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You can go to the bathroom whenever you want at Microsoft
July 18, 2009 1:24 PM   Subscribe

You can go to the bathroom whenever you want at Microsoft

Bonus Parody
posted by JeffL (100 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does the water in the bowl have that blue sheen? Also, grab me a soda on your way back. Whatever kinda, it doesn't matter to me because I'm so past hating on corporate brands.
posted by now i'm piste at 1:29 PM on July 18, 2009


A Microsoft parody? Edgy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:35 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


so, is it working at microsoft that did that to his hair? Just wondering...
posted by HuronBob at 1:38 PM on July 18, 2009


Anybody else read it as "wherever you want" and think "Well, that figures."?
posted by tapeguy at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2009 [27 favorites]


So that's why IE is so terrible.
posted by delmoi at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


I've worked in a bunch of crappy service jobs and never had to ask to go to the bathroom. Go figure.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2009


Well at least now there's a face for who we can blame for the damage IE has wrought on the web.
posted by PenDevil at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2009


Why don't you get me a soda and then go to the bathroom? I know it'd make me feel a lot better about that soda.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:41 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


i got confused. they both seem like parodies. you can buy ugly brown shirts too
posted by bhnyc at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2009


I'm not sure the second one quite qualifies as parody. It reads more like a completely literal and accurate description of the back story of the first one. To be parody it'd have to exaggerate something.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:44 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Microlo!!!1soft blog post
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:48 PM on July 18, 2009


I've worked in a bunch of crappy service jobs and never had to ask to go to the bathroom

Seriously. Was he working at a gas station in a prison?
posted by Roman Graves at 1:49 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, that was actually a somewhat fun story. But reading Zeke's blog about all the low-level win32 stuff makes me cringe. While using the win32 api for tiny, quick things to get around annoying fameworks can be helpful once in a while working with it on a daily basis would be painful.
posted by delmoi at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2009


I think this essay is actually a cry for help.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2009


Whoa, I know Zeke, our daughters play roller derby together. Kinda surreal to see him here in the blue, but then again, I think I accidentally stumbled into a meetup last night (Sun Liquor, on Cap Hill?) so maybe Metafilter is just stalking me. Yeah, that's probably it.
posted by bizwank at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2009


> Seriously. Was he working at a gas station in a prison?

When I worked at Lick's I had to ask to use the washroom.

I would have preferred a gas station in a prison.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2009


>Does the water in the bowl have that blue sheen?

Yes, it's known as the "blue sheen of death"!
posted by RestlessNeerdowell at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2009 [25 favorites]


I worked for some fast food joints as a kid, and you simply weren't allowed to leave your station except on your defined breaks. You didn't ask to go to the bathroom, because you had defined periods to do that. I suspect managers might cover for you once or twice, ever, but after that they'd just say no.

Being able to use the restroom gets easier once you get past the very bottom tier of service jobs, but I believe many factory jobs continue that style of time management. When you are being paid, you are working every second.

We probably have a fairly dominant audience of information-style workers, where things are much more relaxed. It's easy to forget, or never even realize, that not everyone has it so good.
posted by Malor at 1:59 PM on July 18, 2009 [16 favorites]


darn it. i wanted this be about bill and melinda funding a renaissance of the public bathroom.
posted by the aloha at 1:59 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


These context-less FPPs always drive me nuts. It may be helpful to note that the first link is a link to an astroturf MSoft blog.
posted by GilloD at 2:05 PM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


...and I was hoping for high tech diapers or special chairs or something.
posted by lester the unlikely at 2:07 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I guess fast food is the key factor, because I've had practically every other kind of service job except that. Seems especially strange for working in a gas station though, which I've certainly done.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:11 PM on July 18, 2009


Bathroom policies may have originally brought him to Microsoft, but it's the people and passion that keep Zeke here.

Uck. uck. This sounds like something out of the training materials from every shit-ass, dead-end service sector job I've ever done for any given corporate hydra. "It's the people and the passion that make Pizza Hut such a great place to work! It's the people and the passion that make your career with Shari's so rewarding!"

Where do they find people to construct such sentences? I can't get my head around it. How bad a migraine must you wind up with getting from the capital "B" to the period in that drek? I can just see the poor son of a bitch copy editor now, chomping ibuprofen and scowling at his monitor, knowing that he would need at least two empty, vapid clauses in order to get the two-line caption that the page designer asked for. He scans the article and scans it again, but nothing's sticking because it really only looks like writing - there's nothing even close to memorable grit anywhere in the piece. But the bit about bathrooms works because, hey, everyone has to pee at some point, so he pulls the quote and -bang- there's his headline, then he refers back to it in the caption, cuz LOLpee and all of that.

