microsoftlogo1-1024x680An internal Microsoft memo, distributed earlier today, outlines new restrictions on the company’s use of “external staff” — including a new limit on people who work on projects for Microsoft through vendors.

All contingent workers will be prevented from accessing Microsoft’s buildings and network for a period of six months after every 18-month period in which they perform work for the company, according to the memo.

Perhaps most notably, the policy includes vendors (“v-dash” workers, in Microsoft lingo), who previously were able to work on projects indefinitely, without the break that some other types of contingent workers (“a-dash” temporary workers) are required to take.

[Related Post: Microsoft’s contractor crackdown: ‘Shadow layoff’ could force big cultural changes inside company]

One effect is to create a clearer distinction between the company’s direct employees and its contingent workforce. The new policy comes amid word that Microsoft is planning to make cutbacks in its use of contingent staff, beyond the 18,000 layoffs of Microsoft employees announced yesterday.

GeekWire obtained the memo today from an anonymous source and independently verified the policy change. The memo says the goal of the change is to “better protect our Microsoft IP and confidential information.”

The new policy is a blow to a variety of vendor companies, including large consulting firms who provide workers to Microsoft through the vendor program.

Although the contingent workers could technically continue working on projects during the break, the lack of access to buildings and the network would make that impractical in many cases — effectively imposing a six-month break across the board for Microsoft’s contingent workforce.

Continue reading for the full text of the memo and a related FAQ from the company.

From: Microsoft GPG Communications
Date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014
Subject: Changes to Microsoft network and building access for external staff

The purpose of this mail is to introduce a new policy that will better protect our Microsoft IP and confidential information. The policy change affects US-based external staff (including Agency Temporaries, Vendors and Business Guests) and limits their access to Microsoft buildings and the Microsoft corporate network to a period of 18 months, with a required six-month break before access may be granted again. If your staff does not have Microsoft building or network access, this policy change will not apply to or impact them. The policy went into effect July 1st, 2014 and applies as follows:

Type of External Staff
Agency Temporary Worker (a-)
All other types of external Staff including Vendors and Business Guests (v- or b-)

New policy for external staff who had access prior to July 1, 2014:

An Agency Temporary Worker who was engaged prior to July 1, 2014, may continue to perform services for the duration of their original 365 days, plus an additional six months to bring them in-line with the new 18-month access policy. They will have network and building access removed for a period of at least 6 months.

External staff classified as Vendor or Business Guest who had Microsoft building or corporate network access prior to July 1, 2014, may have continued access for 18 months that is, until January 1, 2016. After 18 months, network and building access will be removed for a period of at least 6 months.

New policy for external staff who are being granted access July 1, 2014 or later :

After 18 months, network and building access will be removed for a period of at least 6 months.

New policy for former Microsoft employees who are being granted access as an external staff:
Any Microsoft employee who separated from Microsoft on or after July 1, 2014, will be required to take a minimum 6-month break from access between the day the employee separates from Microsoft and the date when the former employee may begin an assignment as an External Staff performing services for Microsoft.

While network and building access may be required to effectively complete project work, we often have effective means of working together without granting access. This policy will help our sponsors to make thoughtful decisions regarding network and building access to strengthen protection of Microsoft’s confidential communication.

We value your partnership and thank you in advance for your support over the next 18 months as you work with your sponsor(s) to help understand the Microsoft business impact of these changes and to ensure business continuity.

Please share this information with your company’s Microsoft account manager(s) and with your staff on assignment at Microsoft. If you have questions, please email our Microsoft External Staff Operations team who are available to assist you. Also note that we have asked our employees who sponsor external staff to defer any questions to our External Staff Operations team as well.

Many thanks,
The Microsoft Global Procurement team

Access Based Assignment Length

Q: What are External staff?

A: External staff is an umbrella term for individuals performing services for Microsoft on a non-permanent basis. Examples include consultants, temporary contract workers, vendor workers, freelancers, independent professionals and contractors, staff augmentation, and business guests.

Q: What is the new policy?

A: Any external staff who has access to the Microsoft corporate network or buildings may have access only for an 18-month period. At the end of the 18 months, the external staff will have their Microsoft corporate network and building access removed for a minimum of six months before access can be requested again. The 18-month period begins on the first day of the first assignment that requires network access or building access, or the first day of a new assignment following a six-month break from access, and runs consecutively. External staff may take more than one assignment from Microsoft during the 18-month period, but their access will be removed after the 18-month date is reached. External staff without access to the Microsoft corporate network or buildings are not subject to the new policy.

Q: What happens after the 18-months?

A: The 18-month clock starts on July 1, 2014, for external staff who have access to the Microsoft corporate network or buildings at that time. In this case, the required six-month break will begin on January 1, 2016. During this six-month break, the external staff will have their Microsoft corporate network and building access removed.

Agency temporary workers (a-) who had access to the Microsoft corporate network or buildings and were active in our systems as of July 1, 2014, may continue to perform services for the duration of the original assignment length of 365 days, plus an additional six months.

Any external staff (including agency temporary worker) who starts after July 1, 2014, will be aligned to the 18-month policy.

Q: Why did Microsoft just change its policy for external staff (vendors, agency temporaries, business guests) so they are limited to an 18-month assignment with a requirement to take a 6-month break between assignments? Is this a part of cut-backs announced?

A: No. The policy applies only to external staff who have access to Microsoft buildings and networks and has been put in place to better protect Microsoft intellectual property and confidentiality.

Q: Why do some supplier employees not take breaks when others do?

A: There are some business functions and processes that have been fully outsourced (Outsourcing), such as cafeteria services, landscaping and call centers. These Outsourcing engagements are limited, require a certain set of criteria be met and must go through a rigorous approval process.

Q: Can my employees still work on Microsoft engagements if they no longer have access to network or buildings?

A: If the work does not require access to the Microsoft corporate network or buildings, your employee is not precluded from working in support of the supplier engagement with Microsoft.

Q: What happens if my employee is needed for an engagement in another country?

A: Currently, the policy only applies to the US. If your employee sits outside of the US, then he or she may do so in compliance with the Microsoft policies applicable to that country. However, if the resources sits outside of the US, but is assigned to a US company code, the policy will apply. You can direct the Microsoft sponsor, in this scenario, to work with their finance controller to help set up your resource in the cost center associated with the correct physical location.

Q: What if my employee has been on an engagement outside of the US and starts a new engagement in the US without a break in between? Can they continue with the new engagement?

A: Currently, the policy only applies to the US. If your employee is engaged outside of the US on a Microsoft project or assignment and then comes to the US for a new or similar engagement, the clock will start once he or she moves to the US and begins the new engagement. The 18 months begins on the first day of the assignment and runs consecutively until the end of 18 months. External staff may only be granted access again after a 6-month break in access.

Q: What if my employee works in increments (1 month on, 1 month off)? How is the assignment length measured?

A: From the first day of the first assignment, the worker has an 18 month period of access to the Microsoft network and buildings. During that time period, they are able to work on and off assignment as often as is dictated by the Microsoft sponsor. If the breaks in access between the assignments are less than 6 months, all the time is included in the 18 month assignment length. If a break is 6 months or longer, a new 18 month period starts upon the first day of the first assignment following that break.

Change of Employers

Q: We would like to engage a former Microsoft employee on a Microsoft project or assignment as an external staff resource. Does the external staff need to take a break before starting?

A: Yes, a break is required. The external staff may not be granted network access or building access until he or she have taken a six-month break after the last day of his or her Microsoft employment.

Q: My employee recently worked for another supplier; does he or she need to take a break between assignments?

A: As long as the external staff hasn’t worked for the full 18-month period, you can engage him or her on a new assignment or project without him or her taking a break from Microsoft. External staff may work through the 18-month period that started on his or her first assignment performing services for Microsoft (regardless of the supplier employer).

Related Post: Microsoft’s contractor crackdown: ‘Shadow layoff’ could force big cultural changes inside company

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  • Grrtime

    Microsoft fucks yet another group of workers over…

    • neg

      You’re probably part of the fat they are trimming. Shareholders like myself support this move.

      • Helder Pinto

        All about the money, right? Money, money, money!
        Who needs human beings having an happy life, pff.

        • Timothy

          So Microsoft is a charity and should provide indefinite employment for all employees no matter what? Look, this is sad for the workers, but they have 18 months to find new employment — that seems like a pretty sweet deal. Plus considering how most corporations are outsourcing more to save money and drive worker wages down, Microsoft is actually cutting their outsource groups and indicating that they want to move away from that model to more full-time employees. That is good for workers in the long run. This restructuring is going to be really hard for a lot of people, no doubt. But it is not “screwing” the workers. At least not *yet*.

          • Dalton

            Why should Gates be drawing a big ass paycheck for some bogus job title when we all know that he had to be dragged kicking an scratching by reality into the 21st century. The company could save a lot of money not paying a billionaire a salary that will never come back into the economy.

          • LamiaLove

            Because he CREATED Microsoft.
            And because he is one of the most decent human beings on Earth.
            And because, without him, you would probably still pay 2,000 USD for your OS.
            And because, without him, you would probably still pay 10,000 USD for your home computer which would be different than your neighbor’s and your neighbor’s neighbor, and so on and so forth.
            Need more reasons?

          • Kathy Gill

            Bill Gates and Paul Allen ran a cutthroat operation, popularized vaporware as a method of shutting down competition, pioneered the practice of shipping buggy code to let paying customers become unpaid testers. This company was not a leader in reducing the price of software, whether office apps or OS. Suggest reading Hard Drive or any history of computing in the 80s not written by people drinking the KoolAid.

          • LamiaLove

            Wow! You actually have a Google Glass on your face and you preach the words you just wrote here… Just wow!

            You know what? I’ll read what you said once I stop using Microsoft products because better ones appear. Until then, you keep telling yourself what huge bastards Billy and Paulie were for making computers accessible to everyone and making a profit while doing it, because, you know, profits are evil, right? Sheesh…

          • pplaredumb

            this has to be one of the stupidest comments ever on the Internet. Do you not see all the work the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation does? Where do you think they get some of their cash from? Why shouldn’t Bill get to enjoy the spoils of his years of hard work. Sit down and create your own operating system then judge. But you probably couldn’t even write a hello world program in old school basic.

