Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Friday, September 29, 2006

Microstiff – Live Services Marketing Matrix – 2010 (or…the miscellaneous ramblings of a “Cloud Dreamer”?)

Below is a decision matrix showing the four (4) common types of computer users and their estimated likelihood of Live Services usage vs. the estimated likelihood of significant payoff to Microsoft and and Microsoft's subscribing advertisers.

If this anecdotal rationale is on target, then the users most likely to benefit from using Live services are small business users and home users with high bandwidth. Those least likely to benefit are home users with dial up because of their limited incomes and slow download times and big businesses because of their legacy systems and aversion to ad-supported software solutions.

Also, here are some benefits of using Live Services.

Small Business Users
  1. No LAN or Server required - means all the costs associated with care and feeding of a server/LAN are unncessary.
  2. Low maintenance involved in storing and backing up information - it can be redundantly stored on line, free from fire and disaster (and the need to bring your dvd with you in the car).
  3. Information shared among many users on high speed Internet vs. bottlenecked LAN; great for collaboration and/or specialization of labor (A/R, A/P, Billing, Payroll)
  4. No program installation and upgrading woes/fees - it's all located off site and upgraded daily/periodically.
  5. Rapid updating/processing of user numerical information - huge files -- accounting, contact, project-- can be updated at the server farm where all the processing power resides.
  6. Less expensive cpu/HDD/memory requirements (unless Aero used). Cheaper workstations can be used because much of the processing and program is done online.
  7. No user BUP uninterruptable power supply needed.
  8. Lower user media costs -- CD/DVD.
  9. Marketing statisics gathered at the server farm level for pinpoint sales analysis and subsequent promotional contact.
Home Users
  1. Free Software - Ad based model makes software free to users.
  2. Less expensive CPU/HDD/memory requirements (unless Aero used). Cheaper computers can be for other family members because much of the processing and program is done online.
  3. Lower user media costs -- CD/DVD -- none required for home backups.
  4. Applications rolled out with great ease -- e.g. - users simply log on to their video editing program.
  5. Marketing statisics gathered at the server farm level for pinpoint sales analysis and subsequent promotional contact.
MICROSTIFF CONCLUSIONS: Microsoft has a unique opportunity in the SMB sector to bundle and market it's online products and future offerings (training, banking) and walk through the SMB door with a great brand name and respect from the SMB owner. "Microsoft's here to see little old me?"

In the home user/high bandwidth arena, the opportunities are less clear. Microsoft should leverage it's current MS Office with other online products to make the buying proposition "irresistable" when compared to Google, et. al. At this point, it is behind the 8 ball.

This author believes there are two (2) previously untapped opportunities to sweeten the online pot by:
  1. Attracting low income home users by offering very cheap pc's and subsidized cable/DSL. This opens up the ad-based market to a huge marketplace. A lesson I learned in by door-to-door Fuller Brush days was that "the lower income people (unfortunately for them) would buy the most product." So, with enough bandwidth, the ad market will be there.
  2. Offering Microsoft "points" to search advertisers, buyers, shoppers and searchers in a synergized award/reward system. Points to be redeemed towards goods, services and advertising.

(Click to Enlarge)


1,2 High likelihood of usage from low income user but, low payoff to Microsoft and its advertisers because, although exposed to ads, the chances of purchase, because of low income and slow download speeds, are less. So, it might be useful to appeal to modem users with certain types of ads.

3 Super Works is a hybrid product with a combination of Works and Word attributes, otherwise…why go online (and thus, why view the ads?) Think about it, Ray Ozzie.

4 High payoff to Microsoft from hi bandwidth consumer because they can backup their data and use online tools that are better than MS Works.

5,6 Matrix concludes that small biz is the best market because they have fewer tools and could benefit the most from a variety of Live Services. Training would be a great tool to offer here, as a Live Service! Small biz, because of their small budgets would be willing to view ads and/or some hybrid subscription service based upon their budgets.

7,8 Matrix concludes Large Biz not a viable business model for Live Services because of legacy products and immaturity of Microsoft large biz vertical offerings. Additionally, advertising model wouldn’t work here but, subscription would.