But he's still got that long march from the comma to the period, but he recalls, just like the author of the article did, a recent marketing meeting where he and his fellow drones were instructed to "humanize" Microsoft and stress the "passion and energy" that supposedly pervades the place. Since Zeke and the interviewer pounded out the word "passion" a half-dozen times or so in the last couple graphs like they were trying to fill a quota and humanizing something is all about people, he's now got a way out of the sentence! "the people and the passion" - he can ride that shit all the way to the period, plus it's alliterative, so it'll be mistaken for good writing at forty paces!

Then he makes one last half-hearted proofreading sweep and up goes the article, complete with photos of Zeke with the dye-job he's far, far too old for and the blocky-glasses girl who is supposedly writing this blog. The copy editor then heads out for his third cigarette break that hour and almost makes it all the way down the stairs this time before the weeping starts.

/andscene
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2009 [42 favorites]


I bet the guy who invented Outlook went to the bathroom all over the code.
posted by matteo at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


He's obviously never worked with workers who abuse the 'privilege'. It's not only a matter of working every second, but a matter of having a worker who dissappears multiple times a day to spend 15 or so minutes a time sitting around. Of course everyone needs a break, of course everyone needs to hit the head, but eventually it can become just dissappearing to take breaks (or even naps!) at any time during the workday. Sometimes management just has to put a stop to it. I would assume (IE notwithstanding) that Microsoft attracts workers with the kinda work ethic to not have to be treated this way.
posted by FireballForever at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2009


Also, this would explain why my Windows box takes a dump anytime it feels like it.
posted by FireballForever at 2:13 PM on July 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


FireballForever: Also, this would explain why my Windows box takes a dump anytime it feels like it.

HA~ Good one Fireball! That's why I try to avoid Windows!
posted by garnetgirl at 2:21 PM on July 18, 2009


Microspotting -- "Like the paparazzi, but for geeks"

Oh shut the fuck up, you oxymoronic doublespeaking shill.
In my time with the company, I’ve realized that many of my preconceptions about Microsoft weren’t quite right. Boring, corporate, stiff, evil? Huh. Not really. Me and my weirdnesses fit in just awesome at The ‘Soft. I’ve met so many awesome, smart, inspiring people — people who I now profile on Microspotting.
No way!? Individuals at Microsoft aren't [Godwin Prevention System]? Many are actually nice, smart people? Well shit, it's great you're here to lay some science on us.
Oh and PS: You might notice that I use all manner of social media sites like Flickr and YouTube on Microspotting. You might notice that I publish the site using an open source content management system. Before you get all “ZOMG, TRAITOROUS MICROSOFTIE!!!11!1!!” understand this: I don’t buy into the idea that working at Microsoft means you can’t use competitors’ tools. In fact, I think that’s the best way to stay in touch with a constantly shifting, super exciting industry. I’m a Web 2.0 geek, so I use whatever tools interest me at the moment — regardless of who makes them. Working at Microsoft does not equal flunky.
...and you use super popular, non-MS tools to spread the MS gospel. Like, like, like every other viral spammer astroturf out there, you follow the people?! Friend me on Facebook!
posted by Glee at 2:22 PM on July 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah? Well you can do ANYTHING at Zombocom. Anything at all.
posted by educatedslacker at 2:22 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Think of that headline to the tune of "Alice's Restaurant."

Go ahead-I know I did.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:28 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are they really trying to establish "the Empire" as some kind of brand for their recruiting operation? (I'm reminded of the way every actual human being stopped referring to McDonald's as "Mickey D's" the moment they started using it in their advertising.) Anyway, are they aware that there are no positive associations? The "Empire" means at most three things to Americans: 1) The Evil Empire, Reagan's term for the Soviet Union; 2) The Evil Mouse Empire, a common epithet for Disneycorp, and 3) That outfit that kills Jedis and blows up inhabited worlds to make a point. WTF is with these people? Tone deaf doesn't begin to cover it.

And "I love chatting with techies who are super into their gigs." Really. "Super into their gigs." You do know that nobody talks that way except characters in the 1982 sitcom "Square Pegs", right?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:36 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't blow all your outrage at once. If you react this strongly to an "astroturf" recruiting blog that seems pretty open about the fact that it's run by a Microsoft employee, I'm worried you're going to have a stroke when you discover that Microsoft actually RUNS TELEVISION ADS that they pay for with FILTHY FILTHY MONEY.

<disclaim>Former (and maybe future) Microsoft employee. Also, I think I may know that orange-haired guy.</disclaim>
posted by The Tensor at 2:36 PM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Are they really trying to establish "the Empire" as some kind of brand for their recruiting operation?

I believe that's called "irony". It was huge in the 90's.
posted by The Tensor at 2:37 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, that does read like crazy marketing stuff. Microsoft really is a great place to work (I now work for their arch-nemesis so this isn't astroturfing), especially the pay/benefits (their healthcare is completely unrivaled --- you pay nothing, no premium, no copays, etc, for PPO-style care so you don't need approval for procedures.... damn I miss that). But this almost seems counterproductive since it makes the guy sound even more like a brainwashed drone given that nobody actually talks like that.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:42 PM on July 18, 2009


"Also, this would explain why my Windows box takes a dump anytime it feels like it..."

wait! there are people here still using Windows???