          • Helder Pinto

            Fair enough, I guess. But I wonder how the hell did we get here? How did we human beings built a society where businesses and corporations are obviously and undeniably being put on top of human rights. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone with a rare type of cancer and why their insurance wont cover the costs, just to give you an example.
            Richer get richer, the poor keep getting screwed. You can rationalize it as much as you want, but it’s still wrong and lacking humanity. We managed to create a system that values profit more than human life or happiness.

          • MK

            Because money > everything. I thought that would have become fairly obvious by now.

          • LamiaLove

            Ha! You communist wannabes always think you have it bad.
            You should have seen how much the world sucked 1,000 years ago!
            Not to mention 2,000 years ago. Or 3,000. Or 10,000.
            Corporations might not give you stuff for free, but they sure improved human lives tenfold since the first one appeared, by mass producing and offering mass services to a whole lot of people who would have otherwise had it way worse.
            All communists like you want to have it all for nothing at the expense of others. As if the others should be their slaves. Ha!

          • wtfppl

            Human rights? How in the @#$!@$ is limiting the ability for external entities (read: people you wouldn’t hire an employees but for quick point in time tasks) to abuse your contracting system a human rights issue? Come one people, use your brains her.

          • Some

            Contgrats on your new employment with Microsoft. We have installed a countdown to unemployment widget, and set your homepage to

          • Dave G

            I haven’t worked for that sucky place since a little guy cut me loose after five weeks. The manager couldn’t comprehend 4th grade English. Really stooooopid non-American management.

          • MSguy

            No, they aren’t going to hire more full-timers. I work for MS and this is not in the plan. There is no structure, and frankly, It’s kind of embarrassing. Teams within MS are feeling the heat of all our vendors leaving us…some with 5,6,7 years of experience working for one team. Some teams I know around here are 80% vendors. That kind of knowledge is hard to fill. Some of my vendor colleagues are jumping “the sinking ship” early and have already started interviewing outside of Microsoft. I’m not sure what the outcome of all this will be. Everyone is freaking out. Management, staffing agencies, etc. I hope they decide that this is a bad idea and retract this policy soon! It’s a mess.

      • Idontthinkso

        Then you’re ignorant about how much core work is being done by vendors. This shoots “productivity” in the foot. Good luck with your stock.

        • leapingfrogs

          You’re right, it totally shoots productivity in the foot. In the last 15 years at Microsoft, I haven’t seen a single FTE actually do anything remotely technical, write any code, or do much of anything but spend all day in meetings and slapping each other on the back about what their contract dev staff are doing. It’s pretty bad.

          • As I See It

            15 years and never saw an employee do anything remotely technical or write a single line of code? Your hyperbole suggests we shouldn’t believe anything you say. Probably more disturbing is the 14 likes you got from this nonsense. Looking forward to the day that emotions don’t create insane posts like this — which then get followers.

          • Davey Wolfe

            Most FTEs at MS (at least in Seattle) are program, product or development managers. While a dev manager may occasionally get their hands dirty, more often than not they have vendors do it.

          • Jamie Smith

            The 50 likes make it a little more reputable because it’s mostly true.

          • funkyjam

            Hahahaha. I was at Microsoft for 13 years, and this is absolute BS. There are a few teams that were almost entirely off-shore or contract, but that was the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of teams I worked on or interacted with had extremely technical and productive full time employees with a few contract dev staff in more supporting roles. In a couple of roles I oversaw between 3-9 offshore resources. I dedicated a couple hours a day to reviewing what they produced (functional UI automation), and planning their work for the day, and the rest of the day working on it myself.

        • newa

          Agreed 100%. Only reason why talented vendors stayed in Microsoft was because they can move around between different teams once their projects is over. Bye bye microsoft, your so called productivity is going to toilet.

          • Dave G

            Heh, especially after month 15, time to spend time on Indeed, hehe. Although it could be better, stringing a couple of 9 month contract s together without a break…

        • Grrtime

          Sorry bitch, I still have my job.

          • Idontthinkso

            Well, bully for you. I’m speaking not as a v-, but as a dedicated, hard-working v- who gives a crap about where the company is headed. It’s an insane move. 6 months off, plus at least 3 months of onboarding new vendors and the very strong likelihood that the experienced pool won’t return after their break. MS already suffers from quality issues… Who’s going to be able to ship a halfway decent product under those circumstances, even in an agile environment?

          • funkyjam

            Quick bit of history… I was around back when Microsoft did the same thing for a- employees (I was an a- employee) after they had to settle a lawsuit brought by those contract employees. Similarly, a lot of people were upset and predicted doom and gloom. Microsoft managed to continue on, and in my opinion, one good thing happened: They stopped hiring as many contractors and started hiring a lot more full time employees. I expect they are planning on doing the same thing now, bringing more expertise and talent in house to be managed more directly, where they can have more impact on their career growth, and build a stronger culture among their full time staff.

          • Robyn Ann

            Actually, as part of the lawsuit, or avoid any more, they simply hired all existing vendors in place and placed a hiring freeze that lasted for years. When head count went below the threshold, vendors were used to fill the spots and a lower level blue badge was designated to manage them. I hope the plan IS to convert the good ones to FTE. Good luck to those that get the opportunity.

          • FTE

            You should probably be fired for being a douche! Just saying.

        • Jamie Smith

          90% of Microsoft workforce are v-dash.

          • Craig Simpson


      • Davey Wolfe

        Contract positions are regularly cut when budgets or re-orgs happen.
        However, this does not at all seem related to that and furthermore it is
        mentioned in the FAQs above that it is not related to cuts. So then,
        what benefit does this provide exactly to you as a shareholder,
        ultimately? From a contractor standpoint, all you’re doing is pushing us
        away from Microsoft. It is because of the constant flow of
        opportunities available to us do we many of us stay in WA. Between
        Amazon and Microsoft (with MS being the major opportunity here) Seattle
        does very well for itself so this could potentially hurt the local
        economy as well. We’ll move on to other cities where this kind of
        silliness does not occur. Obviously I don’t understand how this protects
        the IP so would very much like more of an explanation on that front. We
        are often told as vendors that Microsoft hires a lot of vendors to cut
        down on costs. Why crap on the dedicated talent that has been loyal to
        MSFT for so many years? MS abuses the system by avoiding hiring FTEs as
        it once did – you won’t find a contractor-heavy environment nearly
        anywhere in the country as much as Seattle. So what is the alternative?
        They go back to hiring FTEs more regularly again just to keep business
        going smoothly? Won’t that hurt your shares? I’m not sure it’s clear to other people how the contract
        scene works in Seattle, and MS is the main player. It’s a
        Contractor-Utopia where (assuming you are qualified) you can almost
        always find a vendor position as MS. Even if you get let go in one department, you can often find work in another (again, so long as you are qualified). There is no shortage of work and
        they can continue on for years and years. Aside from the *slightly*
        better benefits, I never felt like I was missing out on anything as a vendor. I never wanted to be FTE bc I like the flexibility. It’s been a constant source of work and opportunity for me. If MS makes life difficult for embedded vendors then people will not stay with MS for very long.

        • cabecao

          Research co-employment risks

          • Davey Wolfe

            Microsoft got heavy into the contracting scheme because of co-employment risks as the result of their previous vendor module. Those have been minimized greatly since that change a few years ago. The Puget Sound area has lots of vendor companies mainly because of Microsoft, with thousands of vendor employees (mainly v-dash’s) as a result. Furthermore, the memo doesn’t mention co-employment as being the reason for this issue.

      • F.U.NEG

        neg • 11 days ago

        I smoke weed and work as a software engineer.

        • lol


      • Jon

        As someone that currently works at MS, this is rather short-sighted. There are many v- employees that take on a large share of duties and perform at a level equivalent with that of FTEs. In the area I work at, we are already short-staffed– losing more employees and ramping up other resources (regardless how skilled) is not going to help get software out the door.

        I’m sure reorganization will occur between now and when v- employees would go on their breaks, but as it is I anticipate some measure of crunch occurring.

      • jamieh2

        Then you’re a pretty stupid shareholder who has no clue how things actually worked within Microsoft. I was a full time employee at Microsoft for 11 years. A lot of vendors (v- people as listed in the article above) are highly trained ex-Microsoft employees with tons of experience who could make mega $$$ anywhere they want to and only stick around Microsoft because of the flexibility that being a vendor at Microsoft gives them. With this policy, those people are going to pack up and go work somewhere else.

        The new Microsoft CEO is an idiot.

        • newa


        • Craig Simpson

          As a v- I totally agree.

          • Timothy

            Don’t you think that’s the point? It’s an 18-month period for v-‘s to find something better while MS focuses on its FTEs.

        • plus1

          also an employee for 12 years as an FTE and now a vendor for 2 years – you couldn’t have said it better….

          • Timothy

            It’s obvious that is part of the problem. Leave Microsoft, join a vendor, the vendor charges MS more for dubious benefit because Ballmer’s broken culture said that apparently only v-‘s can be agile and not FTEs, so it ends up costing them more in the long run. If you are a v-, then you feel screwed, but those of us on the outside see what this is: a waste of money.

        • Timothy

          If you think being a contracted vendor instead of a FTE is the only way Microsoft can have agility in its workforce, then you are the one that has no clue, not Microsoft. Apparently the culture of the Ballmer years was that FTEs were rigid and the only way to get agility was through vendors. Well, it sounds like the new Microsoft CEO has realized that is a BS argument and is implementing a change to force the FTEs to be agile. This may be bad for the vendors, but it is good for Microsoft. No more middle men skimming money off the top like high tech temp agencies.

          • jamieh2

            That isn’t what I said at all. Who said anything about “agility”. I said people were CHOOSING to be vendors because of the FLEXIBILITY it gave them. When you are an FTE, moving around the company can be a pain in the @$$. You have to deal with the endless company BS performance reviews (which BTW I never had a bad one in 11 years so don’t accuse me of being bitter) and other crap like that.
            As a vendor, you show up, do your job, get paid well, and then if your role is finished up, you move on to a new project. And you don’t have to deal with a lot of the crap that you have to as an FTE. A lot of veteran people like that a heck of a lot better than the FTE route. I personally never did it, but some people with tons more experience who made a lot more in salary than I did. Those people are not going to accept having to take 6 months off every two years. Some might go back to being FTE’s, but I thought the whole point right now was to REDUCE the work force not expand it. A lot are just going to go work somewhere else. And those really aren’t the people you want to be losing.