Mini-Microsoft: Rebuilding Microsoft in Wired Magazine

Subscribe to Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind by Email

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Check out the latest Microstiff

Subscribe to Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind by Email

Updated Microstiff: Replies to Posts from Beyond Redmond

Anonymous, at Thursday, September 28, 2006 9:21:42 AM wrote:
  • "Why Microsoft should be well under $30 come January:
  • "- Much lower than expected Vista upgrade numbers -> leap in hardware requirements are MUCH steeper than from any OS jump since 3.1 -> 95. This usually accounts for hundreds of millions in profits."
Microstiff - But! But, what about all the folks who are being challenged - and rightfully so - by the WGA cops and being denied critical upgrades and IE7 because of their illegal use of a pirated XP?

You know, as much as I distrust MSFT, this move is an excellent one. Why not recoup the lost profits from these deadbeats? (I was one until the pressure to become legit became too much; I am sure there are more like me.)

What I am saying is, XP deadbeat conversions may come in "very high" and push the stock to $30 by end of Q1 2007! Hey, why not?


Anonymous, at Thursday, September 28, 2006 7:45:28 AM wrote:

  • "just my .02 on redmond. first, i think the product pipeline is great. i love vista rc1, i love o12 and communicator 2007. i agree with the comment that most customer machines won't run vista - hopefully that will drive a big hardware refresh but that is the risk."
Microstiff - Oh, yes, we've got $34 billion cash in bank. Just throw Vista at them; let them eat cake if they don't like the incremental cost of Vista ownership. Hey...we're Microsoft! World...you heard it here...out of the mouth of a Softie. Now you wonder why the hatred is so strong.
  • "there are hundreds of people in redmond who are "field facing" that are pretty worthless though. we could dramatically shrink the bg marketing and segment hq teams. there are just a lot of people doing busy work."
Microstiff - More cavalier arrogance of the hubris kind! This person is quite clueless, perhaps sociopathic when it comes to people. Too lazy to capitalize, too self-absorbed to care; people are just "worthless" objects. Bet he treats women the same way. Yes, dear hearts, he's a man -- or part of one -- women don't think and talk like this knuckle-dragging mouth-breather!

Notes from the field …
  • "What a can of worms Mini opened! Here we go, one worm at a time …"

    The Field

  • "...I admit to a US bias in knowledge and thinking."

    Microstiff - Well, cut that out! It's elitist thinking and has no place in this organization or...anywhere!

    The two-year olds speak
  • "When my kids were 2ish, they always wanted whatever someone else had and never appreciated what they had."
  • "Get over it. The businesses are different in enterprise sales in London than they are in Windows development in Redmond. "

    Microstiff - Culturally different, yes. But, I submit to you that remunerations, perks and advancement should be universal throughout the company. If not, there's a "vacuum of unfairness" or should I say "perceived unfairness" that creates and promotes dissension and dissatisfaction throughout the organization.

    Ex Pats

  • "Don’t begrudge the ex-pats because they got a good deal. Rather, welcome them, be-friend them, teach them, and learn from them. Someone, somewhere was impressed enough with their potential to invest a lot in them. Don’t be so arrogant to write them off as suck-ups without getting to know their skills."

    Microstiff - Here, here! This is a compassionate response without a U.S. bias in knowledge and thinking!


  • "...Joe and I had a couple of beers together and became friends – then we had way more than a couple of beers together "

    Microstiff - Are you thinking what I am thinking? Naw...couldn't be.
  • "...I know I can trust you. This is a great opportunity – will you come work with me?”

    Microstiff - Only if you'll promise not to give me preferential treatment over others with greater knowledge and skills.

    Redmond really is the center of the universe

  • "My turn to whine … Part of what makes corporate so bad is the fact that the decisions of this company are so centralized. "
  • "...we make the world’s best collaboration tools. If we can’t figure this out and make it work, then I guess our collaboration tools need some freakin work!"

    Microstiff - Policy, principles and procedures should be centralized. Cultural differences should be dealt with locally.

    Collaboration tools are just that...tools. Collaboration must come down from the top. People resist collaboration. If it is decreed, and they can be shown the benefits are not threatening, they will embrace. Ask Ray Ozzie.


  • "Quit blaming the partners for taking their SPSA grant – they would be crazy not to. Instead, blame the idiots who set the metrics and forgot to include a “shareholder value” metric."

    Microstiff - Here, here!


  • "Some of the product groups have 5+ year release cycles. That allows a lot of people to hide for a very long time and gives execs plenty of time to plan their excuses. Not saying that you can’t hide in the field, but it’s not nearly as easy with quarterly metrics, particularly at senior levels."

