Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 15:37 UTC
Microsoft After much, much, much speculation, Microsoft let the cat out of the bag today: due to weak results, Microsoft is going to cut 5000 jobs. Those 5000 jobs will disappear over the course of 18 months, with 1400 jobs being cut immediately. Quarterly results, as well as the cost-cutting measures, were made known in a press release today.
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RE[4]: It is a shame
by JonathanBThompson on Mon 26th Jan 2009 12:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: It is a shame"
JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

Funny you mention doctors, lawyers and accountants as comparisons for cooperative practices to that of software engineering, because there are major differences that make them an apples/oranges comparison:

1. Only in the most unusually complicated cases is there much or any teamwork of note between them where they work together closely, because they normally don't need to.

2. Only in rare cases do any of them develop new products: if you're creating new things in accounting, prison time often results, most doctor's practices don't engage in much/any real research, and it is government that enacts laws.

3. All 3 of your examples have little/none in the way of long-term project work of a highly unpredictable nature in terms of expense, manpower requirements, or production schedules, largely since very little is truly creative, and is very routine and constrained by law: software development in most cases is creative, often difficult to schedule out creativity and testing and bug fixing.

4. All 3 of your examples have pure service as a product, and none of them have their underlying knowledge/tech base change incredibly fast under them, though it's be nice if more doctors kept up better. Competent doctors, lawyers and accountants have a surprisingly consistent demand for their services, regardless of the economy, because people can't do a lot of the things they can do, and (more importantly) they can't avoid using their services during bad times and make do, without falling prey to long-term negative consequences, while people often can use the same old hardware/software for many years without upgrading. How many people feels need to upgrade to Vista???

5. Lawyers, doctors and accountants have something that is not nearly as speculative for the needs/wants of their services because of the above points, while the closest comparison of software engineering/development consultants have a much increased chance potential customers will choose to keep their old systems when they decide they have something that works well enough when the budget is tight, or just even if the budget is fat, but their current software/hardware is a sufficiently known and efficient solution for their needs. Perhaps you're unaware of just how many mainframes from the 60's, or at least the software written for them are still in production use: why do you think there was such a huge Y2K scare???

Speculative software product creation (not doing development for a fixed contract) is very financially risky with the amount of resources versus guaranteed payback, especially when you have to factor in marketing costs. Software can cost many manyears of labor to develop, and even if "perfect" can be knocked out by something marketed better, or people won't switch from something else due to lock-in. Is Windows better than everything else available? For every commercial success, many never break even: not even Microsoft is immune from this reality! Most people only are aware of the commercially successful software: what percentage of the general population has even heard of BeOS?

Because of all these factors, very few (statistically) software firms can survive as cooperative businesses developing speculative products unless they start with a large pile of cash to ride out the lean times until they produce enough hits to overall be profitable.

Summary: your examples are less than valid in the real world, and reek of inexperience within it.

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