Who let them in! I TOLD Matt that $5 wouldn't keep the riff raff out!
posted by HuronBob at 2:45 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


They do have that razor sharp "I am the Empire / Spartacus" underdog edge to them. I'm Lovin' It.
posted by Glee at 2:46 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can only pee whenever you want because of the catheter...
posted by doctor_negative at 2:47 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can be in infotech jobs where you can't always go to the bathroom when you want. *heavy sigh* But, yeah, once you're in even a vaguely white collar job, you can go potty.

I have known some Microsofties from the nineties. Even though they had quit, the brainwashing still held, in some very odd ways. It wasn't in ways you'd expect; sometimes they'd use Linux for perfectly reasonable things in reasonable ways, but then they'd think, "I should totally build everything on top of .NET!" and they'd have these panicky moments where stuff would stop working after an upgrade. Or Microsoft would come up with a new ... whatever ... and suddenly they'd be evangelizing it, like a reflex. Only one that came with geek-aimed press releases downloaded right into their heads.

Stuff like that scares the crap out of me.
posted by adipocere at 2:48 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


»I now work for [Microsoft's] arch-nemesis so this isn't astroturfing

It's great work you people are doing at the GNU project. Thank you.
posted by Glee at 3:04 PM on July 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Stuff like that scares the crap out of me.

The implant is removed during the exit interview, but you know the old saying: you can take the implant out of the boy, but you can't take the boy out of-- BZZZT ZAP

Hey, have you tried Bing? The Decision Engine™ makes my search results smarter!
posted by The Tensor at 3:04 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whatever this site is, it's not "astroturf"--it's openly branded as a Microsoft production. Astroturf would be a blog that purported to be just the random musings of some citizen who keeps bumping into people who work at Microsoft and finding out how cool they are.
posted by yoink at 3:05 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


(their healthcare is completely unrivaled --- you pay nothing, no premium, no copays, etc, for PPO-style care so you don't need approval for procedures....

*cough* Obligatory reference to Canada because that's basically what we all have just by virtue of being citizens. Carry on.

posted by jokeefe at 3:05 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well shoot, where do I sign up?
posted by pemberkins at 3:09 PM on July 18, 2009


FPP: You can go to the bathroom whenever you want at Microsoft [more inside]

More inside? More of what one wonders?


Lester: ...and I was hoping for high tech diapers or special chairs or something.

YE GODS MAN! God help us if Microsoft ever goes into the diaper market! I can just see me screaming into a phone somewhere... "Security leaks? I need to run out to buy which pack of patches today? Why do I need this holographic sticker to put the diaper on in the first place??"
posted by Avelwood at 3:09 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


FireballForever: Also, this would explain why my Windows box takes a dump anytime it feels like it.

HA~ Good one Fireball! That's why I try to avoid Windows!


These anti-"M$" jokes have gotten so bad that I can't even tell if that "good one" is sarcastic anymore.

Seriously, I mean, I use both Windows and PC. I haven't seen the famous "blue screen" in literally four or five years now, on any of the 8ish machines I've worked on in that time. My mac on the other hand, often has infinite beach balls and that wonderful thing where the grey line creeps down and it says "please press the button to restart."

And incidentally, if you do ever see that blue screen, it almost always indicates a hardware problem. Little to nothing to do with Microsoft. I don't know because this is a hypothetical, but it's probably your RAM or else the motherboard.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:13 PM on July 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


I do wish MS would show some more ambition relative to their rivals though. Brainwashing your employees is easy. Brainwashing a worldwide customer base is hard.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:15 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brainwashing your employees is easy.

[snort] Truly spoken like someone who's never had to brainwash an employee.
posted by The Tensor at 3:17 PM on July 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


And incidentally, if you do ever see that blue screen, it almost always indicates a hardware problem. Little to nothing to do with Microsoft. I don't know because this is a hypothetical, but it's probably your RAM or else the motherboard.

posted by drjimmy11 at 6:13 PM on July 18

Actually, it's a faulty drive head that I haven't fixed yet, but I had to get the joke out there. And I use Windows and a stripped down version of Linux when I just want to surf the net. And if you ever catch me spelling it "M$" you can feel free to E-kick me in the nuts.
posted by FireballForever at 3:27 PM on July 18, 2009


drjimmy11 -- I haven't ever seen a blue screen on an XP box. Not once. But the very first time I ever saw Vista, on a customer's new workstation, I decided to use it to make sure the web app in my embedded controller was on the network. The secretary had IIRC 2 modest sheets up in Excel, which I minimized; I cranked up IE7 and up came the totally script-free text page from my device. I closed IE, went to fetch my customer, and the next time I opened IE the box blue-screened.
posted by localroger at 3:30 PM on July 18, 2009


drjimmy, you're decrying fanboyism with fanboyism. XP bsod's all the time for non-hardware reasons. I had a recurring bsod problem that I finally tracked down to µTorrent. Someone, somewhere suggested that setting the port to pptp would bypass comcast's throttling, so I set it and forgot about it. Apparently there's an old exploit for MS's vpn server that µTorrent can't handle and it brings down the whole system.