    Microstiff - Huzzah, huzzah! Measure everyone monthly, period!


  • An event in [insert city] is not the same as an event in [insert different city]. The cultures are often very different. You can’t build a “one size fits all” event, program, or strategy and expect it to be successful around the world. That’s the role of the field marketing org – to take the Redmond content and make it most effective in the local area – localization if you will. I’m sure some districts have bad field marketing orgs.

    Microstiff - Metrics! Make that Corporate - centralized - metrics. All humans, whether taking a siesta at 1:00 p.m. or a cup of tea at 2, are motivated by recognition and remuneration. They will universally perform to a corporate standard, especially when the consequences for not performing are clearly spelled out.

    Hooking up

  • "There are a lot of people in the field with a lot of passion. Many of us know the customers intimately. Many of us spend more time at our customers than we do at Microsoft. We love to talk to people in the product groups who want to make a difference."

  • "...but 1:1 business relationships work best – and you never know when one of those relationships will have the perfect opportunity for you …"

    Microstiff - For those glib types who find it easy to shmooze, more power to you. You'll likely succeed on the power of your personality. For the geeks in the trenches, it's important to let them know they have a clear career path based upon some combination of their knowledge, job skills and people skills!

    Vista and Office

  • For the record, I’m writing this using Vista and Office 2007. We are *finally* starting to get solid field adoption of these bet the company products. How can you sell what you don’t use? Please install Vista and Office today. If your experience sucks, file bugs. Everyone – install it on your home machines, your kids’ machines, your parents’ machines. We need feedback from the “we don’t do this for a living” crowd.

    Microstiff - And, when you do, try not to get too depressed. Those guys and gals on that 5 year development cycle coded and coded away, all the while oblivious to the fact that their managers played the "feature lottery" amongst themselves asking no one outside their particular incestuous little group "what do YOU think?" The results: REWRITE!

    $30 by EOY

  • "Ship, don’t slip. Deal with the EU. Hit our Q1 numbers. Give slightly bullish guidance. I’m doing my part for #3."

    Microstiff - Screw $30. Listen to others. Seek the truth. Take action rather than whine. Put some clothes on the elephant!

  • -nff

  • "I would love to have had a role where I used the deep product knowledge I gained at MS and combined it with my sales and management skills as well as my passion for great customer solutions/satisfaction. Unfortunately, no such position in the field exists - and I don't want to move to Redmond, where it would still be very tough to find a role that really exercises you in all these different areas while still allowing you to make a visible impact."
Microstiff - How sad. A company with this many resources should be resourceful enough to listen to the passion of this one employee and tap it. What is lacking at Microsoft at the highest levels, among many things, is the awareness that passion can be measured and that, those who possess it and share it with others, unselfishly, define the personality of great organizations!

Why not find a way to identify and reward people with passion?


  • "While I am not in the field I am in CSS and it's amazing how closely some of the comments about explosive org size, politics, cronyism and overall incompetence are virtually mirrored in my org. I think it's the politics and cronyism that really do all the harm. One incompetent leader joins the org and brings in a level of incompetent mid-mgmt and before too long, the smart people figure it out and move on, leaving the lame brains to run the show."

Microstiff - Shouldn't it be a rigorously-enforced company policy that if you hire friends, they can't work in the same proximity as you?

What are some ways to minimize politics in a department?

  1. Advancement based solely on skills possessed for the current job or the new job.
  2. Personality measured only as a component of persuasiveness and leadership.
  3. Friends can't review friends.
What factors determine managerial competence? Shouldn't those factors be standardized and religiously applied to all managers throughout the organization?


  • "Hello to all the Microsofties across the globe..."
  • "No matter how bad you think it is in the US, it is far worse outside the Redmond / US centric world. Here are some examples (some good / some bad),"
  • "When you talk to your GM (probably a partner I might add) about the potential for promotion he asks you your level. I would have expected him to know this seeing as he asked for the 1:1 session. Anyway, when give the level details he replied that levels in Europe are normally 2 below their US counterparts. Shock and Awe, my response was probably why I got a great review, NOT."
  • "Stock allocation / awards for US based staff are way higher than their international counterparts. Believe it I know as I have seen the figures and we are not talking 10% or 20% more. "

Microstiff - My business experience has found me on both ends of the "pay determined by one's contribution to the organzation" spectrum. On the many occasions that I sold products and services -- from Fuller Brush as a college student, to motivational courses to online automobile accounting systems -- I was rewarded for my efforts with a commission based upon my sales efforts.