      • newa

        hahaha sorry for you man…You don’t understand how IT works. We can only laugh at your shares now.

      • Grrtime

        Sorry Bitch, I still have my job.

        • FTE

          Again, you should be fired for being a douche oh, yeah and an idiot.

      • chris huber

        shareholders like yourself are total tools.

      • Jeff

        You’d better sell your stock soon.

        Moves like this will only cause them to miss any new opportunity to create the next big thing (tablet, big-data, phone, cloud, wearable, etc…), so they’re stock is going down in the long run.

        Moves like this are meant to boost the stock value in the short run, take advantage of that and sell it all when its high because it won’t be much longer.

        This is the stupidest move they’ve made since 2009 when they decided to cede the tablet market to Apple (cancelled the Courier, a device that makes the iPad look like crap, in favor of the Surface, a poor imitation of the iPad released 4 years too late).

        • ohno

          Come one, we are all in with productivity software, Office, on an iPad! That will save revenue

          • v-johnnysoftware


      • Mac

        I think it will be interesting to see what Shareholders think when there is major work slow down. In IT alone (one of the smaller groups) there are 4K employees and more than 9K vendors. How do you think the work is going to get done when there is a mass exit on Dec 31, 2015?

    • v-johnnysoftware

      I just came here for the comments

    • Dave G

      Don’t worry, we’re used to taking it up the … Plus they reduce contractors pay, but MS isn’t really relevant for STE’s anymore. Incredible changes but Big Business took over in 1999.

  • Adam Howe

    Ugh, this type of move doesn’t make sense. My v- just ended 6/30, so hearing this news now doesn’t bolster much confidence, know how the work goes from FTE & contract. Shaking my head.

    • neg


      • better-alive-than-NEG

        Dox this pervert, he/she needs a wakeup call.

        • Adam Howe

          DAMN Dude. I’m surprised that attitude keeps you employed -NEG.

    • neg

      F*cking wasteful ass contractor complaining about his racket coming to an end. Wah wah wah.

      • Steve

        You must be a project sponsor, because that is the normal way most FTE’s treat the contractors. Also the reason why the company is dieing slowly….

      • sdhello

        wow you are an idiot, joblessness is nothing to laugh at no matter who it is..

        • Adam Howe

          Wasteful as a contractor? LOL. No sir. I pay equal enough time to the quality of work I put out both in my FTE days and my V- days.

  • BLahdeBLah

    Interesting that this only applies to US employees. My team has half the vendors in China. I guess that means our jobs will probably be shifted to Beijing, where this restriction doesn’t exist.

    • Juananymous

      Its about which company code/geography is paying for it. If a Chinese vendor is doing work billed to the US division the rules apply.

    • abandonship

      there was an internal announcement about this a month ago from Lisa Brummel…they’re starting with the US and will be rolling it out to the rest of the world too, just not immediately. There will probably be some differences in how they roll it out globally, and I’m sure there will be issues with different political systems.

      I’m worried about the impact this will have on the economy in the Puget Sound area in particular as we try to absorb thousands of workers into new spaces.

      • Patrick Husting

        There are plenty of tech jobs that can be absorb by other companies. Not an issue.

        • abandonship

          Perhaps, but it’s not all tech jobs that will be cut, many will be non-technical too. Nonetheless, it’s a lot all at once if you combine the FTEs and contingent staff together. That many additional people on the market would seem to have an impact. I suppose it’s yet to be seen, but it’s my prediction all the same.

    • rajalary

      Makes sense because no vendor in China would dare to jeopardize the security of Microsoft IP. There’s almost no piracy of Microsoft software in China. Wait. I think I have my facts wrong…. If your intention is to steal IP, whether you’re an FTE or a vendor, some ridiculous, arbitrary timeframe won’t deter your efforts.

  • Bullington

    Ahh yes. MSFT loves it some Dash Trash!

    • Phill

      The ‘trash’ that supports and drives core business processes, yes. Idiot

  • SnakeDoctor

    V- on H1B visa will be out of status during the 6 months break

  • PNWRetiree

    Look back about 15 years to V-contractors and the issue regarding benefits for V-employees. This 18 month then a break Microsoft policy ensures that contractors are handled by their actual employer for benefits and policies. It’s not really new policy, just fresh wording to ensure contractors don’t consider themselves full time.

    • jessica

      That’s what I was thinking. I’ve worked 2 a- contracts and 3 years as a v-. At the end of each of my a- contracts I had to take a 100-day break. Six months is certainly longer, but not shockingly.

      • Davey Wolfe

        In my 4 yrs I have only been a v-dash but have worked with a-dash peeps. For people who have never had an a-dash, it is a big deal. I can’t imagine any of my past jobs where I was gone for 6 months. I was an embedded employee and in other companies, I might as well have been an FTE. My contract company supplied me with all of the equipment and benefits. My insurance, etc has always been very good. So yeah this is a huge hit for v-dash ppl. Positions below high ranking managers such as program owners are rarely ever FTE – they are nearly all vendor positions. There is no way that anything I did at MS could have been handed to someone else for 6 months and then handed back to me. It wouldn’t have worked.

    • Rey d’Tutto

      My benefits have always come from my employer, v- or a-. This destroys continuity in v- positions, creating an unnecessary 6-month coverage gap, or most likely filling the position with a warm body that may be useful in a few weeks. Also, no employer ever found me a job during the 100-day break when I was an a-. As I have family & bills, the relative security of the v- positions were an acceptable compromise, but if I am forced out due to Microsoft renegotiating the deal, then what was the point?

      • Jeff

        What about benefits during our 6 month break?

        Will I have to go on Welfare/Medicare/Obamacare/Applecare?

        We work. We work really hard (unlike a lot of Microsoft people, who are lazy cloggers).

        It would be incredibly insulting if they make people do that.

        How is Microsoft different than Walmart?

        • Steve

          With Kevin Turner running operations, Microsoft is basically running like Walmart. It is about the bottom line and not about investing in innovation for the future. Zero market leading new tech in years….

          • Drexel James

            I guess you missed the Surface Pro 3…

      • Kik

        Quit MS and look for other opportunities as simple as that

  • @CascadeRam

    Contract/Vendor employees can get hired with a much lower bar. It is also much easier for a Microsoft manager to get contract/vendor budget, getting budget for an FTE is comparatively difficult.
    These two factors (combined with the fact that temp employees are more pliable) have resulted in an abuse of Microsoft’s stated policy regarding temporary policies.

    From that perspective, I think it is good that Microsoft is taking baby steps to address the problem. If a team really needs the same person for more than 18 months, they should be able to justify the FTE headcount for that work and then hire a real full-time-employee.

    • Farseli

      Exactly. I’m glad I got out of that a- and v- business by getting in Full-time with another tech company in Seattle. I was tired of taking so many roles and responsibilities with all the projects I was on, getting praise from the FTEs I worked with, and then still get treated like a second-class citizen when it came to any of the on-campus events. I think they need to start getting more FTEs and fewer a- and v- workers.

    • ReallyDisqusted

      Granted, the interview process is not as rigorous, but considering that MS can let you go at any time, seems fitting. I hope you are not saying that because the bar to get hired is lower and it’s easier to obtain these roles that v- workers, on the whole, are any less stellar performers.

    • Jeff

      That should be the way it is. Maybe that’s what they’re going to do (don’t hold your breath though).

      Its nearly impossible now to switch from vendor to FTE.

      I only know 4 people who did it, and the most recent of them was 3 years ago, though they all did it by switching to FTE on the team they were already on when that team was able to get budget approval to do it (political power and initiative to use it).

      They use the hope of getting FTE (along with fear and intimidation) to motivate you to work hard for the table scraps they pay you (to maximize their short-term/short-sighted exploitation of you). With the environment there lately, I’d rather just leave than become an FTE (why be an officer on a sinking ship?).

  • leapingfrogs

    Well this is great… Microsoft is going to HUGELY dent the economy in the PNW. I’m so glad I left Microsoft 6 years ago now. Microsoft used to be an amazingly creative company to work for, high energy, with fabulously brilliant people, but the last 15 or so years, it’s been a cesspool of ridiculous processes, backstabbing, and undeserved enormous egos … the best and brightest have been gone for a long long time. Maybe this shake up is necessary, but not unless they’re going to bring back the innovation… they’ll have to steal all their employees who were worth a damn, back from Google, Amazon and other companies.

    • jamieh2

      You nailed the time frame exactly. There was a MASSIVE brain drain in the late 90’s to the mid 00’s. So many great people left and were replaced with people that just couldn’t hold a candle to them. By 2006 I could hardly recognize the company that Microsoft had been in the 90’s.

  • juanonymous

    Also former employees are restricted from coming back for 6 months.

  • pudding

    Oh good! Maybe they will layoff some of those blue badges who push all the work on the v- employees, along with the bloated middle management and then actually hire people who know how to and are willing to do their job.

  • newa

    If Microsoft do not want to respect us(vendors) then we won’t respect you too. This is my 6th year in Microsoft as a vendor in different teams. Now I am thinking to leave Microsoft product career and move to some open source. Good luck finding good vendors with this kind of shitty rule.

    The person/team who made this rule do not know how IT works. It’s not like a burger king where you can train people in few days and you do not make sandwiches here. It takes months to ramp up people and make them comfortable in their work. Just imagine how hard it will be if you have to train people in every 18 months from scratch and do you think people will stay for 18 months till end of his/her contract? hell no. Please teach me how it will benefit share holder.
    It will only increase overhead cost and nightmares for hiring mangers. If you ask me then this rule might have been made by some genius guys who were high when pot was legal. wtf

  • guest

    This is going to be really painful for MS. For many folks, hiring consultants was the only way to get some sort of management experience, or get the work done that they’d need to make themselves look better up the chain. When I was a FTE, you’d regularly see some late 20s new hire be abusive to a contractor, especially in the marketing areas. Haughty, arrogant, all the rest – it just came with the territory, and the MS folks thought they were doing what it took to succeed. And I think for a bunch of them, it was pretty fun and satisfying.

