back to article Microsoft sharpening axe for marketing heads - report

Another year and another shake-up is coming to Microsoft. A restructuring of the team responsible for how Redmond is perceived and sells itself will be announced in the next 30 days, Bloomberg reports. "Hundreds" of staffers in Microsoft's Central Marketing Group (CMG) may find themselves on the business end of an axe wielded …


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  1. Vic

    Most of this actually looks pretty good

    Microsoft's marketing is, at best, shambolic.

    Why upgrade to Win7? So you can film some nob in a pink shirt make an arse of himself, then play it back with a crap music track. Yeah, that's an unbeatable message...

    Sinofsky's organisation seems a little strange according to this description - one coder, one tester, one PM? - but he does seem to be turning in the goods.

    But making *60%* of your staff "uncomfortable"? That strikes me as a really easy way to destroy morale...


    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Thumb Up

      They've been making my life a misery for years. Buggerm.

    2. admiraljkb


      I'll see if I can shed some light as I've worked in an engineering company recently. Marketing is now enemy #1 in most of them. I think this is a FANTASTIC step on MS's part. As you mentioned, MS's marketing has been lacking (for 10 years or so by my count). The reason is that Marketing in many engineering companies have taken over. Rather than selling and making suggestions, they've been giving orders instead, which leads to a lot of "look - squirrel!" type of reactionary actions. Its what I call, "Followship" instead of "Leadership". It destroys any sort of innovation (and morale) from the engineering staff, since they just take orders from the equivalent of Dilbert's pointy haired manager... It also leads to engineering sitting in confusion waiting on their current project to get killed because it's no longer the "hipness du'jour". Nothing worse than having a bunch of your work just thrown out, because a marketing type got a new bee in their bonnet about what is "hot" right now. It's like working for Paris Hilton...

      * "Sinofsky's organisation seems a little strange according to this description - one coder, one tester, one PM? - but he does seem to be turning in the goods."

      This is called the "Agile" program management method or some variant thereof. Popular in the open source community, and increasingly in corporate dev as well, it does allow for faster time to market, *if* marketing is removed from the equation. It sounds like MS is removing Marketing from the equation. :) It allows you to plan/design/prototype faster, and with QA's input at every step should you be about to pull a boneheaded move as a developer. It allows to break up giganto projects into manageable portions as well and have it come together nicely and more quickly, *if* handled correctly... Big *IF* there though...

      * "But making *60%* of your staff "uncomfortable"? That strikes me as a really easy way to destroy morale..."

      Agreed x10, but this *might* be a step up. I would venture to guess that it might be 80-90% of engineering staff already being generally unhappy right now to due Marketing interference in their day to day operations.

      Overall I think this is great news for MS, and maybe for the rest of the tech industry where marketing has been running roughshod over the development organization in the company. Probably bad news for all the folks with marketing degrees though. :)

      1. Vic

        > This is called the "Agile" program management method

        No it isn't.

        Agile development keeps the coupling tight, but doesn't have one coder to one tester to one PM. *That's* what I find unusual. Of course, it might just be an inaccuracy...


        1. admiraljkb


          I think it was inaccuracy, because like you I think that would be ODD. The last Agile team I was on had a several devs, with one test and one PM, the one before that a lot more devs and 3 testers, and still 1 PM. I'm thinking they are not being literal with a 1:1:1 relationship, but more of a "all three orgs will be represented" in a scrum (or whatever MS calls it internally).

      2. Charles Manning

        So where is the FUD going to come from?

        Face it folks, MS does not really survive on technical merit.

        The main thing that tilts the playing surface favourably for MS is their relentless marketing. It might be executed with blunt instruments, but it is what has kept MS where they are.

        1. Tom 13

          FUD only gets you so far. And if you rely on it too much,

          it becomes ineffective. Or worse, you wind up in the spot MS now finds themselves: even when they DO accomplish something which is for them a technical innovation, the market writes it off as more FUD but since you're already on the MS treadmill, FUD you have to accept.

