Microsoft employees are just getting out of their big company meeting at KeyArena in Seattle, and if you hear any of them comparing Steve Ballmer to Oprah, there’s a reason: The company announced a surprise package of tech products and upgrades for employees — including new Surface tablets for everyone.

The meeting was internal, so don’t expect any official announcement about this, but this is what we’re hearing …

1. Microsoft is accelerating the refresh cycle for employees’ work computers to move everyone to Windows 8 machines made by the company’s hardware partners. Normally the refresh cycle is three years, but the company is looking to move employees to the new operating system en masse.

Not incidentally, this also promises to make the distribution of Microsoft’s own Surface tablets to employees (see below) more palatable to those partners.

2. All employees will get new Windows Phone 8 devices for use at work and home. This is what Microsoft did for Windows Phone 7’s release, as well.

3. And the real attention-grabber: All full-time direct, employees (a.k.a. Blue Badges/FTEs) will get a Surface RT machine for use at work and home.

Despite the comparisons to Oprah, this is actually on a much larger scale. Microsoft employs more than 94,000 people worldwide.

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  • Ricardo Rowe-Parker

    All that junk has to go somewhere if no one is buying it.

    Notice that Kinect, which is a very nice product is not being gifted to anyone.

    • Anil Sebastian

      We all got free kinects as well when it released. Please check your facts before posting.

      • Anshuman Srivastava

        Not quite true. Only FTEs in the Interactive Entertainment (Xbox) Division got free Kinects. Rest of the company didn’t.

        • :)

          All the interns also got free xbox and kinect last year, and this year they got samsung ultrabook with Windows 8. People are just jealous

          • facebook-520156274

            I’d rather buy a macbook air with my own cash than get stuck with a samsung ultra running Win8. Remember you have to use computers every day… suppose you could ebay it or install Ubuntu.

      • Third

        I’m owed a connect than seeing that I paid for mine.

    • elenchus

      time will prove my friend what gets junked when surface is released!

    • Torin Shields

      Haters gonna hate….

      • symbolset

        At least WinRT ships 90k units. That’s up from initial estimates.

        • guest

          Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.

          ~ Dale Carnegie, 1888-195

    • guest

      They fired you, huh?

      • guest5

        thats probably the reason…

    • Oscar Godson

      Actually… I and all other Yammer employees got a kinect and custom Xbox after the merger. Also, the kinect is old. Why would they gift something old?

      • guest

        Because Yammer is kinda a loser and we bought it so we can flush it down and not give it to google….

        • gueset3

          You must be a Facebook employee? Your stock has tumbled right?

  • Joshua Maher

    Well, I’ll be the first to say that this is pretty cool!

  • Jaq Hagg

    Wow Ricardo, talk about hatin. I think M$ did a fine job here. Energized their emplyee work force and ensured they have 190K evangelist in one go.

    • Tessa

      Well, depending on how they like the devices. A lot of people I know who got WP7 phones weren’t particularly evangelistic about them.

    • trollspotter


    • grouver

      This is nothing new! MS has been giving hardware and phones for *free* to employees for a while. Only it’s not really free since you have to sign a contract for the device. In the US that is a 2 year contract that MS does not pay for.

      And don’t mistake this for generosity. It is widely known how much Balmer hates iPhones. Now that you are provided with a *free* alternative MS employees will be literally forced to give up their non MS devices. This is actually the worst form on corporate enslaving in recent times. If you want to give me something for free … how about a check and let ME choose what to buy with it?

      I only work for you, you do F…ing own me !!!

  • Alex

    If only I could afford those with the 40% my AMZN stock award has grown in the last 6 months… Oh wait, I can and I can get a new car too

    • Guest

      You can get a new work laptop by paying with AMZN stock?

    • Guest2

      haha jealous? have fun going on call, not having your own office (or even your own cube), having no benefits at all, working twice as many hours, getting paid less, working for a retailer, and using outdated and inferior hardware. but hey. at least you get amazon prime for free. oh wait..