In all other endeavors -- corporate training, motivational training and systems analysis and design -- I was paid based upon the market value of "that" job in "that" marketplace.

It makes no sense to do otherwise. If, at Microsoft, the pay level is based upon any other criteria than sales efforts or marketplace value, then there is a vacuum created where people will move away from underpaying jobs and towards overpaying jobs. In the middle of all that all, it makes sense that there will be the resentment fostered by this "vacuum of unfairness" created in each case. Nature abhors a vacuum.


  • "Might be true in your org, but definitely not in ours. In our group, Directors, and mid-level managers lead by example. They travel mostly in coach even for long-haul flights to India, Japan, and China (10+ hours a leg!). We also have teams in Europe, and managers there do the same thing.Our org has a fixed travel budget, and our entire hierarchy operates conscientiously to make sure that these travel dollars go as far as possible to make the most impact for Microsoft, our customers, and our partners."

Microstiff - Why? It's called Business Class for a reason. It's bad enough you have to travel; if it's for a long time...in the air...fly Business Class! Let's be reasonable here.

And, why not have a corporate-wide policy regarding travel expenses? Why oh why should it be different, elsewhere...in different divisions? Vacuums promote resentment.


  • "And for those non-softies listening in - Those nice individual offices with folks having modern hardware and dual monitors you see in those Channel 9 videos? Think of those like a movie set. In the field we get to try and be "experts" on 3 year old hardware that won't hardly run shipping software, much less anything new that is coming out. HW problem? Open a ticket with the helpless-desk. Since most of the field isn't near an on-site HW tech, they'll send the corporate equivelent of the Geek Squad out to tell you what you already know - the hard drive is dead.
  • Everytime we are promised a hardware refresh, the budget mysteriously disappears. I don't know what it is about this company and hardware, but I honestly would have an easier time expensing a $230 meal entertaining some random customer than I would for a new laptop battery that actually holds a charge."
Microstiff - Microsoft espouses being a "people ready" company. Microsoft produces productivity tools for businesses throughout the world. Microsoft wishes everyone would use its very latest tools on the very latest equipment. Yes?

Apparently not. At least not its employees. Shouldn't a fabulously wealthy company, first and foremost, give every single employee the best tools possible to help that company become even more fabulously wealthy? Of course! Penny-wise, pound foolish!


  • "There's a disconnect>>>
  • "There's been a disconnect from the beginning, and it should start with the conclusions you've drawn as a result of where you sit and how long you've been with the company. I took the weekend to read your blog and as someone who has been with the company (in the field) for about 4 years, I'm shocked that you would actually have the arrogance to write what you do. I do believe your intentions are the best and there's always merit in that. But to actually suggest that MSFT shouldn't hire more people when in fact, those positions are largely allocated to the field and those who support it at Redmond who are working 3 jobs in one."

    "What is it that you actually *know*, Mini? And why in the world should I believe you?"

Microstiff - This is the ranting of another paid shill. It seems they have come out of the woodwork since the company meeting. This one has the feel of being very organized and written by an erudite person. Don't know who these people are and who they are trying to influence since their writings have the feel of "talking down" to their audience and, lord knows Softies are a well-rounded, intelligent bunch who don't like being talked down to.


  • "Hey EMEA employee. Start driving the amount of revenue that the US does for products, and then talk about being compensated equally with people in the US. The fact of the matter is that the US drives an extraordinary amount of revenue in all of our businesses and the business abroad continues to suffer. In addition, teams like mine are supporting your business as well as making sure execution in the US happens, and we're not getting paid any additional amount of money for it. We know you're understaffed and we're more than happy to help. So consider moving to the US and taking on these jobs if you want to get compensated in the same way. You signed up with a company that pays you according to the results that you deliver. Start delivering results that are expected from the US and get paid that way. "
Microstiff - This is pure bullshit and I can't believe another Softie would write it. The two marketplaces are vastly different and the writer is more-than-implying that somehow Americans sell better than others. If this is a legit posting, it's no wonder the rest of the world hates us!