    If you lay off all the contractors, lots of things will break, and lots of people will look really, really incompetent. But on the plus side, when the screaming dies down it’ll force people to prioritize, and only do the 30% that gets 60% of the benefits. That’ll be a good thing for the company, even if MS gets less reliable and more error prone along the way.

    But maybe the big hurt will be for all the 520 highway sponsors. If the v- companies get hurt, who will step up and sponsor all the segments of highways that the MS FTEs use to commute?

    • pinoyilonggo

      I am an independent software contractor in Los Angeles for 9 years now, and prior to migrating to the US I have a very successful software company. I am about to launch with a CRAZY IMPOSSIBLE goal of dislodging SAP in the ERP market. Now back to discussion…

      Knowing that in 18 months I will be unemployed and I have a family to feed, I have to ask myself about my options:
      1. Can I buy a house? – NO.
      2. Can I buy a car? – MAY BE, but not BRAND NEW.
      3. What will I do at least 6 months before expiry of contract? – LOOK for a NEW JOB.
      4. What will I gain from Microsoft? – Prestige and good resume, easy to join other company.
      5. Will I have loyalty and ownership of the project? – NO, I don’t care.

      What are the implications of the 18 months policy?
      1. Microsoft will be a training ground.
      2. Chance of people rejoining Microsoft after 6 months is almost NIL.
      3. Chance of leakage of software product is high.
      4. Product development and support will be costly.

      A person generally becomes productive after 3 months. I hope Microsoft will modify their policy to take into consideration exceptional workers.

      • newa

        Exactly, I am already planning to move to other industries(non microsoft products).

        me and my few colleagues are already reconsidering our future careers at Microsoft. Yes Microsoft will be training ground for college grad(or may be not). For h1b workers, OPT workers this will be least choice company in their job hunting list.

        Microsoft, if you are listening to me then better rethink what you just did. This will bring another hurricane.

        and can someone tell me what’s the BS about IP? 6 months break will eliminate IP leaks??

    • Patrick Husting

      The “Sponsor a Highway” joke is funny! I wanted to pay for one of the signs too but they were already paid by some offshore companies. Missed that advertising opportunity.

  • Frohnda

    Nobody read the protect our IP part? If you want to keep your jobs, stop the leaks. Easy.

    • JeffAllenCraig

      Most leaks come from MS employees, not v dash people.

      How exactly is making people take 6 month breaks going to protect IP?

    • Patrick Husting

      What IP was leaked?

      • Jeff

        The only IP I know if is pre-release copies of Windows 8 and screenshots of Windows 8.

        I think Microsoft leaked the screenshots of Windows 8 to get public reaction.

        At one time, having early copies of Windows or especially source code, would’ve given competitors (Apple, Linux) and advantage in making their products able to run Windows programs, or get access to secret/obfuscated Windows APIs (Netscape and the Antit-Trust trial Microsoft lost).

        But now, as a pro-Microsoft Microsoft Director told me: Windows compatibility doesn’t matter much. And soon will matter even less. No new software is being made for Windows, just new versions of existing programs. When people need to run their legacy Windows software, they’re buying a Windows PC(and only refreshing it every 5+ years), but otherwise, they’re not buying a Microsoft product.

        So what’s the value of the IP of a declining product?

        Sounds like Microsoft’s typical arrogance and out of touch world view (most people at Microsoft keep telling themselves that everything is better than ever so it must be true).

    • newa

      Well apple employees lose it’s new upcoming iphone x every time in bars and they are still #1 then what’s your problem :P? just kidding

      Yes companies need to protect it’s intellectual property. I get it but how can 6 months break for v- solve this issue. My f**king v- coder brain couldn’t understand?. You said it’s “Easy”. So Please explain me how?

  • Josh

    As a v- ( v dash) employee, this frightens me greatly. I am part of a great team. The work that vendors perform overlaps with Full Timers in a way that would be severely hampered without the current dynamic.
    i have a family to support; If this memo is true, I need to consider a more stable option.

    • Jeff

      Me too. I’m leaving.

  • Syed Mohammed Ameen

    Facebook Launched Mentions App Only For Verified Users

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  • kegill

    I started writing a comment and it turned into a blog post. In short, there are a lot of parallels between MSFT today and Boeing in 1998 — and they aren’t pretty. But Boeing still has its monopoly; MSFT is unlikely to see monopoly rents again, except perhaps in Office.

    Comps certainly suggest MSFT is bloated. But decimating the division that will account for 70% of connected-to-the-internet devices by 2017? Add short-sighted to the list of pejoratives.

    Has the SS Redmond began to sink?

    • Dave

      Microsoft started to slow at least 10 years ago and accelerated the slowdown 5 years ago when they missed the move to the cloud almost entirely. They may catch up but they are way behind at the moment in multiple dimensions.

      I think Airbus would quibble with the concept of Boeing as a monopoly, even in 1998. A mature duopoly is more accurate. Microsoft plays in a multi-party, rapidly moving world and is losing market share and, perhaps more importantly long-term, mindshare.

      • kegill

        There are real, structural reasons to consider aerospace manufacturing as a natural monopoly. See the 20-year tax amortization explained here (as well as the federal tax refund):

      • kegill

        RE Boeing v Airbus — yes, there are elements of duopoly in that both companies “make airplanes.” But they have basically split that market into two parts:

        And even duopolies reap monopoly rents. :-)

        • Dave

          Duopolies are often better than monopolies for the companies. Monopolies attract government regulation and often bring disruptive competitors. Duopolies with high barriers to entry allow each participant pricing power, generally with the ability to increase price, as long as both competitors are rational. No need to collude, which would violate anti-trust laws, it is just easier to keep an eye on one competitor and easier to price when you know who your competition is for every single deal.

          • kegill

            High barrier to entry is a characteristic of a monopoly or duopoly. If competition is “relatively easy” (“attract disruptive competitors”) it’s not possible to maintain a monopoly position without predatory behavior unless we’re talking about a “natural monopoly.”

            Software development does have one characteristic of a natural monopoly: high fixed costs, low variable costs. The cost of producing the FIRST copy of Windows 8 was incredibly expensive. The cost of the second? Almost nothing (packaging, duplication, distribution), relatively speaking. Some of this high fixed cost/low variable cost structure also applies to the manufacturing facilities that churn out hardware.

            Thus most of the tech market is a limited oligopoly, not unusual to see a 90-10 or 80-20 market share distribution relative to #1 and the rest of the market.

            – phones and tablets, hardware
            – phones and tablets, software
            – hardware production
            – operating systems

            The market is further complicated by the fact that the brains of the operation — Word, Photoshop, server software, etc — have at least one characteristic (non-rival) of an entirely different market, public good. “Information wants to be free” and digital information can be duplicated endlessly with no quality degradation. DRM, licensing and their ilk exist to mitigate the non-rival nature of digital information (restricting use to one person at one time, for example).

            The “free market” that exists around these systems is the “app” market, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see some version of the 80-20 rule playing out there, too.

            As a worrisome note, much (most?) of the US economy is characterized by oligopolies:

            * Food sold at retail – not restaurants (check labels in your grocery store)
            * Soda
            * Cable TV providers
            * Alcohol (spirits, beer, wine)
            * Delivery services (FedX, UPS, USPS)
            * Retail box stores (WallMart/Costco)
            * Retail department stores
            * Book publishing
            * Record labels
            * Movie distribution and viewing (cinemas)
            * Online commerce for consumer items (Amazon, then everyone else)

  • At 18 mo with 6 mo break soon

    This type of policy for contractors — 18 month maximum, or 3000 hours (whichever comes first) has been in place for several years now at other large companies in other industries. Financial services, oil & gas, insurance / re-insurance, manufacturing, etc.

    Microsoft is just coming into alignment with corporate the prevailing norm regarding contractors and consultants.

    • Dave

      But few of those companies are as reliant on long-term pseudo employee contractors as Microsoft. A large portion of Microsoft’s workforce, including its technical/engineering workforce, are very long-term contractors. That is a different thing than financial services where contracting firms are brought in and the firm may be long-term, like an Accenture, WiPro, whatever, but the people rarely are.

      • At 18 mo with 6 mo break soon

        That’s because these firms have forbidden contractors / consultants from being “team leads” as far back as the mid/late ’90s. The emphasis in the ’90s was to convert long-term contractors to FTE’s or face a similar “length of term limitation” as a contract employee.

        There are exceptions, of course, but those exceptions are becoming increasingly rare. The corporate manger is required to provide a comprehensive justification for the extended contract hire — which sadly, may include sacrificing an FTE.

        • Dave

          I’m not disagreeing with you, in fact I agree with you. Just observing that Microsoft’s engagement model with contractors is very different than almost every other business/industry I’ve worked with. Other companies may be reliant on contracting firms given significant outsourcing, that is pretty normal. But other companies change people regularly, promote them, have them leave, etc. other than key managers.

          However Microsoft is reliant on both firms and, more importantly, particular people given their long-term retention of individual contractor retention.

          • Dave

            typo “long-term retention of individual contractors”, delete the last “retention”

    • newa

      I understand but there is big difference between contractors and vendors. Real contractors are called a- and they had 1 year work and 6 months break already put in place but vendors are not contractors for microsoft. They are vendors to the respective companies who gets projects from Microsoft.

      In fact, I have been working from vendor office since long time. We get work from Microsoft. There were lot of difficulties microsoft managers were facing with a- and that’s why they moved toward v-. The problem with a- is microsoft FTEs train a- for 1 year and they had to let them go. Then again they had to hire another person and train them for another 1 year from scratch and again let them go after 1 year. It was really pain in the a$$.

      I just wonder who gets what with these kind of stupid model. Rules doesn’t do work, vendors do.

      • kegill

        The number of a- employees is small, relative to v-.

  • Dave

    This change is potentially much bigger than the employee layoffs if this means Microsoft is going to move away from being reliant on massive number of contractors for core functions like development to expecting employees to really do the work. The headcount implications would be much larger and the expectations implications would be massive. Significant numbers of Microsoft employees largely manage contractors rather than doing work at the present time. This would be a massive change.