      • guest5

        hahaha nice

    • LoL

      bitch please we all know amazon is so stingy they wouldnt even give their employees a f**king kindle

      • Don D

        why would they want to give the kindle crap to employees? They’ll feel ashamed to come to work. The 40% stock he is talking about is his wishful thinking. MSFT is a million times a better company to work for than AMZN, who treats employees as factory workers. I’d run a way from any AMZN recruiter who friends you in LinkedIn.

        • facebook-520156274

          you’ve been on the pipe, mofo. MS is a dying company and will struggle to have any relevance by 2020. You think Win8 and a iPad clone with a stick on keyboard is going to save the company? As soon as Android rolls out onto the next gen of ultras you can kiss your company bye bye. You think old skool attitudes in corps and dated software like Office is gonna keep you alive? Enterprise already support bring-your-own device and apps are shifting to the cloud. And Nokia… lulz

          • James Banner

            MS is a dying company” – sure company making $6 bn every 3 months is dying… Nice pipe dream buddy.

          • guest-809

            what a bitter post. hate all you want. you don’t have shit. LOL

          • Think_again

            MS owns the enterprise, there’s not a company on earth that would say otherwise. BTW, MS makes more money in royalties than Google does on Android devices. The consumerization of IT only stands to benefit MS, as most businesses are already deeply invested in MS and there are no other better alternatives that have such a deep portfolio of services. Remember when Linux was supposed to take over the OS? MAC? HA!

    • KevinHee

      You don’t even have annual bonus…

      Talking about losers.

      • guest

        Well they do — carrying pager in the Thanksgiving and Xmas is his bonus to have more responsibilities:-)

      • symbolset

        They have options though. If MSFT ever hits $60 again it’s winner, winner chicken dinner.

        A nice change from the current Ramen.

    • Alex_is_a_Moron

      That’s funny Alex. Microsoft Visio makes more money than your entire company. Fool.

      • symbolset

        Microsoft acquired Visio in 2000.

        • guest

          Which has exactly nothing to do with his point.

    • guest

      Who the heck are you? L8 at Amazon or a code monkey carrying a pager? You don’t get many stocks don’t you?! Wait for the next quarterly report for a loss more than 350+m and watch the stock falling like a rock!

    • symbolset

      P/E 318 = “bubble”

    • Guest

      Alex, I hope you’ve learned what it means to be an Amazonian and not an Am-hole. Now please go back to work.

    • Anon

      Did you even read your grant’s vesting rules? You are not going to be getting a good part of that stock for atleast 2 years. And guess what, MSFT pays a lot more in salaries and annual bonuses (I know because I have family working in both places). AMZN is a great company to work for because they build smart stuff and you learn a lot. But frugality is a core value and engineers are just cogs who can be replaced anytime.

  • Guest

    This is great news! I can’t wait to see loads of Windows 8 devices “in the field” thanks to friends and contemporaries who work at the Big M. This will also provide an important real-world feedback vector to help drive quality of future Windows and Windows RT releases.

    Thank you, Microsoft.

  • Torin Shields

    That’s cool.

  • evildog

    naw, Last time Microsoft gave employees a phone free on contract! Not a free phone.
    not a free phone.
    It was worth about $99 if you happened to want that exact phone . At the time there were not many options. Later they allowed a $250 discount if you purchased one unlocked, but even then you had to go through “channels” which meant paying through the nose so the savings were small.
    I really doubt Steve B will be letting employees have a free window8 phone for prepaid BYOD plans…..
    So the phone is a red herring.
    Internal refresh, well kind of nice, but ya know .
    And a free Surface RT, well that would be absolutely great, assuming of course it would not be a microsoft asset, cause if they are, then they are all but useless with the amount of corpware that will be on them.

    • bc

      Very true, hopefully this time it’s for real.

    • GuesDiv

      Well it depends on the region…the US cellphone market is so shitty with locking and all MS had no other way…they gave it absolutely free to employees in outher countries where there is no locking shit with carier like in India.

