My daughter had a project to do – and it was to ask me (a parent) what their dream job would be.
Mine would be working for a company like Microsoft – a company that writes software that affects the world. I know – you may ask “why not Google”. My daughter asked that, and I guess the honest answer is the same reason I don’t invest in Google. I don’t like how they spend shareholder money. Sorry – I don’t think free sushi and massages are the answer to getting the most out of your employees (or delivering the most to your shareholders).
I grew up with Microsoft, and they have kept me gainfully employed through third parties for years decades. WHQL alone amazes me. A very understated accomplishment – and the real reason (IMHO) that Microsoft owns the desktop. You don’t need to know what WHQL is – you just plug your “stuff” in and it works. Thank WHQL for that. WHQL kept me away for a week at a time trying desperately to get our hardware and software to work right together and pass the test – the “ready for Windows” test. I hated WHQL – but now every time I install a new flavor of Linux, I miss WHQL.
(BTW, WHQL is a strict set of tests that hardware and software combined need to pass to make it onto Windows Update, and eventually into the OS install. Sometimes we would spend a week getting one device to pass – often for customers. There are a LOT of WHQL drivers in XP that my team was responsible for, and I am proud of it!)
IBM came out today and replaced the motherboard and fan on my T42P laptop. I rebooted into Windows and after about three seconds installing some new drivers, my machine just worked – even though the hardware changed a lot (newer versions of about everything). Ubuntu won’t boot yet. Not sure why. The Operating System tells me the Colonel panicked or something (and if the damn officers can’t hold it together, what do they expect of the enlisted people!!!) I’ll be speaking to the Colonel tomorrow, should he choose to listen.
So yeah, Microsoft would be the company. The job would have to be something pretty interesting though, like “The last guy in the company we have a customer talk to when Windows won’t start”. Mostly because I don’t want to talk to all the people that own PC’s and never bothered to learn anything about them except for hitting the Power button. Or the one’s who surf porn and complain Excel won’t start. Heck, I even give my friends hell for that stuff!
Or maybe even, “We will use as much of your information as we can to turn a buck. Don’t worry, we won’t use your name, just your habits. But we WILL make a buck, ok?”
I would love walking into a meeting with Bill Gates where I got a chance to butt in and say, “Bill, you’re wrong here. The Office and Internet things were cool ideas, but this DRM shit just won’t cut it. Don’t pay the freaking music companies for each song you sell – buy the fuckers and let’s get this shit moving – people want content everywhere – not just where we can “allow it”. Hell, it wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft iced-out a non-conforming “partner”.
I would like to stop referring to buildings on the Redmond campus by number. Instead I would have one named after me. Maybe a couple others renamed too. One would be “Newton”, since the Apple Newton had such an effect on my life-path. I know – a building on the Microsoft campus named after an Apple product. Cool.
The Photosynth team would be my road crew. They would go everywhere I went. They are amazing.
I would buy PodTech, even if just to get Scoble back. Not because I think he’s all that interesting, but I imagine he was an FLK (funny looking kid), and that makes me smile for some reason. And Maryam would be back in Seattle, which can’t be anything but good for Seattle. They’ve had a rough winter, and can use the warmth.
In one frenzied meeting with Ballmer I would maniacally convince him to buy Ask.com, Meebo, MyBlogLog (shit, Yahoo bought them today) – IceRocket and as many widget companies as he had checks for. Especially a couple of those hardware widget companies. SPOT watch? Nah – give me a really smart alarm clock that wakes me up at the right time on the right day based on my calendar – and show me my widgets on the same device. Don’t assume I want/need to get up at the same time every day – not when you already know when I need to wake up!
I would buy Yahoo – even if I had to split Microsoft up to do it. Why? Eyeballs. Microsoft has some really cool stuff coming out, but they need to own a lot of eyeballs for it to gain traction. Sure, you can spend a billion on marketing and get some sort of return. What’s the equivalent return on a purchase like Yahoo? Can you say attach rate?
Anyway, yes, I would love to work for Microsoft. I don’t see them as an underdog, and I think only idiots and dreamers really do. Yes, they have challenges. DR DOS was a challenge, IBM was a challenge. Apple was a challenge. Now they are either gone, or dependant on Microsoft. So I think Microsoft is a good bet.
And yeah – I own Microsoft stock. Not a lot. But some.