On OSX, in my experience, I only get beachballs with Firefox.

That said, neither XP nor OSX is perfect, but at least they're not Vista.
posted by stavrogin at 3:45 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


XP bsod's all the time for non-hardware reasons

I have two XP machines which have never once shown the bsod. I'm typing this on a Vista which, admittedly, is less than a year old, but is yet to bsod (or, indeed, display any noticeable problems). YMMV.
posted by yoink at 3:53 PM on July 18, 2009


I worked at McDonald's when I was seventeen, and we most definitely needed permission to use the restroom.

(Disclaimer: I work at Microsoft now, so this comment is clearly "astroturf")
posted by Slothrup at 4:00 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Disclaimer: I work at Microsoft now...

So, is it true that the water coolers are filled with the tears of innocent children and that you're required to run over at least one puppy on the way to work each day?
posted by yoink at 4:07 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Oh shut the fuck up, you oxymoronic doublespeaking shill."

*waves* Hi Glee and everyone else. This is Ariel, the oxymoronic doublespeaking shill who runs Microspotting!

It's fascinating to see Microspotting getting put through the ringer via reddit and Mefi today. Of course, working for Microsoft it's all expected (and in fact fact a badge of honor -- this is the first time in my 8 years of mefi membership that one of my sites has gotten a front page link!) ... but I have to admit a bit of confusion over the criticisms of astroturfing.

Microspotting's about page is pretty clear when I say: And so I became a blue badge in February of 2007. I work with the Staffing Marketing team. If I'm trying to astroturf and hide the fact that A) I work for Microsoft and B) I work in marketing and therefore C) Microspotting a Microsoft marketing website ... I'm doing one hell of a piss-poor job.

I saw one blogger who got into GOTCHA! mode, pointing out that AHA! Microsoft appears in the footer! Er, yeah. Because it's a site run by Microsoft's Staffing Marketing department. YOU GOT ME!

Anyway -- as you were.
posted by arielmeadow at 4:14 PM on July 18, 2009 [33 favorites]


And incidentally, if you do ever see that blue screen, it almost always indicates a hardware problem.

Or drivers that are written to interact with the hardware. Almost all of the blue screens I saw on Win2k and XP were a result of buggy audio software or weird freeware drivers of one sort or another.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:22 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, so as I am reading this thread I notice everyone begins to play the one-up deconstructionist game and keep waiting for the author to pop in with a long posting history and it totally fucking happened.
posted by geoff. at 4:22 PM on July 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


geoff: happy I could oblige!
posted by arielmeadow at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2009


EatTheWeek, you have accurately described my day-to-day in about 1999. My first account as a copywriter was a franchise of seventeen retirement communities on the eastern seaboard. I try not to revisit this chapter of my life very often, but suffice it to say, I spent the better part of a year using client-approved euphemisms for dementia, death, decrepitude and "no, we do not accept Medicare."
posted by thivaia at 4:38 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread was worth it for the Lick's reference. I've never seen a more frighteningly unmotivated workforce. Despite the unpleasant-and-not-charming workforce requirements to chant flair stuff like "two choco-choco-ty lickity-lick burgers, COMING UP" - it was always delivered in a rote monotone with a slight glassy eyed look into the middle distance. Imagine a paranoid android with a lotta medication and you'll have it down. It didn't make me want to be in there, which I guess matched me with the employees.
posted by stevil at 4:40 PM on July 18, 2009


everyone begins to play the one-up deconstructionist game and keep waiting for the author to pop in

Whatever the deconstructionist game is, the one thing it doesn't involve is "waiting for the author to pop in."

How did "deconstruction" become such a completely meaningless word?
posted by yoink at 4:43 PM on July 18, 2009


Job title: Principal software developer on Internet Explorer

I am unable to develop empathy for the protagonist
posted by mattoxic at 4:43 PM on July 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


How did "deconstruction" become such a completely meaningless word?

It really begs the question doesn't it?
posted by geoff. at 4:45 PM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Do the assembly line workers at the factories where they make porta-potties get to take a bathroom break whenever they want? I bet not! And think of how irritating it would be if you had to, you know, go... and could only watch all these opportunities pass you by.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:49 PM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


let's remember that women weavers in India are reported to be allowed only one bathroom break per day. honest. It's sad that this is not really a joke for many people in other pars of the globe.
posted by sarah_cortes@post.harvard.edu at 4:50 PM on July 18, 2009


*waves back*...hi Ariel

Just for the record Ariel, I never called you an astroturfer (though I did compare the MO to every other spammer, astroturfer, or viral marketer out there -- well, I could've simply written Cory Doctorow, but here we are), "just" a shill.

I actually stand by the "shill" part, but just as I posted that kneejerk "FU" snark I thought Hey, she might actually see it, this might actually happen, and I'd feel like shit. Tooo late.

So, *hangs head, feeling like shit*: I apologize for writing about you in that very harsh manner.

(I have no love lost for Microsoft as a mega company or for it's corporate strategies, but as I wrote: I'm not at all surprised the company is full of nice, smart individuals.)
posted by Glee at 4:50 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seems like Ariel's appearance has kinda thrown everybody for a good old loop. Apart from everything else, that's just kind of cool.
posted by blucevalo at 4:53 PM on July 18, 2009


I think it's kind of emblematic of the whole campaign that the top-linked entry, not very coyly, includes the detail that somebody at Microsoft was getting his nipples pierced in 1993. Not the sort of thing that would turn up very naturally without somebody trying pretty hard to get it in there.

This kind of thing is far from new. Decouple all the specific details and the copy is reminiscent of an English newspaper trying belatedly to extol the Beatles once Princess Margaret said she liked them:
"YEAH, YEAH, YEAH! You have to be a real sour square not to love the nutty, noisy, happy, handsome Beatles... The Beatles are wacky. They wear their hair like a mop—but it's WASHED, it's super clean. So is their fresh young act."
"The Conquest of Cool" was written in the 1990s and was about the 1960s. I wonder how far beyond that we are now. It seems like cool is having to duck and weave pretty hard to avoid being pinned down and co-opted by marketing these days, and the result in real life is pretty freeform. In an odd way it sort of works for me; at the street level I see that it's getting harder and harder to pin down what it is that makes someone fashionable now. You can't find a single signifier that isn't a joke to someone, usually because it got seized as a commercial emblem as soon two instances of it got noticed by someone in a Lexus.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:13 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The parody website would have been better if it was run by someone named Helvetica.
posted by rajbot at 5:46 PM on July 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


American workers earned the right to go to the bathroom whenever they wanted to in 1998 (only eleven years ago). Here’s a link to the OSHA standard from 1998. Marc Linder, a Law professor at the University of Iowa, has written two books on the history of bathroom breaks in the U.S.: Void Where Prohibited: Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time and Void Where Prohibited Revisited: The Trickle-Down Effect of OSHA's At-Will Bathroom-Break Regulation. Here’s a link (the file is in MP3 format and the discussion starts 23 minutes in) to an audio interview with Marc Linder from the Left Business Observer on the topic of bathroom breaks in the workplace.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 5:52 PM on July 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


what is a 'principle software developer' ? is that a team lead? or just a regular SE?
posted by jcruelty at 5:57 PM on July 18, 2009


It isn't astroturfing, and a job is a job, but I did think it was pretty laughable ad copy.

I bet the paycheck is great, though. I'd do it.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:12 PM on July 18, 2009


Pffft - that's nuttin, most days I don't even bother to get dressed ;-)

So, is it true that the water coolers are filled with the tears of innocent children

Every day, I squeeze them outta my kids - anything left over after replenishing my personal supply gets trucked to Redmond.

and that you're required to run over at least one puppy on the way to work each day?

Naw, I keep those hungry and chained in the basement, we are slowly training them and building an army of anti-trust hounds...
posted by jkaczor at 6:35 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


what is a 'principle software developer' ? is that a team lead? or just a regular SE?

The job ladder for Microsoft engineering roles goes like this:
title (e.g. software development engineer, or, more frequently shortened into Microsoft's love for TLAs: SDE)
title II (SDE II)
Senior title (Senior SDE)
Principal title (Principal SDE)
Beyond that there are various manager and exec titles, partner level, and other nice titles. If someone manages people, "lead" typically goes after the title, for example Senior SDE Lead. The titles I've listed above don't indicate whether someone is a manager or not.
Disclaimer: I speak for myself, not my employer, who you have probably figured out by now. And we've simplified the water cooler + puppy situation by requiring our water delivery service to run over a puppy every day on its way from the orphanage.
posted by girlhacker at 6:41 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


what is a 'principle software developer' ? is that a team lead? or just a regular SE?

A "principal software developer" is the next title above "senior software developer". Titles at Microsoft are associated with levels, which are numeric. A senior SDE (which is the title I have) is level 62 or 63. A principal SDE would be 64. And maybe 65? I'm not really sure, because I've only been at the company a little over a year and I'm not into the whole promotions thing.

If I were to start managing other people, then my title would become "senior software development lead", and I wouldn't necessarily go up a level.