    Next, perhaps add a minimum number of customer contacts per year per employee. That could be a revolutionary change for Microsoft.

    • newa

      or revolutionary number of bugs :)

  • Patrick Husting

    Wow. Some pretty heated comments on this subject. Two sides to every story.
    Microsoft does need to trim management staff and the result will they will need to reduce the contracting staff.
    Hard to say if this is good policy or not, but when I was a vendor at Microsoft we just kept getting squeezed to a point where it affects business. This will affect companies providing services to MSFT and make them finally go find other business. That is what I had to do. Much better rates and customers that say thank you.
    The next announcement will probably be about reducing the MSFT field people. Switching to cloud means you really don’t need sales engineers and account managers. Just saying.
    Glad I sold my firm last year so I don’t have to deal with this mess…

    • kegill

      Patrick, I don’t see the 1-to-1 correlation between reducing layers of management and reducing external staff.

      And yes – if the owners of Microsoft vendor companies weren’t already actively working to diversify their portfolio of clients — they’re probably screwed. Nothing in this memo that implies long-term contracts with the company will be adjusted to account for the need to sideline employees.

      • Mike

        A lot of managers can’t do their own jobs, so they hire 3 or 4 vendors to do it for them.

        • Jeff

          Microsoft’s rule of 3: to do anything, you need a dedicated manager, tester and developer. Triples the people and time it takes to do something. Has anyone read the Mythical Man Month?

          I’ve met a few really smart people at Microsoft. But I’ve met even more who I wonder how they got there(they’re stupid and sometimes really stupid … could follow a simple logical reasoning process or rational discussion no matter how many times you try to help them).

          Some of them I wonder how they got there that day (they lack basic machine skills, elevator, door, car, ordering food, etc…). I don’t drive around Microsoft’s rush hour (10-11 and 3-5) because lots of people there can’t drive a car.

  • As I See It

    This company takes abuse for everything they do — hire staff, ship product, fire staff, delay product, lose market share, gain market share, miss markets, make markets, donate to charity, create local wealth, drive house prices up….I guess it’s the bane of being a large company. Just can’t please folks!

  • ThatGuy

    Currently a Microsoft vendor. I do good work (according to my manager and group lead). The Microsoft I know has always kept pathways clear for people who have an impact.
    I got a recruiting cold call yesterday from another company. I get these from time to time and have always ignored them. This time round I’ll be returning the call.

    • kegill

      Hey! The 18-month clock started on July 1, 2014, per the memo.

      “External staff classified as Vendor or Business Guest who had Microsoft building or corporate network access prior to July 1, 2014, may have continued access for 18 months that is, until January 1, 2016. After 18 months, network and building access will be removed for a period of at least 6 months.”

      • Craig Simpson

        All the best v-‘s started returning calls this weekend. On a good note recruiters now is your chance to crib the best v-‘s from MS.

  • V-dash

    Satya is an a-hole who inspires no loyalty…only fear…and fear is going eat M$ from the inside out.

    • Saidya Nodeala

      Look at how much he is getting in compensation for screwing his employees over.

    • NotIrie

      Yep, Satya is bad news for Microsoft. He’s going to turn a once great company into $hithole of a place to work and then he’s going to take his millions in compensation and jump.

      • Steve

        Satya is no different than most the middle managers at Microsoft. Microsoft feels and tastes like a “White-Labeled” jar of pickles.

    • Lynn

      And I thought Ballmer was bad!!

    • WhereIsTheIntegrity

      Microsoft, under Satya’s “leadership”, is well on it’s way to becoming another soulless corporation that puts profits before its people, doing nothing good for a planet that desperately needs quality leaders and corporations with integrity.

      • Idontthinkso

        What do you mean, “on its way?”

      • Mike

        Microsoft has Zero leaders that actually come to mind! That is the sad part. There are no innovators left that stand out in the industry.

      • Grrtime

        What do you mean, on it’s way? It’s way past that point.

  • eserve70

    Dude that jsut looks like its gonna be good.
    Anon-VPN dot COm

  • Tony

    So Dec 2015 you’re going to fire ALL of the vendors currently working, and not hire any back for 6 months. To replace them, you’re going to get all new people with no MS experience. And create thousands of disgruntled employees at the same time and continuously cycle new people in with no investment in the company beyond 18 months. And this will help protect your intellectual property?

    • OneMoreVendor

      It seems we can work till 1/1/2016 without any break and then would have to take a break of 6 months.. Unrealistic..

    • Patrick Husting

      They have a year and a half to plan and get a better job. So take that time and get a job where you can create the next greatest piece of software. I thought my career depended on Microsoft but there is a whole new exciting tech world out there right now. Very exciting!

  • GLA

    The new policy – as far as I can see – does not require vendors to actually take a break from Microsoft (like has been the case for A- for a long time). So if you can do your job without access to internal tools you can still work for those 6 months. Of course this will be nearly impossible for a lot of the roles.

    • ReallyDisqusted

      That’s a pretty darned big if for many. I know that in my case I can’t work without access to both Corpnet and MS buildings.

    • Juanonymous

      So, lets say I can do my job without access. How would I get the inputs for my deliverables if I don’t have access to corpnet? External hard drive? And what kind of security will required on my laptop (and how will it be enforced)? Seems to me that trying to keep people around without access is in fact less secure for IP.

    • Robert Jakobson

      Did you… really just say that if you could do your job without a login, email, phone or access… that you should be ok?

      Um, that’s not ‘nearly’ impossible and it’s not ‘a lot’. It’s everyone. Can you describe to me one position that allows you to not have access to email, phones, web sites or virtual or physical access? You realize that under security policy – no one from Microsoft can send you anything, share files or other materials unless it’s through one of the approved MS channels that you have no access to right?

      Please, I am dying to know what kind of job you would have that allows you to do that??

  • Guest


    For those of us less familiar with the internal workings of Microsoft, could you explain just how large the vendor population is? Is it 10% of the official workforce? 50%? More? Is it concentrated in certain groups or roles? And how did it get the way it is?

    Based on the comments here, it sounds to me like vendors have been put into many key roles that should be core internal competencies for a tech company. It’s one thing to use a vendor to repair printers and copiers or serve meals in the cafeteria. It’s quite another to have them designing and engineering key components of your products.

    But what I’d really like to hear, from someone like Todd who covers but isn’t part of MSFT, is what the numbers actually are and what roles are performed by vendors.

    • Agent_Zeero

      you’re using the term “vendor”‘ much differently than Microsoft and other tech companies use it “Repair printers and copiers”? Ummm..yeah, I guess, if you consider a vendor a company you buy supplies from. For MS, a vendor is a third party that provides “temporary/semi-permanent” staffing to MS. They do any thing from producing marketing materials, project management, support, and operations. If MS were to replace vendors with FTE, their headcount would significantly increase, as would their labor costs, given the benefits they would have to provide those employees, which they don’t provide to vendors. Many vendors share offices and other common areas in the MS buildings. MS does not provide computer equipment to the vendors. So, if you are suggesting that some of the key roles that vendors provide should be done by FTE’s, then anyone bitching about the stock price will have more to complain about.

    • Davey Wolfe

      As I imagine with any company, there are external and embedded vendors. External vendors don’t require access to MS assets as often. They design digital marketing campaigns, support MS owned (but not “internal”) websites, etc. It doesn’t sound like this really affects them too much. Embedded vendors/v-dash (and a-dash) account for a very large number of MS workers in Seattle. I couldn’t guess the % but I imagine it to be anywhere from 30-50%+. It may depend on what group you work for but in any case, the population is very large.

    • Jeff

      About 50% are now `temporary` employees. Bottom line: underpaid disposable people, who make the place work, who will now be spending 18 months looking for a new job.

      Jeff Bezos(Amazon) likened Microsoft to a Country Club. It really hit me when I read that. Its true.

      FTEs are the club members. Vendors and Contingent Staff are the club workers (caddy, building contractor, cafeteria, janitor, etc…)

      At Microsoft, the term `Vendor` just means someone hired through a 3rd party company. On the ground, you work with FTEs, like you work for Microsoft, except that your `just a vendor` (a second-class citizen). You rarely see any manager from your `Vendor` company.

      Some vendors, like me, are hired because of special expertise to work on special important products (my team of 3 vendors makes a product critical to enable long-term growth of Azure service… don’t know what’ll happen with that now). Until recently we were only treated as second-class citizens by other Microsoft teams, now our formerly supportive management structure is calling us `just vendors`.

      Often Vendors are hired as disposable people, who do what they’re told or are sent back to India. They’re here because they’ll work for less $, and all they care about is doing exactly what they’re told so they get paid (not much, but more than they’d get back in India).

      Microsoft’s policy for the last several years has been to turn FTEs into
      vendors to save money (its gradual so most people don’t notice).

      Used to be you could join as a vendor, do a good job, and become an FTE for the extra pay, less work and job security.

      Now, if you’re a native Washington resident, or white from somewhere else in America, you’re NOT going to get hired as an FTE. They just dangle that in front of every vendor to trick them into working hard for less money and a lot of stupid crap and policies that double+ the time it takes to get something done.

      Microsoft has tricked people into thinking Americans can’t work there because they don’t do well enough in STEM education. That is a lie. The truth is: (a) most of the work at Microsoft is not hard (there are a lot of stupid people there, who might find it hard, but its not hard) (b) Microsoft really just wants people who will work for less money so they can maintain profits while their sales decline (instead of cutting pay to thousands of useless executives and managers).

      Microsoft operates under the idea that Software is an assembly line production, but really, you need to understand the details to see what could go wrong or potential opportunties to do something better. In the long run, experience and motivation are what matter. Basic accounting might be more understandable (Microsoft has extremely poor communication from workers up the management chain), and it increases the stock value for a few days, but over the next 1-3 years, they will miss every new product opportunity, which means they are screwed for the next 10 years, which means in 10 years, they’ll be down to legacy software support (for people still running Windows XP/2000 in 2024) and Azure(which will have at most 1/3 of market, because its still 5+ years behind the competition).

      Only people who care about their product are actually going to provide those kinds of insights. This new policy almost totally destroys motivation to do that. Instead, people are just going to spend 18 months preparing to leave Microsoft, and take all their experience with them, destroying productivity because they won’t be working hard for Microsoft and Microsoft will just have to start over with somebody new who will do the same(many vendors have been working on a project for 4-5+ years, and have invaluable experience in real life, though Microsoft still treats us as disposable).

