I’m a few months out from my time at Microsoft, and in a new gig in a new environment (GAEMS, in case you didn’t see.). It’s given me some perspective and time to think about the company in general, especially since I have read the Vanity Fair article summarized here.
While I can’t quibble with the accuracy of a lot of the points the article makes (now that I have some distance from it, I really now understand how damaging Microsoft’s performance review model is), I certainly feel the article is unfair in blaming Microsoft for a lot of mistakes while glossing over or minimizing its successes.
I don’t think you can call a decade “lost” when Windows 7 did so well, and Xbox, Kinect, and Halo are names known even to my mom. The excitement in the tech space alone over new devices like the Surface show me that while certainly Apple is perceived as “more cool” and Google, weirdly, is starting to be perceived as “more evil” I don’t see a place in there where Microsoft is perceived as “Dead.”
Microsoft is certainly executing on a variety of things now, and while organizationally it has some challenges, concepts like Smartglass and making that work on competing platforms like iOS and Android clearly shows the company is capable still of pivoting according to the realities of the market and doing so with cool technology that provides a real benefit. The Windows team is finishing up Windows 8, Office is looking to other platforms, and even the more staid stuff like Windows Server still innovates in ways that most people will not notice.
I may be an ex employee, but I’m still bullish on Microsoft.
But that performance review model is a real hindrance and in my opinion has got to go.