Does It Stink To Work at Microsoft?

Today, you are either fortunate or experiencing the worst kind of kind of luck in the world. That's because there's only one edition of Redmond Report this week, and I'm writing it. Your newsletter break is courtesy of one of the greatest American holidays, the Fourth of July.

The Fourth has it all: explosions, red meat on the grill, beer and -- because it's so hot -- barely any clothes!

Despite the festivities, some of us still have to make a living, so here I am, happily grinding out the news of the week.

Working for Microsoft has never been easy. The stories of long hours, unceasing pressure and relentless rain are legendary.

Those days, stock options made it all worthwhile. These days, the stock is as flat as a world-record flapjack. And yet, the work goes on.

According to a recent article from Popular Science, one job at Microsoft is particularly deserving of our sympathy. Those who work in Microsoft's Security Response Center (profiled here) have the sixth-worst job in science. That's because these folks fight off what could be millions of hackers exploiting thousands of holes.

It could be worse. Other bad jobs include elephant vasectomist and whale feces researcher. My guess? Neither of these come with stock options, either.

And as far as stinking goes, being a "garbologist" has got to be the worst (I should know -- I put myself through college as an amusement park trash man!).

Would you want to work for Microsoft? Tell us why or why not by writing to

Security (Like Rust) Never Sleeps
Speaking of security, Microsoft is having trouble keeping its Web sites unmolested. The latest breach? It seems hackers vandalized Microsoft's U.K. Web site (can I also say Great Britain? Experts from across the pond can write me at using a SQL injection attack. Fortunately for our pals across the pond, the site is now fixed.

Tip Toeing Toward Open Source
Microsoft has yet to make a bold proclamation about open source. Instead, we have hints, various announcements and some bits of Microsoft software that are actually open to all.

One of the latest tidbits (that fail to explain where Microsoft really stands) is Silverlight, a new, lightweight Web development/mash-up tool that has now been adapted (by new partner Novell) to work with open source.

This is an interesting test. How far will Microsoft allow these open source fans to go? We'll keep you posted.

So, a $500 PC Is Cheap in India?
Anyone who has read this newsletter for longer than a week knows I'm interested in Third World computing. My theory is that great minds exist everywhere. By giving access to computers, the Internet and, thus, the entire world, who knows what a poor child from a poor country can do?

I'm half-excited and half-disgusted with the efforts made by our biggest companies. They talk about offering cheap technology to the Third World, but their definition of cheap ain't exactly thrifty.

Two weeks ago, I found two different Vista laptops for $399 at Best Buy. Desktops, as you know, are always cheaper.

So why is it that Microsoft is bragging about a $500 PC for the Indian market? At that price, it better come with a free iPod (and no, people in India don't want a Zune!) and a side of pooran poli.

Mailbag: The Skinny on Supercomputers
Last week, Lafe reported on recent supercomputer breakthroughs -- specifically, Sun's Constellation System and IBM's Blue Gene/P. Lafe asked readers how they think this new technology will affect them in the real world. Here's what some of them had to say:

I must admit your question brought a smile to my face, because it reminded me of a magazine article I read somewhere in the mid-'80s talking about Big Blue and Bell Labs experiments in laser technology. The mind-boggling amount of data that could be burned onto a pinhead-sized area! I smile because I am sitting here in my office looking at the DVD drive in the desktop PC.

Thank you for a most interesting article and a trip down memory lane. How we take so much for granted.

I just want to see if I understand this: The U.S. Department of Energy will be the first Blue Gene/P customer later this year. Does that mean that the people who are in charge of conserving energy will be buying the biggest "gas hog" computer that is available today?

Just how many kilowatts does this Blue Gene/P use every hour it is in operation? Maybe the bigger question is how much cooling is required to keep it from burning itself up. I am only guessing, but I strongly suspect none of these supercomputers is what we refer to when we say "green machine."

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail at

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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