  • "Honestly, reading the negativity in the comments of this blog gets me down. I'm still proud to work for Microsoft and can't imagine working anywhere else. Maybe I could be making more cash elsewhere, but I truly believe that I have a pretty good deal here. This is a great time to be in the field...buzz is building for the huge wave of technology we're going to be releasing. There are hordes of salespeople chomping at the bit to have some new technology to push. Enough mediocrity, let's hit a home run with all this in 2007."

Microstiff - Hey, who wouldn't want to work for Microsoft? Respected name when you walk through the door. Proven, plain vanilla products that get the job done. Good support. Huge resources!

A place where you are respected by the outside world. A place, inside, that is crumbling from the weight of its own plain vanilla, "me too" products. A place that needs to find some balance and equality inside before it fails...outside. Time to listen, Softies and act!


  • "...MCS folks are the visible side of Microsoft to customers, so they tend to be salesman, and so the behaviour is sometime insane."
  • "Some folks from products should join the Services and help the consultants ; in this way, they would not behave like they do (so arrogant and ocnfident). They are key people in the way customers are looking at Microsoft. Customers sometime things those folks are part of the software shipping process.. hum... it's all built on this mistakes and little lies.
    But we don't care. We have a high rate and it represents/brings the excellence in consulting.
    We try to enhance things, day by day, but our managers have no capability or so poor knownledget in writting sofwtare that, they only see the billing hours. We are only reviewed and our first objectives are based on billing hours and not successfull feedback from customers.
    We need time to change.
    Help us Mini ! We 're in trouble, too :)"

Microstiff - How refreshing to hear an apparently honest voice in the wilderness. I am inclined to believe this (dyslexic?) person. You too, Mini? He/she'd be on my list to help lead the long journey of making it right for MCS. If we could just get past the anonymity thing!


  • "...For two main reasons...because we have TOO MANY of these overhead heads...and because revenue has flatlined as our field sales CAN'T SELL our products, especially to the enterprise, we have NO enterprise sales expertise...to say nothing of our whacked out way that we treat our channel in SMS&P and ignoring we do of the mid-market."
  • "Now before you yell and try to tell me that XYZ district or vertical exceeded their number...yada yada yada. I can point to year over year where May holds mails from the GM about how "we're missing target by 20%" and then magically we exceed by 6% in June. All faked numbers. Some miracle of an EA true up or something to squeek that number out...amazingly fancy book cooking."

  • "So the cry to have more heads in the field is wrongly placed. It should be a cry to reallocate the overhead heads, kills some layers of management and take all that HC savings, give these people a bag and make them hit the street to sell sell sell."

Microstiff - More bravery and honesty! Mini, these folks are "mad as hell and they're not gonna take it anymore!" And, don't you think that this information is very revealing and just what is needed to address the elephant in the room(s)?


Mini-Microsoft: Beyond Redmond Product Groups

Subscribe to Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind by Email

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

........To:....Partner 236 of 900
Subject:....Your firing
Dear Partner:

My friends at Radio Shack have opened the doors for me. This email is to inform you that your services are no longer needed. In fact, your services are no longer...well...we really don't know just what it is that you do here at Microsoft.

Melinda and I had an epiphany just last week as we were wandering around our sterile, gray 200,000 square foot mansion: "Whatever became of those fellas and that gal whom I rewarded for coming into the fold with me so many years ago? What did we call them, Melinda? Oh, yes, partners."

You all seemed like a good idea at the time. Remember when the 25 or so of us used to go out on Saturday nights and make the endorphins and Dom Perignon flow with tales of many riches and great monopolistic accomplishments. Ah, those were the days!

Well, there's 900 of us now and, as I travel the world putting my money where my mouth is...Melinda says it's time to...well..."spit you out." Something about "...a charity not worthy of the Gates/Buffet name." Right, honey?

So, it is with great reluctance...no, wait...great sorrow....no, how about...relief...yes, that's it...relief. Does that sound right, Melinda? It is with great relief that I let you go. As a business decision, your demise makes good sense as the one billion dollars we pay you each year to obfuscate our mission seems a bit much. We will begin to look for other ways to obfuscate our mission.

You are rich and wealthy and bored anyway, so...see yah!

Your friend in computing,


Mini-Microsoft: Kicking the SPSA Can Again, Raises, and the 66th Percentile

Subscribe to Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind by Email