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Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need? 272

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday, word came down that Microsoft was starting to lay off some 18,000 workers. As of June 5th, Microsoft reported a total employee headcount of 127,005, so they're cutting about 15% of their jobs. That's actually a pretty huge percentage, even taking into account the redundancies created by the Nokia acquisition. Obviously, there's an upper limit to how much of your workforce you can let go at one time, so I'm willing to bet Microsoft's management thinks thousands more people aren't worth keeping around. How many employees does Microsoft realistically need? The company is famous for its huge teams that don't work together well, and excessive middle management. But they also have a huge number of software projects, and some of the projects, like Windows and Office, need big teams to develop. How would we go about estimating the total workforce Microsoft needs? (Other headcounts for reference: Apple: 80,000, Amazon: 124,600, IBM: 431,212, Red Hat: 5,000+, Facebook: 6,800, Google: 52,000, Intel: 104,900.)
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Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

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  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:03AM (#47482817) Homepage

    If you have a business division that you want to maintain, then there's a limit to how many you can get rid of. But Microsoft are clearly closing divisions. They are closing their x-box spin off TV studios, so all those staff can go. Clearly there are large chunks of Nokia that they want to close, likely maintaining the hardware designers but if you're in Nokia marketing, or Symbian/Android software development your coat is on a shoogly nail as they say in Scotland. Similarly, it looks like Nokia manufacturing will also be outsourced, so there are thousands more jobs that will go.

    Inside Microsoft is a bit different. From what I've read, it looks like there will be some streamlining of management, so some layers of management will be cut. Most people on here will have seen how management can breed more management, so this is a pretty typical corporate response. Unfortunately for the managers losing their job it may be harder to find a new job. Where a division closes there's always the possibility of a sale to a competitor or some form of management buy out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:10AM (#47482889)

    About half of Apple's employees are retail employees (working in Apple stores). Only about 40,000 work as developers, testers, etc.

    Apple's 2013 10-K Annual Report states []

    "As of September 28, 2013, the Company had approximately 80,300 full-time equivalent employees and an additional 4,100 full-time equivalent temporary employees and contractors. Approximately 42,800 of the total full-time equivalent employees worked in the Company’s Retail segment."

  • Corporate culture (Score:5, Informative)

    by cphilo ( 768807 ) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:11AM (#47482899)
    My son is certified as a Microsoft Architect and at one point in his career was a senior Microsoft executive. He described the upper levels as very political. There was little team spirit.There was a lot of jockeying for position, backstabbing and attempts to degrade people to to elevate yourself. He eventually left and started his own company (which is doing quite well. He just bought a 40' RV)
  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:17AM (#47482957) Homepage

    This week, I got a real WTF when dealing with Microsoft products and the amazing amount of redundancy that is possible in the company.

    We have a robot product that we can communicate to using Bluetooth SPP and we are creating an application that can control it remotely. We originally went with a serial interface (after pairing, recording the "com#" of the device and then passing it to our application), this is somewhat cumbersome so we wanted to pair from our app and connect directly (saving the user from doing those operations manually).

    Logically, this would be one set of APIs, but it seems there are five depending on the OS - the only ones that are common are for Vista/Win7. I would think that right here there are four teams that are redundant - pick a single, consistent API, add it in Service Packs for all supported OSes and assign one team to the job.

    I would expect there are many more examples out there of similar inefficiencies that somebody within Microsoft should be able to answer with the ability to make things easier for developers and make developers available for squishing bugs.

    Sorry about the rant, but standard IO interface APIs should be just that, standard.


  • by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:19AM (#47482979)
    64KiB = 65536 Bytes
    64K = 64,000

    In no unit of measurement is 64K(anything) = 65635.
    65535 is however the maximum value expressible by an unsigned 16-bit binary number.
  • Just Steve Ballmer (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:21AM (#47483003)

    This guy can sell anything! Even Reversi and Windows 8!

    Too bad he's gone now.

  • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Friday July 18, 2014 @12:19PM (#47483513) Homepage

    Actually Windows XP was based on the Windows NT architecture. Windows 95, was based on the DOS architecture.

    Windows 95 was decades ago, it wasn't up to modern standards but it was certainly better than Mac OS 7 or Linux 1.0. It's time to move on.

  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Friday July 18, 2014 @04:04PM (#47485307) Homepage Journal

    By standard and by law, a "k" is x1000, an "M" is x1,000,000, and so on, and NOTHING else. Standards groups like IEC and IEEE are unanimous: they ALWAYS mean a power of 10. There have already been a number of court cases where someone used "K" etc. to mean binary prefixes, and every time they have had to concede (and typically end up paying up in out-of-court settlements). Examples include Willem Vroegh v. Eastman Kodak Company and Cho v. Seagate Technology (US) Holdings, Inc.

    And don't tell me that computers "always" use base 2 measurements. Hard disk drives, clock cycles, and bandwidth are typically measured using base-10 prefixes (multipliers of 10^3). Yes, RAM has been traditionally been measured using prefixes that imply powers of 2, but the errors have been getting worse and worse as the numbers get larger.

    Technologists should care about being precise. If you can't tell what a number means, that is a problem. The binary prefixes [] are a nice solution to a widespread problem. If you don't care about precision, use whatever term you want. But when you want to measure accurately, use the right units.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller