My Experience inside Microsoft
Dept. of Computer Science
One year ago, I was lucky enough to have the chance to work in Microsoft as an intern. I stayed in Microsoft Global Technical Engineering Center in Shanghai for eight months and would like to share some experiences and my point of view of something inside Microsoft.
About the Employees
My overview impression on the employees in Microsoft is that they are both smart and diligent.
For one thing, most of the employees are top students when they are at school. It is well known that if one wants to work for Microsoft, he or she must pass at least nine interviews one after another. “Hire the best developers and create the best software” is always Microsoft’s goal. Microsoft guy is always the symbol of smart and intelligent. Most of the employees are quick learners. If they encounter something that they are not familiar, they can find related information on the web or in some books and learn the necessary knowledge.
For another, they are really hardworking guys. Once they are concentrated on something, they are difficult to be disturbed by external environment. Also, overtime is a piece of cake. If they some critical problems occur, a special group would be formed and all the people in the group would work together until it is solved. Sometimes, they even get up in the midnight and come to office to work when necessary.
In a word, hardworking and smart are two obvious features of the employee in Microsoft.
About the Culture
The culture in Microsoft is quite different from other companies. There is a tag in Microsoft: “feel free”. If you want to anything, you can feel free to do. In the morning, you can see all kinds of people in all kinds of clothes. But unlike other companies, none of them dress business suit. You can even see someone come to work with slippers. Because of the free culture here, all of the above does not matter.
Also, the decision is made very freely. When a conference or meeting is held, most of the people talk whatever they think. There is always a white board in the meeting room, no matter what title you are, you can stand up and come to the white board and state your opinion and even draw something to let yourself understood. Perhaps, the final decision is just what you think. So, the hierarchy is not obvious in Microsoft. Especially when making decision.
Microsoft in change
Almost 30 years has passed since Bill Gates and Paul Allen first started Microsoft. Microsoft has changed a lot in the 30 years. In the early years, as the text book described, Microsoft always represents passion and creativity. But now, Microsoft is a middle aged man. A lot of new culture and new ideas has been introduced to Microsoft.
The first change in Microsoft’s culture is “Custom Focus”. In Microsoft, you can almost see CFC anywhere; CFC stands for Customer Focused Culture. It means, as an engineer, we should consider what customers concern and improve the customers’ satisfaction. This is quite different from the former idea “Hire the best developers and create the best software”. It is can be seen from the advertisement. Ten years ago, Microsoft use the sentence “Where do you want to go today?” as its advertisement. But now, it has been changed to “Your potential, our passion.” which also shows that Microsoft is more and more customer-focused rather than self-focused.
As many companies, Microsoft has its enterprise culture. The culture somewhat can represent the enterprise public image. And, it is changing.