November 20, 2005
@ 04:19 PM

Given the very negative beef that offshoring has in the U.S. technology industry I've found it interesting how favorable Microsoft employees are towards the practice. From reading the blogs of various Microsoft employees, it seems a number of different products now have part of their development team in Asia. Below are excerpts from a few of blog posts that highlight this trend.

In his post Some Kahuna Stuff, Omar Shahine of Hotmail Windows Live Mail writes

Finally, Aditya announced that he will be moving to Shanghai, to work in our MSN Shanghai Tech Center. We actually have a small team of really smart developers and testers over in Shanghai that are working on various aspects of Kahuna. For those of you that have Kahuna accounts, they are responsible for getting the MSN Calendar into the M3 release of Kahuna which is a project I worked on in my "spare time" while also working on Kahuna M3. I'll be going over to Shanghai in a few weeks to hang with them.

Aditya (who is one of the folks I manage) is one of the co-creaters of FireAnt, the technology that we built Kahuna on. While he'll be missed around the hallways of our campus, he'll be continuing to do some great stuff over in China. It's an amazing opportunity, and I'm really excited about growing and building a strong product development team there.

In his post Travel and Books Chris Anderson of Avalon Windows Presentation Foundation writes

Just got back from China. I spent last week visiting the Microsoft office in Beijing. The Avalon team is partnering with a group in China to produce some of the control and features in Avalon. It was great to get to meet all the folks over there. So, over the past 3 weeks I've spent 1 in LA, 1 in Seattle, and 1 in Beijing.

In the post IE Development in China, Christopher Vaughan of the Internet Explorer team writes

Tony Chor, Rob Franco, and myself are in Beijing today as we make our way to Kuala Lumpur for the Hack-In-The-Box conference. We have a great team over here in what we call the ATC (Advanced Technology Center). In the past 6 months they’ve gone from just starting to adding serious value to IE 7. The folks over here have already contributed to IE 7 by re-writing the select control which Chris Wilson alluded to in his post from the PDC. Other improvements that we’ll see come out of the ATC for IE include improving our bi-directional font support, font linking and fallback improvements, and increased accessibility support. Watch for more blog posts in the future from our teammates here in China covering the kinds of things they’re working on.

I think it's really cool that Microsoft employees are comfortable with the fact that it is a global company. I've seen some of the emotion and rhetoric around offshoring and U.S. companies get ugly which is unfortunate. Of course, Microsoft has a rather diverse and international work force which probably helps a lot.


Sunday, November 20, 2005 4:39:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
It's human nature: most people don't mind sharing the pie as long as there's enough pie to go around (and they get a piece). If someone is a Microsoft employee, by definition they have a job, and therefore a piece of the pie.
In addition, there's probably a difference between Microsoft's operation in India and companies who simply use the place as a source of low-cost labour.
Sunday, November 20, 2005 5:05:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
As shareholders, I think most of our employees recognize that it is not only a "good" thing to have a diverse workforce, it is also good business. Finding the right talent in the right markets (at the right price) is important to any company that wants to stay relevant as a global provider of software and services.

I also think that Microsoft should be expanding beyond Redmond inside of the US as well. I'm surprised that we don't have a few more development centers for some of our larger business groups outside of the Redmond area.
Sunday, November 20, 2005 5:51:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
One the other hand...
Whenever I see return on shareholder investment cited as the be-all and end-all, I want to lose my lunch.
The truth is that a globalised labour market is cynically used to exploit workers in some countries and to put pressure on wages and conditions in all countries to be brought down to the lowest common denominator.
None of this has anything to do with Microsoft's operations (as far as I know), but it helps explain why offshoring is not an issue that can be looked at from only one angle.
For example, try organising an independent trade union in China and see how far you get.
So I hope everyone will forgive me for not rushing to cheer the fact that we are now all living in a fantasy world for robber barons.
Monday, November 21, 2005 2:30:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

To all those working across sites, I am not talking about Microsoft but had to worked with dev teams across several sites for a company, I can only recommend to make sure that the job allows for normal working hours.

My company took advantage of big timezone differences to make us come very early in the morning, and quit very late in the evening, only because of the nature of working with teams located in very far places.

I could put up with this in "ship time" or very short periods of time, but thing is, the organization put that in place forever.

Impossible to bear in the long run.
Pay attention to this.
Monday, November 21, 2005 2:46:55 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I don't necessarily think that it's off-shoring jobs that people dislike, it's when their own jobs are off-shored. In other words, adding a new office out of the US is fine, but not if I have to lose my job.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 3:00:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Wait until you are asked to take a paycut down to $1k a month, or better yet, your job is terminated. It will happen, you can guarantee it. It doesn't matter if you code or not, every level of IT will be outsourced eventually except for upper management (so Steve & Bill's "jobs" are safe).
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 10:17:16 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Dare: I agree somewhat with your statement about MS employee's being ok with offshoring. It's conditional, as Scott so aptly puts it..."adding a new office out of the US is fine, but not if I have to lose my job."

I've known of at least a few groups who have gone through that scenario. Their jobs were out-sourced (versus simply off-shoring to MS employees in other countries) and they were handed pink-slips.

Personally, I'm all for our company working, hiring, operating and thinking globally. As time moves on countries only become more and more interdependent. A global strategy makes long as I don't lose my job. ;-)

Carlos: That's an extremist opinion and one that will likely never come about.
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