      Also, people are now more likely to steal things because they need a away to make up the 25%+ loss in income. If the executive who thought this up knew about how anything worked, they wouldn’t do this, they’d actually have security around Microsoft buildings or between floors (some buildings already segregate vendors onto different floors now anyway).

      • Jeff

        I was raised on the Microsoft Company Town idea: work hard in high school, go to college and you’ll get hired at Microsoft, they’ll pay you lots of money and you’ll be set for life (now they call it `TEALS K-12` or the `STEM Education Initiative`).

        When I got out of school, it had become: go to Microsoft as something called a `Vendor`, they won’t pay you as well, but you work hard and then they’ll hire you as an `FTE` (terms nobody mentioned in the original idea).

        Now, when I try to become an FTE, I get jerked around for months and months(almost a year interviewing for jobs I was qualified or over-qualified for) until finally I get somebody to tell me the reason: `you’re not our kind`. Really, after I really pushed him to tell me the truth, that Director says to me `you’re not our kind`.

        The common thread of all Microsoft’s problems is that `they treat people like crap, both customers and their own workers` and they’ve screwed up so much in the last ~15 years (now the Lost DecadeS) that people don’t need them much anymore, so they don’t put up with them.

        None of the changes they have made lately address any of the real problems, they’re just making it worse.

        Lots of other software related companies in the area. They might not be as stable or high paying as Microsoft once claimed it was, but they’re a lot better than Microsoft is now.

        I wouldn’t uproot my life and move across the county/world for Microsoft. If I were still in school, I would NOT be studying programming/computer science/etc… now unless I planned to leave Washington state after graduation(lots of unemployed programmers within the next 5 years, and few job openings here).

        Bottom line: you may still find a job at Microsoft where you can get valuable experience (careful though, only the few Microsoft shops left, use C# or powershell), but then leave. Don’t stay, leave after a year or two, before you get `right sized` out.

        The old Microsoft Company Town idea local kids like me were raised on is dead. And there is no reset button. Its dead and soon Microsoft will be dead.

    • kegill

      Here’s a Seattle Times analysis from 2009 — at that time, external workforce estimate was 80,000, just shy of being 1-to-1 (96,000 direct, regular employees at that time)

      NOTE: Apple tells the world what its numbers are, about 50K regular and 50K contingent.

  • ReallyDisqusted

    Several things I’d like to know:
    1. When were Microsoft sponsors informed of this change — I saw a posting of a copy of the memo sponsors received, but it didn’t include a date. Would love to know how disingenuous my onsite manager really is.
    2. Did vendor agencies have any idea this was happening, or was the 7/18 memo the really the first they’d heard of the change?
    3. To my fellow contractors out there, what are your employers telling you about this? My employer basically said, “No worries, we have 18 months to figure it out.”

    • Agent_Zeero

      Much like Obama, the first I am hearing about this is in the news. My vendor company has not reached out to me, nor did they before this “leak”

    • Joshua

      A vendor company with solid client connections heard about this before hand. Only the basic plan though. How long companies knew before depends on their connections.

    • abandonship

      1) The answer varies. Some were only notified on Friday 7/18 like the rest of the world, based on the fact that some FTEs I know were equally surprised, while others were already aware. Communication has been making the rounds since Lisa Brummel’s SLT offsite (April? not sure when that was…). It was a topic discussed then, and she followed up in an email to her HR Directs and SLT staff on June 14th…that email made it’s way through the grapevine, and lowly ol’ me saw it actually, but not everyone. So, I think it really depends on the level of the sponsor and if communication made it down to them. Hard to say case to case.
      2) no clue
      3) I haven’t heard anything at all, but I suppose the sentiments will be the same.

    • Granpa0

      Found out about it from this site. Was just contacted this morning via e-mail and told exactly, “No worries, we have 18 months to figure it out”. Doing a good job depends heavily on being passionate about what you do. It’s impossible to be passionate about working for a company that constantly reminds you of how expendable they perceive you to be.

  • Guest

    I never understood why MS used so many vendors. Sure it saves money in the short term. But it drives the company into the ground.

    The message to vendors is that you are second class citizens not worthy of benefits or job security or even much respect. Anyone who is great at what they do will go be an FTE somewhere else that treats them a lot better. So MS ends up full of second-tier talent in strategically critical roles. And then they wonder why they aren’t at the top of the tech heap any more.

    They save some short term costs, but they destroy strategic value. And they believe the myth that they are getting top tier talent that just happens to prefer the vendor lifestyle, whatever that is.

    • Agent_Zeero

      You’re pretty ignorant of the vendor market in the Seattle area, and the vendor job market with Microsott, huh?

  • ReallyDisqusted

    To the person who claims that v- can’t be or aren’t team leads, you are right only in so far as what shows up in GAL or //who. On practice, there are lots of v- folks on the vendor tanks who lead teams, they just don’t get the credit recognition, money, or cushy MS benefits. Really abusive system.

    • ReallyDisqusted

      Hehe… Vendor ranks not tanks.

  • chris huber

    Microsoft’s answer to rent control.

    • Jeff

      There’s even a group of arrogant Microsoft FTEs that chases Tent City around (a homeless encampment) because they don’t like `their kind` anywhere nearby (even 5 miles is too close).

      Whenever Tent City moves in on the Eastside, they bully the local City to try to kick them out or not let them come back.

      • Steve

        Is that part of the “Giving Campaign”?

  • Nello

    People you got a year and 5 months to get some else if you don’t like the new plan, that’s ample time. We are dwelling on split milk.

    • Jeff

      But combined with all the other crap we’ve had to put up with, this is too much.

      Especially after all the hard work (actual hard work), we’ve done for our team and for Microsoft as a whole.

  • David Lawson

    Wow, FTE headcount cuts plus this drastic change in policy for contingents mean that Microsoft will have to completely retool their staffing methods and still be forced to shed a lot of projects. Microsoft is currently utterly dependent on contingent staff. I honestly have to wonder if it’s even doable or if this memo’s vision with simply fail to materialize.

    • Dave

      With the notable lack of success of Microsoft’s projects in the past 5 years, perhaps focusing on fewer, higher value projects is part of the plan.

      • Jeff

        No, Microsoft already puts too many people on projects that don’t need them, and not enough people on projects that do.

        Focusing 90% of workers on 50% of projects would just make that even worse. Read the Mythical Man Month (1960s knowledge that Microsoft still fails to apply anywhere in 2014).

    • Craig Simpson

      Not convinced the new a- policy will even happen, like many bad idea’s it may fall apart from its own weight.

    • margaret Bartley

      You’ll just see more MS and other IT industry execs trotting up to Congress, saying they need to hire more h1-bs, or the work will be outsourced to Asia.

      And you can bet Jim McDermott will be up there, supporting them!

  • Polaris

    Oh look, a new ‘cloud first’ strategy.Gee, nobody has that.

  • Dave

    The volume of comments on this thread illustrates how different Microsoft’s vendor approach has been from the norms at other companies. Most companies use vendors for two purposes:

    1. Outsourcing non-core functions. Copy machines, food service, cleaning and an array of other functions away from their core business.

    2. Outsourcing core functions where the need for bodies ebbs and flows–such as development to supplement teams for a big project that goes away; where you may have high churn work where the people profile is different than the companies norm–for example, Google’s mapping group which is heavily third-party contractors; or to supplement skills/talents in certain areas like QA, although you will often find companies build their own offshore dev centers for the last bucket.

    Microsoft is odd in that long term contractors represent a significant portion of the workforce and it is the contractor individually, not their firm, that is long-term. I don’t know of other major companies that allow these really long-term relationships and have those people become such embedded parts of teams. Most companies would force a manager to hire an FTE to to that sort of work.

    This is a big, big change, it will be interesting to see how this works.

    • margaret Bartley

      Outsourcing key work has been going on in the corporate and government world since the 90s. The whole point is to change IT into intellectual factory work. There may be some period of adjustment, but MS can afford that.

      The ultimate goal is a work environment made up of easily-trained, easily replaced technicians that have only a narrow range of skills. As new technology evolves, the newly-graduated students (who are the only ones trained in the newest technology) will replace the older, obsolete workers.

      At each level of the project, the work is broken down into smaller and smaller steps. Some people code only one part of the project. The people managing don’t code at all. The functional designs are made by people who don’t even know what platforms are being used, and the business requirements are written by people who may know nothing at all about the development environment.

      Software used to be written by full-cycle developers, who interviewed the users, designe the specs, wrote and tested the code, and deployed the resulting software. That has long since gone away, as the work becomes more and more deskilled.

      This is just another step on the road.

  • darrenmart

    I’ve been at Microsoft since 2006 as both an FTE and vendor (currently the latter). If I’m being pragmatic, I really don’t think there’s a villain here and I understand the policy. Microsoft has indeed become too reliant on (and too bloated with) vendors, many of whom produce FTE-quality work while savoring few of the FTE perks.

    I wouldn’t blame some vendors for being upset, but let’s remember one of the major perks of the role: work-life balance. If you’ve been paying attention to Satya’s “vision” as expressed in memos, Q & A sessions, or even this policy, it’s not difficult to read between the lines. The goal is to put the pressure back on the FTEs, to get them completely consumed by their work like the days of old. FTEs are the ones who should feel the pinch; they’re going to have to decide whether a personal life matters or not.

    Personally, I’m not upset by this news. Whether it’s a sound business move or not, no company — not even my beloved MS — will infringe on my work-life balance. If this ultimately means I must bid adieu and direct my talents and contributions elsewhere, so be it.

    • Dave

      Well said and great points. If Satya really wants a much harder working set of Microsoft FTEs, he is also going to have to have huge workforce turnover. I highly doubt that the vast bulk of the existing Microsoft FTE workforce can “turn it on” from a work hours and productivity standpoint. It has been more than a decade since Microsoft was viewed as a place where FTEs were considered hard workers so it isn’t even turning it “back” on, it has never been “on” for many people. Instead it is viewed as a place for smart people to do interesting work, enjoy a pretty flexible schedule–I know many at Microsoft who have a 4 days in the office, 1 work from home day but who seem to do little work from home–and live a pretty decent life as long as you can deal with the weird politics.

