I never thought I’d see this in a million years, but there is at least one person at Microsoft who wants it to shrink in size (most ‘softies think bigger is better): Mini-Microsoft. He’s right, the company is way too big at 50,000 employees. The “mighty Microsoft” has half the employees that IBM has but only makes 1/3 the revenue. Something’s wrong.

And he discusses the Company Meeting, which I also learned was a much smaller affair than in previous years. When I was there, they would rent out the Kingdome and all employees would take the day off and go listen to Gates and the execs speak and see demos of products other groups are doing. It was a huge pep rally and, I have to admit, fun. But I always thought it was a colossal waste of money. Some people were affected by it in a positive way, but mostly, everyone was cynical about the war cries that execs put out (and the crashing of Windows during half the demos was demoralizing).

As an aside, in reading that I was reminded of one of the most annoying things to me when I was there: the “Microsoft-isms”. I still hear some of these today from friends. Things like “the high-order bit” (the most important thing), “Sked-plus me” (schedule a meeting with me online using Schedule+/Outlook), “action item” (something you need to do after discussing it at a meeting), “OOF” (Out Of Office, where the ‘F’ comes from I never found out) and at our wedding a friend, I think asking why I proposed to Gay after all these years, actually said “What flipped the bit?”. :) I imagine it’s like sports fans who shorten everything to one syllable… “the M’s”, “the ‘hawks” and “the Sons” are what Seattle sports fans use to refer to the Mariners, the Seahawks and the Supersonics (“Sonics” wasn’t even short enough).

Oh, and he references a now ex-softies’s blog: “Eighty-percent”:http://www.eightypercent.net/. That reminds me of probably the thing I hated the most when I was there arguing about features. PMs, when they are painted into a corner with their idea, throw their hands up and say “But 80% of all users….” This drove me nuts. No matter what it was, 80% of all users did what this employees does, with no empirical evidence to back it up; it was just a “gut feeling”. It was wrong, of course, and it was always 80% – some PM years ago must have heard a developer talk about the “80-20 rule”:http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/Pareto081202.htm so they applied it to everything (albeit backwards) and other PMs thought it sounded intelligent, so it carried on.