office as I see fit, schedule my own trips and meetings, and select my own training courses. I choose when I show up for work and when I leave, and what to wear while I’m there. I can eat on campus or off, reheat something from home in the kitchen or scavenge leftovers from meetings. I can even work remotely from home (within reason).

The bad: mid-level managers, internal “cults” and bad work-life balance.

Compare this with Paul Thurrott’s highly critical analysis of Microsoft’s failure to deliver Windows Vista on time or even with all the feature they promised.

Two and a half years later, Microsoft has yet to ship Windows Vista, and it won’t actually ship this system in volume until 2007… Microsoft’s handling of Windows Vista has been abysmal. Promises have been made and forgotten, again and again. Features have come and gone. Heck, the entire project was literally restarted from scratch after it became obvious that the initial code base was a teetering, technological house of cards. Windows Vista, in other words, has been an utter disaster. And it’s not even out yet. What the heck went wrong?

It almost seems like Microsoft is an example of a company that has a huge, tremendously talented and motivated staff, but still manages to create enormous problems for itself. Does this contradict my claim that a happy organization is also a successful one?

UPDATE: John Dvorak weighs on on the issue.

All of Microsoft’s Internet-era public-relations and legal problems (in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column—billions.

So they’re happy at Microsoft but they make really bad top-level decisions..?

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