back to article Microsoft: Give us better staff

The next "space race" will be in the world of computer science, according to Microsoft's president and head lawyer Brad Smith, who wants more students to pick up the subject (and presumably fill his company's ranks). "Kansas is primed to play an important role," Smith told the US state's Wichita Herald. "From agriculture to …

  1. MachDiamond Silver badge

    As companies such as Microsoft petition government for more foreign worker visas so they can hire workers at much lower salaries, they want people to major in CS? Programmers used to make very good money, now companies are willing to hire Indian programmers with poor language and coding skills for much less even though cleaning up stupid bugs takes enormous amounts of time.

    1. Dadmin

      The fact is; India has a better CS education system than most US universities. I was just reading an article on TOI where they don't even bother posting lists of open seats at university exams for CS anymore, they are always filled. There is something about coming from a poorer country that makes people work harder to get out, or get ahead, whatever the case may be. The bulk of CS grads in the US, if we can call it that, are not nearly enough for all the work out there, and in many cases they are just not good enough, even with the degree. And many more still just don't give a shit about anything important anyway. When you take the time to learn a skill and make good use of it, and it's a valuable skill, guess what? You're going to get work, and lots of it. Even marginal IT folks manage to keep employed, there is tons of work out there. THIS is why H1B is so very important to the large tech players; they really do need more and better applicants. And India is a top spot to get them. Period.

      Anyway, I work with mostly NRI folks, and I enjoy it greatly. The Indian people I come into contact with are very knowledgable, friendly, and mostly smell fine. ;) So, when you throw out a lackluster generalization like you did, expect a post from me, or someone just like me. The real deal is that, if these Indian coders were crap, why are they still there? If they are making less money, while still authoring great code, why do I keep getting hired? I'm not even that great of a programmer, I just tend not to fuck up enterprises to newsworthy levels, so they keep me around. And while I'm around, it's good to have other people that have a quality work attitude and knowledge of the craft. Most of the people I've met that complain a lot, are typically just shitty, angry, lazy, stupid assholes who wouldn't pick up a book to save their wretched lives. And, yeah, they are mostly white, American, males. The very angriest kind. But then, inbreds usually are. Right, UK? You know what I'm talkin' 'bout.

      School's out, dufus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The Indian Education System

        from my experience in India does not prepare the products for real work.

        They learn by rote and having seen from first hand in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata their problem solving and lateral thinking skills are close to zero.

        They also (in the main) don't question what they are told to do.

        If you asked one to go and get a left handed spanner, they'd go off and never return.

        Is that what we want?

        It takes 2-3 years in the west to get them thinking like us. That's a lot of hard work.

        As for the quality of software produced... average at most. mistakes are repeated.

        Just my 2p worth.

        Posting AC because I still have a job fixing the rubbish coming out of Bangalore.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Indian Education System

          There's a reason why India, despite its massive population, is suspiciously absent from the world rankings of universities.

          Anon to avoid upsetting Indian colleagues, some of whom are excellent.

          1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

            Re: The Indian Education System

            Ok I will post in non-anon.

            Many of the results they publish are non repeatable. So many people I know check the results, and if they come from India, discard them. This is terrible for science, as I am sure there are plenty of really usefull papers coming from India.

            Their IT products are similar, and my guess is: it is a cultural problem. I have Indian colleagues who are excellent and some of them were trained in India, some in the UK.

            Note: in my team there are ppl from all over the world, and mos of them are excellent, many are better than me in problem solving, I just have the advantage of experience, so I "solve" the problem knowing how to solve it.. experience is important.

            Note: low cost IT sobcontranting in India is going to get you the bottom of the barrel ppl from India, and bottom of the barrel there is really bad.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm really surprised with so such great universities, where's the software powerhouse of the like of Google, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. etc. from India. It is true there are many Indians there (some trying to force you to install Windows 10 at all costs), just you wonder why they, once became rich, they don't get home and found and fund some big IT enterprise developing their own products instead of just getting offshored work from the big US and EU (+UK) ones. Hey, if a single Finnish can develop as a student an OS and take the world, what would be able to to a country with so many capable IT students?