Mmm... level up...
posted by Slothrup at 6:46 PM on July 18, 2009


Doh! Sorry girlhacker, I should have previewed. And I think the puppy situation varies depending on which product unit you're in -- I'm not sure, because I meet my quota by riding the Connector (which is fueled by the remains of the puppies it crushes...)
posted by Slothrup at 6:49 PM on July 18, 2009


I guess, maybe, the thing that irks me is that Microsoft seems less intent on making good software as much as they are about making everyone forget about how bad their software is. No amount of coy blogs or cute commercials are going to initiate a turnaround. People don't like Apple just because it's pretty, they like it because it's pretty and it works in ways that continue to elude the Windows contingent.
posted by GilloD at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It strikes me that the funniest thing about those new Microsoft Laptop Hunter ads ("You Find It -- You Keep It") is that whatever else they do, the ads ultimately make it look like Microsoft has to pay you to purchase their crap.
posted by blucevalo at 7:44 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, hate to be a kill joy but I worked at Micorsoft (msnbc.com) and could not go to the bathroom when I wanted to. As a matter of fact, several of my coworkers and I had a running joke - we'd need to piss really badly and after an hour or so of working the daily news desk during breaking news we just wouldn't have to go anymore. Our bodies would somehow metabolize the urine and we were good to go.

Yeah, that job sucked pretty hard.
posted by photoslob at 7:45 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


forgot to add that the free soda made it totally worth it.
posted by photoslob at 7:46 PM on July 18, 2009


I know Zeke, have eaten lunch with him, and hacked on code he originally wrote. Pretty much everything he said in that article is true. He's a good guy, he really did work at a gas station, and he really does feel that way about Microsoft. And as an ex-Microsoft employee, I continue to think it is a great place to work.

For the last two years I've worked on a product that runs on OS X, Linux and Windows and works with Firefox, Safari and IE. I have learned that pretty much all software is terrible, and IE is certainly no exception[1]. Even as an ex-IE developer I now use Chrome. But I would still recommend that any aspiring developers out there give working a Microsoft a go. You will learn a lot, meet some really quality people (and some not so-quality; it's a mixed bag like anything), and become a better developer because of it. And you just might make something that millions of people use a little bit better.

You could also do the same at Apple, Google, Oracle, etc. Each one will be a unique experience with good and bad points. But I agree with gist of what Zeke says; that MSFT is almost completely a positive experience.

That said, to the MSFTies reading this who have been there for awhile and worked nowhere else: consider trying a start-up, another company or starting your own thing. You're only seeing a small part of the story up there in rainy Redmond.

Yes, this is all just corporate recruiting, and kind of silly-seeming, especially to the ever cynical us, but Microsoft isn't going anywhere. There are real criticisms of the company one can make, but this sort of random and pointless bashing is just getting annoying and pathetic. This sort of thing is beneath this community. Really this is a non-issue and should have just been deleted since single link posts to corporate shilling that really exist only for this petty sort of LOLMSFT-baiting are not really good posts for the blue. In my opinion.

[1] Those who say otherwise have probably never looked at the code for whatever they're espousing as the savior of the computing world. And how to write software that doesn't suck is a completely different discussion that we as an industry should be constantly having.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:52 PM on July 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


I guess, maybe, the thing that irks me is that Microsoft seems less intent on making good software as much as they are about making everyone forget about how bad their software is.

Do you really mean this? Perhaps my expectations are low, but I use MS Word every day, use Windows XP every day, and it functions pretty well. No real complaints. Where is the badness you and others are talking about?
posted by jayder at 8:25 PM on July 18, 2009


Not only can you go whenever you want, but in my experience, wherever you want as well.

One afternoon, after a particularly greasy double cheese burger in the Cafeteria, I found myself needing to go to the bathroom. Not in a few minutes, but right now! A true gut-bomb is like a broke friend, Never shows up with any advance warning. I get to the Men's room, and every stall was occupied. Of course. So I do the quick mental math for which is my quickest plan B. Downstairs, or Same floor: other side of the bldg? I opt for same floor, run over, find it empty, and do hat needs to be done. The less said about that, the better. But I was very glad the Bathroom was empty. As I'm washing my hands, I notice something strange. Is that a condom machine?

Wait...What? Why?

A double take and i realize my error. That's not a condom machine...That's a feminine product dispenser. On my side of the building the Men's room was on the left, but on the opposite side of the building? Turns out they were reversed. Luckily, nobody came in, saving me any further awkwardness.

My time in Redmond is one I'll always look back on fondly. Good people,and the most comfortable work environment I've been in. Compared to some of the "open concept" sweatshops I've had the pleasure of working in, The MS campus is like a day spa with computers.

My only gripe is that 6 years later, I'm still working off the weight I gained there. Free soda, super cheap cafeteria, candy in the shuttle buses, and those almost daily admin emails..."There's leftovers in the conference room..."
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:38 PM on July 18, 2009


Can someone explain to me the disconnect between Microsoft apparently having so many intelligent, competent workers (just in this thread, even) and Microsoft putting out such utterly hated software?