          There's only one way to turn that problem around: kill the marketing and put together a technical team that produces the goods. I don't know if MS will pull it off, but it is the only shot they got. Especially since their former primary motivator and foil is now in the great beyond.

    3. Turtle

      "Why upgrade...?"

      "Why upgrade to Win7? So you can film some nob in a pink shirt make an arse of himself, then play it back with a crap music track. Yeah, that's an unbeatable message..."

      This is basically the same message that works so well for Apple, innit?

      1. Peter Hebert

        That is due to the effect of the Jobsian reality distortion field. It is one of the most powerful forces in the marketplace. No other company gets away the the crap that Apple does. We'll see if it dissipates in the next couple of years as Jobs it no longer there to perpetuate it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Start With The Buffoon In The Awful Golf Wear

    If anyone has an image problem, it's Ballmer. He dresses like the most boring man at a party who just may try to interest you in a copy of the watch tower.

  3. The BigYin

    Three step plan

    1) Save on marketing;

    2) Spend on lobbying;

    3) Profit:

    "The British government withdrew its open standards policy after lobbying from Microsoft, it has been revealed in a Cabinet Office brief leaked to Computer Weekly."

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Bob Vistakin

    Marketing is the only thing m$ have now, and ever did

    Someone there has done the WP7 post mortem and blamed its failure on, you guessed it, not enough marketing.

  6. Joe Montana


    If they cut back on marketing, MS will have nothing...

    They've always had inferior products relative to the competition, which are only successful through inertia and heavy marketing.

    They've even been known to pay people to use their products...

    1. Vic

      > If they cut back on marketing, MS will have nothing

      I didn't get the message that they were cutting back on marketing, just getting rid of a number of marketing bods. Presumably, someone has noticed that their marketing strategies are failing miserably...


    2. N2 Silver badge

      Apart from...

      The wheel mouse, with the red glowing thingy under it

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The best PR team in the world...

    ...can't hide the unending criminal convictions Microsucks has experienced from their chronic violations of anti-trust law on three continents. People are voting with their wallets.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "can't hide" & "voting with wallets"

      Really? I think you'll find if you stop random people in the street that most of them haven't a clue that MS have criminal convictions for anything. Also, I think you'll find that Windows' market share is still so large that most of those same people don't think there is an alternative. Apple? They only make phones and tablets for Stephen Fry, don't they?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe that's why Microsucks sales suck?

        Reality bites when it catches up to the shills of the world.

  8. Graham Wilson

    Once I'd have been more vocal about M$

    Once I'd have been more vocal and said good riddance Microsoft.

    Now the best I can do is yawn.

  9. Jammer

    On time because no new functionality was added.

    Ballmer's thinking is a millimeter deep. Windows 7 was and is a failure. The fact that it ships on all new PCs is the only reason its selling, not because anyone wants it more than XP. If Steven Sinofsky is Microsoft's star, because he "shipped Windows 7 on time" it speaks volumes about Ballmer's lack of intellect. Windows 7 shipped on time because Sinofsky stripped every bit of promised and hyped new functionality out of it. If XP was still available you can bet your last dollar that XP would be selling more than Win 7. Vista only ever reached 14 percent of the Windows desktop market in the years it was being shovelled off on computer buyers, and I'll bet that Win 7 is only doing marginally better despite Microsoft's monopoly.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho


      Don't let the facts stand in the way of a good rant. Microsoft saw double digit gains in the Windows Division from 2009 to 2010 after Win7 was introduced. And not just a 10% gain, try 23% revenue increase and 33% net income increase. I'm sure your software company is seeing much larger increases annually than $4 billion. /sarcasm

    2. Arctic fox
      Thumb Down

      RE: "Windows 7 was and is a failure" Really?

      Is there any way I can get the name of your dealer? Whatever it is your smoking must be really good. On a more serious note it does not matter what you or I or Old Mother Riley's cat think of Win7, describing it as a failure when it has sold faster (under the same commercial conditions/requirements as before - ie largely preloaded) than any previous os from Redmond is bloody ridiculous. I personally do not care how much you hate "MicroDemonSpawn$oft", please *do* try and retain some connection to reality.