        With so many great minds it should be very simple, to take the IT world with stunning products. Or it isn't so simple, and there are just a lot of so-so developers, taught only enough to perform some offshored work, and little else? While those lucky enough to become someone alone stay away as much as they can from where they came from, but to exploit their nationals whenever it's convenient, but still building their wealth on Western skills?

        1. Lars Silver badge

          "the like of Google, Microsoft, Oracle". Tata for instance.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Tata what? What Tata-branded software do you run on your machines? Do you go every day to Do you eargerly wait for new Tata software releases and new products? Being an outsourcing powerhouse doesn't make you a software powerhouse. Who, outside outsourcing managers, knows Tata (not for cars)?

  2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Talking out of both sides

    Slurp wants more US grads but will not hire them because they are too expensive. What does not make sense with this picture?

    1. JasonT

      Re: Talking out of both sides

      The larger the labor pool, the lower prevailing salary (supply & demand). No need to ask President Trump to allow in developers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H potential terrorists.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Talking out of both sides

      "What does not make sense with this picture". A education focused mainly on sports.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Train them yourself

    It's called a cost of doing business.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Microsoft wants "better staff"... I think they need better manglement at the top. This Win10 thng doesn't seem to be working out for them at this time in the Goodwill department which may flash back to bite their bottom line. Or maybe that's the staffs' fault?

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Mark 85 - Often a company's hiring woes and inability to attract top flight talent is because the word on the street is they are lousy place to work. Slurp has used the much reviled 'stack ranking' for years and it has apparently alienated employees and made them only able to attract second tier talent. Anyone who can avoid working for them will; there are better places to work.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Good points, but again, that points to the clowns at the top.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Mark, it's always the fault of the worker bees when things go wrong. Management is incapable of error per definitionem*. That's why they're management, see? If the worker bees were as brilliant as the managers, the worker bees wouldn't be working bees; they would be management too. Stands to reason, doesn't it?

          * The crazy (or is it sad) thing is, in a way there is some truth in it - someone who doesn't actually do anything doesn't make a lot of mistakes. And in a very large organisation, doing nothing actually is an option if you use the time to come up for a good reason for doing nothing. Internal regulations or policies are the best reasons, followed by consultant's recommendations and statistics.

    2. Brian Miller

      Microsoft doesn't actually want better staff. Better staff means that they will be critical of the managers, and may even stage some sort of "revolt" against them. Not like The Crimson Permanent Assurance, which would be absolutely excellent, but something like that.

      I myself have worked at Microsoft as a temp. The last time I worked there, I was bawled out over code that I didn't even write. Upon pointing out to my manager that I didn't write it, and the author of said code was seated next to him, he then proceeded to bawl me out over things that he had never mentioned he wanted done. Yep, that's Microsoft! Repeatedly the worst place I've ever worked. If you really do have serious skills, Microsoft is not the place for you.

      No, Microsoft needs to have a CEO from the outside. Clean out the idiots, and fire the managers who hired them. If a CEO has the balls to play Styx's Renegade at the company meeting and follow through, that's the fellow they need.

  5. nematoad Silver badge

    Avast there!

    The thought occurs to me.

    Who pays the bill for all the well trained recruits demanded by MS and other companies?

    Not the likes of Facebook and co. judging by their reluctance to actually pay tax on their sales. Do they really think that CS graduates grow on trees or is it a case of "Take all you can, give nothing back"?

    I'm sure I've heard that before, now where was it?

    1. Mike Lewis

      Re: Avast there!

      > is it a case of "Take all you can, give nothing back"? I'm sure I've heard that before, now where was it?

      I think it was before the French revolution. Or was it the first American one?

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Avast there!

      It is indirectly paid as a tax on the economy as a form of personal taxation.

      Frankly, it does not matter if it is let's say Germany or Sweden which pays bursaries and has free higher education for its cittizens or it is USA where the student pays for most of the cost or UK which is somewhere in between. The student after that pays this out of student loans which form a tax on his/her salary or the general population pays tax which funds it. It is a form of tax one way or another.

      The problem Microsoft has specifically in USA is that as CS matures and moves forward as a field of study the cost of educating a student fully (which in a mature field means MSc or higher) is starting to become so high that their starting salaries are unable to pay back the loan form of financing the education.