    • Tessa

      I don’t think Windows RT is even capable of running that corpware… it can’t join a domain.

      • TessaDad

        why the fuck you are so negative about Microsoft? you bitch should pass the Microsoft interview to qualify to say this — are you the loser who failed miserably in the MS interview?

        • Tessa


          Windows RT is designed for home users, not IT departments, and can’t join domains. If you need to join a domain, they want to sell you Win 8 Pro. That’s a spec, not an attack on it.

          I like Windows 7 a lot, I’m optimistic about Windows 8, and I think WinPhone is a nice enough idea for a phone that doesn’t solve my particular problems. If that makes me a Microsoft hater, then you must think everyone outside the campus is a hater.

          I don’t know who peed in your Cheerios, but I’m not your enemy.

          P.S. I never interviewed for an FTE position, but I worked a couple of contracts over there, and liked the place well enough before moving onto something else. The people I worked with were great, even if the corporate politics were somewhat bizarre. (I’m pretty good with algorithm analysis and abstract problem solving, so I actually enjoyed the interviews.)

          • GTRoberts

            @Tessa – yes, Windows RT tablets cannot join a domain… but that’s not actually the problem you think it is.
            Using the new SCCM (enterprise) and InTune (SMB) products, businesses can keep those ‘consumer’ products away from their domain but still control and allow the tablets to access domain related information etc etc.
            This is a complete win-win for business and ‘consumer’ products. Its also Microsoft truly thinking differently and providing an extremely good solution.

        • Hpdirty

          Maybe, because M$ is a criminal monopoly and a facking FUD-PATENTTROLL!?

          • Guest2

            Alright, both of you need a timeout. “Tessa” wasn’t even being negative. I’ll be sad if “TessaDad” is actually a MS employee.
            And “Hpdirty” – slashdot from 10 years ago called, they want their insults back.

          • Brian Tiemann

            Feel better now?

          • HPDirty

            I see exactly, what M$ was doing with Linux and is doing with Android! And the ilegal reached monopolies are still dominating and and abusing…. Stupid ignorants everywhere :-/

          • 90’s_calling

            Move on already.

          • guest

            Yeah, Android really seems to be suffering. LOL. You trolls crack me up. Oh, and for the record, the court found that MS obtained its “monopoly” legally. But why let a pesky thing like facts get in the way of your vitriol.

        • symbolset

          A lot of us would rather work for FloHawks sucking turds out of septic tanks than work for Microsoft. That, at least, is honest work.

          • guest

            But turds can’t operate the pump, so that’s not an option in your case.

    • Panipuri

      Actually, you’re wrong. It was $99 the first time around with a contract. Without a contract, it was $450. Microsoft basically paid your early termination fee regardless of when you took a new phone that time -which could easily go to $350 or so.
      Internal refresh is a big thing for 90000 or so employees – I’m guessing their development computers are not your average store machines and very beefy.
      You just need a reason to hate it seems..

      • guest

        IIRC, Ballmer picked up the cost of that perk personally, not MS.

        • vtadave

          You recall incorrectly.

  • Randall Ainsworth

    The bundle of festering pus known as Windows 8 will be a disaster in the marketplace.

    • Don D

      Win 8 is not your dick, stop comparing the two.

      • Ryan

        LOL.. that was hilarious!

  • GS

    Haters gonna hate! About ppl who are saying we did not get Kinect for free.. we were once interns and we all got XBOX + Kinect! Beat that!

    • guy

      Interns this year got ultrabooks.

      • intern13

        I hope this year they get Surface pro and Lumia 100 :D

  • guest

    Nice morale boost for employees. And it would be nice to see less softies walking around with iPhones and iPads when the company is meant to be promoting WP and Windows. But not cheap all in, even at cost. And I’m a little concerned that this is a way for Ballmer to try and boost his terrible employee approval ratings.