      Microsoft does not have the hours pressure that comes from Amazon, Google and others. In fact many people I know who left Microsoft for Amazon only lasted a brief time–as little as a week in one case. But, Microsoft’s comp also lags behind the more hard core places. If Satya really wants to compete for the highest quality talent against Amazon, Google, etc. and push as hard as Amazon, his budget is going to have to go way, way up.

      • Jeff

        Microsoft treats works like crap, why would anybody whose not stupid work harder for them?

    • Craig Simpson

      Good point. But regarding when you say “FTEs, to get them completely consumed by their work like the days of old” I have to take issue. Most FTE’s I know have no work life balance, they are already consumed 100%. V-‘s are the ones with work life balance since we are not concerned with worthless tasks like ordering dry erase markers and 10 hours of meetings a day. We just work. I like being a v-

      • Dave

        We know very different FTEs then. Regular FTEs I know are the people who are home on time virtually every day, make all of their kids events, and most have four day in office, one day work from home schedules. I don’t know FTEs who work late with any regularity and the Redmond and Bellevue parking lots are devoid of cars after 5:30.

        The only FTEs who I think work hard are VP and above. But even then it is fraction of the work hours and work rate of people at Amazon.

        • johnyy

          What I also see is the culture of fear for the vendors. One of my friends works as a vendor there and goes to work early every day and stays late while getting paid for only 8 hrs. They make it so you are in constant fear of losing your job so people work for free. The FTE’s pat them on the back as they leave at 4:30 on the dot every day while the vendors stay. They are treated as second class no doubt. I don’t know how they get away with it but they do. That place really sounds like a mess.

          • Jeff

            Yes I agree, its all about exploiting disposable people through fear.

            But, I’ve found, if you ignore the fear and don’t work hard, they don’t do anything to me … it would cost a few months to find and ramp up a replacement person, so its not worth it.

            Just ignore their fear tactics and work at a slow enough pace that they won’t yell at you.

            What loyalty have they shown you? What have they done to be deserving of your loyalty or respect?

          • Steve

            You know, he’s right.

        • ElvisBeatle

          Agreed. I was 16 years at MS. When I started in the mid-90s if you got to work at 8:30, good luck finding a parking place. And even on weekends the parking lots had quite a few cars. Now as a vendor if I get to work at 8:00, I can park almost right next to the building entrance. And I pretty much have to wait until 9:30-10:00 to wait for an FTE to be in to get a question answered. Leaving campus at 5:00 is gridlock

        • Steve

          Agree, just look at the traffic patterns around Redmond and you’ll see traffic jams from 9:30 to 10:15’ish and then 3:45’ish to 5:30. Come in early and leave early.

          • Jeff

            Almost nobody is normally in my building after 5:30pm, lots of people leave at 4:00pm

      • Jeff

        I agree. Some teams may be different, but on all the teams I know, FTEs don’t work very hard on technical stuff. And most of that could be avoided by better designs, less legacy code or automated tools.

        FTEs have to slog through meeting after meeting and even more policies and procedures to get anything done than Vendors have to do.

        Lots of FTEs just goof off outside of meetings, go home early, show up late, or don’t show up. They’re off playing with sailboats, motorcycles and cars they don’t know how to drive, video games, pretending to care about their kids, and other toys and distractions.

        You are what you do: after a while of that, FTEs get stupid, loose their skills, etc… I know some FTEs that are getting started on `Big-Data`, but otherwise all the FTEs I know are 8+ years behind on technology (they only know whats in meetings which is only Microsoft products, which are mostly the version from 3 years ago with a few extra buttons).

        Microsoft really should be looking at its procedures and policies. They’ve easily set my project back 6 months. We’re just now catching up to where we should have been 2-3 years ago.

        • Jeff

          Microsoft is a Country Club

        • Steve

          Microsoft really went down hill when they made having an “MBA” as a requirement on all their job reqs. They hired book smart people, not experience people.

          Management by the book!

  • sh

    This is not just an impact to “v-” workers at Microsoft. There are many small business, like mine, that were formed to support, develop, and drive into the marketplace Microsoft technologies. Companies that were dedicated to the vision of Microsoft products and pushing them outside of the company as effective and viable solutions in the marketplace. This initiative will work to push those companies to support other technologies, moving away from Microsoft in general.
    As a result of this change, my management team will be forced to move our quality personnel into new markets on a variety of technologies. The effect will by our support of Microsoft will remain only as a staffer, moving away from strategic thinking with Microsoft products. Our key leaders and strategic thinkers will no longer be available to Microsoft as we cannot afford to have them on line short term. In reality, 18 months is a very short period of time to make an impact in strategic change whether that is in development, sales, marketing, cloud analytics, etc.
    I believe Microsoft underestimates the amount of organic adoption of products and services are pushed through these kinds of vendors. This change will force loyalty away from Microsoft. Which, is very unfortunate, as I and my management team have been steadfastly supportive of Microsoft over the past 15+ years.

    • Jeff

      You should fully transition away from Microsoft products within 5 years if you want to stay in business.

  • Vince Depare

    Have no fear, Indians will cover the gap. Already living in international waters over in Redmond and they’re shipping jobs like vendor roles over to India so they won’t apply to them. Part of putting a Indian at the healm. At least customers can appreciate the lack of vetting done with this decision just like our products. We just ship shit out and don’t care about long term impacts until they hit us in the ass. Time to move to Dubai!!

    • Jeff

      Its also China. My team was recently given a bunch of guys in the China office, and told to find something for them to do. Normally you start a project, and then hire people for the project.

      But they’re so desperate to offshore work, they’re hiring people then finding them projects.

      My team was told to take 1 local person and have him supervise 5 guys in China doing 1 person’s worth of work, sounds like the USSR and look how that turned out.

    • Steve

      Again, offshoring your product development or I.T. projects is wrong. Innovation is really done in the U.S. Have you seen the new MSIT systems being developed and delivered over the past 8 years. They all suck and fail.

    • Off-the stool-out-of cool

      Yes, leave it to a country that still shits in the streets and you will get what you deserve. Only through the continued oppression of the software dalits will the giant MS continue to crunch spare change from corporate America.

  • newa

    Get out of Microsoft technologies asap! The ship is sinking. So get out of this ship and save yourself before it sinks completely.

    • Steve

      Treat your customers and vendors/consultants like crap and it all comes back to haunt you…. They don’t buy your software or devices, they buy from Apple and Google.

      Heck, just watch a MSFT person leave the company and their new email is from!!!!!

      • Jeff

        None of the vendors I know buy Microsoft products. The only people I know at Microsoft who use MSIE regularly or bought a Windows phone or have a Surface are all politically minded FTEs.

        At future jobs, many of us will probably lobby to not use Microsoft products. Other major tech hubs (Silicon Valley, etc…) don’t use much Microsoft, soon Seattle won’t either.

        • ReallyDisqusted

          Have to disagree with you there. I know many v- folks who use WP and Surface, and many others who would were it not for their super-high prices.

          • Jeff

            I didn’t say all vendors, I said the vendors that I know, maybe you work on Windows Phone?

        • Steve

          Amazon, Nordstrom, Boeing and many other large companies are not using MSFT software anymore. Nearly all the startups are using non-msft products.

          Travel outside Seattle and you’ll see just how not dependant other companies are on MSFT products. MSFT should be worried.

          MSFT makes money on EA’s and customers don’t even install the software. The death of the EA is coming and that glorious maintenance money will impact revenue.

  • Superalias

    Will the last person to leave Microsoft please turn out the lights? Thank you.

    • V-Tech

      I bet it will be an a- …….

  • Guest

    Can you say short sell? This is comical. Contingent staff keep the lights on in Redmond.

  • Michael Brian Bentley

    There may be a boom in interest in startups in the Seattle area for the next few months.

  • jim

    Man I must say this is probably the best news I’ve ever heard stemming out of MS. I do feel bad for all of you vendors / contractors though. I worked at Microsoft for a week as an orange badge, had a blue badge talk down to me like how dare I breather his air. Told them to kiss my @$$ and I never thought of working there again.

    I’m glad about this because currently I’m a Windows Sys Admin, and all I can think of is better job security knowing that for the most part more stuff is going to break more often.

    The ongoing joke at the office is that I’m only employed because Microsoft makes crap software.

  • Linda

    Looking at this memo again. Is this saying if I have been a long term vendor (more than 18 months) before July 1st 2014 that I will be asked this coming week to take a 6 month break?

    • ExFTE-CurrentVendor

      no. This means that starting on July 1, 2014, you have 18 months left. You will be forced to take a break on Jan 1, 2016.

  • Earl Owens

    Dig a hole. Microsoft is dying. Blunders like surface, Windows 8 and Nokia are pulling the company down. The one operating system to rule them all is not working. The worse news is for those of us who code in the .NET world. It’s time to learn Java.

  • Steve

    When Microsoft abandoned the Hobby Developer and the main stream Consumer, their business stopped getting interesting.

    Windows Phone – Failing
    Xbox One – Failing
    BING – Failing
    Dynamics – Ever heard of it? Failing
    Windows 8 – Very slow adoption and probably even less have installed
    Office 2013 – Very slow to nearly Zero on installation/upgrade rates.
    SQL Server – Doing well, but not growing that big
    Azure – I think they lie about the numbers of true usage and payment
    Customers signing EA’s and don’t install software is an important story.

  • newa

    Well after re-thinking yesterday night I tend to believe it’s actually good news for me. I always wanted to go out of Microsoft product and work some other “Cool” non-microsoft stuffs where employee respect their contractors or start my own. Because I kinda had virtual security with v- I have been kinda lazy and couldn’t move on. It’s been more than 6 years as v- here. I realize I just wanted someone to kick my a$$ to move forward(Yes sometime it’s needed). Well they did it ..Yuppy…Thank you Microsoft. It was nice working with you and I can feel only sorry for you.

  • Timothy

    While it is certainly sad to the workers, this is both good for Microsoft, its shareholders, and believe it or not, it’s workers. Going through external vendors means that there is somebody in the middle taking a fee for placement. If Microsoft is truly changing its culture (the part of protecting IP might just be malarcky, but I’ll reserve that judgement for later) to reign in its workers, then that means potentially in the future more full-time employees and less contractors, which is better for the workers as they will get better pay personally and more benefits.