      This is a common problem across USA education system - by the time you graduate at MSc or above from one of the more difficult disciplines you have accrued a level of debt which you cannot repay until your mid-40-es. This is artificially offset for some areas like Math, Physics, Chemistry and to a lesser extent Biology with grants which allows a student to get to MSc level without accruing unsurvivable debt on scholarships. CS - nope, none of that at present, very few scholarships and grants to go around.

      MSFT, Google, F**book, etc can fix this by providing grants and scholarships (it is even tax deductible activity for them). The system is well established - USA Army and Navy run a fairly well honed version of that. However, being the lazy b***rds they are, they want Uncle Sam to fix it instead.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Avast there!

        @ Voland's right hand

        "Frankly, it does not matter". I would frankly claim it does. For a slightly blunt and short comparison.

        In most European countries adult people pay their taxes so that their kids can afford their education no matter what happens to their parents. Paying in advance, an insurance if you like. And of course there are kids who's parents paid hardly nothing, but I am OK with that too.

        A slightly rude (but only slightly) explanation of the US model is when you kick (if you can) your kids out the door telling them to get some fucking loan and some education, you pay later. And so they go and so will their kids too.

        Don't understand me wrong, we are children of our societies and our opinions and thinking relate to that.

        Incidentally I have heard of Americans who seem to think there are no private schools or hospitals in these odd European, on the brink of communism, countries. Not so, but a Trump University we are not allowed to cherish.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's what she said.

    So sad that a dozen comments go by without the obvious and necessary crack at the headline.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe, teaching b*****t about evolution in schools...

    .... doesn't help to grow the bright science minds of tomorrow?

    If you're in need of an algorithm/pattern/design and you look at your <put your holy book here>, because you've been told it holds everything you need to know, maybe you won't find what you're looking for?

  8. Curious

    Well.. in schools Microsoft OS and software dominate classrooms.

    This software has it's merits in business and the home, but it's a poor environment for learning about how computers work; going out of it's way to hide detail on how it works and alternative methods to solve tasks, no easy method anymore to connect up lights and motors.

    As for actual development, Microsoft's tools have had an unnecessarily high barrier for newbies in their complexity since VB 6. After kids start hitting the limitations of Scratch, either they start coding for web pages or they stop. Few teachers can keep up to date with Microsoft's constant changing complexity between windows forms, wpf, gdi, silverlight, xaml, mvc, mvvm, directx all with their own limitations and dead ends.

    Microsoft, seriously, just pick something, get it to cover the common cases and stick with it. And as you've no qualms about forcing that Xbox thing and other garbage on all Windows 10 users, maybe you could give VS Code / Studio & Xamarin pride of place in the windows store with an introduction manual and classroom friendly samples by Charles Petzold or the other bright people Microsoft have hidden behind their walls, a few code katas to help teachers have a starting plan.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Actually, in Windows like in any other OS you can still program in plain C (or other decent languages to learn) using text-only I/O. It's just most students will find it "boring", and most teachers as well wants to jump on the latest fashionable technology - even if it will be dead in two years.

      1. Zane

        ...but its tedious...

        Yes you are absolutely right - even in Windows you can program in C and use the command line.

        However, it's so much easier in a unixoid OS - so why bother?

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      @Curious - upvoted for 'code katas' because I really like that. That could be both a starting point and a fallback position.

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    Better workers?

    Microsoft made this bed and now they can lie in it. And cry into their pillow. Or bite it. Whatever. A Yank Lurker is right. The company culture is broken beyond repair and a lot of people know it. Talented people that Microsoft needs, but will never have.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

    You guys are missing the big picture!

    So, American employers (Mega-Corps) want top quality grads from American Universities. Well, then they are going to have to help change the education system by increasing the tax base by paying higher levels of taxation, not off-shoring money and reducing payouts to their higher level executives. Countries that are successfully educating people seem to have universal childcare and education from Kindergarten through University, and in many cases single payer healthcare. Bernie Sanders repeatedly says look to Denmark for examples of how Government should work for its Citizens and think that's a good example, although not the only one.