Vista and Internet Explorer, flagship products, are completely reviled pretty much everywhere I read about them. Is it that things get rushed by management? Is it just a failure of marketing, which, no offense to Ariel in particular, Microsoft has never been super good at?
posted by Nomiconic at 9:00 PM on July 18, 2009


The second buggiest piece of consumer electronics I have ever owned is my iPod Classic 160 GB. The only thing worse is the Chinese MP4 player I bought that self-destructed after a week. The worst piece of PC software I regularly use is iTunes for Windows. The second worst is Lotus Notes. Apple has nothing to brag about.
posted by rfs at 9:51 PM on July 18, 2009


Vista and Internet Explorer, flagship products, are completely reviled pretty much everywhere I read about them.

(I don't think that anyone inside Microsoft would call IE a "flagship product". Windows and *Office* are usually the two that are described that way.)

IE6 is the biggest cause for the IE hate. As I understand it, it was not quite standards-compliant when it was released, and time only worsened the state of affairs. After IE6, the team was basically disbanded and browser development at Microsoft stopped for a few years. Meanwhile, other products like Firefox, Safari and Opera both improved significantly and became very standards-compliant. As a result, web developers found that the same code and designs would more-or-less behave as expected on all browsers -- except for IE6, for which extraordinary measures were often required. This was a particular burden on designers, who seem to be overrepresented on online forums *wink* and who were not shy about sharing their opinion.

IE6 was also released relatively early in Microsoft's attempts to improve security across-the-board, and was an easy target for all kinds of malware.

IE7 was better, and IE8 a significant improvement on both counts, but neither is a particularly outstanding product. (For me, IE8 is good enough that I don't bother downloading a different browser when I setup a new PC; I think that qualifies as "damning with faint praise")

Disclaimer: I'm an old-school desktop guy, without a good handle on web development.

Vista apparently had an extremely troubled development history and was probably rushed out the door too early. I've heard there were a lot of problems with device drivers in the early days. I only started using it when I came to Microsoft last May, and I've had nearly no problems with it -- so they must have been all ironed-out by then. But the initial impression doesn't ever seem to have gone away.

I think Vista's biggest problem is that there really is no obviously compelling reason to upgrade from XP. In the past, Microsoft encouraged application vendors to make use of whatever cool new APIs had been added to the OS -- which naturally served as a driver for users to upgrade. But with the increased importance of 1) the web, for both consumers and businesses and 2) managed code, for line-of-business application development, there was very little reason for ISVs to "take a dependency" on the new operating system.

In general, a lot of Microsoft's software -- and particularly the big sellers like Windows and Office -- suffers from trying to serve too many types of customers: businesses (both directly and through partners), consumers, application developers and hardware manufacturers, each with different needs. The software (and interminably long list of SKUs) reflects this complexity. By contrast, Apple really only focuses on serving the consumer -- and it allows them to excel at that task.

Anyhow, that's my perspective.
posted by Slothrup at 10:51 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apple has nothing to brag about.
Clearly your anecdote is in line with the consensus.
posted by Monochrome at 11:09 PM on July 18, 2009


You know, before I leave the rest room, I always check for microspotting.
posted by dhartung at 11:15 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where is the badness you and others are talking about?

Well, my current issue is that my copy of Word 2003 continuously thinks I've changed the normal.dot template when I haven't, so it asks me to save it but won't let me. Deleting and replacing all copies hasn't fixed it, so I guess it's yet another full reinstall -- something I had to do just a couple of months ago for exactly the same reason.

Oh and IE8 broke my computer by stopping me using some other apps even though I wasn't even using it. Had to roll back to IE7.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:21 AM on July 19, 2009


It's been years since I met anyone who seemed to think that software is important.
posted by nervousfritz at 5:13 AM on July 19, 2009


MICROSOFT COMPUTER TRAINING MANUAL

1) REBOOT
2) REBOOT
3) REBOOT
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 7:02 AM on July 19, 2009


The problem with all self-reported experience on Apple vs MS ("customer satisfaction" surveys and so forth) is that we all know that subjective attitudes towards products play a huge role in people's perceptions of their utility, and often almost completely independent of actual experience. Enthusiasts for organic food, for example, will report enormous gains in health, wellbeing and flavor as a result of eating organic food none of which can be replicated in any controlled studies. Everyone "knows" that Japanese cars are more reliable than US cars--so even people who own US models that are demonstrably more reliable than their import counterparts (and yes, there are some such cases) report lower satisfaction with reliability than the people who own the (objectively) less reliable cars.

People hate MS because it is seen as the archetypal monopolistic corporation. They love Apple because it is seen as the scrappy underdog and (on sites like this one, in particular) because it pitches to the arty-designy crowd. But the all the people I personally know who swear by Apple with an almost religious fervor get no added utility from their preference that I have ever been able to observe, and they all pay a premium for their Apple products.
posted by yoink at 11:18 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as someone trying to afford a new laptop after my used Apple crapped out, oh, about a month after I got it, I would love to be in one of those Laptop Hunter ads. Make it happen, Areil, and I will shill like a motherfucker. (We can say motherfucker in the ads, right?)
posted by klangklangston at 3:02 PM on July 19, 2009


drjimmy11 wrote: I haven't seen the famous "blue screen" in literally four or five years now, on any of the 8ish machines I've worked on in that time.