  • filing unemployment

    this just one week after a massive layoff in the commercial tech support division and 100s of employees losing their jobs, shame on you Microsoft, shame on you…

    • symbolset

      20% of Microsoft employees lose their jobs every year on the “Survivor: Redmond” system. Why are you complaining about a few hundred?

      • guest

        More like 10%. You really should have a better grasp on the company after trolling it daily for more than a decade.

  • Jeremy Morgan

    Incredibly smart move by Microsoft. Perks like this make employees happy, and more loyal. Plus some products that have a tough time taking off like the Windows phone and possibly tablet, can get better adoption. The employees will be telling their friends, carrying the stuff around, etc.

    It sounds like a good thing and it’s nice to know the company still cares enough to do stuff like this.

  • ro

    I want a windows phone!

  • facebook-520156274

    am I the only one who thought this shit should free anyway if you work for the company?

    • James Banner

      So you are saying if you work for Shell or Exxon Mobil, you should get free fuel for life ??

      • guest

        Shit ya. You should also get free power working for the electric companies. Tax discounts for IRS employees.

        • Bob

          So thats why Apple dont have to pay any taxes, they are working for IRS.

    • guests

      WTF did you get from your employer? Employee badge?!

    • guest

      We can understand, you are too primitive and archaic to use these new products anyways

  • Atlanta Owner

    I’ll bet Apple doesn’t do that for their people!

  • leaftye

    It gives them better testing and feedback that they can’t help but pay attention to, so I think this is a really good thing.

  • Ugly American

    Pontiac did this with the ugly Aztec SUVs they couldn’t sell too.

    They forced employees to take them home and drive them around in public so it would look like people were buying them.

  • Franks

    Microsoft though big is the most unfair company I’ve ever worked for. Why give only FTE’s and not CSG’s? When over 30% of the workforce are Orange badge (CSGs)..Very racist company

    • Pete

      Are you kidding me? So people that haven’t committed to be employees should enjoy the same perks?

      • Scott

        You have a pretty strange way of looking at temps in the high tech community. Many of them (most, perhaps) would dearly love to be employees and are just as committed as those who are, but aren’t hired as such so the company can save a buck. Avoiding paying out for the perks is exactly why that is, not because the CSGs aren’t committed.

        Although one could imagine this sort of thing might make them less so.

    • Rabi Satter

      You sir do not know what you are talking about. You want racism let give you some.

      My father came to the US in the fifties. He married my mother and they be came one of the first mixed race couples. Heck he was not even allowed to attend the reception since the hotel was white only!

      I grew up in Texas and mostly just wanted to get through a day not hearing myself called a spic or worse. Much less want what the racist kids had.

      Now you want to call my company racist! Yes I work for Microsoft. Please tell me you are just hyping. If not getting the latest gadget is racist, I hate to see what the KKK is up to!

      This country has come a long way from those days. When my mother past the family stayed at the same hotel that had banned him from his wedding reception. That is what makes America great. The ability to change.

    • guest

      What part of being a contractor are you missing? If you don’t like working there, contract out somewhere else. And race has nothing to do with it. Restricting perks to just FTEs is standard practice. Not doing so is an exception.

    • Ex-CSG

      You have no idea what you are talking about do you? Most of the CSGs DO NOT want to be an FTE. It was their choice to stay an orange badge. Contractors who want to be FTE get offered to be FTE if they are good enough. Win win. The only people that don’t win are the CSGs who want FTE but they are useless at their job/lied about their skills/etc.

    • Former Orange Badge

      How is this racist, exactly? MS employees are just as diverse (and possibly more so) that its “Orange Badges”. As a vendor you provide a service to MS. That is different from being employed by them. If I go to HR block and ask them to help with my taxes, that does not make them an employee of my company. Should I be expected to pay them benefits beyond the $$ I am already paying them?

  • Guest

    Gang. Look at the reality of the situation. Look at it. Apple slipstreamed passed them all – Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook today combined value. If there is a god please bring more competition to the table because choice is good. But this cycle of new stuff every cycle has to stop. Tech reporting funded off of new products that end up in the ocean is a lunatic cycle.