    Universal education and childcare that makes those jobs reasonably paid work is a start. America is in the lucky position that it has a large population and still a huge economy, despite the best efforts of the 0.01% to suck it all up to themselves, and so there are still people below the 0.01% who can afford to send their children to good schools. I do suspect, however, that there is a decreasing number of people who can and if your child is that smart then that child may enjoy the problem solving involved in CS but understands that they can earn 10X or 100X more money in the financial industry. This has become especially true as the financial industry has become increasingly deregulated.

    Free higher education is greatly needed, but it also has to be very strictly regulated so that it is ability based and not old boys networked. This, of course, brings up another issue in that the 1% have always had the advantage of better education from birth throughout life and the old boys network. However, with free higher education those with some ability and desire can close that gap and therein lays the issue of whether the 1% actually want that. It appears that in many developed economies a cohesive society that functions for everyone is less important than keeping the wealth at the top and largely in the same hands that it's in now.

    Oh, while I'm at it I should mention that no nations Federal Reserve, or equivalent, should be in private hands. :)

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

      Thank you. Yes, it is a public policy problem, the wrong goal.

      Cutting taxes to make up for current prosperity problems, and then ensuring worse future prosperity problems by dissuading the young from furthering their education by the crushing debt load they'd incur, well, short-sighted is the politest term for that. My near retirement is not going to be comfortable when the economy is collapsing around me.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

      Yes, education for profit is a disaster. As far as I remember nor Newton or Einstein were born rich, what would have become of them in such a system. Then again, had I been born with a nice bank account I would have gone for sailing, fucking, drinking and modestly eating, programming, why the hell.

      All over this world kinds are born never given a chance to use the potential they have. We are rubbish at educating our kids the way we could and should, and it's a disaster for democracy too.

      Michio Kaku is not joking when it comes to education in the USA. Is that the British path too.

      1. Thatguyfromthatforum

        Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

        As a side note his book "physics of the impossible" is an excellent read.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

      You don't even need fully free higher education - you just need affordable higher education for most citizens (and help those who can't access it). Let people pay enough to understand the value of what they are allowed to access - but not so high they need loans to access it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

      ...universal childcare...

      As a tax payer without children, under your system, can I have a universal no childcare tax break so I'm not subsidising your breeding habits and lack of family budgeting and logistics planning?

      "Who's going to look after you when you get old?" Probably not your children, as they'll all be CS majors at Microsoft or teaching Indians that, yes they can haz all teh codez.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

        "As a tax payer without teeth, under your system, can I have a universal no teeth tax break so I'm not subsidising your sugar eating habits and lack of family budgeting and logistics planning for purchasing toothbrushes and toothpicks ?."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cost of Education versus Return through Employment

          "As a tax payer without teeth..."

          Your tax break will be paid in the finest Devonshire toffees.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    It's not like Microsoft is the prime reason for shit basics and security problems

    Pushing MSFT products that are unfit for teaching into universities with "discounts" and likely "incentives". Going around poisoning the IT ecosystem. Patenting new ways to wipe your arse and speaking darkly about "patents" to spread FUD. Closing off avenues to jump off their pestilential ship to nowhere. Then charging doubly for a ticket because there is a cloud on the rotten mainsail now.

    Yes they do.

    They then go and demand that somehow people be provided that have good basics - and that these fix the security problems MSFT themselves created out of sheer greed and incompetence (and which they are peddling to Uncle Sam for all we know.)

    Chutzpah doesn't even describe this.

    One can only vote Trump and hope that the Redmond Cancer gets its comeuppance along with the federally bailed out banksters and mortgage peddlers. And that comeuppance should be some good old Robespierre treatment.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: It's not like Microsoft is the prime reason for shit basics and security problems

      "One can only vote Trump and hope that the Redmond Cancer gets its comeuppance ..."

      Throwing out the baby with the bath water comes to mind.

      Be careful what you wish for etc. Just look at the state of the UK to see that!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: It's not like Microsoft is the prime reason for shit basics and security problems

        Make the UK Great Again!

        Ok, going overboard here. Trump is unhinged on economics. But as I read elsewhere "he may be the last off-ramp from the Repubocrats endless wars of choice". As the next wars of choice will be with Russia and China and Madame Clinton will not think twice about triggering these for politicial brownie points, that off-ramp better be taken!

