A number of people at work have asked me why in a previous post I stated that I have concluded that MSFT isn't the kind of place I see myself working at in 5 years. The main reason for this is that I don't think the Microsoft culture and the direction from its executive leadership lends itself to building great consumer-centric software.
A good example of this is taking a look at Windows from the consumer perspective. The decisions that Microsoft has made over the past couple of years from abandoning feature work in Internet Explorer until Firefox became popular to a lot of the original intentions around the 3 pillars of Longhorn (Avalon, WinFS & Indigo) are the actions of a company that is more interested in protecting its market share than one that is trying to improve the lives of its customers by building great software. Of course, it's not only customers that get the short end of the stick. Employees also have the consequences of this kind of thinking to deal with as well. The primary way this manifests itself is integrated innovation, a buzzword that translates to more dependencies among shipping products, less control of one's product destiny and longer ship cycles. A lot of the frustration you see in the comments in places like the Mini-Microsoft blog are a direct consequence of this focus by our executive leadership.
For now, MSN doesn't suffer from the same kind of culture that I have described but I can see signs that this is just temporary while we face off against competitors like Google [and Yahoo! to a lesser extent]. Since I don't see any reason why the corporate culture will change since the members of our executive leadership who are pushing this kind of thinking are well entrenched, it's just a matter of time before we start thinking that way at MSN as well.
I give it 5 years, tops. In the meantime, I get to work with really cool people building really cool software that is changing people's lives. I can't ask for much more than that.