Meanwhile, enjoy Dvorak's encounter with the excellent people at
A Visit to Microsoft -- August 26, 1996 By John C. Dvorak
Last week, nearly the entire PC Magazine editorial staff visited the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, for our annual briefing on the Microsoft products and strategy planned for the next few years. Unlike past sessions, Microsoft was far less specific about dates than it usually is--finally realizing that its clueless about development times.
To me, the most interesting aspect was listening to Bill Gates come in and do an hour-and-a-half brain dump that turned out to be one long sentence outlining the status of every Microsoft product plus Gates' opinion about everything under the sun. For example, he felt Informix had the best SQL stuff and that the PC was running out of IRQs and that this was one of the least understood crises in the industry. We ran into a lot of Microsoft-speak during the briefing. Gates, for example, insisted on using the word "vend" instead "sell." Another term was "drill down," meaning to go into an expanding or exploding menu structure. A sentence might be, "You then drill down to a user," or "Drill down to a program." Everyone at the company used this phrase. Since no drill was actually involved in these actions, I found it kind of creepy.
I also found it quite unusual that each Microsoft executive who spoke to any group--large or small--had the habit of saying "Excellent question" or "That's a great question" when asked anything at all--even the most inane queries. "Where's the bathroom?" "That's an excellent question, it's down the hall." I found this to be creepy, too, and a little cultlike. Obviously, its source is probably some seminar given to employees in the past. The great trendy personal-growth phenomenon called EST used to teach people to say "Thank you" to anyone asking a question. This put the questioning person in the frame of mind of someone who had just done a favor for the other person. This also got the questioner in the right mood to give the other person money as a favor. I suspect this Microsoft habit of saying everything is an excellent or great question is to maintain the self image within the company that everyone there is a genius. That's unless these guys are one step away from being surfer dudes. Excellent!
Mathematics has given economics rigor, but alas, also mortis. -- Robert Heilbroner