  • Alec S

    This is wonderful news for Microsoft employees! Well done!

  • JohnDoey

    This doesn’t compare favorably to what engineers at Microsoft competitors are using, which is Apple down the line.

    • guest

      Does Apple pay you to shill for them full-time or do you just do it for free?

  • TheEverGuest

    How can you make a temp job suck even more? Oh, that’s how.

  • ZungDoo

    Wow thats cool, must be nice to work for them! Wow.

  • Christopher Budd

    Wow, this is quite the discussion thread.

    Two points.

    1. Regardless of other points, having worked there, this is a nice thing for the folks that work there. With cost-cuts over the years it’s been a while since they’ve done something like this that can make people feel like they get something special for working there. So good for them for that. I’m guessing this is a nice morale boost.

    2. One thing I’ve not noticed in comments is they’re “walking the walk” with this in terms of the idea of Windows as a platform for users and Enterprises across devices. So there too this is a smart move.

    • guest

      Actually it’s been less than two years since they did something similar.

      • Christopher Budd

        You mean the WP7 give away? A fair point though somehow it just didn’t seem to get people as excited as this is.

        But I had just left too and wasn’t tracking things that closely then.

        • guest

          Yes. 3x the stuff likely explains the extra excitement.

          Don’t get me wrong, it’s a reasonably shrewd move by Ballmer. His strategies have failed and growth for MS is now effectively over (two more analysts reduced their estimates today). He knows that means the stock is likely to decline even further. And he’s already losing talent to Google, Apple, and Amazon, none of which are growth constrained, losing, face an existential threat to their future, or have a stock that’s been dead for more than a decade. So he’s using one of MS’s assets (a still large amount of cash) to try and slow down the exodus and buy him and the company more time, even though he has no clue what to do differently (which is how the company got in this situation).

  • Marvin McKinley

    Hooray for Microsoft, it is not too often anymore that large corporations treat their employees that well. Wished I had been one of them and not retired 15 years. Waiting for the Nokia 920 in red to be out in November. Have the HTC Trophy and it is nice but near as nice as the Nokia 920.

  • Amanda Shen

    At least for the work PCs. It’s only for employees that are *eligable* for PCs. Most lower level test/devs are not *eligable*……

    • Vinnie Boombotz

      if you knew how to spell maybe they would move you up

  • TK

    The giveaway serves two purposes, obviously: 1) Improve morale / get FTEs jazzed about the company/products and 2) Use FTEs as walking demos/evangelists for broader market adoption. While this is a genuinely, generous gesture by the leadership team, I don’t think there will be much of a market impact (with the exception of a bump in craigslist postings and re-gifting.) Even if the products, technically speaking, are very good, MSFT’s phone and tablet market share will still be a distant 3rd, at best. A case of too little too late.

  • Jeff Shuey

    Yes! I’m glad to see they took my advice and are going to dogfood products en masse.

    Well, I can’t really take the credit, but I am glad to see they are distributing Microsoft products on a broad scale basis. I do stand by the point I made in my post that if people don’t want to be their own best testers (aka dogfooders) then they should consider firing themselves.

  • aseghir

    This serves two dubious purposes: artificially inflate those gadget maket share stats, and push employees closer to a 24/7 workweek.

  • Graham

    I hope Microsoft Is not going to fuck it all up with windows 8. Windows 7 is Freaking Fantastic!!! But I’m not sure the world is ready for fully integrated software OS where the line between application and OS is gone, which is where windows 8 is going. On tabs and smart phones this is expected but not on the desktop. I am eagerly waiting the windows 8 offering.

  • Kiran

    what about interns? will they get anything?

  • Israel

    I want to be a blue badge lol I’m currently a orange aka vendor but I hears about the free tablet and phones wish I was also in line to grab one

  • bob

    I want to work at Microsoft now!

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