Microsoft made one of their best marketing moves ever when they decided to change the default response to critical errors in XP. Now nobody ever sees a BSOD unless they specifically ask for it. Instead, the computer starts spuriously rebooting itself, leading people to blame the problem on a power supply, motherboard, or some other hardware issue! Utter genius!(Queue aria)
posted by wierdo at 4:17 PM on July 19, 2009


Vista apparently had an extremely troubled development history and was probably rushed out the door too early. I've heard there were a lot of problems with device drivers in the early days. I only started using it when I came to Microsoft last May, and I've had nearly no problems with it -- so they must have been all ironed-out by then. But the initial impression doesn't ever seem to have gone away.

I think Vista's biggest problem is that there really is no obviously compelling reason to upgrade from XP.


IMO, Vista's biggest problem was that it was put on machines that were completely underpowered for its requirements. The worst offenders were "Vista Capable" devices sold by a variety of manufacturers, including Dell, HP, Sony, Gateway and others. "Vista Capable" machines were nothing of the sort, and it was a PR disaster for Microsoft. They should have insisted that their software only be placed by dealers on machines which had enough ram, hd space and processor power to run without frustrating the hell out of the end user.

I put together my own quad-core desktop machine last year, and it's running Vista Ultimate 64-bit. I use it for gaming, various work applications, surfing the net, streaming content, photo / video editing etc. Aero runs a constant slideshow movie on the desktop in the background. The box never crashes or restarts automatically. And I do mean never. It's gone at least 14 months without a crash, and considering that my old XP box was laggy, buggy and slow and crashed all the time, I've been highly impressed with this one.

I'm convinced that I've had such a positive experience because I'm running a computer that didn't have device driver compatibility issues, has more than enough ram and hard drive space to meet my needs, and has an expensive, powerful processor. Perhaps they shouldn't have marketed Vista as an upgrade and only made it available on *new* computers that met certain parameters.
posted by zarq at 9:55 PM on July 19, 2009


But the all the people I personally know who swear by Apple with an almost religious fervor get no added utility from their preference that I have ever been able to observe, and they all pay a premium for their Apple products.

I don't have an iPhone, an iTouch or a Zune. (My iPod is a 1st generation 4GB Mini, built in 2004. Runs perfectly well.) But I have played with both an iTouch and a Zune, and Apple completely blows Microsoft out of the water with regard to functionality, sleek design, upgradability etc.

Also, my Moto Q smartphone is running Windows Mobile 5. The iPhone's interface, ease of use and usefulness is so far ahead of it that it's hard to even compare them.

In those two devices, the Apple added utility is easy to find.
posted by zarq at 10:02 PM on July 19, 2009


Microsoft.

We'd fix our software, but we're permanently in the sh*tter.
posted by markkraft at 2:20 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


In those two devices, the Apple added utility is easy to find.

Fair enough--I should have explicitly restricted my comments to computers.
posted by yoink at 6:30 AM on July 20, 2009


Pffft. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want at my job.

Of course, my job also involves wiping someone else's butt. So, maybe if you want to sell me on this MicroSoft nonsense, you should advertise it as "You don't have to follow anyone else into the bathroom at MicroSoft!"

Another good one: "You don't ever have to say 'Take that out of your mouth' at MicroSoft!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:51 AM on July 20, 2009


But I have played with both an iTouch and a Zune, and Apple completely blows Microsoft out of the water with regard to functionality, sleek design, upgradability etc.

Sure... When it works. Yes, I work for Microsoft, yes I have an iTouch (long story short, the lesson about DRM is that when one member of the family chooses a lock-in (Audible), all subsequent members will follow that path) - don't even get me started on the Zune... (hello, Canadian customers, subscriptions/online store?).

For the last month my iTouch will randomly stop playing mid-song and jump to the home screen, as well - often when I am browsing through albums it will do the same. There appears to be no rhyme nor reason as to why it does this (except perhaps the mid/late June update).

I have yet to encounter software without bugs. Apple has some amazing interaction engineers, but they still have bugs.
posted by jkaczor at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2009


For the last month my iTouch will randomly stop playing mid-song and jump to the home screen, as well - often when I am browsing through albums it will do the same. There appears to be no rhyme nor reason as to why it does this (except perhaps the mid/late June update).

Ah, you've seem to have hit the "iTouch" bug. It happens when you call an iPod Touch that.

Seriously though, have you tried a full restore trough iTunes? (ie. reset it to factory conditions, and then sync your stuff back to the device) This might do the trick. (It's a computer, and indeed, Apple does have bugs sometimes, doing a clean reinstall can sometimes fix it.) Else, stop by an Apple store to get it fixed, this isn't normal and up to their standards, so they should be able and willing to fix it.
posted by lodev at 5:55 AM on July 24, 2009


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