  12. s. pam
    IT Angle

    Perhaps if their SW wasn't so shit security wise

    Drones would consider working in their hive. It has gotten so bad security-wise that Adobe is almost better, and that's a damn depressing thought. Who in their right minds would want to deal with all the smellies MSFT has?

  13. Thatguyfromthatforum

    As a recent cs grad

    From a top 5 recognised university in Europe I can say exactly this:

    1: we were told as students that pursuing programming would be a "for the love of it" as opposed to "this is a great paying job". We were advised that due to the regular hordes coming from the third world and bean counters seeing price x versus price y and going with the cheapest option over talent or quality, there really isn't much of a career in Europe. We were pushed moderately to either choose networking ( which I took as I foresee network security being fairly safe) or project management via prince 2 and other methodologies.

    2: we had a "partnership" with slurp and they made it very clear that non whites, females and other "minorities" would get first selection irrespective of talent because "reasons", I, along with several students decided to tell the slurp rep that we wouldn't work for a company who don't hire their staff based on talent and choose politics over common sense. As a matter of fact 3 of us have started our own firm, one element is web design and the other is migrating smes away from slurp and over to gnu/Linux solutions instead. Fuck slurp and every company who operate like them.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: As a recent cs grad

      "project management via prince 2 and other methodologies"

      I have seen the result of this.

      "Project managers" who can't project their own arse out of the loo. "project management" is not something that comes by "education". It comes by having been immersed in a technical and organisational culture for a long time.

      "Prince 2" is just a label on a garden shed with nothing inside.

      we had a "partnership" with slurp and they made it very clear that non whites, females and other "minorities" would get first selection irrespective of talent

      Suicide by PC? YES WE CAN!

    2. lleres

      Re: As a recent cs grad

      Your university is patently incorrect and doing its students a gross disservice.

      The demand in the industry in the EU and UK in particular for *good* developers far outstrips supply and really great developers that also have lots of experience and can work in 'architecture' type roles can pretty much name their own salary. To clarify, not referring to web UI type development.

      No amount of outsourcing changes this as it quickly becomes apparent that the persons the job has been outsourced to cannot do the job without significant oversight and resources from a more competent developer somewhere else. Typically you will hear something like 'Why not give it to the team in X country?'. Answer: 'They can't do it'.

      On the flip side, demand for network engineers has fallen off a cliff in the last 10 years with the advent of software described networking, cloud services and the like and this is coming from someone that used to work in networks. Most dedicated network engineers at my workplace either (a) old and retiring, (b) have been made redundant or (c) moved onto another role if they have the skill for it.

      Network security sure, though information security is a broader subject with more potential and again, not much there wrt network security specifically. Penetration testing is at the low end of the food chain and to get hired as an 'information security analyst', you need an information security degree and substantial experience.

      I fear the real reason the university does not recommend it is because hard (as in high level) programming courses are just not being taught in many top end universities and I sadly say this as a graduate from one such university. There is not much demand for the type of programming we were taught when I graduated, that is true.

      It is true do not bother if you do not enjoy it - you will not get ahead, be proactive in your learning, learn things in your own time and move far ahead of what was taught at uni, which again is barely scratching the surface, without a desire to do so.

      Take this as you will, but personally I'd do some searching on available jobs, their salary and number of open positions before you make a far reaching decision that will impact your entire professional career.

  14. lleres

    Perhaps if Microsoft wanted better developers, they might spend their considerable resources in actual engineering rather than inventing new ways to annoy people and lock them into whatever platform they happen to be pushing.

    Want great developers? Make great developers actually want to work for you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @lleres - consider this reply to count for 1000 upvotes.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Supply and demand meet at a place called "price".

      But as in all capitalistic adventures, you need INCOMPRESSIBLE TIME to build the chain of production first. It's a 21st century delusion that you can throw money at something and it gets done (another reason why Keynesian policies fail except when the idea is to throw warcrap at someone else)

      The skilled personnel will be there in 10 years. And then the next bandwagen will have arrived anyway.

      "Use them like toilet paper" seems to be rational action right now.

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