Web Services Standards

By eweek  |  Posted 2004-03-29 Print this article Print

I look at what some of the other companies are doing, like Oracle for instance, and Sun. Theyre often on the opposite side of Microsoft when it comes to Web services standards. Yeah, you often get a phenomenon in this industry where some companies are the first movers and that it takes overwhelming customer pressure to get the people who werent the first movers on it to join in. With Web services, we did reach out pretty broadly, and theres been a little bit of reluctance on the part of Sun and Oracle.
But even that, I think, you know, these are royalty-free protocol specifications. Now theres a fair bit of R&D work to do to build a platform thats got all these things and does it super well and has development tools around that. But this thing is a critical mass. And Oracle and Sun and everyone else, theyll be drawn into this. Theyre not the pioneers of it but, you know, once you get all the systems integrators saying, Wow, this is what were going to train our people on, and you get the pioneering customers, including people on Wall Street, doing these things, then its just a matter of time. Those pieces have come into place.
While were talking about Web services, last year I wrote a story that likened Microsoft to the Yankees, in that you were hiring up all the best XML and Web services talent at the time. Id like to know, whats your strategy around hiring and recruiting? And what areas are you looking to focus on filling this year?
Well, I think we are a little bit like the Yankees in that weve got a good track record, and sometimes people get a kick out of saying if we dont win, Hey, thats fascinating, why didnt they win? So, this is a great hiring environment right now in terms of being able to draw in smart, young people and show them the breadth of what we do and how weve got the staying power to really make the breakthroughs. Whether its making Web services real or speech recognition real or tablet computing real—very tough things. Each one of those things weve been at a long time, and were going to have to invest a lot more before they get completed. A lot of our hiring is right out of the college level, so I did a tour recently where I went to U of Illinois, Cornell, CMU [Carnegie Mellon University], Harvard and MIT and really talked to the students about how these are really the golden years of computer science. That the hardware people are giving us these unbelievable platforms and that its really the software thats going to unlock the power of those things. There has been a drop in kids going into computer science. So, even though Microsoft gets a good part of that pool of good people, were quite worried about kids in the U.S., less of them going into computer science, and less foreign students coming to the U.S. and joining these departments. And it is somewhat in contrast with the increase in computer-science enrollment in China and India. Right now, our hiring is very, very strong, in fact, and we have to make sure were picking the very best people. And you seem to be. Thats the angle I took in the story, that everybody wants to play for the Yankees. Microsoft Research I think has been the strongest group at Microsoft, in terms of benefiting from that. As you get very good people, other good people like to work with them, so Butler Lampson, Gordon Bell and Gary Starkweather: There are some people there who are magnets, and they create an environment where neat things are happening. And you know, we have groups that from time to time arent as exciting. We do lots of morale surveys and polling to make sure. Like, are the groups being managed exactly the way they should be? But thats a skill set. Were a software company through and through, so over the years weve developed a pretty good methodology for knowing. I spend a lot of time with the summer hires. They all come over to my house and we have a party there. Actually, now theres enough that I have four parties there. But all the people get to come once. You know there are a lot of data points we can get to make sure that smart people are hiring other good people. Any specific areas that youre pushing more than others [for hiring]? Theres a broad set of opportunities, so we usually let the person say what theyre interested in. A lot of people like to work on Xbox, phones are pretty hot stuff, going up against Google, and doing something thats broader and deeper than theyre doing. You know, people kind of get excited about that challenge. Next page: Winning customers with problem-solving surprises.


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