    • justanothervdash

      I am not sure how familiar you are with Microsoft, but your reasoning for why it might be good is wrong. If Microsoft wanted to make any of the roles currently staffed by vendors into FTE positions, they would already be FTE roles. The likely scenario is that all these positions permanently go away, and current FTEs absorb the work done by v-/a-. Groups are cutting jobs, not adding headcount.

      • Granpa0

        If this is the case, they are going to lose a lot of FTEs. There’s just way too much work for the current FTEs to complete.

    • Evil Kitty

      The only workers who will benefit will be those offshore. This guy basically just shot himself and the company in the foot.

  • jimmy

    Yet MSFT continues to lobby for more H1-B visas.

    • Scratching my head…

      I smell a v- lawsuit. V- was a convenient way to get around the a- rules of 100 days.

  • Vince Depare

    Like if you agree as vendors a walkout is merited. I’m willing to work with others to coordinate it. Think it’s time MS realizes the value of vendors and how reliant they are on the business in many different levels from infrastructure to security and maybe this is the only way to really show the value!!

  • Doug Clayton

    This is not a problem. Silicon Valley has a shortage of skilled technical workers. I am sure those who are laid off will quickly be snatched up by Facebook and others who are pressing to get congress to increase in worker visa’s. Microsoft has done what Congress couldn’t! Thank you Microsoft!

    • Evil Kitty

      It’s a problem for folks who are rooted. Moving is not an option for me.
      I don’t understand your logic… why would you “thank” a company for laying off 18,000 Full time employees, and replacing them with temps who cannot work for more than 18 months at a time? Do you have any idea what this will do to the area’s unemployment rate?

    • ReallyDisqusted

      Sure if your are willing and able to relocate. Many, like myself, aren’t. My spouse has an established business here in the Puget Sound, so moving isn’t an option.

  • abandonship

    Hi JzusPiece – why do you disagree? Surely I could be wrong, however, I’ve read an email from the chief of HR that says otherwise. I do think it will be very different in how they roll it out globally though, likely with many more exceptions than they’ll make in the US.

  • shane

    No one seems to understand that this is 100% about offshoring all of their work. You have an Indian CEO looking to give the bulk of the work back to India (or possibly China, since MS has started moving jobs there as well). I used to work at MS as an FTE (years ago) and they were forever looking at ways to move jobs overseas. This forces managers to look at non-US sources just to have continuity of service.

    Seriously, there is no possible way that this policy helps MS. The work needs to get done, and the work historically done by vendors is work that FTE’s really shouldn’t be working on (repeatable processes etc). However, all of these processes rely on vendors that stay in role for years, because tribal knowledge etc becomes very important to keep training and other costs down.

    A better policy would be to create a vendor to FTE pipeline that allows MS to directly move valuable workers into FTE roles, while at the same time just letting the “time markers” go. This could easily be done by simply having the review process extend to vendors through a modified performance review.

    • Evil Kitty

      I think it’s time for everyone to walk off the job. Let Nadalya and his board of directors run this thing all by themselves.

  • Jamie Smith

    This is so dumb and how in the heck is giving a contingent employee a 6 month break after 18 months of service going to protect proprietary information? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

  • Dick_M

    I guess we will call Jan 1, 2016 the day of “The Microsoft Rapture” :-) When a huge number of the desks and network traffic just disappear !!

    I myself have been a “V-” for 10 years mostly supporting solutions I have written for departments in the company. It’s not a lot of money to me but this will leave my “clients” (who are mostly also “V-“s in their own right btw) in limbo with no support.

    Frankly nearly everyone I deal with there are “V-” and they have important positions (often doing the crappy clerical jobs that FTE’s hate). If this is going to work there will have to be a HUGE reorg before then otherwise it’ll be a disaster for the “organization” that is Microsoft. I guess that they will have to do this to determine what “V-” positions will have to be filled with FTEs before 2016 and efficiencies will have to be put in p[ace everywhere by then.

    Frankly this is going to be fun to watch. I can see why they had to announce this now so now they have 17 months to make the changes.

    Hang onto your hats !!!

  • Games

    This won’t stick. It’s a ruse to shake loose the disloyal and the mercenary types.

  • Ghostdriver

    This appears to have been leaked by an actual FTE which is somewhat ironic.

  • SeaSpider

    I spent 5 years as a v-. I think the real reason they’re doing this is to make their layoffs actually stick. In the past I’ve seen people get laid off as FTEs and then immediately turn around and get hired back as a v- to do more or less the exact same job. Changing the v- rules is going to prevent this from happening.

    Right now Microsoft has WAY too many people. The biggest problem I see is that there’s little accountability. Many projects have a ridiculously high number of stakeholders. When you get enough stakeholders on a project you then need to hire someone to manage that and then you need to hire yet more people to manage and support them. It’s a bit insane at times. I’ve had situations outside of MS where I’ve interviewed candidates from Microsoft and had 3 people who all worked on the same project and claimed to have done the same things. I doubt any of them were lying, it’s just the sort of overlap one comes to expect from a bloated org. Worse part is all this really does is create yet more work for everyone else. A lot of the PMs and marketing managers I know in Xbox work an insane number of hours and it’s mostly because they’re responding to different requests from various stakeholders. I don’t know anyone who has gone to work at MS and not commented on the fact that it takes way too many people to get anything done.

    Long term this is probably a good thing for MS. Short term it’s going to create a lot of pain for a lot of hard working people. Of course the biggest tragedy of the layoffs isn’t who got laid off but rather who didn’t. I still can’t understand how the company can justify keeping Stephen Elop around. What exactly has this man done right in the past 5 years??

  • Thumper

    The 18 month window may actually produce bad products from disgruntled employees at Microsoft.

  • Fred Bosick

    “The memo says the goal of the change is to “better protect our Microsoft IP and confidential information.”

    BS! It’s to skirt State and Federal laws pertaining to duration of employment and benefit eligibility.

    • GLA


  • neverthisatall

    I’m curious how other v-dashes first heard of this? Did you hear the news before this Geekwire article, or from it (like me), or are you just finding out today?

    • ExFTE-CurrentVendor

      My consulting company forwarded the email to all v- staff working at Microsoft.

    • ReallyDisqusted

      Geekwire first. Then from my agency a.k.a. greedy employer in an email today. Don’t get me stated on bill rates to M$ vs what we vendors actually make.

  • Patrick Husting

    This sad…

    Microsoft laid me off after 15 years of service. Life after Microsoft?

  • Wing Wong

    So… I’m reading this as:

    * US-based contractors will get screwed when contracts renew.
    * US-based vendors will get screwed when contracts renew.
    * US-based employees who are terminated, leave, etc. are screwed.
    * MS strategy is to hire from abroad, US-based contracting/employment is screwed.

    I’m seeing this as the fallout:

    * Organizations wanting to get projects done in a timely manner are going to start keeping copes of this precious MS IP on-site.
    * MS is going to be able to penalize contractors/vendors who are delayed due to this rule.

    Basically, if you work for MS and decide to leave, you will be penalized?


    So all of the Nokia folks who are getting laid off, who are in the US, and all of the non-Nokia folks who are getting laid off, who are in the US… serious burn. :(

  • data center tech

    Better sell your microsoft stock or find a new service provider all there experianed staff will be gone their servie will not be reliable

  • RB

    Is it Good or Bad? Only time will tell. But wit immediate effect v-id will start looking or a new job out side of MS. It will definitely hit the MS FTE managers/Leads. There is no doubt on it. It will create a problem for vendor companies too as their resource will not work for Microsoft as they see it just a short term project. A resources takes about 3 to 6 months to understand the process, project details, domain knowledge etc By the time he or she is ready to deliver the most, you are asking him to take a break. Vendor can WFH, he can connect from home to corporate network anytime, anywhere. He can download whatever he wants, he can show the information to someone so how are you stopping this when you talk about IP. This move will impact the local economy. People look for a stable job not 18 months job. If you take a break, not sure whether you will be back to Microsoft. Microsoft is going to lose lot of good vendors due to this move. it will impact quality for sure. Ultimately FTE will get hit by this. Let’s see if MSFT is changing this rule again or adding an amendment to the existing rule. Good Luck Vendors & FTE Leads/Managers.

  • axo


  • Speaking Sheep

    Reminds me of how the Internet was quickly compromised by reckless (and probably entertaining) virus programming… or how flying was never the same after September 11.. who stole the cookies from the cookie jar this time?

  • CharonPDX

    Fairly standard – although the vendor part is odd. A friend works as a professional services consultant with an enterprise software vendor. He had a project to install/configure the software at Microsoft.

    It took over 18 months from issuance of credentials to end of project. They would have been hosed, losing the most-knowledgable vendor employees right at the very end of the project.

  • John Smith

    to “better protect our Microsoft IP and confidential information. This is faulty of just a lie. If i work with secret documents, code, product ect and i have to leave there are now two people with access to this instead of just me. And 18 monthe down the road there will be a third. That is just unsafe.

  • vdashtrash

    As someone with an orange badge (thats what you get if you are a V-) I don’t see a problem with this policy. In fact it makes perfect sense to me. They already have rules in place around the percentage of work that your company can do for MS vs. other clients (your company to maintain vendor status cannot be more than a certain percentage of MS business) which also makes perfect sense. I see this as a way to trim off those who abuse the system.

  • WondrngAbout

    They are messing themselves up as much of their sales in the field is driven by partner resources that are business guests as they do not and cannot build up the capacity to drive it themselves. Those are multi-year strategic engagements with partners and the business guests do not receive financial compensation anyways. To cut the umbilical cord to those after 18 months is plain stupid.

  • v-dash in the trash

    What seems to be missing in the discussion is the damage to the product line. I will have to train someone to take over my position. This person will not have my knowledge or experience. I will be wasting time doing this training. I will also not be happy during this “transition”. This makes for an AWFUL work environment for everyone involved- including the person I will train. Not only is “Microsoft f-ing over another group of workers” they are f-ing over their product line, as well as investors. Shareholders who support this move aren’t smart investors.

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