    3. Figgus

      I like XP, and I like 7. Both have their place, and I still use both every day.

      I certainly wouldn't call 7 a failure, but I wouldn't call XP obsolete either... Not yet.

    4. Tom 13

      Been using Win 7 for a couple years now

      Started, reluctantly, with Vista. Vista sucked, Win 7 works. These days I find the XP interface lacking and a bit of a kludge. Although I do still prefer it's printer interface to the one in Win 7. From a security perspective, Win 7 stands as much above XP as XP does 9x.

      You can hate MS all you want, but those are the facts on the ground.

  10. Iain Griffiths


    MS and marketing are uneasy bedfellows - long time ago they could spout about whatever feature their next version would have and it would stop competition in its tracks . Then that feature would either not work or would be quietly dropped ("whither WinFS").

    Now it hasn't quite the same clout as the world has moved on.

    Folk ask "does it work on my ......"

    MS has to live in a world where they can dictate and haven't worked out how to. Marketing isn't the answer (and to be honest anyone who saw the Bill Gates /Jerry Seinfeld ads should realise this .)

    They need to realise that they aren't in the same business as they were 10 years ago.

    This might be it , but it actually looks like they are just shooting the messenger. Course that depends on whether they are actually listening to what's actually going on in the world, and not rearranging the deckchairs.

  11. Fatman

    M$ sharpening axe

    Taking the axe to marketing???? That can't be!!!!

    You do know the definition of an outstanding salesman, don't you?

    An outstanding salesman is one who could sell you a `Piece of Gold Plated Shit`; and make you so happy that you would go out and willingly buy another `Piece of Gold Plated Shit`, just because the outstanding salesman touted it as the newest and best `Piece of Gold Plated Shit` his company has produced.

    Substitute `Windows` for `Piece of Gold Plated Shit`; and you have Steve Ballmer!!!

    1. unitron


      The real outstanding salesman is the one who convinces you that the POS with "gold-colored" plating is actually superior and what you really want, and offers to carry away all of your previous stuff with real gold on it without charging you any extra.

  12. Dibbles

    Ye-es, but then again, no...

    The thing is, MS has form at taking successful guys from the PC/ Server/ Enterprise side and putting them in other sectors, where they struggle. The biggest wheeze is taking those Windows guys and putting them in mid-level roles in the online division - because guys who can code and ship Windows on time *clearly* know how to manage a publishing arm and sell advertising space.

    And while the talk of a mid-management massacre sounds fantastic, and would do a lot to trim some of the ridiculous amounts of flab the org has, again we've been here before; for all the chat, it's generally the guys and girls at the bottom of the pile who get trimmed, while mid-level heads of nothing continue in their titular role with nothing but a title left of their original responsibilities...

  13. RichardEM

    Apple might sdhave to look out

    It appears that MS is moving toward an Apple type of structure. Apple might have to start looking over their shoulder.

  14. Mikel

    Musical chairs

    Or deck chairs if you prefer.

  15. P Saunders

    Number one for the chop

    The team that dreamed up those stupid Vista launch party videos.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...and the people behind

      that hipster love fest that was the Kin campaign : )

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. David Gale

    Wonderful... now what about a coherent strategy?

    Wonderful! Now what about a coherent strategy for the enterprise? All the technically productive focus in the world will not make up for a complete dearth of strategy.

    This at a time when Apple's raw underbelly is exposed as people find out the hard way (again!) that standalone gizmos do not an enterprise architecture make.

    Don't worry, Steve, we gave up on any expectation of ethical standards years ago...

  18. unitron

    "Sinofskyisation", XP, Vista, and 7

    Leaving aside the question of what skyisation is, and why it's a sin, I expect any mad rush to buy 7 was as an escape from Vista.

    If they really want to sell something, start cranking out full retail packages of XP at $50 per box.

    Mine's the one with the even hologrammier than the real one counterfeit cd in the pocket.

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